Real Estate: Sellers Get Real, Buyers See Value

2010 was, overall, a good year for Benicia Real Estate. Early indicators lead me to believe that we can expect a similar trend in 2011.   


At a time when there is a negative spin on almost any topic, I am happy to report that 2010 was good for both buyers and sellers of real estate in Benicia. We have finally found a happy medium where sellers are listing their properties at a price that makes sense in this market place. More importantly, buyers are seeing the value in the investment and are willing to jump back in. Yes, we still have bank-owned properties and challenging short sales in town.  Homeowners are still faced with the difficult and unpleasant task of enduring a foreclosure or deed in lieu proceeding. It is, however, this realtor’s experience that more often than not the transactions I dealt with last year were with folks that were not upside down, an encouraging indicator that things are improving. One always has to keep in mind that Benicia has a unique micro-market in Solano County. The news is very different in surrounding cities.   


What makes us so special? It could be the schools (noted to be some of the best in the state), or the weather and proximity to the water, or the small town feel, or the fact that our city, while facing budget challenges, is not insolvent or in danger of a looming economic breakdown. If you ask me, it is the people who live here and the feeling of community that I have every day walking up and down First Street or at the local grocery store. That has value, and I am not sure how to place a number on it, nor am I sure that I would if I could. Benicia is special, but for those of you who like raw data, here are the statistics: 


Of the 218 single family residences that were sold in Benicia in 2010 the Average List Price was $402,539.00, and the Average Selling Price was $397,074.00. The difference in list price and sales price of $5465.00 is significant, as it proves the market stabilized and now will begin the healthy process of recovery.  Gone are the agonizing months of marketing for listings that end up steadily decreasing in price until they are finally sold. The Average Days on Market for single family homes in Benicia in 2010 was just 74 days.  There was some room for downward negotiation in the most expensive homes, but there was also a trend for multiple offers and homes selling over list price in the low to median price range.


2011 will no doubt be very exciting, and I am by no means saying that we are out of the woods yet.  There is still a silent inventory of homes in default, but it is difficult, even for insiders, to calculate the number.  Many of these “bad assets” are either in the process of loan modification, short sale, foreclosure, or may simply be high risk loans that are not in default at all, but are considered toxic by nature.  We can never rule out poor accounting on the part of the big banks, as we all know these assets were bundled, unbundled and re-bundled as a result of large banks buying out many of the institutions that made these loans. Whatever the case, investing in a community and staying there is likely your best bet. And what better place to do that than Benicia?