Housing Prices Up, Inventory Down
Throughout the Bay Area, fewer and fewer homes are being put on sale. The decline in inventory is creating a short-term spiral where prices go up, and homeowners hold on to their property.
According to the latest home price report by Trulia.com, Sacramento had 68 percent fewer homes on sale in February compared to the prior year. In San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland, February inventory was down more than 55 percent.
With rising prices and slim pickings, times are tough for buyers. "You've got to have the stomach for a lot of uncertainty, possibly a bidding war," said Trulia economist Jed Kolko. "It's hard to find homes to buy even if you're looking for something very standard, given inventory being so tight. But if you're looking for something unusual, there may be nothing to choose from."
Kolko estimates that in one more year, prices will have been rising long enough to spur new home construction, and create some relief.
Meanwhile housing prices in Oakland are rising faster than almost anywhere else in the country. In February the average asking price for a home in Oakland was up 19 percent from a year earlier. Nationally, average home prices were up 7 percent.
Kolko says prices are soaring in part because they'd fallen so low. "The housing bust was more severe in Oakland and other parts of the East Bay than in the rest of the Bay Area," Kolko said. "So Oakland's now seeing a bigger rebound even than we're seeing either in the San Francisco area or in Silicon Valley."
While rental rates are dipping in San Francisco, Oakland is actually seeing rents rise -- and fast. Kolko says the price hikes reflect how little new construction has happened in the East Bay since the housing crisis began.