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Here is some interesting information.
On the sunny November Sunday morning following the election of Barack Obama to be our next president, there are, according to the MLS, 172 single family homes for sale in Albany, Berkeley and the Oakland zip codes 94618 and 94609. The average number of days these 172 actively for sale homes have been for sale is 66. The average asking price per square foot is $448.
During the entire year of 2006, according to the MLS, 932 single family homes sold in this same area. The average number of days these homes were on the market, from listing to pending, was 21 days. The average asking price per square foot was $510. The average selling price per square foot was $531.
During the year 2007, again according to the MLS, 836 single family homes sold in this area. The average number of days on the market was 26. The average asking price per square foot was $516. The average selling price per square foot was $540.
During 2008, from January 1st to November 9th, the MLS tells us that 560 single family homes sold in this area. The average number of days on the market was 22. The average asking price per square foot was $485. The average selling price per square foot was $496.
Let's ponder. This is really raw data. It doesn't reflect the nuances as to better and worse neighborhoods and the strategies of sellers and buyers. But it still tells us some significant things.
In 2006 and 2007 the market was booming and prices went up. This year prices are down, although the average number of days on the market is about the same as 2006 and less than 2007, and the selling price is still higher than the asking price. This means that some well priced properties still sell quickly with more than one offer.
There are some real values out there. As with stocks, timing the real estate market is difficult. In general, prices are down. No one knows if we have reached the bottom yet. Prices may go down a little further, but last spring was pretty hot, even though the loan crisis had begun, and this spring may be hot again, what with the changes portended by the election.
The winter is always a good time to buy because there are fewer buyers in the market and there is frequently more possibility of negotiating. This winter may be even better than the last few, since for the last few years you could hardly tell the difference between different times of the year as far as selling houses was concerned. So if you intend to stay in your new house for awhile, this is a good time for you.
This is also a good time to buy up. Even though you may get less for your current house than you might have a year or two ago, you will pay proportionately less for the new one. Down-sizing may present more challenges. But keep your eye peeled and your mind open. What with all the foreclosure threats and mortgages changing for the worse, the opportunity may still come along.
There are always things that come up that make people sell their houses. Job changes, a 2nd child, divorce, death, opportunity. If one of these things comes up in your life, then do things as well as you can and try not to live in the past. A good real estate agent with a good marketing plan should help you get the best price possible.
This morning's paper has a picture of a woman who has had her Richmond house for sale for more than two years. She is quoted as saying "I'm not going to give it away." Two years ago, houses were still selling like hot cakes. She obviously over-priced her house then, and, even though she has lowered the price during the time it has been for sale, she is still too high. Her "strategy" is to wait. If she had been realistic two years ago, she would be happily living somewhere else right now with more money than she is likely to get if she finally does sell. If you have a good reason to sell your house, then price it realistically and get on with life.
Having the money in the bank and knowing where you stand, is the best preparation for the next phase.
Jerry Longs's Previous Market News for East Bay Area Real Estate