Towards the end of last year, all the talk was about the real estate market softening, with buyers being more cautious, and a greater supply of listings for sale.  Lately, though, the talk is more about big upcoming tech IPOs, and the influx of cash and purchasing power they’re likely to bring to the market.

Looking back at the annual data for 2018 in the hills, the median sold price was $1,380,000, which is up 5% from the 2017.  The average sold price per square foot was up even more, by 8% from the previous year, at $724.

The general talk about the market wasn’t wrong, though. There were a few more active properties — 205 in 2018, compared to 197 in 2017 — and somewhat fewer sales —167 compared to 179 in 2017.  The amount of time that properties spent on the market in 2018 was the same as the previous year, about 3 weeks on average.  Overall, 2018 was a good year for the local real estate market, but not quite as hot as the last few years.

The real question is, what’s going to happen this year, in 2019?  Looking at winter quarter sales (December 2018 – February 2019) is not a perfect market indicator, because the winter season is the slowest time of the year, but there is some information there.

Over the winter, the median sold price in the Berkeley hills was $1,283,000.  This is a good bit lower than the median for 2018 as a whole, and it’s also down by 6% from the fall, and by 7% from the previous winter.  However, looking further at the data is reassuring, because the average sold price per square foot ($784) was up from both the fall season (by 9%), and from the previous winter (by 21%). Reconciling these two bits of information (median sold price down, average price per square foot up) is the fact that this winter season had more sales of smaller homes.  The average square footage of the sold properties this winter was only 1957, compared to 2229 last winter.  Smaller homes tend to sell for lower prices, but for more per square foot.

Overall, this winter wasn’t bad, and so far this spring, the local market continues to be quite solid.  We’ll see how much of that IPO money ends up in Berkeley as the year progresses.