Bay Area Ranks High Among US Housing-Recovery Leaders

San Francisco skylineTwo Bay Area regions rank among the top five leading the U.S. housing recovery, outperforming most of the nation in decreased foreclosure activity, growing median price, fewer underwater homes, and rising employment.

A report from the research firm RealtyTrac identified the top 20 metropolitan areas leading the real estate recovery. San Francisco placed fifth on the list, preceded by San Jose (fourth); Albany, N.Y. (third); Fort Myers, Fla. (second); and Rochester, N.Y. (first).

“The U.S. housing market has clearly shifted to recovery mode over the past 18 months, with home prices consistently rising and foreclosures falling closer to pre-housing bubble levels,” said RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist, in a statement.

“Still, symptoms of the distress that plagued the housing market over the past seven years continue to linger, particularly in the form of a high percentage of underwater borrowers and distressed sales,” Blomquist said. “This lingering distress is creating an uneven pace of recovery across different local markets.”

The San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metropolitan area, used in RealtyTrac’s calculations, includes five Bay Area counties: San Francisco, Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo.

Recent foreclosure activity in the region fell 88 percent from its peak, according to RealtyTrac, compared with the U.S. average of 65 percent. The median home price here rose 96 percent from its low point, compared with 19 percent nationwide.

Underwater homes in the Bay Area accounted for 17 percent of all homes with mortgages, compared with 26 percent nationwide, and the unemployment rate here was 6.5 percent, compared with the 7.6 percent U.S. average.

The Bay Area was closer to the national average in three other factors used in the report: distressed sales as percent of total sales (22 percent in the Bay Are and 23 percent nationwide), institutional investors’ share of total sales (5 percent versus 9 percent), and cash purchase share of total sales (24 percent versus 30 percent).

(Image: Flickr/Brian Snelson)

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