Market Update

An underrated metric & slumping volume

December 12, 2018

There’s a stat that doesn’t get much love. It’s not sexy, nobody really writes about it in the newspapers, and most people don’t even know what it is. But it’s really important because it helps us tell how hot or cool the market is. I’m talking about the sales to list price ratio. Oops, did I lose you? I know, a topic like this sounds painful, but let’s consider why this actually matters. Then if you’re interested I have a huge local market update below to discuss slumping volume and slowing momentum. Any thoughts?

What is it? The sales price to original list price ratio is one of the best ways to gauge the temperature of the market. It’s the relationship between the final sales price and the original list price, and it’s expressed as a percentage.

If we only had one stat: We could likely get a pretty good understanding of how hot or cold a market is based on this metric alone. So without looking at price, inventory, or sales volume, if we simply saw a market had a 100% sales to original list price ratio, it tells us properties on average are selling for what they listed for. That’s a sign the market is hot or at least buyers are willing to pay what sellers are putting out there.

When we see this ratio moving up or down, it helps us get an idea of what the market is doing. For instance, over the past six months the sales price to original list price ratio has declined in Sacramento County, which tells us the gap has been growing between what sellers are asking and what they are actually getting. The most recent ratio is 96%, and that means on average properties are selling 4% lower than their original list price. That’s a powerful stat, right?

Not being anal, but ORIGINAL matters: It can make a huge difference if we’re looking at the original list price or the most recent list price.

Looking at the most recent list price makes it seem like the market isn’t cooling all that much. After all, a 99% sales to list price ratio still sounds pretty good. Yet this stat hides the real trend that properties on average are actually selling 4% lower than their original price. Thus if we’re not careful we can totally misunderstand the market despite good intentions. That’s sobering, right?

The “Bubble” years:

Right now 96% feels dull, but imagine 87%. Yikes!

Action Step: With so much talk about the market softening these days, it’s a good idea to pay attention to lots of different metrics – and especially the sales to original list price ratio. Keep in mind if the ratio isn’t available through MLS, it can always be run manually by dividing the final sales price into the original list price. For instance, all sales in Sacramento County this month totaled $512M while the original list price for all these sales totaled $533M. When I divide $512M into $533M I get 0.96 (or 96%).

I hope this was interesting or helpful.

Courtesy of

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