Marin County, California, Luxury Homes Report (April 2009–Sales and Inventory Analysis)
Despite my self-imposed limited media diet, I do read headlines. And the headlines are becoming more optimistic. This is a prerequisite for increased buyer confidence. I remain convinced that with minimal social proof, buyers will return to the market and pent-up demand will create a surge in sales figures. Increased conforming loan limits and a pronounced level of increased affordability across the board is a recipe for sales. Buyers with 25% down (and who otherwise qualify) will be able to obtain top-shelf financing for purchases of a little over $1.6 million. While that is not “Luxury” territory here in Marin, many potential move-up buyers of luxury homes must sell their homes first (it is said that 80% of buyers are also sellers) and this will be a big step in the right direction. And interest rates are a full 1-point lower today than they were last year. Certainly, the pump is primed as there are nearly 60 active escrows on homes priced $1 million and up (again, move-up buyers typically need to sell their current home). For national trends, click here — April 2009, Institute for Luxury Home Marketing. Note, if you would like a local report relating to any town or zip code in Marin or San Francisco, call (415) 350-9440.
As noted above, we are seeing greater activity so far this year as the number of homes in escrow has increased and buyer enthusiasm is improved. Open houses have been extremely busy in all price bands with 30-50 groups being reported for new listings in desirable locales. Offers are being written. And our agents are noting a more focused approach by buyers. We are also starting to see buyers lose out on properties they love because they figured there was no urgency in writing an offer. The graph below reflects a 90-day rolling average of asking prices for homes in the topmost quartile (e.g. prices of the most expensive homes) in 3 touchstone Marin County cities: Tiburon, Mill Valley, and Kentfield. As you can see, over the past year, prices have declined in each. Note however, that a few homes in Kentfield marketed early last year were priced at the extreme high end, resulting in an exaggerated shift.