As you may have heard, I recently became a Broker Associate with Compass in Los Gatos (the former Alain Pinel REALTORS). There are a lot of benefits to working with a large, upscale brokerage – one of them being that you can get access to valuable information before the competition. Yesterday, our office had the first meeting of the year and it featured a feature presentation by Jordan Levine, the Deputy Chief Economist for the California Association of REALTORS. I have also seen many presentations by Jordan’s boss, Leslie Appleton-Young, and I even had her as a guest on an episode of the Bay to Bay Podcast. Jordan, by the way, is also a podcaster as he is the co-host of California Association of REALTORS Housing Matters podcast. Video of California Real Estate Forecast for 2020 The presentation was about 40 minutes long, as there was a lot to digest in there. The bottom line is that the 2020 real estate market is expected to look a lot like the 2019 real estate market: tight inventory, low interest rates, poor affordability, but with slightly more sales at somewhat higher prices (statewide, but the greater Bay Area should be an exception). Key Points for California’s 2020 Real Estate Forecast Housing prices may be up, but actual mortgage payments are down Lowest Unemployment in 50 Years Prices at the very high end softening, lower priced homes rising in price. Higher-end homes taking longer to sell U.S. 2020 GDP Projected @ 1.6% (down from 2.2% in 2019) U.S. Inflation … Read More
On October 18, 2019 I appeared on KSCO Radio in Santa Cruz as a guest on the Mike Young Radio Hour. Mike is a REALTOR I have known virtually my entire career in real estate. He has a weekly radio show and he usually has another Santa Cruz REALTOR, Dennis Casey, as his wingman. For the October 18 2019 airing, I was invited on as a guest to discuss the recently-enacted California AB1482 legislation, which establishes rent control state wide in California. We touched on a few other topics of interest to followers of Santa Cruz and California real estate as well – so if you want to learn more about AB1482 and rent control, please listen to the audio of the radio show below.
And here we are, just past half-way through 2019! Happened so quick, I’ll bet you feel a bit of whiplash. It’s been an interesting half-year so far, especially when it comes to the Monterey and San Francisco Bay Area real estate market. For this 2019 Mid-Year Real Estate update, I took a dive through the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) to dig deep through the numbers for Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and Monterey counties for the first six months of the year. So how is our real estate market doing, at the mid-point of 2019? One that comes through loud and clear is that just like politics, all real estate is local. The story told through these numbers is much different in all three counties. If you want, you can skip down to the county that interests you most: Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, or Monterey. Seb Frey Talks Real Estate Mid-2019 on Seb Frey TV Santa Clara County Santa Clara County is the heart of Silicon Valley – what happens there affects the real estate market for a large portion of northern California, and all of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas. The numbers for the first half of 2019 are markedly different than the first half of 2018. In particular: Homes are taking almost twice as long to sell this year (93% longer) Price Per Square Foot has dropped 6.76% Average Sale Price has dropped 6.63% Median Home Price has dropped 8.95% Sale to List Price Ratio down 8% Home Sales are down 9.5% this … Read More
A couple of days ago I attended a regional meeting of local REALTOR Association leadership. We had officers and staff from around the greater San Francisco Bay Area all gathered in a room. Folks from San Francisco, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Monterey counties all got together to talk about how we can better serve our customers. I sat next to a broker from Santa Clara county, and I asked her how the Santa Clara County Market is doing. “It’s bad,” she said. “Bad?” I asked. “How bad?” And she said home prices are down 10-12% versus a year ago. That would be pretty bad – if it were true. I hear stuff like that a lot from different agents. But then when I go and dig into the stats, I usually find there’s more to the story – or a different story altogether. So imagine my surprise when I dug into the stats and found that actually, prices were down by much more than 10-12%. Houses took about twice as long to sell in Q1 2019 vs. Q1 in 2018. And the number of sales has dropped by nearly 10%, while the number of new listings is up by almost 4%. Santa Clara County Q1 2019 Real Estate Wrap-Up Video In case you’re not a regular consumer of my social media, you may not know that I have a “TV” show called SebFrey.TV – I made a special episode where I did a wrap-up of the Santa Clara County real … Read More
One of the most popular pages on my website in 2018 was an article where I addressed the perennial question, “Is it better to sell my home this year, or next?” In that posting, I opined that the preponderance of evidence is that 2018 was shaping up to be a pretty good year for home sellers. Today many sellers are wondering about selling a home in 2019 vs. 2020. In last year’s article, I said that given a choice, it would be better for homeowners to sell in 2018 rather than rolling the dice on 2019, as the economic forecast for 2019 was cloudy. Now that we’ve flipped the page into 2019, I can say it looks like the jury is in on this one: 2018 was the peak year for this real estate market cycle. The question before us today is, I think: will 2019 prove to be a good-but-not-great year for sellers – or will it be the year the market falls off a cliff, again? Why The Real Estate Market Has Gone Soft After much thought and analysis, it seems to me that the softening of appreciation in home prices is due to the market finally reaching the limit of affordability. In Santa Cruz county, only 12% of households can “afford” a median-priced home (with a 20% down payment). In Santa Clara county that number is 16%. In Monterey county, it’s 19%. It looks like what we’re seeing today simply comes down to the fact that buyers simply can’t afford to pay more … Read More
If you’re thinking of selling your home in 2019, it’s something you’ll want to do sooner rather than later. Our market is almost a year-round market; things slow down for the holidays but they pick right up again half way through January. The market, though, has softened considerably. My advice to sellers is to have their homes ready for the market by mid-February to get a jump on the spring market. By listing early in the year, you’ll beat the competition to market and you’ll probably have a much easier time selling. Best Advice for Bay Area Sellers in 2019 Sellers should very, very carefully consider their list price before listing their home for sale on the MLS. Don’t be greedy – be realistic. Your home has probably appreciated substantially over the past several years – take the money and run. Price it where you know it will get offers within 2-3 weeks; any higher than that and you’ll probably end up shooting yourself in the foot. In a softening market, you don’t do yourself any favors by testing the market with a high price. Prepping your Home for the Market Remember, it’s always the basics that give you the biggest bang for the buck, and what’s great is that they cost relatively few bucks. Empty the house at (“de-clutter, de-personalize”) so it looks as spacious, light, and airy as possible. Paint everything, whether it needs it or not. Painting makes your home look fresh and clean, and gives it that “new home smell.” Clean everything, … Read More
Sebastian “Seb” Frey is the The World’s Greatest Realtor 2018 Award Winner! This prestigious award was granted to him by one of his clients upon the successful sale of their family home in San Jose, California. Closing gifts are common in the Santa Clara county real estate market, but it is unusual for a client to buy the agent a gift – usually, it’s the other way around. So why did this homeowner go through the trouble and expense of getting a custom made closing gift for their Realtor? The World’s Greatest Realtor Case Study Cathy grew up in a quiet, tidy neighborhood of San Jose. Homes in the neighborhood consisted of single level ranch homes built in the 1950’s – most were around 1150 square feet or so, and the typical lot size was about 6,000 square feet. Her parents were the second owner of the home. Mom had died over a decade ago, and dad had just recently died. The home was being lived in by her brother Steve, who was on title. A third sibling, another sister, was on title as well. Steve had been living in the home for most of his life – and had a lifetime’s worth of items stored in the house. Actually, he had several lifetimes worth of stuff stored there. To be honest, the home was packed. Many rooms had boxes and bags of items, stacked from floor to ceiling. There were storage sheds in the back yard – crammed full of junk. The garage was likewise completely … Read More
Are you itching to swap homes? Maybe you have a new child on the way and want to step up into a larger home than you have now. Or it could be that all your kids have left the nest (waaaa! Or yeah!?), and now you’re looking to downsize into a smaller home. Because our housing costs are so high, if you’re like 88% or so of the home-owning public, you’ll probably need to sell your current home before you can close on the sale of a new one. If you’re in that boat, I’ve got some good news for you: selling a home and buying another is easy! One of the first questions home owners have is, should I put my home on the market before I find the house I want to move to, or should I find my new home, and then put my current house up for sale? For most homeowners, the answer is clear: put your current home up for sale before making an offer on a new one. Here’s exactly what you need to do to make a smooth move from your current digs to the new pad. First, get your home on the market. I know, getting it ready to list for sale on the market can be a lot of work, but it’s got to be done. It needs to be fully staged and prepared in order to expedite the sale and thereby maximize its sale price. After the home is on the market, the next step is getting your … Read More
It’s been quite sometime since I wrote anything about lowball offers – the last time was way back in 2006. In 2006, the market had noticeably cooled from the frenzy in 2005, and it was just a year before a historic real estate market meltdown began in 2007. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 and if sellers had known then what we know today, I’m sure many more lowball offers would have been accepted! But what, exactly, is a lowball offer? To me, a lowball offer is anything that’s more than about 3-4% below asking price. It could be that 3-4% below asking price is actually fair market value – but fair market value is a debatable number, whereas asking price is a fact. In some markets though, most offers are 3-4% below asking price, so what would be considered a “lowball offer” will vary from place to place and time to time. These days, there’s a lot of talk about a softening – or shifting – real estate market. Given that the California economy remains resilient (for the time being) with growing wages and employment, I am not certain why the demand for housing would weaken. Supply has not significantly increased in many Bay Area markets, at least according to a few random spot checks I’ve made over the past few weeks and months. However, you know the saying – perception is reality. If buyers are perceiving that there’s less competition out there for homes, you can expect they’ll be more inclined to lob some … Read More
It’s springtime—the time of year when a lot of people start thinking about selling their homes. If you’re one of those people, I’ll bet that you’ve asked what you can do to the property to really boost the sales price and net the highest amount of money. Many people worry that they’ll have to make big, expensive upgrades or repairs.