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RISMEDIA, Nov. 21, 2007-Luxury home prices rose modestly in San Francisco, but declined slightly in Los Angeles and San Diego in the third quarter of 2007 from the second quarter of the year, according to the First Republic Prestige Home Index(TM) by First Republic Bank, a provider of private banking, private business banking and wealth management services.

In the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2007, the Index indicated the following:

Los Angeles area values declined 1.4% from the second quarter of 2007
and rose 2.4% from the third quarter of 2006. The average luxury home
in Los Angeles is now $2.43 million.

San Diego area values fell 2.3% from the second quarter of 2007 and
dropped 1.9% from the third quarter of 2006. The average luxury home
in San Diego is $2.14 million.

San Francisco Bay Area values increased 2.6% from the second quarter
of 2007 and were up 3.9% from the third quarter of 2006. The average
luxury home in San Francisco is a record $3.08 million.

“Luxury home prices in Southern California fell slightly from the second quarter of 2007,” said Katherine August-deWilde, president and chief operating officer of First Republic Bank. “In the San Francisco Bay Area, prices are up solidly in the most recent quarter, and they are up year-over-year. In First Republic’s urban coastal communities, the luxury market is active, and buyers are facing a scarcity of attractive inventory in many areas.”

Los Angeles Area Values

Values declined 1.4% from the second quarter of 2007 after rising just 1.1% in the first quarter of the year. Overall, the market showed signs of weakening.

“The market is definitely more sluggish, and there is no urgency among buyers right now,” said Billy Rose of Prudential California Realty in Beverly Hills. “However, there is still a shortage of inventory. All of my clients are looking for the same thing — properties in the $6 million to $15 million range. This doom and gloom we’re hearing really isn’t applicable in the higher end.”

In Orange County, a scarcity of coastal properties has kept values firm, although inland properties are beginning to soften. “There is nothing for sale on the oceanfront or bayfront,” said Kim Bibb of HOM Real Estate in Newport Beach. “Buyers are still looking, but they are not writing as many offers.”

San Diego Area Values

In the third quarter of 2007, prices in the San Diego area were down 2.3% from the second quarter of the year and 1.9% from the third quarter a year ago.

Along the beach communities, prices appeared firm, although both buyers and sellers were proceeding cautiously. “In La Jolla, prices don’t go down — the homes just don’t sell,” said Peggy Chodorow of Willis Allen Real Estate in La Jolla. “Sellers generally have a lot of staying power here to wait it out. When buyers find a property, they are watching it to make sure it’s a good buy.”

In Rancho Santa Fe, both the low end and high end of the market are active, but properties priced between $3 million and $7 million are moving slowly. “There are definitely buyers out there, but everyone wants a deal,” said Linda Sansone of Willis Allen in Rancho Santa Fe. “Putting together a transaction is much more work because buyers are looking at everything and sellers are digging in.”

San Francisco Bay Area Values

San Francisco Bay Area values were the strongest in the state. The average luxury home in the San Francisco Bay Area exceeded $3 million for the second quarter in a row. The market, particularly in San Francisco’s close-in North Bay and Peninsula communities, is showing surprising strength.

Agents said values were firm in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Marin County, but were beginning to slip in the East Bay. “We have a relatively bulletproof market in the upper end in San Francisco,” said Tom Cooke of TRI Coldwell Banker in San Francisco. “There’s never enough inventory to satisfy buyer demand in the city. The difference this year is that two or three people are moving on homes for sale, compared to five or six people last year. There is no softening of prices.”

On the Peninsula, the market was slower due largely to limited inventory. “Shortage is the name of the game in Palo Alto,” said Steve Tenbroeck of Alain Pinel Realtor in Palo Alto. “We have record low inventory. In the $3 million to $6 million range, demand is slowing because buyers are sensitive to consumer confidence. Below that price range, it is still a seller’s market, with multiple offers and homes selling very quickly.”

In Marin County, values were holding, despite fewer homes for sale. “If the inventory were better, we’d have more sales,” said Tina McArthur of Pacific Union Real Estate of Larkspur. “There isn’t a day that goes by when agents aren’t asking one another whether there are any properties for sale between $3 million to $5 million.”

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