Median home prices down in many areas
Median home prices plunged in many of California's most populous counties in February, with Southern California leading the slide with an overall drop of 17.9 percent compared with a year earlier, according to new housing data released Thursday. The drops reflect a deepening housing crisis in the state, which saw home values soar during the housing boom and then decline sharply in most areas. In the nine counties of the San Francisco Bay Area, the median price fell 11.6 percent to $548,000 compared to a year earlier and 17.6 percent from the region's peak median price of $665,000 last summer. Bay Area prices were essentially flat from January. Home sales volume kept sliding last month. The nine San Francisco area counties saw sales drop 36.7 percent last month from February 2007. Some 3,989 homes were sold in San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, Napa, Alameda, Sonoma, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Solano counties.
30-year mortgage rate rises to 6.13%
Rates on 30-year mortgages increased this week for the fourth time in the past five weeks. Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.13 percent this week, up from 6.03 percent last week. Rates on 30-year mortgages dropped below the 6 percent threshold in the second week of January and stayed there for six weeks in a row as the economic slowdown stirred concerns about a possible recession. Rates on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, a popular choice for refinancing, rose to 5.60 percent this week, up from 5.47 percent last week.
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BJ's announces it will open in Village
Vintage Faire Mall confirmed Thursday what has been known for weeks by anyone who's been to the Web site for BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse: The popular eatery will open at the mall later this year. BJ's, which will have an 8,000-square-foot restaurant and bar, will be part of the mall's Village at Vintage Faire project, now under construction. The restaurant listed a "coming soon" location at the mall in Modesto on its Web site in early January. In a press release, officials with BJ's said excitement over the Village project matched what BJ's wanted to have at a location. Mall officials have not disclosed any other stores that will be part of the project, an upscale, 60,000-square-foot "lifestyle center" that will open in the fall.
Farming's shift to high-tech tools is a sign of changing times.