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Will Sacramento homebuyers get the upper hand on sellers this summer?

6 reasons why it’s rough to be a first-time homebuyer in Sacramento

It's not easy to be a first-time homebuyer in Sacramento County and West Sacramento. Here are six reasons that buying a house remains a challenge for many.
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It's not easy to be a first-time homebuyer in Sacramento County and West Sacramento. Here are six reasons that buying a house remains a challenge for many.

Sacramento’s home sales market has slowed, offering a touch of good news this summer for buyers.

With few homes on the market, sellers still have the upper hand, but the tide is turning, new data suggest. The median price of existing Sacramento County home sales in June leveled off at $375,000, the same as the median in May.

For the first time since early this year, less than half of sellers got multiple offers. More sellers have had to lower their asking price to make a sale. And houses are spending one day more on the market than they did in May.

The changes are subtle, though, and they don’t suggest a housing bust headed our way, analysts say.

In fact, in a typical year, housing sales rise in spring, peak in May or June and slowly back off for the rest of the year.

“We hit the seasonal crest,” Sacramento appraiser and market analyst Ryan Lundquist said. “The market seems to be in a rhythm.”

By mid-year, more would-be buyers are focused instead on summer vacations, getting the kids back in school and then the holidays.

Sacramento Association of Realtors data show that the number of homes on the market increased in June but remains at a historically low level, an indication that Sacramento is likely to remain a sellers’ market this summer.

“With the lack of supply and a strong economy and the influence of the Bay Area, I don’t think that will change in the near future,” said Greg Paquin, a Sacramento-area market trends consultant.

Economist Jeffrey Michael of the University of the Pacific said the evolving market is not a surprise, but does suggest that buyers are pickier as prices rise.

“While inventories have ticked up, they are still relatively low and prices are up (8) percent year to year, so it is still a good market for sellers,” he said. But, he added, “my take is that the data is starting to show some limits to what buyers are willing and able to pay.”

Among the new data:

  • Forty-nine percent of homes in the four-county region had more than one bidder in June, compared to 52.4 percent in April and 50 percent in May, according to Lundquist.
  • Homes in Sacramento County were selling at 1 percent less than the asking price in June, per Lundquist.

  • There were 1,767 home-sale escrow closures in the county in June, 2 percent more than May, according to the Realtors association. But homes with pending sales in June were down 17.5 percent from May, suggesting the summer cooling season had begun.

  • More homes were on the market, though, in June, at 2,660 than were in May, when 2,509 were up for sale.

  • The average price per square foot of homes sold in the county in June was $240, down $2 from May.

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