Read on below for Intero President & CEO Gino Blefari’s take on some pretty good real estate news for the Bay Area…

Much of the housing news this week focused on a new finding that the number of home sales may have been overstated for the past few years by the National Association of Realtors, which closely monitors sales data. I’m here to tell you that this is not the important story of the week for those of us living and working in the Bay Area.

No, the important housing story for us is actually pretty fair news: Bay Area home sales were up in January compared to the same month a year ago. According to the real estate monitoring service DataQuick, 4,966 homes sold in early 2011, which was lower than December numbers but higher than January last year.

January and February typically are slow months for housing, and DataQuick pointed out that this makes it difficult to use these months as trend predictors. But a year-over-year increase is a good thing and could mean we are indeed seeing the beginning of that slow recovery we’ve all been talking about for 2011.

The fact that a home in my neighborhood just sold in less than three weeks also contributes to my optimism.

What else is new as we dig through the first set of numbers for 2011 in the Bay Area?

  • The median price for new and resale houses and condos decreased to $338,000 in January from $350,000 a year ago.
  • Higher-cost homes seem to still be seeing the affects of the credit crisis, which made adjustable-rate mortgages and “jumbo” loans more difficult to get. Jumbo loans accounted for 60% of the Bay Area home loan market more than three years ago, and accounted for only 27.1% of the market in January of this year.
  • Foreclosure activity remains high, but is below the peak levels reached two years ago, the report said.

Not stellar, but not a bad beginning to 2011.

As we work through the year, remember the importance of discovering the data in your local market. What’s being talked about at the national level in real estate very often has nothing to do with your home sale or purchase.

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