The 20 Hottest U.S. Real Estate Markets in May 2015

california-beach-skateboard

Realtor.com | Cicely Wedgeworth| June 1. 2015| Link

The housing market is chugging ahead, with even higher home prices and more buyer activity—and in May, we’re seeing more than the ordinary seasonal uptick.

“On the demand side, we are seeing traffic and searches on realtor.com® continue to set new highs,” said our chief economist, Jonathan Smoke, who did a preliminary analysis of our site’s data in May. Visits and searches are expected to be up more than 50% and 35%, respectively, year over year.

Helping create more opportunities for buyers, the listings inventory is now growing faster, at 4% over April—but it’s still down compared with last year, so buyers will need to keep on their toes. In part because of the limited inventory, the median list price increased nationally to $228,000, up 7% over the previous year and 1% over April. At the same time, homes are moving more quickly: Median days on market, now at 66, continued a sharp decline, down 11% year over year and 10% month over month.

Smoke’s team also ranked the nation’s 20 hottest real estate markets for buyers and sellers. Looking at the nation’s 300 largest markets, the team used the number of views per listing on realtor.com to gauge demand, and the median age of inventory to assess supply.

California dominated the list, with half of the country’s 20 hottest real estate markets, because of its tight supply of homes and economic-powered growth in demand. San Francisco and San Jose maintain the second and third spots from the April rankings, while the state capital, Sacramento, leaped from No. 21 in April to No. 12 in May.

“Sacramento typically follows strong growth in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, as it is a relatively more affordable alternative,” Smoke said. “But this market has had strong employment growth above the national average and is seeing strong household growth as a result.”

Three states pulled off a two-fer on the list: Texas, with No. 4 Dallas–Fort Worth and No. 16 Austin; Colorado, with No. 1 Denver and No. 13 Boulder; and Michigan, with No. 9 Ann Arbor and No. 10 Detroit. These markets’ success also reflects economic-powered gains, but the Texas and Colorado story is more of a continuing saga that shows the resilience and diversified nature of the states’ economies despite the declines in oil. Michigan’s performance is related to economic recovery and very strong affordability.

Denver resoundingly maintained the top ranking as inventory there shaved six days off the median age while listing views grew 7% over April. Like Dallas, Denver is experiencing substantial economic growth, and the tight supply of housing is resulting in the fastest-moving inventory in the country.

The 20 Hottest Real Estate Markets in May 2015

Market May Rank April Rank
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 1
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 2
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 3
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 4
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 5
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 6
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA 8
Santa Rosa, CA 7
Ann Arbor, MI 9
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 10  11
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA 11  10
Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA 12  21
Boulder, CO 13  17
Fargo, ND-MN 14  12
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 15  15
Austin-Round Rock, TX 16  14
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA 17  13
Manchester-Nashua, NH 18 31
Columbus, OH 19 22
Stockton-Lodi, CA 20 38

To Sell or Not to Sell? 5 Signs it’s Time to List Your Home

home-photo-sold

RISMedia HouseCall| April 27, 2015| Maria Patterson|

If you’re like me, thoughts of putting your home on the market and moving up, down or out of dodge all together periodically float through your mind. These days, there’s extra incentive given the inventory shortage in most regions of the country—some areas are even experiencing bidding wars.

“After back-to-back years of a robust housing recovery, we are continuing to experience another year of a shortage of inventory of homes for sale,” reports Phil McBride, COO of John L. Scott Real Estate in the Northwest. “With a large backlog of homebuyers, multiple offers on new listings are the norm. We are seeing approximately 90 percent of sales activity in the market areas and price ranges where we are experiencing the shortage/low inventory, which is sending prices upward.”

National statistics bear this out. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, total existing-home sales increased 6.1 percent in March—the highest annual rate since September 2013—however, the housing supply has only experienced a modest increase, just 2 percent above a year ago. Long to short—it’s a seller’s market.

Still, choosing to sell is a big decision—a decision that requires the careful weighing of a variety of factors, both lifestyle and financial. To help sort things out, here are five telling signs that now just might be the time to finally put your home on the market.

  1. You’ve outgrown your space—really. This is usually the number-one reason that gets me thinking about moving up to a bigger home. I get anxious trying to find sleep spaces for overnight guests or frustrated by my overcrowded closet. But truly needing more space is about more than that. Do you have kids outgrowing shared bedrooms? An in-law moving in? A new virtual work opportunity that requires a home office? These are the life events that really necessitate a bigger home—not the inability to curb one’s shoe-buying habit.
  2. Your neighborhood is booming. While home sales and values are improving at a healthy yet gradual rate on a national level, you may find yourself smack-dab in the middle of a hot market. Pay attention to those “Recently Sold” postcards in your mailbox and talk to those neighbors plunking down For Sale signs in their yards. Contact your local real estate professional and check out comparable sales. If homes are selling above listing price and you’ve been on the fence about selling for a while, now might be a wise time to take the leap.
  3. You’re letting things go. Remember when home improvement projects and landscaping chores were fun? When you’d spend hours happily painting, planting and hammering away? Well, if that’s a distant memory and your grass is knee-high and the porch railing’s rotting, this may be a sign that you’re ready to move onto a maintenance-free way of life. Realize that the more you let things go around the house, the more money you’ll have to invest to get it ready for market or worse, you’ll have to drop the price to get it sold. So honestly evaluate if it’s time for a home that offers a simpler, less work-intensive option.
  4. Your equity is back. Many of us didn’t even consider selling for many years based on the fact that our equity evaporated during the housing crash. But don’t stay stuck in that mindset. The fact is, increasing numbers of homeowners are returning to positive equity. According to Corelogic’s Third Quarter 2014 Equity Report, 94 percent of homes priced at $200,000 and above have positive equity. So do some research and have your home reappraised. You may find that your equity is back and that selling is an option again.
  5. Your life has changed. An important life change can trump all other reasons to sell your home. Growing or shrinking families, a new job with a new, long commute, retirement, divorce, etc., are cause to seriously consider moving on to a home that makes more sense for life as you now know it. Ultimately, a happy home is one that’s in sync with your current phase of life. Make sure you find the right fit.

Who Pays What in Santa Clara County?

Confused about what the buyer and seller typically pay in a real estate transaction?  This info-graphic shows which side generally pays what in the sale of a home in Santa Clara County.

 whopays what

Housing Inventory Slowly Disappearing

search

KeepingCurrentMatters.com| March 26, 2015| Link

The price of any item is determined by the supply of that item, and the market demand. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their latest Existing Home Sales Report this week.

Inventory Levels & Demand

Amidst reporting on the fact that sales of existing homes rose 1.2% from January, and outpaced year-over-year figures for the fifth consecutive month, was the news that total unsold housing inventory is at 4.6-month supply.

This is down 0.5% from last February and remains below the 6 months that is needed for a historically normal market.

Consumer confidence is at the highest level in over a decade. Pair that with interest rates still under 4%, new programs available for down payments as low as 3%, and you have an attractive market for buyers.

Buyer demand for housing remains twice as high as this time last year.

Prices Rising

February marked the 36th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains as the median price of existing homes sold rose to $202,600 (up 7.5% from 2014).

So What Does This Mean?

The chart below shows the impact that inventory levels have on home prices.

March2015-16KCM

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun gave some insight into the correlation:

“Insufficient supply appears to be hampering prospective buyers in several areas of the country and is hiking prices. Stronger price growth is a boon for homeowners looking to build additional equity, but it continues to be an obstacle for current buyers looking to close before (interest) rates rise.”

Bottom Line

If you are debating putting your home on the market this year, now may be the time. The amount of buyers ready and willing to make a purchase is at the highest level in years. Contact a local professional in your area to get the process started.

7 Cheap Tricks to Prep Your Home for a Quick Sale

sold

US News & World Report| Lars Peterson| March 11, 2015| Link

Spring is almost here, and soon it will be home-selling season. Some economists expect 2015 to be a good one for home sales because mortgage interest rates will continue to hover at near historic lows, the overall economy is heating up and there’s a lot of pent-up demand.

For sellers looking to get the maximum out of their home sale, this all means they’ll need to do some careful home prep and staging, without spending so much that they cut into profit from the sale. Here are seven ways to prep your place for a sale without spending lots.

1. Have a plan.

Before you jump in and start on a long list of home repairs and upgrades, talk to a real estate agent and find out what’s worth the effort and what isn’t. Most homeowners can name at least one aspect of their home that really irks them – a slightly leaning fence, a scratch on the cooktop, the light switch that feels out of place. An agent can tell you which of those fixes are likely to be noticed by buyers and which you can ignore. You can even make this part of your agent interview process.

After that, get a checklist to help you stay on track as you knock out those jobs that only require elbow grease.
Cost? Free!

2. Clear clutter.

Speaking of checklists, every home prep checklist includes advice to clear your clutter. You probably love all your stuff, but it’s hiding your home’s features. Worse, a cluttered home presents as poorly maintained, which will cause potential buyers to think twice and ask deeper questions. Get a head start on moving day by packing up your knickknacks, photos and books. Or earn some extra moving money by selling some of that stuff cluttering up your basement or attic. Why pay to move it from one attic to another?

Cost? Free!

3. Paint one room.

Even if all your rooms need a fresh coat of paint, you can maximize your effort while minimizing your cost by only painting the most important room or rooms. Todd Tisdell, a real estate agent and mortgage broker of Citrus Grove Real Estate and Lending in California, advises sellers to paint either the entryway, kitchen or master bedroom. “Those are the rooms looked at the hardest by buyers,” Tisdale says. “If those rooms are fresh and clean, it will go a long way toward improving perception of the whole house.”

Cost? Under $200 if you do it yourself.

4. Clean.

This is not your everyday clean. It’s not even your special occasion clean. This is your as-seen-in “Architectural Digest” clean. While all rooms should be clean and tidy, it pays to focus your efforts on rooms buyers are most interested in – kitchen and bathrooms, the living room and the master bedroom. Follow the top-to-bottom, left-to-right method so no surface is overlooked. In kitchens, get behind and under appliances. In bathrooms, pay attention to mold and mildew.

5. Plant colorful flowers.

A good first impression counts in home selling, and most real estate agents will advise sellers to spruce up the front of the house first. Along with basic lawn care – a bag of fertilizer and regular mowing go a long way – Tisdale advises planting colorful flowers against the house or along the sidewalk or both. “The color against the house will pop the most,” he says.

Cost? Under $100 if you shop smart. Almost free if you start early from seeds.

6. Stage and depersonalize the right rooms.

Not all real estate agents agree that staging is necessary. In a recent study of over 2,300 Realtors, the National Association of Realtors found that about a third of selling agents said they stage homes, while 44 percent said they advise clients only to declutter and make repairs to faults. On the other hand, 81 percent of buyers reported that staging helped them visualize the features of the home. If you decide to stage, you can control the cost by staging only the rooms most important to buyers, in order: living room, kitchen, master bedroom, dining room, bathroom, child’s room and guest room.

Otherwise, get even more aggressive with the clutter and remove personal photos and keepsakes. The story you want to tell is about the buyers and their new house. It’s not about you and your old one.

Cost? Under $700, on average.

7. Create the right vibe.

With the place finally ready, create a warm, welcoming feeling throughout your home. Open windows to bring in fresh air, and open curtains and blinds to let in the light. Install higher wattage bulbs in your best fixtures, and turn on all your lights. In the days leading up to an open house or showing, refrain from cooking fish or broccoli, which can leave your home smelling not so great. You don’t really have to bake cookies to put buyers in the mood – lightly orange-scented candles will do. In fact, a Journal of Retailing study of retail shoppers found that simple aromas such as orange, lemon or pine boosted sales as much as 30 percent, while complex aromas – such as from baking or potpourri – depressed sales a few percentage points.

Cost? A few dollars for oranges (or free with some pine boughs plucked from the yard).

7 Must-Dos on the Day You Show Your House

for-sale-sign*304xx5242-3501-0-0

Houzz.com| Lurdes Abruscato| Link

The “For Sale” sign is up. You’ve completed the big projects and the little tweaks, so you’re hopeful your efforts will pay off with a quick and profitable offer. But now comes the most critical part of the home-selling cycle: the day of a showing or an open house. A negative first impression can directly translate into dollars off a full asking price. Before opening the door to potential buyers the day of a showing, follow these tips from top Realtors and stagers all over the world.

1. Detach from the stuff. Home experts agree the first and most important step to a successful listing is to emotionally separate from the house and the objects within it. “Many clients I work with battle to let go of their property and refuse to take down family photographs and religious items,” says Gregg Churchill, owner of Mr. Home Staging & Design in Perth, Western Australia. 

Letting go of the emotional connections to the items inside the home will make you more objective about any necessary changes and more open to Realtor and buyer feedback. To ease the selling process, embrace the idea that your house is a commodity that needs to be sold, and transfer any emotional connections to your new destination, Churchill advises.

Don’t forget: Foyer tables, fireplace mantels and refrigerator doors are popular display spots for loads of personal items like holiday cards, children’s artwork, pictures and trophies. Pare down or clear off these spots for showings.

2. Make sure it looks clean. Cleaning seems so obvious, and is inexpensive, but the lack of it is one of the biggest complaints agents hear. Hopefully, you’ve done the big scrub leading up to open-house day: carpets steamed, floors mopped, windows wiped, appliances scoured. But on the day of a showing, don’t overlook little details like crumbs on the table from breakfast, toothpaste remnants in sinks, half-full trash cans on display and dust bunnies in rooms you don’t frequent. Do a quick walk-through with a duster, reaching into recessed lights and corners, suggests Charlie Buckley, associate broker at Mr. Waterfront Team at Long & Foster Real Estate in Annapolis, Maryland.  

Straighten the bedspreads in all the rooms, put away loose shoes in hallways and tuck away pet beds and bowls, Buckley says.

For added visual appeal and a more spa-like vibe, switch to new, clean towels just before a showing, say Liz Larson and Jan Poulain of Perfectly Placed for You in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. 

Don’t forget: Wipe down surfaces that people would naturally touch, such as stair banisters, hand rails and items that have inviting textures. “People love touching things. Textures change everything, as they propel people into various good spots in their memories. Candles. Shells. A leafy houseplant that says, ‘Touch me,’” says Mathieu Nakkach, CEO of Signature Stagers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

3. Make sure it smells clean too. Besides a home’s visual appeal, nothing triggers more comments than scents. Diffuse cooking, pet and musty odors by airing out the home with open windows or air purifiers. 

Comforting smells, like baking bread or brewing coffee, can be appealing to most potential buyers. “I always recommend fresh flowers. Cider on the stove in the colder months is a nice touch,” says Travis Gray, an Annapolis, Maryland realty agent at Coldwell Banker. 

But beware of strong spray scents, candles or other products. “Don’t leave plug-in air fresheners around your home. Some people are allergic to scents, and it only highlights that you have an odor problem,” says Monique Shaw, chief designer at Homes Sold Beautifully in Calgary, Alberta. 

Don’t forget: Pet foods, toys, litter boxes and blankets may have distinct smells. Stow these items or take them out of the house during showings.

4. Remove sight-line impairments. Artists, architects and designers are well versed in the simple trick of drawing the eye to something appealing, whether it’s a unique color, the next room or a special view. Eliminate items such as knickknacks, toys, small appliances and bath products that stop the eye, or worse, make spaces look smaller. “I am selling the space and finishes of the house, not your personal property,” explains Beth Tyler, a Realtor at Long & Foster in Annapolis.

Though many rugs add warmth and color, consider rolling them up if they break up a room disjointedly or if they obscure attractive selling points like stunning hardwood floors or beautiful tilework. “Bathrooms, especially small ones, will look bigger without the rugs. If it’s a huge master spa bath with a coordinated rug, then it can stay if it warms up a big, cold space,” Tyler says.

Read More

Does Your Home Have Too Much Personality?

Zillow Blog| October 17, 2014| Brandon Desimone| Link

Red-and-orange-room-49a7b5-900x350

Many sellers love their homes. They’ve made some of their most important memories there, and their home is literally where their heart is. When these homeowners took on improvements, from painting rooms to kitchen and bath renovations, they likely did it with the idea of adding “personality.” And then, when it’s time to sell, those same homeowners sit across the dining room table from their real estate agent and wonder why, after three months, their home hasn’t sold.

What went wrong? Usually, it’s because the home has too much personality. The problem with personality is that buyers see you, and not themselves, in the home you’re hoping to sell. If you’re serious about selling your home and you want to achieve the highest value, you need to make the home as neutral as possible. Here’s how.

Remove family photos, heirlooms, diplomas and personal items

Buyers don’t want to feel like they’re walking through someone else’s house. They want to feel that they’re walking through a home that could potentially be theirs. The more neutral the home, the easier it will be for them to imagine themselves there. As proud as you may be of your college degree or of little Susie’s first footprints, they don’t need to be on display when your home is for sale. The process of putting these items away may bring up emotions, but that’s part of the process. Cost to do this: $0.

Repaint rooms with personality

You may have taken some time to choose the deep red color for your dining room, the heavy oak paneling in the family room or Johnnie’s jungle wallpaper. While these were personal choices for you and may have served your time there well, they may be off-putting to a potential buyer for any number of reasons. Before you sell, paint these rooms a neutral color and take down the heavy paneling. These are not big or expensive projects, but the return can be huge. Cost to do this: less than $1,000 depending on the size and number of rooms.

Show the rooms as they should be used

The room off the kitchen is unmistakably the dining room. But if you use it as a home office, it throws a buyer off. Likewise, if you’ve used a small bedroom as your child’s toy room/your closet spillover, the same thing will happen. In the visual age of the Internet, Instagram and Facebook, people need to visualize what each room is. Some people simply don’t have the imagination. No matter how obvious it is that the dining room is the dining room or the third room upstairs is the third bedroom, the buyer needs to see it used that way, not the way you use it. Cost to do this: $0.

Detach yourself emotionally

Ultimately, when you go to sell, it’s time to stop thinking of your property as your home. Instead, think of it as an investment, and you need to get the best return on your investment possible.

To do this, you must turn your home into a product on the market. This means you must emotionally detach from the home you love. If you’re not ready to do that, you may not be ready to sell yet. You may not want to take out the personality you added, and that you love. That’s OK, but be aware it will probably result in a smaller pool of interested buyers and a lower sales price. And the more neutral you can make the home, the wider the base of potential buyers you’ll have.

The Home Sellers Guide To Understanding Comparable Sales

Forbes.com|May 24, 2014| Link

HousingBubbleNotJustYet

One of the trickiest parts of the home selling process is selecting a list price that’s just right. Not just any number will do: if you overprice your home, it will sit idle on the market, and if you underprice it, you miss out on cash and equity that could’ve been earned in the sale. This is when you need to think like a buyer, scoping out other homes that are for sale or have recently sold in your neighborhood. Hop on Trulia and enter your zip code to get familiar with what’s out there – and maybe even swing by a few nearby open houses. Most importantly, work with your realtor to understand and analyze “the comps.” They’re the only way to truly determine an accurate list price for your home. Remember, this is one case where true value doesn’t come from within, it’s actually based on those around us.

In the meantime, take a look at Trulia TRLA -0.67%’s quick guide to comparable homes:

1.  Apples to Apples: Analyzing the comps entails some detective work. Obviously, your house isn’t exactly like every other on the block. It can be far better – or far worse. You have to wade through and pick out comps that truly come closest to yours. Then make note of what similar homes have that your doesn’t and what your house has that the comps lack? Consider these comparisons:

  • Square footage: This is significant for most buyers. Some will even hunt based on square footage alone. And when it comes to pricing, the bigger the property, the bigger the price tag.
  • Age and condition: Do you live in a 1910 Victorian? Or is your house practically brand new? Newer homes don’t necessarily command higher prices, or vice versa, but condition relative to age does factor into price. So when you compare your home to others, stay within a five-year range.
  • Number of bedrooms and baths: How many your home has – and where they’re located – can radically change the price. Like square footage, families often shop for homes based on these numbers.
  • Amenities: This one’s pretty straightforward: the more perks you have, like walk-in closets, a pool, spa, gourmet kitchen, and so on, the higher the price.
  • Lot size: Is there room for the buyer to add on to the house or plant a sprawling rose garden in the backyard? The exact acreage of your land correlates to price. When you compare your home to others, stay within .05 acres.
  • Condition: A tear-down, a fixer-upper, updated, or pristine – where do you fall in the spectrum? The condition of your house can be a deal-maker or a deal-breaker. That’s why you have to pay close attention to other homes’ upgrades to make a fair assessment of how they affect value.
  • Location: This factor is multi-faceted. It relates not only to your state, city, and neighborhood, but also to where your house sits on the street. Does it face an eyesore or busy intersection? Does it have a view? Does it get nearby freeway noise or sit on the bank of a tranquil lake? Don’t forget to take these location nuances into consideration.

2.  Don’t Look Back (Too Far) – The price of your home today can’t be compared to the selling price of your neighbor’s identical home 6 months ago. This has been a year of quick price increases in most cities. If you’re looking at comps further back than 3 months, dump them. Your house could be worth more. In fact, in some of the fastest-paced cities, like New York, Miami, and San Diego, homes move so rapidly that sellers should only look at the prior 60 days of sales, if possible.

3.  Go Online and Check Prices – A wealth of information lives online, and it’s accessible with the click of a mouse. Right here on Truila, you can see exactly what homes have recently sold for in your neighborhood; just enter your zip code, and select “sold” from the filters menu. How does access to this information change the way you price your house?  First, think of it as a ballpark guide – not an exact number. Then price your home confidently based on the similar comps knowing you have more information than ever before, and it’s literally at your fingertips.

 4.  Check Out the Competition in Person – Don’t analyze your comps on paper alone. Get moving! Ask your realtor to recommend homes you should drive by or open houses you should attend. It’s important for you as a home seller to know what’s out there. Find out up close and in person where your home stacks up against the competition.

5.  List vs. Sale Prices – The difference in percentage between list prices and actual sales prices for the homes in your neighborhood speaks volumes about the current real estate climate. This number is a strong indicator of which direction the market is moving, and it will suggest how much under – or over – your ideal asking price you can expect to get for your home. Anyone can throw a house on the market at a high price. But the number you want to look at closely is the sale price of the home, which is much more indicative of the actual value.

6.   Know What’s Not Selling – You can learn a lot by observing not only what IS selling nearby, but also what’s NOT selling. Is a home that initially looks like a comp really overpriced for what it offers? How does it compare with your house? What is it lacking that yours isn’t?  Once you identify why it’s not selling at its current price, you can avoid the same mistake when determining your own home’s price tag.

Winter Is Best Time to Sell, Study Shows

Daily Real Estate News| December 15, 2014| Link

sellinwinter

The housing market doesn’t hibernate in the winter. Sellers who list and buyers who buy often find the winter season the most advantageous time to make a move in real estate, according to a new study by the real estate brokerage Redfin. The winter season officially takes place between Dec. 21 and March 20, and real estate professionals should be ready for a season that often brings in more focused and active sellers and buyers.

In an update to a two-year analysis it completed last year, Redfin researchers studied nationwide home listings, sales prices, and time-on-market data from 2010 through October 2014.

The study found that February is “historically the best month to list, with an average of 66 percent of homes listed then selling within 90 days,” according to Redfin’s research.

Even in cold weather cities – such as Boston and Chicago – researchers found that home sellers were better off listing their homes in the winter than during other seasons.

The winter tends to net sellers’ more than their asking price during the months of December, January, February, and March than listings from June through November. Listing during those four winter months has resulted in higher percentages of above-asking-price sales than listing during any months, other than April and May.

Redfin researchers found that in 2012 December listings were producing the highest percentage of above-asking sales for the entire year at 17 percent.

Researchers say the winter market is less competitive for sellers since many people tend to wait until the spring to list. The smaller inventory of active listings help sellers get more attention from buyers on their properties. Also, many large corporations often transfer employees or hire new ones early in the year, creating opportunities for winter sellers from very motivated purchasers.

Homes that are “priced right and show well can sell any time” of the year, says Nela Richardson, chief economist for Redfin. Winter buyers tend to be “serious buyers… Most people are not window-shopping” in December and January, like they do in the spring months, Richardson adds.

Sellers shouldn’t worry about the holidays hampering their chances either. A 2011 study conducted by realtor.com® found that 60 percent of real estate professionals advise their sellers to list a home during the holidays because they believe it’s an opportune time to sell. Nearly 80 percent of the real estate professionals surveyed said that more serious buyers emerge during the holidays, and 61 percent say less competition from other properties makes it an ideal time to sell.

As for buyers, they may find winter a good time to make a move too. Sellers often are more flexible about negotiations over prices and terms than they would in the spring, real estate professionals say.

“People get more realistic at this time of year,” particularly if their homes hadn’t sold during the summer and fall, says Mary Bayat, a broker in Washington, D.C., and chairwoman-elect of the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS®.

The new normal for Silicon Valley home buying: 36 days on the market

October 21, 2014|Lauren Hepler| Silicon Valley Business Journal| Link

sold

Forget, for just a moment, all of the hype about Silicon Valley’s mythical millennial tech talent clamoring for newfangled luxury apartments.

New monthly data for September from Realtor.com reveals that the region’s for-sale housing market is also crazy as ever.

Homes listed in the San Jose and San Francisco metro areas have only been on the market for a median 36 days, which leaves the Bay Area locales tied for the designation of the second-fastest-moving residential real estate markets in the entire country.

In what could be a testament to concerns about skyrocketing prices in San Francisco and Silicon Valley sending prospective buyers fleeing to farther-flung Bay Area housing markets, the neighboring Oakland metro area boasted homes with the shortest median time on the market at 35 days.

Oakland also had the most inventory, with 4,175 homes on the market as of September, compared to 2,050 in the San Jose area and 2,397 in San Francisco.

Median home prices were $500,000 in Oakland, $718,000 in San Jose and $949,000 in San Francisco.

See the chart at the bottom of this story for a breakdown of how the Bay Area housing markets stack up against other fast-growing tech hubs like Austin and Seattle when it comes to pricing and the amount of time homes are listed for sale.

The upshot for those looking to buy homes in the Bay Area — in case you haven’t heard the horror stories of competing with all-cash buyers or brokers specializing in selling homes before they even hit the market — is that competition to buy is extremely fierce, even if you can afford high boom-time prices.

As I have reported, median home prices that have in some areas surpassed $1 million also undermine the ability of even middle- or relatively high-income area workers to buy a home. Unaffordability pushed some would-be homeowners into the crowded rental market and some into buying in cheaper areas that can entail grueling commutes — that is, if they don’t decide to pack up and move somewhere much farther away that offers much more house for much less money.

Recognizing the potential economic threat posed to the region by unaffordable housing, local cities are now deliberating how to pay for and build new housing for workers at all income levels. Part of that debate is how much new housing should be single-family homes versus rentals targeted for more dense areas.

When it comes to the bigger picture for national home sales, Realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke notes in the new report that baby boomers adjusting their real estate portfolios before retirement and booming employment in STEM fields (science, technology engineering and math) are likely two big factors driving the market.

“When we see homes moving quickly in a particular market, we expect the trend to be supported by signs of local health like growth in industrial production and employment,” he said. “This month, we also observed more out-of-the-ordinary trends, including high proportions of math and science professionals, as well as baby boomers in each of the fast-moving markets.”