Fairfax CA Real Estate Market Report – Summer 2010

So I ran a bunch of numbers on July 28th, as I had noticed and uptick of sales in hillside homes in Fairfax, and I thought it would be a good time to take stock of the market with a mid-summer report.  I didn’t do anything with the data for a couple of weeks, so I had to run it again today on August 14th.

It’s interesting how little has changed in the last 17 days…shall we call a little bit of consistency comforting?

The good news for you hillside homeowners is that, from my last report on June 11 until now, a bunch of hillside homes have sold.  So far this year, 10 homes that can be classified as “hillside” (as opposed to “hilltop”) homes have sold.  This represents appx 21% of the total homes sold.  When I did my last report on June 11 that number was only 3 homes representing 10% of the market.  The total number hillside homes on the market currently for sale as a percentage of total homes on the market has remained the same:  33%.

So going from a 10% to a 21% share of homes sold is definitely a step in the right direction for the hillside homes. In addition, there have been some more expensive hillside homes sell, including 907 Bolinas Road for $1.065M and 55 Hillside for $799k.  So that’s great news!

The bad news is the continued softness in the prices for hillside homes.  In 2010, the avg cost/sq ft of a Fairfax hillside home is $350/sq ft.  This compares to $437/sq ft in the flats.  So you pay a 25% premium to live in the flats in Fairfax.  Another way to look at it is that you get a 20% discount to move up the hill.

Let’s hope this activity trend continues, as the hillside market represents a third of our market here in Fairfax That market needs to improve for the overall market to improve.  Selling through some of these homes will reduce the inventory and have a positive effect on prices across the community.

Speaking of the overall market, we are at the end of a seasonally slow time. The real estate market in Marin is very quiet over the summer, and it picks up again for our “second season” in the fall.

So far this year, and as I shared in my Spring 2010 report in June, the sales numbersare up and the prices are flat.  Up until today, August 14, we’ve seen 47 single family homes sell in Fairfax.  This compares favorably with the same period last year, where we had seen only 35 homes sell.  So total sales continue to be up, and the number is up 34% over last year.  This number is continuing to improve, as on June 11 the year-over-year sales increase was 30%.

YTD the value numbers are interesting.  For the 47 single family homes sold, the average price is down 4% to $650,000 and the median price is down 9% to $599k.  This does not tell the whole story though.  YTD the average cost per square foot of living space, a very useful metric, is $417/sq ft.  This compares to $442/sq YTD on this date last year, down 6%.

So what gives?

I still say the numbers are flat.

At this point last year, just 2 “big time fixer” (big work needed just to move in) sold.  This compares to 9 houses that I would describe as “big time fixer” this year.  That’s a 350% increase in ‘big time fixers”.  Why all the super fixers?  I don’t know, but it’s important to know that these nine dumpy places have affected the overall numbers.  Keep this in mind.  I still say the market is flat, and more expensive homes are selling much better this year.  Net-net, just not as many nice houses, and this has played out throughout Marin.  These dumpy places really hit the cost of the market.  People with nice houses are keeping them.

One last thing, and that’s distressed properties.  So far in 2010, there have been 6 distressed sales, 13% of the market.  This compares to 3 distressed out of 35 sales total sales, 9%, during the same period in 2009, so those numbers have increased.

Overall, I remain optimistic about the prospects for Fairfax real estate.  There are definitely people out there looking for homes, but they either want a great deal on hopefully a great house.  If the house has some issues, or if it’s on the hillside, the buyers look for huge value.  I see the market remaining flat for prices, and up for total homes sold for the rest of 2010.  I think we might start to see some appreciation in the second half of 2011.

Rates are killer right now, I’ve seen rates for 15-year loans under 4% recently.  If you have not refinanced, don’t miss out on this.