Today on my morning run as I was passing Monte Vista HS, I saw the big sign lit up with the value “EMPATHY”.

At this point, I noticed the sheriff, in the process of ticketing a car in the parking lot. With the backdrop of “EMPATHY,” this just seemed ironic. Without breaking stride, I pointed it out to her (when I said “sheriff,” you pictured a male didn’t you?), and rather breathlessly encouraged her to consider the sentiment. But although EMPATHY was bright and bold for a full 10 seconds, as she swung her head around to see what I was gesturing at, it faded into “Happy Birthday Jason!”

Perhaps she thought I was trying to tell her it was Jason’s car, but I’m afraid her pen was already in rapid fluid motion on the pad. So, with empathy for the (evidently non-) carpooler, I ran on past the Monte Vista tennis courts, reflecting on the last time I had been there.

It was last weekend, when my tennis team played an away match vs a team that uses the MVHS courts as their home courts. It was a Saturday at 1pm, and Monte Vista was bustling with activity. I’m used to playing tennis in a tranquil setting, which is nice—but this was fun too: there was a noisy game going on in the field, the parking lot was completely full with cars circling hoping for space, families with babies and dogs were joyously passing by, and the marching band was loudly and gleefully practicing next to us.

It made me think about all the reasons I love living here, and why so many people gravitate to this location. The schools are great: despite my kids being “Wolves” (from rival San Ramon Valley HS), there’s no arguing Monte Vista is simply gorgeous with the feeling of a college campus and views of the hills in every direction. SRVHS is fabulous in its own right, with views of the Las Trampas hills and wonderfully situated in darling downtown Danville. And if you think the 4th of July parade isn’t a good enough reason to move to Danville/Alamo, then you haven’t attended it: literally my favorite day of the year to be in Danville. Our weather is amazing; I love the fact that I play tennis year-round with only the occasional rained-out match. When we crave snow, we can drive a few hours and be surrounded by it (ok, not this year, but in general).

Sometimes I miss living in a place with four seasons (I grew up in Colorado, although I’ve been here since 1983). But then I run to meet friends on the tennis court, and I relish the one great season we have!

For excited buyers that want to move to our wonderful San Ramon Valley, inventory is creeping up. In fact, there were 11 new listings on tour in Alamo yesterday. From the low of 23 at the beginning of the year, Alamo now has nearly double that number. Compare that to Blackhawk which opened the year at 21 and is now only 4 stronger. Walnut Creek doubled since the first of the year: from 30 to 61. Inventory numbers from the weekend:
2/15/15
ALAMO 42
DANVILLE 69
BLACKHAWK 25
SAN RAMON 46
DUBLIN 56
PLEASANTON 49
WALNUT CREEK 61
LAFAYETTE 19
ORINDA 21
PLEASANT HILL 28
CLAYTON 14
ANTIOCH 139

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Low Inventory Frustrates Buyers

Our market began to improve dramatically in 2013 after the year opened with low inventory.  2014 and 2015 also opened with similar low numbers as the chart below depicts. Compare that with 2011 when 74 homes were on the market in January.  For years, the “low” for the year happened in the holiday season, and it would dip down to 60 or 70.  Last year and in 2013, that number represented the high rather than the low.

2015

2014

2013

Today

 January 1

 January 1

 January 1

ALAMO

35

23

29

25

DANVILLE

69

48

43

44

BLACKHAWK

25

21

17

27

SAN RAMON

42

33

29

23

DUBLIN

50

36

50

26

PLEASANTON

40

33

31

29

WALNUT CREEK

46

30

24

15

LAFAYETTE

19

12

15

15

ORINDA

19

11

25

11

PLEASANT HILL

25

20

43

43

Inventory has been creeping up since the first of the year across all the towns, but still buyers are crying for more choices.  Sellers who are bringing their property to the market now are receiving the full attention of motivated buyers.  Homes that are priced and presented well are selling quickly, many with multiple offers.

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There is no question that 2014 was a great year for Real Estate and we saw a nice recovery in our prices.  One property expressed this to me personally: my listing at 715 Anderson Ranch Ct in Alamo sold in August (www.715AndersonRanch.com).  In August of 2007, this was my listing and it sold for $2,050,000.  A few years later, the house came on the market and this time I had the buyer—my client paid $1,623,000 in May of 2010.  Interesting example of prices bouncing back up: it sold for $2,027,000 in August of 2014.

Looking at the past 12 years in Alamo, the median price in 2014 did not exceed the median sales price in 2006 which remains the high at $1,550,000.  Still, prices are strong and homes sold fast with median days on market at 19 for the year (compare that to 72 in 2009, the highest DOM by nearly double any other year).  In 2008 and 2009, volume was down — between those two years 263 homes sold, compared to 247 in 2014.  Prices hit a low in 2010 (the year I wish I had bought a dozen properties — where was my crystal ball when I needed it?), and have climbed steadily ever since.  Will they continue to do so in 2015?  What does your crystal ball say — mine is in the shop.  But if I had to guess, I think we will have another strong year with prices, if not increasing, at least remaining steady.

  ALAMO – STATISTICS FROM MLS

# of Homes

Median

Median

 

Sold

DOM

Sold Price

2014

247

19

$1,460,000

2013

221

14

$1,300,000

2012

254

21

$1,182,000

2011

166

37

$1,078,000

2010

199

30

$1,100,000

2009

136

72

$1,150,000

2008

127

37

$1,300,000

2007

174

23

$1,442,000

2006

163

12

$1,550,000

2005

238

9

$1,440,000

2004

306

12

$1,250,000

2003

267

20

$1,165,000

 

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Feb

2

23 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek

Posted by laurenholloway under Alamo, For Buyers, Listings

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! I am hosting an open house at www.23Eckley.com, open from 1-4 which overlaps with the big game only somewhat.

This home is amazing: brand new construction with quality details throughout.  Please visit the website to see the movie and some great new technology which depicts the home as a doll house and allows you to navigate the home interactively on-line. Fascinating!

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It was a long quiet year for my blog, but not for lack of trying and (even) writing.  I had some crazy technical difficulties that prevented me from logging into my blog.  Several times during the course of our fascinating 2014, I wrote an article about the market only to find I could not get logged in.  And, since 2014 was a very busy day for real estate, I would get busy and move on.

But I finally had the time to sit on hold for 45 minutes with technical support and get to the bottom of the problem.  Success!

In the spirit of “better late than never,” here are the articles from 2014 that never made it here during my technical issues — and please stay tuned for news of 2015 next:

(From 9/9/14)  -  2014 Real Estate Roller coaster

As the third quarter comes to a close, and we look forward with apprehension and hope to Q4, it’s interesting to look back on the ups and downs of the year so far.

The year started much as 2013 did, with low inventory and excited buyers.  In March and April, the buyers went from excited to frantic, even manic.  As agents we became smug: “we’re looking at offers on Tuesday,” we would announce with confidence, knowing that there would be plenty to choose from.

And then something changed.  May or June or July—depending on who you ask—but we all agree that it slowed.  Certainly there are those properties that are special and priced right, and they are still going out the door with multiples and over-asking.  But in general, we have properties sitting a bit on the market, or feeling grateful to get a single offer.

I’m seeing this across all price points.   I recently showed one-bedroom condos in San Ramon to an investor client, and of the nine properties, all but one had been on the market for more than 30 days.

In Alamo today, there are 50 homes listed and all but 15 have been on the market for more than 30 days.

What we have now is probably, in fairness, a “normal” market.  Sellers and listing agents were spoiled and now we are whining about the “sluggish” market, but the reality is that buyers are still out there, they are still active, and interest rates are still fabulous.

Buyers who are feeling discouraged (and who can blame them; they have spent the better part of the year competing with cash buyers and writing offers hundreds of thousands over-asking) should consider revisiting the marketplace.  I’ve actually closed three contingent sales this summer, 2 of my listings and one buyer.  Writing a contingent offer is the polar opposite from writing a cash offer—it says volumes about our market today.

So the good news about today’s market is there is something for everyone: buyers can shop with a little more breathing room, and sellers can still expect a nice price (up about 20% since 2010).  Us realtors can wipe the smug “offers on Tuesday” expressions off our faces and feel grateful for the offers we receive on our listings and for those that are accepted for our buyers.

And from June 22nd:

I started this blog in 2007 and was a steady writer for many years—with new entries every week and often twice weekly.  But I’ve been unreliable, despite my new year’s resolution, this year and last.

I just met someone at my open house (www.715AndersonRanch.com) who said “oh, I used to read your blog all the time,” and I felt guilty all over again.

So here I sit, still at my open house, but with a break in traffic, determined to make good on my new year’s resolution.

I’ve actually written whole entries that never got posted, and started many that never got completed—and dozens of great information has been formulated in paragraphs in my mind, if only I had a Dictaphone handy while I’m racing to Home Depot to pick out that perfect chandelier for a client, or previewing homes, or changing my dog’s diaper (that’s another story).

I’ve continued to track the inventory, even if it never gets posted, so here are some stats:

Today in Alamo there are 58 active homes—the high for the year so far is 62, that was in early May.  Inventory as of June 22:

  • Alamo – 62
  • Danville – 107
  • Blackhawk – 34
  • San Ramon – 118
  • Dublin –  99
  • Pleasanton –   100
  • Lafayette –   53
  • Orinda –  73
  • Pleasant Hill –  53
  • Walnut Creek –  119
  • Rossmoor –  49
  • Antioch –  180

Inventory from February:

Feb 17

  • Alamo  39
  • Danville  63
  • Blackhawk  20
  • San Ramon  47
  • Dublin  82
  • Pleasanton  56
  • Walnut Creek  58
  • Pleasant Hill  37
  • Lafayette  29
  • Orinda   37
  • Rossmoor   42
  • Clayton  26
  • Antioch  139
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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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