This month's report begins with a couple of timely and relevant Holiday real estate stories. The author promises that there are actual statistics contained in this report, and those who are eager to find them sooner, rather than later, may, of course, scroll down!
People often ask me about the state of our local real estate market. This year, I've been telling them about the tremendous opportunities for sellers due to the low inventory of homes for sale, escalating prices, and frequent multiple-offer situations. Last week, on my way to a class, I picked up my friend Anne in the East Bay, and it wasn't too long before the conversation turned towards real estate. I told her things were slowing down a bit, with lots of buyers and sellers getting ready to take a few weeks off for the Holidays. "No!" she said "Tell them this is the best time!" "When I was shopping for my condo, I even went out on New Year's Day." She gave me permission to quote her, so there you have it--- from a successful home buyer straight to you! This is a great opportunity to make an end-run around crowds of competing buyers to get the home you want. As baseball hall-of-famer Willie Keeler used to say "Hit ‘em where they ain't".
This week, I walked in to the monthly Marin County Buy/Sell lunchtime networking meeting. Led by a well-known local broker, the meeting opens with a recap of the monthly and year-to-date statistics for the Marin real estate market. This information told us that the inventory of homes for sale is down to just over a two month supply (approximately 4.5 months is considered healthy). On average, recent home sales in Marin have been at about 99% of initial asking price. Because these are averages, this means that a substantial number of homes are selling for significantly over asking price. So the well-known broker asked the assembled agents-"Where are all the sellers?" "The Holidays", replied a chorus of agents. My high school history teacher was fond of saying "A word to the wise is sufficient." With such a lack of housing inventory, sellers have an unusual opportunity to sell at excellent prices, with minimal competition.
According to a November 13 report by DataQuick, a San Diego, CA-based real estate information service, Marin County home sales in October were 306 units, down 8.7% from the same period a year earlier (most likely due to lack of inventory!), but prices were up, with the median price of those homes at $805,500, vs. $660,000 during the year-earlier period. The report estimates that, Bay Area-wide, 75% of the year-over-year price increases are due to appreciation in value, while the other 25% is attributable to changes in market mix--- meaning more expensive homes and fewer distressed properties are being sold.
Here in Marin, the inventory shortage brings sellers an abundance of opportunities. As of November 24, 2282 single family residences (SFR's) and 613 condominiums had sold, year-to-date. This compared to 2134 SFR's and 567 condo's on the same date last year. And this was in spite of the severe shortage of available homes that caused prices to rise dramatically, particularly in the spring and early summer.
Of the 13 Marin county communities we follow, we're currently identifying 10 as some type of sellers' market. In these communities, the percentage of MLS-listed homes in contract as of 11.24.13 ranged from a high of 57% (Corte Madera) to a low of 3.3% (Belvedere). Here's the ranking:
Town/City % in Contract
Corte Madera 57.14%
San Anselmo 54%
San Rafael 51.55%
Mill Valley 45.56%
Larkspur 15.14% (last month was 46%)
Across the County, the lower-priced homes (admittedly a relative term!) sold most briskly.
In the $0-$999K price range, 54% of SFR'S and 51.8% of condo's listed on MLS were in contract.
In the $1M to $1.99M price range, it was 43.8% for SFR's, but condo's came in at only 28.57%--- Buyers' opportunity!
The $2M to $2.99 M price range showed 24% of SFR's in contract--- A Buyers' Market!! There was only one condo in that price range, and it was in contract, so 100%!
There were no condo's in the over-$3M segment, but only 8.49% of the SFR's were in contract, making it a huge opportunity for qualified buyers in the price range. If you're one of those fortunate folks, take a look at the available inventory. Your local REALTOR might be able to help you give yourself the double gift of a new home and a great deal with $ in the bank. If you're a buyer, stay optimistic and stay engaged----definitely don't take the Holidays off, because your competition most likely will, providing you with a significant advantage.
Whatever you do, have a safe and happy Holiday Season!
More next time-----
Until then, best wishes to all,