Matthew Gardner’s Top 10 Predictions for 2023


This video shows Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner’s Top 10 Predictions for 2023. Each month, he analyzes the most up-to-date U.S. housing data to keep you well-informed about what’s going on in the real estate market.

Matthew Gardner’s Top 10 Predictions for 2023

1. There Is No Housing Bubble

Mortgage rates rose steeply in 2022 which, when coupled with the massive run-up in home prices, has some suggesting that we are recreating the housing bubble of 2007. But that could not be further from the truth.

Over the past couple of years, home prices got ahead of themselves due to a perfect storm of massive pandemic-induced demand and historically low mortgage rates. While I expect year-over-year price declines in 2023, I don’t believe there will be a systemic drop in home values. Furthermore, as financing costs start to pull back in 2023, I expect that will allow prices to resume their long-term average pace of growth.

2. Mortgage Rates Will Drop

Mortgage rates started to skyrocket at the start of 2022 as the Federal Reserve announced their intent to address inflation. While the Fed doesn’t control mortgage rates, they can influence them, which we saw with the 30-year rate rising from 3.2% in early 2022 to over 7% by October.

Their efforts so far have yet to significantly reduce inflation, but they have increased the likelihood of a recession in 2023. Therefore, early in the year I expect the Fed to start pulling back from their aggressive policy stance, and this will allow rates to begin slowly stabilizing. Rates will remain above 6% until the fall of 2023 when they should dip into the high 5% range. While this is higher than we have become used to, it’s still more than 2% lower than the historic average.

3. Don’t Expect Inventory to Grow Significantly

Although inventory levels rose in 2022, they are still well below their long-term average. In 2023 I don’t expect a significant increase in the number of homes for sale, as many homeowners do not want to lose their low mortgage rate. In fact, I estimate that 25-30 million homeowners have mortgage rates around 3% or lower. Of course, homes will be listed for sale for the usual reasons of career changes, death, and divorce, but the 2023 market will not have the normal turnover in housing that we have seen in recent years.

4. No Buyer’s Market But a More Balanced One

With supply levels expected to remain well below normal, it’s unlikely that we will see a buyer’s market in 2023. A buyer’s market is usually defined as having more than six months of available inventory, and the last time we reached that level was in 2012 when we were recovering from the housing bubble. To get to six months of inventory, we would have to reach two million listings, which hasn’t happened since 2015. In addition, monthly sales would have to drop below 325,000, a number we haven’t seen in over a decade. While a buyer’s market in 2023 is unlikely, I do expect a return to a far more balanced one.

5. Sellers Will Have to Become More Realistic

We all know that home sellers have had the upper hand for several years, but those days are behind us. That said, while the market has slowed, there are still buyers out there. The difference now is that higher mortgage rates and lower affordability are limiting how much buyers can pay for a home. Because of this, I expect listing prices to pull back further in the coming year, which will make accurate pricing more important than ever when selling a home.

6. Workers Return to Work (Sort of)

The pandemic’s impact on where many people could work was profound, as it allowed buyers to look further away from their workplaces and into more affordable markets. Many businesses are still determining their long-term work-from-home policies, but in the coming year I expect there will be more clarity for workers. This could be the catalyst for those who have been waiting to buy until they know how often they’re expected to work at the office.

7. New Construction Activity Is Unlikely to Increase

Permits for new home construction are down by over 17% year over year, as are new home starts. I predict that builders will pull back further in 2023, with new starts coming in at a level we haven’t seen since before the pandemic.

Builders will start seeing some easing in the supply chain issues that hit them hard over the past two years, but development costs will still be high. Trying to balance homebuilding costs with what a consumer can pay (given higher mortgage rates) will likely lead builders to slow activity. This will actually support the resale market, as fewer new homes will increase the demand for existing homes.

8. Not All Markets Are Created Equal

Markets where home price growth rose the fastest in recent years are expected to experience a disproportionate swing to the downside. For example, markets in areas that had an influx of remote workers, who flocked to cheaper housing during the pandemic, will likely see prices fall by a greater percentage than other parts of the country. That said, even those markets will start to see prices stabilize by the end of 2023 and resume a more reasonable pace of price growth.

9. Affordability Will Continue to Be a Major Issue

In most markets, home prices will not increase in 2023, but any price drop will not be enough to make housing more affordable. And with mortgage rates remaining higher than they’ve been in over a decade, affordability will continue to be a problem in the coming year, which is a concerning outlook for first-time buyers.

Over the past two years, many renters have had aspirations of buying but the timing wasn’t quite right for them. With both prices and mortgage rates spiraling upward in 2022, it’s likely that many renters are now in a situation where the dream of homeownership has gone. That’s not to say they will never be able to buy a home, just that they may have to wait a lot longer than they had hoped.

10. Government Needs to Take Housing More Seriously

Over the past two years, the market has risen to such an extent that it has priced out millions of potential home buyers. With a wave of demand coming from Millennials and Gen Z, the pace of housing production must increase significantly, but many markets simply don’t have enough land to build on. This is why I expect more cities, counties, and states to start adjusting their land use policies to free up more land for housing.

But it’s not just land supply that can help. Elected officials can assist housing developers by utilizing Tax Increment Financing tools, whereby the government reimburses a private developer as incremental taxes are generated from housing development. There are many tools like this at the government’s disposal to help boost housing supply, and I sincerely hope that they start to take this critical issue more seriously.

 


About Matthew Gardner

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.


Q3 2022 Southern California Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of select counties of the Southern California real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Real Estate agent.

 

Regional Economic Overview

The employment market grew by 465,000 jobs over the past 12 months. However, the pace of job creation has been slowing and more recently the region has seen total employment levels drop. I am not overly concerned by this, as state data at the county level is not adjusted for seasonality, and I anticipate more jobs will be added as we move through the fall. Total employment in the counties covered by this report is now only 340,000 short of the pre-pandemic peak, having recovered 96.7% of the jobs that were lost. Los Angeles County still has the largest shortfall (-335,700), followed by Orange County (-41,500) and San Diego County (-15,400). Riverside and San Bernardino counties remain well above pre-pandemic employment levels. The region’s unemployment rate in August was 4.2%, down from 7.8% a year ago. The lowest rates were in Orange County (3%) and San Diego County (3.4%).

Southern California Home Sales

❱ In the third quarter, 38,356 homes sold, which is down 31.8% from a year ago and 19.4% less than the second quarter of the year.

❱ Pending home sales, which are an indicator of future closings, were down 16.2% from the second quarter, suggesting that closed sales in the final quarter of this year may disappoint.

❱ Sales fell the most in San Diego County, but all markets saw significant declines. Relative to the second quarter, transactions were lower across the board, with Riverside County experiencing the greatest decline (-24.1%).

❱ Listing activity rose an average of 41.6% compared to the second quarter. With more choice in the market and median list prices down 6.8% from the second quarter, it seems that many would-be buyers are sitting on the fence to see if prices will fall further.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sales for various counties in Southern California from Q3 2021 to Q3 2022. All counties have a negative percentage year-over-year change. Riverside tops the list at -28.8%, followed by San Bernardino at -29.9%, Los Angeles -30.3%, Orange -34.4%, and San Diego at -36.4%.

Southern California Home Prices

❱ Home sale prices in the quarter rose 4.6% from a year ago but were 7.1% lower than in the second quarter of this year.

❱ Rising mortgage rates are clearly starting to impact the market. This, combined with higher inventory levels, will lead sale prices to continue pulling back.

❱ The region saw double-digit price growth in Orange County, but the overall trend has shown price growth starting to slow. In fact, prices in Los Angeles County rose by only 1.2% year over year.

❱ A period of reversion was inevitable, especially because artificially low mortgage rates could not continue forever. It’s worth remembering that owners saw home values skyrocket over the past few years. This adjustment to home values will only be temporary, and owners still have ample equity in their homes.

A map showing the real estate home prices percentage changes for various counties in Southern California. Different colors correspond to different tiers of percentage change. Los Angeles County has a percentage change in the 0% to 2.4% range. San Bernardino and San Diego are in the 5% to 7.4% change range, Riverside is in the 7.5% to 9.9% range, and Orange is in the 10%+ range.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sale prices for various counties in Southern California from Q3 2021 to Q3 2022. Orange County tops the list at 10.8%, followed by Riverside at 8.6%, San Bernardino at 7%, San Diego at 5.7%, and Los Angeles at 1.2%.

Mortgage Rates

This remains an uncertain period for mortgage rates. When the Federal Reserve slowed bond purchases in 2013, investors were accused of having a “taper tantrum,” and we are seeing a similar reaction today. The Fed appears to be content to watch the housing market go through a period of pain as they throw all their tools at reducing inflation.

As a result, mortgage rates are out of sync with treasury yields, which not only continues to push rates much higher, but also creates violent swings in both directions. My current forecast calls for rates to peak in the fourth quarter of this year before starting to slowly pull back. That said, they will remain in the 6% range until the end of 2023.

A bar graph showing the mortgage rates from 2020 to the present, as well as Matthew Gardner's forecasted mortgage rates through Q4 2023. After the 5.62% figure in Q3 2022, he forecasts mortgage rates continuing to climb to 6.7% in Q4 2022, 6.55% in Q1 2023, 6.35% in Q2 2023, 6.15% in Q3 2023, and 5.60% in Q4 2023.

Southern California Days on Market

❱ In the third quarter of 2022, the average time it took to sell a home in the region was 25 days, which is 7 more than a year ago and 9 more days than in the second quarter.

❱ Compared to the second quarter of 2022, market time rose in all counties covered by this report.

❱ Homes in San Diego County continue to sell at a faster rate than other markets in the region. All counties saw market time increase year over year.

❱ More homes for sale and higher financing costs have led to increased days on market. That said, it’s important to put the data into perspective; in the third quarter of 2019, the average market time in the region was 42 days.

A bar graph showing the average days on market for homes in various counties in Southern California for Q3 2022. San Diego County has the lowest DOM at 21, followed by Orange at 23, Los Angeles at 25, San Bernardino at 28, and Riverside at 29.

Conclusions

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

The housing market has entered a period of transition following the overheated conditions in 2020-2021. Though the headline numbers are far from buoyant, it’s important to understand that the region is only reverting back to where it was before the pandemic. Any belief that the area is going to experience the same meltdown as it went through in the late 2000s is simply inaccurate. There will be an uncomfortable period, but a return to fundamentals is necessary.

A speedometer graph indicating a balanced market, leaning toward a seller's market in Southern California in Q3 2022.

As such, I have moved the needle more in favor of buyers as the region continues to trend back toward balance.

About Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner - Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.


Windermere Tower Properties Celebrates a New Chapter of Leadership

 

Windermere Tower Properties Leadership Team

Windermere Real Estate Tower Properties announces the addition of Lauren Sawyer as co-owner with Brent Lee of the long serving Riverside-based real estate company.

Collette Lee, founder of Tower Realty, decided to sell her ownership position to her daughter to focus on serving her clients with their real estate needs, while leading the Riverside Arts Academy, a local non-profit that provides free and low-cost music instruction to area youth. Collette shared the announcement at a sales meeting, “I am so pleased my daughter will be joining Brent as co-owner. It has been a labor of love and I know together they will continue to grow the company that was founded on professionalism, service, and community. I pray for the continued success of each of you. I will still be doing what I love, serving my clients and community.”

History

Collette started her boutique real estate company in 1989 with a vision to create a locally minded, community oriented real estate firm composed of highly trained and professional agents. Her son Brent took over day to day operations and became the co-owner and managing broker in 2012 when Tower Realty joined the Windermere Real Estate brand as Windermere Tower Properties.

Lauren joined the firm in 2008 to help lead the front office and accounting department. She joined her brother Brent’s sales team in 2014, and they have been working together ever since. Lauren shared, “I am excited to work with my brother in this new role, and I am grateful to my mom for entrusting me with the company she has given so much to.”

About Windermere Tower Properties

Brent and Lauren are proud of the talented Windermere agents and staff and are elated to provide a variety of additional supports and resources to help agents grow their business. “Together with our dynamic leadership team, including James Monks as Sales Manager and Scott Gieser as Director of Professional Development, we want to add more value to our business model and provide more training and support for our agents so that they can exceed their goals. We have fostered a collaborative culture not often found in a sales-oriented business, and I think that is the key to success in this transition market,” shared Brent.

Windermere Tower Properties is an independently owned and operated firm that is part of the Windermere Real Estate network. For 50 years, Windermere has put integrity and professionalism at the heart of our business. These cornerstones, along with our commitment to building thriving communities, has helped Windermere grow into one of the largest and most respected real estate brands in the country, with more than 300 offices and 7,000 agents throughout the Western U.S. and Mexico.

Join Our Team

If you’re interested in learning more about Windermere Tower Properties, their agents and what they are doing to create thriving communities, visit WindermereTower.com or check out their social media. Interested in joining their team of extraordinary agents? Contact James Monks (951) 369-8002.


Q2 2022 Southern California Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of select counties of the Southern California real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Real Estate agent.

 

Regional Economic Overview

Total employment in the counties covered by this report has risen more than 600,000 jobs over the past year, recovering 97.3% of the jobs lost due to the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles County still has the largest shortfall (-254,000 jobs), followed by Orange County (-44,100) and San Diego County (-15,000). Riverside and San Bernardino counties are now well above pre-pandemic employment levels. The region’s unemployment rate in May was 3.6%, down from 8.2% a year ago. The lowest rates were in Orange County (2.4%) and San Diego County (2.7%). The highest unemployment rate was in Los Angeles County, where 4.5% of the labor force was without a job. The Inland Empire continues to outperform, and I am hopeful that the rest of the region will return to pre-pandemic employment levels by the end of the year. However, it’s likely that Los Angeles County may take somewhat longer to fully recover due to its size.

Southern California Home Sales

❱ In the second quarter, 47,596 homes sold, down 19% from a year ago but up 13.1% compared to the first quarter of the year.

❱ Pending home sales, which are an indicator of future closings, were down modestly from the first quarter. However, I still expect that the summer will see a decent number of sales.

❱ The largest drop in sales was in Orange County, but all markets saw significant declines. That said, the spring market was in place in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange counties, which experienced double-digit percentage increases in sales compared to the prior quarter.

❱ Listing activity has risen across the region, which has given buyers more in the way of choice. That may explain, to a certain degree, why pending sales have pulled back; buyers are not feeling as pressured as they were when inventory was very low.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sales for various counties in Southern California from Q2 2021 to Q2 2022. All five counties listed show negative percentage year-over-year changes: San Bernardino at -10.6%, Riverside at -14.0%, Los Angeles at -17.5%, San Diego at -23.6%, and Orange at -28%.

Southern California Home Prices

❱ Home prices in the second quarter rose 10.9% compared to a year ago and were 5.4% higher than in first quarter of 2022.

❱ Rising mortgage rates have not had as much of an impact as some expected, but increased financing costs appear to have taken at least some of the heat off the market, as demonstrated by the slowing pace of price growth compared to 2021.

❱ There was double-digit price growth in every county other than Los Angeles. Riverside County led the way with prices rising by 16.7%. The rest of the region also saw very impressive sale price growth.

❱ With relatively high mortgage rates and more homes coming to market, I have started to watch list prices closely. Compared to the first quarter, median list prices are still up an average of 8.7%, suggesting that sellers remain rather bullish.

A map showing the real estate home prices percentage changes for various counties in Southern California. Different colors correspond to different tiers of percentage change. Los Angeles County is the only county with a percentage change in the 8% to 9.9% range, while Orange County is the only county in the 12% to 13.9% change range. San Bernardino and San Diego are in the 14% to 15.9 % change range, and Riverside is the only county in the 16% + range.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sale prices for various counties in Southern California from Q2 2021 to Q2 2022. Riverside County tops the list at 16.7%, followed by San Diego at 15.9%, San Bernardino at 15%, Orange at 13.8%, and Los Angeles County at 8.8%.

Mortgage Rates

Although mortgage rates did drop in June, the quarterly trend was still moving higher. Inflation—the bane of bonds and, therefore, mortgage rates—has yet to slow, which is putting upward pressure on financing costs.

That said, there are some signs that inflation is starting to soften and if this starts to show in upcoming Consumer Price Index numbers then rates will likely find a ceiling. I am hopeful this will be the case at some point in the third quarter, which is reflected in my forecast.

A bar graph showing the mortgage rates from 2020 to the present, as well as Matthew Gardner's forecasted mortgage rates through Q2 2023. He forecasts mortgage rates continuing to climb to 5.9% in Q4 2022, then tapering off to 5.58% in Q1 2023 and 5.53% in Q2 2023.

Southern California Days on Market

❱ In the second quarter of 2022, the average time it took to sell a home in the region was 16 days, which was 2 fewer days than a year ago and 5 fewer days than in the first quarter of the year.

❱ Compared to the first quarter of 2022, days on market dropped in all counties covered by this report, which was impressive given the higher number of homes for sale.

❱ Homes in San Diego County continue to sell at a faster rate than other markets in the region. All counties other than San Bernardino (where it took one more day for homes to sell than a year ago) saw market time drop.

❱ With inventory levels rising, some may think that the market is set for a correction, but I disagree. Sales are still higher than in 2019 and it took half the time to sell a home in the second quarter of this year than it did during the same period in 2019.

A bar graph showing the average days on market for homes in various counties in Southern California for Q2 2022. San Diego county has the lowest DOM at 12, followed by Orange at 14, Los Angeles at 18, San Bernardino at 19, and Riverside at 20.

Conclusions

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

The trend in the job recovery remains positive, and the prospect of a return of all the jobs lost due to the pandemic is becoming more palpable. The housing market is still performing well, even in the face of higher inventory levels and rising financing costs. That said, the frenetic pace of activity of the past 18 months or so will slow, but not to a degree that is concerning.

A speedometer graph indicating a medium seller's market in Southern California for Q2 2022.

More listings led to more sales, which is a little counterintuitive especially given far higher mortgage rates than we’ve seen in years. The market remains favorable to home sellers, and they are still in the driver’s seat.

About Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner - Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.


Windermere Tower Properties Shows the Love to Riverside Educators and Small Businesses.

Windermere Tower Properties celebrated Valentine’s Day with the launch of the “Show the love” campaign to honor and recognize local educators for their commitment to students in our community. Throughout the pandemic it has become apparent that our local schools are the center of our community and essential, for not only the development of our youth, but also for our local economy to thrive. Teachers, cafeteria workers, custodians and all school staff have been versatile in meeting the needs of our students and our community, putting others before themselves. Since the beginning of the pandemic educators have pivoted to adjust to public health mandates while still focusing on the goal of creating learning environments for our students to succeed.

The entire team at Windermere Tower Properties wanted local educators to know we value their commitment and empathize with the social and emotional toll the pandemic has had on their profession. The “Show the Love” campaign allowed the Realtors to partner with their brokerage and select a local school to buy lunch or a treat for their entire staff from an area small business. This successful campaign reminded our local educators that they are loved and supported small business owners and our local economy.

On February 14th the Realtors at Windermere Tower Properties handed out more than 900 lunches or treats to more than 15 elementary school sites throughout Riverside including: Pachappa, La Granada, Longfellow, Lake Hills, Alcott, Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, Kennedy, Twain, Hawthorne, Washington, Foothill, Twin Hills, Woodcrest, Woodrest Christian, and Springs Charter School. Local eateries like Sub Station, Antoines, DeMatteo’s, Northgate Gonzales Market, Upper Crust, Riverside Cookie Shop, Cactus Cantina, Crumbl, and local Girl Scout troops were some of the area businesses that were supported. “The staff in the front office were so overwhelmed with gratitude,” said Realtor Associate, Heidi Carter.

“The receptionist told me since the pandemic we haven’t celebrated holidays the same way and often times offices were bare and didn’t look like they were celebrating the holiday at all. They really needed this.” Carter said.

Colette Lee, co-owner of Windermere Tower Properties, stated, “We are really happy this campaign turned our so well in its first effort. We want to “show the love” every year and support even more schools next time around.”

For more information contact Windermere Tower Properties at (951) 369-8002 or visit www.windermeretower.com


Q3 2021 Southern California Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of the Southern California real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Real Estate agent.

REGIONAL ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The job recovery in Southern California continues to be quite the roller-coaster, with solid monthly gains followed by significant drops. In the first quarter of the year, more than 326,000 jobs returned, but that was followed by a less-than-stellar 8,300 increase in the second quarter. The latest third quarter numbers (most recent data is from August) showed that the Southern California region has added more than 27,000 positions, but this is still underwhelming.

The COVID-19 Delta variant is impacting the job market, and a lack of available workers isn’t helping. In aggregate, the region has recovered 1.31 million of the 2.02 million jobs that were shed when the pandemic hit, but this means Southern California is still down more than 700,000 positions. The region’s unemployment rate in August was 8.2%, down significantly from 14.2% a year ago. The most recent data shows the lowest jobless rates were in Orange (6%) and San Diego (6.6%) counties. The highest rate was again in Los Angeles County, where it was 9.7%. Although the current pace of the job recovery is muted, I hope it will pick up in the not-too-distant future, but the likelihood of reaching full employment anytime soon appears to be unrealistic.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HOME SALES

❱ In the third quarter, 50,313 homes sold in Southern California, representing a 0.1% drop from the same period in 2020 and 4.7% lower than in the second quarter of this year.

❱ Pending home sales, which are an indicator of future closings, were 4.5% lower than in the second quarter of this year, suggesting that the final quarter may also be down.

❱ Year-over-year, home sales rose in Los Angeles County, but pulled back in the remaining markets covered by this report. Compared to the second quarter, sales pulled back in all markets other than San Bernardino, where sales rose 6%.

❱ The issue is not demand, rather a lack of supply is holding the market back. Listing activity is down 22.3% from a year ago, and this is impacting sales. That said, listings were 17.1% higher than in the second quarter and, with more choice starting to emerge in the market, we could see sales volumes pick back up.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sales for various counties in Southern California during the third quarter of 2021.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HOME PRICES

A map showing the real estate market percentage changes in various counties in Southern California during the third quarter of 2021.

❱ The average price of homes sold in the region was $971,184. This was 19.1% higher than a year ago, but 1.4% lower than in the second quarter of 2021.

❱ Mortgage rates remain remarkably competitive, even if they are off the historic low of last December. Also of note is that jumbo mortgage rates are remarkably competitive—an important factor in expensive markets such as Southern California.

❱ The region saw double-digit price growth across all counties contained in this report. Year over year, prices were up more than 19%, but they were down 1.4% from the previous quarter.

❱ As stated in last quarter’s report, I believe interest rates will rise slowly, which is likely to bring out more buyers. With inventory levels starting to tick up, I am expecting the regional housing market to trend higher, but likely not until the spring.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sale prices for various counties in Southern California during the third quarter of 2021.

DAYS ON MARKET

❱ In the third quarter of the year, the average time it took to sell a home in the region was 17 days, which is 16 fewer days than a year ago and 2 fewer days than in the second quarter of 2021.

❱ Three counties saw the time it took to sell a house drop compared to the second quarter of this year: Riverside, Los Angeles, and Orange. Market time was static in San Bernardino County and rose by one day in San Diego County.

❱ Homes in San Diego County continue to sell at a faster rate than other markets in the region. In the third quarter, it took an average of 14 days to sell a home there—9 fewer days than it took a year ago.

❱ With it taking an average of a little more than two weeks for a home to find a buyer, the market remains very tight. That said, with inventory levels rising, it is possible that days on market will start to creep higher, especially as affordability constraints potentially limit the number of qualified buyers.

A bar graph showing the average days on market for homes in various counties in Southern California during the third quarter of 2021.

CONCLUSIONS

A speedometer graph indicating a seller's market in Southern California during the third quarter of 2021.

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

The third quarter was quite a mixed bag, with rising inventory levels but lower sales and prices compared to the second quarter. When I look at list prices, which is a leading indicator, as opposed to sale prices, which are a lagging indicator, I notice some softening in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Riverside counties. Although not a cause for concern, it may suggest that the market is about to start to cool—albeit modestly.

As such, I have chosen to move the needle a little more in the direction of home buyers, although sellers still have the upper hand.

ABOUT MATTHEW GARDNER

Matthew Gardner - Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.


10 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Home

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or have purchased a home before, the same mistakes can rear their head at any point in the buying process. By working closely with your agent, you can identify these pitfalls ahead of time and adjust accordingly. Mistakes in the buying process can lead to higher costs, added stress, and even terminated contracts. Here are ten common mistakes to avoid when buying a home.

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Home

1. Not getting pre-approved

Getting pre-approved is a key component of the early stages of the buying process and will help to maximize your chances of getting your offer accepted. Getting pre-approved will give you a concrete idea of how much you can borrow, how much house you can afford, the estimated monthly costs of your mortgage and its corresponding interest rates. It also communicates to sellers that you are a serious buyer.

2. Not identifying your price range

Pursuing listings you can’t afford is a surefire way to start your home buying process off on the wrong foot. Buying a home that’s outside your budget will put added pressure on your finances and increases your chances of foreclosing, should your financial situation take a turn for the worse. Use the general rule that your house payment should never be more than 25-30% of your take-home pay, and as you prepare for talks with your lender be sure to account for all the expenses you will incur, including private mortgage insurance (PMI) if applicable.

3. Taking on new credit

Opening new lines of credit at any point in the home buying process will slow things down and can affect your chances of getting a home loan. Adding another credit card to your collection or taking out a loan will change your credit score, causing a ripple effect that can bring the buying process to a halt. Because new credit changes your debt-to-income ratio, lenders will likely want to review your mortgage approval and your risk of non-payment. This forces sellers to wait around for your application while competing buyers speed ahead of you in line.

4. Not purchasing adequate homeowner’s insurance

It’s understood that a home is a valuable asset that needs to be protected, but it is still all too common for homeowners to be under-insured. A homeowner’s insurance policy covers your home, your belongings, living expenses and injury or damage to others that occur on the property in the event of a disaster. Work closely with your insurance broker to make sure you have adequate coverage for the most common risks in your area like flood, earthquake, and more.

5. Not looking for other loans

With a little resourcefulness, you can tap into new sources of financial support that will help to ease the burden of making a home purchase. VA Loans can be a lifesaver for active service and veteran personnel, offering zero down payment and lower-than-average mortgage rates. Other government loan programs such as USDA and FHA loans can greatly aid homebuyers with favorable loan terms. Be sure to thoroughly review the qualifications of these loans before applying.

6. Misunderstanding the down payment

When it comes to down payments, it’s not twenty percent or bust. Granted, with a twenty percent down payment your lender won’t require you to purchase mortgage insurance; but even if you’re short, there are a number of alternatives to private mortgage insurance (PMI) available to you, such as Lender-Paid Mortgage Insurance and a piggyback loans strategy. Work with your agent to identify trusted lenders in their network that can help you secure the right loan.

7. Not working with a buyer’s agent

A buyer’s agent will help you to identify which homes you can afford, work with you on formulating a competitive offer and preparing for negotiations with sellers and listing agents. Buyer’s agents will also handle the paperwork when it comes time to close the deal. A home purchase is an intricate transaction with many moving parts and having an experienced professional by your side who can navigate each step is invaluable. Typically, the buyer’s agent splits the commission of the sale with the listing agent, which is paid by the seller, so generally their services come at no additional cost to you.

8. Underestimating repair and remodeling costs

Regardless of whether you’re buying a fixer-upper or a home that needs a few simple upgrades, you can usually expect some repair and remodeling expenses once the home is yours. Before you start swinging hammers or tearing up drywall, take time to assess the scope of the projects and whether you can do them yourself or need a professional. Talk with your agent about which remodeling projects have the highest resale value for comparable homes in your area.

9. Buying a home without an inspection

Buying a home without having it inspected opens the buyer up to added risk. Without a home inspection, you forego the ability to negotiate repairs and concessions with the seller. Getting a home inspection is a small investment and alerts you of any potential home disasters that may be on the horizon. However, this mistake comes with an aside. In a seller’s market where a high number of buyers are competing for a limited number of available listings, waiving the inspection contingency is a common tactic for buyers looking to make their offer stand out. Work with your agent to figure out what’s best for you and your situation.

10. Forgetting about moving costs

It’s easy to get so focused on the purchase of the home that you forget about what it will cost to move there. Moving expenses can add up quickly, especially if you’ll be traveling across state lines or across the country. If you’re buying and selling a home at the same time, there’s also the question of where you’ll live in between closing on your current home and closing on your new one. If these costs aren’t accounted for, you can quickly be over budget before you set foot in your new home.

For more information on how to make the buying process smoother, read about how you can Increase Your Buying Power.


What is a Seller's Market?

When the housing market favors sellers, a seller can expect ideal conditions for selling their home. However, that’s not to say that a seller’s market doesn’t come with its own unique set of challenges for parties on both sides of the transaction. That’s why it’s critical for buyers and sellers to work with an agent who not only understands their wants and needs but who can also help them navigate highly competitive market conditions.

 

What is a Seller’s Market?

A seller’s market occurs when demand exceeds supply. When inventory is limited, competition amongst buyers is fierce. Median sales prices increase, days on market decrease, and homes commonly receive multiple offers, often over their original asking price.

 

Selling in a Seller’s Market

Though demand is high in a seller’s market, staging and making any necessary repairs are still important steps to take before hitting the market. An agent can help a seller make important decisions about which repairs and updates help add value to the home.

When it comes to offers and negotiations in a seller’s market, sellers have the leverage. It’s common for homes to fetch more than their asking price with multiple offers on the table. Though prices are being driven up by demand, a seller may choose to list their home at or just below fair market value with the hopes of starting a bidding war. Because competition is so high, buyers may be willing to waive an inspection contingency to help make their offer stand out. Agents can help sellers decide whether they should conduct a pre-listing inspection, which sometimes helps the seller get more offers and command a higher price.

With multiple offers on the table, it may be tempting to simply choose the one with the highest figure; however, the best offer is also the one that removes risk and aligns with the seller’s goals. Whether that entails waived contingencies, a shorter closing window, or an all-cash offer, in a seller’s market, the seller has the power to choose. Sellers should fully review each offer with the help of their agent before proceeding.

 

Buying in a Seller’s Market

Buyers in a seller’s market must act fast. Due to the high level of competition, they must be prepared for a frustrating scenario where their offers may not win out. This emphasizes the importance of working with a buyer’s agent. In a seller’s market, it’s more likely that the buying process will include such factors as seller review dates and escalation clauses. A buyer’s agent will help navigate these challenges while working with their client to make their offer stand out. They will formulate a strategy, comparing their client’s wish list and budget against the limited number of homes available and proceeding accordingly. A buyer’s agent will also set the expectation that, due to the competitive nature of the market, finding the right home may take longer than expected.

In a seller’s market, the buyer is at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiations. The chance of getting a contingent offer is minimal and pushing for certain closing dates and specific repairs may do more harm than good to their offer. A cash offer has significant power in a seller’s market. If a buyer can make a cash-heavy or even all-cash offer, it is likely to stand out to the seller. It gives the buyer more buying power and greatly increases their chances of winning a bidding war.

 

For more information on the conditions of your local market, visit our website for Quarterly Real Estate Market Updates from our Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner. For assistance planning a home sale or purchase, connect with a Windermere Real Estate agent here: Connect With an Agent


Knowing When to Sell Your Home

Of all the components involved in a successful home sale, there is perhaps no greater contributing factor than timing. Knowing when to sell your house gives you the best chance to make an impact when you hit the market. Every seller’s situation is unique but choosing when to sell comes down to how prepared you are, finding the right agent, and local market conditions. Once you’ve got a grasp of these elements, then you can decide if it’s the right time to sell.

 

Are You Ready to Sell?

Before you sell your home, your finances must be in order. Equity is a natural starting point for assessing your financial health. To calculate your equity, you’ll need to know your home’s market value. Your real estate agent can help you determine this by conducting a comparative market analysis (CMA), which involves comparing your home to others in your area by such characteristics as square footage, the number of bedrooms/bathrooms, age, and lot size. Once you know your home’s market value, subtract your current mortgage balance from that number and you’ll have your current home equity. If your equity is negative, then it may not be the best time to sell.

Beyond your home equity, there are plenty of other financial factors to consider when preparing to sell. Selling a home does not come without its own set of costs. Commission fees, home repairs, inspectionsand staging are just some of the expenses you can expect to incur. For more information on the costs involved with selling your home, talk to your Windermere agent.

Selling a home is an emotional process that comes with significant lifestyle changes, so it’s important to make sure it’s the right time for you and everyone in your household. Part of a real estate agent’s’ role is understanding how the varying emotions of the selling process apply to different people. For every fear, worry, and hesitancy you may experience when trying to decide if it’s the right time to sell, your agent can share similar experiences while working with past clients.

 

Local Market Conditions

The state of the real estate market in your area could dictate whether it’s the right time to sell. Various factors affect local market conditions like inventory, seasonality, mortgage rates, and home price growth. Talk to your real estate agent about what the local conditions mean for your selling strategy and what kind of buyer negotiations you can expect to encounter. Agents have the tools and know-how to perform a complete analysis of the market to help you decide when the right time is to sell.

 

Find the Right Agent

Real estate agents are the catalyst for a successful home sale. They not only bring a wealth of resources to the table, but they can also offer helpful advice on the optimal time to sell. Agents can assess your goals for selling your home, how that aligns with your budget, and how those factors fit into the context of current local market conditions.

To truly know whether it’s the right time to sell, it’s important to find the right agent who understands the needs of your household. The more an agent knows about your situation, the better they can formulate a selling strategy. This also allows them to understand what the best offer for your home looks like. When searching for an agent, ask for referrals from your inner circle. Interview multiple agents to get an idea of their qualities, and select the one that makes the most sense for you.

 

When you’re ready to sell, or if you have any questions about the selling process, talk to an experienced Windermere agent here: Connect with an Agent


Timeless Home Design

When decorating and designing, homeowners often strive for a home that may incorporate vintage and modern elements but remains timeless at its core. Fortunately, certain design principles and elements have stood the test the time and can help you curate the home you desire. Here is your guide to understanding how you can design a home that looks and feels timeless.

 

Principles of Timeless Home Design

Balance

When designing a space in your home, balance is a key concept to delivering a timeless ambiance. Achieved through a proportionate arrangement of objects and colors, balance will help create a logical pattern in your home that pleases the eye. Experiment with symmetry in your home to build balance. This doesn’t mean that there needs to be two of every object, rather in every space you should utilize the objects and color schemes present to create symmetry.

 

Focal Point

Imagine a living room without a couch or mantle, or a dining room without a dining table. These images are confusing because we simply don’t know where to focus our attention. A core principle of timeless design is that space should have a focal point to give order to the room. Focal points don’t always have to be derived from a built-in feature of the home, you can create one with furniture, artwork, or some other form of eye-catching décor.

 

Scale and Proportion

Scale and proportion are two fundamental concepts of interior design and are key to creating a timeless décor. Simply put, proportion refers to the relationship of items and colors, while scale refers to their relationship with the room. For example, if a room in your home has high ceilings, this allows for taller furniture and artwork, while the most spacious rooms in your house are the best home for large décor pieces and furnishings. Proper usage of scale and proportion also means leaving some space between items to let the room breathe, so to speak.

 

Colors and Patterns

For a timeless look and feel, choose more classic color and pattern schemes. Basketweave is a traditional pattern that helps to create symmetry. Stripes are always in style and can help to reinforce clean lines. Stick to neutral paint colors on your walls as they give you the flexibility to add décor without overwhelming the room. Combinations of off-whites, beiges, grays, and earthy tones will deliver that timeless feel you’re looking for.

 

Natural Elements

There’s nothing more timeless than nature. Materials like wood, stone, and marble have been a cornerstone of design since antiquity. Whether you utilize these materials in your home as furniture, accent pieces, or focal points, they will help create a trend-free, organic environment in any room.