Sales Rise Dramatically, Median Dips, Inventory Set to Rise as Fall Market Starts Now
September is here and what a great time to be in Marin or basically anywhere in Northern California. Both the weather and the real estate market warm up for the fall season if our typical Indian Summer and home sales ramp up are any guide. Sunny days and warm nights abound as the kids are all back in school, leaving mom and dad time to either put that home up for sale, or go out and look for a new one. The fall market starts now and these next few months are the time for people to make a move before the usual holiday slow down. But what should buyers and sellers do about offers or asking prices? Of course, it depends on many factors, but here’s the short version.
Recent data from last month show a strong, 15% uptick in Marin home sales, which is a surprise as July and August are typically two of our slower months. The median priced dropped a few points (3%) but that just means people bought more less-expensive homes, not necessarily that home prices are dropping. So the big question is, will sales continue up another 15% for September. “Probably”, if history is any guide. Buyers tend to step back in to try and close escrow well ahead of Thanksgiving or Christmas, as sellers like to get moved out for the same reasons. Winter and the holidays tend to be our regroup months in advance of the early spring market months of March and April with the “box checkers” getting the most activity. But let’s talk about that.
Buyers usually have a Wish List of some kind, with their needs and wants often starting in order of importance. Typical list toppers are often (what I call) the three L’s: Lot, Location and Layout. These are the inherent, fixed attributes of any property and ones you can’t change. Yes, you can change the layout, but it’s often not worth the cost. But level land or a view, how far from town, schools and shops, along with one story or multi-level, these are the things many buyers look for. Sure, there’s sometimes the need for sun, a garden, a pool, four bedrooms or an open kitchen/family room. But these all fall within my Three L’s and they all add up to the “boxes” that buyers check, either literally or mentally off their lists.
Even though we are a county with 75% of the homes being on a hillside, the demand for level land of any kind is often one of the first few boxes to be checked. To this end, smart sellers will invest wisely in lawns and irrigation, sometimes including a little garden or veggie area. We have terrific weather spring, summer and fall, so why not? Next box is often the location of where that lawn or garden may be: how far it is to town, the freeway, or the local market. And finally there’s the number of levels, with one story homes being in the highest demand, or at least a master on the main living level. Seasoned buyers know that rarely are all these attainable and that the perfect home likely doesn’t exist. But they compromise and use smart flexibility to get what they want. Given we have no new construction here and have basically a fixed-supply of homes, these are prudent words to live by and what propel our prices a little higher each year. Given all I know, this year should wind up as no exception to last with prices up in the 6%-8% range on average. We’ll see, but for now, all signs point to Go for a healthy September sales month here in Marin and throughout the entire Bay Area..
That’s it for now. Enjoy September wherever you are and stay in touch with any questions. As always, I’m here to help.