The East Bay Autumn Market: Does it become more vibrant like the leaves, or cool with the weather?

by arlene on October 24, 2016



I love this time of year, with the transition to autumn and the turning of colors. And I’m one who really looks forward to celebrating Halloween. I suspect there will be some especially scary politician costumes this Halloween–or are they out there already?!

I want to share a bit of  what it looks like behind-the-scenes as a Realtor.  I was recently awakened by a call from new buyers, a pair of professors who are accepting positions at Cal. They wanted to write an offer on what turned out to be the most popular home in Berkeley these past two weeks. Imagine the challenge of needing to educate them quickly, on the phone–and on a bank holiday–about the wild and crazy over-bidding in our area, vs. a much lower and slower market in the mid-west. I needed to explain the need to submit a contingency-free offer if they wished to be competitive, and to give them a crash-course in the physical quirkiness of our older homes. I needed to urge them to get a new pre-approval in just 24 hours, as their existing lender would not be a match for a house needing pest work.

As an object lesson I used my last listing on Fulton Street, that was much smaller than the property that interested them in Northbrae, on a wonderful block of Sonoma Avenue. My listing was small: 1079 sq. ft. and it sold, after my strategic negotiating, at $1,150,000:  54% over list. That result feels so wonderful when I’m representing the sellers! But next day I must go out on tour on behalf of my buyers, and that’s quite a different experience. I knew that the new buyers’ offer had little likelihood of success, given that more than a dozen offers had been confirmed the previous day. In the end 17 offers were written, and we were somewhere in the bottom half, having written at just about 20% over list.* But they needed to experience our market for themselves, and I am very proud that they were able and willing to make a decision quickly to jump in, even in an extreme situation. With that motivation, and now with more experience, I know they will succeed soon in acquiring a home, and I look forward to being their guide!

*[A market update: I now know that the Sonoma home, listed at $1,095M has a back-up offer at $1.625M, and is believed to be in contract at $1.65M!]

The question of the hour is: will the real estate market follow weather patterns? Some pundits are already seeing some cooling off in the less urban areas of California, as well as in the high price points. So far, with the exception of the Sonoma Ave. house, I’m seeing fewer offers on average, but not necessarily lower sales prices. On average the Berkeley median has declined this month from an all-time high of $1.2M, but Kensington has hit its own record level of $1.1M.  As the days shorten and we prepare for the first rains of the season, will there be fewer options, leading to more over-bidding? Or will colder, wetter weather actually dampen the market? And how will the election impact local real estate? I fear there are no macro-patterns to rely on. And so I continue to search house by house, week by week, hoping to find the best matches for all of my buyers.

Wishing you a colorful autumn, a wicked Halloween…and healing of our nation after the elections!

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