Real Estate

Valley’s housing market starts to cool, but home prices remain up post-pandemic

While the housing market in the Central Valley is still hot, the latest data shows that it is starting to slightly cool down. 

The California Association of Realtors published its home sales and price report for September earlier this week, which shows a slight slowdown in home sales throughout the Central Valley. 

Home sales dropped 2.1 percent from August to September, and Fresno County specifically experienced a 5.1 percent decrease.

Despite the slowdown, the San Joaquin Valley is still a hotter-than-average market in the state, bucking a larger downward trend in the Golden State.

Only Eight of 58 California counties reported higher year-to-year sales figures as of Sept. 2021. Three – Fresno, Merced, and Stanislaus – were in the San Joaquin Valley.

Fresno-based realtor Vasili Sotiropulos told The Sun that the slight decrease in sales is a notable difference from the summer months when homes were selling within a few days significantly over asking price. 

While the market is starting to slow down a little bit, Sotiropulos noted that the market is not cool. 

“I can’t say it’s a cool market at all,” Sotiropulos said. “It’s still a seller’s market. Inventory is still right around one month, but we’re not seeing the amount of offers come in that we were seeing in June, July and August.” 

Why the slight slowdown? 

“I think some buyers got discouraged. With the competitive environment, a lot of buyers got discouraged, maybe they’re taking a break, and other buyers are just kind of waiting for the market to cool down,” Sotiropulos said. 

“But we’ve seen for the most part interest rates stay low, so I know it’s not interest rates, and then a lot of the demand that we’ve had has been satisfied. A lot of people have bought and found their homes. There still is demand, but we’re seeing buyers be a little more conscientious about where they’re placing offers.” 

Although home sales are not at the record highs anymore, the median price in the Central Valley continued at $450,000 from August to September. 

The median home price in Fresno County marginally grew $375,000 in August to $380,000 in September, an increase of 1.3 percent. 

“We’re not seeing homes get bid up at the same trajectory that we were, and it depends on your price point as well,” Sotiropulos said. “If you’re looking at something below the median price range, you still might have a little more competition. Once you get in that median price range and higher, or if you go 650 plus or a million plus, it’s definitely cooler.” 

Less expensive houses are still going through a competitive buying process simply because of the greater number of people who are aiming to purchase in that price range. 

“A lot of people are trying to get in with these low interest rates,” Sotiropulos said. “There will always be a demand, and that’s also the investor’s wheelhouse right there, so you have a lot more buyers in that price point, not just owner-occupied. You have investors playing in that pool as well.” 

One of the signals that the market is slightly cooling is the unsold inventory index, which measures the time it would take to sell all of the houses on the market. 

Realtors point to a regular housing market as having 6-8 months of inventory. The Central Valley currently has 1.9 months of inventory on tap, up from 1.8 months in August and the highest it has been in about a year. 

However, the Fresno-Clovis market paints a picture that’s a little different from the rest of the area with inventory down at 0.8.

The median time on market in the Central Valley was eight days in September, up from seven in August, while Fresno-Clovis listings averaged 15 days on market.

“The fall-winter market slows a bit, but if you look at the last 10 years, it’s still one of the greatest times to sell,” Sotiropulos said. “It’s still a seller’s market. So even if we’ve slowed a bit, yeah it’s a little bit better time to buy, a little less competitive – don’t get it mistaken with this is some kind of crash. It’s definitely still a seller’s market.”

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.