What do we expect for the 2019 real estate market?
It’s all about supply and demand. Right now, demand is decent and supply is low. Here’s a look at the inventory of single family homes for sale in recent years by month, first in town and then for the county.
Inventory of single family homes for sale in Los Gatos 95030 & 95032 from Jan 2012 – Jan 2019:
In town (not including the Los Gatos mountains area), Los Gatos has extremely low inventory. I ran the numbers and this is lower than any other January since 2002, the longest back that the MLS will let me go. Locally, that bodes well for those looking to sell in Los Gatos. (Currently there are NO homes for sale in the Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont, or nearby areas of LG.)
What about the broader area? Most of the county has looser inventory than we do in LG. Have a look:
Inventory of single family homes for sale in Santa Clara County Jan 2012 – Jan 2019:
I think it is really important to view this month’s inventory for the county not just in relation to January 2018 (“inventory is up 8% from last year, oh no!”) but in the context of all the recent years since we’ve been in recovery from the Great Recession. Yes, inventory IS up from last year for Santa Clara County, when the first 6 months of 2018 saw prices shooting up like a geyser due to highly restricted inventory and ongoing demand. Most of 2017 and early 2018 were off-the-charts into overdrive. From early 2012 through 2016, we had a market that was appreciating at a good pace – too fast for some buyers, who opted to become permanent renters rather than to participate. Current inventory levels are very low relative to 2012 and later.
A return of some of the normal patterns?
Inventory Los Gatos 95030 & 95032 2016-2019
Inventory tends to rise throughout the first half of the year, so I am expecting that to happen again in 2019. To the left, see a chart displaying the inventory of homes for sale in Los Gatos 95030 & 95032 from Jan 2016 to today. This is a pattern we usually see – though of course, it’s not a rule, and it can change.
Prices also tend to rise in the early part of the new year as inventory does not keep pace with demand, and I see no reason why that would not happen again.
Equally important is to understand that in the 2nd half of any given year, prices often soften. Home sellers sometimes believe that “summer is the right time to sell”, so get their homes on the market then. But activity from buyers slackens after the spring buying season, so in many years, inventory is higher than demand – so prices level off or even decline.
In 2018, prices in LG and the county did decline dramatically from the spring peaks, perhaps in the 12-15% range, generally.
Economists tell us that they expect the first half of 2019 to be decent to good, but not as wild a ride as early 2018. (Milder appreciation, 3-5%?) Some believe that the second half of 2019 will be much softer. A real estate correction is expected sometime between now and 2-3 years from now. We do believe that locally, in Silicon Valley, we are at or near the top of this real estate cycle. For those wishing to sell and move out of the area, 2019 could be a good year in which to do that. It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact top or bottom of the market, though. That is something we only know when it’s passed, just like with the stock market.