NOTE: Shifting Market in Play is an article we did for the Examiner in December, when asked to comment on 2016—A Year in Review: This is a link to the original article.

In order to understand our current housing market, one must appreciate that markets are constantly in flux. In our town of Belmont, we looked at home sales and compared the periods from January thru November for years 2015 and 2016.

Let’s first discuss the market conditions. There’s a lot of hyperbole as to the state of our current housing market. Sellers are still in the mindset that they hold all of the cards, yet buyers are beginning to push back on prices. Sellers are receiving fewer offers, many have had to lower their asking prices, and homes are often times closing below the asking price—something that rarely happened from 2012-2015. This suggests a shifting market.

Clearly, the sky is not falling, the shift is towards a more normal market, where homes sit on the market longer, and may sell above, at, or below the seller’s asking price. This long awaited market shift is not a correction, but rather a predictable and healthy move towards a more balanced and sustainable market. To be blunt, prices have risen to a level at which the majority of buyers can no longer afford the median priced home, resulting in a cooling down effect on the housing market.

We first examined all of the home sales in Belmont that occurred in 2015 through November in order to compare those with the same period of home sales in 2016. We added no search filter other than the date range, since the larger the pool of sales, the more reliable the data.

2015 2016 % ∆
Sales 178 181 1.7%
Median Home Price $1,516,500 $1,389,000 -8.4%
Home ft² 1850 1760 -4.9%
$/ft² 830 856 3.1%
DOM (Days on market) 12 11 -8.3%
% Received 114.5 107.2 -6.4%
Price Reductions 9 19 111.1%
For How Much $120,638 $118,477 -1.8%
Sold Over Asking 156 149 -4.5%
Sold At Asking 6 10 66.7%
Sold Under Asking 16 22 37.5%


It’s clear that a market shift has occurred. Note that the median home price reflects a significant decrease year over year (YOY), and part of that is simply because smaller homes sold in 2016 skewing the numbers. But in almost every category there’s a distinct shift towards a more normal market. There were fewer homes selling for more than the asking price and the ones that did sell over asking sold for 33% less over asking than in 2015. There were more cancelled listings, and more price reductions for greater amounts. The inventory of homes for sale is growing—up from 0.3 to 0.7 months of inventory (still considered seller’s territory).

On a more macro-level, when we look at the San Francisco Metropolitan Statistical Area (SFMSA) as produced by Case-Shiller for Standard and Poor’s, which encompasses the counties of Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo, one can see that while the YOY increase in their index was a rise of almost 15%, there was only a nominal 0.5% increase in home values since April.

How long will the new normal market continue? We’ll save that wild card question for other talking heads. Nobody really knows of course, and anybody that professes to know should give you cause for concern. However, the market appears to have hit a price threshold. As fewer buyers can qualify for the median priced home, more sellers will be getting less windfall profits like they did during the meteoric rise over the last three years.

Drew & Christine Morgan are REALTORS/NOTARY PUBLIC in Belmont, CA with RE/MAX Star Propeties. with more than 20 years of experience in helping sellers and buyers in their community. They may be reached at (650) 508.1441 or emailed at

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The information contained in this article is educational and intended for informational purposes only. It does not constitute real estate, tax or legal advice, nor does it substitute for advice specific to your situation. Always consult an appropriate professional familiar with your scenario.

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