East Bay Real Estate Market Report
It’s All About the Buyers, the ’Burbs, and Big Yards. Plus: Wild Animal Encounters
Tired of being cooped up during the pandemic, homebuyers are swarming onto the East Bay real estate market in search of ‘burbs, big yards, and bigger homes.
“I have buyers coming out of the woodwork,” Abio Realtor Tracy Butler says. “They are getting tired of sheltering in place and working from home in their 800-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment.”
Here’s what those hopeful homebuyers are finding: fewer homes for sale than last summer, multiple offer situations, and climbing prices. It sounds more like a market report from 2017 than what you’d expect during a pandemic-induced recession, right?
For example, Tracy recently helped a couple write an offer on an Oakland home, only to learn they were among 15 bidders.
“The biggest story right now is about the tight inventory,” adds Abio Associate Broker Elisabeth Watson.
We analyzed market stats from this June vs. June 2019 and found that median home sales prices rose in almost all the cities we’re tracking, including Oakland, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Walnut Creek, Albany, Richmond, Martinez, Concord, and Alamo. (See our detailed charts below.)
The number of homes for sale took a nosedive since the start of shelter-in-place. But sellers are easing back into the market now that they see demand is as high as ever and that real estate agents are getting the hang of virtual marketing.
Here are the other headlines:
We are seeing that detached single-family homes with 2+ bedrooms and yards are flying off the “shelves.” Why? After sheltering-in-place, working from home, and homeschooling for months, buyers want MORE SPACE (yep, screaming for it in all caps).
Today’s buyers especially are attracted to properties with extra room to build an accessory dwelling unit or ADU to house their home office, out-of-work college grad, or aging parents.
Where are the sellers going?
Sellers who can work from home and aren’t tied to their employer’s location are finally moving to their dream locations.
Some of our urban Oakland and San Francisco clients are moving to more spacious and less expensive areas like Tahoe, northern Marin, Sonoma, and Oregon. Abio co-founder Linnette Edwards has a Walnut Creek seller who, because of the pandemic, decided to retire early and move to Puerto Vallarta.
We also hear that traditional vacation home markets are heating up: Sea Ranch, Tahoe, Graeagle on the way to Reno. If you can work from anywhere, why not head for the mountains or the coast?
“With high speed, fiber optic internet service, lots of outdoor spaces to walk, and soul-reviving views, homes for sale on The Sea Ranch are moving faster than they have since before the Great Recession,” Elisabeth says.
Lure of low interest rates
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate remains at a historic low – about 3.03%. The 15-year fixed-rate average is around 2.51%.
Surely that’s what is luring home buyers, especially first-timers, into the market. Nationwide mortgage applications are 33% higher than a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Our friends at JVM Lending based in Walnut Creek reported they formally pre-approved a whopping 268 borrowers for home purchases in June. “This was an all-time record for us and up over 100% from last June, when we only pre-approved 124 borrowers,” founder Jay Voorhees wrote in a recent newsletter.
Trout and tortoises
As real estate agents, we encounter some pretty interesting characters. If it were a competition, this summer’s win would go to Abio Realtor Felicia Mares.
Felicia finds herself working around Celester of Livermore, who wants to stay home while Felicia shows the property to potential buyers. Celester is a 10-year-old African spurred tortoise.
“We’re going to hang a little sign outside introducing him,” which will be a fun distraction during tours, Felicia says.
Celester and his family are selling their home at 253 Junco Avenue (coming soon) and heading to Placer County.
Then came the trouble with trout at 450 33rd St. in Richmond. The home sale includes an aquaponics pond filled with 40 trout, whose waste serves as fertilizer for garden beds. While the home was on the market, an unexpected overnight power outage and air pump failure lead to the demise of 39 fish.
“I jumped into action and ordered an overnight shipment of 100 trout for the new buyer,” Felicia says. “The sellers helped get the new fish acclimated to their new environment. The lone survivor didn’t fit in with his new family anymore (he was full-grown while all the new fish were tiny), so the sellers took him to a friend’s house who has a huge pond. So now he got a new home too!”
Never a dull moment in real estate!
Now for the numbers…
Contra Costa County
Want to know more about how the East Bay real estate market is behaving during these uncertain times? Abio Properties is always here to answer your questions and tell it straight. Contact us at at 888-400-ABIO (2246) or firstname.lastname@example.org.