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On November 18, 2019

San Mateo County Real Estate November 2019 Report

Long-Term Median House Sales Price Trends. Using a six-month-rolling average of monthly median sales prices smooths out the mostly meaningless monthly fluctuations to illustrate broad, long-term trends.

Sales Volumes by Month

A crystal clear illustration of the role of seasonality in the real estate market. Starting in November activity begins to drop towards the mid-winter nadir. Remember that November sales volumes mostly reflect October accepted-offer activity. Market activity usually hits bottom in December, which then typically makes January the month with the lowest number of closed sales.

Generally speaking, sales volumes have been slowly declining from recent years.

House Sales & Median Values by City

Median values are generalities useful for assessing comparative values between markets and for broad home price trends. How they apply to any particular home is unknown without a specific comparative market analysis.

Cities with relatively small numbers of sales across a wide spectrum of prices – such as Atherton, Woodside & Portola Valley – are more prone to large fluctuations in median values simply based on the specific homes sold in the period.

Median House Square Footage

Median home size provides more context to the median home values listed in the chart above. Note that all things being equal – which they rarely are – a smaller home will sell for a lower price, of course, but a higher dollar per square foot value. Lot sizes also play a considerable role in home values in the county.

Luxury Home Listing & Sales Trends

People Moving in & out of CA in 2018

According to new census estimates, approx. 501,000 people from other states moved to CA in 2018, while 691,000 Californians relocated to other states – a net loss of 190,000. In addition, an estimated 284,000 foreign nationals moved into CA from outside the country. (Foreign out-migration numbers are not available.)

The top states for out-migration are Texas, Arizona, Washington, Nevada & Oregon, states with high-tech centers of their own and/or no state income taxes, and/or significantly lower housing costs – thus attracting working residents, local businesses, and retirees. Updated Bay Area figures are not yet available, though migration trends here have generally paralleled state trends in recent years.

Listings Sold vs. Listings for Sale
by Price Segment

If the price segment’s percentage of sales is higher than the segment’s percentage of listings available to buy, it signifies especially strong demand as compared to other price segments within the county: This is the situation in the $1 million to $2m segment with 54% of the county’s sales, but only 39% of inventory. If the reverse is true, then supply is generally outracing demand, as is the case in the highest price ranges: Homes over $5m make up 3% of sales vs. 13% of listings on the market.

These are generalities: Overpriced listings in any segment will typically fail to sell without price reductions, and appealing, well-priced listings can sell very quickly.

Market Statistics by Price Segment

Location is, of course, always important in real estate value – within the county, within the city, within the neighborhood – but to a large degree, market dynamics within the county are also determined by the home’s price segment. And individual cities will often have homes in several or even all of the price segments broken out in the 2 charts below, with these segments seeing differing supply and demand conditions.

Generally speaking, by most measures, demand is softer and supply is higher (as compared to demand) above the $3 million price threshold, and that difference becomes much more substantial above $5 million.

Where San Mateo & Santa Clara Counties meet, there is a cluster of some of the most expensive communities in the country (though both counties contain other, very expensive markets). Gathering their sales data together – more data generates more meaningful statistics – provides the next 2 charts.

The combined median house sales price in Q3 2019 was down 5% from Q3 2018, but still 3% higher than Q3 2017. The declining competition between buyers for new listings is illustrated in the second chart, as the market turned from a high average overbidding percentage, to an average sales price below list price.

Percentage of Sales without Prior Price Reduction

The following 2 charts illustrate both year-over-year changes in market conditions and the role of seasonality within the calendar year.

Ratio of Withdrawn (No-Sale) Listings
to Sold Listings

Last year saw a tremendous jump in the number of listings pulled off the market without selling in December – this was a particularly volatile time in financial markets and interest rates were relatively high. The situation with both of those factors has changed dramatically in 2019, but it is too early to see how that will affect the number of listings withdrawn at the end of this year.

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