Sales in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area dropped for the sixth month in a row in September, while median prices for the region dropped 0.5 percent from August to September, according to a real estate research firm.

Meanwhile, year-over-year median price increases have ranged from 17.6 percent to 20.5 percent, DataQuick Information Systems announced today.

A total of 11,205 new and resale houses and condos were sold in the Bay Area region last month. That was down 7.8 percent from 12,154 for August, and down 7.2 percent from 12,075 for September 2004.

So far this year 96,591 homes have been sold, down 5 percent from 101,693 for the same nine-month period last year. Last year’s year-to-date sales were the highest in DataQuick’s statistics, which go back to 1988. Sales this year have been the second highest.

“The Bay Area real estate market seems to have settled into a steady state, with few indicators pointing to any upcoming change. Supply and demand seem stable. We are keeping an eye on rising mortgage interest rates which could slow things down somewhat before the end of the year,” said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president.

The median price paid for a Bay Area home was $616,000 in September. That was down 0.5 percent from $619,000 in August, and up 19.4 percent from $516,000 for September a year ago. DataQuick noted that a slight decline from August to September is normal for the season.

The typical monthly mortgage payment that Bay Area buyers committed themselves to paying was $2,713 in September. That was down from $2,761 in August. A year ago it was $2,283.

Indicators of market distress are still largely absent, DataQuick reported, with low foreclosure rates, stable down payment sizes “no significant shifts in market mix.”

Home sales dropped 17.9 percent in San Mateo County, 15.6 percent in Napa County, 12.9 percent in San Francisco County, 11.7 percent in Sonoma County, 9.1 percent in Alameda County, 6.1 percent in Santa Clara County, 1.8 percent in Solano and Marin counties, and 1.2 percent in Contra Costa County from September 2004 to September 2005, DataQuick reported.

Median home prices were up 24.9 percent in Sonoma County, 24.6 percent in Contra Costa County, 22.1 percent in Solano County, 20.6 percent in Alameda County and 20.1 percent in Napa county from September 2004 to September 2005. San Francisco County had the slightest Bay Area price increase at 7.8 percent during that period.

A subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, 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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