By most measures, 2013 was a banner year for the Bay Area housing market. Sales continued to rebound, especially in the upper end of the market. The median sale price overall climbed 15-25 percent from a year ago, depending on the city. In many communities, there weren’t nearly enough good listings to go around, often resulting in multiple offers – sometimes a dozen or more – and bidding over the asking price.
So what do we do for an encore? According to the California Association of Realtors in its new 2014 housing market forecast, we’re likely to see continued improvement next year – albeit not at the frothy levels we witnessed in 2013. The association is calling for a 3.2 percent sales gain statewide next year and a 6 percent boost in the median sale price.
“We’ve seen a marked improvement in housing market conditions in a year with the distressed market shrinking from one in three sales a year ago to less than one in five in recent months, thanks primarily to sharp gains in home prices,” said CAR. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.
CAR economists are predicting that inventory levels will rise in the coming year. They say that steadily improving home prices will mean more homeowners who previously were “underwater” in their mortgage will now be in a position to sell their property, thus increasing the inventory of listings.
This would be welcome news for potential homebuyers who all too often left frustrated in 2013 by losing out in multiple offer situations. As inventory levels rise and the pendulum swings back to a more balanced market between buyers and sellers, buyers who have been on the sidelines may finally be rewarded for their patience.
“As the economy enters the fourth year of a modest recovery, we expect to see a strong demand for homeownership, as buyers who may have been competing with investors and facing an extreme shortage of available housing return from the sidelines,” CAR President Don Faught said.
As much as sellers enjoyed the soaring prices and multiple offers of 2013, we simply can’t sustain those heady conditions for long if we hope to maintain a healthy housing market over the long run. A more balanced market in 2014 would make for a Happy New Year for both buyers and sellers!
Speaking of celebrations, this week we celebrated a very special addition to our Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage family: The sales associates, managers and staff from 10 Frank Howard Allen offices in the North Bay have joined our team and we couldn’t be more excited. Frank Howard Allen has been one of the leading brokerages in the North Bay for many years with a long, proud history and a tradition of excellent service to clients and to the community. The sales team is simply outstanding – true professionals in every sense of the word. By bringing these two incredible teams together- we have an unmatched combination of outstanding professional agents and unparalleled resources and networks to best serve our Buyers and Sellers. Here’s to a bright future together!
Below is a market-by-market report from our local offices:
North Bay –Despite a seasonal slowdown, activity in southern and central Marin has remained strong. Open houses were well attended in October and the beginning of November. There are definitely buyers out there, but they will not buy just anything. Our agents are advising their sellers to be as true to market value as possible as those over-priced listings end up getting far less than they could have in the long run. Mill Valley showed some market resilience with strong buyer demand resulting in more multiple offer situations. Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae and San Rafael are all holding steady with new open escrows. We do caution buyers and sellers to be prepared for a more stringent lending environment and allow for a little more time in their financing contingencies as the slightest hiccups can result in delays and stressful deals. Still some buyers want to be aggressive and make their offers shine, so they are setting standard contingency removal dates and hoping for the best.