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July 17, 2010

Today I want to step back and look not at the micro-markets but at the overall realty market in Los Gatos  from January 2005 to the present (through June 2010) and to get a sense of the major trends in our real estate sales.

Ratio of inventory to sales: One of the best ways to gage the health of the local real estate market is to check the ratio between available listings or inventory and homes closed in the last month (that ratio gives us the “months of inventory”). Below please find the numbers of listings and solds per month in Los Gatos beginning in January 2005 and going through June 2010.

Los Gatos Residential Real Estate Listings and Solds Jan 2005 to June 2010

The red bars above represent inventory (or available listings) and the yellow represent solds during that month.  While there are always more listings than solds, the futher apart they are the better it is for buyers and the worse for sellers.  When they are relatively close together, it’s more of a seller’s market (and worse for buyers).   You can see that in late 2006 and into early 2007 those two were at their closest – that was a strong seller’s market here.

Looking at the most recent bars on the far right hand side, which are for June 2010, you can see that sales are up a little but listings are up even more.  The net result is that it’s swung more into the buyer’s favor.   You can scan the last five years and see worse times, though, as in late 2008 and early 2009, when it looked like there was practically a moratorium on sales.

Also, if you find the bars for December for each year, you’ll see that the ratio between listings and solds is better (if you’re a seller).  What’s happening there?  Many homes are taken off the market during the holidays, but those which stay on have better odds of selling. 

Median Sales Price of Los Gatos Homes Sold:  The next big question that buyers and sellers have is how much homes are worth. Over the last 5.5 years in Los Gatos, we have seen our usually strong market take a bad tumble beginning in mid 2008 and then roller-coastering a bit from there. Overall, it looks like the “low” point is behind us, but it will take several more months of higher median sales prices for buyers and sellers to be confident throughout Los Gatos. (This is the town as a whole.  The market can be very different from one price point to the next – this is just a generalization.)

Los Gatos residential real estate median sales price Jan 2005 to June 2010

Average Days on Market: Finally, how long do homes stay on the market in Los Gatos before selling or being pulled from the market?

Los Gatos real estate average days on market

The average days on market are low for many months in the first half of this time period, but there are some spikes.  Just as the ratio of listings to solds is more favorable in December in the second chart, in this one we see that the days on market in December are usually the longest.   It is tempting to say that these homes are “picked over” but not every home that is available in December has been on the market a long time.   Conversely, the shortest months are often (though not always) in early spring – February through April.

This year, the trend for average days on market has been a bit up and down, but overall it’s better than most of what we’ve been seeing for the last two years.  The occasional months with spikes cause us to be less than certain, though, about recovery for this market as a whole.