Thursday, March 10, 2011

March Silicon Valley Real Estate Market Highlights

Here are the highlights of February 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 decrease in the amount of closed sales in both counties continues, an indicator of slowing markets. Closings of single family residences (SFR) in Santa Clara County decreased slightly from last month to 632 at match the level of the same month a year ago. For San Mateo County, SFR closings were 221, down from 234 last month and down from 230 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, increased to 2,417 from 2,335 and is 10.1% higher than the same month a year ago. Similarly, we saw San Mateo County's inventory jump to 1,158 from 1,088 last month and was 18.2% 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 the first part of a year. The rate of increase is not too steep so that portends a more positive market environment. Generally, inventory is about on track with the ten-year average -- not too high or not too low. Against this backdrop, the market continues more positive in Santa Clara County than in San Mateo County.

* 46.5% of sellers in Santa Clara County get at least list price for their homes! In San Mateo County, the corresponding percentage is 43.9%. This is another indicator that the overall market remains stronger in Santa Clara County. Also, these indicators have perked up a bit in each county.

* Days of Unsold Inventory (DUI), continues to move lower making for a more positive market in both counties. We watch this important indicator closely to provide insight into how the market is handling demand and supply. DUI is a calculation using both supply and demand so is not an opinion. A higher figure for DUI, then, means the market is becoming weaker. For February, Santa Clara County had a DUI of 56 for SFR's, down from 62, 58 for condos/townhouses, down from 64 and 99 for multi-unit properties, up slightly from 95. San Mateo County had a DUI for SFR's of 71 down from 85 last month, 87 for condos/townhouses down from 103. 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 Santa Teresa, South San Jose, and East Valley portions of San Jose followed by the market area comprising Mountain View, Los Altos and Palo Alto. For San Mateo County, there were again NO hot markets! A seller's market has characteristics of a shorter time on the market, fewer number of homes available for sale, higher demand by buyers along with a tendency for multiple offers and sale prices generally exceeding list prices. A seller's market area has a potential of price appreciation.

> Buyer's Markets? -- For Santa Clara County, we see buyer's markets in the Willow Glen area of San Jose and Campbell. Willow Glen 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. What makes a buyer's market is the relationship of supply to demand -- simply put as higher supply relative to demand, the area will have the characteristics of 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. We see buyer's market areas have price reductions before a buyer makes an offer.

Where do I get "Seller's" and "Buyer's" market information? This is not 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 County but increased in San Mateo County -- The median price for SFR's in Santa Clara County has decreased for the last several months. It now stands at $530,000, versus $532,000, or a 0.4% decrease from last month and a decrease of 4.0% from the same month a year ago. The median price for condos/townhouses was unavailable due to incomplete data. San Mateo County's median price for SFR's was $640,000, up 8.5% from $590,000 last month and down 2.3% from the same month a year ago. The median price for San Mateo County condo/townhouses was $372,500, up 1.4% from $367,500 last month and down 1.7% from the same month a year ago. 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.

> $5+ million sales return! -- More rare is the fact that there are now some high end transactions that have taken place in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Matter of fact, there were 7 sales in each county last month. I use this as a leading indicator of market conditions which have swung to positive in other price ranges as well.

Need help with understanding the market in your area? For instance, how can there be a difference between the relatively hot market conditions in Los Altos and Palo Alto but very cool market conditions in Campbell? 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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