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Sacramento home prices plateau. But will they become affordable again?

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Phil Angelides shows how he takes his elevator from the main floor to the lobby of his home in McKinley Village in Sacramento on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2018. Three-story brownstones in Sacramento’s Crocker Village also include elevators as an option.
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Phil Angelides shows how he takes his elevator from the main floor to the lobby of his home in McKinley Village in Sacramento on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2018. Three-story brownstones in Sacramento’s Crocker Village also include elevators as an option.

Home shoppers were feeling beat up this spring, often finding themselves vying with up to a dozen other buyers for limited homes amid soaring prices.

That frenzy, for now, is over.

Sacramento’s once-hot home sales market has cooled for three straight months, new data show. That mirrors similar easing in the Bay Area and elsewhere in California amid six years of nation-leading home price increases.

The median price of $360,000 in August in Sacramento County is basically the same as it was in June and July, according to data published Friday by CoreLogic, a national real estate consultancy that tracks the housing market.

The all-time median sales price high in Sacramento County was $387,000 during the height of the national housing bubble in August 2005.

Median home sale prices slid in both El Dorado and Placer counties in August compared to July. The median was up though in Yolo County.

The number of homes sold in the Sacramento region has now dropped for the third consecutive month compared to June, July and August of last year, according to CoreLogic.

August sales, in particular, were the lowest in three years, the company reported.

Meanwhile, the number of homes on the market has edged up in recent months. Economists and real estate watchers say it’s a sign the state’s high-flying real estate values have gotten too rich for some would-be buyers, and that others may have dropped out after running into stiff competition this spring.

Real estate agent Erin Stumpf of Coldwell Banker said some of her clients put in above-price offers with no contingencies, including no home inspection, and still lost to another offer.

“Some buyers just gave up,” she said.

She said she believes it is too early to tell if the local market is in for a continued cooling or slump. Homes on the market still sell at a reasonable pace, she and other analysts say.

“I don’t think it would be a terrible thing if the market cooled off,” Stumpf said. “Prices can’t go up forever. A little more of a level playing field (for buyers) would be a positive thing. Buyers get treated more fairly.”

Housing affordability hit a 10-year low this year throughout most of the state. Three out of four state residents could no longer afford a median-priced home, according to the California Association of Realtors’ second-quarter housing affordability report.

Higher mortgage interest rates also have contributed to the higher cost of a home, increasing in the last year from 3 percent to roughly 4.2 to 4.5 percent now, according to WalletHub.

“Affordability has taken a real hit this year,” said CoreLogic analyst Andrew LePage.

Sales of newly constructed homes in emerging new subdivisions have dipped on average, as well, suggesting more shoppers in new subdivisions are choosing lower-priced models.

The median price for a new home in Sacramento County was $437,250 in August, down from $445,750 the month before, CoreLogic reported. Total new home sales dipped slightly as well in August compared to the same month last year.

Michael Strech, head of the North State Building Industry Association said sales remain decent, and builders have a lot of projects in the ground around the region. But, he said, “there are no high fives, no back flips” among builders.

He lamented that the region is not building as many homes as it will need, but he said he too sees the easing market as good in the long run.

“We’re interested in a balanced market,” Strech said. “Ebbs and flows are part of a healthy market. I don’t think anybody is overly concerned that we have had several months in a role of a flattening prices. If prices outpace wages, that is not good for anybody.”

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