The Sky Isn’t Falling But The Market is Slowing

Chicken+Little+Sky+FallingA public announcement from your full-service real estate column:  Remember to turn your clocks back or you’ll be out of sync with tomorrow’s open houses. Might miss something really good.
 
There are probably more than a few Buyers out there who’d like to turn their clocks back a year or two.  To a time when home prices and mortgage rates were lower.
 
Remember when we finally hit bottom and a great big window of opportunity for aspiring Buyers suddenly began to emerge from the doom and gloom?
 
In January of 2012 the Median Home Price in Santa Cruz County was  $425,000 and mortgage rates had dipped to 3.9%.  A couple of months ago (September 2013) our Median Price was $640,000 and prevailing rates were at 4.49%.  Wow. What happened?
 
Despite a significant surge in prices, Sellers are still more prone to remember the Median Price from September of 2005 & 2006 .  A whopping $750,000. Lots of them would love to turn the clock back to re-experience those bubble years. Some still think they can.  Check a few of the list prices we’ve seen recently.
 
The past is the past.  The market isn’t about to plunge into the dark ages of the great recession OR   ride the Way Back Machine to the epic boom that preceded it. 
 
We don’t get to go further back than 1 hour.  This whole clock thing isn’t a reprieve from fate.  It’s simply a device to bring a little more daylight into our lives as we move towards 2014.
 
In preparation let’s shed some light on where real estate is at right now.
 
Without question and in no uncertain terms… the market has slowed. 
 
Relax. I’m not Chicken Little. The sky isn’t falling and the market hasn’t disappeared.  And it’s not going to.
 
But we do have to resign ourselves to the fact that we can’t continue coasting on the same wave of heightened frenzy that market perception has been living off of since February/March/April. 
 
Some of you remember how crazy it was. Ten offers first day. Over full price. All cash/no contingency/quick-close.  It did feel like 2005 reincarnated.  For a while at least.
 
The competition for homes was so strong  I wrote a 7 week series on how Buyers could increase their chances in one of those multiple offer situations that felt more like a steel cage wrestling match.
 
Not any more.  Two or three offers maybe – with a little luck and good Seller karma.  More days on market. Numbers of pending sales and actual sales down.  Fewer calls. Fewer e mails. Fewer web hits.  Fewer Buyers coming through open houses.
 
Six months ago most new homes came on the MLS with standard language announcing that all multiple offers would be reviewed on a pre-set date.  Multiple offers were a given.
 
The listing was entered on a Tuesday.  Brokers open Thursday. Saturday and Sunday open houses.  And then whammo! Have offers ready by Tuesday at 5pm. Be prepared to stand in line to present them.
 
These days, Sellers who assume in advance that they’ll certainly have multiple offers by a certain date are pretty much risking certain embarrassment for shooting themselves in the foot.  Those same offers aren’t out there hanging like ripe fruit. The bucks aren’t flowing so freely.  Buyers aren’t jumping in with such wild abandon.
 
Get used to it .We are have moved into a different phase. The market has come a long way. But it hasn’t come all the way.  And that might not be all bad for either Buyers or Sellers.
 
 Next Week:  The three most important words in the new real estate vocabulary:  Inventory, Inventory, Inventory.

Share

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s