Marin home sales spike 7.1% in February

Mortgage

After several months of sluggish activity, sales of Marin County, Calif., homes surged 7.1% in February to 180, up from the 168 sold in February 2018, a real estate data tracking firm reported.

Irvine, Calif.-based CoreLogic also noted a rise in the Marin median home price to $1.025 million, up from the $885,750 median a year earlier.

Marin’s resurgence, however, was the exception across the Bay Area. Home sales for the total nine-county San Francisco Bay Area region dropped 12.8% to 4,354 in February, down from the 4,993 sales in February 2018, said Andrew LePage, a CoreLogic analyst.

“Total February 2019 home sales in the San Francisco Bay Area were the lowest for that month in 11 years, since 3,989 homes were sold in February 2008, LePage said. “Sales have fallen on a year-over-year basis the past nine consecutive months.”

Marin County homes

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Median prices rose across the total Bay Area, but only slightly. LePage said the median price paid for all homes sold in the region in February 2019 was $770,000, up 2.7% from $750,000 in February 2018.

“Last month’s 2.7% annual increase in the regional median sale price was the second lowest in two years, behind a 2.2% gain this January,” LePage said. “The lower gains, which compare with a nearly 13% increase in the median in February 2018, reflect a much slower sales pace, higher inventory and a psychological shift among some would-be buyers who feel less of a sense of urgency.”

The Marin real estate market, meanwhile, seems to be on an uptick, according to Barry Crotty, of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Greenbrae.

“We’re seeing a steady stream of buyers at open houses, and those calling on our listings,” he said. “There’s a fair amount of properties being listed — and the ones that are well-priced and attractive are selling within one to two weeks.”

For example, Crotty said he recently took a buyer on a tour of six homes in Central Marin — which he described as Larkspur, Greenbrae and Corte Madera — one of the most “coveted” areas of Marin.

“Within three days, four of the six properties were in contract,” he said. “Most of those (in contract) were professionally staged, ready to go. They looked really nice. They had a ‘model home look,’ which is very effective. That’s what buyers want, and that’s what gets sellers the highest and best prices.”

Crotty said some listings that, for various reasons, are not selling within 30 to 60 days are seeing price reductions. Once those properties are better priced, they often sell faster.

“For those properties that are less desirable, buyers are waiting until equilibrium is reached between the value of the home and the price being at the right level,” he said.

Marin real estate agent Kathy Schlegel, of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, said she was also seeing more activity of late.

“We are hoping that the 2019 spring season will bounce back to last year’s market,” Schlegel said in an email. “We are seeing more listings, so buyers should have better selections and better negotiations. With the higher supply, we are seeing less multiple offers. The long rainy season has kept many buyers inside, and we are looking forward to more sunny days.”

LePage noted that even though sales are down across the Bay Area, the year-over-year decline in sales has ratcheted down the past two months, from a nearly 22% annual drop last December to a decline of just under 13% last month. The lessening of the declines likely reflects, among other things, a significant drop in mortgage rates since they hit a seven-year high last November, as well as more listings compared with early last year and an improving stock market in early 2019. Those factors are likely putting some would-be buyers back into home-shopping mode, he said.

As to the median prices, “four of the Bay Area region’s nine counties — Napa, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Sonoma — posted year-over-year declines in their median sale prices last month,” LePage said. “Those declines likely reflect a combination of a slower market and a rise in buyers’ negotiating power, as well as changes in market mix in some areas, where sales in higher-end communities represent a lower share of all activity.”


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