The East Bay Summer Market: Dynamic or in the Doldrums?

by arlene on August 2, 2014

The second half of this year started off for me with a bang, and not just from all the fireworks in the area!  On the first of July I got buyers who are moving over from San Francisco into contract with their first offer. They fell in love with a bungalow in Temescal with tremendous original Arts & Crafts details, some of which had been replicated in a newer kitchen remodel. They faced tough competition, but even going considerably over list price, they felt they were getting a much better value in the East Bay than what they could have purchased in San Francisco.I was also pleased to have buyers be able to take possession of their new home in the El Cerrito hills just in time to see fireworks from their deck! My previous listing that I called the Treehouse Townhouse was one popular property! After sending out 26 disclosure packages, we received 11 offers. Listed at $510K, eight of the offers were in the $600’s, and four were $625K and above. Finding an attractive home well below the median price in Berkeley is a real challenge. My sellers benefitted greatly from the dearth of options–as well as from the Treehouse being private, ultra charming, and wonderfully close to amenities. So the view of the East Bay summer market from the perspective of my clients seems very warm, appropriate for summer.

1651 Oxford 09

I’m so hoping that my current listing, designed by J.W. Plachek for the grandparents of my sellers, will receive a similar response. It has great original details, a super convenient location, and a surprising deep back garden.  You can check that out at 

As we begin the month of August, I can continue to share individual stories that make my jaw drop. There are still some “sexy beasts”: properties that have that “wow” factor that inspire remarkable overbidding. During the past two weeks there continue to be examples in North Berkeley, Rockridge and most recently in the Grand/Lake area. These are the properties that seem to have location, charm and condition, and inspire bidding of more than 50% over list. One of those didn’t even provide off-street parking, but it still received 14 offers and went 62% over list.

But sometimes our individual perspectives are quite different from the broader market picture. In my world, and that of my clients, lots of competition and over-bidding is still the norm. But in the six-city market I cover, inventory overall is actually up by 50% compared with this time last year. Sales are starting to slow. We’re hearing of more listings failing to sell and being pulled off the market. And one of the most striking data points I discovered was the percentage of properties that linger on the market beyond the normal marketing schedule. We usually have two Sunday open homes before hearing offers, so properties are on the market 14-16 days before a pending sale. I took a look at active inventory on July 2, and again today, August 2. Both months the results were identical: exactly half of the active properties in Berkeley, and almost 2/3’s of the properties in Oakland failed to receive any offers on their scheduled offer date. That’s a significant change from the early spring market. Are those homes not selling because they were priced too high initially, or just not terribly desirable for other reasons? Is this really a market shift? I noted with interest that a very high percentage of the homes in Berkeley that were still on the market after three weeks were listed by agents who are not from this area. “Seriously local” experience and expertise really does make a difference!



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