Back in November 2022, we wrote an article titled “The Big Risk in Gambling on Bay Area Home Values” where we predicted that this day would come. We expected that Q1 in 2023 would see a significant decrease when compared to 2022 but are we comparing apples to apples? We suspect that by Fall, the year-over-year changes will be more accurate since the first three months of 2022 were an anomaly due to a surge in home prices (not values).
Last year in April, the Bay Area housing market reached its highest point, driven by the fear of impending interest rate hikes. However, since May 2022, there has been a decline in the market. The decline can be attributed to the interest rate increases, which ironically is what led to an increase in housing values in the first quarter of 2021.
This unsustainable and rather sudden ramp-up in bidding wars, and consequently home values, ended rather abruptly in mid-April.
The May sales data reflected the change in home-buying activity, and the shift in the market was in full swing by June. We discussed this in our blog post titled “Bay Area Housing Market on Precipice of Unpredictable Change.”
Currently, in San Mateo County, home values have reverted to levels seen in August of 2022.
Comparing the months of April YOY for San Mateo County, the dramatic shift is seen across the board in almost every category.
Fewer sellers are willing to sell in today’s market because as most have locked into fixed-rate loans in the 3% (or even less) range.
With fewer sellers willing to move, the number of new listings is down 38%. In any other market, this alone would create a shortage of inventory of homes for sale which in turn would drive up prices. However, the higher interest rates that are keeping sellers in their homes longer, are also eroding the purchasing power of buyers. This is helping to keep our market near equilibrium—a state which historically is rarely seen, and if so, never for very long.
We notice a similar trend in the city of Belmont, but it’s more pronounced because the sample size is small, which makes fluctuations more noticeable.
Opposite the Law of Large Numbers, a foundational concept in statistics that if a sample is large enough, the sample average should be close to the mean, the law of small numbers provides us with a “Belief in the Law of Small Numbers.” In their paper, Kahneman and Tversky—who famously explored human heuristics, define the Law of Small Numbers as the mistaken belief that a small sample accurately reflects the probabilities of a population. In small data sets, you can find patterns where none exist!
Such is often true when isolating the numbers for home sales in Belmont.
Here we note the magnified effect of the market as compared to San Mateo County as a whole.
That said, there’s no doubt about the YOY change. In 2023 the size homes that sold were 22.5% larger, yet sold for 7.7% less, indicating the true YOY value shift to be close to a 30% drop.
The average time it takes to sell a house has increased by 200%, which shows that buyers are becoming pickier. However, it’s also happening because many sellers are still setting their prices based on past market conditions and pricing their homes too high.
It’s unfortunate that some agents prioritize making a sale over being honest with the sellers. They may tell the sellers what they want to hear, instead of what they need to know. Additionally, sellers often choose agents based solely on the price estimate the agent gives them for their home, which perpetuates this behavior.
At present, the inventory of homes available for sale is only enough to last for about a month. This is a notable decrease from the 9.5 months of inventory during the 2008 economic crisis.
As we move past April, the monthly figures will gradually approach and eventually exceed the year-over-year numbers of 2023. However, we do not anticipate this to occur until the year 2024.
It is imperative that you price your home correctly if you are considering selling it. This holds especially true in the current market. Do not hesitate to contact us for an honest evaluation.
Drew and Christine Morgan are experienced REALTORS and NOTARY PUBLIC located in Belmont, CA. They have been assisting buyers and sellers in their community for over 30 years. Drew and Christine have received the coveted Diamond award and ranked among the top 50 agents nationwide and top 3 in Northern California by RE/MAX. To contact them, please call (650) 508.1441 or email email@example.com.
This article provides educational information and is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered as real estate, tax, insurance, or legal advice, and it cannot replace advice tailored to your specific situation. It’s always best to seek guidance from a professional who is familiar with your scenario.
The Illusion of Year of Year Numbers