Pictured above: 120 Mountain View Avenue, San Rafael, CA – Listed at $8,000,000 by Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty
Welcome to my May 2017 Marin County Real Estate Market Update! Spring is off to a good start and our real estate market is in full swing, with continued high demand from buyers competing for a low number of homes available for sale. How low is that number? Let me put in perspective for you: in April the months’ supply of inventory for pended homes was only 1.5. The months’ supply of inventory reflects the market absorption rate and how long it would take for the market to absorb current inventory if no new listings came on the market. A healthy inventory level is considered to be 4-6 months, which we have not experienced in Marin since 2011 when it ranged from 2.8 to 5.5.
Here is a chart that shows the number of homes for sale and sold since 2011, when the recovery started. You will note a significant decline in the number of homes available for sale starting in 2012 as many of the distressed properties which had flooded the market were sold. The good news is that the level of inventory has remained almost flat since 2015.
What does it mean for you?
Buyers: Of late, the trifecta of low inventory, higher home prices and increasing interest rates has made it quite challenging to be a buyer in Marin County. The good news is that inventory is more stable, remaining at about the same level as last year and prices are leveling off. However, competition remains high, and most buyers are looking for the same amenities, including great schools, flat lots, privacy, an easy commute, walk to town location, an open floor plan, views and quiet neighborhoods. It is quite rare to find all of these features wrapped into one property, and the successful buyers are the ones who know how to compromise. The advice I gave aspiring homeowners in last month’s report bears repeating: seek a pre-approval from a local, respected lender, know what your budget and limits are, begin discussions early on about your housing wants and needs with a savvy Realtor who knows how to navigate this market. And be prepared to make decisions very fast.
Sellers: Buyers have access to market information (they are reading reports such as this one), and are working with savvy agents who are very knowledgeable of values. Overpriced homes are not selling in our market and I am seeing more price reductions from sellers who are trying to push prices higher. As prices are leveling off, it is paramount to price your property correctly from the onset to ensure you sell it for the highest possible price.
1. MARIN COUNTY MARKET HIGHLIGHTS AND ANALYSIS
Here are the main highlights:
- The average number of active listings increased in April compared to March, as is the case every year when our market switches into high gear after the slower winter pace. However, the number of active listings was 4% lower than it was in April 2016.
- The number of new listings decreased compared to March, which is not unusual as March typically is the first month of good weather in Marin when many sellers put their home on the market. But the drop is more significant than in previous years, and is especially important year over year.
- The number of sold properties shot up from February’s low number of 77 and March’s number of 132 to 239-an expected seasonal increase. Year over year, the number of sold properties remained almost flat.
- The number of pended properties (or properties in contract)–the most accurate indicator of how the market is performing right now–went up from 114 in February to 205 in March, and now 239 in April, or almost 6% higher than in April 2016.
- The average active (or list) price increased from $2,599,000 in March to $2,656,000 in April, and 7% year over year.
- The average sales price on the other hand decreased month over month. However, it is important to note that part of the increase in the average sales price for March was due to the sale of three high priced properties: $14.64M in Belvedere, $9.5M in Bolinas, and $8.25M in Tiburon.
- Days on Market decreased to 46, on average. Some homes actually sell in just 2 or 3 days as a result of pre-marketing.
- The months’ supply of inventory (based on pended properties) decreased compared to March’s number and compared to March 2016’s number.
2. THE BIG PICTURE
While it is important to remember that our Marin County real estate market is hyper local in nature, and that it moves up and down with the local supply and demand for similar types of housing, it also takes its cues from what is happening at the regional and national levels.
The San Francisco Bay Area Market
Our Marin market tends to track the San Francisco market, and it is always interesting to check in and see how it is performing. At first glance, it appears to be leveling off just as our market is.
The San Francisco market continued its steady pace through the first part of the year. Single family home values remained pretty constant, as compared to the first quarter of last year, while the number of sales increased by 4%. The market pace in San Francisco is faster than in Marin with homes selling in two to three weeks on average, compared to our 46 days.
Overbidding in San Francisco also remained consistent with last year, coming in at an average of 12% over list price, compared to our average in Marin of 1% over list price. The middle tier ($1.1 million to $1.7 million) had the greatest number of multiple offers and overbidding, averaging 14% over list price.
Condominium values posted a healthy gain of 5% in the first quarter, compared to the same period last year. This gain occurred despite an influx of nearly 1,000 new condominiums. The number of sales remained consistent with last year. Overbidding decreased slightly, coming in at an average of 4% over list price, versus 6% last year.
I am still seeing a lot of buyers moving to Marin where they feel they can get a lot more home for their money, in addition to great schools, great weather and a great lifestyle, all within a short commute to the City.
Economic Market Overview
I attended a Women’s Council of Realtors conference in Sacramento at the beginning of May and listened to an excellent presentation from Anita Khan, a top Wells Fargo economist. Among other factors, she blamed the low inventory on the fact that homeowners are waiting to sell because they believe their home will continue to increase in value. And indeed prices have been on an upward trend since 2011, increasing by over 50% since 2011, as illustrated by the chart below. Yet, you will notice that the increase has slowed down and actually almost leveled off since 2015. Especially when you know that the average for 2017 was high because of March’s high average sold price of $1,805,000, due to three unusually high priced sales. While I am still seeing properties receiving multiple offers and selling significantly over their asking price, there are also overpriced properties that sit on a market for several months and only sell after one or more price reductions. The market is still very competitive, and while some buyers are willing to jump in the fray in multiple offer scenarios, others are not willing to pay significantly over the asking price. As a result, the frenzy of 2015 and early 2016 seems to have subsided.
Back to Anita Khan, the economist: she gave a word of caution, pointing out that this July we will reach the eighth year in our current economic cycle. Cycles typically last about 7-8 years; we are currently in the third longest economic expansion since 1850. Yet, there is no life expectancy for the business cycle. Both the extended expansions of the 1980’s and 1990’s witnessed a second wind with new stimulus of tax reform and technological applications. With the election of President Donald Trump, the financial markets have moved in a way that anticipates financial success from his tax reform and pro business policies. It remains to be seen if actual policy actions will justify such optimism.
And so far, we have been left with an expectation hangover, as markets have rallied considerably since November but no changes have materialized. We are looking at a mixed picture with strong consumer and business sentiment, and continued hope Congress will deliver on the President’s pro-business agenda, continuing to fuel the positive market momentum. Yet US GDP growth for the first quarter of 2017 was anemic at 0.7%. She is hoping this was a one-off, and that GDP will increase to 2 to 2.5% in 2017.
For this to happen, consumer spending, which is the main driver of GDP growth and was down significantly in the first quarter, will have to increase.
The biggest impediment to a full recovery continues to be low inventory of housing. As I mentioned it earlier, she feels that homeowners have become complacent, waiting for their home to increase further in value, and that they could face a sudden downturn in the economy and drop in their home value. The other big risk is a steep increase in interest rates. She expects two more interest hikes this year.
If you are thinking of selling, keep a close eye on the market and any forewarning signs of a change, as you may not know the cycle is over until prices have already started going down.
For now, home loan rates remain attractive, despite a small increase. Here are rates quoted on May 12, 2017 by Rob Spinosa at RPM Mortgage.
Rate Trend: Higher by .125%.
30-Year Fixed Conforming: 4.250%
30-Year Fixed Conf-Jumbo: 4.500%
30-Year Fixed Jumbo: 4.125%
7/1 ARM Jumbo: 3.375%
FHA 30-Year Fixed: 4.000%
(All pricing above at 0 points. For reference and for real estate professionals only. Your actual rate, payment and costs could be higher. Get an official loan estimate before choosing a loan.)
3. MARIN MARKET STATISTICS AND COMMENTARY
Percentage in Contract by Area
Greenbrae had 67% of Homes in Contract in April, followed by Corte Madera (57%) and Novato (51%). Five cities had between 40% and 50% of Homes in Contract. In contrast, less active markets were West Marin (7%) and Belvedere (10%).
Number of Homes Sold
Marin Single Family Home sales were up 53% from March, and up 3% compared to the same month last year. Most Single Family Homes sold in April were in the price range of $1-2 million.
Home Sales by Area
San Rafael, Novato and Mill Valley continue to see the highest Number of Homes Sold at 48, 46 and 28, respectively. San Anselmo had a notable number of homes sold in April at 16, as did Kentfield and Tiburon, with 11 each for the period.
Average Price Sold
The Average Sale Price of Marin Single Family Homes decreased significantly by 11% in April compared to March, from at $1,607,803 and $1,826,554, respectively. As mentioned above, the spike on March was due to a few high priced home sales in March; $14.64M in Belvedere, $9.5M in Bolinas, and $8.25M in Tiburon. Compared to the same month last year, the Average Sale Price remains relatively unchanged, up 1%.
Sales By Price Point
The highest number of homes both available (110) and sold (94), were between $1-2 million. There were 50 homes sold between $750,000 and $1 million, almost double the number sold in March, while 22 homes sold in the $2-3 million price range. A notable 15 homes sold between $3-4 million. There were only 7 homes sold at $4 million or higher.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my May 2017 Marin County Real Estate Market Update. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. If you are thinking of buying or selling now or later this spring or summer, 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 Golden Gate 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 May 2017 Marin County Real Estate Market Update was written by Sylvie Zolezzi. I live in Marin, work in Marin and LOVE Marin!!! 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 Golden Gate 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, Golden Gate 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.