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Sonoma County homes sales slow as median price edges up

  • September saw a 22 percent decrease in single-family sales, according to a monthly housing report.

Home sales slowed in September as fewer investors and other buyers hunted for properties in Sonoma County.

Buyers purchased 394 single-family homes last month, according to The Press Democrat's monthly housing report compiled by Pacific Union International Vice President Rick Laws. September sales decreased 22 percent from August and 5 percent from a year earlier.

Demand remains healthy, but “we're not red hot any longer,” said Tim Freeman, manager of Coldwell Banker in Santa Rosa.

The county's median price rose 2 percent from August to $451,000. The median has increased 27 percent from September 2012, when it was $355,000.

Each summer the housing market typically slows about the time school begins in August.

This September fewer investors were looking for houses, brokers said. One reason may be that the jump in home prices has made it more difficult to find properties that would make sound rental investments.

Whatever the reason, many homes now are attracting fewer buyers.

“You don't see 15 offers on a property anymore,” said Shawn Hermosillo, an agent with Keller Williams in Santa Rosa. “You see one to three offers, or no offers.”

The lack of offers often occurs when sellers make their asking prices higher than recent comparable sales.

“The buyers are smart, and they know if something's not priced right,” said Brian Connell, a broker/manager for Frank Howard Allen in Santa Rosa.

The county's real estate market is enjoying its second straight year of increased dollar volume after six years of decline.

During an unprecedented real estate bubble, the county's median price soared to $619,000 in August 2005, then crashed to $305,000 in February 2009.

The market finally turned a corner last year when single-family home sales exceeded 5,000 for the first time since 2005. And last April the median price exceeded $400,000 for the first time in nearly five years.

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