Sebastopol recorded 24 residential sales in June which helped bring the first half of 2011 to a close with 102 homes sold. That matches nearly exactly the figures from the first half of 2010, but without the First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit that drove many buyers into the market in 2010 in search of tax credits. This year we also have a more challenging lending environment with tough qualifying standards and higher down payments required more frequently.
The mix of REO, short sale and open market sales (shown as NONE in the charts) varied significantly from month to month so far this year, but the samples size is too small to draw any useful significance. It’s enough to note that Sebastopol home sales include mainly open market and REO sales with a decent proportion of short sales thrown into the mix.
One of the anomalies of Sebastopol that has persisted for years is a slower reaction to the housing bubble bursting than the rest of the County. Most other cities in Sonoma County showed significant valuation declines until early 2009 and have maintained a reasonably stable price plateau since then. Sebastopol, on the other hand, maintained bubble-level pricing somewhat longer and has continued to search for a market bottom.
To illustrate this, please look at the Sonoma 2006-2011 chart and find the first month that the average price dropped below $600,000 and then find the same price drop in the Sebastopol chart. (For non-chart-followers, it was August of 2008 for Sonoma and not until March of 2009 for Sebastopol. Prices in Sonoma fell all the way under the $400,000 barrier for several months in that early 2009 time frame, but have since recovered and haven’t tested the $400,000 floor again since then.
Sebastopol, on the other hand, continued to have price declines after spring 2009 and has had several months in the first half of this year with the lowest numbers in the five years of the chart’s time frame. I have a few ideas why Sebastopol remained strong early, but is currently a softer market than Sonoma, but I don’t think anyone has a definitive answer.
In any case, Sebastopol home sales closed out the first six months of the year in strong fashion. I expect this desirable town will continue to have a strong real estate market. Great schools, charming country properties, and a pleasing climate all add to the charm of Sebastopol and make it a must-visit town for prospective Sonoma County home buyers.