Real estate market in southern Alameda County remains sluggish

A sign lets passersby know a single-family home in Union City is for sale on Feb. 22. (Sonia Waraich — East Bay Echo)

ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. — Southern Alameda County is experiencing a decline in real estate activity because of persistent challenges with housing affordability and availability.

In March, 234 homes were sold and 156 homes were listed for sale in the area, down from 370 homes sold and 229 homes listed for sale in March of last year, according to data from the Bay East Association of Realtors. The limited availability of homes for sale across the East Bay has led to a rise in the median home price for the region from $989,000 in January to $1.13 million last month, David Stark, the association’s spokesperson, said in the association’s latest real estate weather report.

“The number of homes for sale has been essentially flat since last December,” Stark said. “Limited choices for buyers pushed prices higher compared with the beginning of the year, yet prices were down compared with last March.”

Despite a year-over-year drop of 12% in the median home price, Fremont remained the costliest place to purchase a home, with a median price of $1.49 million last month. Median home prices in Castro Valley ($1.13 million), Newark ($1.07 million) and Union City ($1.29 million) also still top $1 million, while they are below $1 million in Hayward ($880,000), San Leandro ($835,000) and San Lorenzo ($820,000).

Meanwhile, southern Alameda County saw a double-digit drop in both homes being listed and sold. Only San Lorenzo saw a 17% increase in homes sold from 12 last year to 14 this year.

“Fewer choices, rising prices, high interest rates all added up to about 800 fewer sales compared with last March,” Stark said, referring to the East Bay as a whole.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.28% last week, down from a week prior when it was 6.32% but still higher than a year ago when it was 4.72%, according to Freddie Mac.

“Mortgage rates continue to trend down entering the traditional spring homebuying season,” Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in a press release. “Unfortunately, those in the market to buy are facing a number of challenges, not the least of which is the low inventory of homes for sale, especially for aspiring first-time homebuyers.”

In Alameda County, only 18% of households made a qualifying income of $302,000 to be able to afford the median home price of $1.33 million during 2022, with significantly lower percentages for Black (7%) and Latino (10%) households.

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