Solar panels & a normalish spring market

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Solar panels & a normalish spring market
Solar panels a normalish spring market


Every week I get asked about solar panels. Do they add value? Should I price my listing higher? Will buyers pay for it? These are big questions and there’s no quick answer. But here are some things I think through and bring up when people call. This is just over ten minutes. Then for those interested, I have a huge market update to talk through the kinda sorta normal spring market.

Solar Video: Watch the video by clicking the image above (or here).

A Podcast I did with Norm: If solar isn’t your thing and you need a podcast to listen to, I just talked with Norm Shriever about appraisals, owning islands, Zillow, my Dad bod, etc… Listen directly on YouTube if you wish.

As always, thanks for being here.

—–——– Big local monthly market update (long on purpose) —–——–

Spring is feeling fairly normal so far. What a difference from the doom we felt in the latter half of 2018. Let’s talk about it.

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THE SHORT VERSION:
  • Prices are up from the fall
  • Prices aren’t up much from last year
  • There’s lots of competition if priced right
  • Sales volume has slumped for 11 months
  • There are 2,500 less sales this year
  • So far the spring has felt fairly normal
  • This post is long on purpose. Skim or pour a cup of coffee.

DOWNLOAD 80+ visuals: Please download all graphs here as a zip file. See my sharing policy for 5 ways to share (please don’t copy verbatim).

THE LONGER VERSION:

Here are some of the bigger topics right now:

It feels flat around here: Prices are definitely up from the big lull we had during the fall season, but they’re not up by much compared to last year. This is why I’ve been describing the market as flat. Most price metrics in the region are up only 2-3% over the year. In the region we’re seeing prices about level with the height of last year, though in Sacramento County we’re slightly above. This could obviously vary by neighborhood.

A more normal spring: I was talking to a real estate agent today and she said, “You know, it just feels like a normal spring.” I tend to agree. Stats are showing normalcy and we’re seeing what we’d expect to see at this time of year. Prices are up, inventory is down, sales volume has ticked up from the fall, it’s taking less time to sell, and pending sales have been strong. This doesn’t mean the market is perfectly healthy, but from a stats perspective it’s been fairly normal.

2,500 less sales this year: On one hand sales volume has recovered this spring to almost normal levels, but over the past year volume is actually down 8.5% in the region. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but think about it this way. There were 2,500 less sales this year in the region compared to last year. While this isn’t the sign of a market meltdown, it’s definitely something we have to watch. At best I would say this is an off year, and at worst it’s a symptom of the market starting to change in more significant ways (which we will only know as time unfolds). In short, don’t write home over this yet, but keep an eye on it.

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Zillow: Last week Zillow announced they’ll be entering the Sacramento market by the end of the year. This is huge news, but it’s really what we expected. These days there are a handful of tech companies trying to challenge the traditional real estate model by buying privately from sellers and then re-listing on the open market. There’s lots to say about this and I’ll have some posts in the future. For now I just wanted to say I find it ironic that as much as Zillow loves to tout their accuracy rate, they won’t be buying properties based on the Zestimate. Otherwise I imagine lots of overvalued owners would jump at the opportunity, right?

Low rates are the x-factor: At the end of 2018 it seemed like the market was ready to take a dive, but lower rates this year have helped bring buyers back into the market and sustain higher prices.

Real estate is like the stock market: When I say the market is slower I get a little pushback at times. The idea is, “Dude, I just had 14 offers on my house. How dare you say the market is slow!!!” Look, it’s impossible to describe every neighborhood and price range with just one statement. This is why I say the real estate market is like the stock market. While the market as a whole might be doing one thing, not every stock is experiencing that same exact trend. In the same way, not every neighborhood, price range, or property type can be explained the same way.

Do cannabis dispensaries increase residential value? I did an interview last week with CBS 13 to talk about a study that says cannabis dispensaries increase the value of surrounding residential properties. What do you think of that? The truth is vibrant commercial properties can certainly help increase value, though I’ve never met a buyer who said, “I will totally pay more because of a dispensary down the street.” Anyway, that’s my take.

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Hey girl, let’s have bubble talk: Prices are just about back to where they were fourteen years ago when the market collapsed in 2005. In fact, most price metrics in Sacramento are within 1-3% of the peak. This means with just a little more modest price growth we might be having “Hey girl, we’re back” (yes, that was a Ryan Gosling reference (sorry)).

Keep in mind the market in 2005 was much different than today and there is no such thing as a formula where the market “pops” if we reach 2005 levels. Technically speaking, current values aren’t actually anywhere near 2005 when we consider inflation. But you know, very few buyers actually think about inflation like this – unless they’re economists, grad students, real estate geeks, etc…. In case it helps, here’s a post I wrote about buyers worried about another housing bubble.

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Appraisals coming in lower: I’m hearing from some contacts of appraisals coming in lower than the contract price. As the market slows, this is something we’ll likely see more frequently if properties are getting into contract at prices that cannot be supported by market data. Of course some appraisals may legitimately come in too low, and I’m not naive about that. Whatever the case, I’d advise sellers to price realistically and in some cases pick the strongest offer instead of the highest one.

Price sensitivity: Literally half of all homes last month had multiple offers in the Sacramento Region. This reminds us buyers need to bring strong offers. But sellers ought to price correctly too. Buyers are not desperate and willing to pay unrealistic prices, so I advise aiming for the market instead of that one mythical buyer who will overpay for some reason. Remember, the market is very competitive, but that doesn’t mean prices are going crazy. 

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I could write more, but let’s get visual instead.

FOUR BIG ISSUES TO WATCH:

1) SPRING GETTING HOT: The market is heating up for 2019. We’re seeing price changes, lower inventory, and increased sales volume. So prices are up from the dull fall, but they’re also flat as you can see under #4.

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2) SLOWING MOMENTUM: Despite the heating, stats show the market is slowing down when we look at the rate of change by year. Looking at monthly, quarterly, and annual numbers helps give a balanced view of things.

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3) SALES VOLUME SLUMP for 11 months: It’s important to look at sales volume in a few ways to get the bigger picture. Here it is by month and year.

SACRAMENTO REGION:

Key Stats:

  • April volume down 8.2%
  • Volume is down 8.5% over the past 12 months

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SACRAMENTO COUNTY:

Key Stats:

  • April volume down 6.8%
  • Volume is down 7.2% over the past 12 months

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PLACER COUNTY:

Key Stats:

  • April volume down 4.3%
  • Volume is down 8.9% over the past 12 months

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EL DORADO COUNTY:

Key Stats:

  • April volume down 2.4%
  • Volume is down 12.5% over the past 12 months

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4) LAST YEAR VS THIS YEAR: Check out the price metrics below. Can you see why I’m saying prices seem flat lately? This may not be true in every single price range or neighborhood of course, but this shows us price momentum is slowing. With that being said, it’s still okay to say the market is “hot”. It is. But I’d say competition is hotter than price appreciation.

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NOTE: Take El Dorado County data with a grain of salt. Stats change significantly month by month.

Quick note on how NOT to use my content: Please don’t copy my post verbatim or alter the images in any way. I will always show respect for your original work and give you full credit, so I ask for that same courtesy. Here are 5 ways to share my content.

Now here are a bunch of images. Please enjoy.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY (more graphs here):

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SACRAMENTO REGION (more graphs here):

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PLACER COUNTY (more graphs here):

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EL DORADO COUNTY (more graphs here):

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DOWNLOAD 80+ visuals: Please download all graphs here as a zip file. See my sharing policy for 5 ways to share (please don’t copy verbatim).

Questions: What are you seeing out there? What do you think prices are doing? What are you hearing from buyers and sellers lately?

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