Marin Market Update-May 2016

There is much debate about where the market is going, but for savvy buyers and sellers, it doesn’t really matter. The ups and downs of the market are expected in the real estate world. So, unless we're facing another mortgage crisis, which doesn't seem likely (given everyone's hyper awareness of making sure that doesn't happen again), we should be good. I’m actually kind of loving this market right now. Strategy is key, and if you're in the market to win, the world (or shall I say Marin) can be your oyster!

Fortunes have been made in markets like this. Quite frankly, fortunes can be made in ANY real estate market. Though it might be a bit trickier right now, for the average buyer and seller it's simply a matter of strategic persistence with a skilled Realtor, like me!

If you're thinking of selling your property here are some tips:

  • Know your house inside and out -- best practice is to get a pest and contractor's inspection ahead of time so you know what the issues may be at the time of sale; always address what you can in advance.
  • Be realistic about price -- just because the house down the street sold for a fortune, doesn't mean yours will. Talk to me about a strategy that works for you (and for the market). When in doubt, price below the latest and closet comp (recently sold properties of a similar nature to yours).
  • Listen to your real estate professionals -- most are giving you good solid advice based on their market experience and knowledge -- we're not making this stuff up. Yes, it's easy to play along with Zillow and Trulia, but our professionals are studying the nuances of the market daily and can provide you with some good sage advice.
  • Presentation matters. In this day and age, buyers want "done.” They don't want to hassle with having to fix this or that; they want to imagine themselves moving right in to a turnkey home and getting on with their lives, they are usually willing to pay more for that convenience. Here's an interesting article by Carole Rodoni about the purchase habits of Millennials.

If you're a buyer...

  • Have patience! With less inventory on the market, it may take longer for your ideal home to appear. But, when it does pop up, you'll want to be ready to pounce on it (and be prepared to write an offer that trumps your competition)
  • Get pre-approved -- I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but many buyers do not have a clear picture of their financial situation. It would be a waste of time to start looking at homes without knowing what you can realistically afford. Talk to me about getting pre-approved and also talk with your mortgage professional (or ask me for a referral) about just how high you can go. Perhaps your price point can be pushed a bit without much implication on your monthly mortgage payments.
  • Flexibility. I always contend that just about everyone in Marin settles in one way or another. I know that may sound negative, but let's face it… Marin homes can be a little funky! If you can accept this small truth, it may make house hunting here actually more fun. One of the skills one learns in Marin is how to make your home your castle. It's amazing what some new windows, hardwood floors and crown molding can do. With a little vision, that million dollar shack could be a really cool home!
  • Price point: A more restricted market may require you to adjust your price point. If you're looking in the $900's and all of those properties are going for $1.2 million, perhaps you need to start looking in the $800's or even $700s. Or, can you have better luck by increasing your price parameters to a higher mark? Talk to your mortgage professional and see what might work and what programs might impact your financial attractiveness.
  • Expand your location parameters -- can you stand a little longer commute? Or perhaps a different neighborhood, or the next town over? Marin is full of amazing neighborhoods worth considering. You may have your mind set on a craftsman in Sycamore Park or an Eichler in Terra Linda, but there are so many more options worth looking into.
  • Reconsider properties that have been on the market a while -- this may require a bit of sleuthing by your agent, but why not try to put in a lower offer on a property that has been on the market a while? It may not be perfect, but for the right price perhaps you'll find you have money left over for some quick and stylish fixes.
  • Find out what properties have expired and did not sell last time around. See if the sellers are ready now to sell at a more realistic price -- or maybe the price they had before, now seems like a bargain. Or, why not pick your house and ask me to find out if the owners would be willing to sell? 

When it comes to buying a house in today's market, getting creative can definitely work to your advantage. There are plenty of opportunities around -- sometimes you just need to change your perspective a bit.

In terms of current market dynamics, the new Marin real estate market is shaping up to be a more measured version of the market seen last year. As an example, properties are taking about a week longer to sell than before, and the rate of appreciation has gone from double to single digit rates. Furthermore, the Months Supply of Inventory (MSI) has expanded to almost two months, versus the one month level seen last year.

Homes above $2 million are actually selling at a faster rate than last year. Homes from $3 to $5 million are selling 71% faster while homes above $5 million sold 90% faster (note the smaller sample size).

Corte Madera and Fairfax remain the hot Marin markets. Larkspur prices are off the charts with 76% appreciation since last year with almost the same amount of sales. San Anselmo, Mill Valley, Sausalito and Tiburon actually saw price drops year over year. Opportunity!

Single Family Homes Sold in April 2016 vs April 2015

Single Family Homes Sold in April 2016 vs April 2015

Overall, however, there is continued upward pressure on pricing. April's county-wide median sales price grew 10% year-over-year. Strong economic fundamentals continue to propel property values upward. With the prospect of oil prices stabilizing, the national economy appears to be on better ground. Reuters reported on the markets Friday morning, stating “The S&P is marginally positive for 2016; the benchmark index has rebounded some 13 percent off of February lows…data on Friday showed U.S. home resales rose more than expected in April, suggesting the economy continues to gather pace during the second quarter (Reuters, 2016).” 

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