Home prices fell for the first time this year, declining 1.05% month over month, aligning with seasonal norms where prices rise in the first half of the year and contract in the second half of the year.
In August, the average 30-year-mortgage rate reached the highest level since June 2021 at 7.23%, largely contributing to the lack of new inventory and low number of sales. The number of home sales continued to slow for the fifth month in a row.
Although the housing market still favors sellers, it’s trending more meaningfully toward balance, as demand slows and inventory starts to rebuild.
Note: You can find the charts & graphs for the Big Story at the end of the following section.
The average 30-year-mortgage rate hit a 22-year high in August. Higher mortgage rates, which negatively affect affordability, combined with the annual summer sales slowdown and higher inventory have caused prices to decline month over month from the 2023 price peak in June. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) data show that the median home sale price in the United States declined by 1%, and Realtor.com data indicate that the median list price per square foot also decreased 1%. These aren’t major declines, as you can see, especially when considering the decline in sales. According to NAR, the number of homes sold dropped 2.2% month over month and 16.6% year over year, which is substantial but not necessarily unexpected. Home sales in 2020 and 2021 were the highest since the 2006 housing bubble burst, and normal seasonal trends were less pronounced or non-existent. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the recent past, especially when it comes to large financial purchases, most of which are life-changing. We weren’t sure how long the break in historic seasonality would last, but it seems to have ended, and seasonality has mostly returned.
Different regions and individual houses vary from the broad national trends, so we’ve included a Local Lowdown below to provide you with in-depth coverage for your area. In general, higher-priced regions (the West and Northeast) have been hit harder by mortgage rate hikes than less expensive markets (the South and Midwest) because of the absolute dollar cost of the rate hikes and limited ability to build new homes. As always, we will continue to monitor the housing and economic markets to best guide you in buying or selling your home.
Year to date, single-family home prices were up across most of the North Bay, while condo prices were more mixed. Condo prices in Marin and Napa rose while prices in Solano and Sonoma fell. We expect seasonal trends to hold through the rest of the year and for home prices to remain fairly stable.
Sales rose from July to August, while new listings and inventory fell, likely indicating the start of the typical seasonal decline across supply and demand metrics. Inventory remains depressed but has still grown significantly in 2023, which has helped alleviate some excess demand.
Months of Supply Inventory has risen slightly over the summer, but remains a sellers’ market. Homes are still selling quickly, and sellers are receiving a greater percentage of asking price, all of which highlight a competitive environment for buyers.
Note: You can find the charts/graphs for the Local Lowdown at the end of this section.
In the North Bay, the housing market is always experiencing high demand, especially in the spring and early summer months. Increasing demand and low, but rising inventory helped drive the rapid home price appreciation that the North Bay experienced in the first half of the year. Typically, demand begins to decline in July and August, so the consistently low supply may become less of an issue. However, less of an issue doesn’t mean a non-issue. Quality new listings will certainly be sold quickly, while less desirable homes will sit on the market. This isn’t unusual, but it’s more apparent due to current mortgage rates. Potential homebuyers aren’t nearly as willing to pay a premium for a fixer upper as they were in 2020 and 2021.
In August, the median single-family home prices were up year to date across most of the North Bay counties with Marin prices flat for the year. Condos were more mix with price gains in Marin and Napa and declines in Solano and Sonoma. As sales and new listings slow in the second half of the year, home prices typically remain stable or decline at the margins.
Single-family home and condo inventory, sales, and new listings rose in the first half of the year, although all remain at depressed levels. Typically, inventory peaks in July or August and declines through December or January. Currently, inventory is so low relative to demand that any amount of new listings is good for the market. However, new listings have been unusually low this year, which has directly impacted both inventory and sales. The number of home sales is, in part, a function of the number of active listings and new listings coming to market. Since new listings and sales peaked in May 2023, sales declined 14%, while new listings fell 23%.
As tight inventory levels continue, sellers are gaining negotiating power. In January 2023, the average seller received 93% of list price compared to 98% of list in August. Inventory will almost certainly remain historically low for the rest of the year and likely remain low in 2024.
Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) quantifies the supply/demand relationship by measuring how many months it would take for all current homes listed on the market to sell at the current rate of sales. The long-term average MSI is around three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than three indicates that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI indicates there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). The North Bay market tends to favor sellers, especially for single-family homes, which is reflected in its low MSI. Even with the slight increase in MSI over the summer months, the market still firmly favors sellers. The only exceptions are single-family homes in Napa, which are closer to a balanced market.
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