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Prices up, inventory down throughout Wine Country

25 Apr 2013 9:51 AM
Two reasons why Santa Ynez is becoming California's locavore hotspot

Sonoma homes continue to gain value, and the city's inventory of for-sale home keeps declining as consumer optimism and the regional economy show improvements. According to the Press Democrat, Sonoma County home prices climbed 24 percent between March 2012 and March 2013, proving that the effects of the recession are steadily wearing off and property values throughout the region are continuing to improve. 

As of the end of March, the median sales price for Sonoma County real estate now rests at $396,000, which represents the sixth consecutive month of rising home values, the source reports. 

These figures are echoed by the data complied by Zillow, which reflects a similar improvement. According to the source, home prices now sit at $433,000 - an increase on monthly, quarterly and yearly levels. After sharp declines in the wake of the recession, Sonoma property prices have stabilized and begun returning to pre-recession levels. 

One reason for the rising prices is the area's declining inventory. The improving market has meant that many of the distressed properties that were so common in the wake of the housing crash are now off the market. As a result, sales for single-family homes were down 14 percent on a year-over-year basis, the Press Democrat reports. However, this decline is being somewhat counterbalanced by an uptick in the number of sales of homes with equity, which rose 14 percent during the first quarter of 2013 when compared to a year earlier. 

As a result, many real estate experts in the area are seeing a shift from focusing on distressed properties to homes with equity. According to the source, property sales involving homes with equity have been rising for several months, and now comprise a bulk of the region's sales.

Still, though, Sonoma's housing market appears to be drying up, as newly motivated buyers compete against one another for the remaining homes on the market. According to the source, March ended with fewer than 650 homes for sale - half the amount that were on the market at this time last year and less than a two-month inventory at the current sales pace.

The housing market improvements in Sonoma are also being felt throughout Wine Country and Silicon Valley. According to the Saratoga Patch, inventory is down throughout the region, median sales prices are up and competition is as fierce as it has been since before the recession.