Bay Area Housing Market is Closing Out

Summer Much the Way it Started!


What a game at AT&T Park last night! Our boys in orange and black continue to surprise all the experts, dispatching “favorites” to the golf course. Onto real estate news…

While there was a general slow-down in August, it apparently was due to the usual August seasonality. As you’ll see below, the market’s pace is still accelerated with a few exceptions.

As always, I encourage you to share this info with family, friends and colleagues. Referrals are always appreciated and never taken for granted.

Till next time…



Dino Virella’s Real Estate Market Watch


215The Bay Area housing market is closing out summer much the way it started: Continued tight inventory in many communities contributing to slowing sales, and driving prices higher.

New and existing home sales in the Bay Area fell 12 percent in August from a year ago, according to DataQuick, the La Jolla-based real estate research firm. The biggest drop came in San Francisco where sales were off more than 20 percent year over year. Santa Clara, Alameda, Sonoma and Solano counties all saw double-digit declines.

But the limited supply of homes on the market, coupled with continued demand, drove prices up 12.4 percent in the Bay Area from last August to a median sale price of $607,000. The steepest increase was recorded by Alameda County with a 19.1 percent surge in the median sale price to $610,000. All but Napa and Solano counties had double-digit price increases.

Despite the challenges of constrained inventory and mortgage availability, “the housing market is still slowly moving back toward long-term norms that were thrown out of whack back during the Great Recession,” said John Karevoll, an analyst with DataQuick.

Meanwhile, the Coldwell Banker Previews luxury market by and large continues to roll on. Million-dollar sales in the East Bay surged 29.5 percent last month. Silicon Valley saw a 7 percent rise in sales over $1.5 million. And while Marin luxury sales edged lower in August, median sale prices moved up 7.4 percent.

As we move into the fall home-buying season, agents are hoping that an increase in listings will meet continued demand from homebuyers, bringing the market ever closer to a healthy balance.

Below is a market-by-market report from our local offices:

213San Francisco – There was a wide range of activity in our San Francisco Lombard office this week. There was continued frenzy on entry-level fixers that brought 14 and 22 offers. Yet more transactions are solo offers in and around asking price. A typical story this week: 10 disclosure packages out, 5 offers expected, 2 offers materialize with the one around asking price winning out.

There are some signs of increased inventory and more cautious buyers. Maybe sellers should be happy with the list price and not feel automatically entitled to scores of offers and 15%-over premiums, according to our local office. Our Market Street office notes that while most properties saw multiple offers during this period, there is a general sense that things are taking a bit of a breather in The City. So, for each home that received 4 offers, there’s a tale of one that didn’t get any. Is this a new trend or just a slow return of buyers to the market following the Labor Day holiday? Whatever the case may be, it’s definitely an opportunity for buyers to scoop up properties without the frenzy seen earlier this year.

SF Peninsula – Our Burlingame office says agents are benefiting from an uptick in inventory as the fall markets gathers momentum. Pent up buyers who know what they want have no hesitation in making offers on newly listed properties. Open houses continue to be well attended. With more homes to choose from, buyers are beginning to be more selective with regard to pricing as they expand their search area looking for the best value they can find.

There are currently 42 active listings in Hillsborough. It is interesting to note that 21 of these properties are listed above $5 million. We have not seen such a wonderful selection of quality homes in a long time, our Burlingame office notes. Located between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, Hillsborough continues to offer great value with half-acre minimum lots, award winning schools and proximity to all that makes the Bay Area desirable.

In the Menlo Park area, open houses are still very well attended and multiple offers are alive and thriving in the A and A- locations. Our office took a short survey at their sales meeting and we still have an imbalance of many more buyers than sellers. Flurries of multiple offers are occurring in thePalo Alto area. There also have been multiple offers in Atherton – in the $5M range – with sales price exceeding the list price by 8%. In Woodside and Portola Valley, open houses are still well attended, but listings seem to be getting scarcer.

Silicon Valley – Sale prices are not meeting the expectations of some sellers for anything but the most popular properties, reports our Cupertino office. In the San Jose-Almaden area, the Coldwell Banker Previews high-end market is holding strong with 2 homes ($1,800,000 and $2,200,000) getting into contract. Listings were down over the previous 2 weeks but the sales count increased.

The local Willow Glen listing inventory continues to contract we are not gaining any new positive listing inventory as we move from week to week. Sales activity in the Willow Glen office was strong once again for the second straight week in September. Agents are not seeing any erosion in list to sell pricing. In other words, listings continue to sell at or above asking.

North Bay – Our Greenbrae office reports that the local market continues to be filled with a lack of inventory and multiple offers at every price range. A listing that was somewhat of a fixer that went on the market for a bit over a million had 15 offers. In general agents are seeing multiple offers drive prices up as high as 30% over list price. Most of our listing agents and our agents representing buyers are involved in multiple offers with every deal. If it’s a less desirable property (as in location or condition) it still might receive 3 offers, and the most desirable are receiving as many as 15 to 20!

The local Coldwell Banker Previews high-end market is live and well. A beautiful new CB Previews listing in Ross went on the market for over $5 million and received multiple offers. There is still quite a demand for high-end properties and a tremendous amount of all cash offers at every price range. There is still good activity as far as open house attendance in the San Rafael area, with sales steady.

The luxury market in Southern Marin is as strong as it’s ever been. In the past 10 days, CB Southern Marin has closed 4 properties over $3 million including one for $5,550,000 in Mill Valley. In the last week we have received multiple offers on three luxury listings, 2 offers on a $9 million listing, 4 offers on a $4 million listing and 3 offers on a $3.7 million listing. By the end of 2014 we will have more than doubled the number of sales above $3 million compared to 2013. The overall market has slowed for unit sales, although average and median prices continue to rise. Well-priced, well-located and turnkey listings continue to see multiple offers.

That’s it for now. Have fun out there. GO GIANTS!