Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September Silicon Valley Real Estate Market Highlights

Here are my observations of August's transactions and market actions for Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Monterey counties. You are encouraged to leave your comments and questions or even update us on what you are witnessing in your neighborhood or area.

> Market continues showing improvment -- Market activity continues to display improvement, something that we've been saying for the past four months. For instance, in Santa Clara County, July saw a 38% increase in closings over the same month last year. My analysis of the transactional information reveals:
  • Buyers continue to trip over each other to submit offers for homes in the more affordable areas of Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Monterey counties. Many offers submitted are for all cash or have substantial down payments. There are still only 20 days of unsold inventory on single family residences in Santa Clara County with a price of under $450,000.
  • The supply of homes available for sale (inventory) continues to trend lower in each of the four counties without exception. The lower trend is more pronounced in Santa Clara and Monterey counties.
  • The number of closings have turned are now lower in each county as the seasonality takes hold as we see less closings in the late summer after a peak around Memorial Day.
  • The Days of Unsold Inventory (DUI) continues to improve generally in each county for single family residences and condos/townhouses, respectively. Santa Clara's DUI stands at 51 and 42, San Mateo's DUI is 74 and 70, Santa Cruz's DUI is 97 and 105 and Monterey's DUI is 65 and 80.
> Seller's Markets? -- Superheated Santa Clara County seller's markets are located in Santa Teresa, Blossom Valley, South San Jose, North Valley, Milpitas, East Valley, Santa Clara, Evergreen, Almaden Valley, Sunnyvale and Downtown San Jose. To refresh you, characteristics of a seller's market are shorter time on the market, fewer number of homes available for sale, higher probability of multiple offers with many sale prices exceeding list prices and a tendency towards price appreciation.

> Buyer's Markets? -- Far fewer than in the past, there are some buyer's markets located in Santa Clara County in Saratoga, Los Gatos and Los Gatos Mountains. To refresh you, characteristics of a buyer's market are longer time on the market, higher number of homes available for sale, lower probability of multiple offers or even an offer with most sale prices below list price. The tendency is to have price depreciation under this market condition.

Where do I get "Seller's" and "Buyer's" market information? This is not an opinion thing but a calculation I make using the number of homes for sale (supply) and the number of sales (demand) in the prior month which results in days of unsold inventory (DUI).

> Median prices. Up sharply since March but declined from $590,000 last month, it stands at $560,000 for Santa Clara County, $685,000 for San Mateo County. These are down 14% from the same month a year ago in each county. An entire county's median price level should not be used to decide on whether to buy or sell. I recommend your real estate advisor complete an analysis on a much smaller area (as small as a neighborhood!) to form the basis of a strategy.

> Tale of Two Markets -- Sales of affordable homes in Santa Clara County less than $450,000 level have gotten even hotter than the past few months. There are just 20 days of unsold inventory for single family residences below $450,000 and 39 for homes with prices from $450,000 to $600,000. As the price ranges increase, the DUI increases. For Santa Clara County, high-priced homes in the $2,500,000 to $5,000,000 range ended with a DUI of 359 or almost one year of inventory whereas in San Mateo County ended with a DUI of 222!

However, sales of higher-priced homes (above $1,000,000) are sluggish at best. For instance, we continue to have no sales of $5+ million homes in the last five weeks in Santa Clara County and just six in San Mateo County.

> Sellers Be Sooner -- I continue to maintain my recommendation for sellers of higher-priced homes that they should consider selling sooner and having an initially more-aggressive list price as the market usually softens when we go deeper into the late summer and into fall. In any case, check with a Realtor knowledgeable about the technical aspects of the market conditions to guide you in positioning your home for maximum activity and price while minimizing time on market. .

For those considering a purchase of a home in an expensive area like Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos/Monte Sereno, Saratoga, your time is getting closer! Be ready but I think we'll see list prices reduced and sale prices dropping as we get closer to the holiday season this year.

> Investor's Corner -- Activity continues to trend upwards as more and more investors reenter the market. For Santa Clara County, there were 71 sales during the month with 40 of them in the less than $600,000 price range as that price range had a DUI of just 59 whereas the DUI for residential investment properties above $1,000,000 showed more than one and a half years supply at current sales demand.

Thanks for reading Tom McEvoy's Blog -- what are your thoughts, comments, questions, observations?

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