The Two Types of Markets We Have Now
I'm often asked what type of market we're in. The best answer I can give is, it depends where. In some areas we are in a buyer's market and some areas we are in a more neutral market. Some of the buyer's market areas are indisputable on the peninsula, like those with heavy percentages of distressed properties for sale like in South San Francisco, Daly City, San Bruno, east of 101 in San Mateo, and a few neighborhoods in Redwood City. One could argue that in the most desirable parts of Burlingame, Hillsborough, San Mateo, and San Carlos, we're in a seller's market, with the caveat being that the seller must ask a fair price, not just any price like they could in 2006 and 2007 when nearly any home with a pulse hit multiple offers and sold with no contingencies. The old maxim "pretty homes on pretty streets always sell" is completely true assuming that the home is priced well, and when it is, it's no surprise when it sells with multiple offers over the asking price. Most of the homes I have sold so far this year have been in multiple offers.
However, pricing and seller motivation plays a bigger role in determining whether or not a home will sell, and for how much. In my opinion, there's two types of active homes for sale, the ones that are actively selling and the ones that aren't actively selling (and diplomatically speaking, I would call these ambitiously priced). For a seller to be a winner in today's market, it is imperative that the seller price their home fairly from the beginning. With the internet, market saturation is reached no more than 24 - 48 hours after the home comes on the market, and if no offers have been received in the first two to three weeks, and assuming the listing agent is properly marketing and exposing the home to the widest pool of buyers, then it's a price issue.
Lastly, with buyers taking more time to explore the market and acquaint themselves with the neighborhoods and inventory, it's become crucial for seller's to price their properties appropriately -- a seller is only the new kid on the block for a week or two (or three at the very most), and after that the likely only thing bringing buyers back to the negotiating table is a price adjustment to where the home needs to be.