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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 Bay Area. As more new listings come to market, we expect prices to continue rising and to reach new highs in the summer months.
  • Active listings, sales, and new listings rose 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 has declined sharply in 2024, indicating that buyer competition is ramping up. MSI implies a sellers’ market in most of the Bay Area.
Note: You can find the charts/graphs for the Local Lowdown at the end of this section.
 

Median single-family home prices rose month over month across the Bay Area

In the Greater Bay Area, 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, median single-family home prices were only slightly below their all-time highs. Even Marin and San Francisco prices, which were extremely far below their previous peaks, have risen dramatically in 2024. Condo prices have been less volatile than those of single-family homes, moving more horizontally over the past two years. We expect prices in the Bay Area to remain slightly below peak until the early summer, but prices will almost certainly reach new highs in the second quarter of 2024 in the North and East Bay. 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. New listings have been exceptionally low, so the little inventory growth in 2023 was driven by softening demand. In December 2023, inventory and sales dropped. However, more new listings have come to the market in 2024, which has driven the significant increase in sales so far this year. The market is already looking healthier, and we expect more new listings and sales in Q2 2024.

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). The Bay Area markets tend to favor sellers, which is reflected in their low MSIs. San Francisco MSI is notable for its variability over the past year, oscillating from buyers’ to sellers’ markets twice over the course of 12 months. Currently, MSI is below three months of supply (a sellers’ market) in every Bay Area county, except for single-family homes in Napa and condos in Marin, Napa, and San Francisco, which are now balanced.
 

Local Lowdown Data


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