Marin Real Estate Trends (December 2009)

January 19, 2010

The Marin County, California real estate market approaches the new year with momentum. While the beginning of 2009 was terrible for sellers and the market overall, the latter half of 2009  was quite strong across many market segments, giving brokers and home owners a reason for optimism in 2010. While year over year prices are down in many price segments and locations within Marin, some areas have actually seen prices increase (albeit nominally) year over year. Indeed, I believe that many brokers feel as though absent further crisis, we are at or near the end of the downward cycle — after 3+ years.

As for bread and butter homes (e.g., priced below $1 million, at least 3 beds and 2 baths with 1,500 square feet or more), the chart below reflects the number of homes in escrow county-wide from November 2007 through November 2009 – we are up an astonishing 190%. We see increased affordability and appealing interest rates supporting this trend for the foreseeable future. 

 
Further evidence of a strengthening market exists in Mill Valley. The chart below shows a 90-day rolling average of Mill Valley’s new listings and absorbed listings (e.g., sales), comparing current numbers with those of last year. Note that the while the numbers for new listings are about the same, the number of absorbed listings exceeds that of 2008. If you would like to review a similar chart for any other town or city in Marin, please let me know.

 

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

 

Below is a snapshot of the current real estate market in Marin. Contact me for a detailed executive summary providing statistics and trends relating to the Marin real estate market (or any specific zip code). It is always my pleasure to be of service.

 

Marin County Real Estate Executive Summary

 

Not surprisingly, inventory dropped significantly over the past month to 471 single family homes for sale (we had over 600 last month). This includes only the Highway 101 corridor (excluding Western Marin inventory and condos).  Note to buyers: if a house is on the market during this time of year, the sellers are often quite motivated — make an offer!

 

Marin County Home Prices
Cities Lowest Price Highest Price
Sausalito  635,000  6.5 million
Tiburon  689,000  24.9 million 
Belvedere  1.795 million  48 million
Mill Valley  344,000  6.9 million
Corte Madera  599,000  1.895 million
Larkspur  360,000  1.799 million 
Greenbrae  799,000   2.495 million
Kentfield  749,000  5.295 million 
Ross  669,000  10.75 million
San Anselmo  460,000  6.488 million 
Fairfax  429,000  1.995 million
San Rafael  365,000  1.399 million 
Novato  275,000  6.95 million

By: Kyle Frazier, Broker Associate, Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS), Realtor

Christie’s Great Estates | Morgan Lane Marin | Pacific Union International
(415) 350-9440
E-Mail Kyle Frazier

Marin Real Estate (November 2009)

January 19, 2010

Marin County, California real estate enters the Winter months much the same way it entered the Summer months — with a feeling that activity will be stronger than usual for this time of year. While year over year prices are down across the board no matter how you slice it, many feel as though absent further crisis, we may be nearing the end of the downward cycle — after a full 3 years. Certainly, well priced, updated homes in great locations are selling.

As noted in my Novato update, it is apparent that the low end in Northern Marin has settled on a bottom: 

Savvy buyers waiting for “the bottom to hit” recognize that we may be there and that any further price erosion will be outweighed by increased interest rates which are likely around the bend. Surely, home buyers in Novato are finding that it is increasingly difficult to identify “turnkey” homes under $550,000. In the 94949 zip code, median prices year over year dipped a mere 3%. I think many observers would be surprised. Local agents are all talking about a “bounce” in prices over the past several months.

[click HERE for the rest of the article] 

Meanwhile, the rest of Marin looks a little different. As noted last month, some sellers still suffer from pricing strategies that prevent them from realistically engaging with qualified buyers. Nonetheless, we have well over a dozen $2 million and up properties in escrow and are, no doubt, seeing increased confidence in high-end buyers. Should the stock market continue recovering in coming months and year end bonuses be granted at year end, I predict more late Winter sales and a strong early Spring market as affluent buyers step into the market which will undoubtedly hold “value” for those poised to strike. 
 
As for bread and butter homes (e.g., priced below $1 million, at least 3 beds and 2 baths with 1,500 square feet or more) the chart below reflects the number of homes in escrow county-wide in October 2007 through October 2009. This year, our October escrow numbers are up a full 50%  from both October 2007 & 2008. We see increased affordability and appealing interest rates supporting this trend for the foreseeable future.
 
 
Further evidence of a strengthening market exists in Mill Valley. The chart below shows a 90-day rolling average of Mill Valley’s new listings and absorbed listings (e.g., sales), comparing current numbers with those of last year. Note that the while the numbers for new listings are about the same, the number of absorbed listings exceeds that of 2008. If you would like to review a similar chart for any other town or city in Marin, please let me know.

 

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

 

Not surprisingly, inventory dropped significantly over the past month to 652 single family homes for sale (we had 762 last month). Note that this includes the Highway 101 corridor (excluding Western Marin inventory and condos).  

 

For a detailed executive summary similar to, but much more detailed than below, providing statistics and trends relating to the Marin real estate market (or any specific zip code), contact me any time. It is always my pleasure to be of service.

 
 

Kyle Frazier, Broker Associate, Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS), Realtor

Christie’s Great Estates | Morgan Lane Marin | Pacific Union International
(415) 350-9440
E-Mail Kyle Frazier

Marin Real Estate (October 2009)

November 2, 2009

Marin County, California real estate held steady, for the most part, through Summer 2009. While year over year prices are down across the board no matter how you slice it, many feel as though absent further crisis, we may be nearing the end of the downward cycle — after a full 3 years. Certainly, well priced, updated homes in great locations are selling promptly.

In Northern Marin (a.k.a Novato), 81% of homes priced under $500,000 are in escrow (that’s 39 out of 48 homes!). In San Rafael, 64% of homes priced at or below $600,000 are in escrow. These astonishing sales numbers are propelled by value / affordability, the $8,000 tax credit, and the increased FHA loan limits which went into effect in April 2009.

Meanwhile, the higher price bands look a little different. As noted last month, some sellers still suffer from pricing strategies that prevent them from realistically engaging with qualified buyers. Nonetheless, we have well over a dozen $2 million and up properties in escrow and have seen a few BIG sales over the Summer. Should the stock market recover further in coming months, I predict more Winter sales as affluent buyers step into the market with renewed confidence. Social proof is a powerful force.

[Click HERE for the rest of the article, courtesy of www.NorthBayRE.com].

Marin Real Estate (September 2009)

November 2, 2009

Over the past year, my reports have continually pointed to simple supply and demand indicators in an effort to define a “normal” Marin County real estate market. As noted a year ago, “recovery to a normal market will require stability in financial markets, a strong local employment trend, affordable interest rates and strengthening consumer confidence.”

Reflecting on the past twelve months, Marin County real estate markets experienced the most difficult and unpredictable dynamics. The financial markets imploded, unemployment trends accelerated and consumer confidence was shattered. And while we benefit from historically low interest rates, credit requirements, approval guidelines, and loan to value ratios are as stringent as in recent memory.

The good news is that over 1,100 single family homes have sold in Marin County in the first nine months of 2009. Successful sellers have processed market dynamics, followed their real estate advisors recommendations and successfully made housing decisions to support their lifestyle. Buyers continue to seek opportunity and will write offers only on the homes that have balanced the best pricing in relation to the relevant and recent neighborhood comparables.

[Click HERE for the rest of the article, courtesy of www.NorthBayRE.com].

Marin Real Estate (August 2009)

September 10, 2009

Marin real estate has, it appears, survived the worst of the downturn. While prices are down across the board no matter how you slice it, the road to recovery is in view. Yet, virtually every call I get from potential buyers, at some point in the conversation, eventually turns to short sales and foreclosures — distressed sales remain featured on many buyers’ dance cards. In fact, distressed sales are very competitive and often receive multiple offers. In Northern Marin (a.k.a Novato), 82% of homes priced under $500,000 are in escrow (that’s 40 out of 49 homes!). In San Rafael, 84% of homes priced at or below $600,000 are in escrow (that’s 32 out of 38!). These sales are propelled by value, the $8,000 tax credit, and the increased FHA loan limits which went into effect in April 2009.

Early in the year, buyers were ALL talking about how they anticipated interest rates would go down to 3% (and some buyers were insisting that rates would go even lower). I would just nod my head and concede that was a possibility. After all, what do I know about the unknowable? But, I always pointed out that whatever rates fell to, you could never know the bottom until it was gone. And that rates would surely go back up again — I was not going out on a limb; every economist on Earth is saying the same thing (most believe this will occur by the end of Q1 2010). Sure enough, it seems buyers are picking up on this inevitability and they are out in droves.

Standing back and looking at the higher price bands (especially in Southern Marin), things look a little different. Some sellers still suffer from pricing strategies that prevent them from realistically engaging with qualified buyers. These sellers are either: 1) NOT Sellers; or 2) are getting poor advice and direction from their agents. They will learn that “time on the market” is not their friend. Being a “smart seller” today means negotiating strong terms aimed towards a successful close of escrow within 30-45 days.
The chart below shows a 90-day rolling average of Mill Valley’s new listings and absorbed listings (e.g., sales), comparing current numbers with those of last year. Note that the while the numbers for new listings are about the same, the number of absorbed listings is about equal to 2008. If you would like to review a similar chart for any other town or city in Marin or San Francisco, please let me know.
[Click HERE for the rest of the article, courtesy of www.NorthBayRE.com.]

Marin Real Estate (July 2009)

September 10, 2009

The Marin County, CA real estate market is a mixed bag. Recent escrow activity levels have been refreshing, if not invigorating. New escrows generated in April – June 2009 represent the three best months since June ’07. This progress seems to be continuing. In fact, we could experience the busiest summer in MarinCounty real estate in recent years.

This increase in activity (not price appreciation) follows the slowest six month stretch we have seen in sixteen years. Closings of Marin County single family homes in the 4th quarter of 2008 (457) was the lowest since 1994. Closings in 1st quarter 2009 (222) and 2nd quarter ’09 (421) both set the sixteen year low as well. We feel this recent rally is a reflection of increasing consumer confidence either as a result of, or in combination with, the stock market rebound which began in March 2009. And just when Wall Street looked as though significant further downward movement was in the cards (after a month of week over week declines from mid-June to early July), last week’s results erased all losses from the past month as quarlterly earnings reports have been coming in higher than expected.

On a year-over-year basis, pricing of single family homes in Marin County is a completely different comparison. Depending on your neighborhood, the value of your home could be off 15% – 50% from its peak. As I have documented in previous newsletters, Marin County real estate was impacted by two financial events. Beginning in August 2007, the northern part of the county (Novato and areas of San Rafael) suffered from the sub-prime lending crisis. The activity level in Central and Southern Marin was nearly frozen from October 2008 thru mid-March 2009 — a result of the stock market meltdown.

Today, it appears that our housing recovery will be driven by an increase in units sold. Today’s buyers are driven by value and opportunity. Sellers clinging to what they recently paid for a home or what they “need to sell it for” seem to be grasping at “hope” and have become frustrated in a buyers’ market where days on the market produces diminishing returns.

[Click HERE for the rest of the article, courtesy of www.NorthBayRE.com.]

Marin Real Estate (June 2009)

July 10, 2009

This year has been peculiar in real estate. Obviously, prices are down in all categories. Obviously, short sales and foreclosures are featured on many buyers’ dance cards. And obviously, the market is suffering from a negative feedback loop fed by the media. I spend all day, every day, talking with prospective buyers, prospective sellers, and contemplative owners of real estate. Early in the year, buyers were ALL talking about how they anticipated interest rates would go down to 3% (and some buyers were insisting that rates would go even lower). I would just nod my head and concede that was a possibility. After all, what do I know about the unknowable? But, I always pointed out that whatever rates fell to, you could never know the bottom until it was gone. And that rates would surely go back up again — I was not going out on a limb; every economist on Earth is saying the same thing. Sure enough, since my last report, interest rates have jumped up almost a full point and the forecast does not look as though rates will fall back to the levels buyers were talking about just a short 2 months ago (let alone where they were three weeks ago). Meanwhile, it seems buyers are picking up on the FACT that rates are likely to climb and they are out in droves. 

Predictably, the low end is getting the most attention. In Novato, 72% of homes priced under $500,000 are in escrow (that’s 44 out of 60 homes!). In San Rafael, 64% of homes priced at or below $600,000 are in escrow (that’s 29 out of 45!). Incredibly, 11 homes in Novato sold last month under $400K, 9 more sold under $500K, and another 11 sold under $600K. That’s 31 Novato homes selling under $600K. Three years ago, under $600K, you would see perhaps 3 or 4 for homes on the market at any given time. These sales are propelled by value, the $8,000 tax credit, and the increased FHA loan limits which went into effect in April 2009.

[Click HERE for the rest of the article, courtesy of www.NorthBayRE.com.]

Marin Real Estate (May 2009)

July 10, 2009

The leading indicator of future sales is the number of homes in escrow at a given time. We have experienced over 60 new escrows in five of the past seven weeks and over 70 for the past three weeks. May 2009 new escrows will likely surpass the levels of April and May 2008. As you can see from the below chart (which goes back 6 months), the number of escrow is up 105% and sales are up 30%. 

The upsurge in sales and escrows is seasonal, but also due to low 5% interest rates on conforming loans right now. We are also seeing a spike in home sales at the low end due to the increased FHA loan limit (now at $729,750). Given the activity we are seeing, it seems likely that the traditional Summer slowdown in home sales will be modest as buyers continue pursuing those “value” properties through the Summer. This year is shaping up to be one defined by “value.”

[Click HERE for the rest of article, courtesy of www.NorthBayRE.com.]

Marin Real Estate (April 2009)

July 10, 2009

March 2009 new escrows up 17% from March 2008 (and 58% from February 2009) – In Marin County our most reliable indicator of changing market conditions is new escrow activity. New escrow activity bottomed out in December 2008 and began a modest ascent through January and February 2009. I believe the sharp increase in new escrows in March 2009 is a combination of demand returning to our market and the cyclical nature of the business. It stands to reason that thought is that April and May closings will rise accordingly.

Another interesting trend is the surge of activity in central and southern Marin. In the first half of 2008, nearly 60% of the units sold were in central and southern Marin. By January 2009, largely a result of the October 2008 stock market meltdown, this activity gradually fell to 37% of the units sold in Marin. In February and March 2009 the percentage rebounded to nearly 50% of the county’s activity.This upbeat trend in central and southern Marin is consistent with the activity in my business and a solid sign of strengthening buyer confidence. We expect a strengthening Spring season in Marin County real estate.

[Click HERE for the rest of the article, courtesy of www.NorthBayRE.com.]

Marin Real Estate (March 2009)

March 24, 2009

Although February was a short and rainy month, Marin County, CA., still experienced a good number of sales. So far in March 2009. we are seeing increasing inventory similar to “normal” years (I hesitate to call 2009 a “normal” year in light of the current economic situation). Recent gains in the stock market are a welcome change. Interest rates are down to about 5% on conforming loans right now, which is great (that is more than 1 full point lower than this time last year). So, it seems the pump is primed. We’ll see if the real estate market responds.

Obviously, the more stringent underwriting policies of lenders are stifling demand. Although word on the street is that at least one big lender has taken steps to loosen up underwriting practices. It is obvious to everybody who comes into contact with the Marin real estate market that home buyers are continuing to wait for the perceived bottom. This, despite the FACT that interest rates are as low as could be realistically expected and prices in many Marin communities and neighborhoods have receded to 2003 or 2004 price levels.

[Click here for the rest of the report, courtesy of NorthBayRE.com.]

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