Are We Up Yet?

By Dave Fratello | April 27th, 2012
With the buzz in the air about multiple-offer situations and all, we've heard all kinds of blanket statements about the market's direction.

The only one that matters is MB Confidential having switched to saying this feels like a "seller's market." (We kid!) 

We've heard others say flatly:
  • "Our market is already up 5%." 
  • "The high end has never been stronger."
  • "We're up 10% already and there are more bidding wars."
  • "It's on."
At least it should be possible to try to evaluate those 5-10% claims.

We've done that, with mixed results.

Looking purely at year-to-date numbers for SFRs, are we up by a bunch?

It depends.

Median price YTD for all of MB is up $50k, or +3%, over the same period last year. (That's Jan. 1-April 25 in our data.)

The median citywide for this short period is $1.550m.

Our sample size for 2011 was 84 closed sales, 89 in 2012. Fairly comparable.

As you'll see in our chart (click to enlarge), looking citywide, it's a pretty steady progression from year to year, 2009-2012. No surprise, 2009 was the pits and after that, things got sunnier.

Median price west of Sepulveda only – watch out.

A smaller sample gives us a wildly higher number: up $227k or nearly +15% year over year.

The median for west of the highway only: $1.775m.

Go ahead, tell someone that MB west of Sepulveda is up 15% this year. They might say, "You're crazier than that realtor who said we're up 10%!"

Hey, that's what the data say, based on a sample of 66 closed sales this year and 60 last year. Small numbers obviously fluctuate too much.

One thing we noted in the data for west of Sepulveda: There's a sudden and steep climb among the recent sales, a "cliff" of sorts in the data. The jump from sales in the 1.5s to the 1.8s seemed sudden. 

Clearly, you get better data for median prices with longer time scales – or whatever gives you larger numbers. So we learned something today, but we're really not going to stand by the notion that MB west of Sepulveda is up 15%. 

There are other ways to get at this question of whether the market is up, and by how much. Longer time frames, better matches of properties sold in different years, the sale this year of homes that didn't sell previously. We'll look at some of those angles next week.

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