The Phone


In the last couple of weeks I’ve had multiple clients inform me that they’ve read that the market is slow. They’ve been informed that the January sales numbers were bad both in the Bay Area as well as Nationally. I’ve also heard that a variety of  websites have proclaimed that the local market is struggling to reach the 2004 level in it’s home values. I’ve heard that continued price erosion is inevitable and that 2010 is supposed to be as bad as 2009 was. Of course (and ironically) those same clients have, and are currently, participating in making offers on homes being overbid.

Here’s the funny thing…it doesn’t square with my own personal experience. I could look at numbers and statistics all day long and still be confused.  Having said that, the only really meaningful barometer about the health of this market to me is 1) is my phone ringing and 2) what’s my personal experience representing clients right now.

The answer to the first one is YES, it’s ringing. On fact, I’m probably as busy personally as I’ve ever been. I have as many active buyers that I’m currently showing homes to as I did at the peak in 2005-06. Here’s the thing…I don’t really think I’m all THAT special. If my phone is ringing, there’s lots of other agents who’s phone is ringing too. I KNOW the market is WAY, WAY better in 2010 than it was last year from that fact alone.

How about the day to day experience? Unfortunately, My clients and I are not simply waltzing in and ratifying on home after home. In fact, almost every offer I’ve written this year has been as a part of a multiple offer scenario. Here’s a few of some sales that have involved multiples so far this year:

572 Nottingham Foster City

1121 Catamaran Foster City

18 Dory Lane Foster City

606 Pavo Lane Foster City

733 Celestial Lane Foster City

9 E Court Lane Foster City

17 E Court Lane Foster City

813 Tamarack San Carlos

124 Northam San Carlos

3404 Fernwood San Mateo

3382 Marisma San Mateo

650 Celestial Foster City

1002 Gull Foster City

1599 Beach Park Foster City

105 Wilshire San Carlos

1822 Bayview Belmont

These last three didn’t have pics, sorry.

I’m sure there’s lots more listings that have experienced, or are right now experiencing multiple offers in 2010. It’s just that the above listings are the ones that I personally have been involved with. Too bad we didn’t get them all!! I have absolutely no doubt that there’s plenty of others that have gone multiple too, don’t you? These two facts are the only real barometer as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care what statistics are published. If my clients can write an offer on a property, come in $30,000 to $50,000 under asking with no competition and get the place I’ll write about it here all day long. Unfortunately that wouldn’t be true…the market is pretty darn hot as far as I’m concerned.


  1. Jim,

    That’s a very interesting observation. And I believe what’s causing this paradigm between the observation that the market is busy versus the reality of the actual sales data is: Lack of inventory. The list of available homes for sale in many communities on the Peninsula is running about 50%-75% of normal.

    Using your list of multiple offers above, let’s say on average there were 4 offers on each one of those listings (probably not too far off.) That means that about 60 offers are being written for what will result in only 15 sales. That’s alot of activity! But while agents are running around frantically writing and presenting offers, the final sales numbers won’t reflect this.

    Until the inventory picks up (hopefully soon) I think you’re going to see more of this seemingly contradictory behavior. Or,to quote what somebody told me years ago “don’t confuse activity with results!”

  2. Jim Minkey says:

    That’s very true Chuck…and great point too! Yet, it’s the fact that my (and I have no doubt your) phone is ringing adds to thecontinued stability of the market place. While the inventory remains low…more and more people are entering the market. It’ll take quite awhile to satisfy that demand.

  3. Absolutely. Buyers need to think objectively rather than believing what they read is true. There is a lot of information out there and its upto one to decide which is true or not true.
    I waited through the boom and bought my home in April 2009. Definitely things have changed here and more buyers now and less inventory. But there is always a group of buyers who will be on the fence and will never buy a home.

  4. I bought my home last summer and I try to refinance now and it wont go through because the house price has dropped. I live in peninsula.

  5. Bought mine with 30 year fixed, never have to worry about refinancing.

  6. Do you think the multiple offers have something to do with how the sellers are pricing their homes?

    I went to see of few of the town homes on your list above and as soon as I walked in them I knew they would sell fast, primarily because the price seemed right for you were getting (remolded kitchens, bathrooms, gardens).

    On the flipside, I also went to see a town home for sell at Harborside and walked out thinking that the sellers were crazy for thinking that would get what they were asking for. It seemed like even the agent thought they were crazy!

  7. Jim Minkey says:

    In many cases pricing is a huge factor in whether a place gets multiples or not, but honestly, I thought my Dory listing was priced a bit too high and we ended up with 7 offers. The market just turned a corner quicky after the first of the year.

    No question though…over priced listings will most certainly sit there.

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