San Rafael, CA Real Estate (October 2009)

San Rafael, California’s real estate market continues leaning heavily on foreclosures and short sales for volume. The entry level price band (under $600K) remains at a slow boil with 64% of home are now in escrow, same as last month. Meanwhile, the $600K to $800K price band (a mix of entry level and move-up homes) rose to 38% of homes in escrow from 31% in September 2009).

It is no secret that our current real estate environment favors buyers, not only because of the state of the market (e.g., prices back down to 2003 levels in many cases), but also because of superior interest rates, FHA loan availability (allowing purchase loans up to $729,000 with 3.5% down), and a shifting mindset by both buyers (who are ready to pull the trigger) and sellers (who are ready to do what it takes to sell).

Housing inventory for single family homes in San Rafael fell to 154 homes (from 169 last month). It is interesting to note that while San Rafael’s inventory has risen and its percentage of homes in escrow has dropped, Novato (the next city north) has experienced the opposite. In fact, in the move up market, Novato sales rates eclipse San Rafael’s by a long-shot.

As reported this Summer, San Rafael listing prices experienced a brief rise, but that trend has reversed and resumed its downward trajectory. By comparison, asking prices in Novato have been rising for several months, leading many to believe that the bottom has formed in Novato. It does not appear this phenomenon is being replicated in San Rafael.

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