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2011 Housing Market’s Decoupling from Seasonal Trends Keeps Sellers Guessing

After an unusually strong start in January, home sales appear to have peaked in March and have continued to soften.  Articles about national sale trends confirm what we’ve been seeing in the Bay Area, both from fellow industry professionals and first hand experience.  Going into the summer, listings and sales are expected to stay soft, keeping the window of opportunity open for buyers.

Yet, qualified buyers continue to be frustrated with the lack of good properties available.  The current low prices from distressed properties are keeping non-distressed sellers from entering the market.  The few good properties that come up are nearly immediately bid up above asking prices and sold.  But, with few good recent comps available, not many sellers are willing to take that chance.  We anticipate the trend to continue through the end of the year, with an odd-couple of prime and distressed properties dominating the market.

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Meanwhile, many first-time buyers find themselves simply locked out of the market by new financing restrictions caused by HOA litigation.  This issue is affecting nearly all the condos and townhouses built during the boom, a huge part of the available inventory.

Today, each deal presents a novel set of struggles and terms.  Yet, despite the challenges, firms like ours are still closing on distressed properties.  So, while great deals are available, buyers need to work with very persistent and savvy agents.

Michael Cheng