Is The Market Slowing

Dated: November 13 2018

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Is it just me or is the market slowing?

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The market is slowing. We’ve been hearing that all over the place lately and it’s been a common clickable headline. But it’s not just hype because there’s some truth to it. Today I want to show this reality with a few visuals, mention three takeaways, and unpack a huge Sacramento market update for those interested. I hope this is helpful – whether you’re local or not.

Tighter Prices: Is the market slowing? How would you show that? Take a look at the rate of price changes in the images below and let me know what you see.

OCTOBER:

PAST 90 DAYS:

ENTIRE YEAR:

TAKEAWAYS:

1) Slowing: Prices are still up, but they’re not up by as much this year. What I mean is in years past we’d regularly see 7-10% price increases when running stats, but over the past few months we’re starting to see 4-6% increases instead. This helps show the market as a whole is slowing.

2) Dull fall & critical thinking: Stats have begun to change more significantly these past few months since a slower feel hit the market. A few months back sales volume dipped, but now after multiple months of lower volume this is becoming a trend (at least for the fall). As we watch this unfold and see that prices are much tighter together as I showed in the charts above, let’s consider two things: 1) Price stats today are more subdued in light of a much duller fall season (duh); and 2) Last year’s fall season ended up being a little more flat than usual, so higher prices from then could be helping this year’s numbers appear a little more depressed. I know, it sounds like I’m trying to soften the idea of the market slowing, but that’s not it at all. I’m thinking critically through the numbers and explaining in part why they are the way they are. Ultimately I find myself interpreting these numbers cautiously, and I think we need to get beyond this fall to see the bigger picture of what the numbers show us and where the trend is going to go.

3) Wide & narrow view: I chose to share stats in three ways on purpose to show something important. Did you notice a difference in the price change depending on how wide or narrow the dates were – whether 30 days, 90 days, or 12 months? Basically the more data we considered, the larger the price gap was. This is a good reminder to look at the market in different ways to try to discern the trend. It’s also a good reminder to be careful of pulling older data because sometimes that can mask a trend that is happening right now.

The future: Naturally when hearing about momentum slowing in a market it’s easy to start predicting the future as we see price gaps tighten. Many say the market is going to crash, others say it will correct by 10%, and some say it will level off and progress into a state of balance. All three of these ideas have one thing in common. They’re guesses.

I hope that was helpful.

—–——– Big local monthly market update (long on purpose) —–——–

Last year the fall season felt more flat than not, but this year is a different story. We are definitely having more of a dull seasonal lull that reminds us how the market felt in 2014 when the fall season was definitively soft. Here are some of the things I’m watching right now. I’d love to hear what you are seeing. Please comment below or send me an email.

Graphs for your newsletter and social media: Please download all graphs here as a zip file. See my sharing policy for 5 ways to share (please don’t copy my post verbatim).

Adjusting to rates: Buyers have seemed to back off the market a bit lately, and we’re seeing the effect of that with lower sales volume. What’s up with this? The culprit could be increasing interest rates and a growing lack of affordability.

Balancing of power: Buyers have gained more power in recent months, though I don’t think sellers got the memo since they are still struggling with overpricing and pretending it’s an aggressive market from 2013 instead of a slower market in 2018. This doesn’t mean buyers have total control though. Keep in mind 41% of all sales last month had multiple offers, which tells us it’s not the type of market where buyers can lowball sellers and get whatever price they want.

Pricing lower this fall: Since the summer the median price has softened by 4% in Sacramento County, 5% in the region, and 7% in Placer County. This doesn’t mean every neighborhood lost 4-7% in value. These are county stats and they don’t translate into every area or price range. Keep in mind it’s normal to see a 5% or so reduction in the median price during a given fall season, but this year it wouldn’t be surprising to see a more pronounced price difference between spring and fall (we’ll see how it pans out).

The story of sales volume: In September volume was down a whopping 16% in the region, and that raised lots of eyebrows to make people wonder if the market was starting to tank. This past month sales volume was not as weak, but it was still down nearly 9% in the region and about 4% in Sacramento County. Over time we need to keep watching this trend to better understand if it’s a sign of a definitive change in the market or if it’s the byproduct of a dull fall season (or both). One thing to remember is despite a few months of gloomy sales volume recently, volume is only down 2% in 2018 in the Sacramento region.

Listings did peak: I’ve been talking about listings looking like they were peaking for the past couple months, and the stats now definitely show listings have crested for the season. This is normal for the time of year as sellers tend to pull back from the market and wait until spring to list. This is why the fall sometimes feels like a market of leftovers since many sellers are waiting until the next year.

Concessions and credits: Buyers have more options today, so they’re tending to ask sellers more often for credits, repairs, and concessions. It would be wise for sellers to listen to buyers and be aware they may need to give something to get the deal done.

I could write more, but let’s get visual instead.

BIG QUESTIONS:

1) How did the market change from last year?

2) How did the market change from September to October?

3) Where are we in relation to peak prices in 2005?

4) What’s happening with sales volume?

SACRAMENTO COUNTY VOLUME:

Key Stats:

  • October volume down 4%

  • 2018 volume down 1% (January to October)

  • Annual volume is down 1.9% (past 12 months)

  • Volume has been strong this year, but it’s definitely been down over the past 4-5 months.

 

SACRAMENTO REGION VOLUME:

Key Stats:

  • October volume down 8.8%

  • 2018 volume down 2.1% (January to October)

  • Annual volume is down 2.5% (past 12 months)

  • Volume has been strong this year overall, but it’s been down over the past 4-5 months.

PLACER COUNTY VOLUME:

Key Stats:

  • October volume down 20.6%

  • 2018 volume down 4.9% (January to October)

  • Annual volume is down 5.4% (past 12 months)

SACRAMENTO COUNTY (more graphs here):

SACRAMENTO REGION (more graphs here):

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