Real Estating During COVID-19: New SiP Orders, East Bay Home Sales, Mortgage News…and Paper Airplanes 

Real Estating During COVID-19: New SiP Orders, East Bay Home Sales, Mortgage News…and Paper Airplanes 


MAY 1, 2020 – It’s been more than a month since we began sheltering-in-place. Today is either Groundhog Day or Leap Day or International Sweatpants Day.

During these weird and worrisome times, we’ve been working from home, wearing masks, flattening the curve, cheering for health care workers, homeschooling our kids, baking bread, and …

… Trying to figure out what the heck is happening with home sales in the East Bay during the pandemic.

Well, Abio Properties is on it! Here’s the latest news:


This just in: More “essential” businesses named

residential construction as essential service

Starting May 4, our counties’ shelter-in-place health orders will ease up on certain “essential services” that directly impact the business of selling and buying homes.

  • Construction and landscaping may resume, as long as social distancing and specific construction safety protocols are followed.
  • Physical staging of homes will be allowed in Contra Costa County. Other counties might soon follow. Stay tuned.
  • Open houses remain prohibited. However...
  • We will be allowed to show seller-occupied homes by appointment if a virtual showing is not feasible, and the occupant is not in residence. Appointment-only individual tours of vacant homes are still preferable. Only one agent may show a property to a maximum of two people from the same household at a time.


April real estate market snapshot

The Bay East Association of Realtors just issued a special mid-month report to appease those of us who are clutching the edges of our seats and dying to know how the residential market is shaking out.

BEAR compared market activity during April 1-15 to the same period in 2019, which you'll see below. We also added our own findings specifically for Oakland and Berkeley. (Thank you, Abio Associate Broker and super researcher Diana Smith!)
Median sales prices rose

  • 880 Corridor: +14%
  • West Contra Costa County: +11%
  • Central Contra Costa County: +3%
  • Lamorinda: -4%
  • Tri-Valley: +10%
  • Delta: +7%
  • Berkeley: +14%
  • Oakland: +24.7%

Number of homes sold declined

  • 880 Corridor: -33%
  • West Contra Costa County: -18%
  • Central Contra Costa County: -44%
  • Lamorinda: -15%
  • Tri-Valley: -27%
  • Delta: -18%
  • Berkeley: -20%
  • Oakland: -29%

Pending sales fell

  • 880 Corridor: -44%
  • West Contra Costa County: -45%
  • Central Contra Costa County: -38%
  • Lamorinda: -47%
  • Tri-Valley: -68%
  • Delta: -38%
  • Berkeley: -81%
  • Oakland: -56%

Our interpretation: Fewer homes will go on the market this spring. And the ones that do might sell for still-hot Bay Area prices because of pent up buyer demand. Don't bank on it, of course, because these days we are watching the numbers constantly spin around like a Las Vegas slot machine.


Reports from the field

Here’s what we’re seeing with our own eyes:

  • Multiple offers: Abio co-founder Linnette Edwards reports that homes in Oakland and Berkeley are still receiving multiple offers with no contingencies. This week, she helped a client write an offer for a home that received 20 bids! Why? Pent up demand in a low-inventory market.
  • Clayton and the Northgate neighborhood are hot: Realtor Mary Anne LaHaye says new listings are exploding onto the market and moving quickly.
  • Transparent pricing: Abio agents like associate broker Elisabeth Watson are seeing (and recommending) that sellers price their homes transparently, at the exact amount they are willing to accept. No aspirational pricing. No artificially low prices to lure multiple over-asking offers. No games. It’s too risky to play around during uncertain times.
  • Vacant homes: Everyone agrees that selling a vacant home vs. an occupied home is the key to a fast sale! If you can move out, do it.
  • Zoom, Facebook Live, and Insta open houses: They're happening! We're seeing creative agents conduct live virtual tours followed by Q&A sessions.


Mortgage news

During our recent “Say Hey” agency meeting, we invited senior mortgage advisor Todd Galde with Commerce Home Mortgage to Zoom in with the latest lending news. His highlights:

  • 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages fell to 3.43% last week, a historic low.
  • Lenders are skittish, which is understandable considering that “7% of all mortgages in the country have taken advantage of forbearance (late payment relief). The numbers are absolutely staggering, and it's leaving investors with massive losses on the back end.”
  • Lenders are demanding higher credit scores and preferring lower loan-to-value ratios. “So we're doing a lot of credit repair a ton of people in the 695 range to get those scores up above 700.”
  • Don't count on getting a jumbo loan if you’re eyeing an expensive home and need to borrow more than what traditional loan limits allow, which is $510,400 in most parts of the country and $765,600 in the expensive Bay Area. Cautious lenders are shunning non-conforming loans. (Note: We recently learned that Wells Fargo is among the lenders who have returned to approving jumbos. So never say never.)
  • What’s the alternative if you need a larger loan? Consider adding a line of equity for a second mortgage. “There are solutions. You just have to be creative and think outside the box,” Todd said.


Committed to your health and safety

East Bay home sales update

Mask creativity from 


We absolutely will continue doing everything we can to help you buy or sell your home – SAFELY.

We will show a home in person only after all online and virtual resources have been viewed. (Abio is doing amazing things with virtual tours, staging, videos, and 3D walk-throughs!) We will show only to recently qualified buyers. Showings are by appointment only and appropriately spaced to allow for cleaning and safety. A coronavirus Property Entry Advisory and Declaration form (PEAD) is required for any visitor entering a property with an occupant.


Keep your eye on the airplane

6011 Chelton must-see video

We keep mentioning the magic of virtual home tours and videos. Well, this new video for 6011 Chelton Drive in Oakland is a must-watch to the very end. We bet a property video never made you wipe away a tear before!

We hope you take away the message that kindness and compassion will carry us through the pandemic and the inconveniences of sheltering in place.

We will emerge stronger than before!

Your Abio Properties Family
We're always here to answer your questions, alleviate worries, and tell it straight. Contact us at at 888-400-ABIO (2246) or


Catch up with our latest #QuarantineCooking feature: Lasso Yourself Some Wild Yeast for Sourdough Starter!

#QuarantineCooking DIY sourdough starter