The Atherton real estate market, part of the larger San Francisco Bay Area housing market, saw mixed signals in the most recent tracking periods, as the number of sales fell even as median price rose. According to a September 17, 2010 report from the San Francisco Chronicle, “Bay Area home sales hit an 18-year low for August as the uncertain economy and the expiration of government stimulus kept buyers on the sidelines, according to a real estate report released Thursday. A total of 6,698 existing houses, new houses and condos changed hands in the nine-county Bay Area in August, down 10.9 percent from August 2009, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego. Sales of existing single-family homes clocked in at 4,976, also a 10.9 percent drop from a year earlier. Still, August's slump was nowhere near as precipitous as that in July, when sales fell almost 23 percent from the prior year and 19 percent from the previous month…The median price, which is skewed by the mixture of homes sold, ticked upward as more high-end homes and fewer bargain foreclosures changed hands. The median for resold houses was $410,000, up 9.3 percent from a year ago. The median for all homes was $385,000, a 6.9 percent increase.”

More Atherton homes for sale were pending purchase relative to last year, according to the San Francisco Association of Realtors. Their report indicated that “The median single-family sale price in September 2010 increased by 2.1 percent from September 2009 to $730,000. Despite the monthly decline in closed sales, year-to-date sale activity continued to outpace sales during the same nine-month period in 2009, with 1,688 homes sold – a 10 percent increase from the previous year. Approximately 48 percent of all completed sales in September 2010 were single-family homes priced less than $700,000; in September 2007, homes in this price segment represented less than 28 percent of all completed sales. While completed sales activity trended downward during the month, pending sales activity rose by 19.1 percent from September 2009, with 231 single-family homes going into contract. First-time home buyers remain a major driver of sale activity, particularly at the low-end of the market. The sharp reduction in home equity levels during the recent downturn in the economy has left many potential move-up buyers immobile.”

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