The median sales price of a single-family home in San Mateo County is nearly $2 million.
According to a report from the San Mateo County Association of Realtors, the median sales prices for homes across the county in April was $1.991 million — a jump worth $300,000 since the start of the year.
Despite the public health crisis, Realtors are saying the constrained market is seeing an unprecedented degree of interest among aggressive buyers looking to capitalize on the desirable lending environment.
“Somehow we’ve learned to navigate around this pandemic and buyers are out looking again,” Verona Cho said, a Realtor with Intero in San Carlos. “There was some pent up demand because of the pandemic and buyers are looking to take advantage of low interest rates.”
For Cho, the market forces came together and produced the sale of her lifetime.
A property listed at $1.78 million on the east side of Belmont near Old Country Road and El Camino Real sold for $417,000 over original asking price in a deal made three days after the property went on the market.
The 1,400-square-foot home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms on a 5,000-square-foot property sold at an average of $1,582 per square foot — which Cho said is a record for Belmont. The median price per square foot in Belmont is $1,159, according to SAMCAR data.
Beyond the eye-popping sales figure, what stands out to Cho is the location where the sale occurred, because typically the west side of Belmont would be the area where the most valuable land is found.
But Cho said the high sales price in the area near Highway 101, El Camino Real and the Caltrain station is a signal to the shift in what buyers are looking for along the Peninsula.
“It is a testament to how real estate is fluid in a way to tastes and preferences of buyers,” she said.
It is also the latest indication of how competitive and expensive the local real estate market is, particularly for single-family homes. Over the first quarter of 2021, the median sales price hit $1.85 million, which is 10% more than the same time last year.
Prices have increased precipitously since January alone, when the median home sales throughout the county was $1.6 million. In January 2020, the median sales price was $1.4 million, according to the SAMCAR reports.
“It’s never been hotter,” said Realtor Joey Oliva, of Marshall Real Estate, sharing a similar perspective to Cho.
The equation is simple, said Oliva — low rates and low inventory combined to drive up competition, causing prices to soar.
What’s more, he said, is the pandemic shuttered many of San Francisco’s most desirable amenities and forced city dwellers to reconsider their quality of life.
“People rethought their priorities and the Peninsula especially benefitted from that,” he said.
The investment surge is not unique to the Bay Area though, according to a report from real estate company CoreLogic claiming the nation’s home price hit a 15-year high in February.
“Homebuyers are experiencing the most competitive housing market we’ve seen since the Great Recession,” Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic said in a prepared statement.
Martell said mortgage rates gradually ticking up over the past few weeks has contributed to the urgency among potential buyers who are looking to seize on a desirable lending environment.
“Rising mortgage rates and severe supply constraints are pushing already-overheated home prices out of reach for some prospective buyers, especially in more expensive metro areas,” he said.
Cho’s clients have faced these same challenges, and she said after reaching the point of exhaustion searching for homes along the Peninsula, many expanded their search to more affordable markets in the East Bay.
And looking ahead to the time of year when the real estate market typically gets most active, Cho projected that there is little relief on the horizon for those frustrated by rising prices.
“It’s going to be a very hot summer,” she said.