April marked the beginning of the second quarter of 2016, giving us a chance to not only look at the past month’s market but also that of Q1 for the year. In Marin County, both month and quarter continued recent trends of slow and steady growth.

Remember, real estate is a seasonal business. Springtime is time for action in the real estate world, which makes April’s 29.2 percent year-over-year drop (22.2 percent month-over-month) in new Marin County active listings a bit curious. It’s too early to call it a trend, and overall active listings are up 19.7 percent year-over-year, so it’s difficult to say if this blip will impact property values over the next few months. As it stands, the median sale price for homes sold in April was $1.225 million, an increase of 6.5 percent year-over-year. For the whole of Q1, values increased by 8.8 percent year-over-year.

This continues a trend of gradual growth dating back several years. Home values in Marin County can spike and ebb according to season, but long-term growth is the rule.

If that median price (average price for April was $1.607 million, up 4.5 percent from April of 2015) seems “affordable” to you, consider that this represents the county as a whole. While high end outliers like Belvedere (median sale price for April: $3.37 million), Tiburon ($2.257 million), Kentfield ($2.55 million), Stinson Beach ($4.12 million) and Ross ($4.625 million) are out of reach for most, the size of Marin County means there is room for buyers along the spectrum of price points. Very livable and popular towns Fairfax (April median sale price: $1.069 million), San Rafael ($1.007 million), San Anselmo ($1.003 million) and loss leader Novato ($887,000 median for April) provide access points for younger and less affluent buyers while still providing 100 percent of the Marin County experience.

Though prices are not skyrocketing, there are a few other factors that point to a hot summer for Marin County real estate, due to a lack of inventory. As mentioned above, the dearth of new listings in April could tighten opportunities for summer shoppers. The information for months of available inventory shows only a slight drop year-over-year, but inventory was already tight at 1.4 months on tap. For April, that number shrunk slightly to 1.3 months. Notably, that figure represents almost a 30 percent drop in available inventory from March of this year, when there were 1.9 months of homes waiting to be sold.

Also indicating a market temperature rise is Days on Market (DOM) data. For April, homes in Marin County spent an average of 36 DOM before entering into contract, a decrease of 21.8 percent month-over-month and, more significantly, 39 percent year-over-year. New inventory is down; if existing inventory starts spending less time on the market, eventually you’re going to run out of inventory — or at least something close to that.

The status of available inventory is something you’ll want to keep an eye on as we move into the lazy days of summer. Historically, summer and the winter holidays are the low ebbs in the real estate calendar. Will that traditional slowdown allow inventory to build in Marin County, giving buyers more options? Or will inventory stay low and keep the market in its present state?