As we have all seen, over the last ten years, the price of California real estate goes up and down violently. From 2001 to 2006, the market was rising rapidly in most areas of California. In 2007, the market started to fall, and in 2008, the market crashed. More recently, the market has been drifting downward in most areas, and for most types of property, although this varies.
What all of this tells us is that, when either buying or selling real property in California, it is vitally important to pay close attention to market trends. In doing so, please remember that, while there are broad market movements that affect virtually all properties, there are many sub-markets. The market for multi-million dollar houses on the beach is not the same as for starter homes in Reseda. The market for office buildings is not the same as for apartment buildings or for single-family homes.
The only reasonable way to assess the direction of a particular sub-market is to examine recent sales of comparable properties. The market can move quickly; sales of more than a few months ago can quickly lose their predictive value. And location is critical to accuracy in understanding the market; the sale price of a three bedroom home in the hills may not tell you much about the sale price of a similar three bedroom a mile away in the flatlands.
A good course of information on pending and recent sales of residences is www.redfin.com. It will quickly show you all homes for sale, or which have been sold, in a given area. It also gives you a quick summary of values, measured by a number of other services such as www.Zillow.com and others.