Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Marin in the News

I would have posted this earlier but Blogger is being funky and wouldn't allow me to post. It's a conspiracy, a conspiracy I tell you! Anyway, what caught my attention in this NY Times article were the references to Marin County; so I'm sharing it on this blog.

Some choice quotes:
Many Americans who planned on real estate as their path to wealth are beginning to find that there are limits to how high is up.

Blame market forces. As higher interest rates dampen demand in cities and suburbs that only a year ago were battlegrounds for fierce bidding wars among numerous buyers, sellers are grudgingly lowering their prices to drum up interest.

A house at 57 Marina Boulevard in San Rafael, across the bay from San Francisco, was originally listed at $1.45 million. The owner recently dropped the price to $949,000 when a competing house on the same street lowered its price to $959,000, from $989,000. In Marin County, the prices of about a quarter of all listings have been reduced [true enough, see here; as of yesterday it's up to 27%]. County records show that 57 Marina Boulevard was sold in February for $700,000, so the owner, Dan Marr, is unlikely to lose money even at the lower price, though he may not make as much as he had hoped. "I don't want to talk about it," he said.

It is getting tough out there for sellers. What is happening in Marin County is being repeated in cities and suburbs across the United States. Nearly a year after the sales of homes peaked, buyers are wresting control from sellers in many areas as inventories of unsold homes have grown, in some markets doubling.

It is a slow leak, to be sure. The most widely used statistic to measure home values, the median home price, shows that once-hot markets like San Mateo, Calif., and Mercer County, N.J., are now registering year-over-year declines.

Robin L. McCarthy, a real estate agent who works in Princeton, N.J., said homes were sitting on the market three to four months, when houses sold in as little as a few days a year ago. Houses that would have been the subject of intense bidding wars now sell for slightly less than asking price.

"It's going from a seller's market to a buyer's market," said David Lereah, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.
What is rather startling to me is how quickly RE is trending down despite the fact that mortgage rates aren't up all that much (on a historical basis) and the economy is supposedly strong. Some readers of this blog have commented on how great the Bay Area job market is supposed to be. Yet already we hear about price cuts for a large percentage of the houses on the market, inventory is high, price appreciation ranges from weak to flat, and foreclosures are way up. Just imagine what would happen if we were to slip into an actual recession!

The usual caveat: The spring selling season is still young; anything could happen. We'll see...


Blogger Surkanstance said...

This sure doesn’t sound like a “buyers” market. From what everyone is saying, there is a good chance prices might keep dropping over the next few years. It won’t really be a good time to buy until future price appreciations are pretty certain. it is NO bargain buying a home today that is worth less tomorrow, regardless of the discount, or how much the seller reduced the price.

May 9, 2006, 9:58:00 AM  
Blogger sf jack said...

That fat lady (sitting atop Mt. Tam, no doubt) is getting louder and clearer by the day...

In any case, I wonder - could the IJ's editors/publisher be any more embarrassed than right now?

Does it appear the National Paper of Record has done a better job of covering the little ol' Marin real estate market than the local rag?

And marinite - excellent work with the stats, as always.

May 9, 2006, 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Marinite said...

Well, thanks. I just hope the effort is worth it. I mean, I started compiling stats the best I could because I could not find them anywhere else. Like how often do you find realtors publishing this sort of info?

May 9, 2006, 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger reagent said...

57 Marina sold on 5/14/04 for $737,000 and was listed as "older, needs work, as is". It was listed on 3/14/06 for $1,045,000., (not $1,450,000.) and now is $949,000, ans is "newly remodled, granite countertops, etc." The owner will probably break even.

May 9, 2006, 1:59:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...

reagent -

Thanks for that contribution and for keeping them honest. I thought that 35% discount was a bit hard to believe at this point.

May 9, 2006, 2:10:00 PM  
Blogger fredtobik said...

"I thought that 35% discount was a bit hard to believe at this point. "

LOL, but it looked good! Same thing the NY Times said too.

I would hate to be an "05/06 flipper".

So gold is now speculative, and energy scares me... What is next? I am thinking bird flu related companies will shoot through the roof, when they find a dead bird in Central Park because of H5N1.

May 9, 2006, 2:52:00 PM  
Blogger AWY said...

Is the NYT article's pricing info correct, or is socketsite's (www.socketsite.com) posting correct?

May 9, 2006, 6:22:00 PM  
Blogger AWY said...

oops. sorry - didn't see reagent's posting. should have read the rest of the postings before asking the question. thanks very much.

May 9, 2006, 9:45:00 PM  

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