Bidding wars became less common generally in 2019, but homebuyers in California’s Bay Area still faced a brutal market this year with 10 of the region’s enclaves landing on Redfin’s new list of most competitive neighborhoods.
This year’s most competitive neighborhood, according to a new report from the online brokerage, was White Oaks, an area in the San Francisco suburb of San Carlos. Redfin found that homes in White Oaks stayed on the market for a median of just 12 days between January and November, and had a median sales price of $1,835,000 last month — way up from $1,081,500 during that same period in 2018.
Alger Heights, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was the second most competitive neighborhood in the U.S. in 2019. East Arlington in Boston, Glenview in Oakland, California, and Brattle Station, also in Boston, rounded out Redfin’s top five most competitive neighborhoods.
Redfin identified the most competitive areas by analyzing the number of competing offers listings received, as well as other factors such as waived contingencies, the speed at which homes go under contract and how much over the asking price they sold for.
Overall, the Bay Area — which is the heart of the world’s technology sector and has a highly paid workforce — dominated the list. Not only were half of the most competitive neighborhoods located in the region, but half of those areas were specifically in Oakland. The city sits just across the bay from San Francisco.
Redfin’s report on competitive neighborhoods cites Katy Polvorosa, an agent with the brokerage, who suggested Oakland was hot in 2019 because it was more affordable than other parts of the notoriously expensive metro area.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say the Bay Area housing market is cooling this year, but I’m seeing the opposite in Oakland,” Polvorosa said in the report. “I’m writing offers that are seeing aggressive competition. Homes that are move-in ready and priced right typically receive offers within 12 to 14 days.”
Redfin also found that buyers are now “gravitating toward more affordable inland metros as housing markets in coastal job centers have become more expensive.” The fact that a neighborhood in Grand Rapids appeared on this year’s list, Redfin reports, is an example of that phenomenon.
Competing offers, which lead to bidding wars, are a perpetual challenge for buyers in areas like the Bay Area that tend to have low inventory and skyrocketing demand from wealthy consumers. And this fall, the National Association of Realtors found that across the U.S. homes that sold in August had an average of three offers each — a finding that suggests bidding wars generally aren’t going away any time soon.
However, the good news for buyers is that Redfin’s findings suggest bidding wars are at least getting less common. A report from the brokerage earlier this month revealed that bidding wars are at a 10-year low. And despite some highly competitive markets, this latest report found that between January and November only 12 percent of offers written by Redfin agents faced competing offers. That’s way down from 48 percent in 2018 and 53 percent in 2017.
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