As our resident expert, Kevin Boer noted in his April 1 posting, the housing market officially hit bottom a couple of weeks ago. For those of you who were skeptical of his information given the April 1 posting date, and Kevin’s well known reputation for satire and irony, the California Association of Realtors published some new market data yesterday (April 24) showing how real estate really is local, and that the local real estate market in Silicon Valley is humming along nicely, thank you:
In case you’ve been wondering why high-end real estate markets continue to perform relatively well: One out of every 10,000 American families has an annual income greater than $10.7 million, according to two university professors who study the super-rich. By their tally, there are some 15,000 Americans who fit into that category. These individuals also are getting an increasing share of the economic bounty: In 2006, the super-rich possessed 3.89 percent of total income, up from .87 percent in 1980 and the highest level since 1916.
Strong employment and wage growth are two factors that have helped the San Francisco Bay Area stave off the kind of home sales and price declines experienced in the inland regions of California. For example, Santa Clara County residents earn nearly double the nation’s average weekly wage and surpassed Manhattan as the county whose residents take home the largest paycheck, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Santa Clarans take home an average of $1,585 per week, slightly more than Manhattanites, who earn an average of $1,544 a week. San Mateo County ranks fifth in the nation at $1,322, while San Francisco is eighth at $1,286. Nationally, the average is $818. San Francisco ranked tenth in new-job generation, adding 18,000 jobs for the twelve months ending Sept. 30, 2007.
Despite the above, some worry that California’s technology sector may be in for another “dot bomb.” But experts say technology and Internet companies are better prepared to weather the storm this time around. Their reasoning? Many Web 2.0 companies learned a lesson from their free-spending predecessors and have discovered ways to operate with fewer employees and at lower costs. That appeals to venture capitalists, who have tightened their criteria but continue to seek companies with strong revenue models.
Lately, I have been describing the market as “upside down”, where I am seeing unusually strong sales activity in the over $3 million market, while under $1 million is about the same as last year, or a little off depending on the neighborhood. What is interesting, is the $1 million to $3 million market, what I call “tweeners”, because these homes are in-between the entry-level and high-end.
Gross simplification warning: Buyers of “tweener” homes have significant amounts of cash or equity to put down, but still need a mortgage, and often a significant one. As banks and other mortgage providers have tightened their lending guidelines from recent years, it has become harder to get a $1.5 - $2 million mortgage, and those have become more expensive. As a result, more people aren’t upgrading, or they are getting priced down from say, $2.5 million to $2 million. Thus reducing demand relative to supply and creating a soft spot in the market.
In my experience, in the $3 million and over market, Buyers have more cash, Euros, Rubles, Yuan, Dinars, stock, gold, trust money, etc. to use to purchase their new “executive home”, so they are less concerned or affected by interest rates and loan qualification hurdles.
Let’s hope that VC money mentioned in the article above keeps flowing so we can keep paying for our million dollar tract homes and $5 a gallon (you know it’s coming!) gas.
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Thanks for reading.
Tags: 2008 real estate market, housing market, palo alto economy, palo alto real estate market, palo alto realtor, silicon valley economy, silicon valley real estate