By Keri Brenner, Marin Independent Journal
The median price of a Marin home continued to rise in May to $1.189 million, up 5 percent from the $1.133 million median in May 2017, a real estate data tracking firm reported Friday.
Irvine-based CoreLogic also reported that the number of new, resale and condo homes sold in Marin in May rose by 5.1 percent to 372 homes, up from the 354 sold a year earlier.
Similarly, across the Bay Area, both the number of homes sold and the median price also rose in May over a year ago, said Andrew LePage, a CoreLogic analyst.
The Bay Area May median price, $875,000, was a record high and was “up 15.9 percent year-over-year from $755,000 in May 2017,” LePage said. “The region’s prior peak median was $850,000, reached in April 2018.”
Marin real estate brokers had mixed views on what was happening in the local market.
Kathy Schlegel, of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, said she was “not surprised” by Marin’s 5 percent increases in both median prices and sales volume.
“May sales reflect listings going into escrow in March and April,” said Schlegel, a past president of the Marin Association of Realtors. “These are typically hot buying months.”
She said things seem to be slowing down as summer kicks in.
“The spring buying frenzy of March, April and May has made way to the summer stall, as buyers are busy with family outings and vacations,” Schlegel added. “It is normal for the market to take a break during the summer months.”
Patti Cohn of Pacific Union Real Estate said she had a slightly different perspective on the Marin numbers, which she called “deceiving and erratic.”
“We are in a ‘table top,’ or plateau, market,” Cohn said. “That means we’re at the top, but prices are not going anywhere — not up or down.”
Cohn said she sees the market now “in an ‘affordability’ plateau,” meaning if prices fall 5 percent, demand will increase 10 percent. “It really is predictable and it makes sense.”
Schlegel had some similar perspectives related to supply and demand.
“As demand is experiencing its summer softening, home supply is up,” she said. “In the spring, new listings were but a handful — but inventory has increased in May and June.
“Just this past week, for example, there were 38 homes on the Novato brokers’ tour and 36 listings on the San Rafael brokers tour.
“I suspect,” Schlegel added, “that June, July and August sales and price increases will be more level.”
LePage, in his analysis, pointed to the increasing concentration of homes sold in the higher-priced brackets across the Bay Area.
“Despite the thin inventory of homes for sale and worsening affordability, the Bay Area managed to post a tiny — less than 1 percent — year-over-year gain in home sales last month,” he said. “The details behind that tiny gain are more interesting.
“Fewer than one in five homes — 18.7 percent — sold in the region last month were purchased for less than $500,000, and the number of homes that sold below that level fell nearly 25 percent, compared with May last year,” LePage said. “That sharp drop is the result of both the tight inventory below $500,000, as well as the effects of strong price appreciation.”