The California housing market is showing signs of life, with sales rising 10.6 percent last month from December 2008 and an uptick in prices as well, a real estate tracking firm reported Thursday.
San Diego-based MDA DataQuick said the median price paid for a home in California last month was $264,000, up 6 percent from $249,000 a year earlier but down 1.1 percent from $261,000 in November.
Here's some reaction from local Realtors:
Melanie Pennino, president, Lodi Association of Realtors
"Overall our market has not seen much of an uptick in prices, but we have seen an uptick in sales. Generally, the increase in prices comes after an increase in sales. However, we are seeing a lot of competition locally in the lower price ranges.
"There has been some small uptick in prices due to competition over homes. We in the Valley could follow along that trend. However, we got hit worse with the foreclosure crisis than the Bay Area. Our recovery will take longer.
"The numbers are encouraging, both nationally and in California. We are looking for increases in the sale prices in the area. I wish I had a crystal ball to tell when exactly it will happen.
"I've read that median price increases are up 24 percent since the market hit rock-bottom. Of course, the median doesn't show the true price, but it's an indication that things are looking up."
Larry Underhill, Statesman Realty
"There is an old saying in real estate that all real estate is local. When the market slid in early 1990s, Lodi was the caboose of the train into the tunnel of downturn and the last one out. People here were opening the paper and seeing headlines saying home prices are up. Then they would get confused when I told them to lower the prices of the homes they were selling.
"Personally, I'm seeing a strong uptick in activity and upward pressure in prices. It may be short-lived; I don't know. There is a lot of shadow inventory the banks are controlling that is not yet on the market.
"Sixty percent of successful closings right now are bank-owned homes. The banks are slowly trickling out inventory; in that sense it is a good thing, because we are seeing multiple offers on well-priced homes. It's the same old struggle every time there is an upward push on prices.
"I'm also seeing a shift in mood and greater sense of optimism. I'm seeing more property owners instead of short sales and bank-owned homes.
"John and Mary Q. Public are putting their house on the market because they see it's a strategic time to move up. They can move up to nice house at a killer interest rate.
"Right now is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Prices and interest rates are coming together, and it is a wonderful thing that will not last. People who missed out will discover what they should have known when the time has passed."
Paul Mertz, Mertz Company
"I would like to see more foreclosure homes on the market, and we aren't seeing as many bank-owned properties available as the previous year. They are coming out slower. I'd like to know why that is.
"Statistically, there were fewer home sales that closed in December 2009 than in December 2008 in Lodi, because of the lack of available inventory.
"There were 85 sales that closed in December 2008, and 57 in December 2009. However, pending sales were up in December 2009 over the previous year. There were 44 pending sales in December 2008 and 49 last month.
"Average prices are a tougher figure to figure out. I (add up) the averages for each month and divide it by 12. In 2009, the average price for a home in Lodi was $250,000. That price is higher than our neighbor Stockton's. Their average price was $177,000. Stockton's number of sales that closed also dipped. In December 2008, 644 closed. In December 2009, 421 closed.
"Real estate is local, and different things affect the market differently. It's pretty much true everywhere."