Trends to watch in real estate in 2017

What’s the real estate market going to do this year? I thought it would be worthwhile to consider some of the emerging trends to watch in 2017 in Sacramento and beyond. What do you think? I’d love to hear your take in the comments.


1) Bubble conversations: This year we are going to have even more real estate “bubble” conversations. We’ll hear things like, “The bubble is going to pop in 2017”, or “Get ready for 2007 again”, or “It’s all going to crumble after this year.” As these conversations ensue, my advice is to sift through the headlines, pay close attention to actual data, know the limitations of your ability to predict the future, and be in tune with the way the seasonal market tends to behave so you can spot anything out-of-the-ordinary.

2) Creative lending: As interest rates presumably rise in coming time, it will make mortgages more expensive (duh). This won’t matter for some buyers because they have the money to afford the market, but others will need an extra edge to keep up with higher prices. This is where lenders can loosen up financing options so they continue to close deals and make as much money as possible (sounds healthy, right?). Keep in mind President-Elect Trump is talking about repealing Dodd-Frank too, and that could create waves in the market if it actually happened. 

values-in-real-estate-sacramento-appraisal-blog-image-purchased-and-used-with-permission-from-123rf3) Housing inventory remains low: There isn’t any quick fix for anemic housing inventory, so we can expect to see another year of low inventory unless something drastic happens causing sellers to list their homes. That brings me to share something I talked about last month. In a video John Wake talks about San Francisco values and how sellers tend to wait to list their homes when values are increasing. The thought is, why list now when values are going to be higher next year? But then when values do eventually turn there can be a flood of houses hit the market as a “race to the exit”. That’s something to keep in mind.

4) Marijuana: It can be polarizing to talk about marijuana, but it’s definitely a market force since it is now legal in California for recreational use. Over the next year many cities and counties will be fine-tuning rules for grow operations, so be on the lookout for details. By no means am I glorifying marijuana, but I will be talking about it in coming years because it’s a force bound to impact real estate values. 

5) Smart homes: With the advent of Amazon Echo and Google Home, consumers can now say things like, “Alexa, set the sprinklers for 7am tomorrow morning” or “Okay Google, turn the temperature to 68 degrees.” The huge popularity of these devices during the holiday season will only mean millions more households are now going to be making their homes more digitally connected.

finding-cheap-properties-image-purchased-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog-from-123rt-dot-com6) Disappearance of the $100,000 market: There is definitely upward value pressure on the lowest end of the price spectrum. Other price ranges last year were much more flat, but not so much with the lowest prices in town. This year in Sacramento we are going to very likely see the disappearance of the market under $100,000. Each month lately we’ve had maybe 6-12 sales under $100,000 for single family detached homes, and after the next few quarters I expect that number might be down to zero. We shall see though.

7) Home flipping courses: There will be no shortage of “learn to flip” courses coming to a city near you. Friends, be very cautious about paying anyone to teach you “secrets” you can probably get for free online. You can read my open letter to celebrity flippers for more thoughts.

8) Custom woodworking: I’ve been seeing more and more custom woodworking in homes. I don’t mean really high-end craftsmanship per se, but rather the cool DIY stuff you might see on Pinterest or a show like Fixer Upper. I’m seeing more wood walls, large wood slabs, custom exterior wood accents on the exterior, etc…. As a dabbling woodworker, this makes me smile.

9) More agents will enter the market: When values increase and positive real estate news saturates the market, it tends to compel people to enter the real estate profession. So last month’s headline that Sacramento will be one of the “hottest market in the nation” in 2017 very likely sealed the deal for a number of folks on the fence about getting into real estate. 

real-estate-contracts-multiple-offers-in-sacramento-appraisal-blog10) Multiple offers: We are likely to continue to see a climate of multiple offers in the Sacramento area. In a market like this I would advise sellers to be realistic about pricing their homes properly. What have similar homes actually sold for? What is similar and getting into contract right now? It’s easy to cherry-pick the highest non-similar sales in the neighborhood because “the market is hot”, but we have to remember similar homes are the “comps” appraisers are going to use (key point). At the end of the day appraisers have to support the value, so it may be best to be reasonable on the front end rather than run into all sorts of “appraisal issues” because the property got into contract too high. Remember, just because housing inventory is low does not mean you can command whatever price you want. That may have been more true in early 2013, but it’s not true right now.

11) The 2-4 unit market is heating up: These days in many areas it seems like the market is heating up with some surprisingly high prices again for 2-4 unit properties. Values were subdued for years after the housing crash, but news of increasing rents is certainly part of what’s helping drive 2-4 unit prices up. I’ve also observed some Bay Area buyers wanting to park money in Sacramento and overpay. Sometimes unrealistic cap rates are being used to justify value too (more on that in a few weeks maybe).

12) Appraisal waivers: Last month Fannie Mae rolled out an appraisal waiver program. They say this program is only for refinances, but it’s a pretty good guess we’re going to see some purchases waived too. On one hand this program can help offset slower turn-times by appraisers lately, but on the negative side of things it can lead to inflating values too. In short, let’s watch this closely and not forget important safeguards in real estate (like appraisers).

BONUS: This is a quick (well, 12 minutes) walk through what it looks like to see the seasonal trend in real estate and what it was like when values began to decline in 2005. With so much “bubble” talk these days, it’s critical to be able to cut through any hype, focus on data, and be able to spot seasonal trends (and non-seasonal trends). Watch below (or here):

I hope that was helpful or interesting.

Questions: What else do you think will be important in 2017? Did I miss something? I’d love to hear your take.

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An open letter about celebrity flipping seminars

Dear Public,

Last week I got an invite to a celebrity flipping seminar. That’s right, I can go learn how to flip houses from Tarek & Christina, the stars of HGTV’s Flip or Flop. Being that this is the second celebrity event to come to town this year, let’s talk about some of the dangers of these events and the real temperature of the flipping market. Please note: I’m not angry. I’m not a hater. I’m not jealous. I only want to give thoughtful commentary for the sake of others.

Celebrity flipping event HGTV Sacramento Appraisal Blog

Some things to know about these events:

  1. The reality stars won’t be there: This may come as a surprise, but the stars are not likely going to be there unless you consider a video appearance as being present.
  2. The goal is to make money off you: The event is designed to whet your appetite only to invite you to go deeper by paying for courses. From the reading I’ve done it sounds like the next step costs $1,000 to $2,000, but some students end up spending far more over time ($5000+ easily). The event will feel good and you’ll probably be inspired, but make no mistake the real goal is to get you to open your wallet.
  3. Flipping formulas don’t work everywhere: There is no such thing as a flipping model that will work in every location and every type of housing market in the United States, yet this event is being hosted in many cities and states. Moreover, it may be wise to be cautious about listening to a company coming from the outside, knowing far less about the local market, and using a celebrity’s star power to talk about flipping.
  4. It’s no longer a foreclosure market: The market used to be full of bank-owned properties, so it used to be much easier to buy low-priced homes to make a quick buck. For example, in 2009 over 70% of all sales in Sacramento County were bank-owned, but now that number is 3%.
  5. Experienced investors are struggling to find good deals: This event touts attendees will “gain insider access to private pre-auction real estate inventories.” Keep in mind even seasoned investors are struggling to find good deals right now because housing inventory is sparse and the foreclosure market dried up. Just last week I talked with an investor who was once easily in the top 10 in my market a few years ago, but is having a hard time finding deals lately. This doesn’t mean flipping is impossible, but it’s currently a really competitive market. That might be good to know before forking out thousands of dollars so you can “retire rich”, right?
  6. More skill is required: Today’s market in flipping is much different than it used to be. A friend on Twitter said it perfectly: “The anybody flip market has dried up. It’s a contractors-special flip market now. Serious add-value needed.” I agree with this as today’s flippers often need to add square footage, add a second bath, maybe do a more substantial kitchen remodel, etc… It’s often not just a matter of picking up a property, putting on some “lipstick”, and re-listing it. The rules have simply changed since the “foreclosure flood” ended. In short, it takes more skill to flip in today’s market.

My advice? Be careful. We all want financial freedom, but you could easily spend thousands of dollars on these seminars to obtain “secret flipping knowledge” (that you can probably get for free). If you want to get into flipping I suggest meeting investors in your local market and scouring the forums on for free flipping advice.

I hope this was helpful.



Questions: What is your favorite HGTV show? Did I leave anything out? What point resonates with you the most? If you’ve attended an event like this, was it valuable? If you are currently flipping properties, what advice would you give to a newbie? Any suggestions for places to meet local investors?

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The big deal about rising rents in real estate

Values have been rising and so have rents. Across the country we’ve been hearing of rent increases in many cities (including Sacramento). Why does this matter? If you work in real estate, how do you plan to communicate this trend to clients? Let’s talk through some key points. I’d love to hear your take in the comments.

rising rents in sacramento - by greater sacramento area appraisal blog

Things to keep in mind about rising rents:

  1. Low Inventory: Rents are rising in large part due to low inventory. There has been population growth over the past decade, but very few new housing units have been built since the housing “bubble” burst. This essentially means we have a shortage of housing units. Keep in mind this isn’t an easy issue to solve since building a large number of units won’t happen overnight.
  2. Squeezed Savings for Tenants: Wage growth has been more or less stagnant in the Sacramento area at least, which means rent increases are coming directly out of a tenant’s savings account. Remember, if a tenant is saving up to buy a house, it’s going to now take longer to make that happen.
  3. Investors Holding: There are investors enjoying higher rents, and many will hold on to their properties for now instead of selling. Unless an investor is looking to diversify outside of real estate, an investor’s money is probably parked well right where it is. After all, why would an investor trade in great rentals only to buy something else at a much higher price today (and get the same rent)?
  4. Investors Selling: Not everyone is going to hold on to their properties though. There are many investors who purchased at lower prices from 2009 to 2012 especially, and it’s now time for them to cash out. Quite a few investors are actually selling directly to their tenants off MLS (agents, be there to write up the contract and help guide the process).
  5. Old Numbers: When rents rise quickly, sometimes the rents we see published online from a few quarters ago are simply old. Just like with rising values in the resale market, we have to ask whether the rental market has changed since the most recent data was published. Ultimately it’s important to look to a number of sources to get fresh numbers. Here are some suggestions: Craigslist, Hot Pads, Zilpy, Rent-O-Meter, & Zillow.
  6. Not Every Neighborhood: Like any trend, it’s easy to hear “rents are rising” and think that applies everywhere. Let’s remember some rental markets are hotter than others though. Apartment rents are said to have increased 10% last year in Sacramento and are projected to increase by another 10% this year. A similar dynamic is happening with single family units too, though NOT in every neighborhood.

I hope that was helpful.

Rental Event: By the way, I am helping put together a “Show Me The Money” event at SAR about the rental market. On May 18th from 12-1:30pm a property manager will talk through rental trends and give tips to agents for turning tenants into buyers. This is hosted by the Housing Opportunity Committee (which I chair this year).

Questions: What is point #7? Did I miss anything? What source do you use for rental data?

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4 things to remember about increasing values and low inventory

Let’s talk about increasing values and low inventory. ‘Tis the season for this conversation because the market is heating up right now as we are on the cusp of spring. Here are a few things that have been on my mind, and then a huge local market update after that (for those interested). I’d love to hear your take in the comments below. Any thoughts?

values in real estate - sacramento appraisal blog - image purchased and used with permission from 123rf

  1. Front Loaded Market: In a normal market prices tend to heat up in the spring and soften in the fall. While this isn’t true everywhere in the United States (or for every year or type of property), this general reality reminds us that value increases are often loaded into the front part of the year rather than throughout the entire year. For instance, if values increased by 6% last year, it doesn’t mean value went up by 0.5% each month. Instead, any increase in value might actually have occurred from February to June.
  2. Rapid Appreciation: I’ve been hearing lots of chatter about rapid appreciation lately. The idea is the market has increased substantially in value over the past couple months and appraisals are lagging behind the trend. I know low appraisals are a reality, and if appraisers aren’t giving upward adjustments for value increases (when warranted of course), it can lead to conservative appraisals that probably reflect the market two months ago rather than right now. Whatever the case, the Sacramento market has felt extremely competitive lately because of freakishly low inventory, though actual value increases seem more nominal for the spring rather than exponential. Yes, there are some properties that have been bid up 10% or so, but those properties were probably priced far too low since increases that large have not typified this market. Moreover, sometimes markets feel more aggressive than they actually are, so a market’s mantra might be: “Aggressive demand, modest appreciation.”
  3. Not Every Neighborhood: Some neighborhoods and price ranges are trending differently than others. I know that sounds obvious, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s easy to lump all areas and price ranges together. For instance, the median price in the regional market last month increased by 2.5%, but that doesn’t mean values increased by 2.5% in every single neighborhood or price range. When valuing a property, we can keep an eye on trends from the wider area, but at the end of the day we need to look at competitive sales and listings in the subject property’s particular neighborhood. What is the competitive market doing in the neighborhood? If we impose the notion that “values increased by 2.5% last month” on every neighborhood, we’re probably going to make some valuation mistakes.
  4. Less New Construction is Starting to Matter: When the economy collapsed, new home construction sloughed off and has not yet recovered anywhere close to where it was during the glory years from say 2003 to 2005. This might not seem like a big deal, but now imagine the population has grown over the past 10 years, which essentially means there are now less available housing units for a larger population. On top of this, institutional investors bought homes in recent years and are holding on to them instead of selling. Moreover, some owners purchased several years ago are sitting on a sweet 3.5% interest rate and a low mortgage payment. Why would they sell in today’s market unless they really had to? Not all areas in the country are struggling with low inventory, but a lack of new home construction in recent years is actually a big deal, and it’s certainly contributing to a lower housing supply in many markets including Sacramento. Lastly, when there are less housing units for the population, it tends to create an environment where rents increase. This is an important trend to watch.

Any thoughts? I’d love to hear your take below.

—————– 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 a few minutes digesting what is here.

DOWNLOAD 70 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 Sacramento Market Summary: The market in February was fairly normal in Sacramento. Values saw a modest seasonal uptick, sales volume increased, and inventory declined. This was all expected because it’s what we normally see at this time of year. But while market stats are more on the tame side, the market has felt anything but that in the trenches of house hunting. Multiple offers are commonplace and buyers are seeming to exude a 2004-ish frenzy to get into contract before values rise too quickly (does that concern anyone?). Despite housing inventory being extremely tight, properties that are priced too high are sitting instead of selling, and that reminds us how price sensitive buyers have become. The market is definitely a sellers’ market, though that doesn’t mean sellers can command any price they want. It’s interesting to note it took 12 less days to sell a house this February compared to last February, and only 3.4% of all sales in the region last month were short sales. One last thing. There is a big difference in the mood among buyers when mortgage interest rates are closer to 3.5% compared to even 4.0%, so watch rates and the market closely.


  1. It took an average of 46 days to sell in both February and January.
  2. It took 12 less days to sell this February compared to last February.
  3. Sales volume was nearly identical in February 2016 compared to last February.
  4. FHA sales were 24% of all sales last month.
  5. Housing inventory is 25% lower than it was last year at the same time.
  6. The median price increased by 6.7% last month (take that w/ a grain of salt).
  7. The median price is 6.7% higher than the same time last year.
  8. The avg price per sq ft increased by about 1% last month.
  9. The avg price per sq ft is 6% higher than the same time last year.
  10. Sales volume in 2016 is roughly the same as the same time last year.

Some of my Favorite Graphs this Month:

Median price since 2013 in sacramento county

inventory - February 2016 - by home appraiser blog

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

CDOM in Sacramento County - by Sacramento Appraisal Blog

Median price and inventory since 2001 by sacramento appraisal blog

market in sacramento - sacramento appraisal group


  1. It took 1 day longer to sell a house last month than January.
  2. It took 12 less days to sell this February compared to last February.
  3. Sales volume was 2% lower in February 2016 compared to last February.
  4. FHA sales were 22% of all sales last month.
  5. Short sales were 3.4% and REOs were 4.8% of sales last month.
  6. Housing inventory is 20% lower than it was last year at the same time.
  7. The median price increased 2.5% last month from the previous month.
  8. The median price is 3% higher than the same time last year.
  9. The avg price per sq ft declined slightly last month (less than 1%).
  10. The avg price per sq ft is 7.9% higher than the same time last year.

Some of my Favorite Regional Graphs:

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

sacramento region volume - FHA and conventional - by appraiser blog

months of housing inventory in region by sacramento appraisal blog

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

median price and inventory in sacramento regional market 2013

number of listings in sacramento regional market


  1. It took 7 more days to sell a house last month than January.
  2. It took 6 less days to sell this February compared to last February.
  3. Sales volume was 4% lower in February 2016 compared to last February.
  4. FHA sales were 20% of all sales last month.
  5. Cash sales were 19% of all sales last month.
  6. Housing inventory is 17% lower than it was last year at the same time.
  7. Sales volume is up 2.5% this Jan/Feb compared to last Jan/Feb.
  8. The median price increased 2.5% from the previous month.
  9. The median price is up nearly 11% from February 2015.
  10. Short sales were 1.5% and REOs were 4.3% of sales last month.

Some of my Favorite Placer County Graphs:

days on market in placer county by sacramento appraisal blog months of housing inventory in placer county by sacramento appraisal blog number of listings in PLACER county - January 2016 Placer County housing inventory - by home appraiser blog 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 70 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.

Questions: Any other points to add about increasing values or low inventory? What stands out to you about the latest stats in Sacramento? I’d love to hear your take and what you are seeing in the trenches.

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