The nice thing about writing The Perspective week after week (after week) is that I have accumulated a fair amount of real-time history and can easily access the sales patterns with respect to Piedmont's unique marketplace. Wanting to compare the number of this year's listings, with last year's, I looked no further than my own newsletters (e-letters!) of February 2008 to comparison shop. As I chase these statistics, I realize we are on track for a fairly typical Spring Market!
While concerned observers worry there is too much inventory on the market, it just isn't true. (In Stockton - yes. In Piedmont - No!) Last year, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) reported 16 homes for sale in Piedmont, with an average list price of $1,928,375 and average days on market (DOM) reported at 46 days. This year, the MLS reports 18 new listings since the beginning of 2009, with an average list price of $1,816,726 and an average DOM of just 14 days! This seems to indicate that aggressively-priced homes quickly find buyers, while homes that are stalling need to adjust the list price downward in order to meet buyer demand!
While it's true that recent bank upheavals, poor economic forecasts decreasing stock values and uncertain employment opportunities are all contributing to current buyer conservatism, the blunt truth is that the bulk of homes that are languishing, are simply overpriced for the market conditions - AS THEY EXIST!
Which isn't to say that there aren't plenty of willing and able buyers about - there are. (They are even showing up in the POURING rain - and that's commitment!)
With mortgage rates at historical all-time lows and a shiny new stimulus package on its way, designed to promote and award home ownership, ALL buyers continue to seek good values, regardless of where they fall on the spectrum. As new buyers move into the marketplace, the market will in turn, experience improved health and better stability, restoring faith and encouraging other buyers to move UP the ladder. As has always been true, first-time buyers drive the marketplace!
Sellers, are you listening? Are you attracting buyers or are you mired in last year's values?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.