Struggling to buy a house? Now may be a better time to search
BY HUDSON SANGREE
The summer’s overheated housing market in the Sacramento region has given way to a slightly cooler and saner experience for buyers this fall.
The time that houses spend on the market has lengthened, prices have softened, and the inventory of homes for sale has grown.
“Now is a great time to be a buyer, mostly because the summer bump is over and homes are sitting longer and prices are more negotiable,” said Barbara LeBrecht, a broker with Weichert Realtors’ Galster Group in Fair Oaks.
It’s part of a normal, seasonal cooling-off period, experts said, after a spring and summer buying season was anything but normal.
During the peak buying season this year, homes were selling at a record pace. Many houses spent just days on the market before getting snapped up. Well-priced listings saw multiple offers, and would-be buyers found themselves on the losing end of bidding wars.
The market has moderated a bit because most people don’t want to buy and sell homes during the holidays, LeBrecht said.
“If I went into escrow today, I’d be closing at Thanksgiving,” she said. “No one likes to be eating turkey and signing loan docs. People don’t like to move when they’re putting up their Christmas tree. ”
According to the latest figures from the Sacramento Association of Realtors, September saw a rise in the inventory of single-family homes for sale in Sacramento County and the city of West Sacramento, based on the time it would take to sell all the homes on the market. There were 1.7 months of inventory in September compared to 1.5 months in August, a 13 percent increase, the association reported.
Homes are still selling very quickly but taking a little longer. The median number of days that single-family resale homes spent on the market bumped up from 11 days in August to 13 days in September, the Realtors’ association reported. The median home price inched down from $349,000 to $348,000, though it remained more than 9 percent higher than the same month last year, SAR said.
Another telling statistic is the high number of price reductions in the market these days, LeBrecht said. In one 24-hour period this week, she said, 287 new homes were listed for sale and sellers dropped their asking prices on 199 homes.
Ryan Lundquist, who writes the Sacramento Appraisal Blog, observed a similar set of changes across the four-county region that includes Placer, Yolo and El Dorado counties. He, too, said it was a sign of predictable seasonal decline.
“Overall the market has a slower feel compared to a few months ago (and) values have begun to soften in many areas,” Lundquist wrote. In many neighborhoods, he said, “homes are tending to have less offers, less traffic, and even sell for slightly less than the highest prices from a few months back.”
“News like this sometimes freaks people out because they think the market is tanking,” the appraiser wrote, “but like clockwork the market almost always softens during the fall.”