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Real Estate Roundup with Sharon Alva: Hope for 2011?

Submitted by on 1, January 20, 2011 – 12:03 amNo Comment

I was talking to a friend and colleague and we were musing over the market. It feels like the bottom, we agreed. Yup … it’s the bottom of the market. While I like to think I can be optimistic it is always cautiously so, and my friend is often less optimistic. So why do such naysayers feel like this year will bring a big turn in real estate? Because it is January – the quiet time of year – and we are crazy busy helping folks buy and sell homes.

Usually a look back over the past year is also a projection forward, but I am not at all sure how indicative the dismal numbers of 2010 are of what we will see in 2011. No one in their right mind would predict a boom in 2011. Personally, I hope to see conservative gains that let families use the next year to make wise and cautious choices about home buying.

But let’s look back and see what 2010 offered us in the real estate field. Prices held their own on average, with detached homes seeing slight gains and town homes sliding further. Condos, according to the median numbers, seemed to have a large gain, but considering the low volume – 27 condos all year – that number is somewhat misleading. A two-bedroom condo in Alameda can be found for the high 200s to low 300s.

Significantly less short sales were made in 2010 than in 2009 in Alameda. That may well swing back next year as banks look to push to end the real estate downturn by allowing sellers to short sale or foreclosing on them. The prevailing winds seem to be to hastening the processes.

Based on MLS numbers below are the numbers comparing 2009 and 2010.

2009 2010 % Change
# sold Median Price Median Days on Market # sold Median Price Median Days on Market Sold Price
Detached Homes 322 $460,000 23 265 $480,000 20 4.3%
Condos 71 $325,000 31 44 $385,500 27 18.6%
Town Homes 49 $435,000 19 58 $424,500 26 -2.4%
Regular Sale Short Sale Bank Owned (foreclosed) Regular Sale Short Sale Bank Owned (foreclosed)
Properties Sold 347 40 55 305 17 45

We are still feeling the sluggish market. The inventory is not reflective of the best Alameda has to offer, with many distressed properties sitting on the market. The upside is that we are seeing a surge of properties in the first weeks of 2011, months ahead of the usual hot spring real estate season.

In 2010 we saw a growing disparity between the numbers of homes listed and the number of homes sold. And within 2010 the first half of the year, with its market optimism, slowed in the second half of the year while pundits discussed the dreaded double dip (which never actualized). With the disappearing act performed by the first-time buyers’ tax credit, the buyers partially disappeared too, accounting for some of the doldrums we saw in the latter part of 2010.

California Association of Realtors’ Chief Economist Leslie Appleton Young spoke to Alain Pinel Realtors in Antioch last week. She likened the economy to a U, where the downward slide is over but we are grazing the bottom for a protracted time. The analogy falls short in that no one, including Appleton Young, expects a rapid rise on the other side of the U.

Lenders and economists are telling us to expect a rise in in interest rates, some of which we have already seen over the past month. That in itself will dampen the rise in home prices. An inventory of distressed properties will do its part as well. So while we have reached bottom it seems, we may be staying here for a bit longer.

Sharon Alva is a real estate agent with Alain Pinel Realtors, living in Alameda. You can reach her at sharon@alvaproperties.com or (510) 764-4921.

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