Where is the local real estate market headed?

By Meagan Levitan:

The job of a real estate agent is more complex and entailing than the general public (or mass media) would have you believe. Most believe we do nothing for a lot of money and are simply agents engaging in the usual rituals of sales — marketing, advertising, transacting, etc.

However I think it’s fair to say the job of an agent is two parts sales, one part prognosticator and one part psychologist.

The single most frequent question I’m asked is, “Where is the local real estate market headed?” Some, in answering this question, use charts and data. Others use a Magic 8 Ball. Often we’re right, sometimes we’re wrong. The state of the real estate market is a moving target, at best.

In tracking daily sales reports for all types of properties in the City, I’ve found that many properties are still selling over asking — maybe by only $1000 but over asking nonetheless. What does this mean, you ask this prognosticator? The answer is twofold, I believe: first that the asking price was in the right range to begin with (as opposed to too high) and that the over asking price may have reflected multiple offers. The other aspect is that there are still some sellers who want over asking just because — even if it’s just by a smidgen. No seller likes to think they’re leaving money on the table (and that they could’ve gotten more for their place). A just-over-asking price can allay that concern.

Given the healthy amount of new inventory that continues to come onto the market, the number of properties that go into escrow daily and the overall reasonableness of interest rates, I would have to say the state of the local market, though still uncertain in some segments, is stronger than most parts of the country. It’s estimated that the overall real estate industry will see a turn around at the end of 2008. Whatever flattening and inconsistencies we see here locally should turn a corner in the spring at which point, I think, you’ll see things start to really pick up.

As for an agent’s job to be part psychologist: buying or selling real estate in San Francisco is arguably the biggest transaction someone will engage in over the course of their life. Having an agent who is a good listener and hand holder will make the ride a little less bumpy…plus my counseling sessions usually include the beverage of your choice.

Welcome December…and GO STANFORD!



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