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Our team is committed to continuing to serve all your real estate needs while incorporating safety protocol to protect all of our loved ones.

In addition, as your local real estate experts, we feel it’s our duty to give you, our valued client, all the information you need to better understand our local real estate market. Whether you’re buying or selling, we want to make sure you have the best, most pertinent information, so we’ve put together this monthly analysis breaking down specifics about the market.

As we all navigate this together, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns. We’re here to support you.

Rama Mehra, LIC #01463395

The Big Picture

Quick Take:


Early innings for rising rates

Mortgage rates rose faster than expected in the first quarter of 2022, already surpassing forecasts for the year. The 30-year average mortgage rate rose swiftly in the two weeks after the Fed’s March meeting, up 0.5% between March 17 and 31 to 4.67%. This rapid increase has spurred purchases as buyers try to lock in lower rates before they climb higher. The data reflect the urgency buyers face. Nationally, home prices have reached yet another milestone: hitting above $200 per square foot, the highest level in history. But is the urgency justified? The answer is 100% yes, assuming you find the right home for you. Let’s dig into the numbers a little.

Housing Prices and Inventory in the United States April 2022 East Bay Market Update



The average 30-year mortgage rate was 3.11% in December 2021, rising to 4.67% by the end of Q1 2022. If you bought a home in December and financed it with a $500,000 mortgage loan at 3.11%, your monthly spend on principal and interest would be $2,138 — versus $2,584 if you got the same loan in March 2022 at 4.67%. Over the life of the loan, you’ll spend $160,560 more at 4.67%. In short, every percentage point matters significantly. As an aside, refinancing has decreased 60% below last year’s levels, according to the Mortgage Brokers Association. Economists and real estate experts seem torn between rates peaking just below or just above 5%.

Inflation's Effect on Rates (Long History) April 2022 East Bay Market Update

Because the Fed indicated the path of rate hikes for the rest of the year, mortgage rates increased in anticipation and are likely to be affected less when the Fed moves the federal funds rate in the future, if it sticks to its schedule. At this point, we can almost guarantee that rates will not decline substantially this year.

Inflation's Effect on Rates (Zoom In) April 2022 East Bay Market Update



As we look at historical trends in inflation, we are curious about how effective the Fed’s rate hikes will be. Rates rose significantly in the 1970s, partially due to the inflation rate at the time. Mortgage rates peaked at over 18%, which is unimaginable today. As we look at the long-term data, we see that inflation tends to decline when the federal funds rate is above the inflation level. Currently, the federal funds rate is far below inflation, and the Fed doesn’t plan to lift it near the inflation level because of the economic shock that would ensue. The current cost to borrow is actually negative, which may incentivize more people to borrow and spend more in the short term, driving inflation higher. At current mortgage and inflation levels, the borrower, not the lender, gains around 3% from borrowing.

Median Days on Market in the United States April 2022 East Bay Market Update



In addition to rising rates, supply still drives home prices. In March, the housing supply ticked up ever so slightly from the all-time low in February. We are entering the spring buying season, however, with the lowest inventory on record. From March 2020 to March 2022, the housing supply declined 62%. Over the past three months, which had the lowest inventory on record, home prices increased nearly 10%. Rising rates, in the short term, boost demand because potential homebuyers want to get ahead of the increase, but in the long term, they reduce demand. Because the market is so undersupplied, less demand is actually a good thing. Home prices simply cannot maintain the rapid increases. Although a housing bubble isn’t likely yet, a sustainable growth rate is better and safer for the long term.


The Local Update

Quick Take:


Home Prices Close the First Quarter at Record Highs

Single-family home and condo prices rose significantly over the last two months, reaching all-time highs for single-family homes for Alameda County, while Contra Costa prices landed just below peak. Because sales often have a one-month lag, with homes going under contract around a month before the sale is complete, we cannot yet determine how significantly increasing rates have hit the market. Mortgage rate hikes really only lower demand in the long term, but in the short term, demand increases as buyers try to lock in a lower rate. The East Bay housing market has a major advantage in that high demand is constant. Despite the huge increases in home prices over the past 12 months, the lack of housing supply will keep prices rising in the coming months.  

April 2022 East Bay Median Home Prices



The Fed is expected to raise interest rates by 0.25% at least six times this year, going from 0% to 1.90%. We are now entering a period where factors that affect prices are more mixed, unlike the past two years when all the factors caused prices to increase. Rising interest rates, which will hopefully curb the still-rising, 40-year-high inflation rate, will make homes less affordable and dampen demand over the course of the year. But inventory is so low that even with less demand, the market will likely remain undersupplied. It might seem counterintuitive that home prices can still appreciate after increasing so much over the past two years, but with inventory at record lows, home prices in 2022 will still increase — though at a slower rate than in 2021. With high sales relative to the available inventory, we anticipate a competitive market in the year ahead.

Low, but RISING inventory

The East Bay, like the rest of the country, has a historically low housing inventory. The sustained high demand and lack of new listings over the past year brought single-family home and condo supplies to record lows across markets. Although the first quarter of 2022 had the lowest inventory on record, we are pleased to see that inventory is increasing. If this upward trend continues into the second quarter, that will be a large indicator that the housing market is normalizing. 

April 2022 East Bay Single-Family Homes Inventory
April 2022 East Bay Condos Inventory


Sales have still been incredibly high, especially when accounting for available supply, again highlighting demand in the area. Sellers can expect multiple offers, and buyers should come with competitive offers. The incredibly high demand we’ve seen over the past year might wane as interest rates increase; however, the supply is so low that the market can handle a drop in demand without negatively affecting prices. The 30-year average fixed-rate mortgage hasn’t climbed above 5% yet, but it almost certainly will. If mortgage rates reach 5%, demand will likely decline more substantially. In the next few months, demand will remain high relative to available supply.

Months of Supply Inventory further indicates high demand and low supply

Homes are selling extremely quickly in these luxury markets. Buyers must put in competitive offers, which, on average, are 16% above the list price for single-family homes and 6% above list for condos.

April 2022 East Bay Months of Supply Inventory

 

Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) quantifies the supply/demand relationship by measuring how many months it would take for all current homes for sale on the market to sell at the current rate of sales. The average MSI is three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than that indicates that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI indicates there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). Currently, single-family home and condo MSIs are exceptionally low, indicating a strong sellers’ market.

April 2022 East Bay Months of Supply Inventory by County

What’s next?

Home prices will likely continue to rise, as well as the mortgage rates. But we’re seeing a window for change so make sure you stay tuned for our market updates or follow our socials to get the latest news.

We keep ourselves updated with the latest news and updated data so that you won’t have to. If you need to talk to a real estate professional to fully understand the market and how you can proceed with your housing plans, don’t hesitate to call 925-415-0835 and our team will take care of you!

Our team is committed to continuing to serve all your real estate needs while incorporating safety protocol to protect all of our loved ones.

In addition, as your local real estate experts, we feel it’s our duty to give you, our valued client, all the information you need to better understand our local real estate market. Whether you’re buying or selling, we want to make sure you have the best, most pertinent information, so we’ve put together this monthly analysis breaking down specifics about the market.

As we all navigate this together, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns. We’re here to support you.

Rama Mehra, LIC #01463395

The Big Story


AMPLIFIED Seasonal Trends

Before the pandemic, seasonality in the housing market was something everybody expected: prices rose from January to June (with low but rising inventory), and flattens from July to December (with high inventory but declining).

Things are different since January 2020. Home inventory hit the record low with just over a million homes available in the market. Then the pandemic hit and there became a huge demand for homes, further declining the inventory to shockingly low levels.

From January 2020 to June 2021, inventory decreased by 49% and prices increased by 32%! This led to doubling the price increase of the previous 3 years combined. By January this year, inventory had reached an all-time low by a 60% decrease, and prices reached the record high by 34%!

Homes are getting sold much faster and in a more efficient way. Even before the pandemic, homes are selling quickly because of technology and increased competitive market. Increased efficiency match right people with the right home quickly, making the inventory drop faster while new homes are not being built.

MSI, which quantifies the supply-and-demand relationship, is at a record low, further indicating a sellers’ market.

The low supply,

high prices,

and speed of purchases

have shifted homebuyer makeup. 


The number of first-time buyers dropped 6% over the past year, while sales to investors rose 7%. All-cash offers increased significantly, often disproportionately affecting first-time buyers, who are most likely to need financing.

With rising mortgage rates, many first-time buyers will once again be hit hardest with higher monthly payments. Rates have already risen, because the Fed is expected to start increasing rates in mid-March, and they will only climb higher. Because of the rising cost, the average age of homebuyers is climbing. The average first-time buyer is now 33 years old, and the average repeat buyer is 56 years old, an all-time high. As we enter a new chapter in the housing market, one characterized by rising rates and very low supply, demand can only go one direction: down. But for now, prices aren’t in danger of declining. 

Over the next several months, we expect supply to matter more than the interest rate hikes when it comes to home prices. Economists anticipate that the Fed will start the first of six incremental 0.25% increases in March. The Fed uses interest rates in particular as a tool to meet its dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability. With inflation at a near-40-year high, prices for most goods are rising while incomes are not. This situation gives the Fed little choice but to raise interest rates. Essentially, when the cost to borrow increases, fewer people want to borrow, leading to less consumer spending (less demand), which lowers prices.

As we enter this new chapter of rising mortgage rates, we don’t expect home prices to decline significantly, if at all, because supply is still such a driving factor. The low supply means that demand can decline without negatively impacting prices. We don’t expect home prices to appreciate at the record level we experienced over the past two years, but we do expect to see an increase. We are still in the middle of one of the strongest sellers’ markets in history. Buyers must come in with fast, competitive offers in this environment.


The Local Updates


Home prices hit record highs in front of Fed rate hikes

Single-family home and condo price per square foot rose to all-time highs in February 2022 in the East Bay. Mortgage rate hikes really only lower demand in the long-term, but in the short-term, demand increases as buyers try to lock in a lower rate. The East Bay housing market has a major advantage in that people simply want to live there.

The East Bay tends to have high employment rates, racial diversity, and a growing population of affluent young professionals.

This tends to have a snowball effect, making these areas more and more desirable places to live. Despite the huge increases in home prices over the past 12 months, the East Bay’s lack of housing supply will keep prices rising in the year to come.   

The Fed is expected to raise interest rates by 0.25% six times this year, going from 0% to 1.50%. We are now entering a period where factors that affect prices are more mixed, unlike the past two years when all the factors caused prices to increase. Rising interest rates, which will hopefully curb the still-rising inflation, will make homes less affordable and dampen demand over the course of the year.

But inventory is so low that even with less demand, the market will likely be undersupplied. It might seem counterintuitive that home prices can still appreciate after increasing so much over the past two years, but with inventory at record lows, home prices in 2022 will still increase — though at a slower rate than in 2021.

With high sales relative to the available inventory, we anticipate a competitive market in the year ahead. 

Record-low inventory persists

The East Bay, like the rest of the country, has a historically low housing inventory. The sustained high demand and lack of new listings over the past year brought single-family home and condo supplies to record lows across markets.

We are seeing that far more people want to live in the East Bay than want to leave.

Sales have been incredibly high, especially when accounting for available supply, again highlighting demand in the area. Sellers can expect multiple offers, and buyers should come with competitive offers. The incredibly high demand we’ve seen over the past year might wane as interest rates increase; however, the supply is so low that the market can handle a drop in demand without negatively affecting prices.

The 30-year average fixed rate mortgage hasn’t climbed above 4% yet, but it almost certainly will as the Fed starts raising rates. If mortgage rates reach 5%, demand will likely decline more substantially. In the next few months, demand will remain high relative to available supply.

Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) further indicates strong sellers’ market

Homes are still selling extremely quickly. Buyers must put in competitive offers, which, on average, are about 5–13% above list price.



Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) quantifies the supply/demand relationship by measuring how many months it would take for all current homes for sale on the market to sell at the current rate of sales. The average MSI is three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than that indicates that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI indicates there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). Currently, single-family home and condo MSIs are exceptionally low, indicating a strong sellers’ market.

The market is very hot right now. If you have any further questions about the market, the perfect time to buy or sell a home, or are in need of a real estate professional, give us a call at 925-415-0835!

Our team is committed to continuing to serve all your real estate needs while incorporating safety protocol to protect all of our loved ones.

In addition, as your local real estate experts, we feel it’s our duty to give you, our valued client, all the information you need to better understand our local real estate market. Whether you’re buying or selling, we want to make sure you have the best, most pertinent information, so we’ve put together this monthly analysis breaking down specifics about the market.

As we all navigate this together, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns. We’re here to support you.

Rama Mehra, LIC #01463395

The Big Story

Mortgage Rate Hikes Now Definite

Quick Take:

The Fed Dual Mandate

On January 26, 2022, the Federal Reserve (the Fed) indicated that it would raise the federal funds rate as soon as March for the first time in over three years. The Fed adjusts the federal funds rate to influence broader interest rates, which directly affect the borrowing costs of banks. Generally, if bank borrowing costs are low, consumer borrowing costs will be low(er), and vice versa. The Fed uses interest rates in particular as a tool to meet its dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability. Employment and price stability are long-term indicators for home prices. 

We will start with the good news. Employment rebounded considerably from the highest spike in unemployment in modern history in spring 2020 to pre-pandemic levels by December 2021. As you might imagine, high unemployment rates for extended periods lead to less overall wealth: Fewer people buy homes, and more people experience foreclosures, thereby lowering home prices. Although unemployment seemed dire in 2020, employment is now on solid ground. If we view the current record-high 10.5 million job openings, along with the nearly 10 million new businesses created over the past two years, we get a better understanding of why unemployment dropped so significantly despite a record number of job openings. Simply put, people are working, and that is good for individual wealth and the larger economy. 

Bay Area February 2022 Market Update Us Unemployment Claims



On to the kind-of-good, kind-of-bad news … rising mortgage rates could help curb inflation and create a more balanced housing market (although 2022 will surely be a sellers’ market), but it will make homes more expensive monthly, hitting first-time homebuyers the hardest. With the federal funds rate at 0% and inflation at a near-40-year high, rate hikes are expected to combat inflation. Essentially, when the cost to borrow increases, fewer people want to borrow, leading to less consumer spending (less demand), which lowers prices. We can look to the last inflationary period, the 1970s, as a loose guide. Inflation today is likely to be much more transitory than it was in the 1970s, but we can still expect a rise in mortgage rates like we saw then. Luckily, however, we will certainly not reach the 18+% mortgage rate that we saw in the early 1980s. As it was then, the Fed is obligated to do something now. While we wish that we could always be in periods of high employment, low inflation, and low-interest rates, as we experienced for nearly a decade before the pandemic, we must recognize the atypical nature of that period. 

Inflation's Effect on Rates Bay Area February 2022 Market Update


As we enter this new chapter of rising mortgage rates, we don’t expect home prices to change significantly, if at all, because supply is still such a driving factor. In December 2021, there were 57% fewer homes on the market than in December 2019. The low supply means that demand can decline without affecting prices. Does it matter if 10 offers drop to five? Probably not, and it might even create a better market. Sellers tend to become buyers, so unless you’re a first-time homebuyer, you’ll likely experience both sides of the market. Because sellers are often selling one home and buying another, it’s essential that sellers work with the right agent to ensure the transition goes smoothly. 

Housing Inventory in the United States Bay Area February 2022 Market Update


We don’t expect price appreciation to see the record gains we experienced over the past two years, but we do expect home prices to increase. Another factor at play over the past two years was a sharp increase in disposable income, which has now normalized. People had more money to spend over the past two years, and we saw that throughout markets: The housing market, the stock market, cryptos, art, jewelry, etc. all reached record high prices. As disposable income has dropped to a more normal level, we can expect assets to appreciate at a more normal pace.

If you have 30 minutes, Ray Dalio’s video How the Economic Machine Works is well worth watching.


The Local Lowdown

Quick Take:


Home price movements in a rising rate environment

The single-family home market in the Bay Area began the year below all-time highs as the market cooled from the huge price gains at the beginning of 2021. After prices appreciated significantly in the first half of 2021, it made sense that price appreciation slowed or reversed in the second half of the year, a trend that has continued into 2022. The housing market in the Greater Bay Area, however, has a major advantage in that a high number of affluent people simply want to live there, which has reduced inventory to record lows. 

Condo prices have held relatively stable over the last several months with the exception of San Francisco condos, which declined sharply from the November peak. After digging into the San Francisco January data, we found that a higher-than-usual number of smaller condos were sold, and that condo prices weren’t actually falling. The pandemic hit demand for condos harder than single-family homes in the Bay. However, sales indicate that demand is back, although we expect price appreciation to slow as we move through the winter months, a seasonal norm.

Mortgage rate hikes really only move demand in one direction: lower. We are now entering a period during which factors that affect prices are more mixed, unlike the past two years when all the factors caused prices to increase. Rising interest rates, which will hopefully curb the still-rising inflation, will make homes less affordable and dampen demand. But inventory is so low that even with less demand, the market will likely be undersupplied. It might seem counterintuitive that home prices can still appreciate after increasing so much over the past two years, but with inventory at record lows, home prices in 2022 will still increase — though at a slower rate than in 2021. 


Record low inventory in the Greater Bay Area

We entered 2022 with historically low inventory. The sustained high demand and lack of new listings over the past year brought supply to record lows across markets. We are seeing that far more people want to live in the Bay Area than want to leave. Sales have been incredibly high, especially when accounting for available supply, again highlighting demand in the area. Sellers can expect multiple offers, and buyers should come with competitive offers. The high demand we’ve seen over the past year might wane as interest rates increase; however, the supply is so low that the market can handle a drop in demand without negatively affecting prices.

Greater Bay Area Days on Market Bay Area February 2022 Market Update

Months of Supply Inventory further indicates high demand and low supply

Homes are still selling extremely quickly. The Days on Market reflects the high demand for homes in the Greater Bay Area. Buyers must put in competitive offers above the list price of the home.

Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) quantifies the supply/demand relationship by measuring how many months it would take for all current homes on the market to sell at the current rate of sales. The average MSI is three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than three indicates that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI indicates there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). In January, MSI remained exceptionally low in the Bay Area, indicating a strong sellers’ market. Notably, the January increase in MSI is less instructive than usual — sales slowed because inventory is so low, not because of lack of demand.

East Bay Days on Market Bay Area February 2022 Market Update
MSI by County Bay Area January 2022 Market Update

The market is very hot right now. If you have any further questions about the market, the perfect time to buy or sell a home, or are in need of a real estate professional, give us a call at 925-415-0835!

Our team is committed to continuing to serve all your real estate needs while incorporating safety protocol to protect all of our loved ones.

In addition, as your local real estate experts, we feel it’s our duty to give you, our valued client, all the information you need to better understand our local real estate market. Whether you’re buying or selling, we want to make sure you have the best, most pertinent information, so we’ve put together this monthly analysis breaking down specifics about the market.

As we all navigate this together, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns. We’re here to support you.

Rama Mehra, LIC #01463395

The Big Story

New Year, Same Housing Market

Quick Take:

The Local Lowdown

A cooling market means more room to run in 2022

Quick Take:

THE BIG STORY

Will the housing shortage reverse?

The driving force behind the substantial price increases over the past two years has been the supply of homes, or lack thereof. So, will the housing shortage reverse? The answer is no, as there is no reasonable scenario that would bring active listings to pre-pandemic norms.

Before February 2020, seasonal inventory typically peaked in the summer months, but it was trending slightly lower each year. In 2016, inventory peaked at 1.55 million active listings, and by 2019, the peak fell to 1.35 million homes.

Housing Inventory in the United States Bay Area January 2022 Market Update

Inventory in 2021 reached its highest point at approximately 621,000, a 54% decline over two years. Homebuilders simply cannot build fast enough, especially in sought-after urban areas that have already been developed, and new listings are peaking far lower than the historical seasonal norms. 

At the same time, we are on pace to see around a million more homes sold in 2021 than in a typical year, based on the long-term average. In other words, more homes are selling, despite the historically low inventory, which is further driving down inventory. In 2022, we expect demand to remain elevated and supply depressed, which should keep home prices from depreciating. 

New Listings in the United States Bay Area January 2022 Market Update



Price appreciation likely will not see the record gains we experienced over the past two years, which is actually good. If we learned one thing from the mid-2000s, we know that we don’t want another housing bubble. The deceleration in price increases, therefore, actually benefits the current market.

From a practical standpoint, home prices rising at 20% per year is unsustainable and would certainly cause a major collapse. Moving through 2022, we expect year-over-year price increases to move back to historical norms, in the 5–10% range. 

Fed rate hikes in 2022 could drastically affect appreciation as well, which, again, isn’t a bad thing. The low-cost financing the past two years could be coming to an end (although it’s difficult not to take a believe-it-when-I-see-it-approach to rate increases).

When we account for current inflation, which is the highest it’s been since 1981, the real rate of borrowing is negative if you borrow at a rate below 6.8%. Simply put, you’re getting paid to borrow! We don’t expect this phenomenon to last long — it’s a fairly unique situation.

The market remains competitive for buyers, but conditions are making it an exceptional time for homeowners to sell. Low inventory means sellers will receive multiple offers with fewer concessions. Because sellers are often selling one home and buying another, it’s essential that sellers work with the right agent to ensure the transition goes smoothly.


Want to know the value of your home? Click here.


THE LOCAL LOCKDOWN

Home prices still have room to run in 2022

After single-family home prices appreciated significantly in the first half of 2021, it makes sense that prices would decline in the third and fourth quarters. North and East Bay prices experienced the most substantial decrease in the second half of the year, although all regions declined. However, as inventory continues to decline, as is typical in the winter season, prices will likely increase. 

Condo prices declined less significantly in the second half, and San Francisco condos increased to a record high in November. This is the first new high we’ve seen in over a year in San Francisco. The pandemic hit demand for condos hard, but price and sales indicate that demand is back. Although the price appreciation wasn’t as pronounced for condos as it was for single-family homes, we expect price appreciation to slow as we move through the winter months, a seasonal norm.

Greater Bay Area Median Price Changes Bay Area January 2022 Market Update

Nearing record low inventory once again

Despite the slight increase in single-family home inventory in the first half of 2021, the sustained high demand and lack of new listings in the second half brought single-family home and condo supply to near historic lows. Once again, we are seeing that far more people want to live in the Greater Bay Area than want to leave. Sales in the Bay Area have been incredibly high, especially when accounting for available inventory, again highlighting demand. Sellers can expect multiple offers, and buyers should come with competitive offers.

East Bay Inventory of Single Family Homes Bay Area January 2022 Market Update

Months of Supply Inventory further indicates high demand

Homes are still selling extremely quickly. The Days on Market reflects the high demand for homes in the Greater Bay Area. Buyers must put in competitive offers above the list price of the home. 

Days on the Market November 2021



Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) quantifies the supply/demand relationship by measuring how many months it would take for all current homes for sale on the market to sell at the current rate of sales. The average MSI is three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than three indicates that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI indicates there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). MSI in the Greater Bay Area is historically low for single-family homes and condos, indicating a strong sellers’ market.

Greater Bay Area Months of Supply Inventory Bay Area January 2022 Market Update

There are a lot of things happening this 2022. If you have any further questions about the market, or are in need of a real estate professional by your side at all times, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 925-415-0835!

Our team is committed to continuing to serve all your real estate needs while incorporating safety protocol to protect all of our loved ones.

In addition, as your local real estate experts, we feel it’s our duty to give you, our valued client, all the information you need to better understand our local real estate market. Whether you’re buying or selling, we want to make sure you have the best, most pertinent information, so we’ve put together this monthly analysis breaking down specifics about the market.

As we all navigate this together, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns. We’re here to support you.

Rama Mehra, DRE #01463395

Welcome to our October newsletter, where we’ll explore residential real estate trends in the Greater Bay Area and across the nation. This month, we examine the state of the U.S. housing market now that much-needed supply has come to the market. We also explore why the worker shortage may not be as detrimental to the economy as was originally expected because of the renewed growth of entrepreneurship.  

With the increase in supply, we’ll probably see the beginning of some market cooling — but in the context of the hottest housing market in history. Housing inventory in the United States continued to rise in August, up 30% from the record low in April 2021. We’re happy to see more homes on the market because they will help satiate the high buyer demand. Although this increase in housing inventory is meaningful, there are still 74% fewer homes on the market than a year ago. The housing market will likely start to see some price corrections as it returns to a steadier state of growth. 

While we, at first, worried that the worker shortage could hurt the economy, it looks like the rise in entrepreneurship is helping to boost production and improve the economy. We often look at jobs to gauge the health of the economy: more employed workers usually mean more production and more wealth, which, in turn, means appreciating asset prices. For many months, unemployment stood at around 10 million workers; however, we have started to meaningfully close the unemployment gap, and unemployment has been reduced to 8 million workers. As risks from the delta variant wane, we’ll likely see more unemployed workers reentering the workforce. 

Despite the high rate of unemployment and record number of job openings, U.S. production is climbing rapidly. In terms of GDP, which is the broadest measure of goods and services produced, our economic recovery could reach where we would likely be if the pandemic had never happened within the next year. It cannot be overstated how rare it would be to return to pre-recession GDP, but we might just get there. A potential factor in the rise of both production and job openings is the resurgence of entrepreneurship, which is often associated with higher production. 

We remain committed to providing you with the most current market information so you feel supported and informed in your buying and selling decisions. In order to better explore how the above national trends in the economy and housing market are affecting the Greater Bay Area, this month’s newsletter will cover the following:


Key Topics and Trends in October

In the long term, employment and GDP reveal much about the economic climate and typically trend with housing prices. GDP, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, gained 1.6% quarter-over-quarter in 2nd Quarter (2Q) 2021, which is about 1% higher than the long-term quarterly growth rate of 0.6%. To get back to pre-pandemic GDP levels, we need to continue to outpace the long-term growth rate. The substantial infusion of cash into the economy has boosted GDP, and we are on pace to fully recover. 

The chart below illustrates the cost of the COVID recession and the projection at GDP’s current growth rate. While it depicts U.S. GDP from 2016 to 2Q 2021, it also illustrates economic patterns that occur in all recessions. GDP tends to grow at a fairly consistent rate during economic expansions. The green line exemplifies the expected GDP, had the pandemic never happened. As that green line shows, we are below where GDP was expected to be in 2Q 2021. In other words, we’re still underwater. However, unlike typical recoveries, which return to a steady-state of growth but at a lower level, the current growth rate is far higher than normal and should bring us back to our pre-pandemic trajectory by the end of the 2nd Quarter 2022.

Real GDP in the United States October 2021 Greater Bay Area Market Update

Another Source of Economic Growth

Another large government-sponsored infusion of cash into the economy is very unlikely to happen. We may, however, have another source of economic stimulus: the massive growth in entrepreneurship over the last 16 months. From 2004 to 2019, the United States averaged 2.8 million new business applications per year. In 2020, there were 4.36 million, and in 2021, there have been 3.68 million as of August. This means that over the past 20 months, the United States has seen 8 million new business applications.

The competitive nature of our economy incentivizes new business owners to produce, creating jobs and stimulating growth. While new businesses are not as stable as more mature companies, they are often more nimble than larger companies and can produce with fewer hurdles.

Business Application in the United States October 2021

The large number of new business applications may also explain why established companies have found it difficult to fill job openings. It seems that a large number of workers may now be working for themselves. Although the difficulty with hiring employees poses troubling challenges to employers, it thankfully may not indicate a struggling economy.

Job Openings in the United States October 2021

Home prices tend not to experience meteoric rises if the economy is in dire straits. Because home prices have increased so rapidly over the last two years, we can assume that the economy is doing well. In the last five years, housing inventory has decreased by around 940,000 (59%). Over 700,000 of those homes were sold in the last two years alone. Due to the pandemic, housing demand rose to historically high levels and mortgage rates fell to historic lows. As shown in the chart below, we’re currently hovering near all-time low mortgage rates, which will likely remain for the rest of the year. Low rates incentivize buying due to the lower monthly payment.

Fixed Mortgage Rates October 2021

Even with rising inventory, the market remains competitive for buyers, but conditions are making it an exceptional time for homeowners to sell. Low inventory means sellers will receive multiple offers with fewer concessions. Because sellers are often selling one home and buying another, it’s essential that sellers work with the right agents to ensure the transition goes smoothly.


October Housing Market Updates for the Greater Bay Area

During August 2021, in the Greater Bay Area, the median single-family home price declined further from the all-time high reached in June. Year-over-year, Greater Bay Area prices increased considerably, up 18%.

Greater Bay Area Median Home Price October 2021
Greater Bay Area Median Price Changes October 2021

The median price movements across the Greater Bay Area regions were mixed. San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and East Bay home prices declined month-over-month, while North Bay home prices increased. However, year-over-year, every county in the Bay Area is higher than last year with the exception of Monterey.

Bay Area Regions' Median Prices- Single Family Homes October 2021
Single-Family Home Prices by County October 2021

As you can see in the graphs below, median condo prices were mixed across regions and counties. Counties in the North Bay and Silicon Valley saw the largest gains.

Bay Area Regions' Median Prices - Condos October 2021
Condo Prices by County October 2021

Single-family home inventory began to climb at the start of 2021 in anticipation of the spring season, when more sellers typically come to market, but has begun to decline once again. To gain a full picture of the current market, we must view it in the context of last year. In 2020, fewer people wanted to leave the Greater Bay Area, and more people wanted to move here. This trend drove inventory down to record low levels. New listings, therefore, improve the current market conditions. In August 2021, the total inventory in the Greater Bay Area had fewer homes for sale than it did in August 2020, so the higher number of new listings is a positive development for the housing market. The sustained low inventory will likely cause prices to remain stable or appreciate throughout 2021.

North Bay Inventory - Single-Family Homes October 2021
East Bay Inventory - Single-Family Homes October 2021
Silicon Valley Inventory - Single-Family Homes October 2021

San Francisco Inventory - Single-Family Homes October 2021

Both single-family homes and condos spent less time on the market in August 2021 than they did in August of last year. As we’ll see, the pace of sales has contributed to the low Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) over the past several months.

Greater Bay Area Days on Market October 2021
Days on Market by County October 2021

We can use MSI as a metric to judge whether the market favors buyers or sellers. The average MSI is three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than three indicates that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI indicates there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). In August 2021, single-family home MSI remained below two months of supply, indicating that the market still strongly favors sellers.

Greater Bay Area Months of Supply Inventory October 2021
MSI by County August 2021

Summary

In summary, the high demand and low supply in the Greater Bay Area have driven home prices up over the last year, but the huge price appreciation is slowing. Inventory will likely remain historically low this year with the sustained high demand in the area. Overall, the housing market has shown its value through the pandemic and remains one of the most valuable asset classes. The data show that housing has remained consistently strong throughout this period. 

We expect the number of new listings to slow in the coming months. However, the current market conditions can withstand a high number of new listings, and more sellers may choose to enter the market to capitalize on the high buyer demand. We expect the high demand to continue, and new houses on the market to sell quickly.

As always, we remain committed to helping our clients achieve their current and future real estate goals. Our team of experienced professionals are happy to discuss the information we’ve shared in this newsletter. We welcome you to contact us with any questions about the current market or to request an evaluation of your home or condo.

Planning to buy or sell your home? Give us a call: 925-415-0835!

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