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San Francisco Bay Area home sales sank for the 13th straight month in April as prices slowly reached a new peak, a real estate information service reported today.

A total of 8,358 new and resale houses and condos were sold in the nine-county region last month, down 25.1 percent from 11,158 for April last year. Last month’s total fell 14.2 percent from 9,745 for March 2006, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

Last month was the slowest April since 2001 when 7,193 homes were sold. April’s year-over-year decline in sales was the steepest since November 2001 when sales dropped 27.2 percent to 6,644 from 9,122 one year earlier.

“These are strange times for forecasters and analysts. Are we heading into a market lull? Or are we seeing the beginning of a significant downturn? Many of the fundamentals for housing are at a crossroads: Inflation, interest rates, demand, household incomes, prices, and whether homes are a good investment compared to other investments. Summer is going to be interesting to say the least,” said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president.

The median price paid for a Bay Area home rose to a record $628,000 last month. That was up 1 percent from March’s $622,000, and up 7.2 percent from $586,000 for April a year ago. Last month’s year-over-year increase was the lowest since August 2003 when the $447,000 median was also up 7.2 percent.

The typical monthly mortgage payment that Bay Area buyers committed themselves to paying was $3,048 in April. That was up from $2,958 in March, and up from $2,659 for April a year ago. Adjusted for inflation, mortgage payments are 20 percent higher than they were at the peak of the prior cycle 16 years ago.

Indicators of market distress are still largely absent, according to DataQuick. The use of adjustable-rate mortgages has decreased the last four months, and foreclosure rates are coming up from last year’s low point, but are still below normal levels. Down-payment sizes are stable and there have been no significant shifts in market mix, DataQuick reported.

DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.


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