Low Inventory Provides Opportunity for Home Sellers

Posted by Jessica Boyd — October 27, 2011

1319749904Sonoma, CA – October 20, 2011 -- A depleted inventory of homes on the market across Sonoma County and a general lack of motivation among homebuyers were behind a slight increase in home sales and relatively “flat” home prices in the third quarter of 2011, according to a report by the research division of The Wine Country Group by Better Homes and Gardens based on an analysis of MLS data.

Countywide, 1,247 existing, single-family detached homes were sold during the third quarter of 2011, an 8 percent increase from 1,159 homes sold in the second quarter and up 11 percent from 1,125 homes sold during last year’s third quarter. Despite the increase in completed sales, home prices were “flat” to slightly lower in some Sonoma County communities. Countywide, the median sales price edged up a percentage point from $347,010 in the second quarter to $352,075, but that price was 8 percent below the year-ago figure of $382,668.

Thirteen of the 24 communities included in the report experienced both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year percentage increases in the number of homes sold, including Cloverdale, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Sonoma. Santa Rosa set the pace with 519 homes sold, followed by Petaluma (159 sales) and Sonoma (106). The number of homes sold likely would have been higher if not for the declining inventory of homes available for purchase in many Sonoma County communities. The current lack of inventory of move-in-quality homes in some areas and price ranges may present a window of opportunity for homeowners with equity and a desire to sell their current home or trade up.

While some homebuyers continued to mark time while awaiting the availability of a home that meets their quality and price expectations, investors with cash continued to compete with first-time and entry-level buyers for priced-to-sell short sale and REO properties. With much of the demand concentrated in this segment of the market, home prices remained “flat” or declined. Only five communities – Cazadero, Glen Ellen, Healdsburg, Jenner and Monte Rio – reported higher median sales prices on both a quarterly and annualized basis. In county’s population center along the 101 corridor, the continued presence of large numbers of distressed properties led to mixed or lower median sales prices.

“Looking ahead, both homebuyers and sellers seem to have adjusted to the notion that a “flat” real estate market characterized by modest ups and downs in sales and prices may be “the new normal” for Sonoma County – at least until the economy or rising interest rate motivates them to make a move,” said Timothy Hedges, Sebastopol branch manager.

Click here to read the rest of the Market Report.

Other notes:

The Dillon Beach community in Marin County is served by the Bodega Bay office of The Wine Country Group by Better Homes and Gardens. It is included for informational purposes and is not factored into the Sonoma County totals. Bodega and Valley Ford recorded no home sales in either Q2 2011 or Q2 2010so are not included in the chart, although their results are included in the aggregate sales and median price data.

Data are sourced from multiple listing services and are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

All percentages rounded to nearest whole number.

About Wine Country Group by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

Our heritage began with the founding of Mason-McDuffie Real Estate in 1887. In 2009, the company was named the 17th largest real estate services firm in the nation (RIS Media), and Number One in the San Francisco East Bay (SF Business Times). The company provides comprehensive solutions to home buyers and sellers, and handled more than 7,300 transactions in 2010, generating $2.9 billion in sales. Better Homes and Gardens Mason-McDuffie Real Estate is independently owned and operated and includes joint ventures with partners J F Finnegan Realtors, Highland Partners in Piedmont and Montclair. Wine Country Group in the north bay, and Tri-Valley Realty in Pleasanton-Hopyard and Ruby Hill. The organization is comprised of more than 2,000 sales professionals in 40 offices. For more information, go to www.winecountrygroup.com.

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