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The Local Lowdown: May 2024

The Local Lowdown: May 2024

The Local Lowdown

Quick Take:
  • Median home prices are slightly below peak levels across the North Bay. As more new listings come to market, we expect prices across most of the North Bay to continue rising and to reach new highs in the second quarter.
  • Active listings, sales, and new listings rose in the North Bay month over month, which are all beneficial for the housing market. We expect inventory to increase in the first half of the year and possibly return to a more normal market after the slowdown experienced over the past year and a half.
  • Months of Supply Inventory declined sharply from February to April, indicating that the market is heating up. MSI indicates a sellers’ market in most of the North Bay.
Note: You can find the charts/graphs for the Local Lowdown at the end of this section.

Year over year, median prices rose in April 2024 for single-family homes in the North Bay, with the exception of Marin

In the North Bay, low inventory and high demand have more than offset the downward price pressure from higher mortgage rates, and prices generally haven’t experienced larger drops due to higher mortgage rates. Month over month, in April, the median single-family home price in Marin corrected after the massive month-over-month increase in March. Napa single-family home prices were up slightly, while Sonoma and Solano were down slightly. Year over year, prices increased across most of the North Bay markets, up 18% in Napa, and up 1% in Solano and Sonoma. The median single-family home prices in the North Bay are fairly close to their all-time highs, especially in Sonoma. Prices in Solano and Sonoma could easily reach new highs in Q2 2024; Marin and Napa could do the same, but we view that as less likely at this time. Low, but rising inventory is only increasing prices as buyers are better able to find the best match.
High mortgage rates soften both supply and demand, but homebuyers seemed to tolerate rates above 6%. Now that rates are above 7%, sales may slow slightly in the next couple of months, which isn’t great for the market, but isn’t it terrible, either, as it may allow inventory to build in a massively undersupplied market.

Single-family home inventory, sales, and new listings increased month over month

Since the start of 2023, single-family home inventory has followed fairly typical seasonal trends, but at significantly depressed levels. Low inventory and fewer new listings have slowed the market considerably. Typically, inventory peaks in July or August and declines through December or January, but the lack of new listings prevented meaningful inventory growth. Last year, new listings peaked in May, sales peaked in June, and inventory peaked in September. New listings have been exceptionally low, so the little inventory growth in 2023 was driven by softening demand. In January 2024, single-family home and condo inventory and sales dropped, but more new listings came to the market, which drove a higher number of sales in February. Sales continued to climb higher in March and April, along with new listings.
With the current inventory levels, the number of new listings coming to market is a significant predictor of sales. New listings rose 21% month over month, and sales followed suit, increasing 14% as well. Year over year, inventory is up 19%, and sales are up 6%. Demand is clearly high in the North Bay, but more supply is needed for a healthier market.

Months of Supply Inventory fell in April 2024, indicating a sellers’ market

Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) quantifies the supply/demand relationship by measuring how many months it would take for all current homes listed on the market to sell at the current rate of sales. The long-term average MSI is around three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than three indicates that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI indicates there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). MSI trended higher in the second half of 2023, hovering between a balanced market and a sellers market. In January and February 2024, the North Bay market MSI continued that trend, but in March and April, MSI fell, indicating the housing market now favors sellers. The only exceptions are single-family homes in Napa and condos in Marin and Napa, which were balanced.

Local Lowdown Data

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