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
Larkspur
$1,650,000
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.

Before

After

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)

2018 

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

2019

  • 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

2018

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

2019

  • 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.

Furnished Sonoma Rental

Looking for a short-term wine country get-away or a furnished place to land in between homes?

This modern guest home is quiet and private, yet within walking distance of Sonoma’s historic and charming plaza. 2 BRs, 1 BA, stylishly furnished and equipped.

Call Julie Leitzell for rates and availability.

A New Program to Help You Buy First and Sell Fast

Golden Gate Sotheby’s has a new program available for those who are struggling with the challenges of making a move. The ‘Next Level’ Concierge program has several options that homeowners with equity in their homes can choose from to prepare their home for sale and/or buy their next home first.

The aspect of this program I wish I had for so many past clients is the ability to get all the property preparation work done prior to marketing the home… and in a streamlined fashion. With the concierge program, we provide a bid for property preparation custom to your home, which includes items like painting, repairs, landscaping, staging, and cosmetic upgrades like new lighting fixtures or countertops. If you approve, you don’t pay a cent until you close escrow at which time the funds will be paid to the contractor and vendors out of your proceeds

Our approved tradespeople are all licensed and insured, which of course is an important protection for you should there be an accident or damage during the process. We can also add a qualified contractor to the list of approved vendors. There is a 10% premium on whatever you choose to have done, but it is possible that even with the premium, the Concierge bids will be competitive with others due to the large scale of this program. Of course, the time savings to you is invaluable, and a home that is warm, inviting and shows well with Sotheby’s trademark photography will inevitably bring in a much higher price.

For those who may not have the income or the down payment (or home equity line) for purchasing your next home before you sell, there is a new suite of loan programs for many different situations. This allows buyers to find the perfect home, move, and then have the experts prepare and stage the initial home giving you a better shot at multiple offers, a fast sale and high price. Homes that are stylishly furnished, always ‘on’ and available for agents to show clients at any time seem to be on the tour lists more often. Of course, selling first and renting for a year as a way to try out a new area is a great idea, too.

Click here for more information and I would be happy to discuss with you how this plan may fit in with your plans and goals.

What are “Measurable Results” in Real Estate?

I’m looking at the front-page ad that just came out today with my headshot and my tagline: ‘Marketing Plans with Measurable Results.’ It got me thinking about what buyers and sellers should look for in their agents and what type of ‘results’ can be observed and quantified.

Any agent boasting a high volume may be able to point to a large number of listings, but in some cases, if you dig a little deeper, you may find an agent who collects listings, but the percentage of those sold, especially in the first week when the seller is likely to receive a high price, is low. Look for an agent who SELLS listings, not for one who collects them. Take a look at how long their recent listings have been on the market and whether they have sold. Contact a couple of the sellers to see if they are satisfied with the level of activity and marketing methods.

One method of measuring the effectiveness of an agent’s marketing methods is to attend the agents’ first broker open and first public open house. Is the listing agent there, or is it a fill-in from their team, their company, or worse, a family member who knows absolutely nothing about the house?

Is the ambience at the open house one that is warm, welcoming and informative for those who seem interested in the home? Is the open well attended? Are the furniture groupings inviting, is there subtle music, a comfortable temperature and refreshments that invite potential buyers to linger? There is nothing worse than a cold, unfurnished, dark home with an agent sitting on a folding chair who pounces with an air of desperation. There’s a local team who routinely has one member at the door as the ‘greeter’, but it feels more like a bouncer. Even as an agent, the vibe is off-putting.

Do you see high quality glossy folded brochures at the home, or is it a print-out from the MLS that is the only take-away for interested buyers, or worse, nothing at all? Are the photos on line and in the brochure inviting and attractive? Is there a property website that features the home, perhaps with a montage with video snippets on the home page?

Has the agent spent the time necessary for having a complete disclosure packet available for interested buyers? This will keep the momentum of the first week going as several packets should go out and hopefully prompt at least one buyer to step up in order to secure the property.

Is the timeline for putting your home on the market designed for the highest visibility of your home in the first week or is it for the convenience of the listing agent?

Cut-rate listing agents may not be available to show the home to buyers without agents, may not be jumping on opportunities for higher visibility, and may project a low-class image of the property through their photos and marketing materials. Missing out on just one extra buyer could mean a difference of several hundred thousand dollars in high-priced Bay Area markets.

DOUBLE-ENDING

In my experience, a great majority of the time an agent who ‘double ends’, representing both the buyer and the seller, in reality is more motivated to protect their big payday of double the commission. I do not double-end as I find I cannot in good conscience claim to be representing two sides of a negotiation and transaction.

FOR BUYERS

It continues to amaze me that so many agents send their buyers to homes that they themselves have not had the time or made an effort to view. This happens quite a lot in wine country, as Bay Area agents do not want to give up their commission by referring their clients out to others who are more knowledgeable and active in different markets. What this means for a buyer is they find themselves looking at homes and neighborhoods that are totally inappropriate for their needs. It’s important to make sure your agent is knowledgeable about off market listings, regulations, recommended inspections, prices, and the pros and cons of various homes and neighborhoods. Frankly, just knowing the listing agent will help a motivated buyer win in a multiple offer situation.

Who are the best inspectors in town? What contractor will come over and offer a casual estimate of repairs? What are the traffic patterns and weather in different areas? Are there any ongoing issues in the neighborhood? This is just a fraction of the kind of information an informed agent will provide.

With my residency in Marin of 25 years, and Sonoma Valley for 5, I am covering these markets intensely through networking meetings and weekly touring. My testimonials at JulieLeitzell.com refer to a couple of examples of my buyers who benefitted from a head-start on their dream home, resulting in a ratified contract even in multiple offer situations.

Real Estate Global Contacts — Delivered

As a part of the Global Networking Event for Sotheby’s International Realty in Vancouver, Canada earlier this month, my networking opportunities and benefits of being involved with Sotheby’s International Real Estate climbed to a higher level. Meeting and talking with so many top agents from all over the globe, one of my takeaways is that the market correction we are experiencing right now is global, not local. Many areas are being affected by a pull-back of investment from Asian countries like China. Some cities like Vancouver have passed a heavy tax on those investors who purchase property, but leave it vacant. Locally, sellers in Marin are becoming more reasonable in their pricing. My inbox is filled with at least 30 emails per day on price reductions in Marin, San Francisco and Sonoma County.

When you sell, it’s important to price your home right, present it with style and class, and of course, benefit from the Sotheby’s brand identification! As conference speaker Gwyneth Paltrow said in a discussion of branding, “When I see a Sotheby’s sign outside of a home, my impression is that it must be a really nice house.”

I have contacts for friendly, knowledgeable, hard-working agents all over the country, and all over the globe. If you or someone you know needs a couple of recommendations in another market, allow me to send you agents I have already vetted and pre-interviewed.