Advice for an increasing real estate market (and Sacramento trends)

When the market is flat, it’s easy to impress clients and look like a guru because of how accurate your values are. But when inventory shrinks, demand is off-the-hook, and the market shifts, it’s not always easy to nail value because things can change quickly in a short period of time. In light of the market increasing in value lately in many areas of the country, I thought it would be useful to offer some quick advice for dealing with increases. Then at the bottom of the post I have my ridiculously long Sacramento market update. I’d love to hear your take. Any thoughts?

increasing market advice for agents and appraisers - sacramento regional appraisal blog

Advice for Agents: When values are increasing, it’s crucial to pay careful attention when pulling comps before a listing. The tricky part in a “hot” market is it can be possible to get into contract at much higher levels than what is reasonable, so in a sense the agent has to really spend time weighing what a realistic value looks like before the listing hits the market. Keep in mind a lender’s appraiser is going to need to come up with a value that is supported by market data, reasonable for the neighborhood, and representative of the market. It’s easy to say, “The market is ‘hot’ and inventory is low, so I priced it higher,” but there really has to be support for the higher value. I recommend asking yourself the following questions and then talking clients through the answers.

  1. Is there support for value at the list price? (sales, pendings, listings, data)
  2. Is the list price reasonable? Does it make sense for the neighborhood?
  3. Would the market pay this price or would only one buyer pay this amount?

Advice for Appraisers: In an increasing market appraisers need to spend time figuring out how much the market has changed in recent time. In other words, if there has been upward value movement since the most recent sales got into contract, it could be very reasonable to give upward market adjustments to the comps. I suggest paying careful attention to competitive pendings, making market graphs in each report to help see the market, and keep an eye on competitive neighborhoods too in case data is sparse in the subject neighborhood. Lastly, let’s remember value increases might look more aggressive in some areas than others, so adjustments won’t look the same in every neighborhood or price range. Moreover, a typical canned market adjustment might be 1% per month (because that’s what a mentor taught us to do), but that might not be legit at all (like most canned adjustments). What does the market say? Let’s do our best to listen and then adjust if needed.

Questions: Any thoughts? What other advice would you give?

—————– For those interested, here is my big market update  —————–

Big monthly market update post - sacramento appraisal blog - image purchased from 123rfTwo ways to read the BIG POST:

  1. Scan the talking points and graphs quickly.
  2. Grab a cup of coffee and spend time digesting what is here.

DOWNLOAD 77 graphs HERE: Please download all graphs in this post (and more) here as a zip file (or send me an email). Use them for study, for your newsletter, or some on your blog. See my sharing policy for 5 ways to share (please don’t copy verbatim). Thanks.

Quick Market Summary: The market has been showing value increases. Whether looking at the median price, average price, or average price per sq ft, all the numbers sound “hot” so to speak. This isn’t a surprise though because it’s what normally happens in April. It’s worth noting it took 8 less days to sell last month compared to the same time last year, and the median price is up in the region by nearly 8% from last April. FHA sales were roughly 25% of all sales last month in Sacramento County, though they are down slightly from 27-28% of the market in past quarters (this is a stat worth watching over time). Sales volume for the entire year is down slightly, but not by much. In short, the stats are glowing overall because there has been upward growth with most metrics. However, buyers are still exhibiting price sensitivity. If properties are not priced correctly they are sitting instead of selling. Moreover, under the umbrella of a “hot market”, some sellers are simply pricing WAY too high for the market. They hear the word “hot”, but that doesn’t mean you can sell for anything. Lastly, just because the market has increased in value in some neighborhoods and the entire county doesn’t mean values are increasing for every property type or in every price range.

Sacramento County:

  1. It took an average of 31 days to sell a home last month.
  2. It took 6 less days to sell last month that the previous month.
  3. It took 11 less days to sell this April compared to last April.
  4. Sales volume is down slightly from last year by 3%.
  5. There is only 1.3 months of housing supply in Sacramento County.
  6. Housing inventory is 15% lower than it was last year at the same time.
  7. The median price increased by 1% last month.
  8. The median price is 10% higher than the same time last year.
  9. The avg price per sq ft increased by 2.8% last month.
  10. The avg price per sq ft is 8.8% higher than the same time last year.

Some of my Favorite Graphs this Month:

inventory - April 2016 - by home appraiser blog

CDOM in Sacramento County - by Sacramento Regional Appraisal Blog

Median price since 2013 in sacramento county

price metrics since 2015 in sacramento county - look at all

median price and inventory since 2005 - by sacramento appraisal blog

inventory in sacramento county Since 2013 - part 2 - by sacramento appraisal blog

fha and cash in sac county - sacramento appraisal blog

seasonal market in sacramento county sales volume 2

SACRAMENTO REGIONAL MARKET:

  1. It took 6 less days to sell last month compared to the previous month.
  2. It took 8 less days to sell this April compared to last April.
  3. Sales volume was 4.6% lower in April 2016 compared to last April.
  4. Short sales were 3% and REOs were 3% of sales last month.
  5. There is 1.6 months of housing supply in the region right now.
  6. Housing inventory is 9.5% lower than it was last year at the same time.
  7. The median price increased 3% last month from the previous month.
  8. The median price is 7.7% higher than the same time last year.
  9. The avg price per sq ft increased 2.5% last month.
  10. The avg price per sq ft is 6% higher than the same time last year.

Some of my Favorite Regional Graphs:

median price sacramento placer yolo el dorado county

sales volume 2015 vs 2016 in sacramento placer yolo el dorado county

sacramento region volume - FHA and conventional - by appraiser blog

Regional Inventory - by Sacramento regional appraisal blog

days on market in placer sac el dorado yolo county by sacramento appraisal blog

median price and inventory in sacramento regional market

PLACER COUNTY:

  1. It took 6 less days to sell a house last month than March.
  2. It took 2 less days to sell this April compared to last April.
  3. Sales volume was 6% lower in April 2016 compared to last April.
  4. FHA sales were 17% of all sales last month.
  5. Cash sales were 21% of all sales last month.
  6. There is 1.8 months of housing supply in Placer County right now.
  7. Housing inventory is 6.7% lower than it was last year at the same time.
  8. The median price increased 5.6% last month (take with a grain of salt).
  9. The median price is up 9.2% from April 2015.
  10. Short sales were 2.7% and REOs were 1% of sales last month.

Some of my Favorite Placer County Graphs:

days on market in placer county by sacramento appraisal blog

Placer County housing inventory - by home appraiser blog

months of housing inventory in placer county by sacramento appraisal blog

number of listings in PLACER county - 2016

Placer County price and inventory - by sacramento appraisal blog

Placer County sales volume - by sacramento appraisal blog

I hope this was helpful and interesting.

DOWNLOAD 77 graphs HERE: Please download all graphs in this post (and more) here as a zip file (or send me an email). Use them for study, for your newsletter, or some on your blog. See my sharing policy for 5 ways to share (please don’t copy verbatim). Thanks.

SacBee: By the way, the second article I wrote for the SacBee real estate section went live. It’s called “One size does not fit all when talking about the housing market.”

Questions: Any advice you’d give to clients right now about pricing? Is there any other market insight you’d like to add? I’d love to hear your take.

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Appraisers, The Force, and Up & Down Real Estate Values

What makes real estate values move? I often ask this question when speaking at real estate functions, and it’s interesting to hear the responses. I usually start by showing a photo of Luke Skywalker with the caption, “Luke, use The Force to make value move.” Then I ask, “Is that sort of like what appraisers do? Can they make a market move depending on how they appraise properties?” We all know changes with interest rates, housing inventory, the economy, or cash investors can definitely influence property values. That’s obvious. Yet when asking the question, “Do appraisers make values go up or down?”, there is often a bit of hesitation. What do you think? How would you answer this question if a client asked you?

star wars real estate photo - by sacramento appraisal blog - 530 use

Do appraisers make the market move or not? There are so many “forces” that impact real estate values. In fact, if you’ve been around this blog long enough, you’ve heard my schtick about how real estate is like a multi-layered cake since there are many “layers” in a market that impact or create value. Check out the cake below to get more fully what I mean (this is an updated image). Yet it’s still easy to think appraisers are the ones making a market move since they are the ones appraising properties at higher levels. Unless there is fraud going on though, the higher appraisals are really a result of the layers of the market having changed. It’s not appraisers pushing the market up, but rather the market moving and appraisers simply interpreting that change. Think about 2012 when the market hit bottom and values began to increase quite rapidly – especially in early 2013. If anything, during this most recent boom, appraisers were accused of appraising properties too low rather than inflating values.

multi-layered cake analogy - cake by Joy Yip - text by Sacramento Appraisal Blog - yellow text

An Example of 1% interest rates: Imagine if interest rates hit 1% tomorrow. What would that do to home prices? First off, the market would be instantly flooded with buyers because of how much more affordable it just became to borrow money. This would create intense competition resulting in a dramatic lowering of inventory, which would inevitably increase prices because of the scarcity of property. In the midst of shifting “layers” of real estate, appraisers would rightly be appraising properties at higher levels since the market is now hands-down willing to pay those prices. But appraisers didn’t actually move values higher, did they? They simply interpreted the market that changed.

Key Takeaways: 

  1. There are many forces that impact value in a real estate market.
  2. Memorize the cake analogy so you can use it with your clients and speak definitively about what is making value move in your market.
  3. Appraisers interpret the market rather than move it. Appraisers are more like a measuring tape than a gas or brake pedal.
  4. A market does not need appraisal fraud to see values increase. This idea tends to float around the real estate community, but it’s a misunderstanding of what really drives real estate.

By the way, I’ll post more specifically on Sacramento market trends next week. Be on the lookout for some stellar graphs to use for your newsletters and emails to clients.

NOTE: Appraisal fraud and low appraisals could certainly be a layer in the cake above, but fundamentally appraisers are not drivers, but interpreters. That’s my main point. We could easily talk about fraud or even whether appraisers are doing a good job interpreting the market or not, but that’s another post.

Questions: What else makes real estate values move? Any appraisal stories or insight to share?

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Some thoughts on unemployment and property value trends in the US, CA & Sacramento

Let’s consider unemployment and the “hot” real estate market. This is a screencast where I talk through the most recent jobless figures from March 2013 by quickly showing five graphs of unemployment trends in the United States, California and Sacramento County. It’s especially good for real estate professionals to know this stuff because it makes us resourceful to clients. It’s also interesting to consider the relationship between jobs and property value too. Moreover, when we see how high unemployment still is, this underscores how a real estate market isn’t always driven by the local economy. Sometimes external forces such as interest rates and investor activity can really drive prices, right?

If you subscribe by email or RSS and don’t see the video above, click here.

Any comments or stories to share?

If you have any questions or Sacramento home appraisal or property tax appeal needs, let’s connect by phone 916-595-3735, email, Twitter, subscribe to posts by email (or RSS) or “like” my page on Facebook