High-end sales up nearly 70 percent from a year ago and 10 percent from April

Million-dollar home sales in Silicon Valley rose sharply in May as the region’s luxury real estate market continued to recover from last year’s strong economic downturn, according to Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, the Bay Area’s leading provider of luxury real estate services.

A total of 251 homes sold for more than $1 million in May in Santa Clara County, up nearly 70 percent from May 2009’s total of 148 sales. Home sales were also up nearly 10 percent from April’s total of 229 transactions. However, the median sale price of luxury homes last month dipped to $1.3 million from $1.395 million the previous month and $1.41 million a year ago.

Also encouraging, homes are selling faster than they did a year ago. May closings took an average of 41 days to sell compared to 53 days last May. And home sellers are getting a higher percentage of their asking price – 99 percent compared to 90 percent during the same period a year ago.  The figures were derived from Multiple Listing Service data of all homes sold in Santa Clara County for more than $1 million last month.

“The increase in million-dollar sales in Silicon Valley is an encouraging sign that the mid- and upper-end of the local housing market continues to recover from last year’s sharp downturn,” said Rick Turley, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the Bay Area.

Turley said the expiration of the federal tax credit deadline probably helped boost sales again last month, even in the million-dollar market. First-time and repeat buyers needed to be in contract by April 30, but don’t have to close escrow until June 30. Although the tax credits primarily benefited entry-level buyers, they likely spurred more move-up buyers who sold lower-priced homes in order to trade up to million dollar-plus properties.

“The next few months will give us a good indication of how strong the housing market recovery will be without government stimulus,” Turley said. “There are certainly strong headwinds facing the housing sector, including high unemployment, troubles in Europe with the debt market and the recent volatility in the stock market.”

But at the same time, Turley said, the U.S. economy continues to slowly but steadily recover, consumer confidence is rising and mortgage rates remain at historical lows. “Many buyers seem to be getting off the fence and jumping into the market, realizing that between low rates and more favorable prices, this is a good time to get into a home,” he said.

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

  • The most expensive sale in Silicon Valley in May was a seven-bedroom, seven-bath 5,324-square-foot home in Los Altos that sold for $5.95 million;
  • San Jose again boasted the most million-dollar sales with 57, followed by Palo Alto with 41, Los Altos with 35, Saratoga with 32, and Cupertino with 19;
  • It took an average of 41 days to sell a million-dollar home in the county, down from 53 days a year ago but up from 39 the previous month.

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.