Fall is here in Marin, though as I write this the focus is on our friends in South Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas. Years of drought has left all forests and parks vulnerable to high fire danger, though few of us imagined it would be to the scope of what’s going on there right now. Let’s all hope that our hard working fire crews prevail and things can start returning to normal over time, though who knows what that will look like, literally. Kathryn and I have been on Highway 50 many times and we watch in dismay as our familiar road into Tahoe is engulfed in flames, wondering what will be left by the time we make our next trip back. All of us send our thoughts to everyone involved up there as we hope for the best. But let’s move forward here.
Speaking of normal, there’s a lot of press out now about both the economy and the real estate market starting to “normalize”. As job loss numbers shrink and more people get back to work, so may also go home sales. After record home sales in areas and neighborhoods outside our major cities over the last twenty months, there may be a slow down coming. Not a significant drop in prices or sales, but a more normal market with increased inventory and more time for buyers to decide on their purchase. More than the current average of six days, anyway, and without having to go over the asking price for an average of 106%. That’s where we’ve been, but hopefully where we’re going is less frenetic, yet still fruitful for both buyer and seller. It takes both groups to make a real estate market and what a market they’ve made since March of 2020. That too has been unimaginable.
What started out back then as a “certain drop off (if not a plummet)” in home buying, actually went in the exact opposite direction. That would be up. Dramatically. What’s more remarkable is that it went pretty much in the exact opposite direction of the economy, which started to go down. I just attended a webinar by Jordan Levine, a noted California Real Estate Economist and it was fascinating. He had clear charts and graphs, showing the economy going down, while home sales and prices rose over the last year +. But as more people went back to work and the economy improved, the upward trajectory of home sales and prices started to soften with more inventory, fewer bidding wars and less of the over-asking price spikes. Read those words carefully, mind you. There’s nothing dramatic going on here right now with the economy or housing, only a slight shift in trends for both. Where we go from here is anybody’s guess, but I for one would like to see a more balanced (read: normal) housing market going forward, one that is neutral, favoring neither buyer nor seller. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, you’ve all likely seen the published numbers or stayed in touch with an agent in your neighborhood, but virtually all home types and price ranges are up nationwide. They certainly are countywide here though not nearly the 20%-25% we’ve read about in some areas. Closer to 15%. Marin tends to have some of the higher prices in the nation with a median home price now at $1.8 mil and an average close to $2 mil, far from the approx $350k we see on average in most of the country, so that limits those who can afford the quality of life that many tend to strive for. Who knows where we go from there though. The times they may be a changing, yes, but people gotta live somewhere as they say and with interest rates these cheap, why not trade up, down or sideways.
For now, that pretty much does it. Enjoy September and the rest of this year wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.