The three most important things in real estate may be shifting from "location, location, location" to "season, season, season."
Time of year has traditionally influenced the decision to both buy and sell homes. There are typically more homes on the market during the spring and early summer when most schools are out of session. Homes for sale drop in the fall with the return to school and the winter holidays.
The Pleasanton real estate market during the last half of 2018 is bucking this tradition.
As of the end of September, the total number of homes listed for sale in Pleasanton since the beginning of the year was almost 10% more than the same period during 2017. This is a significant change given how stable the supply of homes has been in Pleasanton for the last four years.
Equally interesting is when this increase in homes for sale occurred during the year. Starting in July, the number of homes on the market was significantly more than July 2017. This trend continued in August and September.
Given the limited supply of homes for sale in Pleasanton, any increase is seen as a sign of a changing market. But in this case, more homes for sale doesn't mean more homes are selling.
"Like in other communities, more inventory is cooling the market just a little," said Tim Ambrose, 2018 president of the Bay East Association of Realtors.
This chill is felt in the number of homes sold.
As inventory was increasing starting in July, the number of homes sold started to drop. In all, 75 single-family homes sold during July, 65 in August and 50 in September. The seasonal nature of real estate -- kids heading back to school -- was certainly a factor.
Another change is the amount of time a home is on the market. The average days-on-market for a single-family home being sold in Pleasanton during 2018 is 20 days. However, in August a home was on the market an average of 23 days and in September it was 27 days.
Ambrose believes more inventory coupled with fewer, slower sales, sends a message to sellers. "It's a conversation we have to have with our sellers to adjust their expectations," he said. "For example, sellers receiving seven to 10 offers at over asking price won't be as often as it was in the past."
Sales prices certainly contributes to more homes on the market along with fewer homes actually selling. The median sales price for a single-family detached home during the first nine months of 2018 was $1,285,000, making Pleasanton the second most expensive real estate market -- behind Danville -- in the Tri-Valley.
This is the third year in a row where sales prices have exceeded $1 million. Yet prices, as with homes sold, are trending downward. During September, the median sales price was $1.29 million, which is $36,000 less than September 2017 and $126,000 less than August 2018.
Even with these year-to-year and month-to-month changes in sales prices, a million-dollar price-tag typically equates to a larger down payment and mortgage. Mortgage interest rates are rising, and while they are still relatively low, even a modest increase can result in a much larger monthly payment on a million-dollar loan.
Ambrose put these changes into perspective, saying, "Rates are going to play a role in Pleasanton and surrounding communities. A lot will depend on how great of an increase the feds will raise the rates. That being said, there is always a buyer out there if your home is priced right."