The holiday season is so many things: festive, delightful, stressful, exciting, restful, exhausting, exhilarating — almost any adjective will apply at some moment during the roller coaster ride of fun and family that make up the two weeks where the kids are off school, the tree is up, the lights are gleeful, the cookies are warm from the oven, and life as we know it comes to a screeching halt.  Or at least it moves at a far slower pace, since most of us take time off work and enjoy the festivities.

Sellers often wonder “is there any point to having my house on the market in December?”  After all, I just said life comes to a halt.  But that’s life outside of real estate, it seems.  I always tell sellers that they should enjoy their holidays and consider their comfort first.  It’s no fun to have buyers trekking through your house while you are baking pies or hosting a gift exchange.  But if there is no inconvenience for a seller, then it’s a wonderful time to have your house listed because the serious buyers are out there.

In fact, my off-market listing on Alamo Way ( went pending on Christmas Eve.  11 other listings in Alamo went pending in December, whereas only 9 went pending in November.  In Danville: 46 homes went pending in each November and December.

Maybe you are wondering, as I was — how does this compare with the pending sales in other months?  I just went month by month and counted the sales: not closed deals, but rather when the property pended.  This will tell us when buyers are making their offers and getting into contract, rather when their moving trucks are pulling up.  If you are trying to determine the best time to list your house, don’t use closed sales as stats.  There is generally a 30-day escrow period, often longer and sometimes shorter, but the more pertinent detail to consider is when the homes go off-market as a pending sale.

After I counted the sales, I referred to my weekly inventory stats (I capture the current inventory number every weekend), and tried to determine the percentage of sales within the available homes.  This is less than a perfect calculation because the inventory changes throughout the month.  For example, in January the year opened with 23, but by January 18th there were 31 homes on the market, and the month closed with 28.  I tried to take an average, but in general, these numbers should provide a glimpse into the competitiveness of the market, for both buyers and sellers.

SALES 10 16 17 21 31 21 22 17 19 18 9 11
INVENTORY 27 37 48 57 63 63 60 65 63 62 52 39
  37% 43% 35% 37% 49% 33% 37% 26% 30% 29% 17% 28%

It will be interesting to see if 2016 follows the same patterns as 2015 and 2014.  So far, I’m surprised to see similar inventory numbers to start the year.  Check out today’s inventory, compared with last year.  Remarkably similar numbers.  In fact, since 2013, the year has opened in a similar fashion and our inventory has been low ever since.

January 1st   2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
ALAMO   24 23 29 25 62
DANVILLE   41 48 43 44 138
BLACKHAWK   27 21 17 27 26
SAN RAMON   34 33 29 23 126
DUBLIN   25 36 50 26 68
PLEASANTON   40 33 31 29 124
WALNUT CREEK   25 30 43 43 124
LAFAYETTE   12 12 24 15 38
ORINDA   9 11 15 15 23
PLEASANT HILL   11 20 25 11 43
ANTIOCH   85 163 116 56 197

I was showing property today and my buyer wondered what I expected to see in the market considering the rising interest rates.  It’s a great question, and my crystal ball is foggy.  My best guess is that 2016 will be similar to 2015: another strong market, but with prices stabilizing.

It’s been a lovely holiday break, but now it’s time to get back to work and see what 2016 will bring to our real estate world.  Happy New Year!