Move-up homebuyers missing in Sacramento market

SACRAMENTO — Almost four years into the real estate crash, a once-thriving sector of the Sacramento-area housing market — the move-up buyer — has become a virtual dead zone that must revive itself for a true recovery to take hold, analysts say.

Even as real estate rocks with enthusiastic first-time buyers and investors – accounting for up to two-thirds of area sales – one expert warns against being fooled by "the common belief that real estate is flying off the shelves."

Momentum needed for a true recovery rests on the shoulders of those who traditionally dominate real estate markets: people who sell one house and buy another.

And they aren't doing it.

They can't.

"Half to two-thirds of sales in the Sacramento region have not triggered a move-up," said Andrew LePage, an analyst for property researcher MDA DataQuick. "It was just some lender got its money back and then it ends. When that's been two-thirds of your market for months and months, ouch."

Until the move-up sector of the market recovers, housing can't recover, analysts say. (Everything above $400,000 is almost at a standstill. DataQuick says sales in move-up neighborhoods such as Land Park, east Sacramento and Arden Park are half their 10-year average since early 2008.)

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