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Industry Insights Into The California Real Estate Market From Compass And CoreLogic

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Kamini Lane of Compass West

The real estate markets in Northern and Southern California have never been hotter. Multiple offers and bidding wars define them.   Compass West President Kamini Lane and Selma Hepp Executive, Research & Insights, and Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic (the Irvine-based data analytics company) lend their insights and perspective on these dynamic real estate markets. 

EP: What are the differences between Northern and Southern California markets right now?

Kamini Lane (KL) The markets are more alike than different right now. Both have experienced low inventory, all-time high prices, bidding wars, and a record number of sales. In short, both Northern and Southern California markets are booming.

In Southern California, home sales have increased rapidly in coastal and suburban communities as compared to other close-in communities. Luxury condo sales lagged behind single-family home sales in Northern and Southern California but are starting to pick up again. Demand for more space, which was a large trend observed last year, has remained high throughout the state as many Californians move to homes with more office and outdoor space.

Selma Hepp (SH) While most markets across the country, including California markets, continue to see strong home buyer demand and rapid price acceleration, the main difference between NorCal and SoCal is the inventory. Currently, SoCal markets continue to see inventories below pre-pandemic rates (March 2020). Los Angeles County is about 12% below the levels seen last March.

On the other hand, NorCal markets are seeing more inventories of homes for sale compared to last year’s levels, particularly for condos in San Francisco, although South Bay areas are also seeing higher inventories. East Bay continues to see declines. Nevertheless, despite higher inventories, Bay Area markets see a lot of velocity as buyers are trying to scoop up the newly available inventories which may be priced more favorably than before the pandemic.

EP: As we move into Q2 2021, which is traditionally a strong Spring buying market, do you see any changes in market dynamics?

KL: Throughout California we have seen one continuously strong market since last May, spurred by tremendous demand. Inventory has been slower to come to market as many sellers work to determine their next move and some are hesitant to sell their homes amid the pandemic. The inventory that does enter the market is typically selling very quickly.

It’s likely that this market dynamic will continue throughout the spring and bring with it a very strong spring buying season. Since nothing about 2021 has been normal compared to sales cycles of earlier years, we don’t expect to see traditional market seasonality, but it is possible that summer may cool off, as buyers are able to travel again. Continued work from home and flexibility has slowed the full return of the urban center markets and could continue to affect the commercial market as homebuyers continue to work remotely and reside in more suburban communities.

SH: The spring home buying market will be interesting this year especially as we tend to compare housing market trends to what was a year prior. Given that the housing market came to almost a full stop in April and May, it’s important to keep that in mind when comparing year-over-year trends. Nevertheless, pending trends suggest that home buying demand will remain strong and will even outpace trends we saw in the Spring of 2019 and 2018. There may be some buyer fatigue as buyers see themselves bid out their offers, but we should still have a very strong home buying season and continuation of strong home price acceleration at least through the second half of this year.

EP: What market takeaways do you have for buyers?

KL: This market requires the expertise of a qualified agent who can educate you on the market in your neighborhood, so you have confidence when making decisions and an expert in your corner. Patience is so important. Buyers should put their best foot forward when writing offers. It is important to be prepared when considering a home purchase due to the competitive nature of the market.

Obtaining pre-approvals and having a small surplus of cash on hand for pre-inspections prior to making offers are very helpful. Be prepared to get creative with your offers and have your agent get insight into the terms that will be most attractive to the seller.

SH: I’m sure buyers are feeling frustrated with having to compete with so many others in the market. I think buyers may see fewer bidders as mortgage rates rise and there are more homes on the market – which is something we do expect as more people are vaccinated and baby boomers feel comfortable putting their homes on the market. Also, buyers may want to think about looking at properties that need some renovation as fully renovated homes may be selling at a premium. 

EP: How sustainable is the current market climate in both Northern and Southern California?

KL: Demand has typically exceeded the supply in many Northern California markets over the last few decades. And, Southern California has traditionally been one of the most desirable markets in the country. So, it’s likely that both markets will continue to be strong. That said, I believe we will see less of a frenzy in the market towards the end of the year as people feel more grounded socially, physically, and emotionally.

California is always going to be a popular choice with buyers due to its wide range of employment opportunities including tech and entertainment, paired with its natural beauty and ideal weather.

SH:  While rapid home price appreciation may be concerning and resembling pre-Great Recession era, current market demand is driven by a large cohort of millennials whose timeline may have been accelerated by the pandemic but who would be interested in home purchase anyway. In Northern California, demand has also been bolstered by strong income growth and positive gains in the equity markets which generally tend to drive demand for luxury homes.

 As our home price forecasts suggest, price acceleration will slow in the second half of the year as more buyers are priced out of the market and more inventory is available for sale. Also, local price statistics suggest that home price growth varies across the regions as buyers relocate from denser areas to low-density, suburban areas thus already reflecting interactions between demand and supply.

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Real Estate

13 Tips For Real Estate Investors Crafting An Exit Strategy

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Photos of featured members.

Real estate investors know that not every purchase they make is going to be a win. In a few cases, you’ll end up with a dud, where a property that looked good at first ends up being more trouble than it’s worth once you’ve bought it.

This is why no investor should go into a property purchase agreement without having at least one clear exit strategy defined. To help avoid a bad purchase before it’s too late, 13 experts from Forbes Real Estate Council share critical steps all real estate investors should consider to craft their exit strategy from the moment they start scoping a property out.

1. Understand The Current Financials

It’s important to understand the current financials of the property. From this you can model a multiyear pro forma focusing on the value enhancements you plan for the property. Based upon that model, you can project a valuation for the property at some point in the future. This process should help clarify the investment potential for the property. – Mark Tiefel, Capital Equity Group, Inc.

2. Set Clear Objectives Before Investing

Know your objective before investing in a property and establish your goals for any property you’re considering. This helps identify what success looks like for a property you want to invest in, which will help map out your exit strategy. Committing to a property without a clear objective and “winging it” after you commit to it typically ends up costing a lot of money and time. – Jim Brooks, The Brooks Team – EXP Realty


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3. Consider The Future Buyer Persona 

Know your buyer. Always have the future buyer persona in mind when you are buying an asset. If you know your asset will attract syndicators, for example, then make sure to renovate no more than 50% of the property so you can leave meat on the bone. If you buy a larger asset, you can renovate 100% of it and then sell it to an institutional buyer who normally doesn’t like to execute a value-add plan. – Ellie Perlman, Blue Lake Capital LLC

4. Check Tenant Laws And Sale History

I believe that when purchasing any property, investment or not, you should buy with an exit strategy. Real estate is an investment that is used to create wealth. Look at local tenant laws, development in the area and rental rate history. If new inventory is coming, then rents will decrease. Check sale history for the last five years for trends. – Steven Minchen, Minchen Team/Elevated Living Network, Inc

5. Stress-Test The Deal At Purchase

Any good exit plan starts with stress-testing the deal at purchase. There are many factors in stress-testing a deal but here are a few to consider: 1. Never run out of money, so plan accordingly; 2. Increase the vacancy to at least 25% for the duration of hold and verify that the expenses can still be paid; 3. Increase the exit cap rate by at least 10 basis points per year of hold. – Chris Roberts, Sterling Rhino Capital

6. Plan For The Worst-Case Scenario

Always plan for the worst-case scenario when trying to exit. It’s really that simple. After proper planning and extensive research, determine what the worst-case exit strategy is. If you can stomach the worst-case scenario, then move forward and commit to the property. – Ben Grise, InvestWithBen.com

7. Buy A Property That’s Easy To Sell

Buy a property that will be easy to sell. I prefer single family homes over condos because there is more buyer demand. Homeowners Association dues can also go up as condos get older and/or there can be special assessments for repairs which can make a property harder to sell. Assess the location—does it back to a commercial property or a railroad that may make it hard to sell? Does it have a good floor plan? Be picky! – Kristee Leonard, The Leaders Realty, LLC

8. Have A Multipronged Exit Strategy

Commercial real estate is evolving quickly before our eyes. Having a multipronged exit strategy approach to real estate investment is necessary. Don’t follow the headlines but look for the trend lines. Underwrite an asset traditionally but also underwrite the property in a nontraditional way. Look for one to two scenario analyses considering what happens if a market, sector or demand trend changes quickly. – Jacob Bates, CommonGrounds Workplace

9. Have At Least One ‘Weasel’ Clause

A “weasel” clause is a clause that allows you to exit, even when you’ve made the mistake! Resist the temptation to overdue. You need one. My personal favorite is “subject to the approval of the hard money lender.” Only once in 20+ years have I had to exercise this weasel clause to get out of a deal, but when I did, it was literally 10 minutes before closing. – Sherman Ragland, The Realinvestors®️ Academy, LLC

10. Have Multiple Exit Strategies

Having multiple exit strategies helps protect you from losing money on a deal. If you buy a house to flip but cannot get the price you anticipated to make a profit, if you’re able to rent it out instead, you’ll protect your investment. Unfortunately, if you get in a deal with only one exit strategy and that strategy does not work out, you will find yourself in a risky situation. – Chris Bounds, Invested Agents

11. Check Out Average Days On Market

Find out what the average days on market are for comparable properties throughout the year prior to your purchase. You will then have a good indication of when would be the best month of the year to resell the property for its highest and best price and for the shortest amount of time for an effective emergency exit strategy. – Mor Zucker, Team Denver Homes – RE/MAX Professionals

12. Hire A Home Inspector

Hire an excellent home inspector. These professionals are priceless! Sure, they can alert you to big red flags but they can also point out a lot of “minor issues” to consider. An itemized list will let you know exactly when to exit if a particular task takes more resources than you expected. Feedback from a professional inspector can help you “exit well,” minimizing losses and maximizing gains. – Michael McMullen, Prominence Homes and Communities

13. Remove Emotion From The Equation

Always remove emotion from the equation and perform unbiased, clear-headed due diligence without a lot of rosy scenarios. Be conservative with your valuation and repair estimating—often, investors value too high and underestimate renovation costs. Sometimes the best strategy is to walk away from a deal rather than spending the next several months wasting time and resources on a low-margin deal. – Nick Ron, House Buyers of America

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Digital Mortgage Lender Announces Softbank-Backed SPAC And $7 Billion Valuation

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SoftBank founder and Chief Executive Masayoshi Son invested in Better during his search for 'fast-growing pre-IPO companies'.

The Softbank-backed digital mortgage lender Better announced yesterday its intention to join a SPAC with The Aurora Acquisition Corp., in order to take Better public. The transaction is expected to close in the latter part of 2021. This merger gives Better an implied equity value of approximately $6.9 billion and a post-money equity value of approximately $7.7 billion, as stated in the announcement. 

A subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp., SB Management Limited, will bring $1.5 billion private investment in public equity (PIPE) and Novator Capital, the sponsor of Aurora Corp, will invest $200 million through the same method. Activant Capital, an existing investor in Better, will also participate in the PIPE for an undisclosed sum. 

Only a month ago Softbank invested $500 million in Better, leading to a valuation of $6 billion.

Better’s strong financial footing is no doubt a direct consequence of its success due to the covid pandemic’s double influence of sustained low interest rates over the past year and the need for consumers to be able to close on transactions without having to meet in-person. Last March, when the pandemic’s impact began, Better had a 200% increase in applications compared to February and a total of over $1 billion in closed loans during the month, which is more than the four-year-old company closed for both 2017 and 2018 combined. In all of 2020 they funded $24.2 billion in volume, according to the press release announcing the SPAC. 

Better, which has not been without some controversy, was founded in 2016 by Vishal Garg who was frustrated with the mortgage application process after losing out to a cash buyer when he made an offer on a home. He built the all-digital, multi-product platform to lower costs and speed up the process for buyers. Company marketing materials say their online process allows qualified customers to close in as little as two weeks.

The biggest takeaway from this news is how large the demand will be going forward for real estate transactions to take place in a fully digital manner. The pandemic has shown us that the market can continue with limited need for in-person contact and mortgage lenders of every size will have to improve their digital platforms if they want to stay competitive. The news about Better is only the beginning of a much larger trend.

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How Consolidated, Bundled Real Estate Offers Can Serve Homebuyers

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Close up hand of man signing signature loan document to home ownership. Mortgage and real estate property investment

Amit Haller is the Co-Founder & CEO of Reali, a high-tech, high-touch real estate company founded in 2016. 

When homebuyers make the largest financial decision of their lives, they want the best options that take the pain out of the real estate process. They’re ready to focus on the details that matter most to them — such as settling into their new home — and desire a simplified and streamlined process to get them there. In recent years, that’s come in the form of bundled real estate products, where consumers are eager to combine several steps into one.

At Reali, we’ve also seen this trend emerge across several industries, not just real estate. Bundles have become highly appealing to customers regardless of the complexity of the buying process, including purchase decisions around insurance, home appliances and video game systems. Bundling often means financial savings for consumers, but it also means less stress and time-consuming interactions with nuanced details. Essentially, bundles save time, money, and stress, and that’s exactly what real estate companies should do for customers.

Here are the top trends we’re seeing in 2021:

1. Consumers want to keep it simple.

Complex decisions take more time, and right now, most of us are stretched too thin to think through all of the details. The pandemic, as well as other personal and social concerns, have stretched our capacity to do everything we want to do, including daily activities such as working or running our household. At the same time, people are eager to move into the next phase of their lives, and we’re seeing them begin to move forward by holding their delayed weddings, buying new appliances or investing in a new home. Anything that makes the process simpler will help that transition.

In real estate, homebuying can be one of the most stressful transactions that people complete. They have to worry about real estate brokers, a mortgage, insurance, escrow, inspection and warranties, and all of that can require different companies and experiences to complete the final tasks. Consumers may get lost along the way or miss a critical detail right now as they begin to move toward a “new normal.” 

In an experiment by our partner agency, Next Step, consumers who saw real estate as complex were nearly three times as likely to say that they wanted a bundled experience. They wanted more ease in the process and a smoother experience to get to their end goal. Essentially, bundling can help people to make a decision sooner rather than later, experience less risk and stress — and actually enjoy the decision-making process of buying a home. Any bundled options that real estate companies can provide to free up customers’ time and stress could reduce the barriers for making a decision.

2. Bundling can increase the perceived value.

Homebuyers want the best purchase for their hard-earned dollars, which has become even more prominent in the past year. People have faced tough financial decisions, and many families are rethinking the priorities that they need in a home-work-school space. They’re looking for more value and an all-in-one solution that makes the financial decisions easier and more transparent.

In the Next Step study, people said that, compared to individual product offers, consolidated bundles seemed more valuable, more popular and more preferred than other options, which plays to our psychological needs for belonging and smart decision-making.

Bundles also decreased costs. On average, people can save nearly 16% by bundling homeowners and automotive insurance policies, according to a 2015 Insurance Quotes study. Those who combined condo and car insurance saved about 11%, and those who bundled car and renters insurance had an 8% discount.

Overall, bundling complementary products can lead to a cost-savings of about 8% for consumers, according to a marketing study from Fordham University. In addition, the researchers found, offers that make sense together can create greater consumer happiness, which is the ultimate goal. For real estate companies, this could mean pairing mortgage options with insurance options or legal services.

3. Consolidated offers can facilitate the decision-making process.

Customers have told us that the decision-making process seems more complex than ever. People have easy access to products and services across the country — even across the world — and that can lead to analysis paralysis when deciding on the best option. We’ve found that bundles can help people make those decisions, particularly in complex service industries.

For instance, in a 2019 Accenture survey of 47,000 consumers, half said they were interested in bundled services in healthcare, home security, car care, personal finance management and homebuying. In real estate in particular, they voiced a need for end-to-end homebuying services, including advice on finding a new home, securing a mortgage, using legal services, buying insurance, and getting help with the moving process.

Ongoing survey data show that this trend has been increasing in recent years and became more popular throughout last year in particular. In the insurance industry, for example, consumers said they were seeking bundles so they could make better decisions and experience greater value from their options.

In fact, a 2020 survey by Deloitte found that consumers said offering non-insurance products was the most important factor when choosing an insurance provider. They said it added value and created an extension of the core products, so consumers wanted to buy them. In real estate, this requires rethinking the conventions around what products to include and creating innovative options.

Ultimately, we need to keep consumers in mind when considering the best ways to serve them in the homebuying experience. Their concerns come out loud and clear, with a need for simpler decisions, a smoother decision-making process and bundled packages that increase the value of their purchasing power. Real estate leaders should step up to provide these consolidated offers to clients and guide them along the successful path to homeownership.


Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?


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