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First-timers drove San Francisco's housing market in July

First-time homebuyers accounted for many July sales.

First-time homebuyers accounted for many July sales.

Sales of San Francisco Bay area luxury homes declined in July, while more first-time homebuyers were making moves, according to a recent DataQuick report.

Bay Area home sales dipped more than usual between June and July, falling 13.9 percent, compared to an average decline of 6.8 percent for the Northern California market, the report shows. Sales dropped most sharply in the high-end real estate market, with $500,000-plus transactions down 25.4 percent on a month-over-month basis.

Luxury home sales were strong during the early summer in Marin County, San Francisco and the Napa Valley, Coldwell Banker reported. John Walsh, DataQuick president, attributes the fall-off in this sector to overall economic uncertainty caused by the debt ceiling debate.

While high-end buyers sat on the sidelines, first-time homeowners accounted for more sales in July than June, as measured by the proportion of government-insured Federal Housing Authority loans used to finance purchases. FHA loans, often secured by first-time buyers, were used in 22.4 percent of all Bay Area July purchases, compared to 20.6 percent in June.

San Francisco is not a budget housing market, with a median sales price of $550,000, according to the National Housing Conference. However, the annual income needed to finance a median-priced home in San Francisco declined 7 percent between 2010 and 2011, NHC recently reported.