From our spiffy Multiple Listing Service that has all the listings in one place, no matter what far-flung MLS an agent might put a listing in, our sales data are now much more complete. The following table is a sales overview comparing 2007 to 2008:
Highland Park has really been through the wringer, as we say in professional Realtor terms. From the beginning of 2007 to the end of 2008, the number of sales dropped 36%, and the lowest sales price dropped 56%! Wow, though the low sales price isn't as meaningful as the median and average prices which dropped by about 30%. The high sales prices of $950,000 in 2007 were mostly in the new development in the Monterey Hills, and that wasn't the case in 2008. In fact, the last house that sold over there was a foreclosure that closed at $705,000, a very significant 25% drop in price in one year.
What I think is really interesting about the trends in Highland Park is that the number of units sold appears to have bottomed out in the first half of 2008, with the second half showing an increase of 43%! The prices actually dropped close to 15% in the last half of the year. This indicates to me that we saw some kind of a bottom at that time in Highland Park, buyers perceived that there were deals to pick up, and the sales numbers, not prices, finally started to pick up.
In 2007, 7% of the sales were foreclosures, 1.6% were short sales, and 2.4% were trust or probate sales, for a grand total of 11% distressed sales. Compare that to 2008, when the sales were 45% REO, 10% short sales, and 2% trust sales, for a total of 57% distressed sales. Whew!
So what do we have going on in 2009? Of the 127 active listings, 39 are REOs, 31 are short sales, and 3 are probates, so 57% of the listings are distress sales. Of the 30 listings that went into escrow since January 1, 2009, 17 are REOs, 6 are short sales - 77 % are distress sales. Of the 18 closed sales, 11 are REO and 2 are short sales, which means that 72% of the sales are distress sales. What does all this mean?
- The bargain hunters are out and are buying. If you are a seller and you have to sell, you'd better be really well-priced and ready to negotiate further if you want to sell in this market.
- If you are a buyer and you see something you like, you'd better jump on it. The days of having your parents come the following weekend to approve your choice before you make an offer are over. In fact, if you need your parents' approval before you buy, you'd better bring them with you when you look at stuff.
- If you are waiting for prices to drop further, you may miss your chance to buy anything. Why? Because you won't know when the prices have bottomed out until you see that they have started back up. The minute that happens, sellers will be less negotiable and will wait to put their homes on the market. Simply put, there won't be anything good for you to buy.
- If you are a seller and you want or need to make a move, now is a good time because the buyers are out looking, but prices are still dropping, so price it right to start. That means price it under what the recent sales show. Yikes! (I know).