Real es­tate mar­ket slug­gish

Home sales con­tinue to slow in 2019

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Louis Hansen

The Bay Area home mar­ket re­mained slug­gish in Novem­ber, as buy­ers searched for cheaper homes and sales slowed en­ter­ing the hol­i­day sea­son.

The me­dian sale price for a sin­gle-fam­ily home in the Bay Area fell 2.4 per­cent to $803,200 in Novem­ber from the pre­vi­ous year, ac­cord­ing to Zil­low.

Marin’s sin­gle-fam­ily home me­dian in Novem­ber was $1,171,000, com­pared with $1,133,900 in Novem­ber 2018, Zil­low re­ported.

Af­ter years of run­away prices, home shop­pers are reach­ing the up­per lim­its of their bud­gets, agents and econ­o­mists say.

“More than any­where else in the coun­try, the Bay Area has hit an af­ford­abil­ity ceil­ing,” said Zil­low econ­o­mist Jeff Tucker. “Once a price gets high enough, it’s out of reach.”

Prices in the ninecounty re­gion have slumped through most of 2019, af­ter a record-break­ing, sev­enyear streak of ris­ing home prices. But even the cool­ing mar­ket re­mains the most ex­pen­sive in the coun­try, with the me­dian Bay Area home price more than triple the $243,000 na­tional me­dian home value.

Higher in­ter­est rates late last year helped throw water on the rag­ing Bay Area mar­ket, Tucker said. “It’s not a buy­ers’ mar­ket, it’s not a sellers’ mar­ket,” he said. “It’s cer­tainly more bal­anced now.”

The re­gional econ­omy con­tin­ued to soar. The Bay Area added 3,900 jobs in Novem­ber, ac­cord­ing to state’s Em­ploy­ment De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment.

Me­dian sin­gle-fam­ily home prices in­creased in sev­eral other coun­ties: San Ma­teo rose 3 per­cent to $1.37 mil­lion, Alameda inched up .4 per­cent to $863,400, Con­tra Costa in­creased 1.2 per­cent to $651,400, and San Francisco soared 5.8 per­cent to $1.4 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Zil­low data.

The Santa Clara County me­dian sin­gle-fam­ily home price fell nearly 2 per­cent to $1.11 mil­lion, the 11th straight month of yearover-year de­clines in the once red-hot mar­ket pop­u­lar with techies.

Bay Area prop­er­ties con­tin­ued to sell quickly in Novem­ber, ac­cord­ing to the Cal­i­for­nia As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors (CAR). The typ­i­cal time on mar­ket for homes in San Ma­teo, Alameda and Con­tra Costa coun­ties de­creased from the pre­vi­ous year.

Sale times in Santa Clara County and San Francisco re­mained sta­ble — but still at a his­tor­i­cally brisk pace. The typ­i­cal home in the five core coun­ties sold in less than three weeks, ac­cord­ing to CAR.

The num­ber of homes for sale also re­mains his­tor­i­cally low. In­ven­tory grew tighter in Alameda, Con­tra Costa, San Ma­teo and Santa Clara coun­ties com­pared with last Novem­ber, ac­cord­ing to CAR.

Agents say the mar­ket has cooled as shop­pers show more will­ing­ness to wait for the right fea­tures and best deal.

San Ma­teo agent Jeff La­Mont of Cold­well Banker said he’s see­ing fewer sales, but prices re­main strong. Two-income tech cou­ples look­ing for their first home are still driv­ing de­mand in San Ma­teo County, he said.

Sin­gle fam­ily homes in good con­di­tion and priced fairly for their neigh­bor­hood still draw mul­ti­ple of­fers from young buy­ers, he said. “The mil­len­ni­als don’t want to mess around,” La­Mont said. “They want to move in.”

Fre­mont agent Nan­cie Allen, pres­i­dent of Bay East As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors, said older home­own­ers are of­ten con­fronting hard choices. Some clients have ex­plored leav­ing the Bay Area, she said, but have a hard time fig­ur­ing out where to move.

De­spite the expectatio­ns of a cash wind­fall from sell­ing, many long-time home­own­ers are choos­ing to stay in their homes. “They re­ally are torn,” Allen said. “They’re not sure where they would go.”

Over­all, the East Bay mar­ket has seen solid de­mand for starter homes, even if prices reach near $1 mil­lion. But it’s not like the frenzy of re­cent years, Allen said.

“Buy­ers aren’t in a hurry,” she said. “Sellers aren’t in a hurry.”

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