Home sales in the nine-county Bay Area turned in their best September last month since 2009, with suburban counties enjoying the strongest gains, according to a recent report by CoreLogic, the real estate information services company.
Contra Costa, Solano and Napa counties showed the biggest year-over-year gains for September. Solano County led all nine counties with a 31.2 percent year increase last month from a year ago. Contra Costa saw sales climb more than 18 percent while Napa County reported more than a 16 percent increase.
Overall, some 7,816 homes sold in the nine-county Bay Area region, up 6.9 percent from last September.
Sales activity could be shifting to lower-cost parts of the Bay Area as buyers get priced out of higher-cost ones, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. To be sure, more than 40 percent of all sales last month occurred just in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
But Andrew LePage, research analyst with CoreLogic, said it could also be that people in lower-cost areas who were “stuck in their homes” because they owed more than the homes were worth “finally have enough equity to sell. We are unlocking some inventory there (inland counties). In the high-end coastal communities, that played out earlier.”
Meanwhile, the median sale price for a new or existing home or condo in the Bay Area rose to $650,000 last month, up 1.2 percent from August and up 8.3 percent from September 2014. All Bay Area counties except Marin saw a year-over-year jump in the median sale price. Napa County led the way with an 18.8 percent price increase.
Below is a market-by-market report from our local San Francisco Bay Area offices:
North Bay – Agents are feeling a definite slowdown in the market at all price ranges, according to our Greenbrae manager. This week a listing agent from a competitive brokerage announced to our agent representing a buyer that she would be receiving six offers. When the date came to hear offers the agent received none! Currently we are seeing far fewer multiple offers and definitely more price reductions than has been evident all year. We are also seeing more deals fall out of escrow. Activity in Northern Marin has slowed down since summer, with only new inventory moving quickly, our Novato manager reports. Days On The Market remains constant over the past year. Year over year inventory is down significantly, driving Novato’s average sales price higher, up almost 8%. Even with 20% less inventory this year, sales in Novato have remained constant with a slight 3% increase. There has been an increase of homes over $1 million selling over past month, due to an increase of inventory in desirable location. Over-priced homes of unrealistic sellers are sitting, even after large price reductions. The San Rafael area market appears to be steady. Agents are busy with their seasonal marketing to prepare for the coming year. The activity for the San Rafael market appears to be typical for this time of year. As of today there are 99 active listings at a median price of $859,000 and 53 closed since October 1st with a median sold price of $875,000. Good homes are still getting snapped up. As November approaches, all levels of the Santa Rosa area market are experiencing a slowdown. Nevertheless, when a new listing is priced at the last comparable sale and it is well located buyers still come out in droves. Buyers are more cautious, negotiating repairs more vigorously and considering carefully unless the property is “perfect.” The market is creeping inexorably toward balance, our local manager reports. While Sebastopol area sales are steady the number of attendees at open houses is strong. The buyers are looking at new inventory in record numbers. Agents report groups of 40-50 at new listings and single digit or in the teens for listings that have been held open one or two times previously. This market remains price sensitive with many listings not getting attention until after at least one price adjustment. After a very active post Labor Day surge, the Southern Marin market has settled into a 4th quarter slowdown. Average homes that were selling immediately with multiple offers this past spring/summer are now staying on the market for 30 days or more. The best-priced and most desirable properties are still selling immediately and often with multiple offers. The Previews luxury market is active and steady but slowing. Less than 20% of listings over $3 million are pending and less than 10% over $5 million are pending. On a positive note, CB Southern Marin listed a property in Sausalito for $5,750,000, which received multiple offers and closed for $6,500,000.
San Francisco – Our Lombard office manager says it’s still a sellers’ market, but there are more solo offers and transactions more price reductions, and more closings that are closer to the asking price. There are also more multiple counters back and forth with buyers having a little more leverage in negotiations. Entry-level priced properties are still very competitive. The market over $3 million is slowing down, he adds.
SF Peninsula – Sales have picked up in the last two weeks, our Burlingame manager reported, but agents are not receiving as many multiple offers. Listing inventory of Single Family Homes in San Mateo County is decreasing, our Half Moon Bay manager noted. For example this week there were 473 active listings, last week 487, and the week prior was 505. The price range in Half Moon Bay, El Granada, Moss Beach, and Montara is $825,000 to $3,588,000, and currently there are 37 active listings of single-family homes for sale in those areas. A total of 68 single-family homes are for sale in the Coastal area from Pescadero to Pacifica and there are 65 pending sales. The Peninsula market is softer and definitely slower, our Menlo Park manager reports. Open houses are fairly well attended but buyers are in a wait and see mode. Days on market are creeping up and agents are seeing a fair number of price reductions. It all points to a slow down – BUT we still have more buyers than sellers. We are not at ‘normal’ yet. In addition to these issues, sellers are now pushing up their prices. Sellers are about 60 days behind the buyers – the 5 and 6 offer situations are behind them and they will soon realize this when their houses sit on the market for 30 or 60 days, she says. New construction projects are all over the place in Atherton and Menlo Park. Our Redwood City-San Carlos manager says there definitely has been a shift in the local market. It’s very important to price a listing at the right price. You can no longer always use the latest comps, especially if they were a month or more ago. Our office is still seeing multiple offers on some properties but fewer offers overall. San Mateo’s local market is slowing down a bit, but fairly steady. We have had some good action in Woodside. Our office just sold a $10 million dollar property that had three offers. When something special comes on the market, the buyers come out of the woodwork. Portola Valley continues to be the best keep secret on the Peninsula, according to our local manager. You can still get a great house on an acre for about $3.5 million. That price gets you a fixer in Menlo Park on a 12,000 lot, she says.
Silicon Valley – Our Cupertino manager says things seem more active than they did a few weeks ago, but she adds that the new mortgage disclosure requirements are creating some stress in closing escrows. Currently there are 124 homes for sale in Los Gatos versus 99 homes for sale during the same period last year. Our San Jose Almaden manager notes agents are seeing an increase on sale prices for the 2nd half of the month. Almaden prices are up 25% from the beginning of the month with a current average sales price of $1,206,000. Blossom Valley and Cambrian have remained steady (slightly up) with average sales prices of $668,000 (+2%) and $905,000 (+4%) respectively. Our San Jose Main office manager reports that the market has slowed down with fewer buyers and sellers. Buyers are showing signs they are tired of the multiple offer issues and those who have lost out in previous bidding wars are sitting back and waiting for a home to be on the market for 7-10 days before making an offer. Sellers who are still hoping to get 3-5% more than the previous sales comp are learning the hard way that the increase in sale price has slowed down and some current sales are below the last comparable sale. Sellers who price too high are seeing longer than normal days on market and some are experiencing price reductions. The Willow Glen market has experienced a surge in both new active listing inventory and sales, our manager reports. There were 20 new listings that came on the market this past week bringing total listing inventory to more than 70 units. The market had a strong week on new open sales both selling our listing inventory and buy side transactions. The consensus is this is a great time to get buyers into contract with lots of new inventory with minimal multiple offer situations, and in some cases properties going into contract under asking or just after a recent price reduction.
South County – Morgan Hill and Gilroy are experiencing a building boom. New homes are being built throughout the area. Prices range from entry-level homes (averaging in price from about $550,000) to larger single-family properties with prices starting at just under one million dollars. In both cities, it seems that there is a new home development springing up almost every week. Sellers of existing (occupied) homes are finding that, at this point, they must compete with incentives being offered by the new home developers. Potential buyers are now in a position where they are weighing the pros and cons of purchasing a brand new home while comparing that purchase with a home in an established neighborhood. The availability of these new homes has certainly changed the market, as buyers now have more choices than they had just last year.
Monterey Peninsula – Our local office began October with a significant Pebble Beach sale of $18,000,000 along the most desired 17-mile drive. The Bay Area buyer recognized the opportunity to purchase one of the few ocean front locations with a private beach and the ability to rebuild the existing structure. The high-end category has had a lot of interest and showings post Car Week. We hope to see more closings before the end of the year. The Monterey Peninsula market seems to have cooled off a bit with fewer sales but a higher average sale price. Inventory continues to trickle on the market but as the holidays approach, agents will see how motivated sellers are to move during the holidays. The Monterey Peninsula continues to be highly desired among those that wish to own a vacation or future retirement home.
Market Watch is a bi-weekly column by Coldwell Banker San Francisco Bay Area president Mike James. Click here to view past issues.