June, ’19 Regional Real Estate Roundup

Overall the regional real estate market (American Canyon, Vallejo & Fairfield) remains strong. The apparent market correction is starting to retreat in certain subdivisions and we are starting to see a rebound in prices and activity.

American Canyon

American Canyon median home prices remained steady at $535,000 in June, although it is down 3.3% from last year at the same time. Although statistically negligible, it does represent an approximately $18,000 price drop.

Median income is done 3.3% year-over-year and 2.7% from last month.

This isn’t necessarily cause for panic, however, as part of this price drop reflects smaller, more affordable homes selling. One thing that we have noticed in the business is that the selling season appears to have started later this year. Homes that are turnkey, staged and cleaned are selling extremely quickly (within 10 days) and homes that are dated and that need a bit of work are lingering on the market. This is especially true of the older sub divisions like Rancho del Mar and Napa Square.

Average days on market dropped significantly since the winter.

Average days on market plummeted after the winter and is now hovering in the 50-60 day range. This is a little deceiving because BAREIS counts homes that are listed as contingent (in contract but with contingencies) as still being active and on the market. This isn’t necessarily true. Given that most escrows are for between 21-30 days and you can see that actual time on the market is somewhere between three and four weeks before going into contract.

Overall, there is still very little inventory in American Canyon. There were only 15 new listings in June although July has kicked off very strong and we should return to a more normal 20-25 new listings.

All in all, the American Canyon Market is still strong and prices are still expected to rise although more likely in the 3-5% range, rather than the double digit increases we have been seeing for the past 5 years.

Vallejo Market

The Vallejo market has also bounced back from it’s winter doldrums. Inventory increased by 14.2% year-over-year. However, this is not causing expected downward pressure on the price: median sales price still rose 6.8% year-over-year.

14 month Median Sales Price for Vallejo

Homes are generally still selling for around the original list price. The days on market is still hovering between 40-45 days which means that homes are generally going into contract in about 2 weeks. Still a fast market.

Anything below 3 months of inventory is considered a sellers market.

Still a sellers’ market. With only 1.5 months of inventory based on pending sales, the market is moving exceptionally fast. What really stands out for me is that even with the increased inventory median home prices still rose significantly over the past two months. It’s worth paying attention to. For the most part I’ve been dismissive of the potential instant millionaire wave from all of the techies across the Bay but I may have been wrong.

Fairfield Market

The Fairfield Market is kind of going crazy. There are more homes on the market right now than any other time in the last 14 months. It will be interesting to see if that trend holds but – anecdotally – I don’t see it cooling down.

Huge spike in homes for sale in June

What I find interesting is that – so far – the pending sales haven’t been able to keep up with the rash of new inventory. Although there is a corresponding hike in pending sales, it’s only up 4% for the quarter, year-over-year. Homes for sale for the quarter is up 21.8% year-over-year but!! solds for the same quarter have dropped 11.1% year-over-year.

Median sold price down 8% year-over-year

Here’s where things are starting to look like we’d expect. The laws of market supply and demand mean that the more inventory we see the lower the sales price. That hasn’t always been the case with each city in the region but we are seeing that in Fairfield. Median sales price dipped to $448,000 for June which is off by 8% from last June. That’s a $39,000 drop in the median home price. What’s amazing is that the days on market is still roughly the same from this time last year. This number is worth watching as it will help us to gauge which way the market is going.

What Does This Mean to Me?

If you’re a buyer

The panic that we’ve all felt that you are going to miss out on “the home” can start to ease. Homes are hanging out a little bit longer. You might not get the deal that you’re looking for but you aren’t gong to have to pay through the nose either. A reasonably priced home will still go into contract in about 10-14 days and you might have some competition, but it won’t be overwhelming. Try to stay open minded throughout the process.

If you’re a seller

I’ve said this a few times, but it’s time to up your game. Stage your home. Get it cleaned. Don’t lie to yourself, curb appeal is huge. I can’t tell you how many cars do a drive by during an open house and choose to leave. It doesn’t matter that you used gold nails on your DIY kitchen remodel if the lawn is dead.

Here’s what it really means, though: breathe. Your home will sell and it will sell at close to asking but it just might take time.

Open Houses 7/13-14/2019

3 bed, 2 bath, 10038±sf – Significant upgrades throughout the home. Newer stainless steel appliances, spacious backyard, perfect for entertaining.

Here is your roundup of open houses in American Canyon this weekend of July 13th & 14th. If one of these times doesn’t work for you, contact me at: 707.853.0797 for a showing.

Saturday Open Houses

  • 77 Oakstone Way, 10am -1pm (6 bed, 3 bath, 3164± sf) @ $699,990. Listed by Elvira de Guzman w/ Cornerstone Real Estate Investment Group
  • 24 Independence Drive, 10am – 12pm (4 bed, 3 bath, 3368± sf) @ $699,000. Listed by Kasama Lee with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Drysdale Properties
  • 31 Pelleria Dr, 11am – 2pm (4 bed, 2 bath, 2233± sf) @ $624,000. Listed by Yu Ding with Golden Gate Sothebys International.
  • 54 Crawford Way, 11am – 2pm (4 bed, 2 bath, 1812± sf) @ $570,000. Listed by Eric Pangilinan with RE/Max Gold of Fairfield.

Sunday Open Houses

  • 77 Oakstone Way, 11am -2pm (6 bed, 3 bath, 3164± sf) @ $699,990. Listed by Elvira de Guzman w/ Cornerstone Real Estate Investment Group
  • 70 Larkspur St, 1pm – 4pm (4 bed, 2 bath, 1812± sf) @ $539,000. Listed by Christen Hamilton with Vanguard Properties.
  • 239 Rio del Mar, 1pm – 3:30pm (3 bed, 2 bath, 1100± sf) @ $425,000. Listed by Sergio Sosa with Security Pacific Real Estate.
  • 31 Pelleria Dr, 1pm – 4pm (4 bed, 2 bath, 2233± sf) @ $624,000. Listed by Yu Ding with Golden Gate Sothebys International.
  • 2 Eisenhower Ct, 1 – 3pm (4 bed, 3 bath, 2620±sf) @ $679,900. Listed by Justin Jafari with Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley.
  • 54 Crawford Way, 1pm – 4pm (4 bed, 2 bath, 1812± sf) @ $570,000. Listed by Eric Pangilinan with RE/Max Gold of Fairfield.
  • 24 Independence Drive, 2pm – 4pm (4 bed, 3 bath, 3368± sf) @ $699,000. Listed by Kasama Lee with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Drysdale Properties

American Canyon Open Houses 6/21-23

Friday Open Houses

Saturday Open Houses

Sunday Open Houses

Weekend Open Houses

Happy Father’s Day to all of you awesome dads out there!

Open Homes for the weekend of June 15

Saturday, June 15

Sunday, June 16

June Real Estate Roundup

The real estate market in the area is still strong but it is starting to stabilize. What I mean by that is that we aren’t seeing the double digit sales price increases the way that we have in the past and this is a good thing for the market overall – if not necessarily for sellers. We’ll take a deep dive into the numbers for 3 key cities: American Canyon, Fairfield and Vallejo.

American Canyon RE Update

American Canyon For Sale, Sold & Pended

The American Canyon market still feels a little off kilter. There is a definite shift in the market although it’s hard to say what that is, exactly. After a huge drop in for sale properties in March, there is a slow trend toward normalcy. Currently there are 27 homes on the market (including one Rex home that isn’t on MLS – more on that later in the week). It’s good to see that these numbers are bouncing back after such a sluggish spring. Many agents that I’ve spoken to think that it was because of all the rain, but I’m not so sure. Pending sales are way up year-over-year and home sales are also up from last year for the same month (although they are down overall year-to-date). And then there’s the median price.

American Canyon Median Sales Price

Median price has consistently been on the rise since January. Good stuff. It’s also up year-over-year. Also good stuff. What I find interesting, however, is that this doesn’t necessarily reflect an overall increase in home prices; rather it most reflects larger, newer homes for sale. What’s going on with Rancho & Napa Square? Fewer of these older homes are going for sale and when they do come up, they are languishing on the market. Last year Rancho homes were going for low-to-mid $400,000’s (with a few exceptions) but this year, when they are up for sale, they have completely retreated back to the mid-$400,000’s. These older homes are a bellweather for the rest of the American Canyon Market. If these homes catch fire this summer they will continue to put upward pressure on the rest of the American Canyon market but as of right now, it looks like they are staying put. We’ll continue to see increases in the prices but not like we have in the past.

Vallejo Update

Vallejo For Sale Sold & Pended

The Vallejo market has cooled a bit over the past few months. It’s been in and out of realtor.com’s hottest 20 markets after being in the top five for a few years. Inventory is up from last year at this time but sales are relatively stagnant. Median home sales price is up about 7% year-over-year. Here’s what I find interesting, however; days on market for Vallejo is now at 45. That’s a 40.6% jump from last year at the same time. Now, 45 days is still a fast sell but it’s also 2 weeks longer than the 30ish it was last spring at the same time. The market is slowing down even though the inventory is still there.

Vallejo DOM

The good news is that homes are, for the most part, retaining their value. So even though the length of time might be longer sellers can still expect to sell – at this point – close to their original list price.

Fairfield Market

Fairfield For Sale Sold & Pended

Like American Canyon and Vallejo, Fairfield saw a significant dip in available inventory during the winter but has bounced back remarkably this spring, in particular after the rains stopped. The market felt incredibly fast for the first couple of months this year with some homes going in hours. As the bigger homes started to come on the market – a few of which were ambitiously priced – it slowed a bit. However, it’s heated back but days on market is still well over what it was at this time last year.

Fairfield Median Sold Price

One important aspect to note about the Fairfield market is that prices are truly stagnant. The median homes sales price was down 2.5% year-over-year but up slightly for the same quarter (March through May) from last year.

What does it all mean?

The bottom line is that – as I mentioned earlier – the market is leveling out. The spring selling season is in full swing and although home prices are up slightly across the board, we are not seeing the same increases that we have in the past.

If you are a buyer, now is a great time to go out and get your dream home. Prices have stabilized and interest rates were dropping at the end of last week (I have one client who was able to lock in below 4%!!!).

If you are a seller, don’t despair if you don’t get your home into contract after the first weekend. While that is still happening, for the most part it’s taking 2-3 weeks to get an offer in and into contract. Make sure that your property is clean, decluttered, cut down on the amount of furniture you have and has curb appeal (e.g. mow the front lawn, weed, water the plants, etc.). If you are patient and follow your agent’s advice, your time will come.

The Weekly Roundup

Mayor Leon Garcia & company visit Laso for it’s opening!

Anticipation has been building since last fall when whispers of a new restaurant coming to town started passing through the community. On Monday, Memorial Day, anticipation gave way to reality when Laso opened it’s doors for the first time. Getting a new restaurant that’s not fast food is a big deal for our community. I was grateful to play a small part in helping Mingyur and Sonam get their start. I’m looking forward to going this weekend to sample!

A New Post Office!

Gone are the days where residents have to cram underneath the shelter to avoid driving rains while one person at a time could do their business. There was a great turnout at yesterday’s ribbon cutting for our brand new post office – no longer the size of a postage stamp! Congressman Mike Thompson deserves kudos for his hard work in making this happen.

Memorial Day Ceremony

Prior to Memorial Day Ceremony

The city produced another moving program this past Monday for Memorial Day. A C-5 flyover punctuated the beginning of the ceremony. It was a full house (not pictured…obviously) as we gave thanks to those who served our country so that we may be free. You can read my thoughts about Memorial Day here.

The American Canyon Lions served up hot dogs, drinks and chips for the Veterans in attendance as well as their families…because it truly was a family affair. Old friends coming together once again to celebrate what unites us.

The week ahead

Lots going on this weekend as we head into the final stretch before school gets out…School is out in one week, btw.

  • The Friends of the American Canyon Library are having their quarterly book sale this weekend. Should be a great pairing with the City Wide Yard Sale going on from Friday, May 31 through Sunday, June 2. Take a look at all of the yard sales going on around town.
  • Saturday is also the Closing Day for Little League. They have closing ceremonies schedule for 4pm at the Little League Field.
  • Later Saturday night, there are two events planned, both of which look fantastic: The first is the 2nd Annual Middle Eastern Cultural Night hosted by Councilmember Aboudamous and the other is the AmCan Star Academy at Silver Oak Park. This is a great opportunity for amateur astronomers to meet other interested star gazers.

Don’t forget that there is a special Planning Commission Meeting on Monday at 6:30pm. Presumably this is to review the Watson Ranch Development Agreement and give a recommendation to council for consideration on Tuesday. This is all speculation, however, as the agenda hasn’t been released for either evening.

NVUSD Looks to Backtrack on New AC Middle School

At a meeting at the ACHS Library Monday night, Superintendent Dr. Rosanna Mucetti laid out a bleak picture for the future of Napa Valley Unified. Citing declining enrollment (thus, less money for the school district), Dr. Mucetti spent much of the evening trying to dampen the frustration among the audience, including myself. She empathized with our disappointment…although I have to say that disappointment is not the word I would use.

Despite my frustration, I recognize that there are serious hurdles to overcome as we move forward.

  • For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the district will have to overcome a $7M structural budget deficit. This is largely being done to cuts in non-certified staff but will – at some point – necessarily include credentialed staff as well.
  • The NVUSD credit rating has been downgraded twice in the recent past which makes borrowing more expensive. The District will have to borrow approximately $35M this year. This is not uncommon and is considered a short-term loan which will be repaid once the State releases it’s money to the districts; however, words credit rating makes it more expensive to borrow.
  • There has been a 30% increase in pension liability for school districts under Gov. Brown’s move towards more local control and funding.
  • The reserve has dropped from 8% in 2014 to 3.6% this year. In order for a school district to remain solvent, they must carry at least 3% in reserves each year.

Dr. Mucetti made a compelling case for declining middle school enrollment – projecting out to 2026. Once NVUSD shares the presentation on their website, I will make sure to link to it so that you can see for yourself. Declining enrollment appears to hold true even taking into account the proposed Watson Ranch Development and residential units along Broadway once the Specific Plan comes to fruition. One thing that is clear, however, is that prior school boards and administrations did not do their do diligence.

Dr. Mucetti cited lack of building starts (i.e. new construction) and lack of turnover in current housing to help bolster declining enrollment. A deeper look at the numbers for current turnover in American Canyon may give greater credence to concern over declining enrollment.

Raw number of sales from 2014 – 2019

One year does not make a trend but the numbers for the first third of 2019 are startling. Sales are down by almost a quarter year-over-year. Between May ’18 through April ’19 pending sales are down 12.6%. Fewer families will be moving in. It’s important to note that what’s good for the goose (i.e. the real estate market and higher housing prices) isn’t necessarily good for the gander (in this case the school district).

With likely continued declining enrollment, it does not seem feasible for the city to add a second middle school. Or if there is a second middle school, it seems unlikely that it will actually open until there are enough students to ensure that it won’t run an operating deficit.

One of the alternatives proposed was to use the Measure H bond money for facility improvements towards the current Middle School (replacing portables with actual buildings) and throwing a little bit of money at Donaldson Way – money that should have come to both schools regardless. Those of us who campaigned for Measure H knew that the district was not going to be able to fund everything that it wanted, but this feels like an offering for something that was already – or at least should have been – on the table.

There will be many more meetings (I hope) going forward. It remains to be seen how all of this will shake out but I am hopeful that American Canyon schools will see the money that was promised to us.

May AC Real Estate Market Update

The American Canyon Real Estate Market is in flux, at the moment. As I looked at the numbers for April, there were a couple of items that really stood out at me: New homes on the market increased by 16.7% from Feb – April last year and the number of sold homes decreased by 23.1% from the same time period last year.

Homes for sale and sold from Feb 2018 through April 2019

The graph shows that there was a significant amount of inventory (for American Canyon) late last summer and fall. However, what is striking to me is that there hasn’t really been a corresponding increase in the number of sales over the past few months. While sales steadily increased through October, 2018 much of the inventory hanging out last fall and early winter still hasn’t completely turned over.

Days on Market has been steadily increasing since last spring.

Currently the average days on market is 56. This is largely due to the spring selling season with a few phenomenal new listings turning over quickly (127 Wilson comes to mind). $700,000 for a home is still a tough nut to crack. I think that I say this all the time. As a result, a lot of the larger listings are lingering on the market. This is helping to drive up the Days on Market.

Nowhere is this more true than in the Waterton Subdivision (Northwest Corner of American Canyon by the Wetlands). There are currently 4 homes on the market, all over $729,000 and I’m hearing that there may be one or two more coming on in the near future. There have been 2 homes in the subdivision that came on the market and went into contract within a week: both were listed under $700,000.

What does this info mean for buyers?

The good news for a buyer is that you don’t necessarily have to pay full price for a home right now – even in the spring selling season. The average sale price against list price is approximately 97% which is down from last year at this time. This also means that you can take your time to find the right home for you. The inventory is there. However, you may want to take a look at a home that needs some work, rather than a home that has already been renovated and/or updated. There are absolutely deals to be had – you just have to be willing to take the time to find them.

What does this mean for sellers?

We are well past the time where all you have to do is put a sign in the front of your yard and let the offers come strolling in. You are going to work to attract buyers. Clean up the front yard. You have 3 seconds to make a first impression so make it count. Once inside, make sure that it’s clean – and I don’t just mean decluttered. Sweep, dust, mop, vacuum, do the dishes, fold and put away the clothes…Don’t give away everything you gained with the curb appeal by having a dirty home.

Also be prepared to have your home sit on the market for 30-45 days before going into contract. That’s pretty normal. In the old days – way back in the 1990’s – it would typically take between 60-90 days to get a home in contract and sold. It’s still a fast market but it has cooled off some.

And the Health of the Market Is…?

Overall American Canyon still has a fairly healthy market. Homes that have curb appeal, good bones and are staged are being sold. Homes that aren’t, are hanging out for a while. This is as it should be. At the end of the day, the median home sales price is still above $500,000 for the first time since November, 2018. There is solid competition (28 homes on the market as I write this) with an average list price of $642,000. The first time home buyer market appears to be coming back (3 new listings under $500,000 in the last week) and the mid-market is going strong.

We will not see double digit gains in home equity like we have in years past although we will continue to see home prices rise in 3-5% range over the course of the year.

What’s Up with the Market??

That’s an excellent question. Home sales in American Canyon dropped by almost 50% in March compared to last year. But the median sales price rebounded to over $600,000 after a fairly precipitous four month decline beginning in October, 2018.

At first glance this appears to be a rather significant market correction. Home prices in the city rose too rapidly (overall) last spring and now they are retreating. But statistics can be misleading. I don’t believe that we are seeing a market correction. The big homes are still selling for a lot – there just aren’t as many big homes going up for sale as there have been (although that’s changing as I write this).

Almost half of all the homes sold since August 1, 2018 have been in the Rancho del Mar Subdivision. Owners are starting to cash in on the profits. However, buyers have become discriminating in what and how much they are willing to put down. I think that I said this back in August. Buyers want quality since they lack quantity. That’s what the ever increasing days on market is telling me.

As a seller, what does this mean for you? You are going to have to put some time and effort into your home. And hey, that’s ok, pride of ownership is important, right? A little bit of elbow grease never hurt anyone (too much). Mow the lawn, trim down the bushes along a walk-way, pressure wash the front of the house, re-paint the trim. These are all things that a seller can do to improve the curb appeal without breaking the bank.

Make sure that the inside sparkles. Mop the floors, get the carpet cleaned, make your bed, do the dishes and know that most buyers will peak into your closets – even messy linen closets can leave a negative, lasting impression.

Council Got it Right!

3 cheers for the American Canyon City Council Last night. Nope, not talking about the Bottoms Up controversy (although I do appreciate their decision to deny the appellant). I’ve tried to stay out of it. I have many friends that I respect who are dead-set against it for a variety of reasons and I support them. Me, personally, I just chose not to give them any of my money.

I will say this, though. What I particularly liked was seeing the Oro-Leary coalition spear-head the “let’s move on and deny them” contingent. They were right. There was little more to say and little more that the appellant could do to sway minds. Ken’s distaste was clearly palpable as he tried to describe the “modeling” pictures of the applicant. Glad that David and Ken were able to get council to move rather than pass the buck until the next council meeting. I would also like to give kudo’s to our own local lawyer Ralph Andino who was representing the unpopular coffee chain here. It’s not easy to take what many consider to be the wrong side – especially in a small town like ours. Ralph is good people and showed it last night.

Council also gave Canyon Estates another 2 years to get things in order by extending the Tentative Vesting Subdivision Map. It’s an interesting plan – to some degree scaled back from it’s original vision I think. You can hear my thoughts on it here: http://americancanyon.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=1168&meta_id=89325 (my comments begin at approximately the 1:27:30 mark)

But for me, the big win of the night was Council’s decision to grant the new owners of Laso LLC a $40,000 no-interest loan to install an outdoor grease trap (or something to that affect). This will allow our local residents who are trying to start a family restaurant in town, the ability to do so.

I appreciate Councilmember Leary’s point about 90+% of all restaurants failing in the first two years. The fact is that this loan is a risk and that the applicants – and not the owner – are really taking all of the risk. It’s isn’t entirely fair to either the city or the applicants; but I can tell you this: last night’s vote by Council to award this loan was another tangible step forward in our larger goal. It’s time that we begin to move forward and have a larger tent

I love having lunch meetings at Thai Kitchen, Mi Zacatecas, Tacos Michoacan, Crave, et al. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for another restaurant. As we lurch forward with hope, also known as Watson Ranch, we will need more amenities like Laso to attract buyers for these $1M-plus properties from Canyon Estates. As we seek to continue to attract new homeowners to our area for the existing housing stock, we need to show discernible proof that we are prepared to make our community even better. $40,000 towards two young men’s dream seems like a small amount to me.