Thursday, February 10, 2011

February Silicon Valley Real Estate Market Highlights

Here are the highlights of January transactions and market comments for Santa Clara County real estate and San Mateo County real estate. Your comments and questions are always welcome. If you see something in your neighborhood that you are curious about or have a question, please don't hesitate to share with us. If you have questions or a comment, please leave them here, or feel free to contact me through my website.

> Market Overview -- The last several months has seen a continual decrease in the amount of sales in both counties, an indicator of slowing markets and something we see each year as we enter the holiday and winter season. Closings of single family residences (SFR) in Santa Clara County decreased from last month to 640 from 951 but was 7.9% higher than the same month a year ago. For San Mateo County, SFR closings were 234, down from 370 last month and up 0.9% from the same month a year ago. My analysis of the transactional information reveals:

* The supply of single family residences available for sale (inventory) in Santa Clara County, jumped to 2,335 homes from 2,228 and is 23.7% higher than the same month a year ago. Similarly, we saw San Mateo County's inventory jump to 1,088 homes from 983 and was 33.8% higher than the same month a year ago. Keep in mind that many sellers remove their homes from the marketplace at the end of the year so this is not unexpected to see an increase into January. Generally, inventory is about on track with the ten-year average. Against this backdrop, the market continues more positive in Santa Clara County than in San Mateo County.

* More than 40% of sellers in Santa Clara County get at least list price for their homes! In San Mateo County, the corresponding percentage is a bit over 37%. This is another indicator that the overall market remains stronger in Santa Clara County. Also, these indicators have drifted lower but perked up a bit in January in each county.

* Days of Unsold Inventory (DUI), after a recent upswing has resumed a move lower. If this positive trend continues, it could portend a market that is gaining strength and could point to more positive market conditions later in the year. We watch this important indicator closely. As we have discussed, DUI is a calculation using both supply and demand so not an opinion. A higher figure for DUI, then, means the market is becoming weaker. For January, Santa Clara County had a DUI of 60 for SFR's, down from 77, 64 for condos/townhouses, down from 88 and 94 for multi-unit properties, down from 128. San Mateo County had a DUI reading of 85 (down from 106) for SFR's, 107 (down from 140) for condos/townhouses. Once again, all readings continue to point to a more positive market for Santa Clara County.

> Seller Markets? -- For Santa Clara County the hottest (seller) market areas are South San Jose, Santa Teresa and East Valley portions of San Jose. For San Mateo County, there were NO hot markets! A seller's market has shorter time on the market, fewer number of homes available for sale, higher demand by buyers with a tendency to have multiple offers and sale prices generally exceeding list prices with a potential of price appreciation.

> Buyer's Markets? -- For Santa Clara County, we see buyer's markets in Los Gatos, Saratoga and Campbell. Los Gatos is currently my "Best Buy" area in the county. For San Mateo County, we see buyer's markets in Foster City/Redwood Shores and especially the San Mateo Coast cities. The "Bay Cities" of San Mateo County like San Mateo, Redwood City, etc. are a bit cool right now. What makes a "buyers" market is the relationship of supply to demand -- simply put as higher supply and lower demand. The characteristics of a buyer's market is a longer time on the market, higher number of homes available for sale, lower demand by buyers which translates into a lower probability of multiple offers and a tendency for price stabilization or even price depreciation.

Where do I get "Seller's" and "Buyer's" market information? This is not an opinion or based on price levels 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 have moved lower in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties -- The median price for SFR's in Santa Clara County has decreased for the last several months. It now stands at $532,000, versus $558,000, or a 4.7% decrease from last month and an increase of 0.1% from the same month a year ago. The median price for condos/townhouses decreased to $271,500 from last month's $335,000, and is down 15.4%from the same month last year. San Mateo County's median price for SFR's was $590,000, down from $719,500 last month, down 9.2% from the same month a year ago. The median price for San Mateo County condo/townhouses was $367,500, down from $370,000 last month and 20.9% from the same month last year. I continue to advise my clients NOT to use an entire county's median price level to decide whether to buy or sell or time the market as market areas within each county differ. For instance, I see divergences in the different market areas in each county so these are general statements. Ask me to provide you with how your area compares.

> 80 days and no offer! -- One of the indicators I review closely is the median days on market (median DOM) for available homes. For Santa Clara County it stands at 79 and for San Mateo County it is at 86. This means that half of the homes on the market are over this figure and half under. The homes that sold are at just 54 and 48, respectively, in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

Need help with understanding the market in your area? Give me a call or email me for a no-obligation consultation and research to arm you with market intelligence to help you make a better, more-informed decision.

Thanks for reading my blog. I'm Tom McEvoy, Realtor with RE/MAX Santa Clara Valley -- Let me know your comments, questions, observations you may have or any future topics you'd like me to address.

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