After more than four years of frenzied behavior, a sense of stability seems to finally be setting in, as Q3 saw a widespread trend of near-nominal year-over-year average home sale price gains and similarly even-keeled sales volume figures. While this behavior is less headline-grabbing than what we’ve witnessed in quarters past, it’s also a potential recipe for some of the most predictable market movements in recent history—a phenomenon that could benefit both buyers and sellers.
The East Bay is arguably the best barometer for this quarter’s overall pattern behavior. While both Contra Costa and Alameda Counties saw average sales prices near the record highs set in the past year, these numbers were also not growing at the breakneck pace that has defined the market since 2011. Alameda County’s average home sales price was up just 5 percent year-over-year, and Contra Costa County’s was up just 2 percent. The reason stability is the key word here—and not concern—is because sales volume was also almost exactly in line with the East Bay totals from a year prior. This activity continued, more or less, into San Francisco, Marin County and the Mid-Peninsula—the three most affluent counties in the Bay Area. San Francisco’s $1.608 million average sale was no slouch, but it was up just 4 percent year-over-year. Marin County’s average sale price actually dropped 5 percent from Q3 2015, mainly due to the massive push of high-end inventory that occurred over the past few years, and a resultant lack of high-priced homes on the market. Meanwhile, the Mid-Peninsula saw its average sale up 2 percent year-over-year. Compare that last figure with a near 15 percent surge in 2015 and the aforementioned market balance begins to take shape. While sales volume did drop a tad more in higher-end areas like Marin County, the rest of the North Bay balanced this out. Sonoma County saw no sales volume change from a year prior, and Napa County even posted its highest sales volume figure of the last three years, with 369 total sales. Both counties also saw average sales prices gain just slightly on the previous year.
One final note to illustrate this stability can be reflected in the average days on market (DOM) before a sale as witnessed in Q3 2016. Nearly all counties saw a noticeable increase between the time a home was put on the market and the time of its closing. While some of this is due to the ongoing inventory shortage, it can also be viewed as a sign of buyers exercising more control over the market. Given the frenetic pace of the market over the past several years, one can only interpret such trends as signals of increased balance and health. MARKET SHARE This quarter’s steady stream of sales and modest price gains amounted to $9.317 billion across the seven Bay Area counties we represent. This included the average home selling for $966,536—a 2 percent gain year-over-year. The East Bay led the way, accounting for 60 percent of all sales and 49 percent of total cash volume. The North Bay provided 22 percent of all sales and 21 percent of cash volume. The Mid-Peninsula tallied 12 percent of all sales and 21 percent of cash volume, and San Francisco added 6 percent of all sales and 9 percent of cash volume. In total, 9,640 properties sold in Q3 2016.