Market Almost As Busy as '17 in Q1 '18

By Dave Fratello | April 12th, 2018

Though inventory of homes for sale in Manhattan Beach has been lower most of this year, the sales pace has been about the same as last year.

Comparing data from Jan. 1-March 31 of each year, there were 108 new escrows opened in 2017, and 101 opened in 2018.

That data comports with our observations and feelings from the front lines this year.

There's been little evident reluctance by buyers. Recent changes in the tax laws pertaining to real estate, plus increasing mortgage interest rates, could have cast a pall over the Spring market. But that seems not to have happened.

Indeed, it is not at all uncommon to see attractive homes sell within 1-2 weeks. And multiple offers are breaking out when the price is right.

As you see in our second chart, buyers have stepped up at a nearly equal pace to last year despite having 10-25% fewer choices, overall, than buyers had last year. Demand, in other words, has been pretty consistent.

Meanwhile, slightly more sales closed in Q1 2018 than in Q1 2017: 78 sales this year, versus 73 last year. Obviously, closed sales are a slightly lagging indicator, because some sales closing during this 3-month period opened escrow back in 2017. And properties that went into escrow during this quarter have not all closed yet.

For the one-year period ending March 31 (4/1/17-3/31/18), there were 427 closed sales in Manhattan Beach, versus 394 for the equivalent prior year period (4/1/16-3/31/17). This is some indication of the ongoing momentum from 2017.

These are all good indications for now that local real estate has held steady, despite 8 years of rising prices and potential headwinds that might have raised questions for buyers.

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Nerdy notes: The data on new escrows is drawn (painstakingly) from our own MB Market Update spreadsheets published regularly here at MB Confidential. We counted only those properties newly going into escrow within the 1st quarter. Not every property going into escrow during Q1 of either 2017 or 2018 remained in escrow - some fell out and even quit the market.

We preferred to hand-craft our own data, because some online tools we experimented with that draw on MLS data gave us wildly different results. Those tools incorrectly suggested that 2018 was much slower than 2017. When those numbers didn't seem right, we broke out the abacus and did it all by hand.

Oh, where are all those homes selling this year?

Here's a nifty look at differences year-over-year.

Conclusion: Hooray for the Sand Section!

The beach has seen the most sales in this quarter, fully 67% more than in the same period last year, and the area's showing signs of life despite a nearly 2-year funk with high inventory and softer prices overall.

There's still a lot more inventory in the Sand Section than in any other part of town, but that's helping generate more sales along the coast, too.

You almost can't keep a house on the market in the Tree Section (we failed to get 2 to market this year, selling instead before public listings). The sales pace is lower this year in the Trees largely because inventory has been tight.

Much the same can be said for East Manhattan, where it seems nothing has really been available this year, or hung around for long.

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