Stockton Home Prices

Foreclosures Continue Selling
at a Faster Pace This Year

The sales run for existing homes in San Joaquin County - mostly foreclosures - continued to pick up speed in April.

But after a small median sales price jump in March, prices fell sharply in April, sliding below the $200,000 mark in Stockton, for example, for the first time since March 2003, when the median sales price was $193,000, according to figures from the latest  Grupe Realtors-TrendGraphix monthly sales report, based on Multiple Listing Service data.

Closed sales countywide totaled 664 last month, up almost 37 percent from 485 in March. That was also nearly triple the 230 closed sales in September, the bottom of the sales market thus far.

"The good news is we're beginning see the Stockton market lead the nation out of the foreclosure mess," said Jerry Abbott, president and co-owner of Grupe Realtors. "We were the first in the tank, and I think we'll be the first to crawl out. We're going to be doing well while the rest of the country is still trying to get out."

The current sales market - about 80 percent is the foreclosure sector - is more than able to take care of that flow of new listings on the market, he said.

"We'll sell them as they show up," he said. "As far as pending sales are concerned, we're hitting higher numbers. I don't really see a problem with it."

Bob Riggs, broker and owner of Riggs & Associates GMAC Real Estate in Stockton, said the current market still feels like "one notch above terrible."

Sales are about double what they had been at low ebb, he said, and he thinks sales will continue to get better as prices start looking better and better to buyers.

More sales also can put more people in the buying mood, he said.

"The more 'sale pending' signs you see out there, the more people will get off the fence and do something," Riggs said.

Clara Rugnao, owner of Cradl Realty & Mortgage Solutions in Lodi, said people are buying their first homes now because prices have become affordable again.

She agreed that even at a pace of 800 new foreclosure listings a month, the market will absorb that.

"Those are going to move," she said. "They're moving right now."

Cameron Pannabecker, owner of Cal-Pro Mortgage Inc. in Stockton and a board director of the California Association of Mortgage Brokers, said he is urging caution about buying now as real estate agents and brokers tout the current market as a great time to buy.

That's consumer abuse, he said.

"Tell me how it is different to tell someone to hurry up and buy into a market that is clearly still on the way down?" he said. "If prices dropped 40 percent in a year when there were 4,000 foreclosures, what can it do other than decline that much or more in a year when we will have that many foreclosures in the first four months?"

The sharp prices drop ended a quick upturn from February to March, when the median sales price in the county moved up from $260,000 to $265,000.

Abbott said he thinks the sharpness of the April price drop is an aberration.

Much of that may be due to foreclosure asset managers now setting prices for newly repossessed properties not at what they are at the initial appraisal mark but where prices will likely be sitting in three months - about the time it will take for the new foreclosures to get listed on the market, he said.

Brokers and agents also said foreclosures continue selling at a faster pace this year, with houses under $350,000 selling the fastest and usually with multiple offers. The Trend-Graphix report indicated that sold homes were on the market an average 64 days, down from 89 in September.

Contact reporter Bruce Spence at (209) 943-8581 or bspence@recordnet.com.

"Used with permission from The Record, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc."

Bruce Spence
Record Staff Writer
May 16, 2008 6:00 AM

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