If you’re wondering whether now is the time to buy or sell a house in the Ukiah Valley, the answer is an unequivocal yes. For sellers, the supply of residential properties on the market is severely limited, making each property more valuable. And for buyers, the historically low interest rates make homes more affordable than in the past.
The effect of the pandemic has been somewhat unexpected on the local real estate market. In March, when COVID-19 shut everything down, new real estate sales came to an abrupt halt. Properties in the process of being sold (those in escrow) were able to close, but overall, sales for the month were down about 50 percent. In April and May, an odd thing happened. Even though prospective buyers could not visit properties to peek in closets and walk through kitchens, sales picked up. We didn’t get more listings, but several houses that were already on the market sold. And oddly enough in June, even before the shelter in place was lifted, new open escrows skyrocketed, looking to make June a record month.
What is going on in our local residential market? Why all the sales activity? Well, I have a few theories. First, it’s spring. There’s almost always an uptick in home sales in spring. Sellers wisely wait until flowers are blooming and the sun is shining to list their homes, maximizing curb appeal. And when the weather is nice, buyers get in the mood to peruse homes for sale. This spring, although sellers haven’t been putting their homes on the market, buyers are still buying.
But the good weather isn’t the only factor causing home sales to spike. Right now, we have so few rental properties available that people who need a place to live have been forced to consider buying, and the historically low interest rates have made buying more affordable. Also, even though there are fewer properties on the market, we haven’t seen prices increase by as much as I’d expect. I’m not sure why, but if I were a homebuyer, I’d start looking today.
If you’ve noticed that I never quote interest rates, it’s because it’s against the law to do so without a page of legal disclosures. However, you can call your Realtor and they can share interest rate information. Plus, they’ll be happy to crunch the numbers based on your income and other financial details to see what you can afford.
If you’re a seller interested in listing your home, now’s the time. Limited supply can only increase the value of your property. Realtors continue to respect safety protocols due to COVID-19, only bringing up to two people at a time to view a property with everyone in masks.
COVID-19 isn’t over and there’s no telling how it will continue to affect our economy, but my bet is that if we’re in for a recession, the housing market will do what is has done in previous recessions—be the driver that leads to an economic recovery. Real estate remains a solid long-term investment. So, whether you’re looking to for a home or an investment, real estate is a good option.
If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at email@example.com or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery.
Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.