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San Francisco Bay Area home sales rise, prices remain flat

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August home sales in the San Francisco Bay Area rose 12.2% from a year earlier and increased 9.1% from July, but remain below levels reached before the financial meltdown, DataQuick said Friday.

In August, the nine-county area recorded 7,513 sales of houses and condos, up from 6,887 in July and 6,698 in August 2010.

Still, the La Jolla, Calif.-based data firm said the pace of home sales in the area remained below historic averages, as consumers remain reluctant to purchase a home due to uncertainty over housing, employment and the overall economy.

"The sliver of positive news here is that, no matter how you look at it, last month's sales beat the year-ago numbers, which were pretty lousy," said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

"Lower prices and mortgage rates lured some homebuyers off the sidelines last month, but too many others lacked the confidence to step into the game. They worried about their job, or about prices falling more," according to Walsh. "Others couldn't get a loan because credit remains drum-tight, or they couldn't move because they're underwater."

The median price for new home sales in the Bay Area hit 0,000 in August, down 1.1% from July and 3.9% from 5,000 a year ago.

Still, it's up significantly from the median's low point of 0,000, which was reached mid-recession in March 2009. The peak median was reached in July of 2007 when the average San Francisco Bay area home sold for 5,000.

"Around half of the median’s peak-to-trough drop was the result of a decline in home values, while the other half reflects a shift in the sales mix," DataQuick said.

When analyzing sales by type, foreclosure sales accounted for 26.4% of all Bay area sales in the month of August, up from 25.9% a month earlier and 26.1% a year ago.

Foreclosure resales peaked in February 2009 when 52% of the area's resales were distressed properties.

Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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