Smart Markets – Smart Players

As our world works to sort out the current health crisis, we see a marketplace that went from robust gains in activity to essentially an all-out pause. As we all wonder how long this lull in action will last we all must take the necessary steps to guard our health and that of those around us first in order to have a bright future where we regain the trend lines of what had been indicated prior to the shut-down.

According to BAREIS MLS, Sonoma County had exactly 676 single-family homes left for sale as we closed the books on February. Sellers delivered just 285 new listings to the market during the month – 15 percent less than a year earlier – further echoing a supply side issue as we have seen a trend towards less new options being revealed to buyers each month over the last year.

Sonoma County buyers gained control of 334 new deals – 31 percent more than last February – while sellers in our region completed the sale of 242 dwellings during the period at a median price of $641,000.

The continued pace of the markets can be measured by the months’ supply of inventory (MSI) and, with steady demands from buyers in our region, attractive mortgage terms and sellers being more in line with market sentiments the data shows MSI registered 2.8 as of last month – though this looks to be getting tighter with sellers holding off inventory during the current shelter in place orders.

MSI is the metric that indicates the number of months it would take to sell the current inventory at the current rate of sales. An MSI ranging from 4.0 to 6.0 is generally indicative of a balanced market, with lower numbers increasingly favoring sellers and vice versa.

Getting down to the details in the town of Sonoma, which submarket includes the hamlets of Kenwood and Glen Ellen, there were 97 homes reported for sale as February concluded. This region experienced the addition of 34 new properties during the period while buyers garnered accepted contracts on 35 new deals – 106 percent greater than in 2019. Sellers awarded keys to another 22 homeowners at a median purchase value of $692,000. The dynamics within this market are technically indicating balance with MSI slipping to 4.4, though with next month’s bias looking to tighten up and swing into a market favoring sellers.

Healdsburg felt activity flat this February in comparison to the prior year with buyers claiming control of only 14 new deals and sellers closing out 10 more sales at a median value of $1,350,000. By months end, inventory had climbed to 66 available homes for sale – which included the 14 that debuted during the period - allowing the MSI to expand back to favoring buyers with a reading of 6.6.

Petaluma’s Westside stayed on trend through February with only 27 properties still available for sale by months end. Sellers encountered continuous signs of reassurance as 16 new offers were accepted during the month while another 10 units formally transferred at a median price of $885,000. That level of interest coupled with only 13 new listings to refill the pipeline left this submarket with a tight MSI of 2.7.

Still the most contested submarket within Sonoma County, Petaluma’s Eastside closed out the month with just 15 available homes to select from – even with 16 new listings debuting during the period. Home shoppers gained control of a whopping 31 more accepted contracts while sellers completed 17 transactions at a median price of $730,000 - firmly holding this market under the control of existing property owners with MSI still registering 0.9.

A continued shrinkage in inventory and expanding sales has Sebastopol’s market getting squeezed as only 14 homes were added to the market in February while buyers gained control of 19 more deals during the period. Sellers completed 13 escrows at a median value of $895,000 leaving only 32 single-family homes available for buyers to peruse in March thereby allowing MSI to fall further to 2.5 with indications of additional pressure for further tightening this next month.

​​​​​​​So, be prudent, stay safe, love your family while also staying mentally fit and physically healthy so you can be part of the solution moving forward. At times like these your kindness is so appreciated even though everyone understands it will have to be at a distance for now – we will get through this, smarter and cleaner than before.


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