Hey, it’s been a while. Since the start of the pandemic, demand for appraisal services has gone through the roof, limiting my ability to write. Thank you if you’ve sent me work. That said, I hope to write more frequently in 2022. This is the start.
Market Analysis Ground Rules
Below are market updates for Davis, Woodland, and the Northern Yolo County small acreage residential markets. My data source is Metrolist, the MLS for my region and part of the Norcal MLS Alliance. I’m very fortunate to have such great data partners.
For suburban markets like Davis and Woodland, I limit the analysis to sales of single family residences on one lot. I exclude condominiums, townhouses, halfplexes, and small income residential properties (2-4 units) because these types of transactions in general add noise to the analysis in markets I cover. For small acreage residential properties, I include one house on a lot, two houses on a lot, manufactured homes, and modular homes outside of city limits. I usually narrow the lot size range of transactions included in the analysis. For example, the analysis below is limited to sales on lots with 1-60 acres of area.
Sales volume in Davis was significantly higher year-over-year in early 2021 because of lockdowns in 2020 but over the past six months are down year-over-year because of the surge in late 2020.
My favorite way to measure sale price trends in Davis is to look at monthly year-over-year metrics because of the high degree of seasonality in the Davis market. Look at the graph below. The past six months prices are up on average 20% overall in Davis. Pre-pandemic, prices were stable to declining slightly…
Sales volume in Woodland has been distorted by Covid, too. Volume in early 2021 increased significantly over the prior year but were below 2020 over the summer of 2021 and are mixed most recently.
Woodland is a much less seasonal market than Davis so I use a sale price or sale price per square foot scatter graph model to show market trends. Prices have continued to rise in Woodland significantly over the past 12 months.
Davis and Woodland Recent Activity
Prices continue to show strong appreciation. The key issue is the lack of inventory. Normally, Davis and Woodland have 50-100 single family homes listed for sale. Lack of inventory is driving competition and prices.
Competition is frantic in Davis now with the vast majority of homes receiving multiple offers. Woodland homes are receiving multiple offers at a higher than typical rate, too, but not at Davis levels. Great time to sell, terrible time to buy.
Cash Buyers in the Market
With most listings receiving multiple offers, I’m not surprised to see a rising percentage of all-cash buyers.
These trends are telling the same story.
Northern Yolo County Small Acreage Residential Market
As noted above, I analyzed sales of properties on 1-60 acres sold in unincorporated Yolo County. I excluded Dunnigan because it is a different market from the rest of the county with 1 acre lots next to the interstate and many manufactured homes adding noise to the analysis.
With so few transactions, best way to understand the market is by sales per date scatter graph. First shows all sales from the start of 2020:
Those familiar with this market will be able to explain the price bump in 2016 and subsequent flattening. In early 2016, Yolo County changed the code to allow for medical marijuana grows on small acreage lots. This led to a rush in outside investors competing for small acreage residential properties and rapid price increases. When Yolo County put a clamp on new permits, prices stabilized and were relatively flat heading into the pandemic. The overall lack of inventory and desire for separation from neighbors led to a return of price increases.
The Elephant in the Room
The Covid pandemic surprised many of us by leading to rapid price increases driven by low inventory and historically low interest rates. Low inventory is still here but interest rates are rising rapidly:
If trends continue, at some point rising interest rates will reduce affordability enough to reduce sales activity and prices. Here’s hoping for a soft landing.
Brownie points to anyone who was not on the Yolo County Association of Realtors call last week who can tell where this is:
I hope you’ve had your Covid-19 vaccine shots. If not and you’re in California, sign up now here.
Inventory continues to be low in the region with rising prices and competition for most properties. Sales volume is rising as shown below for Davis and Woodland:
Inventory has risen in Davis but is still on the low side. Woodland continues to run significantly below normal.
Prices overall are increasing rapidly in Woodland and moderately in Davis. Keep in mind that specific market segments may be trending differently depending upon demand.
Everyone is talking about competing against 15 offers and prices 30% over initial list. Davis and Woodland are competitive, but not that competitive, as shown below.
Arbuckle Market Trends
Arbuckle is an unincorporated community of approximately 5,000 people located about 45 minutes northwest of Sacramento along Interstate Highway 5 in Colusa County. It features homes built in the 1940-50s plus newer subdivisions built over the past 20 years and is surrounded by farmland.
Inventory is very low, not that unusual given how small the Arbuckle market is. Sales volume in 2020 was down 10% from 2019, not unusual for the area. Prices have increased significantly over the past 12 months as shown below.
A longer look shows the effect of the pandemic on pricing:
Of the 37 homes sold in Arbuckle since 1/1/20 in Metrolist, 17 had one offer and 20 had more than one with a peak of 17 offers for one property. Competition has picked up in Arbuckle, following trends throughout the area.
Every day I receive calls and offers from lenders, agents, and buyers hoping I can help them with a purchase appraisal. I’m very fortunate to be busy and can’t finish anything quickly now because of my workload. I strongly suggest everyone to be patient if an appraisal is part of your transaction. This graph below from Freddie Mac will help explain the situation.
Appraisal volume ties directly to interest rates. When rates fall, mortgage financing rises and drives appraisal volume up. When rates rise, appraisal volume falls. However, as shown above, the number of appraisers in the US who work with lenders has been relatively stable over the past eight years. The interest rate cycle rises and falls much more rapidly than the time it takes to develop a productive appraiser, causing appraiser shortages in times like now.
The pandemic has changed all of our lives in the past year. In local real estate, activity paused in March and April as shelter-in-place orders took effect. The Fed dropped interest rates to zero, pushing mortgage rates to historic lows. Homes became more affordable but inventory (the amount of time to sell the current number of active listings in a market) tightened because people didn’t want strangers walking through their homes during a pandemic. Low rates combined with low inventory has supercharged the local residential market.
Davis and Woodland have very few homes for sale at present with multiple offers received on most listings. The lack of inventory, very low interest rates, and lots of competition are pushing prices up as shown on the graphs below.
Davis has relatively few sales in January and March so take the 26% price increase with a grain of salt-that number is likely influenced by a change in what sold, potentially a compositional effect. I wrote about compositional effects recently.
Woodland prices have increased relatively rapidly during the pandemic on a price per square foot basis but have leveled off on a sale price basis.
Because of seasonality, I look at 12 month change in prices for Davis. Prices have increased the past 5 months compared to the previous year. Davis is a clearly appreciating market at present.
Much of my work is in unincorporated Yolo County appraising small acreage residential properties. The graph below shows a significant upward trend in these types of properties. Once again, part of the increase can be attributed to a compositional effect: the average size of homes and lots have increased, pushing up the sale price trendline somewhat. That said, prices are still increasing in this market.
Inventory was 2.5 months when I compiled this graph at the beginning of the month, shockingly low. I have not seen this market with less than 5 months of inventory in the past 10 years. Buyer preferences have shifted to having more space away from neighbors.
As I type this, the 100,000th person in the US has died from the novel coronavirus 2019. The country has shut down to bend the curve. Shelter in place started in Yolo County on March 19, forcing most people to stay home. Unemployment exploded nationwide, going from 3% to nearly 20% in a month while mortgage forbearance levels jumped to 2008 levels. How has the economic crash affected residential real estate in Davis and Woodland?
Shelter in place stopped in-person interior inspections for buyers and real estate agents while the stock market crash and jump in unemployment shook consumer confidence. However, interest rates dropped into the low 3s, increasing affordability.
The graph above shows all single family residences sold in Davis by month for 2019 and 2020. Year-over-year change in January, February, and March was somewhat negative, indicative of a slowing market. April 2020 was lower still and probably represents sales that went into contract before or at the beginning of the shut down. May sales are probably the first period to reflect the post-shut down period. I was so surprised at how few sales in May to date that I ran the search multiple times to make sure I wasn’t making a mistake….
The Davis residential market ground to a halt. Current listing volume is still low but homes in contract is starting to recover (35 in contract in May 2020 to date compared to 41 in 2019). Prices have held up surprisingly well on a year-over-year, price per square foot basis as shown below.
After a period of decline in the fall, prices shifted to stable to slightly increasing. Early days and less reliable than typical because of the sales volume decline.
Woodland, in contrast, was poised for a strong 2020 before the pandemic. Sales volume was up 38% in January and 25% in February from 2019. March sales this year slowed to the 2019 rate and declined steeply in April and May to date.
Sales volume declined sooner in Woodland but not as steeply as Davis. Once again, prices in Woodland have been relatively stable overall. Homes currently in contract are low and point to continued sales volume decline in at least the short run.
We’ve seen a significant slowdown in activity that has yet to affect prices significantly. Inventory is slightly higher but not yet affecting prices. Historically low interest rates have certainly helped prop up the market. Buyers and agents have adjusted their protocols to stay healthy while shopping for homes.
I’m concerned at the trickle of sales in Davis. Davis is a really hard place to value properties because of differences in location and the high degree of seasonality from the university. Reduce sales volume significantly and sales comparison is going to be difficult. Here’s hoping my Davis Realtor friends have a busy quarter…..