Sonoma County home prices jump 24 percent

Sonoma County home prices jumped in March as more homeowners with equity put their houses on the market, but sales remained slow due to a decline in short sales and foreclosures.

Buyers purchased 399 single-family homes last month, down 14 percent from a year earlier, according to The Press Democrat's monthly housing report compiled by Pacific Union International Vice President Rick Laws.

The median sales price rose to $396,000, a 24 percent increase from a year ago. The median has now risen for six straight months since last September, when it stood at $355,000.

March sales continue to tell a tale of two market segments: homes with equity and those deemed financially distressed. The latter include bank-owned foreclosures and short sales, where the sales price is less than the amount of the mortgage.

Among homes with equity, activity is up in the county this year. New listings in this segment rose 14 percent for the first quarter, compared to a year earlier. And sales increased 23 percent for the same period.

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