FAIRFIELD — The great housing inventory crunch continues.
Fewer than 500 homes sold in Solano County in December, the third fewest for that month in 16 years, as prices seemed to plateau at a level significantly higher than a year ago.
According to San Diego-based real estate service DataQuick, 477 homes sold in the county last month for a median price of $272,000. That price was up nearly 25 percent from the median a year ago, but the number sold was down 21.8 percent.
“There’s nothing new and exciting out there,” said veteran Realtor Jim Stever of Fairfield. “Inventory is low . . . there hasn’t been enough increase in price for most people to go out and take advantage of their own home going up in value. The guy in the three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,200-square-foot house probably made $20,000 and would like a bigger house – but the bigger house went up $25,000.”
It was the second straight month of fewer than 500 homes selling in the county and only the third such December since 1997. In contrast, more than 1,000 homes were sold in the peak year of 2004. However, the median-price increased over a year ago’s for the 21st straight month. That may ultimately be good news.
“If currents trends hold, including year-over-year appreciation of 20-plus percent, the typical home would be selling for $50,000 to $60,000 more by spring, perhaps twice that in the upper end of the market,” said John Walsh, DataQuick’s president, in a news release. “That could loosen up quite a bit of inventory. The question then is how much of the pent-up demand that accumulated during the down years is still there?”
Solano’s median price was between $266,000 and $277,500 for the fifth straight month, suggesting the dramatic monthly increases may be done.
Solano’s numbers echoed those of the rest of the Bay Area, where the median price was up 23.9 percent over a year ago, but the homes sold dropped 12.7 percent. It was the slowest December in the nine-county Bay Area in six years.
According to the Bay Area Real Estate Information System Inc., the numbers in Northern Solano County – which includes Fairfield, Vacaville, Suisun City and Rio Vista – mirrored the rest of the county. The median price was $295,000, up 34 percent over a year ago, for the 250 homes sold. But more increase may be needed.
“I think they still need to go up,” Stever said. “There are so many people who are borderline or upside down and they need more increase. I don’t see it changing much in the next 12 to 18 months. There’s not going to be 300 houses showing up on the market overnight.”
Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.