After almost vertical price increases beginning at the first of the year, summer has brought a small lull in the market. We are actually seeing a number of price reductions appearing all across our Los Angeles marketplace, including the Westside.
Why? As prices jumped up, more homeowners who had been waiting for the market to "recover" put their homes on the market and our inventory of homes for sale increased from breathtakingly low to just very low. This, coupled with an uptick in mortgage interest rates, caused buyers to step back and think. Properties that came on the market priced to take into account the expected price increase all of a sudden seemed a little overpriced. Only the very best properties are still going in crazy multiple offer bidding wars (best in this case can mean an incredibly well done or well located house, or incredible deal for a house.) Those homeowners who have less than the best are finding that they are not going to be swept along with the buyer stampede as they had hoped.
We are also seeing a couple of interesting trends in how escrows are going. There seems to be an uptick in the number of escrows falling out, and largely over some aspect of buyer remorse. I've heard from escrow officers that they are averaging 30% fallout in the escrows they have. Why? Buyers are hugely afraid of overpaying. At the same time, there is much less willingness on the part of the seller to put up with renegotiating the price over conditions that come up during the inspection period. There is also less and less tolerance for letting contingencies drag on past their due dates.
What to make of these trends? Buyers now have an opportunity to be a little more thoughtful about the home they purchase as long as they are willing to shop in the second tier of homes for sale (the best of the best still go for the most.) But once they go into escrow, buyers need to be more business-like in their behavior and keep up their end of the contract, or they might just be bounced out of escrow by a more business-like seller.