Home sales and median prices in October continued to rise in the North Bay and the rest of the Bay Area, according to a report released today.
The recent trends reflect a gradual rebalancing of the real estate market, though mortgage availability remains an issue, according to the monthly report by San Diego-based real estate data and tracking firm DataQuick.
The Sonoma County median home price of $350,000 was 23.5 percent higher than in October 2011. Last month, 631 homes were sold, up 28.8 percent from a year before.
In Solano County, the median price rose 14.9 percent to $216,000. There were 598 homes sold, up 7.9 percent.
The median price increased 9.5 percent to $660,000 in Marin County. Sales increased 45.7 percent to 335.
In Napa County, the median price grew 17.7 percent to $365,000. County sales totaled 152 last month, up 49 percent from a year before.
For the entire Bay Area, homes sales increased for the 16th month in a row, up 21 percent on 7,795 transactions. The median price for the region rose for the sixth straight month to $416,000, up 18.9 percent.
Sales in the lower price categories were below levels seen one year ago, while sales rose sharply in the middle and high end of the market. Transactions below $300,000 fell 15.2 percent, while sales from $400,000 to $800,000 rose 25.7 percent. Deals above $800,000 rose 47.1 percent.
The shift in the sales mix has helped drive up median prices, according to DataQuick.
"It's unclear exactly how much today's apparent price increase reflects actual growth, and how much reflects a change in market characteristics," said President John Walsh in the report.
Distressed property sales -- including foreclosure resales and short sales -- made up approximately 33 percent of resales in the Bay Area last month. That was down from 63 percent from a year before, according to the report.
Foreclosure resales -- sales of homes foreclosed on during the prior year -- accounted for 12 percent of October resales, down from 25.3 percent a year before. The proportion of foreclosure resales in the region was the lowest since the 10.1 percent rate of November 2007. The peak was 52 percent of sales in February 2009.
Short sales made up an estimated 21.4 percent of Bay Area resales last month, down from 24.9 percent a year before.
Jumbo loans accounted for 38.9 percent of residential lending in October, the highest level since November 2007. That pace was higher than the 27.9 percent proportion in October 2011.
Adjustable-rate mortgages accounted for 11.8 percent of Bay Area purchase loans last month, down from 12.9 percent a year before. Government-insured loans through the Federal Housing Administration accounted for 15.5 percent of home purchase mortgages in the Bay Area, down from 21.2 percent a year earlier.
Investors purchased 22.8 percent of all Bay Area homes in October, up from 20.2 percent a year ago. All-cash deals made up 29.1 percent of sales, up from 28.5 percent.
The typical monthly mortgage payment on new Bay Area loans last month was $1,472, up from $1,348 a year before. Adjusted for inflation, the typical payment for October was 61.5 percent below the monthly payment seen when the current real estate cycle peaked in July 2007.