If you see a Bay Area home sale listing, don’t blink. You’ll miss it.
Limited housing supply is driving prices sky-high and forcing buyers to move ever more quickly. In Santa Clara County, the median time for an existing home on the market in December was 9 days — by far the shortest listing-to-sale in a major metro. Homes sales in the county moved twice as quickly as they did during the same period last year, according to a new report from the California Association of Realtors.
“Nine days is a very, very low number,” said Oscar Wei, senior economist for the California Association of Realtors. “It’s the lowest we’ve seen since at least going back to 2007.”
East Bay homes also moved at a brisk pace, according to the report. The median time on the market in December for an Alameda home was 13 days, down from 16 days the previous year. In Contra Costa County, the median time was 16 days. Buyers also hurried to close deals in San Mateo County (12 days), and San Francisco (18 days). Agents say homes usually move from listing to escrow in about 30 days in less-frenzied markets.
To make matters more grim for prospective homeowners, the association’s survey found housing supply dropped to levels not seen since June 2004. The pressures have combined to send prices of Bay Area homes skyward: the median sale price for a home in Santa Clara County rose 34 percent last year, to $1.3 million, and jumped 14 percent in Alameda County, to $862,000, according to the association.
The median sale price for homes climbed to $1.5 million in San Mateo County and $1.48 million in San Francisco. Both represented a 12 percent jump from last year’s prices.
William Doerlich, past president of the Bay East Association of Realtors, advises buyers to move quickly even if it’s one of the first homes they see. “Jump at it when you see it,” Doerlich said. “If you like it, grab it and go.”
Brisk homes sales in Santa Clara County have been driven by transactions in Sunnyvale and Cupertino, near the new Apple headquarters, said George Montanari, sales manager at Alain Pinel Realtors in Los Gatos.
Montanari said cash offers for homes have hastened sales, as well as buyers coming to the table with strong financial positions. Some buyers are asking agents to make offers without seeing the homes, he said.
“Personally, this frenzy doesn’t feel good,” Montanari said, adding that due diligence is an important step before buying a home.
More upward pressure on the housing market is expected as Bay Area jobs and economy stay strong, Wei said. He believes the median price for Alameda County homes, which reached $880,000 in November, could hit the seven-figure mark before the end of 2018.
Throughout the state, the market for existing home sales stayed hot last month. The average time on the market for a single family home was 25 days, and 18 days for townhomes and condos. At the same time a year ago, California home and condo sellers waited about a month on average to close deals.
“This trend is probably going to continue,” Wei said. “Let’s face it, in the Bay Area and California in general, we haven’t been doing enough.”