The number of homes for sale hits a record high

As if buying a home in the Bay Area wasn’t difficult enough, it is currently difficult to find a home to buy.

The number of homes for sale in December hit all-time lows, falling 22% in San Francisco and the East Bay and 32% in the South Bay from a year earlier, according to Zillow data.

In recent weeks, only about 700 single-family homes were for sale in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties — less than half the number a year ago for a population of nearly 2.7 million people. . The East Bay is also pinched.

“It’s been a cold, dry winter,” said David Stark of the Bay East Association of Realtors, “for Bay Area real estate.”

The Bay Area’s home inventory has been tight for decades, with home construction lagging far behind the number of new residents migrating to the area for its booming economy and opportunity. The recent supply shortage has helped drive home prices to record highs, stoke bidding wars across the region and force buyers to cross items off their “must-have” lists or simply to abandon.

Sellers have been reluctant to put properties up for sale for a number of reasons, agents say: pandemic warnings, reluctance to move and become buyers in a fierce market, or a desire to wait for the value of their house increases. The median price of a single-family home in the nine-county Bay Area hit $1.2 million in December, up 13% from a year earlier.

By normal standards, a three-month inventory of homes for sale—roughly the measure of how long it would take to sell all available homes—is considered balanced, giving buyers enough choice and sellers enough opportunity. to move. In the Bay Area, inventory in December fell to less than a month, according to the California Association of Realtors.

The scarcity reflects a national trend. Online brokerage Zillow estimates that the supply of homes for sale in the United States is at an all-time high, falling 40% over the past two years. This pushed home values ​​up 20%, to a national median of $320,000.

“Homebuyers picked clean shelves in December,” Zillow economist Jeff Tucker said, “leaving fewer active listings in the U.S. housing market than ever before.”

Sales and listings typically slow during the holiday season, but this year’s drop is more dramatic than comparable winter downturns. Housing choices in some cities are particularly grim, according to data from Aculist.

The number of homes for sale in December in San Jose fell 60% from a year earlier to just 106 properties, fell 40% in Oakland to 103 and fell nearly 50% in Fremont where just 12 homes were for sale. Several other South Bay towns saw single-digit availability: 9 homes in Menlo Park, 6 in Cupertino, 5 in Burlingame, 4 in San Mateo and one in Campbell.

In the East Bay, the Lamorinda area had just 9 homes for sale, less than a quarter of last December’s total. Central Contra Costa County, including Concord, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek, had 35 listings, just over half of last year’s supply.

“It’s a different market because of supply,” said Michelle Ronco of Aculist. “It’s the worst.”

Agents and buyers report fatigue, frustration and an alternating cycle of hope and abject despair. “What inventory? asked Tina Hand, Pleasanton’s agent. “It’s risky.”

Sellers are still getting multiple offers and buyers have had to adjust to fewer choices, Hand said. “Some are at the point where they’re going to take what’s available.”

Menlo Park agent Brett Caviness, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors, saw deep frustration — especially among clients who made multiple aggressive offers and failed to land a home.

“Things sell out so fast,” Caviness said. “They must be ready to jump on it.”

Matt Rubenstein, a Compass agent in Walnut Creek, had several clients who had been searching for months. Buyers typically increase their budgets and lower their expectations.

Rubenstein visited some twenty homes with a couple. They found nothing. “It was difficult,” he said. “It’s a ton of work.”

Samantha and Jason Youngblood began their search with Rubenstein in August. They had been talking for five years about moving out of their rental home in Concord to have more space for their three school-aged children.

“We knew we had to move,” said Jason Youngblood, a 41-year-old electrician and foreman. “We’ve wanted a house for years and years and years.”

They wanted to find a four-bedroom house in Concord near their current rental so their kids wouldn’t have to change schools. They started with a budget of around $750,000, hoping to find a house ready to move into.

The couple visited open houses many weekends, but found few homes that met their space or school district criteria. They increased their budget to around $800,000 and began looking for three-bedroom homes that they could possibly expand.

They outbid three houses. “It was really a loss at the start,” said Samantha Youngblood, 39. “It hurt. It really hurt.

The Youngbloods finally closed on a three-bedroom in Concord a few days before Christmas. They have spent the last few weeks fixing it and expect to move in early February.

“We are fighters,” she said. “We don’t take no for an answer.”

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