Overall, 2013 was a banner year in the Bay Area real estate market – especially in the luxury and higher end markets our region is known for. While we have known the real estate market has been rebounding, this past year we saw that recovery dramatically accelerate. While the numbers showed limited inventory and historically low interest rates, the headlines told stories of multiple offers and bidding wars. With an influx of cash from booming tech companies and international buyers, sales and prices reached or exceeded pre-recession peaks in many of our communities. In some areas, year-over-year numbers show double-digit increases. For Alain Pinel Realtors, this meant a record breaking year in which we closed $10.5 billion, a 19% increase over our 2012 sales.
For a more detailed look at 2013 and the year ahead, check out our summaries on specific regions below:
East Bay: Limited inventory of homes for sale continued to keep a lid on the number of sales while driving sales prices upward and time on the market downward. Unlike buying frenzies of the past, overpriced and/or poorly prepared properties didn’t attract buyers, while properties that were priced well received a lot of attention, resulting in many multiple-offer situations. We anticipate a more moderate increase in home prices as inventory begins to increase and the anticipated increase in interest rates somewhat dampen demand compared to 2013 levels.
Marin: 2013 was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. We struggled with a low inventory of houses all year, yet the number of homes sold was very good. In terms of homes sold, 2013 was significantly ahead of 2012 (California’s first year of recovery after the recession), and in May, July and December, even outperformed pre-recession numbers. All-in-all, this is a very strong indication that the recovery is alive and well.
Monterey Bay: The Monterey Bay is probably one of the most diverse areas of California, with prices ranging from $80,000 to $80,000,000. While total number of sales remained relatively level, we’ve seen an increase in median home price. In Santa Cruz County, we have seen a new energy in sales of $1 million or more. In Monterey County, we are experiencing more sales and fewer listings, which means that prices will go up even more. The overall market is now on solid footing and we project that 2014 should show continued growth.
Peninsula: The entire region is experiencing one of the shortest inventory selections in years. Multiple offers still abound, yet in most cases, fewer than earlier last year. Agents are finding themselves reaching out to their co-workers for upcoming offerings and priming their clients to react as quickly as possible when the right property comes on the market. The coastal area had a phenomenal increase in activity in 2013 and offers tremendous value in 2014 compared to many Peninsula areas. Although multiple offers are somewhat common in that market as well, they are not experiencing the frenzy that many Peninsula communities are.
San Francisco: The market continues to be a seller’s market with price appreciation continuing to rise in 2014. In most San Francisco neighborhoods, there is a shortage of available homes; however, record-low rates continue to drive buyers into the City. In addition, cash offers are plentiful, fueled by Silicon Valley and Pacific Rim buyers. New condominium developments will provide much needed product in 2014 on the Van Ness Corridor and Market Street. Multi-family and apartment buildings will continue to be sought after by value investors, motivated by record high rents paid by newcomers.
Silicon Valley: Because of the shortage of inventory and an excess of buyers, many transactions experienced multiple offers, with most properties selling over the listed price. Although the total number of sales was off slightly from 2012 (-5%), there was a dramatic increase in the median sale price (+23%). It is expected this robust marketplace to continue into 2014, especially during the first six months. Elements that will influence the rate of appreciation and level of activity in 2014 are: interest rates (it is anticipated they will rise), scarcity of inventory, and overall economic health.
Wine Country: While generally speaking the number of sales in the region was slightly fewer in 2013 than 2012, the average sales prices were significantly higher. 2014 is starting very strong as dryer conditions and warmer weather have resulted in many consumers flocking to the region. The hills may be brown instead of their lush winter green, but it’s great for wine country real estate, which traditionally doesn’t take off until the second quarter.
Overall, as we look towards 2014 in the Bay Area, we expect a healthier, balanced market. Lured by increasing prices, and new-found equity in their homes, we expect more sellers to enter the market, slowly increasing inventory. Some wild cards for buyers include interest rates, interest deductions and mortgage reform, and the actions of the Federal Reserve, which all can impact housing affordability. However, we expect sustained demand for home ownership and continued, but slower, growth in sales and home prices – leaving plenty of opportunity for buyers and sellers in 2014.
This article recently published in the Winter 2014 Exquisite Living.
About Exquisite Living
Exquisite Living is a premier digital luxury magazine presented by Alain Pinel Realtors. The magazine immerses readers in the luxuries of the Bay Area and beyond as one flips through luxury trends, market updates, community spotlights, and of course some of the most magnificent homes and estates.