The Sacramento Real Estate Market Train

White Pass Train Skagway.300x200The fall real estate market in Sacramento is not at all how I pictured it would be. Usually, transitions are made slowly and you can see the danged train coming, but not this year. One day it was summer and the next, bare trees. This was a very abrupt change in the Sacramento real estate market. But like with all things in life, you’ve got to go with the flow and change with it.

Take home pricing, for example. Just a short while ago, a listing agent could advise her seller to price a home very aggressively. In fact, this Sacramento real estate agent would push ahead of the curve. Examine all of the comparable sales for the past 6 months, single out the best for the last 3 months, determine the direction they were moving, calculate the difference, pare it with the active listings to position and pad it a little. That strategy no longer works in today’s real estate market in Sacramento.

The reason it doesn’t work is because the attitude of buyers has changed. Buyers always drive the market, even if it’s a seller’s market. Today’s buyers are worried. They are worried that another bubble is around the corner, which it is not. They are worried about interest rates going up, as they should be concerned. They are worried about whether they’ll still have a job tomorrow and whether our government will ever get back to work.

Meanwhile, you’ve got REOs coming on the market at almost double the prices from last year. I just spotted another foreclosure this morning. This was a home that I had sold a year ago as a short sale, a cooperative short sale through Bank of America. We had the cooperative agreement signed from Bank of America and yet still the bank released the servicing just days before we were set to receive short sale approval. Bam. Now the file fell into the lap of Seterus, the seller no longer qualified for the short sale, and the home went to foreclosure.

Back on the market today, a year later, at almost double the cost. The comparables in that neighborhood do not support the price.

Today, it’s better to be sitting at the back of the train and watching where the train is moving. Catching glimpses of the front of the train going around the curve. That’s how a Sacramento real estate agent will know where the market is headed.

photo credit: White Pass Train at Skagway, Alaska, by Elizabeth Weintraub

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