Mill Valley CA. Real Estate Market Report (August 2009 Home Sales Update)

The Mill Valley, CA. real estate market remains predictably unpredictable — after just 17 sales in May 2009, we had a robust 29 sales in June 2009, followed by 22 sales in July 2009. As I noted in last month’s report, the decline in sales numbers this month was expected as families focus more on vacations and outside activities. And September will bring even fewer home sales, along with a moderate rise in inventory and increased buyer activity.

Over the past quarter in much of Marin County, it has become apparent that asking prices have halted their downward spiral. As is evident in the graph below, which tracks the median price per square foot (down from $740 to $615), in Mid-June 2009 prices flattened out in Mill Valley. It will be interesting to see whether this flattening out carries over into the sales prices of homes trading this Fall and Winter.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research
Based on last month’s sales total of 22, we currently have an overall inventory of homes sufficient to last about 5.45 months (up from 4.6 months in July 2009) — this is called the absorption rate. This is a HUGE reduction from the absorption rate from May 2009, which stood at well over 8 months. A big reason for the lower absorption rate is the reduced inventory as sellers removed thier homes from the market for the Summer — we currently have just 120 active listings.
While not discussed by most real estate agents, the absorption rate is an important barometer of market health. Below is a graph showing that in 2009, Mill Valley has consistently outperformed 2008 in terms of homes absorbed. Thus, while many agents seem despondent and unenthusiastic about the market, the truth is that things are much better than last year and continue improving. I predict that sales activity will increase significantly in the late Fall and into the Winter months, not only because of continued favorable interest rates, but also because I think there are many “real buyers” out there who have been waiting for “a sign” to buy — I don’t know what that sign will be (there are likely to be many “signs”), but it will come soon for “real buyers.”
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