Gift & Estate Tax

It’s natural for people to wonder how this will all play out.

The Fed raising their rate until they crush inflation (and everything else), home prices are higher than just about anyone can afford, and inventory levels so low that prices will probably keep trending higher too.

How could this all stay afloat?

We are already in the midst of the greatest wealth transfer in the history of the world.  Unless there are changes in the law, those who have accumulated between $5,000,000 and $11,000,000 will be expediting their distributions over the next three years to save on taxes before the limit is lowered in 2026:


The free-and-easy money has already been flooding into our real estate market.  Back in the old days, the cash buyers always demanded a discount – but today the craziest sales are to buyers paying all-cash.

With the gift and estate taxes changing in 2026, it should continue, and possibly increase.

Inventory Watch

Until there is a significant increase in inventory, we won’t know how the current market conditions are affecting the demand, if at all.  I thought we’d get off to a sluggish start, but this is shockingly low:

Total NSDCC Detached-Home Listings, First 13 Readings of the Year

2018: 1,067

2019: 1,110

2020: 932

2021: 670

2022: 545

2023: 431

This is how the new listings look on a weekly basis:

Mortgae rates have improved considerably, and now buyers can get a rate in the fives, instead of the sevens, which sounds attractive. But if there aren’t enough quality listings, who cares?

Lower rates should mean that buyers can get a little more for their money, but sellers want to squeeze some of that benefit too:

More listings are needed – let’s go sellers!


Assigning the Contract

Agents are supposed to maintain a good working knowledge of the purchase contract, and every year we go to the C.A.R. review to keep up with the changes. But I don’t remember discussing this paragraph that was added in 2021, and expanded in the most recent version of the contract.

We had an interesting test case on it recently.

The buyer wanted to cancel their purchase, but they knew someone who was also interested in buying the property too. They claimed that Paragraph 23 gives them permission to plug in the new buyer, and the seller can’t ‘unreasonably’ withhold consent.

The way that paragrah reads, they might have a case. If they were able to provide a pre-qual letter and properly notify the seller and listing agent, it looks like they would have complied with the criteria expressed in this paragraph.

Do I want to get into a battle over it?

Luckily, they did not produce the documentation, and instead bowed out gracefully. But for a minute, I thought we might be stuck with the assignee, who had said that he flipped homes in the past. I cringed at the thought of the usual discount that flippers demand after their home inspection.

From now on, we’re going to counter out #23 before we enter into an agreement.

Dogs Are People Too

Not mentioned are the conversations people have with their dogs. I just want equal time with all decision-makers!

Given the increased share of pets in households and the increased time and resources spent on pets, it is no surprise some home buyers consider their pets the most important factor when making home buying decisions. Factors such as proximity to the vet and outdoor space for pets is important for buyers with pets.

Among all unmarried couples, nearly one-third of buyers considered their pet when deciding their neighborhood to purchase in compared to 14% of married couples. One-quarter of single women considered factored their pet into their neighborhood choice in comparison to 16% of single men. This trend is similar to the BLS Time Use Survey which found women are more likely to spend time with pets on a daily basis.

Among those who considered their pet to be very important to their neighborhood choice, they were also more likely to factor in a pet for other neighborhood features than those who did not.

Pet lovers also purchased a home in an area with availability of larger lots or acreage and were more interested in convenience to parks and recreation areas and in walkability. This is not a surprise as it is likely not just the human who desires these neighborhood features but the pet themselves who need room to run and play.


Frenzy Monitor

The reason for breaking down the active and pending listings by zip code is to give the readers a closer look at their neighborhood stats.

Four areas have MORE pendings than active listings, which is a sign of a red-hot market, and all areas except Rancho Santa Fe are around the healthy 2:1 ratio. But the most interesting datapoint is how the number of active listings has been skidding downward ever since rates went up:

The demand may have dropped off, but the supply is shrinking just as fast, or faster.  Virtually everyone who is thinking about selling their house this year is going to be on the market in the next 2-3 months, and so far, it doesn’t look like the number of springtime sellers will be anywhere close to what we’ve had in the past.

The number of 2023 NSDCC listings is already 20% behind last year’s count – which was the lowest ever.

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