Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Jan. 22, 2022

Home Buyers in Silicon Valley Asking Me Why Is Housing Supply Still So Low?

Home buyers in Silicon Valley Asking Me why is housing supply still so low

Buyers in Silicon Valley Asking Me Why Is Housing Supply Still So Low?

One key question that’s top of mind for homebuyers in Silicon Valley this year is: why is it so hard to find a house to buy? The truth is, we’re in the ultimate sellers’ market, so real estate is ultra-competitive for buyers right now. The number of buyers searching for a home greatly outweighs how many homes are available for sale.

While low inventory in the housing market isn’t new, it’s a challenge that continues to grow over time. Here’s a look at two reasons why today’s housing supply is low and what that means for you.

1. New Home Construction in Peninsula Fell Behind for Several Years

The graph below shows new home construction for single-family homes over the past five decades, including the long-term average for housing units completed. Builders exceeded that average during the housing bubble (shown in red on the graph). The result was an oversupply of homes on the market, so home values declined. That was one of the factors that led to the housing crash back in 2008.

Since then, the level of new home construction has fallen off. For the last 13 straight years, builders haven’t been able to construct enough homes to meet the historical average (as illustrated in green on the graph). That underbuilding left us with a multi-year inventory deficit going into the pandemic.

Single Family houses built in Menlo Park Atherton

2. The Pandemic’s Impact on the Housing Market

Then, when the pandemic hit, it fueled a renewed appreciation and focus on the meaning of home. Having a safe space to live, work, school, and exercise became even more important for Americans throughout the country. So, as mortgage rates dropped to at or below 3%, buyers eagerly entered the market looking to capitalize on those low rates to secure a home that would fulfill their changing needs. At the same time, sellers hesitated to put their houses on the market as concerns about the pandemic mounted.

The result? The number of homes available for sale dropped even further. A recent article from realtor.com explains:

“Last month, the number of home listings dropped 26.8% compared with the same time a year earlier. This meant there were about 177,000 fewer homes listed in what’s already typically a slower month due to the holidays and colder weather. . . .”

What Does All of This Mean for You?

For a buyer, low inventory can be a challenge. You want to find the home of your dreams, and you don’t want to settle. But what if there just aren’t that many homes to choose from?

There is some good news. Experts are projecting more homes will soon become available thanks to sellers re-entering the market. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, shares this hope, but offers perspective:

“We expect that we’ll start to see a turnaround and inventory will stabilize and start to go up a little bit in 2022. . . . But that means we’re looking at inventory levels of roughly half of what we saw before the pandemic. For buyers, the market is likely to continue to move fast. If you see a home you like, you want to jump on it right away.”

Basically, inventory is still low, even though more homes are coming. But you shouldn’t put your plans on hold because you’re waiting for those additional houses to hit the market.  Instead, stick with your search and persevere through today’s low inventory. You can find your next home if you’re patient and focused.

Remember your goals and why finding a home is so important. Those things should be the driving force behind your search. Share them with your agent and be clear about your priorities. Your trusted advisor is your greatest support as you navigate today’s low housing supply to find the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line 

If you’re planning to buy this year, the key to success will be patience given today’s low inventory. Let’s connect to discuss what’s happening in our area, what homes are available, and why it’s still worthwhile to prioritize your home search today.

Jan. 22, 2022

Why Real Estate is one of the Best Investments for Americans

American Choose Menlo Park Real Estate as the best investment

Some Highlights

  • According to a Gallup poll, real estate has been rated the best long-term investment for eight years in a row.
  • Real estate tops the list because you’re not just buying a place to call home – you’re investing in your future. Real estate is typically considered a stable and secure asset that can grow in value over time.
  • Let’s connect today if you’re ready to make real estate your best investment this year.
Jan. 7, 2022

How To Hit Your Homebuying Goals This Year

How To Hit Your Homebuying Goals This Year

Some Highlights

If you’re looking to buy a home, you may want to put these items on your to-do list to ensure you hit your goals.

It’s important to start working on your credit and saving for a down payment early. When you’re ready to begin your search, work with a real estate professional and get pre-approved so you know how much you can borrow.

Connect with a real estate advisor so you have the guidance you need to achieve your homebuying goals this year.

Jan. 7, 2022

Homebuyers: Be Ready To Act This Spring

Homebuyers: Be Ready To Act This Spring

To succeed as a buyer in today’s market, it’s important to understand which market trends will have the greatest impact on your home search. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, says there are two factors every buyer should keep their eyes on:

“Going forward, the conditions buyers face are primarily dependent on two things: mortgage rates and housing supply.”

Here’s a look at each one.

Mortgage Rates Projected To Rise in 2022

As a buyer, your interest rate directly impacts how much you’ll pay on your monthly mortgage when you purchase a home. Rates are beginning to rise, and experts forecast they’ll continue going up in 2022 (see graph below):

As the graph shows, mortgage rates are expected to climb next year. But they’re still low when you compare to where they were just a few years ago. That presents today’s buyers with some motivation to lock in a low mortgage rate before they climb higher.

More Homes Are Expected To Be Available This Season

The other market condition buyers need to monitor is the number of homes available for sale today. The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the current supply of inventory sits at just 2.4-months. To put that into perspective, a 6-month supply is ideal for a balanced market where there are enough homes to meet buyer demand.

However, there may be good news for buyers who are waiting for more options. A recent realtor.com survey shows more sellers are planning to list their homes this winter, meaning more choices will likely be available soon.

What Does That Mean for You?

Even if your options improve some this season, it won’t significantly shift market conditions overnight. According to NAR, many more listings need to be available to move closer to a more neutral market:

“Given the average monthly demand . . . , 3.55 million homes should be on the market to meet a level of inventory equal to six months of demand, implying a shortage of homes for sale of 2.24 million.”

So remember, even with more homes expected to come to market this season, competition among buyers will remain fierce as there still won’t be enough homes for sale to meet the current demand. That means you’ll need to act quickly when you’re ready to make an offer.

Bottom Line

If you’re planning on buying a home this winter, more options are welcome news, but it doesn’t mean you should slow down. Let’s connect today so you have an expert on your side to help act as quickly as possible when the right home for you hits the market.

Jan. 7, 2022

How To Think Strategically as a Buyer in Today’s Market

How To Think Strategically as a Buyer in Today’s Market?

The game of chess can provide incredible lessons to apply to all aspects of life, including the homebuying process. Chess requires you to plan and think about your strategy from the very beginning of the game.

The homebuying process, like chess, requires strategy and planning. Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your plan is as strong as possible when you begin your home search.

Pre-Approval: the Best Opening Play To Make as a Homebuyer

It’s important to have a great opening play when you’re buying a home. And the best move you can make when you begin your home search is getting pre-approved by a lender. You’ve probably already heard this is an important step, but what exactly is pre-approval and what benefits does it provide you?

As Freddie Mac puts it:

“The pre-approval letter from your lender tells you the maximum amount you are qualified to borrow. Getting a pre-approval letter is not a loan guarantee, it simply states how much your lender is willing to lend you. . . .”

And while determining how much you can afford at the start of your search is critical, the pre-approval letter also serves another important purpose. Freddie Mac also notes:

“This pre-approval allows you to look for a home with greater confidence and demonstrates to the seller that you are a serious buyer.”

In the game of chess, a strong opening move signals to your opponent that you’re a serious competitor. As a homebuyer, your pre-approval letter signals to the seller that you’re a serious, interested buyer.

Homebuying: It’s a Team Game, Not a Single-Player Experience

Every step you take to create your strategy as a buyer is important in today’s market. Why? Mortgage rates are still low, but increasing. Prices are going up. There’s a limited supply of homes for sale. These are just a few key variables in today’s market you need to be prepared for.

That means leaning on expert guidance as you plan every move is more important than ever. Have a team of professionals – like your trusted real estate agent and a loan officer – every step of the way to make sure you make the right moves.

Bottom Line

Getting a pre-approval letter isn’t just good strategy, it can be game-changing. It allows you to get a full understanding of what you can afford, and it signals to sellers that you’re serious. Let’s connect today to ensure you’re playing chess and being strategic during the home buying process.

 

Jan. 7, 2022

How Much Do You Need for Your Down Payment?

How Much Do You Need for Your Down Payment?

How Much Do You Need for Your Down Payment?

As you set out on your home buying journey, you likely have a plan in place, and you’re working on saving for your purchase. But do you know how much you actually need for your down payment?

If you think you have to put 20% down, you may have set your goal based on a common misconception. Freddie Mac says:

“The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary.”

Unless specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. According to the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. It may sound surprising, but today, that number is only 13%. And it’s even lower for first-time homebuyers, whose median down payment is only 7% (see graph below):

 

Today's Median Down Payment

What Does This Mean for You?

While a down payment of 20% or more does have benefits, the typical buyer is putting far less down. That’s good news for you because it means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize.

If you’re interested in learning more about low down payment options, there are several places to go. There are programs for qualified buyers with down payments as low as 3.5%. There are also options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

To understand your options, you need to do your homework. If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, information is available through sites like downpaymentresource.com. Be sure to also work with a real estate advisor from the start to learn what you may qualify for in the homebuying process.

Bottom Line

Remember: a 20% down payment isn’t always required. If you want to purchase a home this year, let’s connect to start the conversation and explore your down payment options.

Jan. 7, 2022

Avoid the Rental Trap in 2022

Avoid the Rental Trap in 2022

Avoid the Rental Trap in 2022

Are you one of the many renters thinking about where you’ll live the next time your lease is up? Before you decide whether to look for a new house or another apartment, it’s important to understand the true costs of renting in 2022.

As a renter, you should know rents have been rising since 1988 (see graph below):

Median Asking Rent

In 2021, rents grew dramatically. According to ApartmentList.com, since January 2021:

“. . . the national median rent has increased by a staggering 17.8 percent. To put that in context, rent growth from January to November averaged just 2.6 percent in the pre-pandemic years from 2017-2019.”

That increase in 2021 was far greater than the typical rent increases we’ve seen in recent years. In other words – rents are rising fast. And the 2022 National Housing Forecast from realtor.com projects prices for vacant units will continue to increase this year:

“In 2022, we expect this trend will continue and fuel rent growth. At a national level, we forecast rent growth of 7.1% in the next 12 months, somewhat ahead of home price growth . . .”

That means, if you’re planning to move into a different rental this year, you’ll likely pay far more than you have in years past.

Homeownership Provides an Alternative to Rising Rents

If you’re a renter facing rising rental costs, you might wonder what alternatives you have. If so, consider homeownership. One of the many benefits of homeownership is it provides a stable monthly cost you can lock in for the duration of your loan.

As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“. . . fast-rising rents and increasing consumer prices, may have some prospective buyers seeking the protection of a fixed, consistent mortgage payment.”

If you’re planning to make a move this year, locking in your monthly housing costs for 15-30 years can be a major benefit. You’ll avoid wondering if you’ll need to adjust your budget to account for annual increases.

Homeowners also enjoy the added benefit of home equity, which has grown substantially right now. In fact, the latest Homeowner Equity Insight report from CoreLogic shows the average homeowner gained $56,700 in equity over the last 12 months. As a renter, your rent payment only covers the cost of your dwelling. When you pay your mortgage, you grow your wealth through the forced savings that is your home equity.  

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of renting this year, it’s important to keep in mind the true costs you’ll face. Let’s connect so you can see how you can begin your journey to homeownership today.

Jan. 7, 2022

Could Waiting To Sell Your House Cost You a Small Fortune?

Could Waiting To Sell Your House Cost You a Small Fortune

Could Waiting To Sell Your House Cost You a Small Fortune?

Many homeowners in Silicon Valley who plan to sell in 2022 may think the wise thing to do is to wait for the spring buying market since historically about 40 percent of home sales occur between April and July. However, this year’s expected to be much different than the norm. Here are five reasons to list your house now rather than waiting until the spring.

1. Buyers in Mid Peninsula Are Looking Right Now, and They’re Ready To Purchase

The ShowingTime Showing Index reports data from more than six million property showings scheduled across the country each month. In other words, it’s a gauge of how many buyers are out looking at homes at the current time.

The latest index, which covers November showings, reveals that buyers in Bay Area are still very active in the market. Comparing this November’s numbers to previous years, this graph shows that the index is higher than last year and much higher than the three years prior to the pandemic. Clearly, there’s an influx of buyers searching for your home.

buyers in Menlo Park, Atherton and Palo Alto are looking to buy their dream homes

Also, at this time of year, only those purchasers who are serious about buying a home in Menlo Park, Atherton, and Palo Alto, Los Altos will be in the market. You and your loved ones won’t be inconvenienced by casual searchers.

And that theory is proving to be true right now based on the number of buyers in the Mid-Peninsula who have put a home under contract to purchase. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) publishes a monthly Pending Home Sales Index which measures housing contract activity. It’s based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos, and co-ops. The latest index shows:

“…housing demand continues to be high. . . . Homes placed on the market for sale go from ‘listed status’ to ‘under contract’ in approximately 18 days.”

Comparing the index to previous Novembers, while it’s slightly below November 2020 (when sales were pushed to later in the year because of the pandemic), it’s well above the previous three years.

Pending Sales in Menlo Park Atherton Palo Alto and Los Altos Beats the pre pandemic

The takeaway for you: There are homes purchasers in the Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and Los Altos markets, and they’re ready and willing to buy.

2. Other Sellers in Mid Peninsula Plan To List Earlier This Year

The law of supply and demand tells us that if you want the best price possible and to negotiate your ideal contract terms, put your house on the market when there’s strong demand and less competition.

A recent study by realtor.com reveals that, unlike in previous years, sellers plan to list their homes this winter instead of waiting until spring or summer. The study shows that 65% of sellers who plan to sell in 2022 have either already listed their home (19%) or are planning to put it on the market this winter.

Again, if you’re looking for the best price and the ability to best negotiate the other terms of the sale of your house, listing before this competition hits the market makes sense.

3. Newly Constructed Homes in Bay Area Will Be Your Competition in the Spring

In 2020, nationwide, there were over 979,000 new single-family housing units authorized by building permits. Many of those homes have yet to be built because of labor shortages and supply chain bottlenecks brought on by the pandemic. They will, however, be completed in 2022. That will create additional competition when you sell your house. Beating these newly constructed homes to the market is something you should consider to ensure your house gets as much attention from interested buyers as possible.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time To Move-Up

If you’re moving into a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by approximately 5% over the next 12 months. That means it will cost you more (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock in your 30-year housing expense with a mortgage rate in the low 3’s right now. If you’re thinking of selling in 2022, you may want to do it now instead of waiting, as mortgage rates are forecast to rise throughout the year.

5. It May Be Time for You To Make a Change

Consider why you’re thinking of selling in the first place and determine whether it’s worth waiting. Is waiting more important than being closer to your loved ones now? Is waiting more important than your health? Is waiting more important than having the space you truly need?

Only you know the answers to those questions. Take time to think about your goals and priorities as we move into 2022 and consider what’s most important to act on now.

Bottom Line

If you’ve been debating whether or not to sell your house and are curious about market conditions in your area, let’s connect so you have expert advice on the best time to put your house on the market.

Dec. 29, 2021

Why Do You Need to Make a Good Offer in Redwood City?

Why Do You Need to Make a Good Offer in Redwood City

Why Do You Need to Make a Good Offer in Redwood City?

Redwood City is in one of California’s most competitive housing markets and current inventory challenges are not making things easier. If you are looking for a Redwood City home for sale, you should consider working with a good real estate agent who can help you make the best possible offer. 

Redwood City is located in San Mateo County which has seen fewer active listings this year according to the California Association of Realtors. The latest figures for December show 306 active listings which is down almost 54% from last year. The November listings for Redwood City numbered 18, which is down almost 65% from last year. 

Another issue is how long houses are staying on the market. The median average for Redwood City, CA, homes for sale is only seven days. Given these figures, you must have a good offer and be able to act fast when you see a home you like in Redwood City. 

While these might not seem like ideal conditions to buy, it is predicted that home prices in Redwood City will continue to trend upward moderately. According to a survey of experts conducted by the National Association of Realtors, median prices in the United States are expected to increase by 5.7%. Additionally, it is predicted that interest rates will rise in 2022.

Redwood City is a family friendly community with great schools and many high-tech employers. It’s an easy commute to San Francisco, Stanford, and other Silicon Valley economic centers. If you are thinking of buying in Redwood City, now might be the time to act before prices and interest rates rise. Contact a realtor to discuss your options. 

Is Now a Good Time to Sell in Redwood City?

Redwood City is considered a sellers’ market. Due to low inventory, people who have Redwood City real estate for sale might have multiple offers and offers above list price. According to CAR, the sale-to-list price percentage is 110.6. This means that many homes are selling above the list price. 

Given the low inventory and the high demand for houses for sale in Redwood City, now may be a good time to consider selling if you have plans to upgrade, downsize or move to another area of the state or country. 

 

Dec. 29, 2021

Are There Homes for Sale in Portola Valley, CA?

Are There Homes for Sale in Portola Valley, CA

Are There Homes for Sale in Portola Valley, CA?

Portola Valley is one of those areas in the Bay area that has low density which is one of its charms for many buyers. 

Portola Valley, population 4,600, offers a semi-rural atmosphere in close commuting distance to tech sectors and excellent schools. Residents typically own their own homes on larger lots and have access to outdoor leisure activities such as tennis, hiking, and horseback riding. As a buyer, you might wonder if there is enough inventory in Portola Valley to find your dream home. 

Given the rural character and the low density, houses for sale in Portola Valley, CA, are highly competitive. Those that do go on the market may receive multiple offers. For this reason, it is a good idea to work with a realtor who can help you understand the market and find the right home. 

Why Is Now a Good Time to Buy a Portola Valley Home?

Currently, interest rates are low, but they are expected to increase as the pandemic winds down. Today buyers can take advantage of 30-year fixed mortgage rates of around 3.1%. 

Proposition 19 may encourage some buyers to look at upgrading to a larger home. This legislation allows buyers to keep the same property tax rate if they move into a home up to three times as expensive as their current home. Typically, Portola Valley real estate tends to be higher end, so this might be the upgrade that many buyers are seeking. The median list price of 36 homes on the market earlier this month was close to $4 million. 

Will Housing Prices Drop in the Bay Area? 

Single-family homes in the Bay Area saw a sharp increase in prices caused by the pandemic. More people wanted to buy homes with multiple bedrooms, studies, and outdoor space to work and spend more leisure time at home. As people return to the office, such spikes are not expected to happen again soon. However, there is still low inventory in the Bay Area, which may result in more moderate price increases. For homeowners, this can mean that your home is a good investment because you will be able to build equity. 

Despite the challenging market conditions, 2022 may be a good time to invest in a Portola Valley home. Contact a realtor to discuss your options.