March 2013 - Chasing the shadow: real estate’s wild ride

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MLSListings Market Data Report: March 2013

(Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz Counties)

March Housing Update: Chasing the shadow: real estate’s wild ride

Bay Area real estate’s wild ride continued in March, and with numbers so far from historic patterns, real estate experts have suggested that the real picture is becoming more defined as a result of the market churning through the so-called ‘shadow inventory.’ This month’s numbers reveal how and where these shadow transactions could be making a real impact on the market.

Year over year inventory is still on the decline in the five Bay Area counties – this month ranging anywhere from 36 percent to 50 percent below last year at the same time – yet sales have been holding fairly steady. This quarter, sales began to decline as well, which could suggest that any ‘shadow supply’ – possibly including REO and short sale properties - may finally have been exhausted. Sales are down by double-digits year over year in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, with Santa Cruz and Monterey following suit at a more modest 5 percent and 2 percent, and San Benito slightly up from March 2012.

Average days on market in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties – easily the lion’s share of real estate transactions in this area – have fallen to an average of 31 and 33 days, respectively, and as a result, more and more properties never make it onto monthly inventory counts. Compared to last year, median price is up substantially - 15 to 49 percent - in all five counties. As we near the optimal selling season, we normally would expect more properties hitting the market. As this doesn’t appear to be happening, the next few months will provide a better picture. Data for month-over-month comparisons can be found on

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Month over Month

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Year over Year

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Note: MLSListings data is tabulated from the 5th of the month to the 5th of the following month, primarily to account for late corrections and additions by agents; these updates are often not included in most market reports. MLSListings’ Market Data report reflects the most current information on the day the reports are generated.