West Coast home prices, are we hitting bottom soon?

Watercolor by Ron Burkhart (http://www.memorypainter.com). This is not our home, just liked the artist's work.
Watercolor by Ron Burkhart (www.memorypainter.com). This is not our home, just liked the artist's work.
Watercolor by Ron Burkhart (www.memorypainter.com). This is not our home, I just like the artist's work.

The latest issue of Money Magazine asks a question most U.S. homeowners are wondering, “When will home prices hit bottom already?” (April 2009, pg. 65). Whether it’s for sheer interest, refinancing a loan or a desire to buy or sell, the question piqued my interest while flipping through the magazine at the gym today.

Clint and I love our home here in San Jose, California and don’t plan to move anytime soon, so home values are only on paper. Still, it would be nice if homes values were higher, no?

Amanda Gengler, author of the article, breaks down the U.S. housing market into three categories: those recovering first, those recovering next, and the laggards.

So what does Gengler forecast for the West Coast markets?

Recovering First

San Jose, CA: $600K median home price, predicted bottom in Q3/2009
San Francisco, CA: $755K median home price, predicted bottom in Q4/2009
Oakland, CA: $400K median home price, predicted bottom in Q4/2009
Seattle, WA: $400K median home price, predicted bottom in Q4/2009
Sacramento, CA: $250K median home price, predicted bottom in Q4/2009

Recovering Next

Stockton, CA: $225K median home price, predicted bottom in Q1/2010
Riverside, CA: $242K median home price, predicted bottom in Q2/2010

Recovering Last

Los Angeles, CA: $396K median home price, predicted bottom in Q3/2010
Portland, OR: $290K median home price, predicted bottom in Q3/2010

How do you get an idea of the current housing market in your area?

Besides asking a Realtor to perform an assessment, you can also check out Zillow (www.zillow.com) which was founded in 2006 to provide estimates of home values and also provide home sales activity in your area for comparable homes. The estimates give a range of values based on data collected from public records.

Another is MLS listings for directory of homes currently for sale. These listings will not give you information about homes sold (in order to have this information you need to be a Realtor) so in this buyers market you will need to discount a little to be realistic about what a home really sold for. The listings for Northern California are at www.mlslistings.com. For other areas you will need to use a search engine to find a good site.

In the meantime, if you are not planning to move anywhere soon, take a deep breath and go find your county’s property value reassessment form to fill out, at least you can try to get a property tax break. Right now during tax season, that’s a good thing.

Explore. Create. Live. Follow Stark Insider on Twitter and Facebook. Join our 9,000 subscribers who read SI on tablets and smartphones on Google Newsstand. Prefer video? Subscribe to 
Stark Insider on YouTube, the largest arts & travel channel in San Francisco.