Whether you are a first time buyer or seller, or have been through multiple transactions, you might be surprised by how quickly the real estate market changes in Los Altos, Palo Alto and surrounding communities. You need hard-hitting historical data, current market analysis, and insider experience to stay informed and succeed in these real estate markets.
As a service to their clients, Jeff Stricker and Steve TenBroeck of Alain Pinel Realtors provide regular market analysis and commentary. You are invited to read the entries below, add your comments, ask questions or contact them directly.
October sales of homes in most peninsula communities are running approximately 50% of normal, compared with last month and October 2007. So, the question is, should one sell now or wait for the possibility of a better market next year?
There are too many factors that could make the market worse for sellers next year. We recommend selling now. These factors include the possibility of more competitive listings, a deepening recession, higher interest rates, local employee layoffs, and falling real estate prices. It could easily take 5 to 7 years for values to return to current levels.
If you anticipate selling in the near future, do not wait. Sell now.
The financial markets are clearly signaling that a recession is here. What does this mean for local real estate? Typically the local real estate market slows significantly 6-9 months after a recession begins. The local real estate market is already slowing due to the current financial market turmoil. We expect the slowing to continue into the next year. It will clearly be a buyers’ market then and prices will begin falling for most homes. In fact, the high-end price segment and properties with “issues” are already falling in price.
For Sellers: If you want to move short-term, you should do it now or expect to wait for 3-5 years to get today’s prices.
For Buyers: You have a once a decade chance to get a great “blue chip” home without having to compete, and a historically low (less than 7%), fixed interest rate on your mortgage. Select carefully, but act quickly. When the economy pulls out of the recession in 12-18 months we expect much higher mortgage rates.
Now that the financial crisis is two weeks old we offer these insights:
- Re real estate lending, reasonably qualified buyers are not having a problem obtaining financing, especially from the larger stable banks who have been lending responsibly in our area for years (Wells Fargo, Bank of America). Many overly negative news articles are stating that there is an industry-wide shut down in lending. Not true.
- Buyer demand has weakened as their confidence in the economic future has eroded. Homes are seeing fewer offers and sellers have to negotiate.
The good news: Homes are still receiving offers and closing escrow, if they are properly priced, marketed, and negotiated.
The question on all our minds this week is, “What effect will the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the rescue of Merrill Lynch have on our local real estate market?”
Quite simply, moves in the real estate market cycle happen as a result of changes in supply and/or demand. Those changes occur due to a cause and effect relationship between the local economy and consumer confidence.
For example, the local (South Peninsula) real estate market had been “very good” for sellers during the 2003-07 timeframe due to a strong local economy, low interest rates, and low numbers of homes for sale. In late 2007, the real estate market slowed to a “good”, but more balanced market as the sub-prime mortgage debacle unfolded and consumer confidence was shaken. That is, demand weakened. The number of buyers more closely matched the low number of homes for sale.
We believe the current headlines of possible financial disaster will cause more homebuyers to wait on the sidelines (at least until after the elections). If any further calamity hits the financial markets, we will begin to see local home prices fall. As a matter of fact, homes with location “issues” are already decreasing in value.
Currently, most south Peninsula markets are in a “balanced” to a slight “sellers’ market” mode. To predict the upcoming fall real estate market climate (mid-August to early November), we are closely watching local employment figures, inventory of homes for sale, and closed home sales to ascertain trends.
The inventory and sales numbers we analyze are by individual community, in order to prevent the distortion of averaging. Currently, employment and closed sales (year over year) are both in a down trend, suggesting demand may slacken. Also, inventory (year over year) is in an up trend in many areas, indicating supply may continue to increase. At some point the fulcrum will tilt and it will become a “buyers’ market”, as it does in our area every seven to ten years.
Specific numbers can be viewed on our website: http://www.jeffandsteve.com/MarketAnalysis.ubr