Multi-million-dollar home sales nearly double from last year’s recessionary levels

San Francisco’s luxury housing market is rebounding from last year’s recessionary levels with multi-million-dollar home sales nearly doubling in the first quarter of 2010 compared to a year ago, according to Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, the Bay Area’s leading provider of luxury real estate services.

In a new quarterly report on the city’s luxury housing market, Coldwell Banker said 44 homes sold for more than $2 million during the first three months of the year, up from 24 in first quarter 2009.  Additionally, the median sale price rose to $2.85 million, up nearly 7 percent from the same period a year ago and nearly 12 percent from the previous quarter.

Sales did decline from the 55 transactions during the fourth quarter, but home sales historically are higher in the last quarter of the year as buyers and sellers rush to close transactions before year-end.

Another encouraging market indicator is that it took just 67 days on average to sell a multi-million home in San Francisco during the first quarter, down from 91 days the previous quarter and 79 days in first quarter 2009.

“What a difference a year makes,” said Rick Turley, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “Last year at this time we were sitting at the depths of the Great Recession, the financial markets were in freefall, and the housing market was feeling the full effects. Today, the economy is on the mend and the real estate market appears to be moving in the right direction again.”

Turley said the impending deadline for first-time homebuyer and repeat-buyer federal tax credits indirectly played a role in the surge in home sales during the first quarter this year. Buyers who want to claim the credit of $6,500 to $8,000 had to purchase their home by April 30 and close by June 30.

“Although expiration of the first-time buyer credit hasn’t directly had a big impact on the luxury market, the heightened activity at the entry level has helped push trade-up buyers into the higher end market,” Turley said. “The overall confidence in the luxury market has improved to some degree as a result of these programs.”

Turley added that, in general, consumer confidence appears to be on the rise in all segments of the housing market. “I think buyers are becoming more confident about purchasing a home now as the economy continues to show positive signs of a recovery and the stock market moves higher,” he said.

However, he cautioned, “It’s important to remember that any road to recovery has its share of obstacles and potholes. There are still challenges ahead for the housing market, including high unemployment and the expectation that another wave of bank-owned properties could hit the market. Still, I’m encouraged by the improvement we’re seeing.”

Gains in the million-dollar market echoed the overall housing market. MDA DataQuick, the La Jolla-based research firm, reported that March home sales and prices hit a three-year high in the Bay Area. The median price of $380,000 paid for a home was 31 percent higher than a year ago. Some 6,992 new and resale single-family houses and condominiums closed escrow in March, up 40.2 percent from February and up 10.5 percent from March 2009.

Some key findings from the initial San Francisco Luxury Market Report:

  • The most expensive sale in the city so far this year was a four-bedroom, six-bath 6,000-square foot home in Pacific Heights that sold for $13.5 million;
  • Luxury homes sold for an average of 97 percent of their average listing price of $3,433,227;
  • It took an average of 67 days to sell a multi-million-dollar home, down from 91 days the previous quarter and 79 days a year ago.

The San Francisco Luxury Market Report is a quarterly 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.

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage serves San Francisco with five offices. For more information, please call 925-275-3085.