Market Update: What’s to Come for Contra Costa County
While we adjust to the Autumn season and the changes that come with it, the real estate market is adjusting to its final quarter of 2021. The weather here in the Walnut Creek area may not be cooling, but is the real estate market beginning to lose heat? Let’s take a closer look and see if now is the time to sell your home:
Well, the market certainly isn’t losing speed. According to Redfin.com, Walnut Creek area recently saw an average days on market of just 10 days. That’s an impressive 28.6 percent faster over the prior year. Especially considering the rapid pace of last year’s Fall market, this is a good sign. But it’s not the only indicator we have available.
By looking at some predictions for the future, we’ll pin down whether or not this “market cooling” is worth worrying over. Here’s the reality of our market at present, and what might be on the horizon:
Interest rates aren’t rising anytime soon
Interest rates are holding steady, remaining at under 3% for full income documentation loans. That’s likely due in part to the pandemic; on September 9, Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist stated, “While the economy continues to grow, it has lost momentum over the last two months due to the current wave of new COVID cases that has led to weaker employment, lower spending and declining consumer confidence.”
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage credit availability increased by almost 4% in August. Notably, jumbo credit availability increased 9% to its highest level since March 2020, as more non-QM jumbo and agency-eligible high-balance loan programs were offered.
Are these options worth considering for the average home owner? In August 2021, Chuck Biskobing, a senior real estate attorney with Atlanta-based Cook & James shed some light while speaking to Bankrate.com: “Purchasing a home right now is a tough choice. Rates are likely going to move higher in the future, so getting a cheap mortgage now seems to make sense. Still, home prices are at or near all-time highs, and building costs are still elevated,” he says. “The question becomes, do you want to wait for home prices and material costs to come down, which risks getting a higher-rate mortgage, or do you want to lock in now and not worry so much about purchase price?”
Simply put, the ability to refinance seems like a plentiful resource these days, but that doesn’t mean you should wait. Securing a sub-three percent fixed rate will allow homeowners to offset the rising prices that we’re seeing in so many other household items.
Inflation is at our doorstep, but it doesn’t have to stay
There is hope for improvement on the subject of inflation. James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group, recently wrote: “The stock market achieved close to a 30% higher return when sentiment was dismal versus when it was more optimistic [since 1988]. Like a wide output-gap or a high labor unemployment rate, low levels of consumer confidence suggest the economy still has significant capacity to improve, and stock prices will likely rise as confidence is restored.”
I don’t anticipate any significant interest rate increases this year on mortgage products, or that inflation will balloon out of control. However, these financial factors are without a doubt contributing to the current state of the real estate market here in Contra Costa County:
According to Redfin.com, the Walnut Creek area saw a median sales price of $975,000 which is a 10.2 percent increase over the prior year. This means that the market factors are still pushing the Buyer-Seller dial in favor of the sellers. While this is unlikely to change anytime soon, sellers can’t afford to enter the market as anything less than prepared.
To learn more about what’s to come for our market and how you can maneuver it to your benefit, call me at 925-259-2259. We will build a personalized strategy for you and your home, and make the most of a tumultuous market.