The 2016 home buying season is well underway nationwide, with homes in May moving as fast as we’ve seen since the housing recovery began – even as asking prices continue to hit new record highs.

While the media has indicated that the luxury market is softening, in Marin the number of luxury home sales in the very top tier outpaced last year’s sales. In 2015 through May, there were 17 homes sold over $5 million, this year there are 18. “As our agents have represented fully half of the luxury sales in Marin, we see that luxury estate properties are in high demand and our extensive marketing is drawing buyers from around the world for these trophy homes,” states Heidi Pay, C.O.O. of Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty.

The statistics paint a different picture for homes in the $3-$5 million range. The number of sales have dropped significantly, from 57 to 36, roughly 37%. In Marin County, the inventory of homes for sale increased from 317 last month to 378 this month. This number is still 63% below inventory levels in 2007 at the market peak. The continued and historic lack of home inventory has contributed to the decline in the number of homes sold from 865 to 733 year over year for the first five months. The spring sales were markedly slower; however, we are seeing a monthly season increase in May.

The average sale price of single family homes reached $1,661,796, up more than $57,000 compared to the previous month. Comparing last year to this year-to-date, the median price is up nearly $100,000. Prices have continued to climb, now at 36% over the peak in 2007, and up nearly $400,000 from the average price last year.

Scarce inventory makes the home searching process very competitive. To assist buyers searching for homes, our company website now provides access to our listings “Not on MLS.”

Home Sales and Market Activity by Price

May marked a seasonal increase in inventory across all price points in Marin County. Homes priced from $1-$2 million remain the most active market in Marin County with 98 sales in May. Homes under $1 million followed with 68 sales, nearly unchanged from April records. There was a significant increase of active homes priced between $3-$5 million, as well as sold homes in the $3-$4 million price points. Homes priced from $5-$10 million and above remained nearly the same as April levels, in both active inventory and number of homes sold.

Average Listed and Sold Price

May saw an increase in average sale price in Marin County for single family homes at $1,661,796, up $57,850 from April averages. There was also a $70,178 increase in average listing price in Marin County.

Number for Sale and Sold

May inventory in Marin County continued to rise during listing season with 378 single family homes for sale, just shy of September 2015 levels which marked a market high for the past 12 months. The number of homes sold in May also increased, from 192 in April to 214. Single family home sales in May remain lower – by 17 transactions – compared to the same month last year.

Homes in Contract

Fairfax and Corte Madera led Marin County in May for the highest percentage of single family homes in contract, both at 64%. Larkspur, at 50%, saw the highest increase in homes under contract compared to April’s 33%. Kentfield witnessed the greatest decrease of homes in contract at 11%, nearly 60% lower than April’s level. Sausalito, Tiburon, West Marin, Belvedere and Beach Cities all saw decreases in number of homes in contract.

Home Sales in Marin by Area

Novato and San Rafael continue to see the highest number of homes sold at 48 and 43, respectively. Ross had the greatest month-over-month increase in homes sold at 9, up from 2 in April, followed by Kentfield at 10, compared to 4 in April, and then Sausalito with 10 homes sold, doubling April’s count. All Marin communities have proven over time to be an excellent investment for home buyers who plan to live in their home, as the limited availability of land and housing provides a high level of value and demand.