Marin May Market Report | April 2018 Data

April marked a record 91st consecutive month of job gains while the unemployment rate dropped to 3.9%, the lowest since 2000. Economic output in the form of GDP is growing as well.  The Commerce Department reported that in the first quarter of 2018, Real GDP grew at an annualized rate of 2.3%—the best first quarter growth since 2015. Interest rates have been profoundly low until quite recently but higher interest rates are expected as GDP grows and large federal deficits begin to appear.

Market Snapshot

In Marin County, April’s real estate market began its seasonal up-tick with 196 homes sold during the month, an increase of 45% from March. However, compared with the same month last year, the number of sales were down 7%. The Average Sale Price also increased to $1,735,606, up 8% from March and 8% compared to April 2017. Luxury market sales in April were soft, with 17 homes sold above $3 million, compared with 27 homes sold in April of 2017. There was one notable sale of $10 million in Belvedere—the highest sale in the county year-to-date, Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty represented both the buyer and the seller in that transaction. The majority of sales continue to be homes in the $1-2 million range, with 110 sold in April.

Number of Homes Sold

Sales in April were down 7% compared to the same month last year. The number of home sales in April was up 45% from last month, with a total of 196, as a result of anticipated seasonal increases in activity.

Average Price Sold

The Average Sale Price of Marin Single Family Homes was $1,735,606 in April, up 8% compared to March and up 8% compared to the same month last year. This represents the highest average price point over the last year and was buoyed by the sale of the $10,000,000 Belvedere estate.

In Contract by Area

San Anselmo had the highest percentage of Homes in Contract in April (48%), followed by Mill Valley (43%), Fairfax (39%) and Novato (38%). Less active markets included Larkspur (18%), Tiburon (17%) and Greenbrae (15%).


Home Sales by Area

San Rafael and Novato had the highest number of sales in April at 53 and 45, respectively. Belvedere had the highest maximum sale price at $10,000,000, followed by Ross at $6,539,000 and Tiburon at $5,260,000. San Rafael’s highest sale at $5,550,000 is also significant and we have seen an increase in sales in the luxury market in San Rafael.

Sales by Price Point

The highest number of homes sold (110) continues to be in the $1-2 million range. The activity in the luxury market was slow in April, with only 5 homes sold in the $4-5 million range. A notable 8 homes sold between $3-4 million.

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Must see video

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Event Calendar

I thought you would enjoy this calendar that features Marin and Sonoma County film and music festivals, art shows, farmer’s markets, etc. Click on it to make the font larger.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Bay Area home prices rise further as Santa Clara County joins $1 million club

Today’s San Francisco Chronicle article on home prices includes information on an important ballot initiative and a chart showing each county’s year-over-year price change. It’s important to note the only county that remained flat on that chart is Sonoma County. What that looks like on the ground in the wine country after the fires is some neighborhoods have increased in value, some are in a holding pattern while buyers weigh the impact of the fires, and others will most likely lose value. There are value opportunities in areas that one would judge as relatively safe in a fire, but perhaps slightly up in the hills.

The possibility of an initiative on the ballot that allows seniors to transfer their property tax base across county lines may have a huge impact on housing inventory and therefore home prices as early as next year. It’s a fact that those who have owned their home for decades are reluctant to go anywhere due to the low property taxes they are paying. While they have the opportunity to move once and keep that low tax base, the current law restricts them to the same county. In Marin, that means senior citizens have nowhere to move if they have interest in cashing out of a multi-story home that needs a lot of maintenance and moving to a more affordable area.

If the property tax initiative were to pass, high priced counties like Marin, San Francisco and Santa Clara would see an increase in inventory as more seniors have the ability to downsize to lower-priced areas like Napa and Sonoma Counties. Conversely, prices may increase in those less populated counties. It’s a trend that may have already started with the advent of telecommuting and flexible schedules. For those concerned with the rising home prices near San Francisco and Silicon Valley, this initiative would be the solution in my opinion that would have the most impact. I have not read and analyzed it yet, though… so I’m as in the dark as the U.S. Congress is passing a 2200 page budget.

Read the full SF Chronicle article here.

Why I Don’t Double-End

I was reminded the other day why I don’t double-end.  Double-ending is the practice in which the listing agent also represents the buyer in a sale.  It certainly is possible that neither the seller nor the buyer will be compromised by that kind of arrangement, but the certain winner in the double-ending game is always the agent, who is incentivized to close and take home double the commission.

Back to the other day…. A colleague was complaining that while she was waiting to hear back from a listing agent regarding a date that tenants would allow a viewing, the agent put the home into contract before calling her.  Yes, it turned out the agent slipped her own buyer in before other agents or buyers were allowed to see the home.  Worse, her buyer had a home to sell first and a lower price than what my colleague’s client would have paid.  In that scenario, the sellers may have lost between $25,000 and $100,000 in sales price because their home was not being exposed to the wider agent and buyer pool. 

Buyers who are relying on the seller’s agent to review areas of concern and recommend inspections may be disappointed too.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and possibly while discovering the source of the mildew smell downstairs.

Again, I’m confident I could fairly represent both sides and offer solutions to any issues that are fair.  It’s a fact though, that buyers and sellers are more likely to suspect that the agent is not looking out for their best interests in a double-ending, double-commission scenario.  Resentment can build quickly.  I don’t go there because my successful business is based on happy clients and their referrals.  Worse, on a percentage basis, there is a higher number of lawsuits on deals that are double-ended.   The only winners in that situation of course are the attorneys.

Roofer Shortage Impacts Buyers’ Decisions

An article in the Marin Independent Journal confirms what I have been warning clients about for months: most roofing companies are completely booked for months on end and the situation will only get worse as we start to rebuild after the fires. What the article doesn’t mention is given how busy these companies are, all but one have said they will no longer do roof inspections for buyers in escrow. I spent hours during a recent escrow calling roofers in Marin, Sonoma and Napa Counties to no avail when my go-to company could not oblige. One service I now provide to my clients is getting on a roofer’s schedule as soon as possible if the home in question has an older roof. Long term, in my opinion, it is time for our society promote skilled construction jobs and apprenticeships. It can be a healthy and more lucrative alternative to racking up tens of thousands of dollars in college debt followed by difficulty landing a cubicle-based position.

When Walter Cox worked with a building contractor to get a new roof on his daughter’s San Rafael home, he had no idea the contractor had not yet hired a roofer.

“It’s frustrating — maddening,” said Cox, who said it took five months to get someone out to the house, and this was after the old roof had already been removed.

Marin residents hoping to schedule an estimate for replacement or repair are likely to find themselves in a similar situation. Roofing services across the county have become increasingly difficult to book, as local roofing companies find they are in such high demand that they are already committed weeks or months out.

Brian McLeran, owner of San Rafael-based McLeran Roofing, said the booming business is like nothing he has ever seen in his 44 years in the industry.

“We’re scheduled through 2018,” he said. “We are scheduled completely. I can’t put any more work in.”

At San Rafael’s Miranda’s Roofing Co., the story is the same, with business booked into March, said Gilbert Nichols, a sales associate.

“It’s been as good as I’ve ever seen it,” he said.

Many in the roofing business said last year’s heavy winter storms are to blame.

“Customers who thought they had a few more years because our winters had been dry in California for years, their roofs didn’t hold up like they were expecting,” said Sara Lopez, office manager at McLeran Roofing. “They’re having to do replacements.”

McLeran said many of Marin’s long-time roofing companies are not doing as much work as they used to.

“What’s happened is you got a lot more work on one end, and on the other end, you got the companies going through generational change,” he said. “This is not just roofing, but a lot of industries. With generational changes, you don’t see same volume (of work) being produced by all the companies.”

Nichols said he thinks there are not enough qualified workers in the field, as younger workers are not entering the construction industry.

“The old guys like me are fading away and dying off,” he said. “The young people realize they can make a pretty fat living dealing with the computer madness. They’re getting out of the construction trade.”

Cox, owner of San Rafael’s Master Builders of Marin, said the roofing industry is in desperate need of workers.

“I would say that if anyone is willing and able to get out and get a contractor’s license and do honest work and meet his commitments, he or she can do very well right now,” he said. “There’s more work than there are people.”

Patrick Newman, owner of Novato’s Northgate Roofing, said the last year-and-a-half has been busier than he has ever seen. He said typically during this time of year, he would be responding to service calls on a week-to-week basis but right now he is booked through the next month-and-a-half. He said he thinks the healthy economy is enabling homeowners to pursue more projects.

“People can afford to make decisions to put on roofs, where before they put it off,” he said. “People have extra income or the ability to get a loan.”

At San Rafael’s Aussie Roofing, the company is booked through summer, but has a list of customers it’s trying to work into the busy schedule. Office manager Nila Guastella said her advice is to call roofing businesses as early as possible.

“If you’re considering a re-roof, you want to get on the phone now if you’re considering it for the next 18 months or so,” she said.

Lopez said residents may be able to get a quicker response if they contact their homeowners insurance companies rather than roofing businesses.

“A lot of insurance companies have contractors that when they have a claim, they send out their adjuster or contractor to give a proposal,” she said. “Sometimes a customer who contacts their insurance company can more easily get someone to look at something.”

The wildfires around wine country in October also raised concerns about a regional labor shortage during the lengthy reconstruction, although the ripple effect on Marin is unclear. The fires destoyed more than 5,000 homes.

“We had a real problem of worker shortage before the fires,” said North Coast Builders Exchange president Keith Woods, according to the Press Democrat. “It has been magnified a hundred times over with the disaster.”


Is Your Agent Sending You Off Market Listings?

Coming soon, this home features a beautiful master on the main living level, large oak-studded lot and views to die for. Water views, Mount Tam view, and harbor view. A lot of garage space, too! It’s in a desirable San Rafael neighborhood, so the price I am sure, will not be nearly what one would pay in Tiburon or Sausalito.

This home is not my listing, and will be priced and going on the market next week. In this low inventory climate, it’s important to have a representative with boots on the ground previewing all Marin real estate.

Call me for more sneak peeks, and an honest assessment of any home’s pros and cons.

– Julie  415.309.7074