Placer County Weakness

there’s trouble brewing in one of Marin’s vacation housing hot-spots: Placer County. Naturally, the realtors are all saying ‘things are just fine’, ‘the downward slide is healthy’, ‘it’s a more balanced market’, ‘we’re cruising in to a soft landing’, ‘we saw this coming all along’, and other soothing and placating phrases. Whenever a realtor uses phrases like “it’s Economics 101” you know they are not telling you the whole story.

After reaching a 12-year high in October, the inventory of homes for sale in Placer County remained high in November – a 137 percent increase over last year at this time, according to PCAR statistics.

The real estate market is seeing more houses for sale, but fewer purchases being made, and that’s leaving some sellers in a bind.

Homes are also staying on the market longer before being sold, with the number of homes that sell within 30 days or less steadily decreasing since June. About 45 percent of homes sold in November were on the market for 30 days or less; only about 10 percent of the homes sold had been listed for more than 90 days.

“It’s frustrating. We’ve had several people who want (our house), but they have to sell their place before they can make an offer on ours,” said Kari Vollmer, 43, of Auburn. “And we keep finding places that we like, but we have to sell ours first.” Vollmer has seen her three-bedroom home drop $200,000 in asking price.

“The market sort of all of a sudden slowed down,” Vollmer said. “What I keep hearing is right now it’s a buyers’ market. It’s like, ‘OK, I’m a buyer, but I have to sell too.'”

One thing that real estate agents seem to agree on is that the market is neither a buyers’ nor a sellers’ market at the moment. Instead, they describe the market as leveling out or becoming more balanced.

“On the national level, they call it the market coming in for a soft landing”

Mary Jane Mahoney, Realtor with HomeTown Realtors, calls it Economics 101.

“There’s a decreased buyer pool and increased inventory, which spells out not being in a sellers’ market anymore,” she said. “We’re leveling out, that’s all.”

Mahoney described the current market as more realistic.

“People are going to be selling because they have a desire to sell,” she said. “And buyers are not going to be buying out of fear anymore. I think it makes for a great market.”

Newton said that Placer County buyers are still pausing to see where exactly the market is turning, and he said that many buyers are “optimistically” waiting for lower prices. But not all purchases are made solely as strategic moves with an eye on the market.

“Buying is still an emotional experience,” he said. “You still have the human aspect of what’s happening on the market, but you also have that logic that’s starting to take over.”