Housing pinch hits county 

San Mateo County homeowners are selling their houses for an average of $105,000 less than they were at this time last year, new data shows, proving that even the state’s second-wealthiest county is not immune to the ongoing housing-market meltdown.

The county’s median home-sale price in June was $690,000, plummeting more than 13 percent from $795,000 in June 2007, according to statistics released last week by DataQuick Information Systems, which tracks the Bay Area housing market.

Prospective buyers have not been gobbling up these suddenly cheaper homes, however. There were just 565 home sales through the first half of this year, down more than 25 percent from 755 purchases through the first six months of 2007, according to DataQuick.

Sellers in San Mateo County — where residents earn more than any other California county but Marin — still have it better than the rest of the Bay Area, where home prices have dipped more than 27 percent in the last year.

"I think we still have to clean up the foreclosure mess, this mortgage crisis that we’re in," said Jennifer Tasto, an independent broker based in Burlingame.

City coffers, which reap cash every time a property changes hands, are also taking a hit as home sales and prices continue to go downhill.

San Mateo, for example, earns 0.5 percent of every home sale. Since July 2007, the city has collected $5.7 million from property transfer taxes, down from $10.4 million during the previous 12 months, marking the city’s worst year since before 2002, said finance Director Hossein Golestan.

"There is no expectation that it will be any better this fiscal year," Golestan said. "All the conditions that caused the bad year, they still exist."

Real estate agents, who work primarily off commission, also said they bring in less money when there are fewer overall sales, and when homes are selling for smaller sums.

The plummeting price numbers may not necessarily mean homes are dropping in value, said Justine Ford, a real estate agent for Remax Today in San Carlos.

Ford argued that the majority of homes selling lately on the Peninsula are on the lower end of the pricing spectrum, while prices have remained stable in more "desirable" communities such as Belmont, San Carlos and Burlingame.

"I don’t think we’re going to see this much longer," Ford said. "[The Peninsula] is always the last to decline and the first to come back."

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

By the numbers

San Mateo County home sales

$690,000: Median sale price in June 2008

$795,000: Median sale price in June 2007

13.2%: Price drop during that time

565: 2008 home sales through June

755: 2007 Home sales through June

25.2%: Sales drop during that time

Source: DataQuick Information Systems

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