Jan

16

Happy New Year 2014

Posted by laurenholloway under Uncategorized

Just as the year opened in 2013, with low inventory, here we are again:

Here’s how the year opened in 2013

  • Alamo – 25
  • Danville – 44
  • Blackhawk – 27
  • San Ramon – 23
  • Dublin –  26
  • Pleasanton –   29
  • Lafayette –   15
  • Orinda –  15
  • Pleasant Hill –  11
  • Walnut Creek –  43
  • Rossmoor –  21
  • Antioch –  56

Today’s inventory, one year later:

  • Alamo –  29
  • Danville – 43
  • Blackhawk – 17
  • San Ramon – 29
  • Dublin –  50
  • Pleasanton – 31
  • Lafayette –   24
  • Orinda –  15
  • Pleasant Hill – 25
  • Walnut Creek –  43
  • Rossmoor –  31
  • Antioch –  116

Fascinating. Consider than last year at this time, buyers were frantically looking for new listings and inventory was lower across the board than it had been for years. 2013 was a fabulous year for the real estate market, with property values rebounding to (in some cases) top of the market prices. Buyers were (in many cases) in bidding wars and we saw homes sell for $100,000’s over the asking price.

Again this year, we have low inventory, plentiful buyers, and interest rates that are still very attractive.  It’s frustrating for buyers with inventory so low: the choices are few right now. But don’t be discouraged—inventory is going to grow quickly in the coming weeks.

Here is an example: www.261LivornaHeights.com — my new listing in Alamo, open Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 – 4:00.  Come by and say “hi”!

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Feb

4

Post Super Bowl Sunday

Posted by laurenholloway under Uncategorized

There were very few new listings last week as most people were waiting for the week after the Super Bowl, and reluctant to go on the week before since no one wants their first Sunday open to be on Super Bowl Sunday.

The big game has come and gone (and it was a great game, even if it was a disappointing ending for most of us), so this week will be very telling as far as our inventory is concerned. Here are the numbers for the week; down in most towns over last time. I’ll report the inventory again on Saturday, and I’m expecting an increase across the board.

• Alamo –?33 (down 1)
• Danville – 42 (down 10)
• Blackhawk – 22 (down 4)
• San Ramon – ?25 (down 4)
• Dublin – 16 (down 6)
• Pleasanton – 48 (up 10)
• Lafayette – ?24 (up 4)
• Orinda – 22 (up 5)
• Pleasant Hill – ?17 (down 1)
• Walnut Creek – 39 (down 9)
• Rossmoor – 17 (down 1)
• Antioch – 75 (down 11)

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This was a busy week for new listings in Alamo; I saw 8 new properties on Tour on Thursday. Inventory remains low at 34 today, which is about half of what we typically have on the market at this time of year.

However, it’s not as dramatically low as some of the neighboring areas: there are more homes for sale in Alamo than in San Ramon. That seems amazing considering that San Ramon is so much larger, with its two zip codes, sprawling all the way out to Windemere. I consulted Google and the 2010 census tells me that while Alamo is 9.6 square miles, San Ramon has nearly double that space at 18.7. Even more significant is the density—most of the homes in Alamo sit on ½ acre lots with 1500 people per sq mile; whereas in San Ramon, there are 4000 people per sq mile. Population: Alamo 14,570 vs San Ramon 72,148.

The logical explanation for the difference in inventory is the difference in price point. Alamo is more expensive: the median priced home is $1.5 vs $739,000 in San Ramon. Inventory is low across the board because the buyers have been active—and the low numbers in the more affordable towns speak to the point that there are more buyers at the lower end of the market.

But the buyers are certainly out across price points, and low inventories in Orinda, Lafayette, and Alamo point to that.

Today’s inventory numbers, as compared to how the year opened are as follows:

• Alamo – 34 (up 9)
• Danville – 52 (up 8)
• Blackhawk – 26 (down 1)
• San Ramon – 29 (up 6)
• Dublin – 22 (down 4)
• Pleasanton – 38 (up 9)
• Lafayette – 20 (up 5)
• Orinda – 17 (up 2)
• Pleasant Hill – 18 (up 7)
• Walnut Creek – 48 (up 5)
• Rossmoor – 18 (down 3)
• Antioch – 86 (up 30)

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Jan

5

The year is starting off busy for our market. Yesterday, only four days into our new year, I wrote an offer for a house in Danville that had been on the market for just 48 hours—-sellers were reviewing all offers at 4 PM. My buyers loved the house so we wrote a strong offer: over-asking, as-is sale, no appraisal contingency, and a lender letter from underwriting. We competed with eight other offers and several were all cash.

Unsurprisingly, the sellers accepted an all-cash offer. Quite disappointing for my buyers, but the level of activity in the market place is healthy and encouraging for our market. Especially considering that most of us still have children out of school, many families are traveling, and the holidays are such a busy time for all.

As the year opens, it seems that it is likely to continue to be more of what we saw in the latter half of 2012. Low inventory, great rates, and an abundance of buyers keeping prices strong.

In Alamo, here are some interesting statistics from 2012:
• 254 homes sold in 2012; sales up from 166 homes sold in 2011 (and as compared with 199 in 2010 and 136 in 2009)
• Median sales price $1,160,000 in 2012; that’s up $100,000 from the median sales price in 2011 $1,060,000.
• More homes sold in the first half of the year (which isn’t too surprising, since inventory was more abundant as the year opened), 134 homes with a median sales price of $1,145,000; the 2nd half of the year: 120 homes with a higher median price of $1,180,000.
• A good year for high-end sales: 20 over $2 million including two very significant sales with undisclosed sales prices but list prices were $6+ and $11+ million each.
• Median days on market for homes in Alamo in 2012: only 21. As inventory shrunk and the market got hotter, that number went down: the 2nd half of the year was 15. Compare that with a median of 37 days on market in 2011, 30 in 2010, and 72 in 2009. (it was not easy to be a home seller in 2009).

And now, as we begin a new year, here are the starting inventory numbers (as compared with last year at this time):

• Alamo – 25 (was 62 one year ago)
• Danville – 44 (was 138)
• Blackhawk – 27 (was 26)
• San Ramon – 23 (was 126)
• Dublin – 26 (was 68)
• Pleasanton – 29 (was 124)
• Lafayette – 15 (was 38)
• Orinda – 15 (was 23)
• Pleasant Hill – 11 (was 43)
• Walnut Creek – 43 (was 124)
• Rossmoor – 21 (was 114)
• Antioch – 56 (was 197)

I started logging inventory numbers in 2007—Alamo has opened the year around 60 each year until this one. It’s been predictable and seasonal, low of 60 or even 50 over the holidays, then high of 100 or 120 in the spring/summer. 2012 opened at 62 and never grew over 70, now down to 25.

In 2007, when people started to worry about the market and I would hear statistics about the “real estate market in Contra Costa county,” I started to compare Alamo with Antioch—two towns that share a county but otherwise don’t have much in common. Antioch, at that time, had over 1300 homes on the market. Their recovery has been dramatic: the inventory shrunk gradually, and then settled and stayed steady around 200 for all of 2011, but now sits at 56.

Looking over the “now and then” numbers above, the one anomaly is Blackhawk: steady at 27 from last year at this time. Blackhawk is really part of Danville, but has a market unique enough that I’ve always preferred to track it separately. I called Dick Barnes, a great agent in my office that specializes in Blackhawk, to discuss. He has his finger on the pulse of the Blackhawk inventory much as I do in Alamo, and stated that 55 was “normal” for years.

Together we examined the sales history in Blackhawk: 100 homes sold last year, and 101 the year before, 91 the year before that. Dick pointed out that the gated golf course community isn’t for everyone, and maybe 100 homes selling in a year is the saturation point for that market.

While the inventory may be steady, the prices are certainly up. Dick said he has buyers that would like to be in Blackhawk for under a million and “today I have very little to show them. Last year and the year before, there were good choices at that price point.” We considered how well the upper end is selling: a listing in our office priced over $7 million recently sold.

It’s all good news for real estate in our corner of the world, unless you’re a frustrated buyer—the competition is tough, but hang in there. 2013 should be another interesting year to watch. Happy New Year!

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Not surprisingly, today the inventory numbers are the lowest they have been all year. Low inventory at the end of the year is normal for markets like Alamo and Danville that peak seasonally in the Spring and Summer. What wasn’t normal this year, is that the inventory never grew from the start of the year.

In Alamo, the year opened at 60 and never exceeded 70 the entire year—now at 26.

Inventory drops at this time of year because it’s not a time that people will put new listings on, and for occupied homes on the market, they will want a break to enjoy the holidays.

It’s not to say that buyers aren’t out there this time of year. I remember showing property one year on the day after Christmas to relocation buyers. They were in town for 3 days and they were determined to pick a house to buy.

In other words, the buyers that are out this time of year are serious. But if you’re trying to enjoy your Christmas, I can’t imagine anything worse than potential buyers coming through. My house is the most delightful place to be on Christmas Eve—everything decorated and lovely, beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree. But 24 hours later, it’s a different story: wrapping paper everywhere, millions of dirty dishes and pie pans.

So I felt for those people that I called the day after Christmas to show their homes that year—but most of the homes I showed were not occupied. Obviously, it’s much easier to keep a vacant home on the market.

But it’s not uncommon to take a vacant home off the market if it’s not selling at this time of year—if a listing is off for 30 days, it can come back on as “new” and this is a good time to take that break.

So—for the last time in 2012, here are our inventory numbers—down dramatically in nearly every area.

December 22, Saturday before Christmas, inventory numbers (compared to Dec 9th):

Alamo – 26 (down 8)
Danville – 62 (down 8)
Blackhawk – 24 (down 5)
San Ramon – 25 (down 5)
Dublin – 30 (down 2)
Pleasanton – 62 (up 6)
Lafayette – 21 (down 1)
Orinda – 19 (down 11)
Pleasant Hill – 20 (up 7)
Walnut Creek – 40 (down 11)
Rossmoor – 30 (up 3)
Antioch – 69 (up 3)

Until next year….Merry Christmas!

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I’m in the market for a new car, and I’m finding that the process is exhausting, confusing, and not at all efficient.

My husband and I check out the cars on the internet, examining statistics and reading consumer reports, then we venture out to the car lots and test drive a few cars.

We came home today after a few test drives, and I felt more confused than ever. I realize that what I want is the car that doesn’t exist: I want affordable, yet luxurious; great gas mileage (hybrid would be nice) but attractive. Oh, and it absolutely must have heated leather seats, blue tooth and nav package.

I’m not unlike some home buyers who want the best location, at least 4 bedrooms, an updated kitchen, a killer backyard, all on a limited budget. Except the home buyers, while they may spend time on the internet checking out the inventory, and they will read many articles about value and the economy, ultimately they can hop in my car (soon, my new car) and I will give them a tour of the various neighborhoods and take them to the homes that meet their requirements.

Based on their budget, I can determine some realistic areas to target. If you don’t want to pay over $800,000 for a home and you want high ceilings and newer construction, don’t waste your time in Alamo.

I wish there was a car sales person that knew all the makes and models and could offer me advice. Instead, I met several car salesmen today, they are each sure they have the perfect car for me. But don’t worry…my husband tells me he knows “all the cars out there” and he reads consumer reports obsessively. We’ll find the light at the end of the tunnel.

Meanwhile, home buyers take heart that the process is much more civilized for you! That’s the good news, because of course, the market is a tough one for buyers today…the inventory remains low, many homes have multiple offers; buyers are competing with each other.

Below are the inventory numbers for today. Last week, I captured the inventory numbers like I always do, but didn’t get as far as posting them (I had to go car shopping and lost track of time)….so when you read below, you’ll see two weeks’ worth of data, plus a comparison to the previous week. For example, Alamo dropped 5 this week, but was down 3 from the previous week—whereas Danville increased by 2 this week, and was the same the previous two weeks. Hopefully that isn’t too confusing to read.

Inventory numbers Dec 2 & 9:?(compared to Nov 24)
Alamo – today: 34; last week: 39 (down 3 from Nov 24)
Danville – today: 70; last week: 68 (steady)
Blackhawk – today: 29; last week: 29 (down 4)
San Ramon – today: 30; last week: 37 (up 3)
Dublin – today: 32; last week: 26 (down 8)
Pleasanton – today: 56; last week: 54 (up 3)
Lafayette – today: 22; last week: 27 (up 2)
Orinda – today: 30; last week: 33 (down 2)
Pleasant Hill – today: 13; last week: 15 (up 3)
Walnut Creek – today: 51; last week: 57 (steady)
Rossmoor – today: 27; last week: 25 (down 7)
Antioch – today: 66; last week: 73 (down 4)

Alamo, take note—I have been watching the Alamo inventory, week in and week out since 2007. This is the very lowest number I have recorded to date.

When I started recording the inventory numbers, I also started to compare Alamo to Antioch each week. I did this in self-defense: the Alamo market was still quite strong, whereas Antioch was struggling. The news media cried “real estate woe is me” and wrote articles about the dire situation, citing the statistics in Contra Costa County, the state, and the country. But real estate is very local—and location, location, location is the rule. Despite the fact that Alamo and Antioch are 30 miles apart and in the same county, the two markets were so different. Antioch had 1300 homes on the market in 2007—and had to recover from all the new home building that went on there. The drop today to 66 also marks the lowest number I have recorded for Antioch.

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Nov

24

I love technology, and I appreciate it every minute in this job. Being a realtor before there were cell phones, before the MLS was on-line, and before my best friend Docusign was born, must have been a different job entirely.

Maybe it meant you could get away from the job from time to time, but I doubt it. The flip side of having all this great technology, allowing you to get work done anywhere, is of course, that you can get work done anywhere. But if it means I can open escrow from a beach in Costa Rica, my glass is half full.

I just returned from Costa Rica and the best vacation ever, and I was determined not to have my phone to my ear the entire time. One family vacation album that isn’t full of shots my kids take of me sneaking into a corner to answer my phone, that’s what I had in mind.

One phone call to Verizon before we departed and I felt highly motivated to realize my goal: $2.89/minute for my phone calls; text messages could be received for a nickel, but would cost 50 cents to send.

It was the first trip out of the country for my kids. My husband tends to be one of those people that arrive on the (far) early side for any plane anyway; for this flight we arrived at the airport a full 4.5 hours before our flight. I did not smirk or mock him: I wanted to, but I lost that privilege when I missed a plane to Chicago in September. Now I just follow his lead and bring something to do.

In this case, I arrived at the airport with a fully charged battery on my Mac, and after checking in and being the very first people at the gate (by over an hour), I was back at my “desk”, picking up right where I left off before I packed my bags. That is, I received two offers on my new listing in Danville: www.58LaGondaCourt.com. We sent out a multiple offer counter in the afternoon, and from the airport gate, I was able to write an addendum, send that and the winning counter to my sellers for their signature; receive their signed documents back (all via my BFF Docusign), and mark the property pending.

Docusign is everyone’s friend, it’s not just me. My sellers in this case were in two different places: both were able to interrupt what they were doing for a moment, and click their signature from their iPhones.

Next, I addressed the two offers I received that day on my listing in Alamo: www.391CastleCrest.com. Again, we had sent a multiple offer counter, and again my clients were able to select a buyer, electronically sign the counter offer, and I marked the property pending. I hopped on the plane, a red-eye, with two freshly pending sales.

I also received 2 offers for my new listing in Pleasant Hill (152 Crescent Plaza, priced at $498,000, newer home in the downtown area). Yes, if you’re counting, in the 24 hours before my plane took off, I received 6 offers on three properties. It’s things like this that make vacations a trick in this job. And I don’t know how anyone got away before technology made it easy.

My new listing in Pleasant Hill was a popular one; before I left the seller instructed me to set an offer date for Monday afternoon. So on Monday, after zip-lining through the rain forest and admiring toads and tarantulas on the night hike, I excused myself to call the seller ($2.89/minute) and review the 8 offers we had received.

That phone call and one other to that client, plus one to my assistant who was feverishly receiving the offers and counter-offers, were the full extent of my use of my cell phone for voice conversation.

My phone buzzed with many text messages during the week, mostly from my assistant; I would (for example) duck behind a tree in Costa Rica’s beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park while the guide was pointing out a sloth waking up in a tree and spend fifty cents responding to questions about how to answer each counter offer.

By Wednesday evening, we had selected a buyer from the group and marked the Pleasant Hill property pending. On Thanksgiving Day, I left my phone in the hotel room and enjoyed white water rafting with my family.

Our photo album of Costa Rica won’t have a single photo of me on my phone, but it’s amazing to think that I left the house with three escrows, and boarded the phone with five, and came home with six. This job never stops, and I’m sure that’s one reason why I love it. It’s constant activity, never boring.

Costa Rica was like that too—so much to do, so much to see. A great place for the whole family, and a country full of friendly, wonderful people!

But back to work today, and I have the inventory numbers for you. Alamo continues to float in the 40’s, steady there for the last few months…but Danville dips low, and Pleasant Hill goes from low to half of that (from 24 to 12). If you can stand to have your home on the market over the holidays (and it isn’t easy, so consider this carefully), the competition is thinning even more each day. Inventory is down in every area I track except Rossmoor.

Inventory numbers today (vs 10/21):
Alamo – 42 (down 5)
Danville – 68 (down 34!!!)
Blackhawk – 33 (down 6)
San Ramon – 34 (down 11)
Dublin – 34 (down 12)
Pleasanton – 51 (down 28)
Lafayette – 25 (down 14)
Orinda – 35 (down 10)
Pleasant Hill – 12 (down 12)
Walnut Creek – 57 (down 3)
Rossmoor – 32 (up 4)
Antioch – 77 (down 22)

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Oct

21

Alamo YTD sales up over last year

Posted by laurenholloway under Alamo

You’ve heard that inventory is low, and certainly part of the reason is that sales are up. In Alamo, for the first 3 quarters of the year, we had 197 sales with a median sales price of $1,200,000 and a median price per square foot of $368. 62 of these sales were over $400/sf.

That’s up compared to the first 3 quarters of 2011 when there were 135 sales with a median sales price of $1,100,000 and a median ppsf of $358. 36 were over $400/sf.

Homes are selling faster; they are getting better prices (not dramatically so, but prices are definitely up).

Today in Alamo, with 47 homes on the market, the breakdown of those homes looks like this:

• under $1,000,000 – 8
• $1m – $1.5 – 15
• $1.5 – $2m – 8
• $2m – $2.5 – 10 (including the 5 new Davidon homes under construction in Alamo Springs)
• $2.5 – $3m – 2
• $3m – $4m – 1
• $4m – $5m – 1
• $5m – $6m – 2

Looking for an open house today? I have two beautiful view properties on the market in Alamo, both open 1-4:
www.391CastleCrest.com
www.2677Roundhill.com

Inventory numbers today (vs 9/30):
Alamo – 47 (down 5)
Danville – 102 (up 8)
Blackhawk – 39 (down 2)
San Ramon – 45 (down 8)
Dublin – 46 (down 9)
Pleasanton – 79 (up 6)
Lafayette – 39 (down 3)
Orinda – 45 (up 3)
Pleasant Hill – 24 (down 10)
Walnut Creek – 60 (down 9)
Rossmoor – 28 (down 7)
Antioch – 99 (down 22)

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Oct

6

September Inventory in Alamo

Posted by laurenholloway under Uncategorized

I look at the inventory in Alamo every day. We started the month at 44 (which was down 4 from the week before, and that was down 9 from the week before that). Inventory tends to grow a bit on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday (when the new listings come on), so I try to take the pulse on Saturdays.

Throughout September, Alamo’s inventory roamed in the 40’s. One day it was as low as 41, and it spiked mid-month with a high of 49. This last week it was 46, steady for a solid week.

But Saturday, I pulled up the count and it was 52. I was so surprised…but found there was a great reason for it: the new homes being built in Alamo Springs were added to the MLS. Davidon is building in two phases, the first 5 homes have been released and are priced between $2 million and $2.5 million.

Sales in September in Alamo were strong: 21 homes sold, ranging from $780,000 to $1,525,000 with price per sq foot ranging from $267 to $486 (1/3 of the sales were over $400/sf).

Last year at this time, there were 15 sales in September ranging from $580,000 to $1,999,000 with ppsf ranging from $243 to $474 with only 3 properties selling for over $400/sf.

In Alamo, it is definitely becoming more commonplace to see homes selling for $400/sf or more. I have used that number for years as a starting point in Alamo to price a home (plus or minus for acerage, finishes, desirable area, etc), but now it’s a stronger starting point. For example, my listing at www.28HagenOaks.com just closed: listed at $1,225,000, sold for $1,290,000 or $475/sf. On the westside, my listing at www.191LaSerena.com is pending at $434/sf.

Inventory numbers showing the trend from beginning to the end of the month follow:

Alamo – 9/1: 44 (down 4); 9/30: 52 (up 8)
Danville – 9/1: 97 (down 18); 9/30: 94 (down 3)
Blackhawk – 9/1: 30 (down 2); 9/30: 41 (up 11)
San Ramon – 9/1: 62 (down 9); 9/30: 53 (down 9)
Dublin – 9/1: 78 (down 5); 9/30: 55 (down 23)
Pleasanton – 9/1: 80 (up 3); 9/30: 73 (down 7)
Lafayette – 9/1: 45 (steady); 9/30: 42 (down 3)
Orinda – 9/1: 33 (down 4); 9/30: 42 (up 9)
Pleasant Hill – 9/1: 26 (up 3); 9/30: 34 (up 8)
Walnut Creek – 9/1: 79 (down 7); 9/30: 69 (down 10)
Rossmoor – 9/1: 46 (up 7); 9/30: 35 (down 11)
Antioch – 9/1: 119 (up 22); 9/30: 121 (up 2)

New listings in Alamo include a stunning contemporary with amazing views, please enjoy the virtual tour: www.391CastleCrest.com. Open Sat and Sunday (Oct 6 and 7) from 1:00 – 4:00.

Also available in Alamo is a wonderful family home in Roundhill Country Club: www.2677Roundhill.com. This 5 bedroom home has lovely views, is located near the cul-de-sac, and has high-end finishes throughout.

In Orinda, I have a new listing at www.26Oakwood.com. Newly built (completed in 2004), this is a Tuscan style estate with over 5000 square feet and intricate details throughout the house. Every ceiling in the home is a work of art.

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Aug

23

Today’s inventory at a glamce:

Alamo – 48 (down 9)
Danville – 115 (up 1)
Blackhawk – 32 (up 3)
San Ramon – 71 (down 10)
Dublin – 83 (up 14)
Pleasanton –? 77 (down 29)
Lafayette – 45 (down 15)
Orinda – 37 (down 26)
Pleasant Hill – 23 (down 8)
Walnut Creek – 86 (down 1)
Rossmoor – 39 (down 12)
Antioch – 97 (down 3)

I have been tracking inventory stats weekly since 2007, and this year has had such a wildly different pattern. I recorded the inventory figures at the beginning of the year, with Alamo at 62, and expected it to climb from there. That’s been the pattern these past few years, 60ish at the low, and 110 or 120 at the height of the summer. But in fact, we have not exceeded much more than 60 all year, the number has varied from 45 to 65.

When I first began tracking the Alamo inventory, I contrasted it with Antioch. Same county, not too far from each other, but very different markets. Antioch had a large amount of new home building during the “boom” of the market, and consequently it is an area that has suffered more than others during the foreclosure years. Antioch has seen a far larger decrease in prices, but they have also seen an amazing change in inventory: from 1300+ in 2007 to fewer than 100 today.

I put a “coming soon” sign up on Saturday for a new listing in westside Alamo, and it’s remarkable how many calls I have had. Buyers are out seeking new listings. I’ll be open for Broker’s Tour on Thursday 8/23, or take a virtual tour at www.191LaSerena.com.

I have a pending sale in Alamo as well; I also received calls from this “coming soon” sign, and the buyers saw the house at the Broker’s Tour. Pending with multiple offers: www.28HagenOaks.com.

It reminds me a bit of the 2004 market, because I remember the frustration of trying to find the perfect home for one particular set of buyers. They had a favorite neighborhood and I eventually found their home by cruising the area and calling on a “coming soon” sign.

No question that good news is here for sellers, but I know the frustration that buyers must be feeling.

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