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The local market is heating up

Consumers awaken

During the holiday shopping period at the end of last year, consumers expressed their impatience at having been austere for three-plus years. The consumer wanted that flat-screen TV he or she had waited so long for and it was bought!

However, shoppers were well armed with smart phones, new price checking apps, and a determination to get merchandise at the very best possible price. Buyers felt no qualms about price checking right on the spot and asking the store to match better prices found elsewhere. This led to big increases in sales volumes over the holidays, but not as much money was
spent as expected.

The consumer has awakened in other areas as well, namely real estate. The confidence we saw in the fourth quarter of 2011 has carried over to the first quarter of 2012. Buyers have decided that they have waited long enough, and it is time to buy that new home they have been wanting for several years.

It is kind of the perfect storm: buyers are tired of waiting, confidence is up, rent rates are going sky high, interest rates are at historical lows, and buyers have finally come to believe that prime San Francisco real estate is not going down any further in price. This year has come in with a roar, not a whimper, and buyers are out in droves. It is not uncommon to see multiple offers now on prime properties that are presented well and priced right. Sales are most definitely up.

There is one more important factor in this mix: lack of inventory. Some sellers are not yet convinced that they can get a fair price for their home and are holding off putting it on the market. This has shifted the market almost overnight from a buyer’s market to much more of a seller’s market. I believe that the resurgence of multiple offers on prime homes will continue until we see more inventory available.

With this in mind, sellers may wish to chat with their Real estate agent and revisit the idea of putting their homes on the market. If nothing else, see what comparable homes are selling for at the moment. Buyers should also check in with their Real estate agents and be sure that they are informed of new listings immediately. Waiting to find new listings on the Internet may just be too late right now.

San Francisco is fortunate in so many ways. We have a number of industries fueling our economy. Our real estate market is also being impacted by news about IPO offerings. Even more amazing, many high tech companies are leasing or buying buildings for campuses that will house employees they have not even hired yet. This is the kind of growth they are anticipating.

Naturally, all of this will lead to even higher housing demand. So if you are thinking of buying or selling a home, this might be the perfect time.

Stephanie Saunders Ahlberg has been a real estate agent for over 30 years and joined Hill & Co. in 1983, where she has consistently been among the top 10 salespeople. She can be reached at www.realtyinsanfrancisco.com.
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