NorCal – Where’s the Inventory?

I keep reading that re-sale inventory is at historic lows and there are bidding wars on the small amount of re-sales that are sprinkled throughout the marketplace. This is good news on several fronts. The first being that pricing for both new home and re-sales are rising….and quickly I might add. The second is that people who are getting back into the market for a home are being beat out by all cash, quick close investors on re-sale inventory and therefore being directed to find homes from the builders. Finally, the builders themselves are running low on ready to build lots (inventory) and scrambling to backfill the demand which equates to land prices that are skyrocketing (30%+ increases in a matter of weeks depending on the market). Let’s hope that we find a normalcy in the market so we can enjoy the bull market ride in housing and land.


Source: Ryan Long, Senior Marketing Consultant, (916) 784-3329 ext. 16


San Diego Housing Market Continues to Rebound

While job growth is the traditional driver of new home demand, the San Diego market recovery has been spurred on by primarily a dwindling of inventory, coupled with a continuation of government sponsored low interest rates. Analysts believe unsold inventory levels will remain relatively low for at least the next 12 to 18 months giving job growth in San Diego County an opportunity to rebound completely over the next few years. The increase in jobs is expected to give “new legs” to the current inventory depleted market rebound – giving us at least a three to five year upcycle.

Like many of the past housing market upcycles, overheated demand for subdivision land in the traditional location hotbeds, such as North Coastal San Diego County, have begun to spill over into communities located further east and inland – where there is a slightly greater number of available properties for sale.

Available subdivision land in North San Diego County communities, especially San Marcos, is experiencing a significant increase in demand from builders. While we saw residential subdivision land typically trading for around $200,000 a finished lot in early 2012, we are now seeing in the first quarter of 2013 lots going as high as $285,000 a finished lot.

The finished lot value for residential subdivision land in San Marcos has increased in excess of 40% over the last year!

The City of San Marcos is undergoing significant upgrades with an expanding university town with over 14,000 full time students now at California State University at San Marcos (compared to just 9,722 students in 2011), the recent opening of the new “high technology” public high scool, and the remodel of San Marcos High School. The $180 million remodel project was one of the largest high school construction projects in the State of California and now boasts higher test scores than some of the public high schools located within the prestigious school districts situated along North Coastal San Diego County (south of Oceanside). Planned development of the approximately 1,000-unit University District mixed-use master plan beginning in 2014 (to be located near the CSU Campus and 78 Freeway) and the new linear mixed-use development plans running several blocks east and west (parallel to San Marcos Boulevard and the upscale Discovery Hills single family neighborhoods), will transform much of San Marcos beyond its “poor man’s Carlsbad” traditional reputation.

With the present market momentum continuing its course in the near term and moving towards complete restoration of the residential real estate values lost in San Diego County during the recession, Team San Diego sees the next generation of residential subdivision land opportunities in North San Diego County also migrating up the 15 Freeway (north of Escondido) to communities such as Bonsall (with outstanding schools) and the unincorporated Pala Mesa area (with the widening of Highway 76 / Mission Road – serving as a four lane expressway connecting Interstate 5 with Interstate 15).

Source: Bob McFarland, Marketing Consultant, (858) 568-7428 ext. 12

FRESNO: Fat Tuesday, Skinny Inventory

Now is the time for homebuilders to open their stalled legacy projects. Beazer Homes recently closed out The Groves at Sunnyside Point, their neighborhood adjacent to KB Home’s Olive Lane new home community located in Sunnyside Fresno. New homebuilders will not have to compete as hard for new home buyers shopping the area.

According to the California Association of Realtors, Fresno County home prices increased 15.3%, but sales were down 22.2% from the previous year. Madera County saw prices increase 36.1%, but sales were down 24.4% from the previous year. However, sales are looking up with a 19.2% increase in sales from the previous month in Madera County.

December 2012 County Sales and Price Activity

Median Sold Price of Existing Single-Family Homes

# of Sales





MTM% Chg

YTY% Chg

MTM% Chg

YTY% Chg

















Source: California Association of Realtors

According to Land Advisors Organization research, unsold inventory in Fresno County decreased 7.3% from the previous year and Madera County decreased 47.4% from the previous year. The median time on market decreased 24.1% in Fresno County and increased 25.4% in Madera County from the previous year.

December 2012 County Unsold Inventory and Time on Market

Unsold Inventory Index

Median Time on Market









3.8 Months

4.2 Months

4.1 Months

26.4 Days

26.3 Days

34.8 Days


2 Months

3.2 Months

3.8 Months

64.6 Days

27.9 Days

51.5 Days

Source: California Association of Realtors

Home Buyer demand is escalating fast.  Quality resale inventory is sparse.  If you own 10 or more acres of land in the path of development, you should be at the City processing a subdivision map faster than Mardi Gras beads flying from a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street.  If you are not familiar with the entitlement process please contact me so I can help get you started.

Fresno developers plan medical campus at Millerton Lake. FULL STORY

Source: Mark Utman, Marketing Consultant, (559) 549-6326

San Diego County’s Land Market On Its Own High Speed Train


Unlike our Sacramento politicians’ boondoggle, San Diego’s land market has been picking up steam faster than a bullet train over the last few months.  According to reliable reports, over 2,400 new residential units were sold last year in San Diego County:

  • 1st Quarter 2012:   475 units sold
  • 2nd Quarter 2012:  680 units sold
  • 3rd Quarter 2012:   631 units sold
  • 4th Quarter 2012:   642 units sold

It is also important to note that approximately one third of the actively selling new home developments in 2012 consisted of condominiums or townhomes.  We expect that percentage to dramatically rise in the near term as monthly rental rates in many parts of the county now exceed monthly mortgage payments (i.e., P.I.T.I. and association dues), available at new construction condominium and townhouse communities.

Job Creation on the Rise

Evidence that this market momentum is growing can be seen in the sales volume reported for the traditionally slow 4th Quarter holiday season where sales exceeded the previous quarter and there was approximately a 30% increase in comparison to the 4th Quarter of 2011 (i.e., 494 sales reported in the 4th Quarter of 2011 versus 642 sales accounted for in the 4th Quarter of 2012).

Absorption Rates Expected to Increase

Although the average rate of absorptions of actively selling developments is still in the 2.0 sales a month range, a rapid decline in available new home supply is expected to boost absorption rates on remaining projects in the near term. For example, there were 113 actively selling new home developments in San Diego County during the 4th Quarter of 2011.  At the end of 2012, there were only 73 actively selling projects – that’s a 55% decline.  Approximately 60 projects sold out over the course of 2012, while only approximately 20 new projects entered the market during the same period of time.  Among the remaining new home developments in the County, approximately 2,233 units are left to either enter the market or currently remain unsold.  This equates to approximately an 11 month supply based upon a continuation of new home sales at a minimum of last year’s rate (i.e., approximately 2,428 annual sales reflecting a recovery beginning in the 2nd Quarter of 2012).  This bodes well for the health of the market going forward given 2012 sales did not pick up steam until the 2nd Quarter. Thus 2013 sales are expected to exceed last year’s total.  Historically, approximately a 12 month supply of unsold inventory (units offered for sale and remaining unsold), is considered approaching a supply/demand balance.

4thQ Actively Selling Projects

 Many housing analysts refer to the housing market rebound in San DiegoCounty and the nation as a “jobless recovery.”  While there is no question that the combination of a dwindling inventory and historically low interest rates have jump started the market, job creation in San Diego County over the last year has increased notably (approximately 29,000 annual net new jobs by year’s end in 2012 as estimated by Point Loma University Economist Lynn Reaser). This is a major factor which has largely flown under the radar due to the publicity related to a declining but relatively high unemployment rate (8.4%).

The Land Advisors Organization Team in San Diego is actively sourcing new land development and home building opportunities.  Call us today before this train is out of sight!

Source: Bob McFarland, Marketing Consultant, (858) 568-7428 ext. 12

The Bay Area housing market is back on fire… but is it sustainable???

What can we attribute the turnaround in the market too? In simple terms, it’s back to the old supply/demand curve. In the depths of the housing market depression (think back to 2009), many cities were running resale inventories of several hundred homes and typically at least 50% of those homes were in some sort of distressed condition (bank owned, short sale, etc.).

Now, when we look at the market it’s done a complete 180. Inventory levels are down to their lowest levels since the peak of the housing market back in 2005-2006 and the percentage of distressed sales is down significantly from a few years ago. The question everyone should be asking is whether this is sustainable or is the “shadow inventory” of distressed homes about to flood the market and put a damper on things.

In our opinion, given how low the inventory levels are and the strength of most markets, even a doubling in the number of distressed homes on the market will probably not have much of an adverse effect on the market and in some circumstances might actually be helpful. FULL STORY

Source: Steve Reilly, Marketing Consultant, (925) 368-3128

Take a quick look at the inventory and sales levels of many of the East Bay Cities and decide for yourself if we’re in the beginning stages of a long term bull market in housing.

Active Listings Distressed Listings Percent Distressed Avg Monthly Sales Rate Months of Supply Based on 2012   Closed Sales
Antioch 101 55 54% 123 0.82
Brentwood 71 24 34% 82 0.87
Castro Valley 71 12 17% 41 1.72
Concord 73 34 47% 99 0.74
Disco Bay 43 8 19% 24 1.76
Dublin 22 9 41% 27 0.81
Fremont 133 10 8% 122 1.09
Hayward 82 30 37% 97 0.85
Livermore 85 16 19% 82 1.04
Oakley 39 17 44% 46 0.85
Pittsburg 34 19 56% 56 0.61
Pleasanton 67 6 9% 57 1.17
San Leandro 50 12 24% 72 0.69
San Ramon 49 12 24% 61 0.81
Union City 30 13 43% 36 0.83
Walnut Creek 57 2 4% 47 1.23

Sacramento: Where’s the Dirt?

The Sacramento region finally appears to be emerging from the homebuilding doldrums.  Over the last several months, homebuilders seem to have a new found confidence as new home absorption levels have begun to tick up to levels not seen for several years.

Pricing on the other hand, is still lagging with maybe a small bump in appreciation.  All of this said, ready-to-build lots are becoming scarce within the Sacramento submarket, and at this rate, some areas could possibly end 2013 with a lot supply of zero.

The key drivers to getting builders back to Sacramento will be continued increased scarcity of deals in the San Francisco Bay Area, in addition to sustained new homes sales that we have seen in the area over the last several months.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the recent rise in homebuilding could be thwarted by an unlikely factor, a shortage of land in desirable locations.  Homebuilders are realizing they cannot focus strictly on the Bay Area locales just due to the fact that high land prices and land scarcity will forbid them from ramping up deliveries and allowing them to grow organically.  If they want to be able to produce new home delivery volume, they will have to start looking in the Sacramento region as well as some parts of the Central Valley.  If and when they move eastward, we will start to see homebuilders look at “paper” lot or entitlement deals, where in the past they were only focused on finished lots.  Time will tell.

Source: Ryan Long, Senior Marketing Consultant, (916) 784-3329 ext. 16