Time right for home buyers who want to move up, agents say

By Joe Tash


The time may be right for those who own a home in Carmel Valley or Del Mar and want to move up to a larger, more expensive property, said local real estate agents.

That’s because interest rates remain low, and people in less expensive homes may find that the value of their property has remained relatively stable, while the higher end homes have come down in price.

“For that seller, it’s a great time to make a change,” said Amy Green of Coastal Premier Properties.

“I think it’s a great time for people to buy. And a great time for people to buy who want to move up to a bigger home. Theirs have come down, (but) not nearly as much as the people above them,” said Richard Stone, of Keller Williams Realty in Carmel Valley.

Green said sales volumes are down this year from the beginning of 2010, which she attributed to the expiration of the federal tax credit for new home buyers, which ended in July.

Other factors, such as consumer confidence, interest rates and the ability of potential homebuyers to secure a loan have not changed a lot from 2010 until this year, Green said, although she noted that interest rates are “creeping up.”

Sellers have to be realistic and look at comparable sales, putting themselves in the buyers’ shoes, said Green.

“If it’s a spectacular property, you’re going to be able to find people to buy it,” she said.

“The homes that are mediocre or average, they’re sitting on the market or they are having to do pretty heavy duty price reductions if the seller really wants to sell,” she said.

In Carmel Valley, said Green, she has seen an influx of foreign buyers, particularly from China and other parts of Asia, who are making all-cash deals.

Stone said that in Carmel Valley, sales remained flat over the first two months of this year, compared to the same period of 2010, with 53 sales recorded. The median sales price rose to $975,000 from $829,000 last year, which Stone said is attributed to more expensive homes selling.

The median price for sales of townhomes in Carmel Valley increased slightly, to $400,000 from $394,000 last year, Stone said.

The real estate information firm DataQuick has sales figures on its website comparing January of 2011 with January of last year. In Del Mar, four single family homes sold in January, with a median value of $1.3 million, or an increase in median price of 29.7 percent from last year.

Buyers can find “fabulous deals” at the higher end in Carmel Valley, said Stone. For example, he said, a home in Rancho Pacifica that sold recently for $2.8 million was priced new just three years ago at $5.6 million.

In Carmel Valley, Stone said, he has seen fewer families moving up to larger homes, a type of buyer that has fueled the market in past years.

But he still saw reason for optimism in the housing market.

“I think we’re at the bottom of the drop… I think it’s going to be stable for the next year or two, then it’s going to go crazy like it always does,” said Stone, who has worked in the local real estate market for 36 years. “It’s the darkest before the dawn.”



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