High-end home sales up sharply from last month and year ago levels

Sales of million-dollar homes in Santa Clara County surged last month as the high-end housing market continued to show encouraging signs of bouncing back from its recessionary lows, according to Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, the Bay Area’s leading provider of luxury real estate services.

A total of 104 homes sold for more than $1 million in February, nearly double the number that changed hands the previous month and a year ago.  Meanwhile, the median sale price edged up 1.7 percent from both January and February 2009 to $1.37 million.

Other market indicators also pointed to an improving housing sector. Luxury properties sold at a much faster pace in February with an average of 59 days on the market versus 73 for home sales that closed in January. In addition, sellers received 96 percent of their asking price on average compared to 92 percent the previous month.

“The South Bay’s housing market is getting off to a much stronger start in 2010 than it did a year ago when we were approaching the bottom of the recession,” said Rick Turley, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.  “Our offices are seeing a lot more buyers willing and able to take advantage of some good values out there in the market.”

Turley said a number of factors seem to be bolstering the local market, including improvement in the overall economy, a strong rebound in the stock market, improved consumer confidence, and the upcoming deadline for the home buyer tax credit. Buyers who want to claim the credit of $6,500 to $8,000 must purchase their home by April 30 and close by June 30.

“The financial markets have made a tremendous recovery when compared to last March when the Dow was sitting at 6,500 and the S&P was at 600-plus,” Turley said. “Unlike a year ago, people aren’t afraid to open their 401K statements each month. An improving net worth is bolstering consumer confidence among buyers, especially high net worth buyers in the Valley. And consumer confidence is critical for the housing market recovery.”

Unlike a year ago at this time, it is not the lack of buyers that is challenging the Santa Clara County market, but a dearth of sellers. Turley said that the inventory of homes for sale is just starting to increase, but still is not enough to meet buyer demand in many communities in the South Bay.

“Because there aren’t enough homes on the market, well maintained, fairly priced properties are attracting strong buyer interest and, in some cases, multiple offers,” Turley said. “If homeowners have been thinking about listing their home for sale, I’d encourage them to do so now when buyer demand is strong, inventory levels are low and interest rates remain at historically low levels. It’s really a very good time to sell.”

Like Santa Clara County’s luxury market, the overall housing market enjoyed improvement in February. DataQuick, the La Jolla-based research firm, reported (include DataQuick figures for Santa Clara County and Bay Area if available this week).

Some key findings from this month’s Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage luxury report:

  • The most expensive sale in Santa Clara County in February was a five-bedroom, seven-bath 6,300-square foot home in Saratoga that sold for $5 million;
  • San Jose boasted the most million-dollar sales in February with 25, followed by Los Altos with 22 and Palo Alto with 19;
  • It took an average of 59 days to sell a million-dollar home in the county, down from 73 days the previous month but up slightly from 57 days a year ago.

The Santa Clara County Million-Dollar Home Report is a monthly report by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, a specialist in high-end real estate sales. Through its internationally renowned Coldwell Banker Previews® program, the company is recognized around the world for its expertise in the luxury housing market.  The figures were derived from Multiple Listing Service data of all homes sold for more than $1 million.

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage serves Santa Clara County with 21 offices from Palo Alto to Hollister. For more information, please call 925-275-3085.