First 3Q of '11: More Sales, Median Surprise

By Dave Fratello | October 6th, 2011
We can close the books now on the first 3 quarters of RE sales in MB with a look at the data.

Examining just a 3-year data range for now, we see a couple of patterns that have been consistent all year:

1) 2010 was a recovery year over the 2009 bottom, while 2011 has seen more sales; and

2) Lower median prices continue in 2011.

Since we put the word "surprise" in the headline, we had best give you the shocker up front here: The median price for homes sold west of Sepulveda is now lower than the median in 2009. 

Comparing SFR sales data for the first 3 quarters combined, we see that 2011 has seen quite a few more sales than 2009 – a jump of 50% in the number of SFRs transacted, in fact, from 125 way-back-when to 188 this year.

But amid this greater sales volume, the median price west of the highway was $1.580m, down $20k from the $1.600m median in 2009's first 3 quarters.

Even if you look at the 2011 vs. 2009 medians as essentially equal, it's still startling to see.

That's because the first 3 quarters of 2009 were pretty much the most anemic for MB real estate since anyone can remember. To now see median prices flat to that forgettable time, even with far greater volume, may cause some consternation.

Year-over-year, the median price for SFRs west of Sepulveda is down 8% from 2010, when the median leaped to $1.722m. Sales volume was up 10%.

We saw similar patterns in our mid-year data compilation (see "First Half '11: More Sales, Lower Median"). However, at that point a few months back, the 2011 median price was higher than 2009. No more.

Expanding out to look at citywide data, the picture is somewhat brighter.

Sales volume is up overall, by 10% year- over-year, just like the west-of-Sepulveda figure.

The citywide median price has bumped down again, creating a little downtrend in the data that mirrors the look of the west-of-Sepulveda chart.

However, the citywide median price for SFRs of $1,499,500 is down only a little from the median we saw for the first half ($50k/-3%) and the median remains a tick above the 2009 median price for all of MB. Mostly we've seen the median hanging right at $1.5m for the bulk of 2011.

Slipping-to-flat prices and a modest increase in sales year-over-year don't make for a tale of alarm or unbridled optimism. We hear talk of the market stabilizing and becoming boring – hopeful talk, it seems, since flat is as predictable as your morning oatmeal.

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