Bay Area Luxury Home Sales Doubled in February

Executive Summary:

Sales of Bay Area homes priced above $3 million doubled in February, with most local regions posting large gains.
Sales of homes priced higher than $1 million also continued to grow.
Regionally, East Bay sales slowed, while Silicon Valley and the Wine Country saw more sales this February.
The Bay Area median price jumped another 16 percent year over year, though high-end sales drove a large part of the increase.
Buyer demand is not abating amid market challenges. Seven in 10 Bay Area homes sold for more than asking price, with the average premium increasing to 12 percent, up from 8 percent premiums observed in the last two Februarys.
Thirty-year, fixed-rate mortgages reached 4.46 percent as of March 8, 2018 according to a Freddie Mac survey, the highest since the spring of 2014.

Bay Area homebuyer demand remained strong in February despite concerns over tax changes, rising mortgage rates, and stock market volatility. While overall activity remained flat year over year in February, sales of homes priced above $3 million doubled to about 126 for the eight-county Bay Area (excluding Solano County). The largest relative jump in luxury sales occurred in Sonoma County, which had nine high-priced sales. During the last two Februarys, only one and three such sales were recorded in Sonoma County. Notable jumps in high-priced sales were seen in all Bay Area regions except Napa County, were fewer sales were recorded when compared with last February. Figure 1 summarizes sales of homes priced at $3 million-plus by Bay Area county. Also note that the data presented in Figure 1 relies on MLS data, and since not all sales are recorded in the MLS, the number of transactions could be higher.

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, March 7, 2018

Along with the large increase in higher-priced sales, most Bay Area regions also saw solid upticks in homes priced between $1 million and $3 million, with the largest relative increase in Silicon Valley. Sales of homes priced between $1 million and $2 million increased by 30 percent year over year, while sales of homes priced between $2 million and $3 million grew by 33 percent from last February.

Homes sales below $1 million continued shrinking, consistent with rapidly declining inventory at that price point, dropping by 15 percent. Interestingly, despite fewer homes for sale below $1 million in San Francisco and Napa counties, sales at that price point picked up slightly from the year before, up 4 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

Year over year, sales activity grew in some regions and declined in others. Alameda and Marin counties saw sales fall by about 8 percent. In contrast, San Mateo, San Francisco, and Napa counties all posted solid increases, with San Mateo leading with a 21 percent uptick. Most of the increase in San Mateo County was for homes priced above $2 million. Santa Clara and Sonoma counties maintained their overall annual levels of activity, though higher-priced sales again compensated for losses at lower price points. Figure 2 summarizes year-to-date changes in Bay Area home sales by price range.

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, March 7, 2018

In addition, overall inventory continued to trend down, with 13 percent fewer homes on the market in February compared with last year. Nevertheless, the seasonal increase in inventory generally seen in February from the month before was almost double this year than in 2017, suggesting that the spring home-selling season could have started sooner this year. In Marin County, the seasonal monthly increase in inventory jumped by 44 percent from January, compared with a 25 percent increase last year and a 33 percent gain in 2016. Also, while lower-priced Bay Area inventory declined year over year, there were slightly more homes priced at $3 million-plus when compared with last year, especially in Contra Costa County, which posted a 37 percent increase — though this continues a trend that started in the second half of last year.

While year-over-year inventory fell in every region, the declines continued to be most pronounced in Santa Clara and San Francisco counties, where there were 20 percent fewer homes on the market than last year. Figure 3 illustrates year-over-year changes in inventory levels by price range. The dramatic decrease in affordable homes highlights a major challenge that Bay Area homebuyers face.

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, March 7, 2018

The supply-demand imbalance continued to push home prices higher. Median home prices once again jumped by 16 percent year over year, though most of the increase was driven by a spike in higher-priced homes. According to CoreLogic’s Home Price Index, which accounts for changes in the types of sales, Bay Area prices increased by 10 percent year over year in January and reached $875,000 in February. Figure 4 illustrates February median home prices over the last three years, with a relatively larger 2018 annual increase notable in most regions than recorded the year before.

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, March 7, 2018

While median price growth remains strongest in Silicon Valley, post-wildfire activity in Sonoma County is putting pressure on prices there. Sonoma and Contra Costa counties showed the strongest growth for homes priced below $1 million: 12 percent year over year. Unlike Contra Costa County, Sonoma County posted robust price growth at higher price points. Figure 5 ranks the eight counties by February’s year-over-year median price change over the last two years.

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, March 7, 2018

Buyers remained competitive despite some headwinds facing the housing market, such as rising mortgage rates, tax changes, and stock market volatility. In February, 70 percent of homes sold for more than asking price, up from 57 percent last February. While the share of homes selling for more than asking price has been continuously increasing, part of the growth may be partially due to changing pricing strategies among real estate professionals, who may list homes slightly below market price in an effort to generate greater demand from buyers. Still, the share of overbids increased across the entire Bay Area, again with the most growth in Santa Clara County, where 86 percent of homes sold over the asking price in February. San Francisco was the only local region where the share of overbids remained about the same on an annual basis, with 67 percent fetching premiums, though homes priced below $1 million saw a 10 percent point drop in those that sold for more than asking price. The East Bay also saw fewer overbids for homes priced between $2 million and $3 million.

Homes that sold for more than asking price generally received 12 percent premiums, up from 8 percent premiums recorded during the last two Februarys. Figure 6 summarizes premiums paid in February; Alameda County’s $2-million-to-$3-million price range appears to have been highly sought after, followed by the $1-million-to-$2-million price range in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, March 7, 2018

All told, demand for homes in the Bay Area does not seem to have abated despite the aforementioned challenges. Nevertheless, the impact of rising mortgage rates over the last month may still be too recent for the data to reflect. According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages climbed to 4.46 percent as of March 8, 2018, which is the highest since the spring of 2014. But the rise in mortgage rates may be creating urgency among buyers. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the unadjusted Purchase Index increased 13 percent from last week and was 1 percent higher compared with the same week in 2017.

The fortunately short-lived stock market jitters did not appear to shake homebuyer confidence. Lastly, the recently enacted tax reforms will take some time for the data to reflect, though it may be a few years before the housing market sees the full impacts.

Selma Hepp is Pacific Union’s Chief Economist and Vice President of Business Intelligence. Her previous positions include Chief Economist at Trulia, senior economist for the California Association of Realtors, and economist and manager of public policy and homeownership at the National Association of Realtors. She holds a Master of Arts in Economics from the State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo, and a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning and Design from the University of Maryland.

By Selma Hepp, Chief Economist for Pacific Union International

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Los Angeles Business Journal Ranks Pacific Union No. 1 Independent Brokerage

March 6, 2018 by Pacific Union • Posted in Featured Posts, Pacific Union News

Pacific Union ranked No. 1 independent brokerage in Los Angeles County.The Los Angeles Business Journal just published its 2018 list of the top residential real estate brokerages in Los Angeles County, and in a top 10 heavy with national corporations, Pacific Union International was not only the No. 1 independent brokerage but No. 2 overall in the county by sales volume.

As the publication reports, Pacific Union’s 900 Los Angeles County-based real estate professionals closed $6.2 billion in sales in 2017. Together with its team of professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area, Pacific Union’s sales volume exceeded $14 billion in 2017, making the firm the largest independent brokerage in California.

Notable Pacific Union transactions in Los Angeles County include many record-setting sales: the second-largest sale in the history of Beverly Hills ($65 million); the second-highest sale in the history of Malibu’s Carbon Beach ($48 million); the highest and second-highest luxury condominium sales on the Wilshire Corridor ($20 million and $15 million); and the largest sales in Venice ($14.6 million) and La Cañada Flintridge ($10.6 million).

“A vision that emerged in late 2015 has come alive,” Pacific Union CEO Mark A. McLaughlin says. “We were committed to becoming the No. 1 independent real estate firm in the state of California, and we worked diligently to make that happen. We will continue to operate as a nimble, responsive, boutique organization.” McLaughlin went on to describe his company’s approach going forward: “As we grow, we do not add layers of infrastructure, and we consciously make decisions closer and closer to our real estate professionals and their clients,” he says. “This vision and strategy gives our organization pace and flexibility.”

Over the past 15 months, Pacific Union has expanded its California footprint through strategic mergers, beginning with the brokerage’s union with Los Angeles-based John Aaroe Group in December 2016. In August 2017, Pacific Union merged with Partners Trust, then joined forces with Gibson International three months later.

While this ranking is a source of pride and reflects the professionalism of Pacific Union’s team of 900 Los Angeles real estate professionals, the company has its sights firmly focused on continuing the momentum. In February of this year, Pacific Union opened a new office in Highland Park, its 20th location; recruited three top-producing teams totaling 18 real estate professionals from a competing brokerage; and hired a leading expert from another major firm as its vice president of business development for Southern California.

“Momentum defines Pacific Union in Los Angeles,” company President Nick Segal says. “It’s being powered by our remarkable people, and the excitement they’re creating has just begun. We’re preparing to announce our 21st office, located on the Westside, in the next few weeks. Watch what we do next!”

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Tight Inventory Continues to Drive California and Bay Area Home Prices in January

February 21, 2018 by Pacific Union • Posted in Featured Posts, Market Conditions

California and Bay Area home sales declined in January on an annual basis by a respective 2.9 percent and 4.6 percent.
The median sales price for an existing-single family home in the nine-county Bay Area was $809,900, a gain of 10.9 percent from January 2017.
Home prices in Silicon Valley counties rose by about 25 percent year over year, among the highest rates of appreciation in California.

Bay Area real estate markets began 2018 on a familiar note, with supply constraints pushing up home prices and forcing more buyers to inland counties.

The latest home sales report from the California Association of Realtors says that there were 388,000 existing single-family homes statewide in January on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, a decline of 2.9 percent from one year earlier. The sales volume decrease was particularly pronounced at the low end of the market, with sales of homes priced less than $300,000 dropping by 17.2 percent from January 2017. In the nine-county Bay Area, January home sales were down by 4.6 percent year over year.

“A persistent shortage of housing inventory and continued affordability crunch is beginning to eat away at the market as buyers struggle to find available homes for sale,” CAR President Steve White said. “As such, we’re seeing a shift in sales toward inland areas such as San Bernardino County in Southern California, and Placer, San Joaquin, Sacramento, and Stanislaus counties, which are all adjacent to the inventory- and price-challenged San Francisco Bay Area.”

California’s monthly supply of inventory ended January at 3.6, down slightly on an annual basis but up from December, when the number of homes for sale reached a 14-year low. Bay Area supply conditions followed statewide trends, with the 2.3-month supply of inventory rising from December and dipping from January 2017.

A slim supply of homes for sale propelled California’s median sales price to $527,800, a year-over-year gain of 7.3 percent. January marked the 11th consecutive month that the state’s median sales price was higher than $500,000.

The median sales price in the nine-county Bay Area was $809,900 in January, up 10.9 percent on an annual basis. Eight local counties posted yearly increases, with only Napa County seeing prices relax by a mere $500 from last January. Elsewhere in the region, year-over-year gains ranged from 15.6 percent in Sonoma County to 2.8 percent in Contra Costa County.

Five Bay Area counties were among the 19 in California to see double-digit percent year-over-year appreciation. Silicon Valley put up some of the largest price gains in the state from January 2017: 26.1 percent in Santa Clara County and 25.0 percent in San Mateo County. As in CAR’s December report, the latter was the state’s most expensive housing market, with a median sales price of $1,437,500.

Homes in California and the Bay Area sold significantly quicker in January than they did one year earlier, a respective 27 days and 17 days. Santa Clara County was the state’s fastest-paced real estate market, with homes selling in an average of nine days, followed by San Mateo (12 days), Alameda (13 days), and Contra Costa (16 days) counties.

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International Property Awards Names Pacific Union World’s Best Real Estate Brokerage

February 16, 2018 by Pacific Union • Posted in Featured Posts, Pacific Union News

Award for best Real Estate brokeragePacific Union is pleased to announce that esteemed global organization International Property Awards has named our firm as 2017-2018 World’s Best Real Estate Agency With More Than 20 Offices.

Based in London and now in their 25th year, the International Property Awards honor the most elite levels of achievement by companies operating in all sectors of the property and real estate industry. The global awards cover Africa, Asia-Pacific, Arabia, Canada, the Caribbean, Central & South America, Europe, the U.K., and the U.S.A. Businesses enter at their relevant national level and are judged by an experienced team of professionals who cover the entire range of property disciplines.

In addition to naming our firm the world’s top residential real estate brokerage, International Property Awards also honored Pacific Union as the best brokerage in both California and the U.S.A.

“This honor is a clear tribute to the work of Pacific Union’s outstanding team of marketing professionals, led by Vice President of Marketing Jessica Frushtick,” Pacific Union CEO Mark A. McLaughlin says. “Our commitment to a stronger international presence for our team of 1,700 real estate professionals across California is a pillar of our Vision 2020, and we are proud to be honored by this global organization.”

Pacific Union began expanding its international footprint five years ago, when it launched the first-of-its-kind China Concierge program, which assists Chinese buyers with purchasing California real estate through Mandarin-speaking staff based in China. In 2017, Pacific Union launched an aggressive international digital marketing campaign that resulted in more than 100,000 views to our brokerage’s website from the countries that statistically purchase the most homes in California: China, Brazil, India, and the U.K. Additionally, Pacific Union’s website offers a feature that translates content and listings into 20-plus languages.

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Bay Area January Home Sales Slow, Not Because of Financial Volatility but Lack of Supply

• January Bay Area home sales were down by 12 percent on an annual basis, following the
lowest inventory levels in three years.
• Silicon Valley posted the largest sales decline, though decreases in all areas were driven
by fewer home sales below $1 million.
• Sales of homes priced between $1 million and $3 million were stronger than the year before.
• Homes priced above $3 million slowed again, but not in San Francisco and Marin County.
• Sonoma and Napa counties saw higher year-over-year activity in January, continuing the
post-wildfire pattern.
• Inventory levels continue to trend down, with overall supply down 20 percent from last
January and declines seen across all price ranges.
• Median home prices continue to climb, with overall appreciation in the Bay Area up 12
percent from last January.
• Despite financial market volatility, the U.S. economy remains strong, with projected 2018
growth the best in a decade.
• Further increases in mortgage rates will exacerbate the affordability crisis.

Before examining January housing market activity in the Bay Area, let’s address recent financial market volatility and how it may affect real estate markets. Much of the recent volatility stems from fears of faster-than-anticipated increases in inflation. Faster inflation could prompt higher interest rates than previously expected, which means that borrowing would become more expensive for U.S. companies and consumers.

Nevertheless, we anticipate stronger economic growth in 2018. Thus, the solid U.S. jobs report that was released on Friday, Feb. 2, which prompted the financial market volatility, was in line with expectations. The same day, Janet Yellen, on her last day as the Federal Reserve chair, said in a CBS interview that she believed that the stock market has been high in recent months and was concerned about high asset valuations, particularly in commercial real estate. She went on to say that ‘”If there were to be a decline in asset valuations, it would not damage unduly the core of our financial system.”

Link to the full blog:

Written by Selma Hepp, Cheif Economist of Pacific Union

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Real Estate Roundup: Bay Area Home Price Growth Hits Historic Run

February 5, 2018 by Pacific Union • Posted in Featured Posts, Weekly Real Estate News Roundups

Here’s a look at recent news of interest to homebuyers, home sellers, and the home-curious.

Double-digit percent home price growth persisted across the Bay Area in the final month of 2017, matching the appreciation streak seen leading up to the last housing boom.

Citing CoreLogic data, The Mercury News reports that the median sales price for a single-family home in the nine-county Bay Area was $765,000 in December, a year-over-year gain of 13.8 percent. December marked the 69th consecutive month of annual Bay Area price gains, which CoreLogic Analyst Andrew LePage says compares with the appreciation recorded between late 2001 and late 2007.

‘We still have an inventory-starved market where demand is outpacing supply,” LePage said. “It’s bad news for first-time buyers and others looking for a foothold.”

According to CoreLogic, home prices in Santa Clara County rose by 35 percent on an annual basis, reaching $1.17 million in December. Although Silicon Valley home prices experienced a similar run-up following the dot-com era, one San Jose real estate broker crystalized the reason that this housing boom is unlikely to end the same way.

“These are real companies, with real numbers behind them,” Gustavo Gonzalez told The Mercury News. “Google isn’t going anywhere.”

California’s aforementioned housing inventory crisis did not improve much last year, with nearly 100 percent of cities and counties failing to meet market-rate or affordable mandates.

A new report from the California Department of Housing Development says that almost 98 percent of the state’s jurisdictions are have not met the necessary guidelines for creating adequate housing units to satisfy demand under Senate Bill 35. That legislation, introduced by San Francisco Sen. Scott Wiener, aims to prod cities and counties that do not build enough new housing to streamline the permit process, thus keeping price appreciation in check over time.

Only 13 California and cities met housing goals last years. In the Bay Area, that short list includes Napa and Sonoma counties, as well as the cities of Corte Madera, Foster City, and Hillsborough.

While San Francisco remains the nation’s most expensive rental market, prices have at least not worsened thus far in 2018.

Zumper’s latest monthly rent report puts the median February rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco at $3,400, still the highest in country but unchanged from the previous month. Rents in San Jose, the No. 3 most expensive U.S. rental market, held steady at $2,460 for a one-bedroom unit, also static from January but up by 9.8 percent on an annual basis.

Rent prices softened across the board in Oakland, America’s seventh most expensive place for tenants. February’s median $2,100 one-bedroom rent dropped by 2.8 percent from January and inched down 0.5 percent year over year. Prices for a two-bedroom unit were down by exactly 5.0 percent on both a monthly and yearly basis.

Written by Selma Hepp, Chief Economist for Pacific Union

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Marin County 2017 Q4 Report – The Marin County Market at a Glance

While fourth-quarter Marin County home sales increased compared with the same period in 2016, the Wine Country wildfires boosted stronger-than-usual November sales. Fourth-quarter activity increased by 4 percent year over year, with a notable gain in sales of homes priced between $2 million and $5 million. Sales of homes priced above $5 million slowed some toward the end of the quarter.

Marin County inventory consistently declined throughout 2017 and ended the fourth quarter 6 percent lower on an annual basis, with the most severe drop in affordable homes. Heightened demand — along with tighter supply conditions — pushed median homes prices up by double-digit percentage points on an annual basis, especially in the last two months of the year. Buyer competition led to more bidding wars than during the same period last year, and more homes sold over the asking price. While market activity for more expensive homes improved from 2016, affordable homes remained in high demand, especially given the influx of families who were impacted by October’s wildfires.

Looking Forward: Post-fire demand from buyers will continue to drive housing market activity in Marin County in the first quarter of 2018, though falling inventory will restrict any significant pickup in market activity. Affordable homes will likely see more activity than higher-priced homes.

View the full report:

Defining Marin County: Our real estate markets in Marin County include the cities of Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Novato, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, and Tiburon. Sales data in the charts includes single-family homes in these communities.

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Pacific Union CEO Mark A. McLaughlin Earns Top Honors As Nationally Ranked Power Broker

Pacific Union International CEO Mark A. McLaughlin has been recognized as one of the most powerful and influential leaders in the residential real estate brokerage industry according to the 2018 Swanepoel Power 200 (SP200) rankings.

McLaughlin has been named to the SP200 every year since its inception five years ago. In an announcement this week, Swanepoel recognized McLaughlin as the No. 9 most powerful Power Broker in the United States and Canada. On the overall list, his rank has steadily climbed for the last four years, from No. 86 in 2015 to No. 34 in 2018 This year, more than 3,000 executives were considered, and only 274 earned acknowledgements.

San Francisco-based Pacific Union International has recently been on the expansion trail, uniting important Southern California firms including John Aaroe Group, Partners Trust, and Gibson International, as well as Northern California’s Empire Realty Associates. On Jan. 3, all brokerages rebranded as Pacific Union, linking more than 1,700 real estate professionals across 51 offices in California. Projecting 2018 sales volume of $18 billion, Pacific Union International is the No. 1 independent real estate brokerage in California.

“As we pursue this unprecedented growth, we are not building corporate infrastructure to manage that growth, rather we are empowering our elite real estate professionals,” McLaughlin says. “Being Independent means making decisions as close to our clients as possible, and at Pacific Union, our clients are our real estate professionals.”

Two examples of this empowerment are the brokerage’s unique Innovation Lab and Pacific Union University. Pacific Union’s Innovation Lab is essentially a “skunk works” operation run by the firm’s real estate professionals to develop a technology vision and produce industry-leading tools, with Silicon Valley-edge. Pacific Union University is formed and fueled by elite real estate professionals to shape education and share best practices through collaborative learning, giving the brokerage’s professionals a clear advantage over its competitors.

About Pacific Union International

Founded in San Francisco in 1975, Pacific Union International, Inc. is the West Coast’s premier luxury real estate brand with 2017 sales volume of $14.1 billion. In 2016, real estate industry leaders RISMedia and REAL Trends ranked Pacific Union as the eighth-largest brokerage in the U.S.

Through its 2015 acquisition of The Mark Company, the nation’s leading sales and marketing firm for new urban luxury developments, Pacific Union expanded its brand to development projects from San Diego to Seattle.

In 2016 Pacific Union merged with Los Angeles-based brokerage John Aaroe Group, followed in 2017 with mergers with Partners Trust and Gibson International also based in Los Angeles, and Empire Realty Associates, extending the Pacific Union brand to become the preeminent leader and ultimate California real estate company. The strategic alliance of these five powerhouses supports 1,700 elite real estate professionals in more than 50 offices throughout the West Coast. Northern California markets include San Francisco, Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda, Napa, and Sonoma counties, Silicon Valley, and the Lake Tahoe region. Greater Los Angeles markets include Beverly Hills, Malibu, Downtown, Northeast LA, the Westside, and the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys.

To extend Pacific Union’s international reach, in 2013 the brokerage established an award-winning, Beijing-based China Concierge program that fully supports its Chinese investors on the mainland. Additionally, Pacific Union offers a full range of personal and commercial real estate services, including buying, selling, and relocation in addition to operating joint-venture businesses that provide rental and commercial property management and insurance services. Locally owned, Pacific Union executes with a vision for the future, an entrepreneurial mindset, and an unwavering commitment to deliver exceptional service and expertise. For more information, visit:

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Real Estate Roundup: Bay Area Cities Are Among Top U.S. Spots for Coffee Drinkers

Here’s a look at recent news of interest to homebuyers, home sellers, and the home-curious.

When it comes to getting a daily coffee fix, the West Coast is king, with three Bay Area cities counting among the top 10 American cities for java junkies.

That’s according to a study by SmartAsset, which ranked the best 25 U.S. cities for coffee fanatics on a scale of 100 based on criteria such as the number of coffee shops and roasters and the average price of a cappuccino. By those measures, Oakland ranks as the third best U.S. city for coffee drinkers behind Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, with a score of 91.40. Oakland has a total of 623 coffee shops, 22 of which have exceptional Yelp reviews.

San Francisco takes the No 6. position with a score of 85.95. San Francisco’s 2,427 coffee houses translates to 279 shops for every 100,000 residents, the highest such concentration of any city in the study.

San Jose follows its neighbor to the north in the No. 7 spot, notching a score of 85.12. SmartAsset notes that San Jose residents perform a large number of Google searches for the word “coffee” when trying to decide which one of the city’s 940 cafes to hit next.

While properly pricing a home is key to a successful sale and a huge advantage to working with a skilled real estate professional, there may be times when the right price is a higher one.

A article offers some advice for when sellers should up the price tag on their homes, starting by studying data. If market conditions have changed significantly since a home was placed on the market, it might be prudent to consider raising its price, particularly if inventory conditions are tight (as they are currently). Also, think about whether your home has amenities that other nearby for-sale properties lack, such as a swimming pool.

Other instances in which a price hike might be warranted: if a home has been renovated since being listed, if an appraisal value comes back higher than the list price, or simply to reinvigorate buyer interest.

Amassing a down payment is perhaps the largest obstacle that first-time homebuyers face, and a new program seeks to ease that burden by making financial help a company benefit.

According to a CMG Financial press release, a new HomeFundMe program called Affinity Portal allows businesses to match employee contributions to their personal down payment savings, much like a 401(k) plan. The program is specifically geared toward millennials, whose hurdles to homeownership including student loans, high home prices, and escalating rental costs. The program also aims to help employers retain talented younger workers, 78 percent of whom leave a company within five years.

“More than ever, employers are looking for ways to retain and attract the best and brightest talent, and millennials are looking for the lifestyle perks that will help them achieve their goals,” CMG Financial President Chris George said. “The Affinity Portal helps to bridge that gap by giving employers the ability to give their employees the benefits that matter most to them. A typical campaign can cut an employee’s down payment burden in half in many cases.”

Much has been written about the recently enacted tax-reform package, and it was clearly on the minds of U.S. consumers as 2017 ended.

Fannie Mae’s latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index declined to 85.8 in December, down form November but up on an annual basis. The number of Americans who think it is a good time to buy a home dropped from the previous month to 24 percent. And though more than two-thirds of workers are not worried about losing their jobs, that number also declined from November.

“Consumers remained cautious in their housing outlook at the end of 2017, as tax reform discussions continued. In December, mirroring the other major consumer sentiment benchmarks, the HPSI reflected this caution and declined slightly,” Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Doug Duncan, said. “Entering 2018, housing affordability remains a persistent challenge, particularly in rental markets, where consumer expectations for price increases over the next 12 months reached a new survey high.”

Written by: Pacific Union

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Pacific Union launches in LA with SoCal ‘dream team’

Nick Segal of Partners Trust to run the regional operation as president of Pacific Union LA

Today San Francisco-based luxury independent brokerage Pacific Union International formally introduced its brand into Southern California and announced that Nick Segal, co-founder of Los Angeles boutique Partners Trust, will be named president of Pacific Union L.A.

Over the past 14 months, Pacific Union has been making a series of market share grabs in SoCal through acquisitions, including merging with L.A. indie firms John Aaroe Group and Partners Trust, and upping its investment in Gibson International, another L.A. firm, to a majority stake in December. This week, the three companies will all be re-branded as Pacific Union International.

The Pacific Union SoCal operation, which Segal calls “a dream team” of 900 real estate professionals in 20 offices across greater Los Angeles, will cover the areas of Malibu, Beverly Hills, Downtown, the Westside, Northeast L.A. and the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys. In 2017, the Pacific Union SoCal firms had a combined $6.8 billion sales volume, and as such, Pacific Union is claiming it will become the largest independent brokerage in L.A.

Pacific Union, which also merged with Empire Realty Associates in the East San Francisco Bay Area in October, now has 51 offices throughout Northern and Southern California and is projecting sales volume totaling $18 billion for 2018.

With John Aaroe announcing his retirement from the industry in September, Segal was the natural choice for president of Pacific Union L.A., said Pacific Union CEO Mark McLaughlin. In 2009, along with F. Ron Smith, Richard Stearns and Hugh Evans, Segal founded Partners Trust, which booked $2.47 billion in sales volume in 2016.

Segal, who described Pacific Union’s L.A. launch as a “truly historic move,” told Inman that the company is looking at new off-market listing opportunities.

“We’re exploring innovative ways to further market our properties before they go into the MLS. With our network of 900 plus real estate professionals across 20 offices in Los Angeles alone, 1,700 professionals throughout California … we have an opportunity to create an off-market platform that matches buyers and sellers faster,” Segal said.

“We’re already using our private social enterprise network ‘The Loop’ and many of our professionals actively pre-market properties via the company website, but there’s an opportunity to do more and create something that the marketplace hasn’t seen yet.”

To introduce the Pacific Union brand to the L.A. market, the company is also launching a $1 million integrated multimedia campaign titled “Watch What We Do Next,” along with a new website, homepage

The company, which has invested heavily in marketing to international clients, just launched a number of websites worldwide translated into 20 languages including Arabic, Russian and Portuguese

By Inman – Read the full article here:

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