Berkeley houses in the Indian Rock neighborhood. Photo: Peter Alfred Hess

Following the financial crisis of 2008, house prices in Berkeley and throughout the country plummeted. In the last couple of years, Berkeley house prices stabilized, but according to the most recent data it looks as though 2012 marked a real upturn in house prices.

Local realtor Ira Serkes, from Pacific Union International/Christie’s Real Estate, compiled detailed data on all the single family house sales in Berkeley last year. It provides a distinct picture of both the nature of the Berkeley market, and the improving prices for sellers. (All the charts in this article are compiled from Serkes’ data. If you click on the images, you can access interactive versions of the charts on

According to the data, the median price for two-bedroom houses rose 6.7% last year, three-bedroom houses rose 10.8%, and four-bedroom house prices were flat. Median prices are still well below the 2007 peak. There were 581 closings on sales of single family houses in Berkeley, compared to 535 in 2011.

“I would characterize the market as having undergone a dramatic change in the second half of the year,” Serkes said.

The rising trend is confirmed by data from San Diego-based DataQuick, which yesterday reported that “turnaround trends continued apace in the Bay Area housing market last month with the strongest January sales in six years and the tenth straight year-over-year increase in the median sale price.”

The price distribution of Berkeley houses sold by number of bedrooms shows both that the majority of houses sold for less than $1 million and that houses with more than three bedrooms are a rarity in Berkeley: 73% of the sold homes in 2012 were two or three bedrooms, and only 8% had five or more bedrooms. Serkes points out that most of Berkeley was built up by the 1930s, when smaller houses by today’s national standards were the norm.

Serkes also compiled his data on a series of interactive maps, embedded below. They divide the data into sales by price, by number of bedrooms, by area of the house, by year built, and by the sales price as a percentage of the original list price. On each of the maps, click and drag to move around, use +/- to zoom in and out (or touchpad gestures), and click on the pie charts to get increasingly granular information. Data geeks, enjoy:

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There’s more data on Serkes’ own page.

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...