Thursday, September 20, 2007

Weekly Screen Scrape - Bucking the Trend

Even though inventory in the Sacramento Metro area has begun to decline, the inventory in my weekly screen scrape has continued to increase. Again I believe this is because prices are dropping, so there is a greater proportion of existing inventory showing up in my criteria. There has also been a slight uptick in contract activity (see graphic below). However buyers have wised up. The average list price for houses under contract is $8 below the average list price for those still available.

The graphic below is based on data compiled on houses in Folsom and El Dorado Hills that show up in my weekly search. This search helps me get a better feel for the amount of activity occurring in the market which in turn helps set my purchase expectations.


DFC said...


Great Blog!

My situation is very similar to your own. The family and I moved from the midwest to sac about 6 mo ago. Based on blogs like average buyer and landers I talked the spouse into renting for a while. We rent a very nice 4b/4b in Serrano for $1950/mo (a 30yr/fixed would be twice that monthly payment!).

Long term we want to buy, so like every one else we are traking several houses. Three REO's in the immediate vicinity of our rental are listed. Spouse reports seeing a home inspector and exterminator at one of the houses recently. The screen scrape reports pending sales data. Where do you get this information? More importantly, how can I find out what the sale price is?

buying time said...

DFC - Welcome and thanks. That must have been a pretty rude awakening going from midwest home prices to CA prices (unless you were coming from Chicago). My friends in Madison have a fantastic place near downtown and it was dirt cheap by CA standards.

Anyways I get the PS data from You can find sales data a month or two late supplied by DataQuick via the Sacramento Bee's website. I think Zillow reports it as well...but again there is a lag. When I want to know right away, I contact Agent Bubble.

Good move on renting. At this point I think there are more renters in Serrano where I am than owners. I went to a B-day party last weekend for a 3yr old with my daughter (they have the exact same place as us, about 3 blocks away) only to find out they are renting and waiting it out as well!

Must be a lot of women/girls/teenagers in your houshold....4 bathrooms!

Just out of do you like Serrano? Are you looking to buy in Serrano?....prices have been seriously dropping in the area where we are (off Villagio).

Cmyst said...

My "screen scrape" is considerably smaller than BT's and consists entirely of mid-century modern homes, mostly Strengs, built between 1960 and 1980. Only SF homes, no duplexes. They are tract homes, not custom, although they have a very modern/custom vibe. They usually run about 1800 sf of livable space, and are 3 or 4 beds and 2 baths, with small 2 car garages or carports. There are some larger and more expensive ones in the Arden Park and Davis areas, but I realize that I will never be able to afford to live there and I'm only looking at Strengs in working or middle-class neighborhoods in Elk Grove, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Fair Oaks and Woodland.
My scrape started at about 10 homes, and is now down to about 5. I have hope, because of those 5, 2 keep going inactive and then coming back onto MLS, which means they probably really do need to sell and the next step might be foreclosure.

I posed this question on Lander's blog in the water cooler, and I really want to know what people think.
My "screen scrape" houses average value in 2001 was 176K and in 2004 it was 216K. The average asking price now is 388K.
I have one Wild Card house that was valued at 300K in both 2001 and 2004, and for which they are now asking 359K. I don't know why it was valued so high prior, because it is the exact same builder and neighborhood demos as the others.
I know that many bubblers believe that we will revert to 2001 or even prior prices. So, am I being reasonable or lunatic in thinking that 250K is a good price to aim for on my target homes?

jenna said...

Just buy a dam house please. Support our great economy and just consume something, I mean anything.

Anyone want to invest in viaticals? I hear people are desperate to sell life insurance policies for money. Did you know a life policy will pay for a suicide after 2 years. Expect a sh@tload of people jumping out of windows so their families can pay the mortgage, no kidding here folks.

buying time said...

Cymst....not sure this can really be considered advise. First and foremost, know what you feel comfortable spending and do your best not to go over it. you have reason to believe there won't be any more Strengs coming on the market in the next 2 years?....I get the feeling from you comment you kinda feel its now or never. If that is the case...see item 1, if not...I would suggest you wait till next spring and see what comes on the market then. As you noted, there are multiple Streng developments....more are bound to go up for sale.

I'm not really waiting for a particular price point, cause I believe every location and development will settle in a differnt spot. As you know I tend to use 2002 for a rule of thumb for tract homes. But it is just that, a rule of thumb....if I see something I really have to have in a price range we can manage....we will likely pull the trigger.

I get all worked up sometimes thinking "what if things don't go the way us bubbleheads think they will" but then come to my senses, my rent is cheap compared to buying...I can wait.

DFC said...


Thanks for the sources.

We only live in 1/2 of the house. I have two boys about the age of your kids. They take tubbies in the master tub and share 1 bedroom. Honestly, I don't think anyone has ever used the upstairs (kids) bathroom. We have a 3 stall garage but only 1 car can fit...I miss my midwest basement.

We like Serano. Location is great for us. Kids love the playgrounds (maybe we have met at the playground off Villagio?). I only know three sets of neighbors, but they are great people and we socialize with them regularly and our kids play. Unfortunately, 1 set of neighbors are renters and will soon be moving. Another set of neighbors are trying to sell.

I'm not against buying in Serano, but I'm certainly going to wait. I signed up for a free trial at There are a lot of homes in trouble in Serano. Prices will only be going lower.

buying time said...


We dump both the kids in the big soaking tub at bath time as well! They love it. I am nervous I am getting way too accustomed to the size and grandeur of this rental.

We don't go to the Villagio park as much as we used to. My 3.5 year old has to potty too often and we have had a couple accidents trying to get home in time. So we mostly go to the CSD now which has a really nice new bathroom and a sand play area. If we do go to Villagio...we are usually in a red wagon.

Cmyst said...

All this talk of soaking tubs has me wishing I'd rented a house with one. I have a huge tiled shower, but the tub is a small one off the hall and not comfortable to lounge around in, so I haven't turned into a prune in months.

Thanks for the advice, BT. You're right, sometimes I go into this mode where I think that the only Strengs that will ever be sold are the ones on my list, despite knowing that statistically that is unlikely.

I wrote another epic post to work the frustration out of my system, and I went outside and smelled the cool, wet gardens last night. I'm at peace with my rental again, ready to stay here another year at least. In fact, I realized last night that there's a part of me that wants to own so badly because I really do love my rental most of the time. If it had a hot tub or a soaking tub, I'd never leave.