Homebuyers Guide

With our tight inventory and ultra-low mortgage rates, it kinda feels like Tesla stock.  One minute you’re in the $800s, and the next thing you know, the same house is in the $900s!

What can buyers do?

  1. Buy location.
  2. Don’t buy crap.

Simple enough, right?

But it’s hard to accomplish both, because the best locations have the oldest homes.

Let’s narrow it down further.

If you can afford a decent location, what else can a buyer do to ensure a smart purchase?

Buy a newer home, and/or buy a one-story home.

Newer: Homes built in the last 15 years typically have modern floor plans with a large open great room and lots of windows that allow for ample natural light.  When you go to sell it someday, it will still be a desirable home without a load of upgrading or maintenance costs to you.

One-Story: Boomers aging in place guarantee that the scant supply of one-story homes will stay tight, and those that do leak onto the open market will be hotly contested.

Here’s a good example.

This sold for $850,000 two years ago, and after a complete remodel it goes on the market for $1,149,000…..and they get multiple offers.  Those who thought they could still buy a nice house in Old La Costa in the $800,000s are really scratching their heads now!  But it had the good location, and the sellers added the new look to clinch a nice boost in value.

If you want to stick with a newer house and/or a single-story house, what are your chances?

Price Range
# Listings
# Built Since 2005
# One-Story
# One-Story Built Since 2005
0 – $1M
28
5
6
0
$1M – $2M
184
45
42
6
$2M – $3M
163
42
54
8
$3M+
266
100
79
24

Buying a newer home or a single-story really looks daunting now, but if you can pull it off, you got it made!

Insisting on a newer home and/or a one-story home will give you maximum assurance that you’ve made a smart buy that will appreciate better than the rest. We can add a few older homes that have been thoroughly remodeled, but they probably still have a floor plan cut up into smaller rooms with low ceilings.

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Top 20 Toughest Markets


More evidence of the local listing count plunging….and seller price expectations rising!

The top 20 toughest housing markets includes a diverse geographic mix of larger established metros and up-and-comers where housing is still relatively affordable. They are concentrated in three regions of the country — eight metros from the West, six from the Midwest and six from the Northeast. None of the markets are located in the South, which dominates the list of top 20 easiest markets to find a home.

California led the national list of toughest housing markets, with six of the top 20 toughest markets coming from the state. Ohio followed with three markets — Columbus, Cincinnati and Akron — making the top 20 toughest markets list.

The scarcity of homes is reflected in the market prices, and the trend in most of the toughest markets is toward even fewer homes for sale. The average median listing price for the top 20 toughest markets was $480,830 in January, 40 percent higher than the average median price of the top 100 largest markets. In addition, 17 of the top 20 toughest markets began 2020 with double-digit annual declines in available inventory, with a handful of markets seeing more than a 30 percent drop, including San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City and San Diego.

Link to Article

Early Surge

Last Wednesday I was discussing the current market conditions with Candis while at her listing of a Davidson home on Calle Pera – which we both thought was priced right and should be selling in spite of it being on the market for 50 days.

I mentioned to her that it seemed like home buying comes in waves, or surges now.  The market goes quiet for a few weeks, then a bunch of homes will sell at the same time. We agreed that her listing should be the next to go pending….and if/when it does, will several more will go pending too?

Looks like it!

Since Wednesday, we’ve had 63 new pendings, including hers on Calle Pera!  You could say that we’re just coming off the holidays, but this isn’t the spring selling season…yet. Or is it?

It’s not just the hot new listings either – only 15 of the 63 new pendings had been on the market for seven days or less.  Here are eleven that had been on the market for 100+ days:

When eleven homes go pending that have been on the market for months, it’s not a fluke – those are retail sales happening early!  With good weather and no football this weekend, the lucky streak should continue.

Are you waiting to put your home on the market?  The reason to list it sooner instead of later is to avoid competition.  There probably aren’t many if any other listings around you now, and that could change in a hurry – and have impact on your eventual sales price.

I’m nervous about the competition between two-million-dollar condos in downtown San Diego, so I put our new listing on compass.com as a Coming Soon to gain some awareness among buyers while we do a quick spruce up.  It appeared on our website yesterday morning, and since then Compass agents have inputted another 19 new Coming-Soon listings!

Hopefully the early momentum will feed on itself. Let’s go!!

More 2020 Forecast – When to Sell

In three out of the last four years, our highest median sales price was in May – which are the sales that were decided in March and April:

I think we can expect a similar fast start to the selling season next year as pent-up demand that went unsatisfied in 2019 rushes in and grabs something just to get it over with while rates are still in the threes.

The average cost-per-sf is more choppy due to being skewed by abnormal sales prices, but this graph demonstrates the same – look at the hot start we got in Feb-May in both of the last two years:

4Q Uptick?

A positive forecast from our friends at JBREC:

Our proprietary model using Google search trends shows a bottoming & re-acceleration in resale and new home sales growth YOY into year end. Lower mortgage rates, better affordability, and an easy comp vs. last year’s dreary 4Q help these YOY stats.

You would think that the sales slump at the end of 2018 would make this year’s comparison look rosy, but it looks like we’ll be lucky just to match the 2018 sales around Coastal North SD County. We need 62 more sales reported for October, 2019 just to match last year – which had been 5% lower than the year before:

NSDCC End of Selling Season

I was talking to Nick yesterday about the current market conditions, and how home sale have been affected by the low mortgage rates recently.

You can see in the graph above that over the last five years we’ve been accustomed to rates in the threes, so it seemed obvious that when rates almost hit 5% that a market slowdown was in order.

Likewise, wouldn’t sales pick up as rates came back down?

But interestingly, in another statistical quirk, sales this year are the same as last year:

NSDCC Detached-Home Sales, August 15th – October 15th

Year
# of Sales
Avg $$/sf
Median SP
Median DOM
Sept 30yr Rate
2016
579
$517/sf
$1,199,000
28
3.46%
2017
528
$542/sf
$1,225,000
26
3.81%
2018
484
$570/sf
$1,330,000
26
4.63%
2019
484
$604/sf
$1,387,500
27
3.61%

Last year when sales were plunging 8% (again), it was easy to blame it on the higher rates. But as rates settled down this year, the best we can say is that sales have flattened out.

Reasons:

  1. Higher pricing is offsetting the lower rates.
  2. Buyers expect rates in the threes. Rates would have to get into the 2s to create a surge now.
  3. Not many homes for sale provide a compelling value to buyers (either the house or price is wrong).

The lower rates this year have provided that mythical soft landing that no one thought was possible. It is giving sellers and agents a sense of security that higher prices are supportable. But wouldn’t rates have to keep going down further for prices to go any higher?

If rates and pricing stayed about the same, the market should plateau along.

But can sellers resist adding that extra 5% on top of the last sale comp?  Probably not.

We’ll need an Election Year Miracle for prices to keep rising in 2020!

C.A.R. 2020 Forecast

The C.A.R. is forecasting +0.8% in sales, and +2.5% in median sales price for 2020, which is about as safe as it gets.  Here is a comparison of how their forecasts have compared to the actual numbers recently:

Category
2018 Forecast
2018 Actual
2019 Forecast
2019 Projected
2020 Forecast
SFH Resales #
426.2M
402.8M
396.8M
390.2M
393.5M
% off forecast
-5.2%
-1.7%
SFH Median SP
$561,000
$570,000
$593,400
$593,200
$607,900
% off forecast
+1.6%
-0-
30YR rate
4.3%
4.5%
5.2%
3.9%
3.7%

From the C.A.R.

LOS ANGELES (Sept. 26) – Low mortgage interest rates will support California’s housing market in 2020 but economic uncertainty and affordability issues will mute sales growth, according to a housing and economic forecast released today by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.).

C.A.R.’s “2020 California Housing Market Forecast” sees a small uptick in existing single-family home sales of 0.8 percent next year to reach 393,500 units, up from the projected 2019 sales figure of 390,200. The 2019 figure is 3.1 percent lower compared with the pace of 402,800 homes sold in 2018.

The California median home price is forecast to increase 2.5 percent to $607,900 in 2020, following a projected 4.1 percent increase from last year to $593,200 in 2019.

“With interest rates expected to remain near three-year lows, buyers have more purchasing power than in years past, but they may be reluctant to get off the sidelines because of economic and market uncertainties,” said C.A.R. President Jared Martin. “Additionally, an affordability crunch will cut into demand in some regions such as the Bay Area, where affordability is significantly below state and national levels. These factors together will subdue sales growth next year.”

C.A.R.’s forecast projects growth in the U.S. gross domestic product of 1.6 percent in 2020, after a projected gain of 2.2 percent in 2019. With California’s 2020 nonfarm job growth rate at 1.0 percent, down from a projected 1.5 percent in 2019, the state’s unemployment rate will tick up to 4.5 percent in 2020 from 2019’s 4.3 projected figure.

The average for 30-year, fixed mortgage interest rates will dip to 3.7 percent in 2020, down from 3.9 percent in 2019 and 4.5 percent in 2018 and will remain low by historical standards.

“California’s housing market will be challenged by changing migration patterns as buyers search for more affordable housing markets, particularly by first-time buyers, who are the hardest hit, moving out of state,” said C.A.R. Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “With California’s job and population growth rates tapering, the state’s affordability crisis is having a negative impact on the state economically as we lose the workers we need most such as service and construction workers, and teachers.”

In fact, according to C.A.R.’s 2019 State of the Housing Market Study, nearly a third (30 percent) of those sellers who planned on repurchasing said that they will buy their next home in another state outside of California — the highest level since 2005. Older generations were more likely to buy outside of California as 37 percent of baby boomers and silent generation planned on repurchasing in another state, but only 30 percent of Millennial sellers planned to do the same.

https://www.car.org/en/aboutus/mediacenter/newsreleases/2019releases/2020forecast

Still Bubblin’

I noted on Instagram today that a couple of new listings in Carlsbad went pending before they got to broker preview today.  While the sales and pricing statistics may look flat, sellers shouldn’t give up on selling when rates are still in the 3s.

These are the listings from the last seven days that already found a buyer – these aren’t giveaways:

The big bidding war in Leucadia also closed…..at a whopping 30% over list price – in this market!

Wait…at your peril!

Segovia Listing Report

One of the main reasons to set up shop at the La Costa Resort is to help support our efforts in the area.

When my current listing on Segovia came on the market, we were the only house for sale in the area.

But since then, TEN other similar – older one-story – homes have hit the market nearby:

We had listed for $888,000, and with a uniquely large backyard, we thought we had a shot at attracting a buyer who had a vision.

But now that we’re vying with eight others for the next buyer, we had to adjust on price.  The house on Cima came on at $899,000, but lowered quickly and found a buyer on Monday – so we did the same thing, and lowered to $859,000.

The number of views has been incredible – there is no shortage of lookers:


Note that there are twice as many views on Zillow as there are on the MLS!

The auto-valuations are close too, so it shouldn’t be long now:

When a flood happens, adjust early and often, because you don’t want to get left behind.

Market Surge

We’ve been actively engaged is selling these two listings over the last 45-60 days, and then found buyers for both houses this weekend.

The Bridge House went pending just ten days after a 10% price reduction, which got us down into the next lower bracket of buyers who might not have seen us.  The second listing was purchased by people who had their house in escrow, and needed to find a replacement – movement in the move-up market!

Interesting similarities:

  1. Both buyers saw the house during our open houses, and then went to get their realtor.
  2. Both relied on advice from long-time veteran realtors.
  3. Both offered under list, but were willing to come up.

Most importantly, we are on duty and pushing the product, which makes it easier and more convenient for buyers and agents to see the potential!

For those who are interested, I still have another listing:

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