FAIRFIELD — More homes were sold last month in Solano County than any August since 2005, although prices were only slightly higher from both a year and a month ago.
“The market is hot right now,” said Don Preston, a Realtor with Gateway Realty in Fairfield. “There’s a shortage of inventory and because of that shortage and low interest rates, we’ve had steady growth in demand over the past five months.”
He isn’t the only local Realtor with that experience.
“When I put a home on the market, I get multiple offers,” said Pam Watson, who also attributed it to low interest rates and a small inventory. “That wasn’t happening a year ago — except in some of the lower price ranges. Now the price range (that receives multiple offers) is higher.”
A total of 693 Solano County homes sold in August, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. That’s nearly 100 more than the same month in 2011 and the most for that month since 1,016 in August 2005 — the height of the housing boom, when the median price was $474,000. The median price of the homes sold last month was $190,000.
While prices have been at or below $200,000 for several months, Preston said he expects prices to creep upward in the coming months.
“It’s going up,” he said. “The only thing holding it down are areas like those with townhouses in east Fairfield — they make it seem lower than it is. Pretty much everywhere else is going up.”
Solano County sales echoed an areawide trend. In the entire Bay Area, it was the best August since 2006 — with 8,579 homes sold, a 14.2 percent increase over a year ago.
DataQuick attributed the surge to low mortgage interest rates, an improving economy and increasing demand in the mid- to move-up market segment.
John Walsh, DataQuick’s president, greeted the statistics with ambivalence.
“Most economists agree that the housing market is off bottom,” Walsh said in a news release. “But there’s a big gap between the market being ‘off bottom’ and being normal, which it’s not.”
One continuing trend is the number of buyers who appeared to pay all cash — meaning there was no evidence of a purchase loan in the public record. Across the Bay Area, 28 percent of August sales were all cash, slightly more than a year ago and higher than July’s number. The monthly average for that statistic since 1988 is 12.6 percent.
Both Preston and Watson said the buyers who don’t require loans have a built-in advantage in Solano County because appraisals — required for most mortgages — are often more reflective of the market a month or two ago. Since prices are rising, cash buyers are able to close deals easier.
Solano continues to have the lowest median price in the Bay Area, well below Contra Costa’s $260,500, which is the second-lowest in the nine counties.
Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.