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Silicon Valley Housing Market Trends - Second Quarter 2010 Update

In the second quarter of this year (April to June) we can really see which areas of the housing market have bounced back from the crisis and which areas are still struggling. To visualize those details, and to complement our second quarter 2010 analyses of Los Altos, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Sunnyvale, we have created some city comparison graphs. We’ll cover total sales volume, sale price to listing price ratio, days on market, median selling price, and number of homes sold, using data on single-family homes off of MLS listings Inc.

First, let’s have a look at: 

Total sales volume clearly shows that over the past two-plus years the housing market dropped after peaking in 2008, then slowly bounded up and down, successively higher each quarter. The second quarter of this year really reflects a trend towards returned growth in the housing market of our local cities.

One additional interest to point out is that although most of the cities have not yet reached 2008 sales volumes, Mountain View has surpassed it.

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The sales price to list price ratio is one way to show buyer and seller perceptions: above 100% is a seller’s market, and buyers are paying above the listing price to win a house; below 100% is a buyer’s market, and sellers are having to reduce their listing price in order to sell a house. The closer a city is to 100% the more the market is balanced.

On a house that is listed for $1 million, a 1% change would amount to $10,000.

In both quarters this year, Mountain View and Sunnyvale have both been above 100%, a result of high demand for entry-level homes. Palo Alto and Los Altos, the more desirable and expensive of the cities, are still under 100% (Los Altos is at 98.21%, recovering from a glaring low of 93.56% in the beginning of 2009).

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The Average days on market is a good indicator of buyer demand and the overall health of the housing market. From the graph, we can see all four cities returning nearly to 2008 levels this quarter, with Palo Alto and Los Altos realizing the greatest second quarter drops. This is another signal that the market is shifting to a seller’s market, making it more difficult, once again, for buyers to get find a good deal.

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The median selling price can be used in conjunction to the earlier ratio graph. Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale, which are all near or above a 100% ratio, have median prices that are rising. Los Altos, however, is still far from a 100% ratio and its median sales price remains stagnate.

Currently all four cities are off second quarter results in 2008 by more than 5% -- Los Altos is even more at nearly 13% under -- so buyers can still expect to save money due to depreciated home values.

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The number of homes sold for each city has either nearly returned to 2008 levels, or surpassed it in the case of Mountain View, which is 50% higher this quarter than the same period in 2008. Part of the reasoning is traditionally more homes go on sale and are bought during the summer months. But this also a result of more sellers willing to sell their homes in a stronger market and a release of pent-up buyer demand.

Recommend Reading:

Comparing Real Estate Trends of Local Cities

In order to help visualize the previous posts on the 2010 quarterly updates for Palo Alto, Los Altos, Mountain View and Sunnyvale, the graphs below show each city in comparison of overall home sales, median selling price and average days on market. The graphs cover quarterly results from 2008 to 2010 for single-family homes using data from MLS listings Inc.

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Number of homes sold –

It is hard to see how the cities responded to the crisis within this time frame since most home sales drop off during the winter months and spike in summer. But it is clear that home sales sagged in the first quarter of 2009, were slow to return initially, and then eventually returned to similar or stronger numbers by the end of 2009, which have continued through 2010.

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Median selling price

All four cities home prices started to slip at the end of 2008, with the exception of Mountain View, which dropped a couple quarters later. Prices rebounded mid-2009, after cities like Sunnyvale had bottomed out in the beginning of 2009, and have begun to stabilize at a depreciated value. Los Altos, which has the most expensive houses of the four cities*, realized a 20 percent drop from the beginning of 2008 to 2010; Mountain View dropped 17 percent, Palo Alto dropped 11 percent, and Sunnyvale dropped 15 percent.

*Los Altos may have a higher median selling price than Palo Alto, but part of that is the wider range of home prices available in each of the 14 Palo Alto neighborhoods, where the lower-end is selling quickly, and a population that is double the size of Los Altos. (Expect a post covering Palo Alto neighborhoods in the future.)

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Average days on market –

Building up to the crisis, average days on market increased for all four cities until the beginning of 2009. Interestingly, Los Altos and Palo Alto numbers are still increasing today, while Sunnyvale and Mountain numbers are dropping. This may be a result of higher priced homes in Los Altos and Palo Alto that tend to stay on the market longer, especially in a recession, in contrast to the strong demand for the greater supply of low priced entry-level homes in Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

Palo Alto Housing Market – First Quarter 2010 Update

Current Palo Alto real estate market update for 2010. Looks at median sales price, days on market, and the entry-level and high-end market in Palo Alto.