Econ 101

This home in Marina was not on the market long before it went under contract. Marina has been especially popular with buyers and has some of the lowest inventory as a result.

In past years, real estate agent Nariman Pato Amin might have counseled her clients seeking to buy homes in Monterey County to offer less than the asking price and expect some negotiations. Now she tells them whatever the asking price is, they better offer more if they want to be competitive. As the pandemic has continued with interest rates as low as 2.6 percent and the number of homes available for sale decreasing, home prices are predictably going up. “I do have a lot of clients, but I don’t have that much inventory in the market,” Amin says.

The median sales price of a home on the Central Coast in November was $825,000, up 33 percent over the same month in 2019, according to the California Association of Realtors. Dan Lynch, CEO of Carmel Realty Company and Monterey Coast Realty, reports in his area, from Marina down the coast to Carmel Highlands, prices are up 40 percent over the past six months. Carmel’s inventory decreased by 50 percent, “and that’s fairly indicative of what’s happening in all of the other markets we track,” Lynch says.

Despite there being fewer homes for sale, Lynch says sellers can’t ask for any price they want. With buyers from more urban areas coming to the area for a change in lifestyle or a second home – and many able to work from home – “they can walk away if they think the price is unfair,” Lynch says. He calls the increases “manageable.”

Activity dipped in December, partly due to the regional stay-at-home order, but it’s also seasonal, and Lynch expects demand to be strong in spring. And with prices high, more homeowners are calling Lynch’s agents to say they’re thinking about selling.

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