Anyone who owned a home in the Bay Area back in 1989 must remember the subsequent downturn in the market. That downturn was caused by a loss of Bay Area jobs. Home values fell as jobless homeowners sought to liquidate their mortgage overhead. Companies offered out-of-state relocations packages and early retirement to employees while many others opted to voluntarily move out of state. The latest Bay Area job report indicates that for now at least we are safe from that negative market force called unemployment. The nine Bay Area county population grew 1.4% last year and new arrivals helped buoy the housing market—if not more in the rental sector than homeownership. "It’s evidence that the Bay Area is doing better economically than the rest of the state," said Mary Heim, head of the demographics research unit at the state Department of Finance, which released the new population numbers. This link allows you to see any city’s population growth and it’s definitely worth checking out. Whenever there is a market sell-off due to dire circumstances, such as we are experiencing now in the foreclosure arenas, prices drop. Why? Simply put in order to be the next sale you must have the lowest price and/or be the best home on the market. The housing market today is not unlike that of 1990 in that in many areas folks are forced to sell their homes and prices are dropping. But the Peninsula of the Bay Area has been fairing far better. First, there are far fewer foreclosures on the Peninsula and thus virtually no downward pressure on pricing from that market force. There’s market skepticism and a general reluctance on the part of many to enter the market; and we all know the new tighter lending practices have make it difficult to impossible for many to buy a home if they wanted to. But jobs are not one of the issues facing the Peninsula right now. If the unemployment rate rises dramatically or more simply put, if people start to leave the Bay Area (voluntarily or not)—where more people are leaving than are arriving—it could all change. Clearly a prolonged recession could have just such an impact and tip the precariously balanced local housing market in favor of a drastic sell-off. See our homepage at for monthly updated local market graphs and our blog page at for detailed market analysis and commentary.

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