HOW TO READ THIS REPORT: If you only want to read the main highlights for the single family home market, just read the recap below. If you are interested in a more detailed analysis, make yourself comfortable, grab a cup of coffee and scroll down for The Big Picture and an In-depth Analysis of our Market.
MARIN COUNTY MARKET HIGHLIGHTS – MAY 2016 DATA
Summer is almost here! While we are looking forward to leisurely summer days, activity in Marin County Real Estate Market remains brisk with properties in prime locations and turn key condition continuing to sell quickly and often over the asking price – even as asking prices continue to hit new record highs. However, the market overall seems to be slowing down a little. Don’t be mistaken, this is a still a seller’s market: homes are still getting multiple offers – just not as many on average as they did a year ago. Our low inventory of homes for sale coupled with healthy demand is helping to keep house prices elevated, yet pricing correctly seems to be more important than ever. Sellers pricing too high find themselves having to reduce their price–sometimes several times till they hit that “Goldilocks” price, not too high and not too low–– and end up selling for a lot less than they could have had they come on the market at the right price. Sellers pricing low in the hope of starting a bidding war sometimes see the strategy backfire as they get no offers or only one below their list price!
- The AVERAGE NUMBER OF ACTIVE LISTINGS has been increasing, jumping to 369 from 328 in April and 277 in March.
- The NUMBER OF NEW LISTINGS unexpectedly dipped for the second month in a row from 256 in April to 235 in May and was 15 percent lower than in May 2015.
- The NUMBER OF SOLD PROPERTIES dropped to 218 from 298 in April, and was 12 percent lower than in May 2015, reflecting a slower than usual start to the spring selling season this year.
- The NUMBER OF PENDED PROPERTIES increased to 250 from 230 in March, and was 13 percent higher than in May 2015, confirming that demand for Marin County single family homes remains very high.
- The AVERAGE SALES PRICE increased to $1,652,000, up 63,000 from $1,589,000 in April, and up $151,000 or 10 percent year over year from last May. The average sales price is now at 36% over the peak in 2007, and up nearly $400,000 from the average price last year.
- The MEDIAN SALES PRICE increased to $1,245,000, up from $1,233,000 in April, and up $95,000 or 8 percent year over year from last May.
- The ABSORPTION RATE OF PENDED PROPERTIES dropped slightly to 67.8 percent from 70.1 percent in April. The absorption rate is my favorite statistic to keep my finger on the pulse of the market: it can be calculated to represent the percentage of current active listings for sale that went into contract (or were absorbed) during the course of the month, as above, or the percentage of current active listings that sold during the course of the month.
THE BIG PICTURE – NATIONAL AND REGIONAL MARKETS
The National Economy
The recent economic slowdowns, which include April job growth of only 160,000 and 0.5 percent Q1 GDP growth, seem to have darkened everyone’s view of the economy for the remainder of the year. However, according to a recent DSNews.com article, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have stood their ground on their positive outlook for housing for the remainder of 2016. Freddie Mac stuck to its prediction that 2016 will be the best year for home sales in a decade as near-historically low mortgage rates work to offset rapid home price appreciation and tight inventory.
The Bay Area Real Estate Market
According to a recent Inman News Article, California and the West Coast are dominating the list of the fastest moving markets nationwide. The San Francisco Bay Area is still home to arguably the hottest and most expensive housing market in the country. The San Jose metro area continues to rank as the fastest-selling market in the nation, according to a recent Trulia report, with 63 percent of homes selling within a month.
Yet there may be a little relief in sight for frustrated home buyers. The fevered bidding wars finally seem to be slowing down – except for the top homes at the most competitive prices and the San Francisco housing market has slowed quite a bit over last year after tying with San Jose and prices are falling in San Francisco. The feverish bidding seems to be concentrated mostly in pockets like the Marina, Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights.
As mentioned above, rates remain historically low and below 4 percent, —averaging 3.7 percent for a 30-year fixed rate at the end of the first quarter and floating between 3.57 and 3.66 percent in April and May. Here are the rates as quoted by Terra Mortgage Banking as of June 13, 2016:
The Federal Reserve did not raise interest rates today, and expects to raise rates more slowly in coming years than announced earlier this year according to a New York Times article just published this morning. The article reports that the central bank is struggling to adapt its plans to the realities of an economy that remains mediocre seven years after the end of the Great Recession and is refusing to boom. As such, I would expect rates to remain low for the foreseeable future.
MARIN COUNTY REAL ESTATE MARKET UPDATE – JUNE 2016 BY THE NUMBERS
Home Sales and Market Activity By Price
May marked a seasonal increase in inventory across all price points in Marin County. The inventory of single family homes for sale increased from 328 in April to 369 in May. This number is still 63% below inventory levels in 2007 at the market peak. The continued and historically unique lack of home inventory has contributed to the decline in the number of homes sold from 865 to 733 year over year for the first five months. Spring sales were markedly slower than last year; however, we did see a monthly seasonal increase in May compared to April.
Homes priced from $1-$2 million remain the most active market in Marin County with 98 sales in May, with the bulk of the activity in the $1-$1.5 million range with 67 sales vs. 31 in the $1.5-$2 million range. Homes under $1 million–which are more scarce– followed with 68 sales, nearly unchanged from April records. In this price range, properties typically go into contract very fast.
In the luxury end of the market, there was a significant increase of active homes priced between $3-$4 million, from 35 in April to 42 in May and in the $4-$5 million an increase from 10 to 14. The number of sold homes in the $3-$4 million price point jumped to 11 from 8 in April, while the number of homes priced in the $4-$5 million range dropped from 3 to 1. Homes priced from $5-$10 million and above remained nearly the same as April levels, in both active inventory and number of homes sold.
While the media has indicated that the luxury market is softening, in Marin the number of luxury home sales in the very top tier outpaced last year’s sales by one sale. In 2015 through May, there were 17 homes sold over $5 million, this year there have been 18.
A word about months of inventory: as a rule of thumb, an inventory level of less than three indicates a strong seller market while an inventory level greater than six indicates a buyer’s market. Months of inventory is the inverse of the absorption rate: it is calculated by dividing the number of properties offered for sale by the number of properties pended or sold. In the chart below I have calculated the months of inventory level on the basis of how many properties sold in May. Just by looking at the respective months of inventory levels in the chart, you can tell which market segments are the most active.
Average Listed and Sold Price
May saw an increase in average sale price in Marin County for single family homes at $1,661,796, up $57,850 from April averages. There was also a $70,178 increase in average listing price in Marin County.
Number for Sale and Sold
May inventory in Marin County continued to rise during our most active listing season with 378 single family homes for sale, just shy of September 2015 levels which marked a market high for the past 12 months. The number of homes sold in May also increased, from 198 in April to 218. Single family home sales in May remain lower – by 31 transactions – compared to the same month last year.
Homes in Contract
Fairfax and Corte Madera led Marin County in May for the highest percentage of single family homes in contract, both at 64%. Larkspur, at 50%, saw the highest increase in homes under contract compared to April’s 33%. Kentfield witnessed the greatest decrease of homes in contract at 11%, nearly 60% lower than April’s level. Sausalito, Tiburon, West Marin, Belvedere and Beach Cities all saw decreases in number of homes in contract.
This is a great time to be a seller and can be quite a frustrating time to be a buyer. There are great properties out there and with the assistance of a trusted real estate agent to discuss the market dynamics with you and help you put devise the best strategy to attain your real estate goals you can be successful. Now is an ideal time to prepare your property for a successful sale. If it’s time to buy, let me know so that I can give you the inside scoop on each neighborhood that may be right for you. Please call or text me at 415-505-4789 – I am always happy to chat or email me at Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com
About the Author: The above Marin County Real Estate Market Update – June 2016 was prepared by Sylvie Zolezzi. I am an award winning, top producing Realtor specializing in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
I offer a wide range of innovative and comprehensive real estate solutions for buyers, sellers and investors, attracting clients who demand excellence—in marketing, negotiations, market knowledge—and a genuine concern for their needs. My association with Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty allows me to provide a high-end luxury experience to all my clients at every single price point. It also empowers me to leverage the unique combination of Sotheby’s global resources, Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty’s growing market share and local knowledge with my unmatched social media networks to provide highly personalized service and unmatched exposure to my clients’ properties locally and worldwide.
I would welcome the opportunity to show you how I consistently get outstanding Real Estate results for my clients. I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.