Why do sellers care if the offer has a loan or is all cash?

Image of $20 and $10 bills with the words "Why do sellers care if it's a loan or all cash?"Why are all cash offers such a big deal?

Buyers who are getting slammed out of the Silicon Valley real estate market due to low inventory and multiple offers are extremely frustrated. Part of the problem may be the amount of cash in their offer. It can be hard to compete with bids with smaller loan amounts or which are “all cash, no loans”.

The question arises all the time: why isn’t my 20% down offer just as good as the 50% down or the all cash offer? Isn’t 20% down good enough? Or for that matter, why wouldn’t a lower interest rate FHA backed loan be suitable?

All cash is better because there’s less risk

Twenty percent down is “good enough” if there are no other offers. If it’s multiple offers, though, it’s probably not sufficient for most sellers provided that the all cash offers are written with realistic pricing. Right now, about 15% of home sales in Santa Clara County are all cash, and sellers would far rather deal with an offer that includes no finance or appraisal contingencies.  For sellers, the fewer contingencies the better and no contingencies is ideal.  Particularly now, when we are seeing a very sudden and dramatic upswing in pricing, appraisal contingencies can kill an offer’s chances of success due to the fear of a low appraisal. With all cash, there is no appraisal at all – it’s a slam dunk on that front. (more…)

Weather, mother nature and home sales

Without stop signSo many variables impact the real estate market, both here in Silicon Valley but across the country.  Employment, interest rates, the stock market, the availability of real estate inventory, the confidence of the buying public (say, in the wake of a terroristic attack, announced layoffs, or global conflicts like the invasion of Ukraine) all can move the housing market one way or the other. But they’re not the only forces that do.

Weather and natural disasters can likewise have a pronounced effect on a local housing market too.

My Experience: The ’89 Quake

Anyone in the San Jose area in September of 1989 will vividly recall the Loma Prieta Earthquake, which occurred in the Santa Cruz Mountain Range between Los Gatos and Aptos. Jim and I were buying our first home at that time, in San Jose’s Cambrian district, and in fact did our “final walk through” just two hours before the quake hit.

Our closing got delayed as the lender refused to fund the loan until the home was professionally checked out by an appraiser. They’d seen images of the Bay Bridge, homes off their foundations, fallen chimneys and other disastrous structural failures and weren’t taking a chance on any home!

Luckily for us, the property we were in contract for was essentially unscathed. It was not a young home, but built by a respectable builder, and more importantly it was on solid ground. Thankfully the house was fully vacant since we were close to the planned close of escrow, so there was no fallen furniture or broken glass in the carpeting and most everything was visible and easy to check later for damages. We did close, though it was about 10 days later than expected.

For listings not yet sale pending, it was already a slowing market and the beginning of a correction, but the earthquake plunged the market more deeply into the doldrums. At least for awhile.

Weather Forecasting the Market Activity

There are similar stories with markets all across the state, country, and globe after similar disasters. More recently here in California we’ve seen major impacts on various markets after fiercly destructive wildfires. But mother nature can effect the housing market in much more subtle ways as well, no disaster necessary.

(more…)

The percentage of all cash sales in Santa Clara County

The percentage of all cash sales (all cash, no loans) rose in July, but the actual number of sales, shown immediately below, shrank a little. I pulled this data from the MLS today and it’s reflective of whatever the listing agent entered into the fields for financing.

Number of Cash Sales of Single Family Homes in Santa Clara County

 

Percentage of All cash sales, month by month, in Santa Clara County (single family homes)

Next, the actual percentage of all cash sales in the county for houses and duet homes.

Percentage of All Cash Sales in Santa Clara County for Jan 2013 - July 2023

 

The average for the 11 Julys shown is 13.9%, so July 2023 with 15.7% is interesting to see. Interest rates have skyrocketed over the last 14 months, forcing home prices down in the 2nd half of 2022. It’s a little surprising that we did not see a surge of cash buyers then, but their numbers stayed in the typical range from what I’m seeing.

Now, in mid 2023, we have seen both interest rates and home prices rising – at least for the first 6 months of the year – in most of the valley.

Cash buyers are usually investors, but not always. Sometimes they are homeowners who sold their long held family home and are now downsizing and buying with the proceeds of the larger home that they just sold. We don’t get that piece of data from the MLS, but anecdotally, that’s what I’m seeing with the cash offers I’m seeing and hearing about.

 

What does it mean that cash buyers are an increasing percentage of the closed sales?

  • Rising interest rates not only don’t harm the all cash, no loans buyers, it actually helps them as it weakens their competition
  • These buyers may be feeling more confident with the softened market and easier buying conditions generally
  • My thinking when we saw interest rates rising is that it would help the mortgage free buyer more than anyone else – that seems to be the case.

(more…)

Cambrian Park Condo & Townhouse Real Estate Market Update

Cambrian Park Real Estate Market graphicHow’s Cambrian Park condo & townhouse market? Normally we answer this question in brief with regular monthly updates over on the Cambrian Park Real Estate Market Update. Here we will provide some more depth  with condominium and townhome data.

Before we dive in the the statistics for sold properties last month, let’s see what’s selling now in the Cambrian Park condo & townhouse  segment of the market.

Cambrian Park Condo & Townhouse market

Just now (as of November 14, 2022), I looked into the MLS to see the condo and townhome sales in Cambrian over the last month. Inventory is painfully low, and therefore, so are the sales.

  • There are 8 units listed for sale as “active” (not pending or under contract)
    • 6 are listed as condos (1 is “agent only” status, do not show)
    •  2 are listed as townhouses (both are “agent only” status)
  • 0 homes are under contract with one or more contingencies
  • 0 homes are pending with no contingencies
  • 7 condos / townhomes have sold and closed escrow in the last 30 days (4 condos, 3 townhomes)
    • They sold with an average of 14 days on market (condos 17 days, townhomes 9)
    • Average sale price to list price ratio was 101% (range 97% – 112%, condominiums averaged 99%, townhouses 104%)

Home prices appear to be down about 10% from the peak generally. It could be more or less in any given micro market.

Now let’s have a look at some of the numbers from our Real Estate Report:

Real Estate Report: Cambrian Park Condo & Townhouse Market – San Jose

Home prices are down from the peak here as they are throughout the valley. Please take the month over month and year over year sale price numbers with a big grain of salt. With so few transactions happening, there’s not enough data to be really accurate. What’s better is finding what else has sold for your home (or the one you’re interested in) recently. It should be within a mile, have the same school district, zip code, and similar location overall, and it should be within 10% of the home size of the comparable, or “comp”.

What we do know is that the days of inventory and the days on market are both longer than they were.  The market is jiggling up and down a little each month, and the general trend may be that we’ve hit the bottom of pricing for now.

 

Trends At a GlanceOct 2022Previous MonthYear-over-Year
Median Price$680,000 (-24.9%)$905,000$901,250 (-24.5%)
Average Price$814,271 (-9.9%)$903,625$945,883 (-13.9%)
No. of Sales(-12.5%)818 (-61.1%)
Pending(+60.0%)514 (-42.9%)
Active(+25.0%)4(-44.4%)
Sale vs. List Price101.1% (+2.6%)98.5%102.1% (-1.0%)
Days on Market17 (+30.6%)1316 (+8.3%)
Days of Inventory21 (+47.8%)1515 (+42.9%)

Altos Research Live Charts

The market profiles are live, updating automatically once every week, with active inventory from MLS listings.

Most of Cambrian Park falls under the 95124 zip code.  Here’s a quick look at the main real estate market data points for Cambrian 95124 this week:

 

What’s making it strong when prices have fallen? Mostly it’s a lack of inventory couples with a healthy buyer demand.

(more…)

Did you take take care of needed repairs when you bought you home?

Photo of drywood termite pellets - Home in need of termite repairsDid you do the repairs outlined when you bought your home?

Recently I showed a home where the owners had been there 7 or 8 years but never did any of the suggested repairs from their pre-sale inspections when they purchased the home “As Is“. The As Is part means that no repairs were provided by the sellers, with the idea that buyers would do whatever was needed later.  Desperate to get in when prices were appreciating fast, it seemed that most home buyers said “we’ll take care of it after we own it“.

But many of them forgot.

Today, with the whitest hot market I’ve ever seen in my career, most sellers fix the major items because they understand that it will net them a higher sale price. They fix the foundation, electrical, plumbing, waste lines, roof leaks, pest items, safety issues, and do whatever other repairs would make a buyer pause.

Some, though, don’t do any repairs at all – none! Often they are the same sellers who won’t stage their homes, or for whom scheduling a showing is a big effort, and maybe the disclosures aren’t so thoughtfully done. (In recent weeks I saw a disclosure package in which the sellers wrote on every page, “AS IS SALE” and refused to answer each question.) It’s a giant red flag that these may be difficult sellers.

If you want to maximize your profits, don’t let that seller be you. As Is certainly is the norm, but it’s As Disclosed. Wouldn’t buyers pay more if they weren’t worried about needing to do a lot of expensive and time consuming repairs? You bet. Confident buyers pay more. Let that be your mantra, home sellers.

Pull out your old file, find your inspection reports and review them, especially if you are preparing to sell your home

(more…)

Why listing agents don’t like to issue counter offers in today’s hot market

Gotta Get That Call!It’s a little funny that when Silicon Valley home sellers and their listing agents get contracts or offers, many do not want to deal with issuing or negotiating counter offers.  In many cases, it can go like this fictional bidding scenario:

Offer due date set, and let’s say there are 5 offers.  Of the five, perhaps one is all cash, one is half cash, and the rest are 20-25% down.  Most offers will be in a tight cluster of pricing (this is probably “true market value”).  One may be far higher than the rest. Or perhaps two a little higher than the others.

  • The seller wants the highest price, no contingencies, and preferably, all cash.
  • If the all cash offer is non-contingent (no contingencies for inspection, loan or appraisal) and is the highest price, there will be a straight acceptance in almost all cases.  No counters.
  • If the best combination of cash and contingencies and pricing is the half-cash offer, most likely the listing agent will phone that buyers’ agent and ask if those buyers would match the highest price.  If those buyers say yes, one counter offer will be issued and it will have a short deadline for response.
  • If the “best combination” buyers say no, the listing agent and sellers will move to the next best offer, however they decide “best” looks, and phone them, giving them the opportunity to come up.
  • In these scenarios, meanwhile, the rest of the buyers and their agents wait – and hear nothing in the meantime.

Once in awhile, there are a few good offers that are all neck-and-neck, and perhaps there’s one flaky looking offer at a higher price.  If that happens, the listing agent and sellers may issue a multiple counter offer to most or all bidders.  That used to be really common, but today, I’m finding the most typical scenario is the “one phone call” approach instead.  (more…)

Silicon Valley’s real estate market by school district: Santa Clara County

Today I want to share with you some stats provided by my real estate brokerage, Sereno Group. One of our own has crunched the numbers by school districts across various counties. Schools are a major driver in the real estate market, often more than zip code or city name, so here’s a very valuable approach to understanding the local housing market a bit better: a view from the vantage point of school districts.

Most of Silicon Valley is in Santa Clara County, followed by San Mateo County and a few neighboring areas. (It is sneaking into San Francisco and has also been present in pockets of Alameda and Santa Cruz Counties also.) Today, I’ll just focus on Santa Clara County.

Many cities or towns have multiple school districts. For instance, in Los Gatos, students may be served by Campbell, Los Gatos, or Union schools – depending on the address. San Jose, being the largest city in the county, has far more school districts than that.

First up, here are the numbers for Santa Clara County by high school district, a market update for May 2020:

Santa Clara County real estate market by high school district 2020 single family homes

 

Continue reading to see Santa Clara County’s real estate market data sorted by elementary school district.

(more…)

Almaden Valley Housing Market: Inventory, Days on Market, Median Price Per Square Foot and More

How are the key housing indicators in the Almaden Valley area of San Jose? At the moment it’s said to be a hot “seller’s market” overall.  But look closer and you can see that in the Almaden Valley housing market there are clear market micro-climates.  Prices are better for sellers, while buyers struggle with higher prices and less homes to choose from.  Recently we have seen a slight cooling, too – very welcome for Almaden home buyers.

Almaden Valley Housing Market: Inventory of Houses for Sale

Right now I have a few Almaden Valley home buyers and they have all been disappointed at the lack of inventory. What’s happening?

First, let’s see what “usually” happens in the 95120 zip code in terms of the number of houses for sale. Here’s a look at the last 10 years (all available history), care of Altos Research – you can see that it’s been rising since January 1st, but it’s a proverbial drop in the bucket:

 

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

 

Here you can see that inventory has regular peaks and dips. Inventory tends to rise early each year and peak in mid to late summer. After the peak is a decline through autumn and winter with the lowest point in the coldest part of the year before turning around again before spring.

Now let’s look up close at just the last 3 years. Again, inventory IS rising, so it’s betting a little easier for buyers, but still difficult compared to the last 3 years.

 

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

 

As usual, our inventory bottoms out in winter and then rises beginning sometime after the Super Bowl or perhaps a little later. Right now we are still in “rising inventory” mode in Almaden, so the market should be softening a little. Also, we are hearing of “buyer fatigue”, so in many cases there may be fewer offers than earlier in the spring. (more…)

The Luxury Real Estate Market in Almaden, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga

How is the Luxury Home Market?Luxury home sales are going like crazy in the west valley areas of Santa Clara County. Right now in Almaden Valley, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga, there are 115 houses for sale listed at or more than two million dollars (just checked MLSListings.com), and in the last 30 days 52 have sold and closed escrow in those same areas and price ranges. For the Almaden – Saratoga region generally, then, there are 2.212 months of inventory in the over two million dollar price range (115/52). That makes it a strong seller’s market. Things have certainly stayed lively since last year. (In the same region, there are 39 pending sales.)

Next we’ll look at these four Silicon Valley communities separately to see how the luxury market in each one is faring overall.

Almaden Valley (San Jose, 95120)

Currently in Almaden there are 12 houses for sale which are listed at or over $2,000,000.  In the last 30 days, 3 sold in that price range (with 2 sales pending). That makes for 4 “months of inventory,” which can be considered a balanced market in many areas though is leaning towards being a seller’s market. That would mean this luxury market has good turnover but is not as strong a market as elsewhere. It’s a close to balanced market in Almaden Valley among the most expensive real estate offerings for sale. Five to six months is balanced and over six is a buyer’s market. (more…)

Santa Clara County Appreciation

Home values in Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley, have been going through the roof ever since Google announced that it was going to expand into downtown San Jose. Communities like Cambrian, Willow Glen, Blossom Valley, and Santa Teresa were seeing values rise at a good clip prior to the announcement. But since Google essentially put the golden shovel into the ground – in theory – the prices turned straight up, like a geyser. Santa Clara County appreciation has perhaps never been stronger than it is right now.

Realtor Property Network, or RPR, is a tool available to those of us who are dues paying members of the National Association of Realtors. Tonight I was looking at the data for a few communities within Santa Clara County, and was amazed at the appreciation over just the last month in some of them. Here’s what I found:

 

Santa Clara County Appreciation

 

The more expensive areas, such as Los Gatos, are appreciating nicely – but not at the same rate as the more affordable areas like Blossom Valley and Santa Teresa (both districts within the sprawling city of San Jose).Santa Clara County Appreciation as whole has risen 21.77% since a year ago.

What does that mean?

In terms of dollars and sense, it can mean seeing your whole down payment disappear. Those who have cautiously waited on the sidelines have seen the value of their buying power shrink while they studied the market and looked for a good deal.

In Santa Teresa, the median home price this last month was $965,000 and the average home price was $981,000 (per my Silicon Valley Real Estate Report). Six month ago, those numbers were $875,000 and $896,000. Home prices have gone up about $14,000 – $15,000 per month (based on the median and average sale prices).

While I was mid way through my research, the RPR site went off for scheduled maintenance. I was going to check Saratoga and Cupertino next to see if my theory holds true that this rising tide (i.e., Google) is mostly floating the boats in the most affordable areas. That will have to be continued.

At my office meeting yesterday, I heard many real estate agents tell tales of woe for their buyers, who were going up against 20 to 30 or 40 other competing offers – or more!

It is, indeed, a challenging time for home buyers. For home sellers, it’s a dream – as long as they don’t also have to buy here in Santa Clara County or anywhere else in Silicon Valley.

Interested in buying or selling in Santa Clara County, or nearby? Please give me a call and we can schedule a time for a confidential consultation.