Monthly Archives: May 2024

Yolo County Market Trends for April 2024

My goal is to regularly produce local real estate market trend analysis on a monthly basis, focused on my primary markets of Yolo County and Northern Solano County. I’ll have Solano County analysis next week. I’ll also mix in relevant news and articles of interest.

New California Realtor Forms

The California Association of Realtors (CAR) is revising most of their forms for compliance to the recent settlement regarding buyer broker compensation. These changes are scheduled to be released the week of June 25th.

Because we are required to analyze purchase agreements by USPAP, you should take a look at the upcoming changes. It’s probably good practice going forward to request a copy of the Buyer Representation and Broker Compensation Agreement and Cooperating Broker Compensation Agreement until local markets adjust to the settlement. The forms are being finalized but should be essentially the same.

CAR June 2024 Forms Release Quick Summary

On the good news front, the Fair Appraisal Act Addendum, the form released in 2022 to address bias claims, is being retired with the language moved into a paragraph on another form. I appreciate that CAR is de-emphasizing this language unfavorable to appraisers.

Yolo County Market Trends

The never-ending story of residential is interest rates. Last year at this time I frequently heard predictions of mortgage rates near 5%, like here:

The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts rates will fall to 5.5 percent by the end of 2023 as the economy weakens. The group revised its forecast upward a bit — it previously expected rates to fall to 5.3 percent.

Here’s the reality:

Not quite 5%?

Freddie Mac’s Len Kiefer publishes a chart, below, showing the impact of rising interest rates on affordability.

The vertical scale shows loan amount while the horizontal scale shows interest rates. The blue lines show the payment for a given loan amount and interest rate combination. In 2021, the average loan amount of approximately $400,000 meant a monthly payment of about $1,900 per month. The 2024 average loan amount, approximately $475,000, requires a monthly payment of about $3,100, a 63% increase. Yikes!

We’re still in high interest rate environment with significantly reduced purchasing power from two years ago, reducing demand. At the same time, because so many homeowners locked in rates at 3% or lower, supply continues to sit below pre-pandemic levels.

Yolo County Data

Below is a breakdown of sales in 2024 by community for residential sales on 60 acre or less lots, excluding condominiums, townhouses, and halfplexes. Note that small acreage residential sales are included in this snapshot. All data from Metrolist MLS.

Yolo County 2024 Sales by Community

Most of the sales in Yolo County occur in Woodland, West Sacramento, and Davis, especially in early in the year.

Below shows the growth in mean sale price for Yolo County since 2016. Prices have increased significantly over the past eight years.

Yolo County Monthly Mean Sale Prices since 2016. I see the pandemic in the data, do you?

Let’s see how the market has reacted since the rise in interest rates in early 2022.

Mean Sale Price for all homes sold in Yolo County since 1/1/22

Prices peaked in early 2022 and declined the rest of the year as the market digested the massive change in affordability. Prices recovered somewhat in early 2023 and have tended towards stability since. However, prices are slightly down on a year-over-year basis, discussed below.

Inventory fell to historically low levels during the pandemic and rose in reaction to the interest rate increase in early 2022 but still sit well below pre-pandemic levels at present.

Inventory remains below pre-pandemic levels

Monthly mean days on market are slightly elevated from pre-pandemic numbers and need to be watched.

Monthly mean days on market are slightly above pre-pandemic numbers

Another measure of market strength is the sale price to list price ratio, or how much the sale price of a home changes from the reported list price. A ratio is greater than 100% shows prices getting bid up while under 100% shows sellers forced to discount.

List Price/Sale Price Ratio for Yolo County sales, another measure of market strength

On average, buyers are paying more than the initial list price in Yolo County at present, a sign of market strength.

Yolo County Monthly sales volume is down

Sales volume continues to be suppressed below pre-pandemic levels.

Yolo County Summary

April 2024April 2023Change
Active Listings (May)19914240%
Inventory1.7 Months1.5 Months13%
Sales1099712%
Mean Sale Price$696,669$728,080-4%
Mean PSF$366.79$388.41-5.5%
Sale Price/List Price Ratio100.27%100.54%-0.2%
Mean Days on Market28 Days34 Days-18%
Mean Number of Offers2.12.8-25%

For Yolo County, listings are up, inventory is up slightly, sales volume is up, and prices are down slightly year-over-year. Market heat is down with decreasing sale price/list price ratio and fewer offers on average, but marketing time has decreased. Overall, the Yolo County residential market is softening.

Davis and Woodland

This analysis only includes sales of homes on less than one acre of properties labeled as “single family residences” in Metrolist, the local MLS. The same rules apply to the West Sacramento analysis below.

Sales volume has drifted downwards for both Davis and Woodland.

Declining sales is the clear trend for Davis
Sales volume trending down in Woodland

Number of offers on average for Davis and Woodland are trending up and are above pre-pandemic numbers.

More competition for listings in Davis
Competition for listings is rising in Woodland too

Davis and Woodland Summary

DavisWoodland
Active Listings as of May 93027
Sales Last Month1845
Inventory1.7 Months0.6 Months
Mean Sale Price April 2024$1,124,972$608,554
12 Month Change
Mean Sale Price
Mean PSF

13%
5%

12%
7%
Sale Price/List Price Ratio104.39%99.25%
Mean Days on Market April 20241827

The summary table above captures a point in time. Below are scatter graphs of all homes sold in Davis and Woodland since 1/1/23.

Davis prices evolve around UC Davis. Note the seasonal hump and decline following the university schedule

Davis is showing the typical seasonality we’ve seen prior to the pandemic, tracking the university schedule. Prices in 2024 are slightly ahead of 2023 prices.

Not captured above in the summary is that Woodland prices have been essentially stable in 2024

In contrast, Woodland shows no seasonality with prices increasing into late 2023 but relatively stable since. Notice how the summary table above misses the switch to stability in Woodland.

West Sacramento

Sales volume is down in West Sacramento as shown below.

West Sacramento declining sales volume

Offers received per sale in West Sacramento are below the pandemic era but above 2018 and 2019.

West Sacramento number of offers remains above pre-pandemic levels

West Sacramento Summary

Active Listings as of May 933
Sales Last Month29
Inventory1.1 Months
Mean Sale Price April 2024$628,097
12 Month Change
Mean Sale Price
Mean PSF
1%
-5%
Sale Price/List Price Ratio98.39%
Mean Days on Market April 202419

West Sacramento trends are mixed, showing increases on a sale price basis and declines for most of 2023 with an uptick in early 2024 on a price per square foot basis-see the two graphs below.

West Sacramento Sales on a price per square foot basis. Note the decline through most of 2023
Sale price trendline for West Sacramento sales since 1/1/23. Prices have mostly increased during this time frame

Why do we see declining prices in one graph and rising prices in the other?

This third graph will explain.

Home size over time for West Sacramento sales since 1/1/23

The graph above shows the reported living space for every home sold in West Sacramento since 1/1/23. The red trendline shows that the average size of homes sold increased 1 sf every three days, or about 150 sf from the start of the period to now. This change in home size is known as a composition effect, which I wrote about here.

The move towards larger homes pushes up the sale price trendline and pushes down the price per square foot trendline. For 2023, prices were stable to decreasing in West Sacramento but appear to be stable to increasing at present.

Summary

The overriding story for housing in Yolo County at present is the continued elevated interest rates and resulting lack of affordability. Supply continues to be restrained while demand is reduced by the reduction in affordability. Sales volume and inventory are both below normal pre-pandemic levels.

Countywide, prices have declined slightly on a year-over-year basis with other indicators of a softening market. Davis has rediscovered seasonality while Woodland prices are up year-over-year but have been relatively stable in 2024. West Sacramento indicators are mixed but prices have ticked up in early 2024.

I hope you find this useful. I’ll cover Northern Solano County next time.

The 5th Annual Northern California Residential Appraiser Conference Recap

Thanks to the Northern Solano County Association of Realtors for hosting us

Thanks to everyone who came to the 5th Northern California Residential Appraiser Conference jointly hosted by the Real Estate Appraisers Association (REAA) and the Northern California Chapter of the Appraisal Institute last week. While attendance was somewhat lighter than in past years, it was great to see so many in person. We had fantastic speakers, starting with Sandra Adomatis, SRA, 2024 National President of the Appraisal Institute.

AI National President Sandy Adomatis

Sandy gave us an update on current industry trends and the Appraisal Institute. I enjoyed hearing about PAREA, the training program alternative to the traditional appraiser apprenticeship, and am hopeful to see younger folks entering the profession. She shared a slide showing most states ready to accept PAREA now or very soon.

Of the 70,000 appraisers in the US at present, 4,000 are SRAs, 8,400 are MAIs, and another 1,400 hold reviewing designations. She also mentioned how the AI will be pushing back on the trend of using property inspectors in appraisals and the misperception of appraisers as mostly biased.

Heather Sullivan, NAA Appraiser of the Year

Next up was Heather Sullivan, head of learning and development for Aloft Appraisal, and the National Association of Appraisers Appraiser of the Year! Congrats Heather!

Heather’s talk was applying the business book classic Who Moved My Cheese? to the current state of the residential appraiser industry. Because of PTSD from my past life working for a rapidly growing music wholesaler, I can’t recommend the book, but I can recommend her talk. She discussed the changes coming and the overall process of accepting change, leaning heavily on WMMC. If you’ve been in the appraisal industry for any length of time, you’ve seen many changes (typewriters, 24-hour photo, MLS books for data, the 1004, UAD, online data availability, etc.). We’re about to see more change with property data collection, new automated tools for analysis, and new appraisal “forms.” Clients are pushing for faster production and if we’re going to serve those clients, we’ll need to adapt.

Heather shared a breakdown of the new appraisal report coming soon to a lender near you. There will be one report instead of the 15 or so different reports we deal with today with options to show sections as they apply. You start by selecting the type of property to be appraised, then the software will display required sections for every report (summary, assignment information, subject property, site, sketch, etc.), with optional sections able to be added by the appraiser as needed (energy efficiency and green features, manufactured home details, rental information, income approach, cost approach, etc.).

Side view of Jeff Bradford

Heather handed over to Jeff Bradford, CEO of Bradford Technologies. Jeff continued the discussion about the new forms coming soon and likened it to filling out your taxes with Turbo Tax. Not the most exciting description. He went into detail about the difficulties developing the new software and some challenges the industry might see. Both Heather and Jeff see the appraiser’s role in this new world to evolving even further into data analysis.

Jeff sees a problem with splitting the data collector role from the duties of the appraiser with a potentially lower income in the future the outcome. His solution-build software to help the appraiser preserve relevance in the residential lending valuation process. We then saw a demonstration of Bradford Technologies solution, NightHawk. Jeff showed us how this tool, in development, would allow for fast analysis with lots of ways to search and analyze competitive sales data, plug into an appraisal, and quickly report the results. I can’t wait to see NightHawk roll out.

From Left: Jon Reiter, Susan Reiter, Stephanie MacLean, and Amy Bolton-Christopherson. The panel was organized by Lou Rusert, standing far right

After lunch, we shifted gears to a panel of local builders. We heard from Amy Bolton-Christopherson, president of Christopherson Builders, Stephanie MacLean, CEO/President of Blue Mountain Enterprises, LLC, and Jon and Susan Reiter, owners of Reiter Fine Home Building.

This panel was especially interesting because each builder occupied a different market segment. Blue Mountain is a production home builder with communities across Northern California. Christopherson Builders is based in Santa Rosa and aims for the custom, higher quality market. I recognized Christopherson because they have rebuilt homes destroyed in the LNU Complex Fires north of Vacaville, one of my prime markets. Reiter Fine Home Building is a top of market spec builder in the Wine Country, with homes starting at $15,000,000 going up to more than $65,000,000.

Amy from Christopherson emphasized the difficulty in building new homes in California because of regulations and high indirect costs. Her example of a 1,200 sf accessory dwelling with a base price of $558,600 was eye-opening.

Stephanie from Blue Mountain reviewed the process her company goes through for developing a subdivision, from conception through feasibility, acquisition, marketing, and selling. She highlighted a new subdivision in Elk Grove with entry-level homes at $400,000, very reasonable and attainable for many in the Sacramento region.

Reiter Fine Home Building is different. Jon Reiter described their model of staying current with the latest trends in the very top tier of new homes in the US, designing and building one at a time. He discussed the importance of site selection for privacy and views for those who can afford a $65,000,000 home and emphasized that home size is less in demand in the top tier. He also discussed evolving tastes and how his company moved from Mediterranean to barndominium to modern.

All three panelists were kind enough to answer questions at the end of their presentations.

Yours truly in the deadliest slot, last

The final section was a discussion of short-term rental properties. Seth Carlsen, a Sacramento-based real estate investor, shared with us an introduction and lessons learned in acquiring and managing his 21 short-term rental properties. He reviewed AirDNA, the primary data source for short-term rentals, and provided comparisons to data provided about his properties by AirDNA and the actual data. He warned us to be careful to compare properties with similar amenities and maximum guest count, and to use multiple data sources.

I wrapped up the day with a comparison of short-term rentals to the standard rental properties residential appraisers deal with on a regular basis and warned about the relatively common request appraisers receive from lenders to provide a “rent survey” for short-term rentals. I encourage everyone interested in the topic to read John Dingeman’s article about the issues regarding lender rent survey requests and short-term rentals.

Thanks to host Northern Solano County Association of Realtors for allowing us to use their excellent facility. Thanks to all of our speakers who traveled near and far to share their wisdom and expertise. Thanks to Lisa Estes from the Appraisal Institute for managing the logistics so well. And thanks especially to my fellow committee members Lou Rusert and Chris Daniels, SRA for their work in planning this event.

Quiet, too quiet, and upcoming speaking engagements

I had a problem earlier this week with this website reverting to a 2016 version but was able to quickly fix with the help of the fine folks at my host, SiteGround. When reviewing the issue, I noticed that my last post was last summer. Yikes! Here’s the first effort to be more timely with my writing.

The Northern California Residential Appraiser Conference

Friday, May 3 (tomorrow), I am speaking at the Northern California Residential Appraisal Conference in Fairfield, California. My topic is a brief introduction to short-term rental (STR) properties with a focus on the issue of what to do when a lender asks for an appraiser to report “rental income” for a STR on the 1007 form.

Denis DeSaix, Penny Woods and I came together to produce the first joint conference between the Real Estate Appraisers Association (REAA) and the Northern California Chapter of the Appraisal Institute (NorCal AI) in 2018. Our goals were to bring the excellent teachers from NorCal AI to REAA residential appraisers and to build connections between the two organizations. Tomorrow is the fifth annual conference (Covid canceled the 2020 event) and we have a great group of speakers.

More information here

Other upcoming classes

The California Probate Referees Association has invited me to speak at their conference on Monday, May 20. I plan to discuss market change adjustments and contrasting, two quick and easy tools every valuation professional should use. This event is not open to the public but if you’re a probate referee in California, I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, June 4 I am teaching a time adjustments/market change adjustments class via Zoom for REAA. I will discuss time adjustments in detail here in a series of posts over the next several weeks.

Click here for more information or to register

What I’ve been doing instead of updating my website

I immensely enjoyed my trip to Palm Springs for the Community of Asset Analysts meeting in January. It was great to see in person many of my valuation friends. Below are some photos from the trip.

From upper left clockwise: George Dell speaking at the Community of Asset Analysts meeting; my fellow asset analysts; Brad Bassi in real life!; first time in Palm Springs; Joshua Tree NP was amazing; Yosemite Valley in the snow on the way home