Thursday, Mar 06 2014 04:22 PM

Home prices eked out gain in February when accounting for size

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    Appraiser Gary Crabtree

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From a bottom-line perspective, Bakersfield home prices weakened last month. But a closer examination reveals a more positive picture.

Prices of existing homes in the city rose slightly on a per-square-foot basis last month as total sales fell 10 percent and pending transactions mounted, according to the latest Crabtree Report.

February's median sale price per square foot increased almost 1 percent to $120.61, Bakersfield appraiser Gary Crabtree noted in a preliminary update released Thursday.

The month-over-month increase reverses, however, when factoring out home size. February's median sale price -- the point at which half the homes sold for more and half sold for less -- slipped 4.8 percent to settle at $190,500, which was still 12 percent greater than February 2012's median.

The number of sales completed last month was off 10.2 percent at 344. Crabtree said that's nearly 21 percent fewer than closed a year before.

But pending sales, a measure of future demand, climbed 15.1 percent from January's level to reach 427.

Crabtree called this evidence of homebuyers re-entering the market after the holidays.

The city's overall inventory of existing homes on the market slipped 1.1 percent from January. But at 935 listings, the number of homes for sale was still about 91 percent greater than the number reported a year earlier.

Crabtree maintained his optimism for 2014 in written comments accompanying February's report.

"As long as supply keeps pace with demand, I look for some moderate price increases into the near future," he wrote.

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