By Bruce Cathcart
Our local population of “snowbirds” continued to increase throughout the month of November although it appears so far that most of the early returnees have come to enjoy our wonderful winter weather in their second homes that they already own. Either that or they left their wallets at home as home sales flat lined in the month of November. I myself recently returned home from a quick vacation to Montana. I was happy to leave the minus nine degree daily lows and mid 20 degree highs… not counting any wind chill factors. Sometimes we forget just how lucky we are to live in this winter paradise!
I spoke with several trusted real estate agents across the Coachella Valley toward the end of the month and discovered that many of them at the Thanksgiving table last month were thankful to still be in business. From starter homes to luxury homes and everything in the middle this new “Norm” of fewer sales and stable (and in many cases now lower) sale prices makes for a challenging market for sellers and their agents. This of course is good news for buyers who have been waiting for their chance to become homeowners. Let’s take a quick look at the numbers for November and you will see what I mean.
Last month (November), according to the Desert Area MLS (as of 12/01/14) there were 732 pendings of residential properties in the Coachella Valley. There were only 630 pendings in the previous month (October) representing again another significant increase in sales activity (approximately 16%) which follows our normal, seasonal sales pattern here in the Coachella Valley. In October there were 517 solds and in November, but despite the increase in pending sales, there were only 511 solds representing a small decrease in closings! This was both a surprise and a disappointment. When compared to last year, we closed 574 homes in November representing a year over year decrease of approximately 11% in home sales. Last month we saw home sale prices continue to stabilize and even go down in several Coachella Valley neighborhoods while year over year sales volume continues to be down by 11%. Just a reminder here, last year was a less than average year for sales so any decrease from that really suggests that our market is struggling again.
For the majority of 2014 the number of buyers had kept up with the amount of homes coming on the market but that began to change in September. By the end of October we had 3,863 properties available to buyers. By the end of November the number of homes on the market had increased to 4,659! That’s almost a 21% increase in inventory in just one month. Combine that with fewer sales and we are quickly becoming a “buyer’s market” again.
In last month’s article I went into to several reasons why our market here in the Coachella Valley is struggling. With the investors temporarily pulling back from our market and first time home buyers with minimal employment opportunities being saddled with student loans, increased medical insurance payments, car loans, cell phones, and in many cases children… it is wonder our market is surviving at all. But we are surviving and in comparison to many other places around the country our housing is still quite affordable, not to mention our great weather and quality of life the Coachella Valley offers its residents and visitors alike. For that, and so much more, I am truly thankful!
Real Estate Tip of the month: This month consider giving your home the gift of home security. The experts talk about “layers” of home security, obviously with the more layers the better. You can start out by simply upgrading your current door locks and hardware or go full on with the installation of a high tech security system complete with infra red night vision and color video cameras that can be viewed 24/7 on your cell phone. One item that is often overlooked is the possibility to add a layer between you and anyone approaching your front door by installing an attractive wrought iron gate. This added security provides both a barrier and distance between you and potential home invaders. As our population here in the Coachella Valley continues to increase so does our crime rate. Most security systems will not only add value to your home but will provide you with peace of mind as well.
Bruce Cathcart is the Broker/Co-Owner of La Quinta Palms Realty, “Your Friendly Professionals” and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.laquintapalmsrealty.com.