Meghan Springer put her Seaside home on the market just to see what it would fetch. She and her husband had owned the Vallejo Street house for only two years, and in that time they’d done a complete remodel. 


They put their home on the market on a Thursday, had an open house Saturday and got an offer Sunday.


Springer requested that the Weekly not disclose the amount it sold for, but says it was a clear win – “We weren’t going to be willing to leave unless it was.”


It helped that her mother, Jana Robinson Bradford, is a real estate broker. But it also helped that the number of single-family homes on the market in Monterey County is at an unusual low, mirroring the low real-estate supply nationwide.


“Inventories are down significantly from a year ago across most, if not all, market areas here,” says Stuart Shankle of Monterey-based Shankle Real Estate. “That, in conjunction with interest rates and some pent-up buyer demand, is helping push prices up.” 


According to the Multiple Listing Service market-indicators report for February 2013, the supply of local homes for sale has been down from the prior year for 24 months straight. There were only 859 single-family homes for sale in Monterey County that month, compared with 1,320 in 2012 – a 35-percent drop.


Arleen Hardenstein, a realtor with Pacific Grove-based Bratty & Bluhm Real Estate and board president of the Monterey County Association of Realtors, says banks have been slowing down on foreclosures, particularly as loan modifications keep more people in their homes. 


In other words, supply is down and demand is up, which drives up prices. The median Monterey County home sold for $305,000 in February 2013, compared with $265,450 the year prior. It’s great news for sellers.


Of course, there’s the flip side: Buyers are having a harder time finding the right home at the right price. Monterey County sales are down 8 percent since last year, MLS reports.


Hardenstein says Pacific Grove typically has about 85 homes on the market. On April 1, there were 34. 


“It’s like that across the entire Peninsula,” she says.


So she’s getting creative on behalf of buyers. She advises them to have everything ready to go, from the down payment to the paperwork, and to be ready to pounce with the highest possible offer. She checks in on pending sales so her clients can jump in if an offer falls through. Cash investors tend to have an advantage, she adds, because they can do shorter escrows with fewer contingencies and skip the appraisal.


Many homes are selling above the listed price. In the last 90 days, Hardenstein says, the median asking price for homes in the city of Monterey was $507,450. The median sale price: $515,000.


“As properties are selling at higher prices, traditional sellers are becoming more confident about putting their homes on the market,” Hardenstein says. 


The buying is the part that’s not so rosy for Meghan Springer, who is now looking for a home in Carmel Valley. 


“There’s very, very little available,” she says. “The market’s clearly picking up, because it’s hard to find anything under $500,000. For a young family, it’s too much.”