Business / Economy

San Benito Real Estate Snapshots: A Holiday Look at the Market

Statistics and advice for buyers and sellers in today's real estate market

Whoa, doggies!  It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as the old song goes. It's a lot of fun to show houses this time of year. Most of them are dressed with holiday flair which adds a festive feeling to a showing.  In addition, people who are not serious buyers are not looking at houses now…life is too busy to waste time on optional activities. So almost every looker is a buyer! 

What does the housing inventory look like in San Benito County right now? As of Dec. 15, there were 98 homes available for purchase, ranging in price from $240,000 to $25 million (I'll take a dozen…).  Roughly half of them are under the $500,000 price point.

We have had virtually the same amount of homes available all year. This does not factor in the new homes sold directly by the builder. These do not appear on the MLS (multiple listing service), though local agents keep an eye on them and vice versa. Obviously, pricing in real estate has to take into account all the players.

So how has the market faired this year? I was doing some research and discovered the prices have come up in Hollister and San Benito County an average of 17 percent in the last 12 months. That's actually a little scary.  Historically, real estate ROI (return on investment) has been 7 percent annually. I believe the rate of growth has been fueled in part by the pent-up demand created in the years when no one moved unless they ABSOLUTELY were forced to and by the upswing of the economy in general.

At the beginning of the year, it was definitely a seller's market, with multiple offers being relatively common. Now, inventory is staying on the MLS for longer times. The average days on the market before getting an accepted offer has gone from 27 in August to 60 this month. While having the luxury of picking from among several offers seems to have gone by the wayside, most properties are being sold at 98 percent of the list price. The average sales price this month has been $560,000. Properties are not selling for over list price as they were at the beginning of this year.

What does this mean for a seller? Price your properties correctly at the beginning.  Have your local agent show you your competition. Settle on a reasonable list price which makes your home the best deal in its price category. Clean it up, get rid of clutter and do necessary repairs. Your house will sell.

What does this mean for a buyer? You can expect to find a good selection of homes available in your price range. You are not going to get the Deal of the Century. Pick the home which best meets your needs and make a reasonable offer.  Don't look at homes out of your price range in the hopes you can get "a steal".

One of the worst strategies for both a seller and a buyer is the "Let's Just See." For sellers, pricing a home too high makes it so the property shows poorly against its competition. And even worse, people who could afford to buy the home (and might really love it!) won't even see it because they think it's out of their price range. For buyers, throwing a lowball offer into the ring might actually insult the buyer, who could then refuse to deal with you at all. As professionals, Realtors try to dissuade clients from Let's Just See, but its siren song is strong.

If it seems like buying or selling is in your future, it is never too early to consult with your Realtor who can help you in every aspect of the real estate transaction. 

It's a good life!

Nants Foley is the Realtor co-owner and executive broker at Four Corners Real Estate Group at 717 San Benito St. in Hollister.  She may be reached at [email protected] or 831-801-5110.

Nants Foley - Broker Associate

Nants Foley is a real estate broker DRE 01222234 and writer who works throughout California. She makes her home at Quicksilver Farm in San Benito County.