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  • Writer's pictureNancy Bennett

Last Call! And I Mean Very Last Call!

Dream Loan Program through CalHFA

It’s my understanding that this program will be paused/closed in less than 2 days. The amount of funds committed to approved buyers has hit the limits of the funding provided by the state. In other words, $300 million has been spent/commited for first-time buyers that have been qualified since the program was launched last week! It’s been like someone threw a bunch of money up in the air and the crowd below has snatched it up, just like that!

Still interested in getting your 20% downpayment assistance? You would need to call ASAP, get qualified today and make an offer on a home no later than Sunday! Is it possible? ABSOLUTELY! Operators are standing by!

“Spring Bounce”

Just like the Easter bunny bounces and hops along, so has this real estate market. It feels like there is a slight bounce in the marketplace right now, even though the real estate industry feels flat across the board. The stunning lack of homes for sale continues this week, driving home prices up, without economic improvement to support the value increase. Supply and demand are not improving the financial condition.

When looking at the recent data, I notice a small inflection point toward the end of February; however, it is not based on economic models — meaning the financial shape of our (local/national) economy has not improved and yet home prices locally have risen!

If you’ve been grocery shopping recently, you know that prices continue to rise (inflation?) and housing prices have risen too because of supply and demand, not due to a rosy outlook in the near future. (Case in point: U.S. unemployment numbers come out this morning and they are lower than expected).

Q1 sales numbers: Stunningly low housing inventory in our communities! This may be the theme of the year! A healthy market is one in which both buyers and sellers can participate. One way to get there right now is to have interest rates decline, home prices decline and an increase in housing inventory with consistent buyer demand. In a perfect world, this would be a great market where sales volume trumps increasing values.

I’m not saying that increase values are a bad thing, but when the market is up and down (like a W) in less than a year — any little scare will have buyers and sellers stepping back or jumping in too quickly. The real estate market has sort of flattened so far in 2023 with maybe some upward price movement on the county and regional level (modest). No major price appreciation.

I feel that Q2 is going to test the traditional rule in real estate of low supply means upward prices. 2022 showed us it’s possible to see the exact opposite of that where we can decline even with low supply. We’ll see what happens through the rest of this year.

Currently, we’re seeing home buyer motivation in the market — new finance programs (like the CalHFA program) that I mentioned last week. What we’re not seeing is SELLER motivation. What will sellers need to see and feel so that they will get off the fence?

An example/snapshot of just one neighborhood in our area — The Crossings community in Concord. With over 1,000 homes in this neighborhood, I’ve tracked the sales for the past two decades in order to plan/budget and guide home sellers or buyers about the trends, what to look for and when they might consider buying or selling a home in this area.

Recent average homes sales — this community averages 10 homes sales in Q1 over the last four years.

This most recent quarter shows that there were only 3 homes listed for sale in this community. That’s two-thirds fewer homes for sale! An incredible drop in inventory, while buyer demand is still strong.

This example is just one example of our East Bay housing inventory crisis. Yes, crisis!

What’s the outlook for the remainder of this year? Well, there are not enough home sales data/consistency to show what the trend can or will be just yet. However, based on my numerous discussions with homeowners, I do not see a boatload of inventory coming on the market in the next 3 to 4 months. It seems that that seller motivation is just not there! Homeowners have a lot of equity in their homes and 3% mortgage rates. They would have to sell and buy at todays interest rates of 6%+ — it doesn’t make sense for many families to make that move right now.

So, the “bounce” that we are experiencing in home prices can be attributed to lack of inventory, not because of improving economic data or sentiment.

Enjoy your Easter weekend! Remember that we are all one in this community and life!

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