Business & Real Estate

What's up with today's real estate market?

Following are answers to a few questions about the state of the local real estate market. A number of factors impact both buyers’ and sellers’ options.


Q: What’s going on with today’s local real estate market?

A: As they say, “It’s complicated!” There is no one answer that addresses everything I am seeing. What’s happening depends on what city you’re in, the price point and whether the house is all fixed up or needs updating.


Q: The headlines make it sound like prices are heading down. Is this true?

A: Some houses are selling for less than they would have in spring 2018, when we had a very overheated market. In reality, today’s prices are about where they should have been last year. On the other hand, I still see multiple offers on houses that sell over asking price.


Q: I see some houses that look like they are priced well below market value. Why is this?

A: Some agents feel that by pricing a house really low, they will create lots of interest, which in turn will generate lots of potential buyers and push the price higher. I dislike this strategy because it creates a false sense of value by buyers, who almost feel as if they have been part of a bait-and-switch operation. Understanding market value is key to recognizing these “values” and knowing that they are just smoke and mirrors.


Q: Which houses seem to sell the fastest and at the best price? In other words, what are today’s buyers looking for?

A: The most popular houses are the ones that have been updated, those with little or nothing to be done to them after move-in but unpacking and having a party. Location is also key: close to schools, downtown or major employers, but not on a busy street. Houses must be well priced and well presented. If buyers think you are overpriced, they tend not to bring in a low offer.


Q: What if I am the only bidder on a house? Does that mean that no one else likes it? Am I buying a lemon?

A: This is an interesting phenomenon that has developed in the last few years: Somehow buyers may feel that they can only buy houses that everyone else wants. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Buying a house is very time specific – it might just be that on that particular week, the people looking for the same thing you are may be away on vacation. Treat it like a gift when you don’t have to compete with anyone.


Q: Are there opportunities for buyers in today’s market?

A: Absolutely. I argue that there are more buyer opportunities now than there have been in the past seven years. You have more to choose from, so you can get more of what you want. There are fewer multiple offers, so the prices tend to be more balanced. Get out there and start looking – it’s a great time to buy.

Owen Halliday is a realtor who manages the Sereno Group office in downtown Los Altos. Email questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ColumnsWhat’s up with today’s real estate market?


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