There were 74 sales in December for more than $1 million in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, down from 84 in November and 107 in December 2010. However, the median sale price of a luxury home was up 5.1% from a year ago to reach $1,256,000. The median did fall 3.3% from the month before.
Two other key metrics showed year-over-year improvement in the high-end market: Sellers received 96.5% of their asking price on average compared to 95.9% a year ago, and homes sold in 63 days on average, down from 76 days in December 2010.
The figures were derived from Multiple Listing Service data of all homes sold for more than $1 million last month in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
"Although last month was a bit of a mixed bag, there continues to be solid demand for homes priced above $1 million in the East Bay and throughout the Bay Area, for that matter," said Rick Turley, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.
"We've seen really good activity in the upper end of the market for the better part of the past year," he said. "That's a healthy sign for the overall market because history has shown that sustainable recoveries in the housing market typically begin with the luxury segment."
Turley said the challenge for the East Bay's real estate market continues to be a shortage of homes for sale, not lack of buyers.
"I think it's important for sellers to get the message that the market is getting better in many areas and there are buyers willing to pay competitive prices for homes," he said. "If you've been thinking about putting your home on the market, you shouldn't wait any longer. It's time to jump in."
Some key findings from this month's Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage luxury report:
* The most expensive sale in the East Bay last month was a five-bedroom, six-bath 6,488-square-foot home in Blackhawk that sold for $2.81 million;
* Danville boasted the most million-dollar sales with 13, followed by Pleasanton with 11, Lafayette with nine, Oakland with eight, and Orinda with six;
* Homes sold in 63 days on average, down from 76 days a year ago but up from 48 days the previous month;
* Sellers on average received 96.5% of their asking price compared to 97.5% the previous month and 95.9% a year ago.