Your Big Bear Lakefront Real Estate Blog

An up-to-date resource for lakefront market reports, news, and infomation...

July 25, 2019

2019 Big Bear Lakefront Update

With summer in full swing and the first big heatwave of the year expected to hit the Southland this weekend, I figured now is as good as a time as any to check in on the Big Bear lakefront real estate market.

After 2018 ended up as the worst year for lakefront sales since the Big Bear MLS began keeping electronic records in 2002, with the lake filling up over 9 feet due to a wet and snowy winter, expectations were that the lakefront market would bounce back significantly.

So let's take a look...

Let's start with sales.

 

Note that so far in 2019, we have almost matched the number of lakefront sales from all of last year. Looking at the figure below, with what are typically our busiest months for lakefront sales still ahead, I would expect to see sales at least double before year's end. 

So sales have bounced back to a more normal level, but not a remarkable level (as of yet) like we saw in 2005 when the lake filled up over 15 feet and 2012 when the lake was full to the point that water was spilling over the top of the dam.

Now let's take a look at Big Bear lakefront home values.

While 2018 was a year when mostly smaller, shallow-water homes sold at a huge discount as sellers feared another dry winter would negatively affect their home values further, we've seen prices bump back up to a more typical range this year. 2019 has seen a couple 2M dollar plus sales already whereas the highest price sale in 2018 was only $1,125,000. So we're back to seeing a more normal distribution of sales among price ranges resulting in more accurate average and median price numbers.

Price per square foot measures of lakefront homes has remained constant in the mid-$400 level, typical of the last few years. Not much change here which suggests that although the average and median sales prices fell in 2018, lakefront home values have actually stayed relatively stable.

Next, let's look at how long it is taking lakefront homes to sell.

Another bright spot this year is that lakefronts are spending less time on market before selling. Interestingly, the average number of days on market of currently listed properties is 255. This supports the belief that lakefront homes that are priced right are selling quickly while others are spending much longer on market, with many others never selling at all..

Taking into account these current market conditions, Big Bear lakefronts have seen the bounce back we expected. Up to this point, it's been a good recovery, but not a spectacular one. With summer hitting its stride and with what are typically our busiest months ahead of us for lakefront sales, I remain optimistic that the lakefront market will go from good to great before year's end.

 

 

July 10, 2019

Second Quarter Big Bear Homes Sales Show Continuing Strong Market

Because the Big Bear Real Estate market is a relatively small one, I often look to the quarterly sales figures for more accurate guidance as to market conditions. Monthly sales figures can be deceptive as there are sometimes too few sales to get a true picture of the market conditions. Just a few very high end or low end sales can sway the data significantly. Looking at quarterly numbers give us a larger sample size and more relevant numbers to work with.

On that note, here's an historical look at the number of Big Bear homes that have sold each quarter.

Big Bear Homes Sold

You can see from this figure how sales trend up each summer and drop into the slower winter months. Comparing the second quarter sales of this year to the last 5 years, you will see that although 2017 was higher and 2018 was lower, over time, we are right about average over the past 5 years. So sales remain stable.

Here's a look at the average and median sales price and price per square foot of Big Bear homes.

Big Bear home prices 

big bear homes price per square foot

Although the price measures of Big Bear homes trend up and down regularly over time, the overall trend of both sales prices and the price per square foot measures are still moving in the positive direction. Prices are continuing to appreciate well into their 8th year of consistent gains.

Here's a look at the number of listings and months of inventory.

Big Bear hone listings

Not unlike sales, Big Bear home listings trend upward in the summer and hit their bottom in the winter months. Currently, we have slightly fewer listings than we had last year and far fewer than the at the market's bottom in 2011. 

Big Bear home months of inventory

This figure shows Months of Inventory which is derived by dividing the number of listings for a specific month by the number of sales for that month. It results in a theoretical number of months it would take for every listing to sell if sales remained constant and if no new listings came on the market. 

A typical market has about 5 to 6 months of inventory, so the Big Bear real estate market is at a healthy balance between a buyer's market and seller's market currently.

Lastly, let's look at mortgage interest rates.

mortgage rates

This figure shows the significant rise in interest rates we saw from late 2017 to the end of 2018. 2019 has seen a welcomed drop in rates from almost 5% to solidly under 4%. This 1%+ drop in rates actually translates into an almost 10% gain in a buyer's purchase power. Near it's historical low, buyers are in a unique position to take advantage of these amazing interest rates.

With Big Bear home sales steady, home values continuing to appreciate, and near record low mortgage rates, the Big Bear real estate market continues to be bullish. Although there has been a lot of talk about uncertainty in all financial markets, there are no indicators that Big Bear's real estate market is anything but solid through the foreseeable future.

Posted in Market Reports
May 8, 2019

April 2019 Year-To-Date Big Bear Real Estate Numbers Show Continued Appreciation and Strong Market Conditions

Big Bear home sales are up 18% so far in 2019 with 364 closing through the end of April. This uptick in sales may be attributed to lower interest rates and a busy winter season due to above average snowfall and the subsequent 9 foot rise in Big Bear Lake's water level.

The average sale price of Big Bear homes has also risen 1% to $353,645 while the median sale price is up 2% to $295,000.

The average price per square foot of sold Big Bear homes this year is up 3% to $247 and the median price per square foot is up 5% to $240.

As well, Big Bear homes are selling faster this year with the average Days On Market dropping from 104 days to 99 days and the median days on market dropping from 99 days to 67 days.

Heading into our busiest time of year for home sales, the inventory of homes for sale remains about 10% lower than last year with there currently being 400 home listings in Big Bear.

With increased sales and fewer listings, the law of supply and demand suggests that prices will continue to rise. Additionally, Big Bear Lake's water levels are at their highest point in the past 5 years, so I would expect buyer demand to become even stronger as visitors escape to Big Bear for their summer vacations. As a result, I expect the Big Bear real estate market to remain strong through the foreseeable future fueled by Big Bear's increasing popularity, good economic conditions, and historically low interest rates. 

 

Posted in Market Reports
April 3, 2019

March 2019 Big Bear Real Estate Market Report

March sales numbers show mixed signs while the year-to-date numbers suggest a stable market with continued price appreciation.

After two months of increased sales, March 2019 saw a 15% dip in sales as compared to sales from last March. Although sales slowed, the average sales price was up 6.5% and the median rose 3.2% this March to $379,115 and $310,000 respectively. Meanwhile, the average and median prices per square foot dropped slightly sliding 3% and 2% to $239 and $236 respectively.

The average Days On Market rose slightly from 96 days to 114 days while the median rose from 54 days to 94 days. The sales price to list price ratio dropped over 1% from 98.36% to 97.22%.

On a year-to-date comparison, we have seen Big Bear home sales stay stable so far this year, dropping only 1%. Meanwhile, the average and median sales prices are up 5% and 1% to $367,536 and $299,000 respectively. The average and median prices per square foot are up 1.5% and 2.5% to $243 and $235 respectively.

The Days On Market measure has risen slightly from 99 days to 106 days while the median rose from 71 days to 85 days.

As the figure below shows, 30 year mortgage rates have settled down close to 4% after almost hitting 5% last November. With rates dropping to the 4% benchmark, I would expect the market to remain strong through the foreseeable future.

30 year mortgage rates

From a local perspective, Big Bear Lake's water level rose almost 9 feet this winter and the new ownership of our local mountain resorts has continued to develop the resort area adding more trails, outdoor activities, and summer programs. These factors are likely to continue the increased visitorship that we've seen over the last few summers. And more visitors to Big Bear means more prospective home buyers to the Big Bear Valley!

 

Posted in Market Reports
March 7, 2019

February 2019 Big Bear Real Estate Numbers

Sales of Big Bear homes were up almost 10% this February with 72 closings as compared to 66 closings in February 2018.

We saw conflicting direction on prices with the average sale price increasing 10% to $372,421 while the median sale price went down 10% to $297,500. We saw more concurrence with the price per square foot measures with the average price per square foot rising 2% to $245 and the median price per square foot rising 10% to $246.

The average days on market stayed the same at 104 while the average sale price to list price ratio dropped slightly from 98% to 97%.

Looking at the Big Bear real estate market from a year-to-date perspective, sales are up 7% so far in 2019 with 150 Big Bear home sales in the books for this year. This is a welcomed change from the 20% drop in sales we saw overall last year! 

As well, prices are up across the board with the average and median sales prices rising 5.5% and 5% to $363,130 and $293,500 respectively. The average and median prices per square foot rose as well by 5% and 4% to $245 and $234 respectively.

With a strong start to 2019, mortgage rates settling back down to the low 4% range, and with this year's particularly snowy and wet winter not only bringing a record number of visitors to our valley, but also bringing the lake's water levels up over 6 feet so far, I would imagine we will continue to see steady growth in the Big Bear real estate market through the foreseeable future.

Posted in Market Reports
Feb. 4, 2019

2018 Big Bear Lakefront Real Estate Report

With Big Bear Lake's water levels at a 50-year low, lakefront sales were exceptionally slow in 2018 with only 12 closings - a record low since at least 2002 when electronic records started being kept. 

For an overall perspective of the 2018 Lakefront market, let's start with an historical perspective of Big Bear Lake's water levels over the past 50 years.

Big Bear Lake water levels

Although Big Bear Lake's water levels seem to have a somewhat predictable pattern of ups and downs over the last 50 years, prospective lakefront buyers were more hesitant than usual to commit to purchasing last year.

 

The result of this buyer hesitance was a significant slowdown in sales. Below you can see that 2018 was the slowest year for lakefront sales in over a decade.

Big Bear Lakefront Hoem Sales

To access e-flyers to all the lakefront homes that sold in 2018, click here: 2018 SOLD LAKEFRONTS 

Not unexpectedly, the slowdown in sales meant the average days on market increased, with it taking 226 days on average for the lakefronts that closed in 2018 to sell.

Big Bear Lakefront Days on Market

 

Lastly, there were several economic reasons for the slowdown in sales. The new tax laws limited the deductions on property tax and mortgage interest. As well, mortgage interest rates on a 30-year fixed loan rose significantly from a 2016 low of about 3.5% to a height of almost 5% in 2018. Fortunately, the Federal Reserve did not raise rates in January and mortgage rates have actually decreased once again to about 4.5%. That being said, higher interest rates usually have a negative effect on sales.

 

Due to the lack of sales, the average and median sales price numbers plummeted this past year. However, in taking a closer look at the 12 individual lakefront sales, you'll see this drop off can be explained and is not indicative of overall lakefront home values. Take a look below at the historical record of lakefront prices.

Big Bear Lakefront home prices 2018

On a whole, the precipitous drop in the average and median sales prices might suggest that lakefronts in general lost nearly half their values last year. But when you look at the individual lakefront sales more closely, you see that the majority of sales were smaller, less expensive, and generally shallow water homes that were largely affected by the lake levels.

Many of these lakefronts had docks that were beached and would need to see a substantial rise in the lake's water levels before offering lake access. These sales often represented sellers motivated to get out of the market quickly after spending some time listed at higher prices, but ultimately deciding to sell at a discount. On the other side of these transactions were buyers looking to invest in anticipation of significant price appreciation when the lake's water level eventually comes back up.

To see the extent to which lakefront sellers lowered their list prices in order to get sold, take a look at the figure below showing the sales price to original list price ratio.

Big Bear Lakefront Real Estate Sales price to list price

In 2018, lakefront home owners came down off their original list price an unprecedented 26% to arrive at their eventual negotiated sales price. As one would expect, these motivated sellers were another factor that contributed to the unusually low average and median sales prices in 2018.

Lastly, 2018 saw a significant slow down in higher-end home sales which further skewed the average and median sales price numbers lower. The most expensive of the 12 homes to sell in 2018 was sold at $1,125,000.

In 2017, there were 10 sales over this amount, including three sales over $2M and two sales over $3M. Some of the absence of high-end lakefront sales was due to the lake's water levels, but there was also a lack of competitively priced high-end lakefront homes listed for sale as well. Regardless, fewer high end sales resulted in a much lower average sale price.

Ultimately, I feel the price per square foot measure below offers a better perspective of lakefront home values.

Big Bear Lakefronts Price Per Square Foot

From a price per square foot perspective, you can see a relatively stable trend around $450/sf over the past five years. With the exception of shallow water lakefronts, I think that lakefront home values stayed relatively constant in 2018 in light of slowing sales.

 

In summary, sales of Big Bear lakefronts lagged in 2018. This can be attributed to Big Bear Lake's water levels hitting a 50-year low, rising interest rates, and limitation on mortgage and property tax deductions.

The average and median sales prices dropped almost 50%, but this can be simply explained by many smaller, shallow water lakefronts selling at a discount price along with a lack of sales in the higher end price ranges. More accurately, the median and average price per square foot of lakefronts stayed relatively constant at about $450 per square foot.

Looking forward, guessing what the market will do in 2019 is difficult to say the least. From a buyer's perspective, the slowdown in sales may be an opportunity to purchase a lakefront with sellers pricing their homes more aggressively in an uncertain market before the market turns upwards again. Conversely, current lakefront owners may have the opportunity to realize the gains of the past 8 years by selling at what might be the market's peak.

Regardless of market forces, we have had one of our busier winter seasons as more and more visitors are discovering what a special place Big Bear is. With the continuing development of our local resorts and village area, Big Bear's appeal continues to grow. This bodes well for Big Bear real estate through the near future and hopefully well beyond!

 

Paul Zamoyta ~ 909.557.8285 ~ Info@Zamoyta.com

 

No other agent has represented more buyers or sellers of

Big Bear lakefront homes in the past 5 years.

 

 

 

Jan. 17, 2019

BIG BEAR HOME SALES ~ 2018 YEAR IN REVIEW

With 2018 a few weeks behind us now, let's review how last year's Big Bear home sales fared. Here's a look at the numbers followed by a summary of where the Big Bear real estate market has been and where it might be headed.

 

BIG BEAR HOME SALES

First, let's start with the number of Big Bear homes that sold. Below is a yearly comparison of the number of Big Bear homes sold and a figure showing the percentage change in Big Bear home sales from the previous year.

Big Bear Home Sales - 2018

Big Bear Home Sales

You'll see from the figures above that Big Bear home sales dropped 22% in 2018, but that's in comparison to an exceptional 2017. From a longer term perspective, 2018 sales were almost on par with 2015 and 2016 sales, representing what we would expect in a more normal market.

 

BIG BEAR HOME PRICES

Take a look at the history of average and median sales prices followed by the annual percentage of change in prices from the previous year.

2018 Big Bear Home Prices

Although sales adjusted back to a more normal level, the average and median sales prices of Big Bear homes continued to rise. We saw the average and median sales prices increase 3% and 8% respectively in 2018.

This trend can be seen in the price per square foot measures too.

Big Bear homes price per square foot 2018

2018 saw an 8% and 10% rise in the average and median sales prices respectively. So prices continued to rise last year in light of slowing sales.

 

DAYS ON MARKET

Next, let's look at how quickly Big Bear homes sold in 2018.

2018 Days On Market Big Bear Homes

The figure above shows that homes sold quicker in 2018 than at any time in the last 5 years, posting the lowest median and average days on market since 2013. In a period of slowing sales, homes spending less time on market suggest more aggressive pricing on behalf of sellers.

 

HOME INVENTORY

The average numbers of homes for sale rose slightly last year, but were still historically quite low.

This slight rise in the average number of listing is likely due to the slow down in home sales. But as previously mentioned, inventory in 2018 remained close to a 10 year low.

 

MORTGAGE RATES

Interest rates rose through most of 2018, but had a welcomed drop towards year's end.

 

mortgage rates

You can see that rates bottomed out in 2016 at about 3.5% and then peaked in November close to 5%. Rates have settled back down since to the 4.5% range.

 

IN SUMMARY

Putting it all together, 2018 saw a drop in the number of Big Bear home sales but all other real estate measures were in positive territory.

The slow down in sales can be attributed to many different factors. After 7 years of price gains, affordability is starting to challenge some buyers. New tax laws limit mortgage and property tax deductions making home ownership somewhat less advantageous from a tax perspective. Mortgage rates have risen from 3.5% to 4.5%, which represents about 12% increase in payments on an average priced Big Bear home. 

Although all these factors were likely the reason for slower sales, some industry pundits feel that after the initial negative effects of the increased interest rates and tax implications, these factors will become "the new normal" and have less impact on sales moving forward. (Conversely and anecdotally, I have had a few clients claim they were buying now before interest rates go higher. So in some instances, rising rates are encouraging sales!)

If there's one thing I've learned over decades of working, owning, and investing in real estate, it is that no one can predict with any certainty what the market will do. However, based on the overall strong market numbers from 2018, with a healthy level of buyer demand and relatively low supply of homes for sale, and with rising interest rates seeming to have slowed and remain at historically low levels, I am optimistic that 2019 will be another bullish year for Big Bear real estate.

 

 

Posted in Market Reports
Dec. 12, 2018

Just the Facts About Big Bear Lake's Fluctuating Water Levels

With the overall health of Big Bear's economy in large part revolving around the overall health of Big Bear Lake, those of us interested and invested in Big Bear real estate like to keep a close eye on the lake's water levels. In a year in which the lake's water levels have fallen to their lowest point in over 50 years, it seems like more misinformation and uninformed prognostications than usual have crept into the various narratives surrounding the past, present, and future of Big Bear Lake.

So I wanted to share some historical information about the lake and dispel some of the more common myths surrounding Big Bear Lake's water levels.

Being that a picture is worth a thousand words, let's start with taking a look at this figure of 50 years of water level measurements of Big Bear Lake taken in the month of December. (Source: Big Bear Municipal Water District Lake Measurements)

 

Big Bear Lake's Water Levels - 50 Year History 

 

Although the lake is at it's lowest point in over 50 years, there has been a fairly regular pattern of ups and downs of water levels over time. Also of note from this graph, it appears that when Mother Nature does decide to show up, the lake fills quite quickly, often in the course of just one winter and following spring.

There is certainly no guarantee that this pattern will continue. But we all know that history has a way of repeating itself, and if that ends up being the case, we are due for a refill of the lake quite soon. 

With this history in perspective, let's take a look at some of the most common misconceptions revolving around Big Bear Lake's water levels. (Source: Big Bear Municipal Water Department - Fact or Fiction)

 

WATER BEING TAKEN FOR SNOWMAKING IS DRAINING THE LAKE.

FALSE - The truth is that snowmaking takes only about 3.5 inches from the lake with about half of this returning to the lake as spring snow melt.

 

THE LAKE IS LOW BECAUSE WATER IS RELEASED TO FARMERS DOWN THE HILL.

FALSE - The truth is that the lake district has been purchasing water off the hill to satisfy contractual obligations. This helps keep more water in our lake!

 

THE LAKE IS LOW BECAUSE OF CONSTANT WATER RELEASES.

FALSE - Yes, there is a mandate that a certain amount of water be released constantly from the dam for environmental reasons. But this only accounts for about 2 inches of lake level each year. In perspective, annual evaporation accounts for about 3.5 feet of surface loss!

 

THE LAKE IS AT ITS LOWEST POINT EVER!

FALSE - The truth is that the lake was 51 feet down in 1956, BEFORE the Lake District was formed to help manage water levels. It is because the Big Bear Municipal Water District was formed that we are able to keep devastating lake levels like these from occurring again!

 

With the lake's water level having risen 4 inches in the just last few weeks, I am hoping this is just the beginning of what will end up being one of those winters in which our lake will look remarkably different come spring time. But don't get complacent! Keep doing those snow dances so Mother Nature knows how badly you want a very white (preferable) or wet (we'll take what we can get) winter! 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec. 6, 2018

Keeping the Sales Drop In Perspective

I received a comment regarding the extent of the drop in sales of Big Bear homes. A reader was startled that there were 36% fewer sales this November as compared to last November and felt this might be a portent of a significant market change. There is no doubt that after 8 years of a bull market in Big Bear real estate that the market is shifting. But will the market "crash" like in 2008 - 2010? Let's look at the numbers to put things in perspective.

Here's a graph that shows the rate that Big Bear home sales have slowed. Because sales are seasonal in Big Bear, I compared the sales from a particular month to sales from that month from the previous year.

Big Bear Home Sales Change Per Mont

 

Solely looking at this graph, you would think that the shift in the Big Bear real estate market suggests a dramatic drop might be happening. But let's put the sales for the year in perspective by looking at a longer trend shown by this other graph. (I projected the sales for 2018 through the end of the year. Being that we're in December, it should be a quite accurate estimate.)

 

 

Considering this longer term look, we see that 2017 was an exceptional year for sales and that his year's drop brings our market back to where things were in the strong recovery years of 2015 and 2016.

Ultimately, it's no secret that the market is shifting. But there are two factors which suggest we are reverting back to a more normal market rather than towards a significant market drop: interest rates have risen but are still at historically low levels, and the supply of homes for sale is still low which suggests prices should continue to rise, albeit perhaps at a slower rate. So long as rates stay low and the number of homes for sale stay low, the market will retain its stability. There are no other known market conditions, like the sub-prime loans in 2008, that would suggest a more exaggerated shift may be happening. A reversion to the norm is a much more likely prognosis for the Big Bear real estate market.

With our second winter storm moving through the area today, we should see a lot more activity in the real estate market as many holiday visitors will become Big Bear home buyers. I hope this will result in a jump in the sales numbers and a strong start in 2019!

Posted in Market Reports
Dec. 5, 2018

Big Bear Real Estate - November Sales Report

In a November same month comparison, sales of Big Bear homes continued to slow down to 2015 and 2016 levels after a banner year in 2017. Although Big Bear home sales were down by about a third, prices continued to rise.

This November, the average and median sales prices were up 7% and 4% to $346,807 and $285,000 as compared to November 2016. The average and median prices per square foot were also up 3% and 6% to $239 and $234. The average days on market dropped from 120 to 103 while the median days on market stayed even at 85.

Looking at year-to date numbers, through the first 11 months of 2017, sales are down 21% bringing them back to 2016 levels, but prices have continued to rise nonetheless. The average and median sales prices are up 5% and 10% to $339,164 and $289,000 while the average and median prices per square foot were also up 9% and 10% to $242 and $236. The average days on market dropped from 108 to 91 and the median dropped from 74 to 63.

The number of Big Bear homes for sale is higher than last year at this time, but still at a low level historically. Interest rates seemed to have leveled off after rising throughout the year.

Perhaps the best market news is that our local ski resorts were open for Thanksgiving and we've had two good snowstorms so far this year. The lake rose 3 inches last week and is likely to rise more this week. With Big Bear's economy depending largely on ski conditions and a healthy lake, these storms bode well for the upcoming Holiday Season as well as the fast approaching New Year!

Posted in Market Reports