Market Update: May 2020

COVID-19 Market Update:
What’s Happening Now

Market indicators are often seasonal in nature, with Q2 typically being the period of highest demand, and the mid-winter holiday period being the period of lowest activity. Since the coronavirus didn’t really start impacting most markets until early-mid March, and because of the lag time between an offer being accepted on a listing and it closing escrow, the effect of the crisis on Q1 2020 statistics has been limited.

With that said mid-March- April, we have seen some good activity and accepted offers in the $2.5 and under price ranges in both counties, while the luxury market seems to have slowed in March and in early April. We have seen some movement and a willingness from buyers to start looking and transact again in the luxury market. While not at all a normal spring market activity level, there are buyers trying to take advantage of the slowdown.

The spring market came to a standstill around March 15 and began slowly increasing with more activity each week. Note the number of listings that have entered into contract after March 16. We’ll keep track of these closings—they will be an accurate reflection of where prices are post Shelter in Place orders. Stay tuned!

You just bought a new house…
should you remodel or not?

In our current housing market, it can seem like just finding the right house is the tough part. Now you are ready to move in and the true challenge begins. Whether it’s your first home, your fifth or even a vacation home, there are a few questions that almost everyone has regarding when, or even if, you should remodel.

Should I remodel now, later or ever?
This can be a tough one to answer even for the most seasoned professional. I am a big fan of delaying remodels for as long as possible. As much as you imagine how you and your family will live in this this house, it’s not until you’re actually there that you find out that the light is especially good at certain times of the day. Or that the master bathroom is where the closet should be (and vice-versa).

Patience has benefits
Waiting to remodel gives you a chance to see how you will actually live the house. It allows you time to plan what you want to do moving forward. Planning while living in a home also allows you time to get a firm handle on your budget in a way that a remodel designed during escrow may not allow for.

It’s time for furniture
This part  can be the most fun and the most daunting part of moving into a new home. I understand the desire to just want it all done, but a slower more considered approach will reap you many benefits. You can consider scale, material and  color while shopping intentionally for furnishings that will work for your new space.

Break the job down into a series of smaller tasks

  • Start with images. Pinterest, Houzz,  Architectural Design are some of many great visual resources you can use to collect images that resonate with you and save as digital files or hardcopy for reference later.
  • Get a scaled plan view of the house. If the previous owner doesn’t have one, get one made for you. Try typing “drawn floor plans” and your city name into google to find someone to do this. It will save you hours of time and thousands of dollars by allowing you to lay out options of furniture arrangements etc. and avoid costly mistakes.
  • All truly beautiful homes are portraits of the families that live there. Embrace who you are and strive to create environments that reflect how you and your family truly live, not how you wish you did.
  • Develop an accurate budget. It’s easiest to work from a high-level furniture plan with prices, rather than just pick a number out of the air. A budget “guess” is not helpful. If the last time you bought furniture was several years ago, it’s a good exercise to see where items price out today. A rough rule of thumb for a furniture budget is about 7-10% of the price of the home.

Should I work with a professional Interior Designer?
As homes have grown larger, and more expensive, the demands that we put on them increase as well. We have the option of choosing smart homes, home theaters, green technologies and all sorts of integrated systems. All of these options have made the process of assembling a home that is beautiful and functional more difficult and expensive than in the past. As that has happened, Interior Designers have learned how to create homes that are portraits of the people who live there, but also incorporate the latest in technology and fashion, to create homes that truly bring out the best in the individuals who live there.An Interior Designer will:

  • Learn about the way your family lives and operates and then create a home that not just reflects, but enhances it.
  • With years of experience an Interior Designer can help you make informed decisions that will save you both time and money, not to mention free up the most valuable resource you have: your time.
  • Professionals will be able to help curate your options and offer you possibilities that are simply not available to the general consumer.
  • Design services can seem expensive, but relative to how much quality time you’ll spend in your home, it’s a worthwhile lifestyle investment.

Finally, let me share one final piece of advice that has guided my career for many years. “If you buy well the first time, you only cry once”.

Mark Cutler (owner of Mark Cutler Design) is a Los Angeles based designer, trusted resource of BWG Partners and has designed the interiors of many beautiful homes in the Bay Area.


2020 Color Trends

Every year, color specialists announce hues they think represent the cultural zeitgeist, and what’s to come. If this year’s choices indicate anything, it’s that building calmer, more soothing environments in our homes is important. It’s all about replenishing and re-energizing.

Blues dominate 2020 and experts at Pantone have announced Classic Blue as their choice. Benjamin Moore chose First Light, a rosy hue that reflects optimism. High-end paint company Behr chose Back to Nature a soft green shade that feels springy and calming. If you’re planning to paint some part of your home this year, these colors can help guide you.


Real Costs to Maintain Your Home in California…

Some of the trends for home maintenance include:

  • Atherton ranks as the most expensive city in California for home upkeep, an average of more than $27,000 per year.
  • Costing nearly $1,800, replacing a swimming pool’s filtration system is the most expensive routine home-maintenance task, . Most pools require owners to do this every two years.
  • California homeowners can expect to spend nearly $17,000 each year to maintain their properties, higher than the national average.

Man cleaning swimming poolAlmost all new homeowners have calculated their monthly mortgage payments, but fewer have likely factored in the cost of routine maintenance tasks.

An analysis by home-remodeling portal Porch breaks down home-maintenance costs by states and ZIP codes, as well as individual jobs. Though it’s commonly accepted wisdom that owners should expect to spend 1 percent of a home’s cost on maintenance each year, Porch determined that nationwide, Americans spend an average of $16,000 on home upkeep annually, assuming that the work is outsourced to professionals.

Not surprisingly, Golden State homeowners can expect to pay a bit more than the typical U.S. homeowner. Californians spend an average of $16,957 per year on home maintenance, the seventh most in the country and the highest of any Western state.

And anyone who has purchased home in the exclusive Silicon Valley community of Atherton — America’s most-expensive ZIP code as of last fall — can expect sticker shock when it comes to maintenance, too. There, the average homeowner spends an average of $27,242 each year on home upkeep, the most in California and the third-highest in the nation.

Los Angeles presents a study in contrasts when it comes to home-maintenance spend. The city’s 90077 neighborhood, which includes Bel Air, is not far behind Atherton, with owners paying an average of $26,474 each year on regular maintenance jobs. Close by in zip code 90073, owners spend less than half that, at $12,746 each year, the lowest in California.

On a final note, home shoppers considering a property with a swimming pool should take note of the amount of money it will take to keep it operational. Replacing a pool’s filter system is by far the most expensive maintenance chore, costing an average of $1,786 every 2.3 years. And cleaning a pool is the most frequently required maintenance task, which happens every 1.9 months, for an annual total of $649.