Real Estate - March 28, 2008

Blackhawk 2007 Year in Review

Blackhawk Real Estate sales during 2007 showed continuing but somewhat moderating rates of decline. Unit sales of single family detached homes actually increased, while condo sales and land sales were relatively unchanged.

Compared to other parts of the East Bay, single family detached homes in Blackhawk fared pretty relatively well last year. Unit sales were UP about 6 percent from the 84 reported sales in 2006 to 89 in 2007 hinting faintly, perhaps, that the bottom has been reached. Average unit sales for the past five years is 127 homes, so Blackhawk home sales are down 30 percent from their five-year average and 51 percent below 2004, the five-year high, during which 180 Blackhawk homes sold.

The price story is not quite so positive. Average price paid for a single family home in Blackhawk during 2006 was $1,639,998 while the average price paid in 2007 was $1,569,439 for a notable (4.4 percent) price decline. Median price also dropped by nearly the same margin (4.2 percent) from $1,460,000 to $1,400,000 during the same time period. In 2006 the highest price paid for a home was $3,498,000 while in 2007 the highest reported sales price was $3,500,000. The lowest price paid for a single family home in 2007 was $865,000, somewhat less (4 percent) than the $900,000 low price for 2006. Average price paid per square foot declined from $451 to $440 from '06 to '07, for a slight (2.5 percent) decline, and this change reflects an ever so slight decrease over the $442 per square foot price paid in 2005. This may be the most compelling argument for calling a market bottom in the Blackhawk market.

Blackhawk has a very small market for duets, condos and town homes, so there isn't a large quantity of data to review. A total of five units sold in 2007, down from seven in 2006. This represents a 29 percent drop in unit sales from the previous year which is, interestingly enough, only one unit sale less than in 2005 when a total of six units sold. Since the three-year market average stands at six sales per year, this may indicate that the bottom is at hand. Average sold price in 2007 was $799,000 compared to an $862,000 average in 2006, for a significant 7 percent decline in price. That sales price declined far less sharply than unit sales may be a subtle indication that this battered market sector is settling gently upon the bottom. Food for thought: The 2007 Danville multi unit average sold price was $589,951 compared to $799,000 for Blackhawk. That is a significant (35 percent) average price differential. To the extent that Blackhawk multi unit properties compete with Danville multi unit properties, an over abundance of competing properties in Danville may serve to drag the Blackhawk prices down further still.

Beneath it all there is the land, so let's take a look at undeveloped land sales in Blackhawk. A total of two parcels sold in 2006 at an average price of $1,295,000. In 2007, two parcels also sold but at a notably higher average price of $1,693,750. At first glance this appears to be a most encouraging sign; however, two sales don't provide adequate data to formulate a strong opinion. A more, but not perfect, apples-to-apples comparison of the square foot land price shows a much less rosy picture as average price paid per square foot in 2006 was $74, while land sold in 2007 fetched a mere $60 per square foot or 9 percent less than a year ago

The most compelling argument that can be made from a review of the 2007 Blackhawk data is that single family home sales are up slightly from the previous year and prices are not dropping like a rock. That said, little in the data suggests that prices in the near term will turn around and move briskly upward. In previous columns we have noted that the Danville and Alamo markets appear to be at the bottom or on a slight upswing. Why a similar picture cannot be seen in the Blackhawk Market Review remains a mystery. Location may perhaps play a role or possibly the community's nearness to vast quantities of new construction may be responsible for the difference. At any rate, Blackhawk is a market we will continue to watch throughout the year.

Data presented in this column is based in whole or in part on data supplied by the Contra Costa and Alameda Multiple Listing Service and other quoted sources. Joe and Nancy Combs, Remax and the MLS Service do not guarantee the accuracy of this information.

To receive a copy of the annual Blackhawk Market Review, send an e-mail to with Blackhawk Market Review in the subject line. Or call 989-6086 to arrange delivery.


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