Welcome to my December 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.
And remember, if you are planning on selling your home next spring, it is not too early to begin thinking about preparing your home for market. Stagers, painters, landscapers and other trade professionals get booked months in advance. I am happy to help you with all your preparations.
1. MARIN COUNTY MARKET HIGHLIGHTS AND ANALYSIS
This is the time of year where many sellers take their home off the market to remain undisturbed through the holiday season. Those who keep their home on the market are often rewarded by offers from motivated buyers who wait for the best pricing and seek bargains when the weather and holiday hustle reduce the competition from other buyers, and serious and reasonable offers are well received.
There are also those buyers who are trying to close for tax purposes, and typically, there are some significant sales that happen in the latter part of the year and more specifically in December for tax reasons. However, this year may be different as there are speculations about favorable changes in tax codes and rates.
As is typical every year as a result of the seasonal slow down in November, every metric this November was substantially lower than the previous month’s.
Notable this year however is the significant drop in the number of new single family home listings in November, down to less than half of what it was in October, and down 30 percent compared to November 2015. The entire fall and winter season this year have been slower than last year’s, with the exception of a small spike of increased activity as we moved into October.
More than at any other time of the year, this typical slow down heading into the holidays makes comparing same month figures more accurate than month to month, and I have pulled stats going back several years to put this month’s numbers in perspective.
Let’s take a look at the major highlights for Single Family Homes in November.
- The average number of active listings decreased in November to 216 from 320 in October, and was 6 percent lower than November 2015’s number of 230, and the lowest in November in recent years. I have been feeling like a broken record over the past few years talking about our lack of inventory; the chart above illustrates how drastic the decline in the inventory of homes for sale has been.
- The number of new listings dipped for the sixth month in a row in November, from 225 in June to 220 in July, 200 in August, 174 in September, 130 in October, and only 72 in November, 30 percent lower than in November 2015, and almost as low as December 2015 rock bottom number of 61 new listings. This year’s highest number of new listings was 294 in March. The chart above shows the decline in the number of new listings year over year, with this year’s November new listing number lower than half of November 2010’s number.
- The number of sold properties decreased to 145 in November from 200 in October, but was just 10 sales short of the number of sales in November 2015. Yet this year we have seen an overall drop in the number of sales as market activity has been cooling off and inventory levels have remained historically low. While November had nearly the exact number of sales as November in 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 November, with the same period in previous years we see declining sales in the number of single family homes in Marin: 2014 at 2,216, 2015 at 2,089 and 2016 at 1,817. 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 134 in November from 163 in October and was 9 percent lower than in November 2015.
- The percentage of homes in contract increased to 40 percent.
- The average sales price decreased to $1,312,000 from $1,515,000 in October and was 13 percent lower than in November 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 in part 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.
- The median sales price decreased by $150,000 from $1,200,000 in October to $1,050,000 in November. 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) stayed flat month over month at 1.6 months. 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.
2. THE BIG PICTURE
While it is important to remember that real estate values are hyper local 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? How are the National Housing Market, the San Francisco Bay Area market, and how do they compare to our Marin market?
A. Economy/National Housing Market
By numbers alone the US economy is in good shape — a fact confirmed by several of this month’s economic reports. Personal Incomes rose 0.6%, the best monthly gain in a year. The commerce department reported the US economy grew by a healthy 3.2% during the third quarter, the best reading in two years. And the Unemployment Rate fell to 4.6% from 4.9%, the lowest reading since August 2007 (the month generally associated with the birth of the financial crisis).
Consumer sentiment increased to 98 in December 2016 from a final reading of 93.8 in November. It was the highest reading since January 2015, as consumers expected a positive impact of new economic policies following Donald Trump’s election. Consumer Confidence in the United States averaged 85.97 from 1952 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 111.40 in January of 2000 and a record low of 51.70 in May of 1980.
With respect to housing, by every measure, 2016 was a good year. More Americans recovered lost equity from the Great Recession and fewer investors competed with first-time home buyers for houses. Yes, affordability was reduced by increasing prices –nationwide the median price this October was 6% higher than in October 2015–, but if you’re a homeowner, appreciation is a good thing. With rising rents and low interest rates, many tenants decided to break their lease and sign a mortgage. First-time buyers returned to the market accounting for 35% of sales in October, the highest percentage since 2013.
The low housing inventory remained a challenge: inventory is currently down an average of 11 percent in the top 100 metros in the U.S. Nationwide, the National Association of Realtors reports. Unsold inventory is now at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace; 5-6 months supply is typically considered to represent a balanced market.
But there is hope that the inventory picture will improve in the coming months as housing starts have ramped up in October, providing more choices for buyers and more moderate price growth. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist is hopeful that a prolonged continuation of the robust single-family starts pace seen in October would go a long way in giving homeowners nationwide much-needed assurance that they can list their home for sale and find a new home to buy within a reasonable time frame.
The 2017 National Association of Realtors’ National Housing Forecast is predicting the market to slow compared to the last two years, across the majority of economic indicators. Home prices are anticipated to increase 3.9 percent and existing home sales are expected to increase 1.9 percent to 5.46 million homes.
B. The San Francisco Bay Area’s Housing Market
Bay Area real estate markets barely cracked the first half of those projected for the most growth next year, with San Francisco at No. 37 and San Jose at No. 39. But it isn’t expected home price gains that prevented the Bay Area from ranking higher; San Francisco’s forecast 8.41 percent growth is the highest in the nation, followed closely by San Jose at 8.26 percent. Rather, it is projected sales growth, which is among the nation’s lowest — 1.17 percent in San Francisco and 1.26 percent in San Jose.
And yes, you guessed it, continued tight inventory conditions are a major factor contributing to the Bay Area’s sluggish sales forecast.
Remember that while housing starts are up in the rest of the country, in the Bay Area, and particularly in Marin County, we are not experiencing the same increase in our housing stock through new construction. In Marin County, our no growth policy is preserving our open space and strictly controlling new construction.
C. Interest Rates
Mortgage interest rates rose sharply just after the Presidential Election, to the highest point in two years–back above 4% for the first time since 2015–, and those rates are expected to continue to trend upward.
In a recent interview with CNBC, New York federal bank president William Dudley, who along with his colleagues decided this week to raise the Federal Reserve’s benchmark rate, spoke about what’s driving the markets.
“What we’ve seen post-election is bond yields up, equity market up, dollar firmer,” he said. “My judgment is that it seems to be that what people are factoring in is [the] likelihood of more fiscal stimulus and reduced downside risk to the economy.”
What does the increase in the Fed’s rate mean for you? Mortgage interest rates will not be immediately affected, but on the other hand if you owe credit card debt, you will probably pay more in interest and if you have a Home Equity Line of Credit, you will likely see your payment increase.
The Fed is expected to raise rates a few more times next year. Most experts agree that the days of historically low-interest rates are over. Mortgage rates are expected to reach 4.6% in 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors. However, that doesn’t mean the housing market will go bust, even though affordability will be affected by the increase. Now, adjustable rate mortgages will become a viable option. Word to the wise: Lock-in your rate now.
3. MARIN MARKET STATISTICS AND COMMENTARY
Number of Homes Sold
Average Price Sold
In Contract by Area
Sales by Area
Sales by Price Point
I hope you have enjoyed reading my December 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.
Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!
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 December 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.