San Carlos Real Estate: A Buyer’s Market, or a Seller’s Market?

September 21, 2011

Depends on Who You Ask.

There is a lot of talk lately in real estate circles about whether we are in a buyer's market or a seller's market right now in San Carlos.   If you're a buyer who has been through a few multiple offer wars, you'll swear that the sellers are calling the shots.  But if you're a homeowner whose home has been on the market for 100 days with nary an offer, you're probably not feeling that same sense of empowerment. So who's right?  The only thing that seems certain is that if you ask 10 people to answer that question, you definitely won't get the same results across the board.   And there's probably a good reason for that…

By the Numbers.

One way to cut through the subjective perceptions of the temperature of the market is to take a look at the numbers.   I pulled the recent sales figures in San Carlos and came up with some interesting and conflicting datapoints:

  • Over the past 90 days, there have been 86 single-family residences that have sold in San Carlos.
  • Of those 86 homes, 54 (or 67%) sold below their original list price.
  • Of those 54 homes that sold below list, the average amount below list was 6%.  The biggest gap was 28%.

From just that snapshot, you'd think that the buyers were having their way in the market.   But if you dig a little deeper, you'll find this:

  • Of those 86 homes that sold, 35 (or 41%) sold in 2 weeks or less.
  • And of that 41%, the average sales price was about 2% higher than the list price.

So what's the right answer?

Some Are Hot, Some Are Not.

So what does this data tell us?  It reaffirms what may of us have felt in our gut all summer —  certain homes in San Carlos are red hot and are selling quickly, and others are not.   Case in point?  Remember those 35 homes that sold in 2 weeks or less?   Half of them were in either White Oaks or Howard Park.   If you've been in the hunt for a house in either of those neighborhoods, you know that already.

This isn't to say that ALL homes in White Oaks and Howard Park are flying off the market, nor does it imply every home in the hills is sitting around collecting dust — 3191 Brittan Avenue up in the hills was just snatched up in only 6 days.   And it's not restricted to homes below $1M — 1386 Chestnut Street was listed at $1,595,000 and sold in 14 days with multiple offers.

But it speaks volumes about what kinds of homes are in demand right now.    Homes that are in good condition and that have sensible floorplans are in high demand.   The closer they are to downtown and more bedrooms they have,  the demand ratchets up that much more.   For those homes, it's definitely a seller's market.

For the rest, the buyers seem to be calling the shots.

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