Sales of San Francisco Bay Area homes declined for the 14th month in a row in May, as the median home price edged up to another record, a real estate information service reported today.

A total of 9,064 new and resale houses and condos were sold in the nine-county region last month, down 19.8 percent from 11,308 for May last year, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

Last month was the slowest May since 2001 when 7,864 homes were sold, DataQuick reported. The strongest months of May since 1988 were May 2004 with 12,028 sales, and last year. May sales hit bottom in 1995 with 5,779.

“This is a market that is rebalancing itself after several boom years. What we’re seeing is stable core demand, and a decline in speculative and discretionary buying,” said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president. “These trends should continue through the summer buying season. There is uncertainty about the market after that, tied to broader economic trends.”

The median price paid for a Bay Area home was $631,000 last month, another record. That was up 0.5 percent from April’s $628,000, and up 6.1 percent from $595,000 for May a year ago. Last month’s year-over-year increase was the lowest since May 2003 when the $427,000 median was up 3.4 percent.

The typical monthly mortgage payment that Bay Area buyers committed themselves to paying was $3,091 in May. That was up from $3,048 in April, and up from $2,646 for May a year ago. Adjusted for inflation, mortgage payments are 22 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, and the use of adjustable-rate mortgages has decreased in the last five months. 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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