Greater Oakland-Berkeley, Inner East Bay Real Estate
February 2022 Report
2021 was one of the most frenzied real estate markets ever, with buyer demand far exceeding the supply of listings available to buy – and all the usual indicators, including home price appreciation trends, reflected this severe imbalance. As is the normal seasonal trend, listing and offer activity dropped substantially mid-November through early January, resulting in very low sales volume in the year’s first month.
As of 2/3/22, mortgage interest rates have risen 14% in 2022, putting them 34% above the low 1 year ago. Inflation is at a 40-year high, and the Fed plans to make major changes to its interest-rate policies and its interventions in the economy generally. Consumer confidence has been dropping, and financial markets have seen considerable turbulence in the new year. Geopolitical risks of major-power conflict appear to be rising.
On the other hand, employment, GDP, and household-wealth indicators are quite positive; by historical standards, interest rates remain very low and stock markets very high; COVID infections are falling. The Bay Area is home to many of the world’s most innovative and successful companies; there is an enormous concentration of local wealth; and a staggering amount of money sloshing around the economy looking for somewhere to invest. Many believe real estate to be an excellent hedge against inflation, and an excellent long-term investment generally (heightened by tax advantages).
In the Bay Area, real estate market indicators remain very strong: demand for homes still very high, inventory still very low. So far, buyers do not seem to be significantly rattled by stock market gyrations, and increasing interest rates may be motivating some to buy sooner than later. As the new year wakes up, a common dynamic in heated markets is for buyers to jump back in much faster than sellers: Demand outpaces supply right from the start, with all the usual results (multiple offers, overbidding, fast sales), even as the number of new listings starts climbing. This describes 2022 to date, but more will be known once the spring selling season – typically the biggest of the year-really gets underway. (In the Bay Area, the “spring” market can begin in February.)
As an aside: Compared to the general market, luxury home buyers tend to be less sensitive to interest rate movements, but more sensitive to turbulence and uncertainty in financial markets.
Statistics are generalities, essentially summaries of widely disparate data generated by dozens or hundreds of unique, individual sales occurring within different time periods. They are best seen not as precise measurements, but as broad, comparative indicators, with reasonable margins of error. Anomalous fluctuations in statistics are not uncommon, especially in smaller, expensive market segments. Last period data should be considered estimates that may change with late-reported data. Different analytics programs sometimes define statistics – such as “active listings,” “days on market,” and “months supply of inventory”-differently: what is most meaningful are not specific calculations but the trends they illustrate. Most listing and sales data derives from the local or regional multi-listing service (MLS) of the area specified in the analysis, but not all listings or sales are reported to MLS and these won’t be reflected in the data. “Homes” signifies real-property, single-household housing units: houses, condos, co-ops, townhouses, duets, and TICS (but not mobile homes), as applicable to each market. City/town names refer specifically to the named cities and towns, unless otherwise delineated, Multi-county metro areas will be specified as such. Data from sources deemed reliable may contain errors and be subject to revision. All numbers to be considered approximate.
Many aspects of value cannot be adequately reflected in median and average statistics: curb appeal, age, condition, amenities, views, lot size, quality of outdoor space, “bonus” rooms, additional parking, quality of location within the neighborhood, and so on. How any of these statistics apply to any particular home is unknown without a specific comparative market analysis.
Median Sales Price is the price at which half the properties sold for more and half for less. It may be affected by seasonality, “unusual” events, or changes in inventory and buying trends, as well as by changes in fair market value. The median sales price for an area will often conceal an enormous variety of sales prices in the underlying individual sales.
Dollar per Square Foot is based upon the home’s interior living space and does not include garages, unfinished attics, basements, rooms built without a permit, patios, decks, or yards (though all those can add value to a home). These figures are usually derived from appraisals or tax records, but are sometimes unreliable (especially for older homes) or unreported altogether. The calculation can only be made on those home sales that reported square footage.
Compass is a real estate broker licensed by the State of California, DRE 01527235. Equal Housing Opportunity. This report has been prepared solely for information purposes. The information herein is based on or derived from information generally available to the public and/or from sources believed to be reliable. No representation or warranty can be given with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the information. Compass disclaims any and all liability relating to this report, including without limitation any express or implied representations or warranties for statements contained in, and omissions from, the report. Nothing contained herein is intended to be or should be read as any regulatory, legal, tax, accounting or other advice and Compass does not provide such advice. All opinions are subject to change without notice. Compass makes no representation regarding the accuracy of any statements regarding any references to the laws, statutes or regulations of any state are those of the author(s). Past performance is no guarantee of future results.