San Francisco Bay Area median home prices fell 0.8 percent in September compared to September 2005 — the first time in about four years that prices fell on a year-over-year basis in the region, according to a report by real estate data company DataQuick Information Systems.

Sales were at their lowest level in five years in September, DataQuick also reported.

The median price paid for a home in the nine-county Bay Area was $611,000 in September, down 1.5 percent from August 2006 and below the $616,000 reported for September 2005.

“Because of a shift in purchase patterns, a decline from August to September is normal for the season,” according to the DataQuick announcement.

The year-over-year decline was the first since March 2002 when the $381,000 median price dropped 1.3 percent compared to March 2001. “Last month’s median was in part tugged down by increased sales of lower-cost condo conversions in the East Bay,” DataQuick reported.

“The last time prices dropped in the Bay Area was after the dot-com bust. There were year-over-year declines in the median in the 1 to 3 percent range for six months. The turn in the Bay Area’s economy was arguably more severe back then,” said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president, in a statement.

“This time around there isn’t really any economic distress. It simply looks like the real estate market’s momentum last year and earlier this year pushed prices beyond their equilibrium point and the market is reestablishing its balance.”

A total of 7,907 new and resale houses and condos were sold in the region in September. That was down 13.4 percent from 9,128 for August, and down 29.4 percent from 11,205 for September last year.

Last month’s sales were the lowest for any September since 2001 when 7,201 homes were sold — September sales have ranged from 5,507 in 1991 to 12,075 in 2004, the company announced.

September sales dropped 43.2 percent in Solano County, 39.1 percent in Marin County, 34.4 percent in Napa County, 32.2 percent in Sonoma county, 30.6 percent in Santa Clara County, 29.4 percent in Alameda County, 25.6 percent in Contra Costa County, 22 percent in San Mateo County and 13.3 percent in San Francisco County compared to September 2005.

The median price of homes dropped 7.7 percent in Sonoma County, 5.5 percent in Contra Costa County, 2.3 percent in Solano County, 1.9 percent in Napa County, 0.9 percent in San Mateo County, and 0.7 percent in Alameda County while rising 1.4 percent in Marin County and 1.7 percent in Santa Clara County from September 2005 to September 2006.

The typical monthly mortgage payment that Bay Area buyers committed themselves to paying was $2,915 in September, which is down from $2,966 in August, and up from $2,713 for September a year ago. Adjusted for inflation, mortgage payments are 14 percent higher than they were at the peak of the prior cycle 16 years ago, according to the announcement.

“Indicators of market distress are still at a moderate level. The use of adjustable-rate mortgages has decreased the last half year. 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.

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