There was so much anticipation for 2016, “another banner year ahead for real estate!” But, what happened? Not to worry, there's still time for the market to heat up, but man was it dead in January. Not by sheer numbers sake, we did end up selling 126 homes and condominiums in Marin (compared with 115 in January of 2015), but there was just a feeling that nothing was happening. Nothing on the market, nothing to sell, buyers not awake yet from their holiday slumber... what was going on?
Well, maybe it was a bit of a hangover from 2015. Perhaps it was the small interest rate increase by the FED. Maybe it was the stock market scare that had stocks plunging to record drops. Maybe it was the El Nino storms. Who knows? But, rest assured, the heat is back on and the market is just NOW getting going for 2016. Some people say it's "after the Super Bowl" when everything starts happening. This year, and maybe because the Super Bowl is in our own backyard, I'd say that may definitely be true. There's an energy out there – a frenzy descending on the paltry amount of inventory that has shown itself in January. There's an excitement about what's "coming soon" and let me tell you, everybody is ready to go.
Buyers are pre-approved and ready to pounce as soon as they see the home they like (or kind of like). Sellers are still pushing the market, wondering just how far they can take it from a price standpoint. Savvy buyers say “don't take it too far, ‘cause we ain't stupid!"
While mortgage rates are at the lowest they have been in eight months, they will eventually rise, inventory will remain tight, rental rates may also rise making housing feel like a better option, and experts expect slower growth of housing values at about 6% this coming year. We are seeing Gen-X’ers moving into prime wage earning years and enjoying their newly improved financial situation, perhaps new job opportunities, relocation, or even seeking out better neighborhoods for their growing families. In Marin we have the older boomers approaching — or already in — retirement and seeking to downsize or lock in a lower cost of living. Together, these two generations will provide much of the suburban inventory that Millennials will start to acquire. Sellers may finally be ready to put their homes on the market after a few years of equity building, and the realization that with interest rates on the rise, buyers may have less ability to pay top dollar as the year progresses.
There was very little to report as far as stats go this month (only 208 homes in Marin on sale at this writing). Few properties are currently on the market, and some have been sitting for quite some time. Perhaps price is the issue, perhaps there are some hidden defects, or perhaps nobody has come up with the right offer to charm the sellers, but I am happy to show them to you, so call me if you have some interest! Perhaps the sellers will entertain a lower offer, and perhaps this is the diamond in the rough for which you’ve been looking.