Sunday, March 09, 2008

Million Dollar Camouflage

I have been trying to figure out how best to share a submission made by a reader. He sent me three spreadsheets of data that he gleaned from the Marin County Assessor's web site. He has independently concluded what I have found and have been saying here for quite a few months now... that the reason why so many houses in Marin can sell for discounts relative to their bubble peak while at the same time the county median/average can go up is because the higher-end is selling and the lower end is not, relatively speaking. In a market like ours today every single house can sell at a steep discount but the county median can still go up if the mix of houses that sell shifts towards the higher end. It's always nice to get independent confirmation.

I do not know how I can share the three spreadsheets with you all. I guess it would probably be ok with the author to email them to anyone who requests them. But for now, here is the contents of his email:

I don't know if you've posted something like this before, but if you have not please use the following in any way you wish.

I've put some numbers together from the Marin County Home Sales page, located here:

The attached spreadsheet crunches the numbers. It has three tabs:

1. 'Yearly Total - Marin County' just tabulates the numbers. I've divided the county into regions (e.g., the city of Novato is one region, the cities of Belvedere, Mill Valley, Sausalito, Tiburon another region called 'Southern').

2. 'Summary' tabulates the numbers above into a more succinct table. The key numbers to me are '% Sales - Region / County Total' (e.g., # Novato Sales / # Marin County Sales) and 'YOY Median Change'.

3. 'Highlights' breaks down only the years 2004-2007 for 'Novato' and 'Southern'.

The key to me is that in Tab 3 you see Novato going from 863 sales in 2004 down to 345 sales in 2007, or put another way, Novato had 25% of Marin County sales in 2004 but only 16% in 2007.

Conversely, the 'Southern' region (Belvedere, Mill Valley, Sausalito, Tiburon) went from 462 sales in 2004 to 364 sales in 2007. Their share of Marin County sales increased from 14% in 2004 to 17 % in 2007.

This, of course, goes to the question of why Marin County median prices are holding up. Well, if you have a smaller percentage of Novato houses selling at a median of $750,750 and a greater percentage of 'Southern' houses selling at a median of $1,859,063, it's no mystery.

Please use these numbers if you find them useful.


P.S. The median numbers for regions with more than one city are bogus, because I just averaged the totals for each city. I did the best with the numbers I had.
And be sure to check out the new Marin Real Estate Bubble Blog Forum where you can create your own discussion threads.


Blogger W.C. Varones said...

You can save the spreadsheets as Google docs and put the links in your post so that anyone can access them.

Mar 15, 2008, 6:13:00 AM  

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