Welcome to my December 2016 Marin County Real Estate Market Report. Before I launch into this month’s update, I want to wish all of you a very happy holiday season! Thank you for all your support this year — it is very humbling. I truly mean that. It has been my best year so far in this exciting industry and I could not have done that without you. I wish you and your loved ones happiness and health in 2017.
To recap the last few months: As we entered fall we were hoping to see a strong September after the usual summer slowdown. Instead we saw a September that was much slower than the same month in 2015, and then saw a bit of a recovery as we moved into October. We are now moving into the winter market hibernation mode, where only the most determined of buyers are out looking for a house, while others plan their strategies with their agents for the big spring season, which is right around the corner. In November, all sales metrics were down vs. prior month and prior year (see chart above and charts below).
Are These “The Good Old Days” or the Pause Before the Next Big Market Surge?
No one knows what the future holds. We have a new President with policies that are very different from our current President, and so far the stock market is reacting very favorably. Some have called this a “relief rally” that at least the election is now finally over, while other commentators believe the promised cuts in taxes and increased spending in defense and infrastructure will aid the economy. Interest rates have already climbed with future increases widely expected. For more commentary, check out this national commentary from Realtor.com and this California forecast from the California Association of Realtors.
What we saw here in Marin this year was a market that was very strong the first half, then slowed down measurably in the second half. All of the top 10 most expensive sales in our county occurred prior to July 2016. Normally there’s an end of year bump in that category however this year some are saying that may not happen as sellers wait for promised lower capital gains taxes and economic growth. Time will tell.
Having said that, it is a great time to look for a home because while there is less inventory on the market, there is also less competition. My open houses at 215 Locust Avenue in San Rafael and 87 Marinita Avenue in San Rafael last weekend were very busy. The number of Pocket Listings increases substantially this time of year, as homes come off the market to re-launch in the spring.
For future sellers, now is the time to begin thinking about next spring: preparing your home for launch. The best stagers book up months in advance, as do tradespeople such as painters. I am currently working with sellers on our strategies for next spring. Sellers are also wise to take into account the changing market dynamic and price homes accordingly. Overpriced homes often go “stale” and are very difficult, though not impossible, to sell.
“For Sale” Prices Increasing While “Sold” Prices Decreasing
In the chart above, I see a noticeable trend line especially towards the back end of the year. We are seeing “for sale prices” (the green line at the top) increase while actual sold prices have been declining since April except for the pre-election bump in October. This may indicate that sellers are holding onto the market of 2015 and first half of 2016 and have not adjusted to the trend in the back half of the year.
Key Takeaways in the December 2016 Marin County Real Estate Market Report:
- The average sale price of Marin Single Family Homes decreased 14% in November to $1,311,627, compared to October’s $1,529,891 and was down more than $200,000 versus the same month in 2015.
- The number of sales decreased 20% from October into November, and decreased by 5.6% versus November 2015.
- November inventory in Marin County decreased by 26.6%. This is the sixth consecutive month of inventory decreases.
- Average price per square foot (sold) decreased from last month to $589 vs. $686 last month vs. $543 average for all of 2015. Median price, which is less affected by individual sales at high price points, declined from $1,225,000 last month to $1,050,000 this month.
- Average list price increased by 6.1% s. prior month while average sale price decreased 15.5%. Compared to the same month last year, average sold price decreased by 11.8%.
- Percentage of homes in contract: Mill Valley increased to 38% in November vs. 22% in October while San Rafael increased from 39% to 53%. The other large market, Novato, decreased from 59% to 54%. (I tend to ignore the smaller towns in this metric as the percentage can be distorted easily by the relatively few transactions in those towns.)
“Don’t wait to buy real estate. Buy real estate and wait.”
— T. Harv Eker
Now on to the charts….
Sotheby’s International Realty National Commentary…
Around the end of summer, interest rates began a slow march higher in anticipation of the Federal Reserve’s forecasted December rate increase. Then on November 8th, news of a Trump Presidency hit and “slowly” turned to “swiftly” in the blink of an election. The 30-year fixed interest rates have increased almost three quarters of a point in the month since and the S&P has gained 4%. The current wave of enthusiasm recalls the early days of Ronald Reagan after his election in 1980.
Indeed, the determination and persistence of this rally has surprised even the most jaded of traders who have dubbed it the “FOMO rally” (Fear Of Missing Out on future appreciation) and it shows little signs of abating. By numbers alone the US economy is in good shape — a fact confirmed by several of this month’s economic reports. It appears we have entered an era of higher interest rates, but for good reason. The economy is improving and global demand is heating up, and that is good news for everyone.
My business continues to be brisk with some great listings on the market in Kentfield, Tiburon, Mill Valley, San Rafael, and San Anselmo. You can see them all on my Featured Properties page which also includes pocket listings not on MLS. Watch this site or my Facebook page for details on new properties coming to market in the coming months.
I hope you have found my December 2016 Marin County Real Estate Market Report helpful, and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Please call or text me at 415-847-5584, or fill out the below contact form, and I will be in touch right away. Feel free to leave your own comments and observations in the comments section below.
Again, wishing you and your loved ones a happy holiday season and a wonderful 2017!
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