The Bay Area home market remained sluggish in November, as buyers searched for cheaper homes and sales slowed entering the holiday season.
The median sale price for a single-family home in the Bay Area fell 2.4 percent to $803,200 in November from the previous year, according to Zillow.
Marin’s single-family home median in November was $1,171,000, compared with $1,133,900 in November 2018, Zillow reported.
After years of runaway prices, home shoppers are reaching the upper limits of their budgets, agents and economists say.
“More than anywhere else in the country, the Bay Area has hit an affordability ceiling,” said Zillow economist Jeff Tucker. “Once a price gets high enough, it’s out of reach.”
Prices in the nine-county region have slumped through most of 2019, after a record-breaking, seven-year streak of rising home prices. But even the cooling market remains the most expensive in the country, with the median Bay Area home price more than triple the $243,000 national median home value.
Higher interest rates late last year helped throw water on the raging Bay Area market, Tucker said. “It’s not a buyers’ market, it’s not a sellers’ market,” he said. “It’s certainly more balanced now.”
The regional economy continued to soar. The Bay Area added 3,900 jobs in November, according to state’s Employment Development Department.
Median single-family home prices increased in several other counties: San Mateo rose 3 percent to $1.37 million, Alameda inched up .4 percent to $863,400, Contra Costa increased 1.2 percent to $651,400, and San Francisco soared 5.8 percent to $1.4 million, according to Zillow data.
The Santa Clara County median single-family home price fell nearly 2 percent to $1.11 million, the 11th straight month of year-over-year declines in the once red-hot market popular with techies.
Bay Area properties continued to sell quickly in November, according to the California Association of Realtors (CAR). The typical time on market for homes in San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa counties decreased from the previous year.
Sale times in Santa Clara County and San Francisco remained stable — but still at a historically brisk pace. The typical home in the five core counties sold in less than three weeks, according to CAR.
The number of homes for sale also remains historically low. Inventory grew tighter in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties compared with last November, according to CAR.
Agents say the market has cooled as shoppers show more willingness to wait for the right features and best deal.
San Mateo agent Jeff LaMont of Coldwell Banker said he’s seeing fewer sales, but prices remain strong. Two-income tech couples looking for their first home are still driving demand in San Mateo County, he said.
Single family homes in good condition and priced fairly for their neighborhood still draw multiple offers from young buyers, he said. “The millennials don’t want to mess around,” LaMont said. “They want to move in.”
Fremont agent Nancie Allen, president of Bay East Association of Realtors, said older homeowners are often confronting hard choices. Some clients have explored leaving the Bay Area, she said, but have a hard time figuring out where to move.
Despite the expectations of a cash windfall from selling, many long-time homeowners are choosing to stay in their homes. “They really are torn,” Allen said. “They’re not sure where they would go.”
Overall, the East Bay market has seen solid demand for starter homes, even if prices reach near $1 million. But it’s not like the frenzy of recent years, Allen said.
“Buyers aren’t in a hurry,” she said. “Sellers aren’t in a hurry.”