Welcome to my August Marin County Real Estate Market Report! As is typical at this time of year, market activity slowed down in July: there were fewer sales in July than in June, and fewer homes went in contract. Should this slowing down of our market be attributed to the summer doldrums, or an overall shift of caution in the market? If you are thinking of buying or selling, you’ll want to find out what is really happening and what it means for you.
HOW TO READ THIS REPORT: Read the section below for the main market highlights and my market analysis. If you are interested in drilling down further, make yourself comfortable, grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and scroll down to The Big Picture and an In-depth Study of our Market including an analysis by individual community and price-point.
MARIN COUNTY REAL ESTATE MARKET UPDATE – Are we witnessing a “normalization” of our market or are we looking at another housing bubble about to burst?
If you are a student of our Real Estate Market, you may have read recent reports questioning whether we are entering a “normalization” phase or about to watch another housing bubble burst. What does “normalization” mean when it comes to real estate? How can it affect you and the value of your home? What is a “normal” market in any case?
First, let’s take a look at the major highlights for July, paying close attention to the year over year comparisons.
- The average number of active listings dipped slightly in July to 361 from 381 in June, but was 11 percent higher than June 2015’s number of 326.
- The number of new listings dipped for the fourth month in a row from 208 in June to 161 in July, 23 percent lower than in July 215. This year’s highest number of new listings was 294 in March. As of today, August 22, there have been 142 new listings. Typically the second large wave of new listings in the year lands on the market in September.
- The number of sold properties decreased to 194 from 230 in June, and was 23 percent lower than in July 2015. It should be noted however that the fact that this July had 20 business days for transactions to be recorded in the public record compared with 22 business days in both June 2016 and July 2015 may have been partly responsible for this lower number.
- The number of pended properties (or properties in contract)–the most accurate indicator of how the market is performing right now–decreased to 177 from 197 in June and was 21 percent lower than in July 2015.
- The average sales price decreased to $1,426,000 from $1,583,000 in June, but remained 6 percent higher than July 2015’s average and 17 percent over the peak in 2007.
- The months supply of inventory (based on pended properties) increased to 2 months from 1.9 months in June and 1.4 months in July 2015.
The above data certainly adds credence to a “normalization” trend in our market. Continued high demand and limited supply have resulted in rapid price increases, thus reducing affordability to the point where it is now constraining sales.
The slowing down of the market is evidenced by:
- longer days on market
- a lower percentage of sold to original list price (due to fewer multiple offers)
- lower number of sold properties
- lower number of pended properties (despite the fact there were more homes on the market)
- a lower absorption of inventory.
Let’s mine the data even further, and take a closer look at how quickly the inventory is being absorbed as compared to last year, or the Months Supply of Inventory (MSI). It tells us how many months it would take for all the homes currently on the market to go into contract, based on the monthly volume of homes that went in contract the month before. In July we had an MSI of 2 months, as compared to 1.4 months in July 2015. To put it in perspective, keep in mind that an MSI of 5 to 6 months is generally considered to be a balanced market. An MSI of less than 5 months is considered to be a seller’s market, and an MSI of more than 6 months a buyer’s market. 1.4 months was incredibly low, and while the increase to 2 months is a change in the direction of a more normal market, we are still dealing with a low level of inventory that continues to drive prices up.
I already touched upon this slight softening of our market in my July 2016 Market Report.
What does it mean for you?
If you are a buyer, it means the frenzy of spring 2015 seems to be behind us. Buyers are expressing less urgency, which in turn, limits bidding wars. The key word here is “limited:” there still are bidding wars on well priced and well presented properties, but fewer than last year thankfully.
If you are a seller, accurate pricing is increasingly important. There is still very high demand and a limited inventory, it still is a great time to sell. But please keep in mind that there have been an increasing number of price reductions this year as buyers are wising up. They have started pushing back against increasingly high prices as affordability continues eroding. With unprecedented access to information on the internet, buyers are increasingly market savvy and know about comparable sales, values, what is coming on the market, what is selling, and what is “sitting.” “Sitting” in today’s market means your property has not received an offer within two to three weeks of coming on the market, unless you are in the upper end of the market where the pool of buyers is much smaller and properties typically take longer to sell. Prices are still at all time highs and you can be rewarded with a great return on your equity with smart pricing and great presentation. Top-notch, well-priced properties continue to generate plenty of interest and multiple offers.
General market conditions suggest that the demand for housing will remain steady through the rest of the summer and into the fall which typically has increasing momentum.
THE BIG PICTURE
What is driving our market? Where are interest rates and where are they heading? The elections? How are the California market, the San Francico Bay Area market, and how do they compare to our Marin market?
1. The Economy/Consumer Confidence/Interest Rates/Elections
While global economies kept fluctuating (Brexit), our stock market ended the month of July over 18,000 and consumer confidence held steady in July at 97.3, after improving in June to 97.4.
Interest rates remain at historically low levels, below 4 percent, and are actually even lower than last year. Thirty Year Fixed Jumbo rates (for loans ranging from $625,501 to $2,000,000) are at 3.75 percent. Where are they heading?
Just today, Fortune.com reported that the Federal Reserve’s Vice Chairman, Stanley Fischer, gave a generally upbeat assessment of the economy’s current strength, stating that the Fed is close to having reached its employment and inflation targets. Fischer’s comments are falling in line with some of the other Fed governors that have shared their optimism in the economy, suggesting that the Fed seems to be preparing the markets for an upcoming rate hike. Investors however see almost no chance of an increase at its September or November meetings because of the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming elections.
Watch the interview below for more on this:
My take is it’s probably safe to assume the Fed will not increase rates this year before the elections, but I don’t have a crystal ball. In any case, even if they did, it would not be by a significant amount. Keep in mind however that when interest rates start creeping higher, even in small increments, it will negatively affect affordability.
2. The California Market
Just like our local Marin market, the California real estate market appears to be experiencing a “normalization.” The title of a recent article from Housing Wire’s–California home sales tumbling back down to earth–sums up nicely its current state. OK, actually I think it is a bit sensational and exaggerated. According to the article, the California Association of Realtors’s newest report showed that home sales in California,after reaching a nearly four-year high in June, slowed down in July, despite strong fundamentals such as increasing household formation and strong job creation, because of low inventories and “eroding” affordability.
3. San Francisco Bay Area Market
Zeroing in now on the Bay Area. Although inventory shortages remain an obstacle for Bay Area home shoppers, less hectic market conditions helped ease the crunch somewhat this summer. The general trend this year across the region’s nine counties has been for sales to either fall or experience lower gains year over year. But as sales are slowing down, Bay Area real estate prices on the other hand are continuing their upward climb, albeit at a slower pace. The appreciation rate has been decreasing after four years of double digit growth fed by high tech employment and rising incomes. The latest Corelogic report reveals that our May Marin County median sales price of $960,000 was the third highest in the Bay Area after San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. For more information about the Bay Area market, read this San Francisco Chronicle article.
MARIN COUNTY REAL ESTATE MARKET INTELLIGENCE – JULY 2016 DATA IN DETAIL
Marin County Home Sales by Area
San Rafael, Novato and Mill Valley continue to see the highest number of homes sold at 47, 45 and 31, respectively, though all remain slightly under June levels. All other communities, excluding Tiburon and West Marin, saw decreases in home sales. Average Days On Market ranged from an astounding 23 in Kentfield (with Greenbrae not far behind at 28) which reflects accelerated closing times (typically associated with all cash offers,) to 67 in Tiburon.
Marin County Homes in Contract
Greenbrae led Marin County in July for the highest percentage of single family homes in contract at 55%, followed by Novato, Fairfax and Ross which all averaged 50%. Kentfield had the greatest percentage increase since June, from 13% to 35%, while Ross more than doubled the percentage of homes under contract to 50%, compared to June’s 23%. San Anselmo, San Rafael and Tiburon each saw a decline in the percentage of homes in contract while Sausalito remained unchanged.
Marin County Average Sales Price
The average sale price in July decreased significantly for Marin County single family homes to $1,425,590, down $157,500 from June averages. There was a slight decrease in average listing price from June in Marin County, which in July averaged $2,088,671.
Marin County Market by Price Point
The $1-$2 million price range remained the most active market with 88 sales in July, down from 108 in June.
Number of Marin County Homes Listed and Sold
Inventory in Marin County decreased again in July following a four-month upward trend through May.
Please let me know if I can be of assistance with your real estate needs. Contact me today with any question so that you will be prepared to hit the ground running as our market picks up after Labor Day. I would love to hear from you.
If you are considering selling, let’s meet to discuss how the numbers above have affected your neighborhood’s values and strategize on how to prepare and price your home for maximum returns. If it’s time to buy, let me know so I can give you the inside scoop on each neighborhood that may be right for you.
Please note: Unless otherwise indicated, charts were prepared by the Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty marketing department. All reports presented by Sylvie Zolezzi are based on data supplied by TrendGraphix and BAREIS MLS. Neither the Marin Association of Realtors nor its MLS guarantees or is in anyway responsible for its accuracy. Data maintained by the Association or its MLS may not reflect all real estate activities in the market. Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.
About the Author: The article Marin County Real Estate Market Update – August 2016 was written 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 intelligence—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 work with you. I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.