Bay Area Home Sales, Especially Luxury Listings, Turn in Strong Performance

With the fall selling season in full gear, Bay Area home sales continue to climb, especially in the luxury segment of the market.

CoreLogic DataQuick, the La Jolla-based research firm, reported recently that September home sales overall – the latest available – were the highest for that month in five years, the result of some “spillover summer activity and sustained demand in a strong regional economy,” analysts said.

A total of 7,443 new and resale houses and condos sold in the nine-county Bay Area last month, up 4.2 percent from 7,141 in September last year. The biggest increase was in San Mateo County, which recorded a 16.9 percent year-over-year jump in sales.

The median price for the overall Bay Area was $604,000 in September, up 14 percent from last year. Marin had the largest surge in prices with a 17.3 percent spike, followed by San Mateo County with 16.2 percent.

Luxury sales around the Bay were even stronger over the past month and quarter:

  • San Francisco saw $2 million sales surge 19 percent in the third quarter from the same period a year ago.
  • Marin County sales over $1.5 million soared 58 percent in September from September 2013. Even more striking is that $2 million sales were double the number a year ago, and there were 14 sales over $3 million, more than triple the number last year.
  • Silicon Valley sales over $1.5 million jumped 21 percent in September from last September with 83 sales over $2 million, up from 59 a year ago.
  • And finally, the East Bay saw a 30 percent rise in sales over $1 million.

We will see October sales figures in the next couple of weeks and it will be interesting to see if they continue this positive year-over-year trend.

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

North Bay – Our Greenbrae manager is seeing more escrows that have had multiple offers fall out.  Then the other offers have all gone away so there truly seems to be a slow down right now, she said. Our Petaluma manager reports increased buyer activity for properties over a million. Buyers from the South Bay and the Peninsula are in Sonoma County shopping and buying. Lots of buyers looking for a “Country Property “ of one acre or more. Our San Rafael manager says there’s still good open house activity but overall sales activity has slowed a bit.    He thinks this will continue until the end of the year. Agents are trying to get sellers to keep their homes on the market over the holidays. Our Santa Rosa Bicentennial office manager says the overall market remains strong. In the Previews luxury segment, after a good uptick in buyer activity in September-mid October agents are seeing the normal seasonal slow-down in the upper end ($2 Million +). The properties between $1-2 million dollars are still experiencing robust activity. Our Santa Rosa Mission office manager reports market activity is steady for early November as buyers are still trying to take advantage of the low cost of funds in a low inventory environment. Our Sebastopol manager says there’s been a noticeable slowdown in new listings, which is to be expected. Open houses are little less attended then weeks gone past. The overall Southern Marin market has slowed down as expected seasonally. However, the demand is strong and well-priced desirable listings will see offers and mostly multiple offers. Agents are seeing longer DOM and less multiple offers. The top listing agents know how to position listings for maximum offers and overbids. Our Southern Marin manager says the Previews market remains strong for the most desirable properties. For example, our local office will be closing a transaction next week for $9 million and has a backup offer for $9 million. CB Southern Marin will also be closing several properties in November for over $3 million.

San Francisco – The market is not slow but it is less frothy, our Lakeside office manager reports.  Sellers are questioning whether to market their home now or after the holidays and some are choosing to wait.  A few buyers are choosing to curtail their search until next year when they hope there will be more to choose from.  Some other buyers are hoping to pick up something over the holiday season when there might be less competition.  Our Lombard manager notes that inventory continues to drop slightly. Most transactions are still multiple and over asking. On a side note, he says that the local association of realtors and the city’s agents really came together to defeat Proposition G, an onerous transfer tax increase. Thank you to NAR, CAR and all who supported the cause. Our Market Street office manager tells us the market remains in a state of flux.   Most properties still receive multiple offers (as many as eight during this period), while others go unloved until they do a price reduction (and then sometimes still receive multiple offers).   Now that Prop G has been defeated, maybe some of those buyers/investors that were sitting on the sidelines will come back into the market.   Or maybe everyone is already looking forward to the holidays? Finally, our Sunset office manager notes that the market is definitely changing. It may be due to the season or maybe the prices have increased so much that some of the buyers are being priced out.  Listing inventory is decreasing but sales remain stable.  Multiple offers are no longer the norm but well priced properties are still getting multiple offers.

SF Peninsula The average sales price in most cities in San Mateo County was down in the third quarter as compared to the second quarter of this year, according to our Burlingame North manager. The average days on the market in most cases were up.  The communities where the average sales price was higher days on market equal to or lower were most likely influenced by affordability.  From the middle of the third quarter to the end, the number of multiple offers was diminishing to three or fewer on a property rather than double digits. There seems to be surge of buyers either entering or re-entering the market.  There were nine properties in San Mateo County that had a ratified sale reported in MLS between 10/20/14 and 10/31/14 and had a list price $3 million or more. The lowest List Price of those nine was $3.7 million and the highest was $8.96 million. Our Half Moon Bay manager says inventory in San Mateo County continues to decrease.  Sales activity reflects the low inventory.  There are total of 62 active single-family homes in coastal areas (Pacifica, Half Moon Bay, El Granada, Moss Beach, Montara, Pescadero).   The least expensive single family home is a 2/1 for $500,000 in Pescadero and a tear down for $600,000 in Half Moon Bay. If it’s priced right the average days on the market for Previews high-end properties are 31 days.  If not priced right in the beginning, average days on the market are 177 days.  Currently there are 41 active single-family homes over $1,000,000 in the coastal areas (out of total 62 active single family homes). The inventory is miserably tight, our Menlo Park manager reports.  Some of the lack may be seasonal but it is more than that. People who want to move don’t know where to go and many simply cannot afford to move up within the area as the affordably is getting beyond the scope of many current residents who, in a different market, could have moved up.   Foreign buyers value property differently than current homeowners, she says. Our Palo Alto manager says that, as before, everything is tight. An example – a year ago there were 350 single family closings in Palo Alto.  Year-to-date there are only 200 closings – a dramatic change. Our Redwood City-San Carlos manager reports the inventory remains very low. There are still opportunities for those sellers who want to be realistic about pricing – they usually end up with a higher sale price. Our Woodside Portola Valley manager says that the ‘country’ markets have seen substantial slowing. There was a spate of high priced property sales earlier in the year – not so now. There are even fewer lookers out there. Close in locations continue to be more attractive to big buyers.

East Bay – Inventory in the San Ramon Valley has been trending down for the past several months, our Danville manager says.  New pending sales are also down, as buyers turn cautious.  But still, there were 17 offers on a listing in Dublin priced at $795,000. The Walnut Creek area market is really slow with lack of inventory being a real problem, our local manager notes.  Lenders are being very tight on their lending but VA loans are becoming more prevalent.  Sellers are pricing homes more accurately and agents are not seeing a lot of over bidding.

Silicon Valley – Things seem to be picking up a bit after a slow couple of weeks, reports our Cupertino manager. Lack of inventory and lack of open house opportunities present a challenge for many of the agents. Our Los Altos manager says still very little inventory in all price ranges in Mountain View, and anything under $1.2M houses are still getting multiple offers and price is being pushed up. Duplex listed for $1.1M, had 17 offers and sold just over $1,525,000. Over $3M, only one house available, and its been on market over 1 month with already one price reduction. Condos and town houses are still in high demand and selling in one week. The luxury condo building on Bryant Street is sold out and most units sold at or just under list price. In Los Altos, inventory is still very low, and any houses are selling in a week still with multiple offers. North Los Altos continues to be in high demand. Over $4M still seems strong and from $2-3M very strong. Los Altos Hills – still low inventory in the Palo Alto School District, and under $4M sells first week on market. There’s more inventory in the Los Altos School District inventory, but prices are higher. Over 20 houses to choose from over $4M, and most have been on market for 60 days now. It’s still a price sensitive market over $4.5M although there have been sales upwards of $6-9M in last 2 months. In Palo Alto, the high end over $6M is slowing down, but under $4M still very hard for buyers to get a house, and houses under $2M are still getting multiple offers. The condo market is still strong, and any condo under $1.5 is still selling with multiple offers in 1 week. Inventory is seasonally less, and buyer activity at open houses slowed to 40-80 groups instead of over 100. In Los Gatos, buyers continue to compete over a very limited inventory, our local manager reports. More of the same with less inventory in Almaden but holding steady in Santa Teresa and Blossom Valley. The holiday slowdown in San Jose has started, our San Jose Main office manager says. Agents are seeing across the board a huge slowdown in inventory coming onto the market. Sales activity has been steady. Multiple offer situations have still been commonplace for all price points. Open houses have been busy as well, with some new listings having 40+ groups on the opening weekend. Agents are seeing a lot of situations where buyers have not been able to perform and back up offers can move to first position. Watching a listing closing and keeping in contact with the listing agent has been paying off for some agents. Overall Santa Clara County is still a strong seller’s market. The local Willow Glen market continues to experience contraction in listing inventory. This past week the active listing count was under 45 units for a record low for this time of year. Agents are reporting heavy traffic at open houses and the multiple offer syndrome again lifting properties over the asking price. Our San Mateo manager says lots of people are out looking, but the number of offers coming in isn’t as many as you’d expect. The Saratoga market is solid. Homes under $3 million are popular especially if in walking distance to Saratoga High, often with multiple offers.  Those north of $3 million sell within 60 days if priced attractively.  Those that want to push the limits of pricing sit and eventually expire.

South County – The South County market is now making its usual seasonal adjustment—as both buyers and sellers prepare for the holiday season.  Agents are reporting that attendance at open houses is significantly down from earlier this year.  The listing inventory is strong though “over-priced” homes are lingering on the market.  Buyers have more choices and sellers are not seeing the “multiple offer phenomenon” that was very common earlier this year.  For those sellers who obtain offers, appraisal issues are now impacting closings—with low appraisals requiring renegotiating the ultimate sales price.   Another interesting fact concerning the market is the number of “cash” sales for homes in every price range—from entry-level condos to multi-million dollar homes.

Monterey Peninsula – The upper end market of the Carmel and Pebble Beach housing market continues to impress our local manager and agents with out-of-area buyers purchasing the multi-million dollar properties in prime locations. Recently a competitor closed a $31,250,000 deal with an out of area US buyer on a prime fairway location of the Pebble Beach Golf course. We closed an off market sale in Carmel for just over $11 million also a prime location that rarely comes available. October 2014 saw a healthy gain in total sales over 2013 with unit sales up about 15% and the median sale price of $1,275,000. Agents are looking forward to a strong finish for the fourth quarter 2014. It’s too early to predict 2015, but agents are on a push for listings for the New Year.

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Raised and educated in the Bay Area, I have an unique insights and perspective on the area. As a Mother I have first-hand knowledge of the local school systems, as well as recreational and business opportunities. My clients' satisfaction is my ultimate goal, and my genuine love of people makes a personal approach to service the key to fulfilling Real Estate dreams Whether buying or selling, I am committed to meeting my client's expectations. I understand that buying or selling a house can be a stressful time. With my expert knowledge of the real estate process, I am able to guide my clients and relieve some of the stress. I love what I do, and I am dedicated to providing professional service with honestly and integrity. My mission is not complete unless my clients are happy. Please contact me if there is anything I can do to help you.

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