Last night and this morning, Redfin published its analyses of Seattle and San Francisco activity in July, drawing on proprietary data and agent war stories to give consumers an up-to-the-minute portrait of the real estate market. With plenty of buyers but no real urgency, both markets are weakening, the Bay Area for the first time in a year. This month’s reports were especially insightful, just because both feature countervailing trends that our agents helped to sort out:
- In Seattle, Capitol Hill agent Bryon Ziegler talked about three listings where buyers tried to pounce on a deal only once it came off-market. In an uncertain market, he said, nobody wants to make the first move.
- Meanwhile Ballard agent Robin McCue explained why most sellers are balking at bids 10% below the asking price, because listing agents would prefer to offer the reduction to the entire market, not just one buyer, in the hopes of generating multiple offers.
- In San Jose, South Bay agent Brad Le observed that sellers are now more willing to consider buyers using FHA loans, with the listing agent calling the lender to make sure it will fund. This is one of the first signs we’ve seen in a year that Bay Area demand is declining, and also that FHA loans are gaining wider acceptance.
We started these reports assuming that the database underpinning our website would allow us to identify local trends before anyone else: we match data from the Multiple Listing Services used by brokers with property records used by the government, adding in for-sale-by-owner transactions that nobody else has. Then we slice up the data using neighborhood boundaries that we’ve assembled from different sources.
While the numbers are important, you’ve probably already realized that it’s the agent anecdotes that really make sense of it all. Many of the Redfin agents who contribute to the report are the top producers for the entire region, so they know their stuff. And they’re in the thick of deals every day, so their information is more timely than anything recorded in a big database.
Once we publish the reports, we get plenty of firsthand reactions from consumers too. Excellent neighborhood analyses have appeared on local blogs in Maple Leaf and Wallingford here in Seattle, as well as the big sites like Seattle Bubble and SocketSite. As always there’s plenty of discussion on Redfin Forums, some of it more useful than the original report: for example, it was a Forums user who was the first to correct my assumption that interest rates would rise at the end of 2010.
As we get better at assembling data and incorporating agent insights, we’ll expand these reports to Southern California, Boston, Washington DC and beyond. Let us know where you’d like to see The Authoritative Broker strike next, and what we should add to the reports.