May (or “Mayday”?) Sales Figures for San Carlos

June 4, 2008

May has come and gone, and it was an interesting month for real estate in San Carlos. The danger in looking at an isolated month's sales figures is that it can give you a false sense of where things truly are in a given market — one soft (or strong) month does not a year make. However, there are some trends that are interesting to see regardless of the timeframe. May had a few of these — first the specifics:

  • Number of Homes Sold – May '08: 24
    • April '08: 22 homes sold.
    • May '07: 27 homes sold.
  • Average Sales Price – May '08: $1,047,624
    • April '08: $1,042,775
    • May '07: $1,071,851
  • Median Sales Price – May '08: $939,500
    • April '08: $915,000
    • May '07: $1,090,000
  • Average Days on Market – May '08: 47 Days
    • April '08: 36 Days
    • May '07: 32 Days

Comparing the year-ago month, the difference in average price from a year ago is almost negligible, but the difference in median sales price is quite large. What does this tell us? More homes were sold in the $800k – $1.2M range in May '08 than in May '07. That's no big deal, but the telltale statistic isn't obvious from these numbers. If you take a close look at the 24 homes that sold in May (there's a link below with all the details) here's what you'll see:

  • 7 sold above the original list price
  • 3 sold at original list price, and
  • 14 sold below original list price

The telltale signs are this: Homes took longer to sell, and fewer went over asking price. In a community where we are used to hearing about homes commonly selling quickly, over list price, and with multiple offers, these numbers are downright “un-San Carlos-like”. But the message to sellers should be clear — a) the sluggish economy is indeed weighing down our market, and b) buyers have more leverage now than they've had in many years. Consequently sellers need to be realistic about what price their house will fetch…even if the truth hurts.

For detailed information on what sold in San Carlos in May '08, click here —> San Carlos Sales Data – May ‘08

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  1. transient on June 4, 2008 at 6:08 am

    The data for May seems to have a couple of outliers for DOM which might be skewing the statistics. Your RE/MAX buddy Bob Bredel seems to have a different read on the market.

    A question about Devonshire and Winding Way – why do some houses there seem to take a long time to sell? 385 Devonshire dragged the whole San Carlos market statistics down. That one on 35 Winding Way seems like a dream home yet no takers. Is there any part of San Carlos that is unincorporated?

  2. chuck on June 4, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Good points — first let me address the market issue. As I stated in the beginning of the post, I made the disclaimer that one month doesn’t make a whole year. I believe that the market in San Carlos has weathered the storm quite well, and have stated that many posts in this blog. Even with May’s mixed bag of results, most cities would kill for this kind of performance.

    Since I post the sales stats every week, what I started to notice about 6 weeks ago was the increasing numbers of homes that were selling below the “original” list price (that distinction is important, and I’ll address it in a minute.) When I tracked the May data, I was surprised to see the number of homes that sold below original list, some significantly. The average and medians were easily to address and there’s nothing really abnormal about them.

    The difference in the way Bob and I look at the data is that he measures “% to List” performance, which compares the final sales price to the most recent list price — the “List” price is the last price that the house was listed for before it sold, and therefore doesn’t take into account any price reductions. It’s essentially a moving target. I prefer to measure against “Original List” because that is a fixed datapoint that cannot be moved, and I believe it provides a good indicator of how accurate sellers (and their agents) are pricing homes. Neither approach is right or wrong, they’re just looking at different stats.

    I’ll give you a real example from one of my own listings — I listed a condo recently at $488k. After a few months of little activity, we reduced the price to around 479k — this produced two buyers who competed on the unit and bid the price back up to $485k, which is where it sold. So, one approach shows I was overpriced by $3k, while the other shows that I was a hero got $6k over list. The numbers are small, but you get the idea. ‘nuf said on that.

    Devonshire and Winding — good questions too. Both homes are very different in terms of style and quality, but I think the challenge that homes in Devonshire Canyon face is the same that some homes in Emerald Hills have — there’s nothing wrong with the homes, but some folks simply don’t want to live in the hills, especially on narrow twisty roads. Combine that with the fact that these were both originally listed closer to $2M and you’re dealing with a class of buyers who are more deliberate in their purchases.

    Finally — unincorporated areas. Great question, and I’ll research it and get back to you.

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