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Category Archive: ‘Frenzy’

Frenzy vs. Frenzy Sales Overlay

Every day we hear some pundit talking about the latest real estate bubble forming.  Can we learn anything from comparing recent sales to those during the bubblicious 2004-2007 era?

graph (56)

Sales were dropping precipitously in 2005 and 2006 after the 2003-2004 run-up.  There was one last blowout at the end of 2006 and into 2007 when Countrywide began pushing the no-doc, 100% financing up to $1,500,000.

When Angelo took away the punch bowl in the middle of 2007, the party was over – you can see how sales tanked, beginning in August, 2007.

One big difference when comparing these two eras is that the neg-am teaser rate in 2007 is today’s 30-year fixed rate.  When the teaser rate went away, and people had to qualify again, the market collapsed.

It doesn’t look that way today.

This year, sales have been strong, in spite of the San Diego Case-Shiller Index rising 42% since January, 2012.  If we hit an unsustainable stretch, the first indicator will be sales dropping off, like they did at the end of 2007.

Posted by on Aug 22, 2015 in Bubble-Era Pricing, Frenzy, Jim's Take on the Market, Market Buzz, North County Coastal, Thinking of Buying?, Thinking of Selling? | 4 comments

Frenzy History In Color

frenzy graph

Let’s describe the frenzy era… far:

2012: Rev the engines, we have liftoff.

2013, first half: Full tilt boogie, prices going up as fast as they can.

2013, second half: Mortgage rates rise 0.75% to snuff out price rally.

2014: Normalizing.

2015: Rates dip under 4% to begin the spring selling season, sparking a rally.

If the Fed does raise a rate this year, it won’t be much – maybe 0.25%. We will survive a similar bump in mortgage rates, and it might be a relief for it to have finally happened.

Posted by on Aug 21, 2015 in Frenzy, Jim's Take on the Market, Sales and Price Check | 1 comment

Why Sell Your House Now


We need more homes to sell! From the DQ:

“One month doesn’t make a trend, but December’s uptick in home sales might indicate renewed interest in housing thanks to lower mortgage rates and job growth in recent months,” said Andrew LePage, data analyst for CoreLogic DataQuick. “The gain came despite a continued decline in the share of homes sold to investors and cash buyers.

If demand continues to build, we’ll need more supply to keep up with it. One of the big questions hanging over the housing market is whether higher demand and home values will lead to a lot more people listing their homes for sale, as well as more new-home construction, which remains well below average.”

The ultra-low mortgage rates have gotten every buyer’s attention, and the sales are starting to reflect it – just like at the end of 2012.  If the December sales are the precursor, then we are at least looking at a frenzy-lite experience over the next few months:

NSDCC December Sales
# of Dec. Sales
Median SP
Median DOM
Avg $/sf

Around the NSDCC, you can sell your home for more than it has ever been worth.  But is that enough to cause people to sell?  For most people, no. We like living here, and have no place better to go.

We don’t need everyone to move.  All we need is about 10% more listings than last year, and we’ll hit full frenzy. The 2003-2004 era was the craziest frenzy of all-time, and it’s because we had more houses to sell:

Number of New Listings, First Half (Jan-Jun)

In a region of 300,000 people, all we need is about 80 more houses per month to sell.  We need a few potential sellers to change their mind about selling later, and sell now instead.

If you know you are going to be selling in a few years anyway, but these ideal conditions look too good to pass up, here’s how you can justify moving now:

1.  Move before you retire.  If you were thinking about downsizing and wanted to stay local, then either buy a condo close to home, or move to the outskirts where you can still buy a home for less than $500,000 – and commute to work for a year or two.  The low-end market is much hotter, and prices moving up quicker.

2.  Sell and rent. If you know you are going to be leaving town shortly, sell when the market is red hot, and rent a beach hut for a year or two.  Yes, rents are outrageous – but your home’s sales price will be too!

3. Retire early.  You are making more money in the stock market than you are at that stinking job you can barely tolerate.  Cash out while you can!

4.  Sell and move when you are healthy.  If you’ve been in the same home for more than 10 years, you have a lot of stuff to sort through – physically, mentally, and emotionally.  It is much easier when you have your health.

5.  Move up when rates are low.  Obviously, if you are moving up and financing the next purchase, these low rates are advantageous.

6.  Sell before rates go up.  Remember that in June 2013, that mortgage rates moved back into the mid-4% range on a rumor that the Fed was going to tighten – which they never did.  It won’t take much to pull this punch bowl.

Historically, the market has been a ten-year cycle, and the SD trough this time was April 2009.  It got dragged out longer in the 2005-2007 era by Angelo’s nutty no-doc financing, and today’s low rates might extend the party a while longer.  But it isn’t going to last forever, and mortgage rates will go up before the Fed does anything.

Once mortgage rates go up, buyers will expect lower prices, and we saw prices stall out much of last year.  But do you want to sell for less?  Not until you test the market for a year or two, and by then, buyers will be in control.

Contact me today for a free consultation!

Posted by on Jan 16, 2015 in Frenzy, Jim's Take on the Market, North County Coastal, Sales and Price Check, Thinking of Selling?, Why You Should List With Jim | 4 comments

NSDCC Actives and Pendings


Back when we had a normal market, it was considered ‘balanced’ or ‘healthy’ to have a 2:1 ratio of active listings to pendings.  Now that the Fed’s QE is over, and mortgages are slightly easier to get, today’s environment is probably as close to normal as we’re going to get.

How are we doing?

With jumbo rates breaking records daily, there’s no surprise that the lower-end of NSDCC is scorching hot – and would be hotter if there were more decent houses for sale:

NSDCC House List Prices
A/P Ratio
Median DOM

I think we can expect another full-out frenzy in the coming months – at least around those new lower-end listings that are within shouting range of the comps. You need an agent who can handle a bidding war – it is not a given!

Posted by on Jan 15, 2015 in Actives/Pendings, Frenzy, Jim's Take on the Market | 0 comments

Pricing By Zip

Isn’t it amazing that prices have kept rising without frenzy help?

We’ve had the frenzy hangover this year. Inventory is still tight, sellers confident, and buyers don’t have much choice except to pay what it takes – or to stand by.  But sales are softer – and the number of NSDCC active listings today is 7% higher than last year.

Here are the two pricing measurements for each zip code for detached-home sales between May 1st and July 31st.  Every zip code between Carlsbad and La Jolla shows a positive year-over-year increase in BOTH pricing metrics!

Zip Code
Avg $/sf
Median SP
Cbad NW
Cbad SE
Cbad NE
Carlsbad SW
Carmel Vly
Del Mar
La Jolla
Solana Bch
All Above
% chg

I had to average the averages for the NSDCC $/sf, so they are probably high.

Rob Dawg said in his 2014 forecast that he thought we’d see all the annual gain happen in the first half of the year. It’s the post-frenzy soft landing!

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Frenzy, North County Coastal, Why You Should List With Jim | 7 comments

Escalation Clause

escalationIn the spirit of fair play, this isn’t right.  But in a market where buyers get tired of losing, you can’t blame them for trying alternatives.  Agents should have a standard policy/strategy on how to handle the escalation clause – get good help!

From the Boston Globe:

Katrine and Stephen Campbell were up against stiff competition from 10 other bidders for the Reading home they wanted to buy. So the couple tried an aggressive strategy to give them an edge: Instead of making a specific offer, they promised to top whatever turned out to be the high bid by an additional $5,000.

The increasingly popular tactic, known as an escalation clause, worked. The Campbells bought the four-bedroom house late last year for $597,000 — or $18,000 above the original list price, including the extra $5,000.

“We must have looked at 50 places before making a bid on a house,” said Katrine Campbell. “We made only one offer — and we got it. The escalation clause gave us an edge.”

In a sign of how competitive the Boston-area housing market has become, the maneuver is becoming part of the area’s bidding war landscape, brokers and other real estate executives say. Some report there hasn’t been this much escalation clause activity since the last house-buying frenzy 10 years ago.

There are several kinds of escalation clauses, but all involve an agreement to top the high bid on a home by a set amount of money — often $5,000, and sometimes more.

Potential buyers who offer such arrangements usually insist on a brief amount of time, an hour or less, to follow through or to back out once a top bid has been established.

Skeptics say the clauses are potentially risky and a needless ploy that could backfire by alienating some sellers. It can also lead to disputes about whether buyers or sellers have complied with escalation clause terms, they say.

“It’s a tactic that’s not going to appeal to everyone,” said Peter Ruffini, a regional vice president at Jack Conway Realty in Norwell and president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors.

“It sounds a little risky to me. It sounds sort of like issuing a blank check to sellers.”

Read More

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014 in Ethics, Frenzy, Market Buzz, Market Conditions | 4 comments

Lower-Level Frenzy

The media will soon be touting the year-over-year drop in home sales.

Around here it is mostly due to the lack of decent homes for sale – and if you want a decent home for a decent price, good luck.

But the glass-half-full view notes how remarkable sales have been, given the dramatic rise in pricing:

First Qtr.
NSDCC Det. #Sales
Avg. $/sf
SD Co Det. #Sales
Avg. $/sf

Buyers are determined and resilient in their quest to purchase a home, which is causing prices to maintain upward momentum today, 18 months after the frenzy started:

SDCo list and sold ppsf april 2014

In the past, escalating prices have caused a surge of new listings.  But today sellers are happier to stay put, regardless of price.

The low inventory is disguising the drop in sales – it still feels frenzy-like because buyers out-number the sellers.  The blue line is the number of homes for sale today in San Diego County, and the red line is the 90-day moving count of homes sold.  It’s not a common metric, but it shows the sales trend well:

SDCo #listings-sales

With sales dropping, prices would normally stall right about now.

But this is the new normal.

Buyers don’t see many houses for sale, and as a result, they still feel the frenzy vibe and desperation.  With inventory so low, future sellers are going to be more optimistic about hitting the jackpot, and price accordingly (too high).

The graph above shows how sales took off in April, even though inventory wasn’t keeping up.  We are in the prime selling season now – this is when buyers want to buy a house!

Any new listing with a decent price should get gobbled up in the next 30-60 days.  But many, if not most, sellers will come out too high, and risk missing the opportunity – and potentially face a OPT glut by summer.

It’s a fancy dance between inventory and sales, but if we do get a surge of reasonably-priced listings, the sales momentum should take off again.

Stay tuned!

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Frenzy, Jim's Take on the Market | 2 comments

Saturday Open House Report

orangeThere were enough open houses in the area that the streets of Encinitas were crawling with people today.  Thankfully, my listing was the cheapest!

I appreciate the big turnout for Padres-tickets contest too, and for 47 of the 48 guesses being higher than list price – thanks for your faith and confidence!

Here’s my open-house report, check back tomorrow:

Posted by on Apr 5, 2014 in Bubbleinfo TV, Encinitas, Frenzy, Jim's Take on the Market, Why You Should List With Jim | 0 comments

Lost 10 In A Row

MANHATTAN BEACH ( — According to real-estate website Trulia’s first-quarter “Bubble Watch,” the top two overvalued housing markets in the country are Orange and L.A. counties.

Climbing prices, combined with low inventory, is causing worry for some would-be home buyers, concerned about the possibility of another bubble.

Danielle and Robert Merrill told CBS2?s Serene Branson they have put in offers on 10 homes in the past five months, from Mar Vista to Santa Monica, but lost out on them all.

“It feels like it’s climbing at an unbelievable rate and it seems that prices have really jumped way up,” Danielle said. “It’s emotional. Every time a property comes on, and with this market you jump on the day it comes on the market.”

“It’s been a difficult process because the inventory is so low prices are just going up and up and up,” Robert said.

According to the California Association of Realtors, the median home price in L.A. County was $390,000 for February 2014 – up 15.2 percent from the same period last year.

In Orange County, the median home price last month was $677,000, up 11.6 percent.

The numbers show affordability has also dropped.

Only 30 percent of L.A. County residents can afford a median price home, down from 44 percent last year. In Orange County, it’s down to 20 percent from 34.

Real-estate agent Jeremy Shelton, of Shorewood Realtors, pointed to a three-bedroom Manhattan Beach home that sold over the asking price.

“Inventory is tragically low,” he said. “This came on a week-and-a-half ago. We had three offers right off the bat.”

Shelton said it’s a seller’s market, and he predicts modest increases before prices level off.

“Much like 2006, 2007, we have limited inventory. Prices are therefore going higher. There are a lot of qualified buyers, which is the key in the market now – unlike we had in 2007. So yeah, we are seeing a frenzy,” he said.

It’s a tough reality for buyers like the Merrills, who have been beat by so many all-cash, no contingency offers they’re taking a break before jumping back in.

“We’ve been through such an emotional ride with the market not knowing where it’s going to go from here,” Danielle said.

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 in Frenzy, Market Buzz, Market Conditions | 11 comments

Sales As The Leading Indicator

Livinincali left this comment Thursday:

If history is any guide you’d expect sales volume to start dropping before seeing any movement down on price. The sales volume numbers back in winter of late 2012, 2013 were seasonally higher than they have been and that marked the beginning of the price appreciation.  Now it seems as the sales volume have fallen off a bit and price appreciation has moderated.  If sales volume continues to be soft expect appreciation to be minimal this year.  It seems like some segments of the market are still hot but it doesn’t feel like the frenzy of last year around this time where everything in the county was hot.

Historically, sales are the leading indicator, and prices have always followed.

Many are very committed to the fundamentals, and that in itself could help propel the actual market activity – a self-fulfilling prophecy.  A loan rep in the OC named Logan has sparred with me about it on Twitter, and he has included the Trulia economist in the conversation – which is fine by me because they share the same view that history will repeat itself, regardless.


Logan is entitled to one man’s opinion.  But Trulia stories get published everywhere now, and could carry considerable influence with home buyers.  They are a mainstream-media source for market data, and have a responsibility to dig for the truth.

The Twitter war above got started over this article, which is now being published by media outlets everywhere:,0,4729002.story#axzz2xIS4jHJV

Suggesting that bubbles are forming in areas where prices rising faster than those incomes is shallow and incomplete.  Let’s consider additional facts.

Do reports of fewer sales have to be contributed to stagnant incomes, un-affordability, employment, economics, DTI, etc., that will drive prices down, or are there other explanations?

1.  It was predicted here six months ago that people would be comparing 2014 sales to the ultra-hot frenzy months of 2013, and claim the sky is falling.  You could say that the low rates of 2013 alone were driving people to buy; now that higher-and-steady rates aren’t driving the market, sales look pretty similar to recent years – IN SPITE OF HIGHER PRICES.

Detached-Home Sales Between Jan. 1 – March 15:

Avg $/sf
SD Co. Sales
Avg $/sf

Take out the 2013 frenzy-driven era, and sales look similar, or better, than previous years, even though pricing is substantially higher.

2. A preliminary sign of a market top would be more homes not selling, and inventory rising. If inventory was rising steadily, AND sales were flat or declining, then a call for lower prices would be obvious.  But the inventory is about the same as last year:

SD inventory

A big difference that is critical to the equation is that 2013 sellers were caught off-guard at rapid rebound in pricing.  But the word is out now, and the 2014 sellers are VERY WELL AWARE of the improved market/higher pricing.  Yet sales are strong.

3.  This year’s sellers are more elective.  They didn’t have to sell last year, and waited until they could get even more money this year – and they are only selling if they get their price.  Yet sales are strong.

4.  Every seller wants more, not less.  It is the sellers’ creed – tack on a little extra to what the last guy got.  Yet sales are strong.

5.  If prices did falter, sellers just wouldn’t sell.  The ego of a seller is powerful, and selling for any less than ‘their price’ is ‘giving it away’.  Sellers will avoid that at all costs, and just cancel their listing instead.  You’ll know that pricing is heading downward when you see inventory dry up further.  Yet sales are strong.

6.  There is absolutely NO threat of distressed sales undermining the market.  Of the 1,180 NSDCC listings this year, 12 have been short-sales, and one has been an REO.  Yet sales are strong – stronger than when buyers could have gotten a deal.

7.  Multiple offers are everywhere. I can only speak about the north-coastal region of San Diego County, but everywhere I go, there are multiple offers – even on houses that aren’t that great.  You will see bidding wars dry up before sales start to drop.  Yet sales are strong.

8.  We have never seen the inventory sustain at levels this low.  There is an awareness and appreciation about one’s home that is superseding price – people aren’t interested in moving, no matter what they could get for it. The Z-man said yesterday that the low inventory is due to 20% of the country being underwater.  Did he interview each one of those people?  They could have short-sold anytime over the last few years if they wanted to move – but they didn’t.

In summary, buyers are ready, willing, and able to buy homes today – at these prices, and these mortgage rates.  There would be as many – if not more – sales this year, than in 2013, if there were just more decent homes to sell at today’s prices.

Homes that aren’t selling today are the ones priced outrageously – anything close to the right price is selling. Hopefully it means there is a price ceiling – and we have arrived at the unaffordable plateau for now.

Sellers are insisting that we stay at these prices, or higher – they aren’t backing down. For now, buyers are agreeing.  I haven’t seen any house sell for less than the comps this year – have you?

Until the bidding wars dry up, and then sales start to falter when compared to non-frenzy months, then prices should hang around these levels.

Posted by on Mar 29, 2014 in Frenzy, Jim's Take on the Market, Market Buzz, Market Conditions, North County Coastal, Sales and Price Check | 13 comments