Inventory Tight, Prices Rising…and Some Homes Still Aren’t Selling?

If there is one thing that continues to smack me between the eyes about Real Estate, it’s that timing is truly everything. In January’s New Year blog, I suggested that 2016 should be a strong year for some sellers because of all the fundamentals – lack of inventory pushing up prices being at the top of the list. I expected, especially in the under $600,000 market, that we could easily see another 5-6% appreciation like we experienced in 2015…and we already have that. Ironically, we actually are behind 2015 April Pendings by about 20%, because of the lack of inventory. This is creating a strange and unusual occurrence in the market. Many people with nice starter homes aren’t selling them, even though they would like to, because there aren’t many available homes to move up to. So they just stay put. Many people with larger homes, with kids out of the house, are ready to downsize. But we don’t have the smaller homes, and especially single story homes that would potentially interest them. So they just stay put. Those that are pursuing moving in a tight market are loving the reaction they get as a seller, and not loving trying to buy in a tight market. The first time buyers are driving the prices up of starter condos and small homes like it was 2004, with multiple offers happening on about anything in decent condition. And because sellers of these properties are fighting over limited quality homes in the $500,000-$800,000 range, that part of the market has caught fire too.

Here are some examples from the first quarter. Condos in parts of Canyon Country that you practically couldn’t give away a few years ago, sell immediately. The 2 bedroom plus loft on Sierra Highway that was at $210,000 last summer is today $250,000. The townhome in Valencia Northbridge that was $325000 last summer is today $370,000 and good luck finding one. In Santa Clarita, if you want to buy something under $300,000 many agents will simply say they can’t help you. For the move up buyers, what was $735,000 in that same Northbridge Valencia area last summer (5 beds and a pool) is today pushing $800,000. In fact, I just closed escrow on 27306 Blueridge at $825,000. It is one of only two sales over $800,000 in the last 2 years, but it won’t be the last. Its been years since homes like that were over $800,000, but they are again, at least for now. Even more head slapping is the Copper Hill North part of Saugus. Last summer there were over 20 homes for sale over 2,500 square feet. Many were on the market over 60 days. Many had to reduce their price to sell. Some didn’t sell and came off the market. Those same homes if they come back on the market now would find only a few homes they compete against and likely sell with virtually no changes in condition or price….simply because they compete against so little compared to last summer. So, as they say, timing is indeed everything.

So why are some homes still sitting, sometimes for months at a time? That can be even more head scratching! In my discussions with other top agents, they have described this market as “weird,” “unpredictable,” “erratic” and my personal favorite “I don’t even know what to tell sellers over $800,000 anymore.” And I’m getting this from agents all around Southern California too. In short, if you have a home in Santa Clarita under $800,000 and it isn’t getting offers, you are either in a weird pocket where there isn’t much demand or there is a problem with your condition. If you are over $800,000 and especially over $1,000,000, the market can be tricky. Sometimes, one home in a neighborhood will sell immediately while others sit for months. In the same neighborhood! A perfect example came last month when I put a single story on the market in Circle J at $1,150,000. There were 5 others on the market, many for months, all without having seen offers. My single story had been on the market before with other agents and hadn’t sold. With a few small changes we sold at almost asking price in 10 days. How would you like to be those other 5 sellers wondering what the heck just happened? On the flip side, I have a terrific Westridge view home for sale at $999,900 with plenty of showings. Four agents have called me stating they expect to write an offer and not one has. Because of the lack of competing homes, it wouldn’t surprise me if I bring the seller two offers out of the blue…or that it takes me another 6 weeks to sell it. It’s just that unpredictable in this part of the market. Buyers looking, maybe not always offering. I am seeing this finally start to change though. There is so little for sale in Stevenson Ranch that homes that would have been $750,000 6 months ago are coming on the market at $850,000. I’m showing them because there isn’t anything else to show our buyers! Are they overpriced? Maybe, but if they sell, maybe not. The sellers of those starter homes that are buying and driving up prices in Saugus in the $700,000+ market are starting to be seen in the slightly higher price points of Westridge and Stevenson Ranch. Again, timing is truly everything, and in the over one million market, patience may be mandatory.