Welcome to my November 2016 Marin County Real Estate Market Update!
HOW TO READ THIS REPORT: Read the section below for (1) 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 (2) The Big Picture and (3) my Marin County Market Statistics with Commentary including an analysis by individual community and price-point.
1. MARIN COUNTY MARKET HIGHLIGHTS AND ANALYSIS
October was relatively strong for our Marin County real estate market, after a surprisingly low September, with an increase in sales, reflecting high buyer engagement in September, and a mild increase in both the Average Sales Price and the Median Sales Price.
Yet, we are continuing to witness normalizing market conditions, with an improved balance between buyers (fewer multiple offers) and sellers (longer days on market, more price reductions), and more stable sales prices with more moderate increases . Comparing the January through October year-to-date Single Family Home Median Sales Price appreciation for the past couple of years, we notice a definite slowing down with the Median Sales Price at $1,000,500 in 2014, increasing by 10% to $1,100,000 in 2015 and by only 8% year-to-date to $1,200,000.
As I reported in my October Market Report, while it is typically the beginning of the second busiest time of the year for our real estate market in Marin County, September was slower than expected, especially in terms of new listings. The combination of a limited inventory to start with at the beginning of October, a very low level of new listings coming on the market in both September and October, and a high number of sales during the month of October has resulted in the lowest level of inventory of homes for sales we’ve seen since April. As we are approaching the Holidays, the market is slowing down even more. Inventory is continuing to whittle away –a great challenge for buyers house hunting –compensated by the lower level of competition they are facing.
Let’s take a look at the major highlights for Single Family Homes in October, paying close attention to the year over year comparisons.
- The average number of active listings decreased in October to 320 from 370 in September, and was 4 percent lower than October 2015’s number of 335.
- The number of new listings dipped for the fifth month in a row from 225 in June to 220 in July, 200 in August, 174 in September and only 130 in October, 26 percent lower than in October 2015. This year’s highest number of new listings was 294 in March.
- The number of sold properties increased to 196 in October from 139 in September, and was close to the number of properties sold last October. Yet this year we have seen an overall drop in the number of sales as market activity cools off and inventory levels have been historically low. While October had nearly the exact number of sales as the previous year, overall the number of sales is declining as we seem to be reaching a new level of price sensitivity by buyers and the limit of affordability. Comparing sales year-to-date, January through October, with the same period in previous years we see declining sales in units: 2014 at 2,040, 2015 at 1,938 and 2016 at 1,671 single family home sales in Marin. This is a drop of 18% in the last two years.
- The number of pended properties (or properties in contract)–the most accurate indicator of how the market is performing right now–dropped to 169 in October from 218 in September and was 20 percent lower than in October 2015.
- The percentage of homes in contract increased to 38 percent.
- The average sales price increased to $1,530,000 from $1,380,000 in September thanks to several high end sales, but was 6 percent lower than in September 2015. Yet prices are well past the previous peak Median Sale Price of $1.2 million for Single Family Homes. It is important to note that average and median prices are trending a little lower this year overall because the high end luxury market is experiencing reduced activity: in the first three quarters of 2016 there was a 10% drop in home sales over $5 million and a 60% drop in homes sold over $10 million compared with the same period last year, which was a record year for home sales over $10 million. In October, Decker Bullock International Realty represented the highest sale in Marin: 21 Gilmartin Drive, which sold for $6,500,000.
- The median sales price increased by $34,000 from $1,188,000 in September to $1,222,000 in October. But it was essentially flat compared to last year. The Median Price can provide a clearer view of the changes over time, as it is not affected by individual sales at high price points as much as the average sales price.
- The months supply of inventory (based on pended properties) increased to 1.9 months from 1.7 months in August and increased 19 percent compared to 1.6 months in October 2015. Marin County Single Family Home inventory was up slightly in Q3 compared with the previous year and with the previous quarter, however, historically inventory is down considerably. From 2006 to 2011, inventory levels dropped nearly 70%, and have remained at this lower level since 2012 with the first quarter of 2016 at the lowest level in 10 years.
- The luxury markets of Belvedere, Kentfield, and Larkspur each saw an increase in median sale prices, the most significant being Kentfield with a 52% increase. Larkspur saw a jump in activity with seven single family homes sold compared to four last October, and a 31% increase in median sales price, thanks to two high sales at $3,400,000 and $4,900,000.
2. THE BIG PICTURE
While it is important to remember that real estate values are hyperlocal in nature, and that they move up and down with the local supply and demand for similar types of housing, they are also influenced by national and regional factors. Let’s look at what is driving our market? Where are interest rates and where are they heading? The elections? How is the San Francico Bay Area market, and how does it compare to our Marin market?
A note about the elections. I don’t know about you, but I reached the point of political exhaustion and saturation last week in a big way. This doesn’t mean I don’t empathize with those feeling “heartbroken,” “stunned,” “shocked,” by the outcome, or do not understand the joy of those who supported Trump, but right now I find myself glossing over Facebook/Twitter rants and avoiding certain conversations because they’re bound to lead to arguments. A lot of people are still recovering from the highly emotional past few days. The financial markets are still processing the effects that President-elect Donald Trump will have when he officially takes office in January. It is is impossible, until the dust settles, to predict with any kind of certainty what Trump’s election is going to mean for all of us on a personal basis, and how it will impact the economy, the housing market and interest rates. The track record for predicting the elections’ outcome does not bode well for predicting the future, so let’s focus on what we know today:
A. Post Election: The Stock Market
In a stunning reversal that surprised everyone, after trending down on Tuesday, November 8, the market rallied on Wednesday and in the following days. It started with President-Elect Donald Trump’s victory speech. His more conciliatory and gracious tone, pledge to work together with, and unite, all Americans suggested that he would significantly moderate his extreme positions. Furthermore, with the republican sweep of the White House and Congress, the hope is that the government will break the current gridlock over national policy. Stocks are also benefiting because investors feel a Trump Presidency will be more business friendly with tax cuts, deregulation, and higher defense spending.
B. Interest Rates
Popular expectations were that a Trump victory would help bond markets (i.e. lower rates) and hurt stocks, but, like with the election itself, the unexpected happened. Rates jumped from 3.38% on Tuesday, November 8 to 3.8% on Monday, November 14. Wow!
“Following the election, mortgage rates saw their biggest week over week increase since the “taper tantrum” in June 2013, and reached their highest level since January of this year,” said David Stevens, president and CEO of the Mortgage Banker Association. “Investor expectations of faster growth and higher inflation are driving the jump up in rates…”
It’s worth noting that usually an unexpected event causes a “flight to safety” of government debt, pushing yields down. That the opposite occurred reflects fears that the deficit might balloon and inflation could become rampant.
As for a December rate hike by the Fed? What seemed like a sure-thing before is now the topic of much uncertainty.
To keep it all in perspective, it is important to remember that the average interest rate on a 30-year loan over the past 38 years has been approximately 7%. Today’s 30-year rates are in the high 3’s or low 4’s.
Quick Economics Review: How does “inflation” impact Bonds and Interest Rates?
Inflation is the rising prices of goods and services over time. Rising prices erode the purchasing power of a bond’s fixed future interest payment.
For example let’s say a ten-year bond pays $1000 every six months. Inflation (rising prices) means that $1000 will buy less five years from now. When investors worry that a bond’s yield won’t keep up with the rising cost of inflation, the price of the bond drops because there is less investor demand for that bond and the yield (interest rate) moves up to attract investor interest.
C. The Housing Market
Housing experts are very divided in their opinions of what the Trump election will mean for the housing market, and the economy overall.
All agree that housing was a topic that was definitely absent from both campaigns. But perhaps that is what is dividing this market even more: no one really knows what a Trump presidency means, or what he will do when it comes to the housing industry. He has hinted at favoring deregulation (dismantling Dodd-Frank) over controlling supply-side policies, but no one knows what path he will actually follow.
The main trends to watch on a national basis are the change in income distribution as they shift the demand for housing (think first time home buyers being priced out the market), the rising cost of land and the land use restrictions restricting the supply of more-affordable housing in richer states and communities (sound familiar?). No analysis of the future housing market is complete without considering them.
“It is critical that President Trump focus on three main areas – ensuring an adequate supply of affordable housing, bringing first time home buyers back into the housing market and ensuring certainty in regulations,” MBA President and CEO David Stevens said.
For more information, read this HousingWire.com article.
We will keep a close eye on what develops in the coming year…
D. San Francisco Market Update
The San Francisco market continues with its normalizing trend, with price appreciation (2.5% year over year increase in sales price in September) and the increase in the number of sales (5.1% year over year) slowing down. While there has been a buildup of luxury inventory in San Francisco, mostly newly constructed luxury condominiums, the lack of affordable housing continues to be a big issue. As the high performing tech industry continues to fuel high employment in the Bay Area, demand remains strong for housing in the City where the young tech employees want to be.
Here is a snapshot of the San Francisco Single Family Home market for September 2016 from the California Association of REALTORS.
3. MARIN MARKET STATISTICS AND COMMENTARY
Number of Homes Sold
Average Price Sold
In Contract by Area
Greenbrae sales are the highest relative to the inventory, and in October, every home was in contract. In contrast, no Ross homes were in contract although there were 9 available. The next most active market was Novato (59%), then Larkspur (56%). The number In Contract in San Anselmo and Kentfield increased from last month to 39% and 33%, respectively. Tiburon, Sausalito and Ross saw decreases with Corte Madera exhibiting the greatest decrease, at 33%, down from 62% in September.
Sales by Area and Price Point
San Rafael, Novato and Mill Valley continue to see the highest Number of Homes Sold at 52, 37 and 26, respectively, all of which are above September levels. Average Days On Market ranged from a swift 12 in Stinson Beach, to 211 in Belvedere. The majority of homes available were between $1-2 million. Under $1 million the Months of Inventory is lowest. There were a total of 29 homes available over $5 million; we represented the only two sales in that price point.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my November 2016 Marin County Real Estate Market Report. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. If you are thinking of buying or selling now or next spring, feel free to contact me today. It is never too early to start preparing to sell your home and I am always happy to sit down with you and provide you with advice on the best improvements to make on your home for the best returns.
Contact me at 415-505-4789 or Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com.
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 November 2016 Marin County Real Estate Market Update 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.