Author: Pam Buda

Google gets deeper into Real Estate but Offers Inaccurate Results

Google has added property search of current real estate listings to Google Maps. You can go to Google Maps and search a community, even add in your criteria in terms of beds/baths/etc. and the map will highlight current listings and display detailed listing information on the left hand column--Google provides a video overview below. I thought I would check it out for accuracy. I ran a search for Healdsburg and found a property listed for $639,000. which was news to me as I have clients looking for something like that--I follow all the key markets in Sonoma County regularly on the search for new inventory and sold results. So I clicked through to the property info and it turns out the listing was on Piper Lane in Sonoma! Somehow Google pulled the listing info, stripped the town of its Sonoma address (about an hour away) and added Healdsburg to the property address! That's one way to get new inventory! (not) Very misleading. It also picked up a listing in town on North Street which had four lots of about 25 acres each. Not possible--that would swallow the whole town of Healdsburg. When I clicked through the property links I found an empty page on a local broker's site. And these are only the first two errors that I saw. It appears that data is pulled from a variety of sources, including print magazines and other listing aggregators such as ListHub. All I can say is don't go to the bank on what you find because it can be very erroneous. Obviously the search itself is not ready for prime time but also the data being searched is unreliable. Garbage in Garbage out. Until there are agreements with regional MLS's (don't hold your breath) take the real estate information offered on Google Maps with a grain of salt. ...

Google Sketchup allows you to Create 3D Views of your Home and Community

Stephen Fells of Agency Logic, a real estate marketing company in the East Bay, has been blogging up a storm lately, and he recently drew my attention to some amazing new tools by Google. Recently a FREE 3D modeling tool called Google SketchUp made its debut--this will allow anyone to create a 3D model of any image. Imagine a 3D flyby of your home for sale, or a virtual fly by of the town you want to move to! Check out the tour of LA and San Francisco, below. (The song is great too!) And oh! Imagine your home for sale here! (Note: the second video talks about the community effort involved in rendering the images. I wonder how much of these were done with the free tool and how much with the Pro Version?)...

Windsor Housing Sales Trends different than rest of Sonoma County

This is the 7th of the series looking at housing sales trends in Sonoma County. Windsor, sandwiched between Santa Rosa and Healdsburg, has probably the most homogenous housing supply in the county, with many tract homes all clustered in the mid-price ranges. There are estate properties at Shiloh on the east side of 101, and many vineyard, horse and estate homes on the west side of town off Starr Road and others, and I often advise my country property buyers not to overlook Windsor because there are some beautiful wine country homes that can be easily overlooked in a search. But the preponderance are 3-4 bedroom homes priced in the mid-price ranges. Maybe that is why the recovery doesn't look quite so strong here yet in terms of prices. The median price in October 2007 was $620,000 and is now at $357,500, up from a low of $325,000 in April (not February!). Unit sales hit a near peak last month of 42 (the two year peak was 46 and the low was 11 in December 2007 when sales in the mid price ranges started their stall. Month's supply of inventory followed a steep decline from a high peak of 17.5 months two years ago to a low of 2 months over the course of September and October.I hope this series has been helpful! It has been interesting for me to look at individual towns in this way, and the stats seem to confirm my own impressions from my knowledge on the ground of the markets in each of the communities we've discussed. Each property, each location, each home is unique. If you would like some specific information about a home you are thinking of buying or selling, please let me know!...

Which of these is the screamin' real estate bargain?

Which of these is the killer real estate bargain? (See the answers below--these are true stories based upon real estate sales in Sonoma County over the last year--details have been eliminated for obvious reasons.) 1) an REO (bank-owned) home in Rohnert Park/Cotati that sells for $304,000 with 19 offers. Original asking price $256,000. Nearly 20% over asking price. 2) a country property in Healdsburg with two cute cottages that nearly sells for $137,500 under asking price. 3) a country property in Sebastopol that sells for full asking price ($1,750,000) with four cash offers. 4) an REO in Santa Rosa that sells for asking price with two offers. 5) a cute country property in Sebastopol that sells in a week for 95% asking. 6) a fixer (read:teardown) with a bad floor plan on a busy street that sells after a year on the market for 50% of the original asking price. 7) a cosmetic fixer on a great lot with good bones and multiple offers, sells 5% over asking. 8) property someone buys from a friend of a friend before it hits the market at 10% less than the supposed listing price because the seller doesn't want the hassle of selling or to pay commissions. ANSWER: 1) A BARGAIN--Are you crazy? The buyers paid $48,000 over asking. Yes but the bank significantly underpriced the property by not attributing enough value to the oversized, landscaped 1/3 acre lot with its own redwood tree and raised beds for gardening. A most unusual feature that attracted a horde of buyers. Fortunately my wonderful clients prevailed and bought a home for the price that was their target price all along. Now they have a house payment lower than the rent they were paying previously, before taxes. For their first home, a bit of country in a great commute location, with no repairs beyond their budget or skill set. It even appraised at full price. 2) A BUST: It seems like a bargain on paper, but what if the original sales price was about $175,000 too high and the property sits and sits and sits. Even with a $137,500/16% price reduction, the buyer might be paying too much. This property is still sitting on the market racking up interest and taxes. 3) A BARGAIN: A great retreat property that sold in...

Russian River Area Homes in Short Supply, but a Relatively Stable Market

As I reach Post 6 of this series looking at housing inventory trends around Sonoma County, I am struck by how relatively stable pricing has been in the Russian River area, from the farms of Forestville to the Redwoods of Guerneville and Monte Rio to the ocean at Jenner. Prices have always been lower "on the river" and the median has declined only 3% over the past two years, from $326,500 to $317,000. It hit a low of $190,000 in February and March of this year. Again-this probably has to do with an increase in sales in the mid and upper ranges after an almost exclusive focus on the low end of the market. Unit sales hit a two year high of 30 units in June of 2009 after a low of 8 last November, 2008. Unit sales usually are in the teens and twenties. Months supply of inventory is down to 3.6 from 5.8 two years ago. It did hover around 17.5 months last year at this time however. ...

Petaluma Housing Inventory Low and Median Price Increased Significantly

Here is Part 5 of my series looking at the supply of homes for sale (Months Supply of Inventory is the measure) in various Sonoma County communities. Petaluma consists of two MLS (Multiple Listings Service) areas-West and East--with very different characteristics. For the purposes of this post we will combine the two. It was very interesting to look at the trends here over the last two years because I think Petaluma is where the housing market crawled back over the bottom soonest. 80 units were sold in October 2008 which really put a crimp in supply for the winter months. The bottom was hit in February 2009 (noticing a pattern here?) when only 25 units sold, but sales are usually in the 20's and 30's. Median price was at $510,000 in October 2007 and is at $425,000 now, down 17%. But prices are up significantly from the low, which was $323,000. The median price does not fluctuate too widely in Petaluma compared to other Sonoma towns. Inventory peaked at an 8.5 months supply two years ago, but is a sparse 2.5 months now. ...

Sonoma Valley Available Homes for Sale Trending Strongly Downward

The Valley of the Moon represents the other Sonoma, not the county but the towns of Sonoma, Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Boyes Hot Springs. Sales volume ranged the last two years from a low of 15 units in December 2007 to a high of 45 units last May. The range of price points is very large, as in Healdsburg but overall the media price declined from $705,000 two years ago to a low of $323,000 in April 2009. It has bounced up and is currently at $390,000-down 45% over the two years, probably disproportionately aided by the slower sales of high end homes. Months supply of inventory was nearly 20 in October 2007, peaked at over 22.5 in December 2007 and is now tied for its low at 5.1 months, a seller's market. ...

Sebastopol Real Estate Supply has been (relatively) low for a long time

Sebastopol, like Healdsburg, is one of the strongest markets in Sonoma County real estate. The number of units sold per month over the last two years ranged from a low of 6 units in December 2007 to recent highs of 26 units with sales generally in the teens and twenties. A bit bigger supply then Healdsburg but not much. Over the last two years the median price did not see the wide swings that Healdsburg did (Healdsburg has more outlier properties for sale well into the $3 to $6 million range). Sebastopol median price was $824,000 in October 2007 and is $575,000 today. Overall the median price decline was 30%, but I think it has been more affected by the preponderance of sales at the lower price points and on small to no acreage. Market values have declined somewhat but many sellers were able to withdraw their more expensive homes for sale. The market for those appears to be picking up. The median price hit a low of $475,000 in February of this year, as elsewhere in the county. Interestingly, Sebastopol had only 5 months of inventory for sale in October 2007, trended above 7 for a few months and is now at 3.8 months supply. Inventory never really got too out of hand. [caption id="attachment_595" align="alignleft" width="450" caption="Sebastopol Home Resale Inventory Shrinking"][/caption]...

Healdsburg Real Estate Inventory Trends

Here is the next in my series looking at market conditions for various communities in Sonoma County. Healdsburg real estate represents a small sample size with monthly sales ranging from 2 units to 24 units and median price ranging from $352,000 to over $3,000,000 on any give month over the last two years, with several months in which the median price was just over a million. So take this with a little grain of salt. Nonetheless, inventory never really spiked for long, sales are on the upswing, median price is down 27% since October 2007. Month's supply of inventory moved downward from 14 months in October 2007 to 6 months today, a balanced market, probably reflecting the amount of high priced inventory on the market here. MSI peaked at 25 months in February 2008. [caption id="attachment_589" align="alignleft" width="450" caption="Portrait of a more balanced market for Healdsburg Real Estate"][/caption]...

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