San Mateo County Real Estate Market Update – April 2021

Sales data from March reflects a small shift in the price trends we’ve seen recently. For single-family homes, prices have continued the rise that started in November 2019. Price acceleration hit its peak in October 2020 at a whopping 18% year-over-year and is now sitting at 10%, which is still objectively high. Interestingly, condo and townhome prices have been mixed over the same period. Though prices have continued a decline that began in November 2020, the rate of decline has eased. It’s too soon to know if this signals that the condo market is beginning to recover as we head into a peak season in real estate.

In this environment, it’s a challenge to know how rapidly properties are selling, and how quickly the sale prices are rising. Comparable sales data (“comps”) are backward-looking. In a dynamic market like this one, they’re imperfect guides at best.

Let’s look at an example: A property comes on the market on February 15th. It gets into contract at the end of the month, with a typical 30-day escrow. That sale won’t close and become a publicly available comp until April 1st, however, the price was set in late February. If that property is a single-family home in San Mateo County, the median sale price rose almost 6% in the one month the home was in escrow. Meanwhile, the market has shot up and we don’t have readily published comps to inform pricing.

As a real estate professional, it is my responsibility to have my ear to the ground and understand how the market is moving when the evidence is not yet published. I do this by writing offers (which are either accepted or rejected) and by communicating with other top listing agents how our properties are selling. By tracking the market closely, sharing observations and learning from other agents, I keep myself informed so I can guide my clients to make the decisions that are best for them. We strategize together.

If you are a home seller, this is a remarkable moment of record high prices. If you’re a single-family home buyer, please note that that time is not on your side in this market. With each passing month, buying power is going down. Inventory is low and going lower. And with interest rates remaining near record lows and underwriting guidelines easing a bit, there’s plenty of cheap money adding fuel to this white-hot market. For buyers and sellers of condos and townhouses, things are a bit less clear. Though inventory is still objectively low, it’s climbing, while prices continue to decline. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months, but there is no certainty about the price trends in that particular market.

Here are the numbers:

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This post was written by Rumana Jabeen

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