Piranha Buyers Eat Sellers’ Surge

A tight real estate market benefits sellers. Prices rise due to competition from buyers and the limited inventory helps awkward homes sell. The real estate community at large anticipated that this year savvy sellers would finally bring their houses to the market to capitalize on these trends. One simple graph highlights the good news that sellers are finally entering the market, at least in the price tiers that matter to a large number of purchasers. (click on any graphic to enlarge it.)

Real Estate Sales Trends in Sonoma County
Sales Trends in Sonoma County

The chart features information on all homes in Sonoma County in the $400,000 to $600,000 price range. The column that demonstrates the increased inventory is on the far right. It shows that in March of this year there were 352 homes for sale in this price range. That’s in comparison to only 210 homes two years ago. That’s a 67% increase. Good news, right?

Unfortunately, the next graphic, a real estate hotsheet,  shows that in spite of the best efforts of sellers to increase inventory, buyers have been even more adept at snapping up homes they liked. As of April 26, less than a month after the chart showing more homes for sale, the active inventory is back down to 216 homes in this price range. We had a one month blip in which the inventory was elevated, but the real estate market is still defined by too many buyers chasing too few homes.

Hotsheet showing status of recent listings
Sonoma County Real Estate Hotsheet
The hotsheet is a very simple tool that real estate agents produce every day to see which properties have come on the market or been sold. This hotsheet is for 30 days for all of Sonoma County for homes priced in our 400K to 600K price range.  The key area of interest for this post is the status in the fourth column. Remember that the only homes on this list have come on the market in the last 30 days.

The status buyers like to see is “Active”. That means the house is still for sale. Every other status indicates the house is in some stage of contract and the house is effectively off the market. This screen shot shows that 12 out of the 38 listings on the page are available. The other 26 have all had accepted offers.  One has already sold and three houses are pending, which means they are just waiting for the closing date and all contingencies have been released. For buyers…OUCH.

The moral of this story is the same as it has been for more than a year. If you are interested in selling your house, the market will likely bring you buyers. If you are a buyer and find a house you like, write an offer. Waiting is not an effective strategy in real estate today.