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Ted Strodder

Golden Gate
Sotheby's International Realty
189 Sir Francis Drake Blvd
Greenbrae CA 94904

December Dilemma For Buyers and Sellers, What to Do and When to Do It?

It’s December in Marin with recent rains kicking off the beginning of winter here. Seems like the whole country could use more water these days, staving off drought conditions that have gone on for years in some places. Not too far off how it’s been for home buyers over that same time frame, especially in zero growth areas like Marin or in many coastal cities in the state. Inventory has been frustratingly low here, with buyers having to reach deep into their kit bags of patience in order to win whatever competition they were involved in. Compromise and flexibility remained the watchwords during these difficult times, which are far from over. Continued low supply and ever-strong demand have teamed up with local and national real estate market headlines to come up with a new challenge that’s starting to emerge. It’s a question I get frequently, starting with: “When”.

From Buyers:

When do you expect more inventory?

When are interest rates set to come down again? 

When are they going to lower the price on that house? Oh, they’ve set an offer date? Never mind. 

And finally, when are all home prices going to start dropping? 

From Sellers:

When should we put our house on the market and what do we need to do to sell? 

Hoo boy. While I can research some things or come up with a general consensus on others, most of these have to wait to play out over time. As you likely already know, real estate sales and values have both changed, often dramatically depending on the location. It’s also still a very localized and dynamic market though, with sales and prices varying greatly depending on the area and its demographics. Marin is one of the leaders in this, being in such high demand for housing, in almost any market. Almost, that is. What lies ahead could remain very uncertain for both buyers and sellers, with answers to the “when” question not known for months to come. Anybody looking for the top or bottom of any market cycle hopefully knows you won’t know when that is until you’re 3-6 months passed it. Marin is no different.   

Smart sellers spend weeks or months prepping their homes for sale, knowing already that buyers today don’t have the inclination to do much fix up beyond basic cosmetics (think paint, carpet, minimal landscaping). Those sellers who price effectively or even on the low side are often rewarded with a handful of offers that are, yes, still over asking. I see half a dozen recent sales on my screen from the last few weeks with whopping, over-asking, multiple offer closings. Two of those were my own listings and I can tell you firsthand that the buyers are still out in force here, even today. Try telling that to your cousin trying to sell his house in Denver or any other city in America that saw home prices shoot up in the post pandemic market. Like the hare, they are fading fast into the taillights, while prices in tortoise-like Marin are seeing a decline in values with some properties, but none at all in others.   

That’s it for now. It’s a whole new world and I for one am very curious to see what happens. In my thirty-five years of doing this, I’ve never seen anything like what we have now with sales moving up ever so slowly, even in the face of often severe price reductions in over-built areas nationwide. Until next time, enjoy December wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.