Life at the bottom

In Sacramento County, the housing market is suddenly booming again. All that was required was for prices to come down -- a lot.

By Andrew Leonard
May 20, 2008 12:42AM (UTC)
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The Sacramento Bee just sent me a breaking news alert: DataQuick Information Services is reporting a "big rebound" in home sales in Sacramento County.

The statistics are impressive: The first year-over-year sales gains in Sacramento in 37 months, adding up to a 26.3 percent increase over April 2007.


Sacramento County was one of the first regions in California to experience a complete housing meltdown, so signs of a revival there could be a bellwether for other hard-hit areas.

With just a couple of caveats. The bulk of the sales jump appears to be coming from "heavily discounted, bank-owned homes" -- which implies that the after-effects of mass foreclosures are driving the rebound. But even more startling than the sales gain is how far median prices have plunged.

Median sales prices -- where half the homes sell for more and half for less -- are down to Feb. 2003 levels in Sacramento County. The county's median sales price in April fell to $232,000 -- down 32 percent from a year ago and 40 percent off its Aug. 2005, high of $387,000.

A 40 percent drop. If those are the kinds of numbers required to goose the market back into action, the entire economy still has a lot of pain coming.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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