Sonoma County home sales slowed in January, but there was a jump in the sale of upper-end properties.

Buyers purchased 272 single-family homes last month, according to The Press Democrat’s monthly housing report.  Sales fell 5 percent from a year earlier and amounted to the lowest results in three years.

However, the month featured a tale of two markets. January sales below $400,000 declined by 45 percent from a year ago.

In the higher end, 57 homes sold for $700,000 or more in January, compared to 21 a year earlier. Of last month’s transactions, 22 homes sold for $1 million or more, compared to 8 in January 2013.

The higher-end sales are a sign that health and recovery has worked its way up the market.

The county’s median sales price last month was $461,000, a decrease of less than 1 percent from December and a 26 percent INCREASE from a year ago!

January ended with less than 600 homes listed for sale, about a two-month’s supply of inventory. That remains considerably lower than the roughly six-month supply that experts say is needed for a balanced market.

Sales of financially distressed properties declined 69 percent from a year earlier. They comprised just 12 percent of all sales last month.

Five years ago, nearly three out of four sales in the county involved financially distressed properties.

For some perspective, the county’s median price hit a record $619,000 in August 2005, before falling to a low of $305,000 in February 2009.

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