Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has long been the number one real estate services company in the Bay Area. But it’s always good to know that we are number one in more ways than simply home sales and sales volume. Two new national honors confirmed that once again in recent weeks.

First, our parent company Realogy Holdings Corp., was named as one of 2016’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute. It is the fifth consecutive year in which Realogy, and by extension – Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage – has been recognized.

The World’s Most Ethical Company designation from Ethisphere recognizes those companies who align principle with action, work tirelessly to make trust part of their corporate DNA, and, in doing so, shape future industry standards by introducing tomorrow’s best practices today. We were one of just 131 companies in the world to receive the award this year.

We take great pride in being part of a company culture that places a premium on ethics and integrity, and I think it shows in our work every day. What’s particularly impressive is that our parent company was the only residential real estate firm ­– in the Bay Area or anywhere else – that was selected as one of the world’s most ethical companies.

Coldwell Banker’s Bay Area region was also recently honored with the prestigious NRT Humanitarian Outreach Award for 2016. This award recognizes a single NRT company in the nation that puts forth an exceptional effort—one that epitomizes extraordinary service to the community.

The award was in response to our tremendous fundraising efforts last year in support of the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. In an effort to support the hospital and its overall mission of providing health and hope to deserving patients and their families, more than 3,000 Sales Associates, managers and staff throughout the San Francisco Bay Area region rallied together to raise approximately $100,000 for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford!

The donations were a result of a community raffle held throughout the region, where Sales Associates purchased $2 raffle tickets on behalf of their clients, family and friends, which were in turn entered into a drawing for a number of prizes, including a $4,000 cash prize donated by mortgage partner, Princeton Capital.

Bay Area offices also organized individual fundraising events, many open to the public, to raise additional funds. From a rockin’ and rollin’ for health fundraiser in Burlingame to a raffle and silent auction in Gilroy and activity kit drive in Orinda, every contribution of time, effort and enthusiasm for the cause was felt by the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital community.

Once again I have to tell you how proud I am to be a part of this tremendous company and the best real estate people in the world. Congratulations everyone!

Below is a market-by-market report from our local San Francisco Bay Area offices:

North Bay – Multiple offers are the stories of the last two weeks in the Greenbrae area.  Currently there are only 16 homes in all of Marin County under $750,000 and 53 under $1 million.  While we are seeing multiple offers somewhat across the board the Previews luxury market generally isn’t receiving the number of multiples as the lower price ranges.  Generally anywhere from 7 to 12 offers are being submitted on most listings, if they are perceived as ‘good’ properties. This week brought only nine new listings to the Novato Broker’s Tour.  The sense from our agents is that sellers are waiting for the sunshine and spring flowers. Sellers that go to market now are experiencing multiple offers with a significant number over asking. This week our office had one Novato listing priced under $1,000,000, go for 20% over list price with five offers. Agents generally see 5-10% over asking; 20% is unusual. In the Petaluma area, sales and general activity continue to be robust. In the area most properties are multiple offers. Properties priced $500,000 to $800,000 have had an offering frenzy. Open houses are well attended with 20 plus groups in each. One in Santa Rosa and one in Petaluma had well over 100 people. Many buyers are from out of the area. Good homes that are well located and are price at market are selling in the San Rafael area, however the overall sales activity is slow.   A lot of agents are preparing homes to hit the market in a couple of weeks.  Now that the rain has stopped our manager expects the buyers will be back out taking advantage of low interest rates. The Santa Rosa market continues to struggle with a lack of supply. This week our local manager has seen properties getting 10-18 offers. These are the turnkey properties in the most desirable neighborhoods with historically low listing activity. The general market is experiencing offers more in the 1-5 offer range per property.  The number of showings of high-end properties remains strong, but it’s not generating offers in the same relative numbers.  Listings above $2M are picking up, which will give more buyers choices as we head into spring/summer. While listings are picking up, they are still low relative to this time last year. There are many pre-emptive offers on off-market listings. Multiple offers abound in the low to middle price points. Sellers have to price reasonably in the luxury price points or the buyers stay away. Sebastopol sales are only constrained by the lack of inventory, which is still getting absorbed fast by pent-up buyer demand. All open house agents report double-digit attendance with one new listing attracting over 50 buyers. Demand for Previews Properties is strong but nothing like the lesser-valued market. The Southern Marin market (under $2 million) is robust. However, new listings are selling fast and supply cannot meet demand, resulting in multiple offers and overbidding. There are several listings coming onto the market over $3 million. Buyers are very discerning and they are offering only on well-priced, best location and turnkey condition properties. Luxury properties not meeting these criteria are staying on the market without offers.

San Francisco – Activity is increasing, reports our Lakeside office manager.  At the same time, new listings are increasing.  What appears to be normal for our San Francisco real estate market is that Sellers find it difficult to obtain the prices they want and Buyers are paying more than they would like.  This is normally the description of a balanced market.  However, the balance is being found in an environment where Buyers still have to compete with multiple other Buyers for the honor of paying more than they would like just to get something to live in. Inventory continues to be low, and Open Houses (even during the heavy rains) continue to be well attended, according to our Market Street office manager.   Word on the street is that inspectors and stagers are getting busy, so there’s a sense that things will start picking up soon, possibly after Easter.   Most properties that hit the market are rewarded with multiple offers though there are a few properties that sit unnoticed waiting for some savvy buyer to come make a deal.

SF Peninsula Due to inclement weather during this time, the Burlingame area experienced a slight drop in sales. More listings are coming on the market in the Half Moon Bay area.  Open homes are active with buyers who are looking to buy, but a bit cautious to jump in.  Buyers are not willing to participate in multiple offers. The Menlo Park area market is maddening slow and tight, our manager reports.  Still the same old story – very few properties and prices that continue to startle. Agents are becoming extremely frustrated. Inventory is up in the Palo Alto area, but multiple offers are up, too, as more clients are looking. Almost all of the listings in the Redwood City-San Carlos area are again getting multiple offers, but usually only 2 or 3. There’s still definitely a lack of new inventory but an abundance of buyers. There have been 3 big sales in Woodside and Portola Valley this last week so the sun is beginning to shine, reports our local manager. New listings coming, too.

East Bay – Even with more inventory, buyers are still facing multiple offers on all properties in the Berkeley area. Last weekend, over 200 people came to an open house in the pouring rain. Interest rates are creeping up but rates are still historically low. The Alameda Tax Assessor presented at the Berkeley office meeting and he agrees that the market needs to level off but he indicated there is no end in sight, not this year anyway. The listing inventory in the San Ramon Valley is lower than it was last fall and lower than last year at this time.  Agents continue to struggle with inventory shortage and therefore Buyers face multiple offer competition on most properties. Even with all the rain during the weekend the last two weeks, for most of the open houses in the Oakland-Piedmont area the attendance was amazing. Inventory is creeping up but the number of buyers out there far outweighs the increase in inventory. Many properties are still going significantly over asking with no or very short contingencies. We have quite a few listings that are still in the stages of getting ready for sale and in a lot of instances there appears to be no sense of urgency on the part of the sellers. The Previews luxury market in the Lamorinda area has been steady. Inventory remains low in the Walnut Creek area. Rain lowered attendance at some open houses, but competitively priced homes are still receiving multiple offers regardless. 

Silicon Valley – Market activity is robust in the Los Altos area. Properties are selling with multiple bids. Inventory is increasing slightly. The high end over $4M is holding steady. Los Gatos buyers are feeling encouraged as more inventory is hitting the market. Inventory is increasing along with sales in the San Jose Almaden area.  Inventory is higher than this time last year.  Properties aren’t going into contract too much higher than the list price even though there are still mostly multiple offers on listings. The average sales price for Almaden Valley is $1,398,000, up 2.5% over the average list price.  Blossom Valley and Cambrian have average sales prices that are lower than their respective average list price.  Blossom Valley average sales price is $588,000, which is 11% lower than the average list price.  The Cambrian average sales price is $1,021,000, which is 10% lower than the average list price.  This is telling us that list price is more important than ever. Saratoga properties above $3.5 million are experiencing slow activity.  Those under $2.5 million are busy.

South County – Historically, the South County Real Estate market takes several months to mirror the market in Silicon Valley (San Jose, Santa Clara and points beyond).  Most accounts, however, indicate that the listing inventory is improving in both areas.  Though properties still are selling at a very fast pace (with multiple offers) there is, at least, more selection for buyers.   Pricing still favors the sellers as the market is driven by Supply and Demand—and supply remains relatively low.   Some buyers, still desperate to find a home and to be competitive with their offers, continue to purchase with few, if any, contingencies (appraisal, loan, inspection, etc).  It is almost unheard of for a current seller to accept an offer that is contingent upon the sale of a buyer’s home.   With some increase in supply, South County agents are optimistic that some normalcy will return to the market.

Santa Cruz County – Homes have been coming on the market at a fast rate but just as many have gone pending. In the last 7 days of the month, 50 homes came on active and 50 homes went pending. Inventory has picked up from the low point of 180 active to approximately 250 as of this report. The market needs inventory and agents are scouring expired listings as well as past clients to find sellers The Previews luxury market has been very active in Santa Cruz County. Almost 50% of the inventory is over $1 million and as a result our average sales price has increased to approximately $825,000, which is up from $795,000 at the close of 2015.

Monterey Peninsula – January-February results countywide represented just over a 20% increase in dollar sales and even in unit sales. Our local office’s average sale price year to date is $1,067,500, up 11% over same time last year. We are seeing more properties come to market with buyers still anxious and ready to jump in, resulting in more multiple offers than the past. Our Pebble Beach listing, “Casa Ladera” a $23,000,000 beautiful estate in Pebble Beach is under contract as of this week. Local buyers looking to step up and move into Pebble Beach. That is a good indicator for our Previews luxury market. The smart money still considers Pebble Beach and Carmel a great value compared the Bay Area home prices, our manager says.


Market Watch is a bi-weekly column by Coldwell Banker San Francisco Bay Area president Mike James exploring the local SF Bay housing markets. Click here to view previous installments.