Data released this morning by Standard & Poor’s showed an annual decline of 3.7 percent in November for the 20-city composite reading of its S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. Analysts were expecting a year-over-year drop in the range of 3.2 to 3.4 percent. Eighteen cities were in negative territory. Detroit and Washington, D.C. were the only exceptions. At -11.8 percent, Atlanta continued to post the lowest annual return.
What we need to remember is that this is a generalized report, and goes county-by-county. In Alameda County and Contra Costa County there are micro-neighborhoods where sales are very skewed (such as Oakland in Alameda County and Richmond in Contra Costa County) and these figures throw these reports off. This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to look at the zip codes, and some of those zips should even be dissected further.
Take a look at Berkeley zip code 94708, which has seen a 7.1% increase from this same time last year. One house, located in this zip code, is on the market and had over 50 requests for disclosure packets. Albany, as a whole, has seen prices drop. But if the house is centrally located and in good condition, multiple offers are happening left and right…one house I know currently has over 30 disclosure packets out. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that it will have that many offers, and these examples are not typical of all houses. What it does say is that there are a lot of buyers out there, and with such low inventory, these buyers will end up driving up the prices in some of the communities.
Please take the headlines with a grain of salt and understand that 1) they are designed to draw readers and 2) that they usually report information on a national or regional level. Prices in our area are expected to stabilize over the course of the year so if you really want to know what is happening in a particular city, zip code, or neighborhood, talk to a Realtor so that you can get the facts straight. Chances are you will be talking house-to-house, not even neighborhood to neighborhood.