2nd Generation Sale!

My first sale to a St Pat’s Alum!  Congratulations to Kevin who scored a great deal on a 2-story townhome with view.   So happy we closed in time for him to move in and get set up before the holidays.

Client-Centered Representation – Not the Norm

A phone call came in from an agent in another area who had started a networking organization made up of one agent in each area who is known for what he called ‘client-centric representation.’   After a long conversation comparing notes on the market and discussing our approaches to real estate, I was invited to join the group.   It got me thinking about the differences between what some of us call ‘showboats’ and an agent who advocates for clients.  It’s amazing to me that agents, who may make the difference of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, are chosen without much research.  Here are a few thoughts.

On the listing side, when I am tasked to find an agent in another area for one of my clients, I look on line and make calls to ascertain the following data points:

  • Spending top dollar on the kind of photography that attracts on-line views and brings in a high number of in-person viewings
  • Realistic pricing advice that results in the best price and outcome for the sellers
  • If the listing is becoming stale, lingering on MLS for months, the agent is proactively freshening up the look of the listing on-line
  • Creative on-line ads (photo here is a video that played on the home page of SFGate Real Estate page), social media, and even print advertising that sets a high quality image
  • A reputation for responsiveness to agents booking viewing appointments, having disclosure packets that are complete enough to answer questions, rather than raise red flags
  • A low percentage of selling listings to their own buyers.   ‘Steering’ listings in order to double your own commission while making it difficult for other agents to show, unfortunately is something that really does take place.
  • Quantity of listings does not translate to quality of service.  ‘Top’ agents may be signing so many similar listings your beloved home is just a spoke in their wheel of not-so-fortunate listings

For buyers, here is what I consider a client-centric buyer’s agent:

  • Not too busy to preview listings that may be a good fit – even in the time of COVID
  • The ability to communicate pros and cons on new listings in terms of location, noise, traffic, schools, weather, fire danger, neighborhood style
  • Offering honest information on what investigations would normally be done given the property in question, i.e. well or septic, regulations that affect expansion or remodeling plans, vacation rental restrictions etc.
  • Has the time to put together a complete, well-crafted offer package that gives sellers and their agent confidence in a buyer’s familiarity with the market, interest in the home and ability to close.
  • Has a reputation as well-liked agent:   thorough, professional, organized, and not known for unnecessary drama.  Personality matters in getting your offer accepted!

Thinking of a Move to Wine Country?

Coming soon, this gated property at the end of a lane is magical.  A rare combination of privacy and view, yet close to shops and restaurants.  Listed at $1.5.  Contact Julie Leitzell for more information.  The videographer enjoyed some of the props @SchugWinery!

We look forward to working with Julie again; she is the ultimate professional and a true partner, in every sense.

When a text comes in from a young SF couple who were surprised to have landed their dream home with a water view in the middle of a pandemic and it says “You’re the best!”…. it makes a painful escrow worthwhile.

“We had been searching for homes on our own with no luck, just a lot of wasted time. Within a week of meeting Julie, she found multiple compelling listings for us; and, we placed an offer on a dream home that met all of our criteria (which we closed on 3 weeks later). In addition, Julie was an excellent steward of the closing process and was on top of every single detail, while also elegantly managing the more the strategic elements of the contract which involved difficult counter parties to manage. We look forward to working with Julie again; she is the ultimate professional and a true partner, in every sense.”

Aaron and Emily

Sneak Peek: The Ideal Larkspur Cottage

42 Heather Way
3 BR
2 BA

Blocks to bike paths, downtown Larkspur and parks, this gem of a 3 BR, 2 bath home features an open floor plan, high ceilings, one-level living and wonderful indoor-outdoor flow in a quiet location.   French doors lead from the vaulted-ceiling master to the new patio, gardens and a lawn with views of the hillsides.   Recent improvements include a contemporary new bathroom, refinished wood flooring, new sewer lateral, and drainage system.  Live the sought-after Larkspur lifestyle in a perfectly situated turn-key charmer.  The best of Marin!

Call Julie Leitzell for a sneak peek.

When A Little Goes a Long Way to Sell a Listing

There are times when budget constraints or seller preferences preclude a full staging.   My listing at 1400 Sobre Vista Drive benefitted from a few large area rugs, some re-arrangement of furniture and rugs to create an inviting conversation and dining area, and accents that added color and warmth.  With my top of the line photography, video and drone package that can be seen at GatedSobreVistaDrive.com, the transformation created positive results.



What’s Going On: The Real Estate Market In Marin And Sonoma Valley

Today’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle linked here shows a growing affordability in the Bay Area, reflecting a market that is correcting.  Regionwide, the percentage of buyers who can afford a median-priced home grew from 21% in the third quarter of last year, to 29% in this past third quarter.  That’s a lot more buyers who can now jump into the market.  The most expensive counties, such as San Francisco, experienced a smaller correction than the outlying, less expensive counties.

Selling real estate in both Marin County and the town of Sonoma, I’ve seen that trend play out with a couple of different buyers jumping back in who had been thinking of moving elsewhere earlier in the year.   From the listing side, those sellers who accept the reality of the market and are willing to spend the money to polish up their home will reap the reward of a sale price that approaches what they may have brought in last year.   My latest listing in wine country, linked here, was in the $2 – $3 million price range that was very slow this year, with only a handful of sales over the last 6 months.  With aggressive marketing including being featured on news sites as a featured Sotheby’s property which clicked through to a video and more information, the home closed at $2,894,000.

Drilling down to the popular $1 – $2 million dollar price range, I compared the sales stats from September and October in 2018 to this year in both central Marin and the town of Sonoma.  Here is what I found:

Central Marin County (Corte Madera, Larkspur, Kentfield, Greenbrae)


  • Number of homes sold:    30
  • Median Selling Price:   $1,522,500
  • Median Selling Price per sq ft: $810
  • Median Days on Market: 27


  • Number of homes sold:   19
  • Median Selling Price:     $1,425,000
  • Median Price per sq ft:     $870
  • Median days on market:     23

Sonoma – the town, not the county


  • Number of homes sold: 17
  • Median Selling Price: $1,485,000
  • Median Selling Price per sq ft: $698
  • Median days on market: 54


  • Number of homes sold: 21
  • Median Selling Price: $1,389,000
  • Median Selling Price per sq ft: $692
  • Median days on market: 41

My prediction for next year is this:   due to the unwillingness of Bay Area and national media to accurately report, once again, where fires and outages affected the wine country, there will be opportunities there in 2020 just as there are after all highly-publicized disasters.   A local agent knows which areas, such as close to Sonoma Plaza, was enjoying ‘lights on’ during the last planned power outage.  We can help guide buyers toward areas that are as safe or safer than other parts of the Bay Area from future fires, as well.

Those who are thinking of selling in any market should start preparing their property now for a debut early in the spring season in 2020.  I’m happy to provide an opinion of value and proposal for how I can help in your property prep and marketing.