Novato Real Estate Market Update (March 2009 Home Sales Report)

March 8, 2009 by  

Now that the southbound portion of the HWY 101 widening project has been completed for a little over a month, it is clear that the commute through San Rafael is very much improved. Even salty, hardened naysayers concede that the drive to work is now just a drive, not a battle–estimates range from 25-35 minutes saved each day since the completion of the project. As I have been saying for 2 years, the improved commute will certainly make Novato a viable choice for those who had sworn it off because of the traffic. Moreover, the first-time home buyer credit of $8,000 (this is a flat out gift from the government) certainly helps those who qualify. As I tell my clients, “Give Yourself a Raise. Move to Novato.”

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

Novato’s inventory level remains relatively low with just 142 single family homes for sale. There were 145 homes for sale in February 2009 and 150 homes for sale in January 2009–an odd downward trend. Perhaps we are on the back side of the distressed property curve. Meanwhile, the absorption rate (e.g., the number of months of inventory currently available in Novato) rose again to 7.9 months (it was 4.5 months just a month ago due to the large number of sales in December). If this seems schizophrenic, it is. 

Foreclosures and short sales have become the de rigueur focus of many buyers. Investors and buyers who have been burned by the short sale process — it can take months if the proper process is not followed or the banks do not issue approvals — are focused mainly on well priced homes without the strings of REO properties. Despite the inherent risks related to purchasing REO properties and, in some cases short sales, these constituted about 35% of single family home sales in Novato last year. Many neighborhoods are suffering dramatic erosion of home values. Prices are back down to what they were in 2003 in many communities. Novato currently has a dozen homes priced under $400,000 (as anyone who reads my columns knows, I call Novato Marin’s “Valhalla of Value”), down from 16 last month. Also way down is the number of homes below $500,000 — just 27 (down from about 60 last month). Of course, about half of these bargain basement homes are in escrow. There are a total of 95 homes under $600,000 (with 47% in escrow). Significantly, and this is unique to Novato right now, which is strange, the percentages of homes in escrow for $1 million-plus realm are about 23%–we are not seeing such stats at the high end in Southern Marin. As I have mentioned before, I think there are many phantom buyers out there. These are people who sold over the past couple of years and who have waiting for prices to dip are jumping in, resulting in very good sales stats at the higher end. Indeed, my last three listing sales have been all cash deals. The buy-up segment in Novato, homes priced between $750K and $1 million is slow.

Sixteen Novato homes sold in February 2009 (down from 20 in January 2009). These homes averaged about 125 days on market, were about 2,252 sq. ft., and sold for an average sales price of $685,000 (roughly $306 per sq. ft.). Homes in Pointe Marin, Country Club, Hamilton Field, Rush Creek, and Bel Marin Keys generated the most calls and showings this past month. If you are thinking of buying, please call my office at (415) 350-9440 as I have a long list of people who would like to sell their homes, but because of market conditions are not quite ready to list their home officially. I am also receiving many call regarding lease-options. 


Price Range

Total Homes

Pending Listings

Up to $600K



$600K – $750K



$750K – $1 mil.



$1 mil. – $1.25 mil.



$1.25 mil. & Up




For a brief explanation of the importance of the statistic addressing the percentage of “Pending” listings, click HERE. If you would like me to run the exact numbers for your neck of the woods or have any questions about Novato’s many delightful neighborhoods, just give me a call at (415) 350-9440. My name is Kyle Frazier, Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), with Morgan Lane Marin Real Estate. It is always my pleasure to be of service.


One Response to “Novato Real Estate Market Update (March 2009 Home Sales Report)”

  1. Novato Real Estate Market Update (March 2009 Home Sales Report) | Marin Real Estate -- Homes For Sale on March 8th, 2009 9:52 pm

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