HomeOpinionSigns of a Decline in California Real Estate

Navigating the Storm

  1. Decreasing Home Prices: One of the most evident signs of a declining real estate market is a decrease in home prices. When property values start to decline consistently, it can signal a shift from a seller’s to a buyer’s market.
  2. Increased Days on Market (DOM): A longer DOM indicates that homes are taking longer to sell. In a declining market, sellers may struggle to find buyers, leading to stagnant listings.
  3. Rising Inventory Levels: An oversupply of homes in the market can put downward pressure on prices. When there are more houses available than there are buyers, it becomes a buyer’s market.
  4. Reduced Buyer Demand: A decline in the number of buyers looking for properties can result from various factors such as rising interest rates, economic uncertainty, or a decrease in population growth.
  5. Foreclosures and Short Sales: A surge in foreclosures and short sales often accompanies a declining real estate market. Homeowners may struggle to meet mortgage payments, leading to distressed sales.
  6. High Vacancy Rates: In commercial real estate, high vacancy rates in office spaces, retail outlets, or apartments can be a telltale sign of market decline. This indicates that businesses and individuals are struggling to fill spaces.
  7. Reduced Mortgage Approvals: Lenders may tighten their lending criteria during a declining market, making it harder for buyers to secure mortgage approvals. Higher interest rates can also deter potential buyers.
  8. Decreased New Construction: Developers may delay or cancel new construction projects in response to a weakening market. A decline in construction can have a ripple effect on employment and the overall economy.

Causes of a Declining Real Estate Market

  1. Economic Downturn: Economic recessions or downturns often lead to a decrease in consumer confidence, making people more cautious about investing in real estate.
  2. Interest Rate Hikes: When central banks raise interest rates to combat inflation, mortgage rates typically rise, making borrowing more expensive. Higher interest rates can deter potential buyers.
  3. Overvaluation: A market that experiences rapid price increases without a solid economic foundation can become overvalued. Eventually, this bubble bursts, leading to declining prices.
  4. Demographic Changes: Shifts in population trends, such as declining birth rates or net migration outflows, can reduce demand for housing and impact the real estate market.
  5. Government Policies: Changes in government policies, such as stricter lending regulations or tax reforms, can influence the real estate market’s health.

Implications for Stakeholders

  1. Homeowners: Declining home prices can be distressing for homeowners, as the equity in their properties diminishes. It may also be challenging to sell their homes at the desired price.
  2. Buyers: A declining market can benefit buyers, as they may have more negotiating power and access to lower-priced properties. However, they should remain cautious about overleveraging themselves.
  3. Real Estate Agents: Real estate agents may face reduced income as transactions slow down, and they may need to adapt to the changing market conditions.
  4. Lenders: Lenders may experience a decline in mortgage originations, potentially leading to reduced profitability.
  5. Developers and Builders: Reduced demand and declining property values can lead to stalled projects and financial losses for developers and builders.
  6. Local Governments: Declining property values can impact local tax revenue, potentially leading to budgetary challenges for local governments.


Recognizing the signs of a declining real estate market is crucial for informed decision-making. While a declining market can present challenges, it can also create opportunities for buyers and investors. Stakeholders should stay informed about market conditions, adapt their strategies, and seek professional advice when navigating a market downturn. Understanding the underlying causes and implications of a declining real estate market is key to managing its impact effectively.