There’s good news for those homeowners who survived the recession and have spent the past several years hoping to see home values rise again.
Napa County home prices rebounded in 2013, increasing 27.7 percent from 2012 levels, according to Bay Area Real Estate Information Services.
The median home price for a Napa County home rose to $454,500, compared to $355,750 in 2012. Homes sold faster as well. Homes spent an average of 89 days on the market in 2013, compared to 118 in 2012.
With the foreclosure crisis winding down, the number of distressed property sales in 2013 declined to just 11.7 percent of the market, compared to 25.66 percent in 2012.
“There are very few short sales” and bank-owned properties for sale now, said Randy Gularte of Heritage Sotheby’s International Realty. With those distressed properties removed from the market, “Now it’s a matter of a normal buyer/seller market,” he said.
Unlike during the pre-recession era of 100 percent financing loans, Gularte said today’s buyer “has skin in the game.” “Qualified buyers are buying houses. I think it will help us solidify the market.”
San Francisco broker Jeff Appenrodt of Laurel Realty, who recently hosted an open house for a home in the Napa Yacht Club, said he has many clients from San Francisco and the Bay Area who want to buy in Napa.
The broker said buyers are drawn to any property close to city areas such as Napa or St. Helena, and with enough space for grapes, whether for aesthetic or business reasons.
“I have a client in San Francisco who is buying all kinds of property in Napa,” he said. That client has purchased somewhere around $5 to $6 million of property in the past six months, both land and homes, he said. “That area is on the rise” and his clients are looking to buy, said Appenrodt.
He held an open house for a residence on South Newport Drive that is listed for $715,000. “We’ve had it open for two Sundays now,” he said, but “no offers yet.”
The home, while recently renovated, is not located on the water. “If it was on the water, we could sell it 10 times over,” he said.
Realtor Bill Keller of Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley said January was a busy month for him. He attributes that to the warm and dry weather which encouraged people to be out home shopping.
And with interest rates staying low, “I see room for prices to increase in 2014,” said Keller. "Not quite a much as 2013, but maybe 10 to 12 percent this year.”
Tristin Bruno, a Realtor with Real Property Advisors, recently hosted an open house for a home on Leann Court in west Napa priced at $595,000. More than 30 groups of potential buyers visited her open house , she said.
The Leann Court home was listed on Feb. 10. She expects to sell it within the next week or two, said Bruno. At that price, she believes the home could be an option for a move-up buyer, something that was not as likely several years ago when many homeowners were underwater in their mortgage loans.
Today’s homeowner is more likely to have regained equity. “They have enough equity to make a down payment on that next property,” she said.
Richard Peterson of Pacific Union International, Inc. said he expects prices to appreciate about five percent in 2014.
“All indications are that home prices will continue to rise although not as steeply as last year,” Peterson said. “Nice homes that are listed at a good price will continue to go fast.”
“We are seeing fewer all cash offers,” he noted. “We’re seeing fewer investors buying up properties because they are getting priced out.”
Lani Cooke of Heritage Sotheby’s International Realty recently hosted an open house on Tokay Drive. The four-bedroom home with three-car garage is priced at $735,000.
“Four-bedroom houses are always a big hit and have a lot of demand,” she said.
Her listing has only been on the market 15 days, “but we are getting good activity. I wouldn’t be surprised if it sells in the next week.”
Homes that are priced well “are going quickly,” Cooke said, “certainly within 30 days. If they sit longer than that it’s usually because they are priced too high.”
Cooke also said that the condo market has picked up. “The prices are surprising me,” she said.
Cooke said she’s seen condos that were priced in the high $200,000 range in 2013 now selling in the mid-to-high $300,000 range. “There is nice, healthy appreciation in the condo market.”