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East Bay housing markets inching toward equilibrium

East Bay housing market balance?
East Bay housing market balance?Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What happens when prices go up, interest rates go up and demand goes down? The housing market comes into equilibrium. It is the basic law of supply and demand.

Last year was crazy in the California real estate market. Bidding wars, buyer’s fatigue, fewer appraisal issues and cheap money spiked the overall prices for real estate. But any spike has a plateau or a correction and that is what we are beginning to see in the real estate market as 2014 starts.

A run-up in home prices, coupled with higher interest rates, put downward pressure on housing affordability and led to the fourth straight month of sales declines in November, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reported.

“Improving home prices are a double-edged sword for the housing market. While welcomed news for homeowners and prospective sellers, diminished affordability is squeezing out many buyers and dampening their enthusiasm for home purchasing,” said 2014 C.A.R. President Kevin Brown. “Buyers are playing the waiting game and putting their home search on hold until prices stabilize and more inventory becomes available in the market.”

In the East Bay the beginning of 2014 is starting out as a classic game of chicken. Buyers are trying to wait out sellers in an effort to bring a balance to the market. Sellers are trying to take advantage of last year’s seller’s market and stick to their asking prices. In some areas it works and in some areas it does not.

Oakland and its immediate environs is filled with micro-markets. In certain areas homes stay on the market for months and in others homes fly off the market in multiple over asking offers within days.

"A few of the super-hot neighborhoods last year were, The Elmwood in Berkeley, Lower-Rockridge in Oakland, The Temescal in Oakland and the mythical NOBE. All of these neighborhoods are known for easy access to transit, high walk scores, trendy shops and services," said Lisa Magnani, Realtor.

Some of the not so hot areas in the East Bay were East Oakland and Richmond. Both areas are still plagued by food deserts, high crime, and less convenient access to public transportation.

The East Bay housing market is moving slowly into balance. The biggest radical is the lessening affordability of housing in San Francisco. As the prices in The City continue to rise, Oakland and its immediate neighbors, being the most convenient and affordable option to San Francisco, are going to see continuing price increases.

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