The real estate market in San Mateo County and the Silicon Valley--what's going on?
My phone is ringing. Emails are arriving. Neighbors stop me in stores to ask questions and share their needs.
The buyers are an eclectic bunch:
- first-time buyers, FHA approved searching for a single-family home in the $500,000 range -- tough market for them
- single woman, will be a first-time buyer, at the beginning stages of the home buying process, trying to decide what makes sense for her -- our first meeting is tomorrow
- move-up buyers -- they each own a townhouse, are now married and looking to buy a single-family home while ideally keeping both townhouses as rental properties -- they meet with my lender tomorrow
- a couple relocating here in a few months -- we're beginning to narrow down locations/communities for single-family homes
- a retired couple, cash buyers, looking for a special property within an hour from their home suitable for a weekend retreat to be enjoyed by them, their grandkids and children
- a couple who would like to find investment real estate near here for around $200,000 -- tough call--so far they don't like the few choices around
- parents who would like to find a small nearby condo for their son, no more than $200,000 -- tough; our prices are higher here
- several who would consider moving if the right place showed itself, also thinking about remodeling
Sellers vary too, from people who still have a hard time accepting the fact that their property is worth 12%-25% less than it would have sold for 2 years ago, to those who want/need to sell and move on with life and price accordingly. Owners of condos/townhouses have taken the biggest hit.
I've been back working 60-hour weeks again and this morning, while taking a respite before putting together today's property showings, I'm thinking about the real estate market here in San Mateo County and the Silicon Valley area of California. It is actually 4 markets:
Upper end (1.5M+ to 3M+ depending upon town): Activity is slow; prices have lowered dramatically; small buyer pool; financing still somewhat of an issue, although some banks have addressed this market recently.
Mid-range ($800,000-$1.2M or thereabouts): This is an active market! Buyers absolutely need to see the value, and then multiple offers are common. Prices are stable, and homes often are sold above asking.
Entry-level single family homes: ($500,000-$800,000): This is the busiest market segment. Multiple offers the norm on well-kept, non-short sale properties. Sellers are in the cat-bird seat. (Friday night I wrote an offer for a buyer on a house that had been on the market 2 days--we offered a bit over list, no seller concessions, 'as is' condition -- seller declined to answer since they've had so much activity and want to wait a bit to see what else will materialize--well, we tried, and we'll continue our search)
Condominiums/townhouses: This is the segment where sellers simply must be realistic; buyers absolutely rule here.
Not only is real estate local, each market segment is behaving quite differently. More first-time buyers can afford a single family home now than in years past, hence the pall on the condo/townhouse market. The mid-range is strong because growing families need more space, and their smaller homes can be sold easily now--great time to move. Upper end is slow because there is no sense of urgency; if people are comfortable where they are, they tend to stay put.