Of the 13 Marin County towns and cities we usually follow, 7 are now characterized as being "Very Strong Sellers' Markets"---- meaning that 56% or more of listings in those towns are in contract. Housing inventory in the County is incredibly low. At the end of December, Months' Supply of Inventory (MSI) was only 1.9 months for both Single Family Residences (SFR) and Condominiums. Reluctant Sellers continue to hold their properties off the market while waiting for higher home prices to arrive. That time may be here sooner than many people thought.
According to a January 16 article from Data Quick, a La Jolla,CA-based real estate news service, the median price of a Marin County home in December was up 27.6% from December 2011 (with about half the increase coming from appreciation, and the other half coming from a change in market mix, meaning more expensive homes are being sold) . This was just a few points off the Bay Area average appreciation of 32%--a year-over-year increase the Data Quick Article notes is "The highest in Data Quick's statistics, which go back to 1988". The article goes on to state that "the median reached a high of $665,000 in June/July 2007 and then fell to a low of $290,000 in March, 2009". The alticle also notes: "At the median's current rate of increase, sometime this spring it will have recovered about half of its (the median's) loss since its summer 2007 peak."
Buyers continue to pounce on attractive new inventory, and multiple offers are once again common. Recently, an attractive, small single family home in a West Marin town received a rumored 33 offers, going into contract at a price that was reportedly almost double the asking price. Extreme? Yes! Representative of the average deal? No. But Marin County real estate is getting competitive again, after several years of bargain basement homes for buyers.
In real estate, as in life, timing is, if not everything, at least an important factor. People who make money in markets are usually those who receive, recognize, and act on information before everyone else climbs on board. We have said for many months now that it was time for buyers to jump into the market to take advantage of low prices and interest rates. Prices have risen, but they are still a bargain compared to 2006/2007. Interest rates are still incredibly low. And there is other good news for buyers---- Even with the price increases, there are still pockets of opportunity in the market. On January 29, only about 37% of homes in the $1million to $1.9 million range were in contract. In the $2million and up range, the figure was only 26-27%. Don't wait too long, because this will change too! Buyers in the hot, under-$1million range can still be successful-----with a good REALTOR and an attitude of optimism and persistence.It is not uncommon for buyers to make 4 or more offers before getting the home they want,but it can be done----hang in there and prepare to be aggressive with offers when the situation calls for it!.
Sellers are now in a pocket of opportunity similar to that occupied by buyers a year or two ago. What a great time to take advantage of the current shortage of housing inventory! An experienced local REALTOR can be an invaluable resource in assessing your home's current value and formulating and implementing a market strategy designed to maximize its value. Don't put off calling your local REALTOR to discuss getting your home on the market in time for the spring sales season. Beat the crowds. Opportunities don't last forever!
More next time---
Until then, best wishes to all,