California Luxury Home Values Rise Again

Luxury home values rose in California’s major metropolitan markets in the third quarter of 2012 compared to a year ago, according to the First Republic Prestige Home Index™ by First Republic Bank, a leading private bank and wealth management company.

In the quarter that ended Sept. 30, 2012, the Index indicated the following:
San Francisco Bay Area values rose 8.1% from the third quarter of 2011 and gained 2.4% from the second quarter of 2012. The average luxury home in San Francisco is now $2.73 million.
Los Angeles area values rose 1% from the third quarter a year ago and declined 0.8% from the second quarter of 2012. The average luxury home in Los Angeles is now $2.02 million.
San Diego area values climbed 2.2% year-over-year and increased 0.8% from the second quarter of 2012. The average luxury home in San Diego is now $1.66 million.
“Luxury home prices were particularly strong in the San Francisco Bay Area during the third quarter of 2012,” said Katherine August-deWilde, President and Chief Operating Officer of First Republic Bank. “The Bay Area economy is healthy, inventory is limited, and multiple offers are increasingly the norm. Values in Los Angeles and San Diego are rising, and some neighborhoods are experiencing strong demand. Historic low interest rates have resulted in an elevated level of activity in luxury markets throughout California.”
First Republic Bank produces the Prestige Home Index each quarter with Fiserv CSW Inc., a leading provider of automated property valuation services and home price metrics to U.S. financial institutions. Historical results of the Index, which has tracked luxury homes since 1985, are accessible at First Republic Bank is an active lender in the luxury home market for primary residences and vacation homes.
San Francisco Bay Area Values
The Bay Area posted its second consecutive quarter of healthy gains on a year-over-year basis. The 8.1% year-over-year increase in the third quarter of 2012 was the highest since the first quarter of 2006.
In San Francisco, agents said the market remains robust. “Prices for luxury homes have been strong all year,” said Malcolm Kaufman of McGuire Real Estate in San Francisco. “There is limited inventory, the economy here has returned better than anywhere in the country, and employment is up. Lots of money is being spent on $5 million homes and $10 million homes. For some, it feels like 2005 again.”
In Silicon Valley, the market was very strong. “People have secure jobs and stable incomes,” said Pat Kalish of Intero Real Estate Services in Menlo Park. “Except for the highest end of the luxury market, there is strong competition for properties. We have scarcity of homes, historic low interest and an optimistic outlook. When you are out in the market, you feel the optimism.”
In the Marin County, the market was softer. “Marin has not seen the increases that have happened in Menlo Park or San Francisco,” said Pat Montag of Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty in Mill Valley. “We typically lag a quarter behind San Francisco. We did see an uptick at the end of third quarter in the $3 million to $5 million range. Many people are still waiting until they see what happens in Washington D.C. in the first quarter.”
Los Angeles Area Values
In Los Angeles, values rose 1% on a year-over-year basis, but edged down from the second quarter of 2012. Real estate agents said the most desirable locations in Los Angeles area continue to experience accelerating demand and price increases.
Dan Weiser of Coldwell Banker Beverly Hills South said sales activity had returned to pre-financial crisis levels. “On the west side of Los Angeles, inventory is scarce and demand is high. We’re back to 2007 sales volume. Prices are probably within 10% of the height of the market. Sellers are getting incredible prices for properties in the highest end of the luxury market.”
Michele Hall of Coldwell Banker in Brentwood said newly constructed luxury homes are selling quickly. “New construction is flying off the shelf, with all cash and multiple offers. We’re seeing multiple offers in every price range, and there are fewer foreclosures and short sales. Inventory opened up, but was then snapped up.”
In Santa Barbara, the market also was very active. “The luxury market is very strong in Santa Barbara and Montecito,” said Joanne Schoenfeld of Santa Barbara Living Real Estate Brokerage. “There is a lot more activity and closed sales than last year. Prices continue to rise slightly, and I don’t see them going down any time soon. It’s a good, strong market.”
San Diego Area Values
San Diego luxury homes continued to trend higher on a year-over-year basis. Prices have now increased for the past three quarters on a year-over-year basis, including a 2.2% gain in the third quarter compared to a year ago.
For properties over $3 million, sales activity is picking up. “We have had a higher number of units sold this year than last year for homes over $3 million,” said Michael Taylor of California Prudential Realty in Rancho Santa Fe. “To me, that indicates fear has been wrung out of the market. People are now willing to spend more to buy a home, and they’re getting significantly more home because of the recent price declines. The perception is that we are at the bottom of this market.”
In the $1.5 million to $2 million range, there is more inventory, said Farid Khayamian of Bluxen Real Estate in La Jolla. “There are a lot of people who want to buy,” Khayamian said. “We see multiple offers everywhere, particularly when the property is priced right. A year ago, there was more inventory due to short sales and foreclosures, but that has dried up. Right now, you have to buy at the asking price. In January, we will have more inventory and possibly lower prices.”

By Business Wirevia The Motley Fool –

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