Author: Pam Buda

Tour Talk: New Country property listings in Sebastopol

It was a glorious sunny day for touring West Sonoma County and seeing the latest properties to come on the market for the Sebastopol MLS. I am continually amazed at the breathtaking beauty of our back roads and the incredible variety of terrain, vegetation, trees, views and micro-climates that make up Sebastopol and Graton. So many nooks and crannies offering everything from 1910 farmhouses to contemporary estates and Tuscan style villas, vineyards, horse properties, garden paradises (where was the experimental farm of Luther Burbank?), apple orchards, organic farms, dairies --both cow and goat--and idyllic country retreats. Not to mention redwood groves and ocean views. And this was just today's tour! ;) Today we started with a delightful end of lane listing at 8349 Lewanna, off of Elphick. For $699,000 you can have a 1232 sf home on just under an acre. A modest home which could use updating but the views are spectacular:a panorama of the SE Santa Rosa hills and the home looks directly over a sprawling vineyard. Properties don't come up often on this lane and the setting is truly unique. With a property like this you have the benefit of what I call "borrowed acreage" --you can look at it and pretend it's yours but you don't have to take care of it or pay for it. Small parcels bordered by little ones can be delightful in this way. Next we drove way out Burnside Road to view Cary Fargo's latest cool listing at 4910 Burnside Road. This is the quintessential old farmhouse with fir floors and a tilting chimney, spring and tiny studio and pond. Lots of chamomile and herbs tumbling around and we spotted a doe and fawn leaping away. The spring has a hand dug 10 foot deep well and tiny well house covering it. Not much as been done to this house except for some blue tiles that appear to date from the 70's in the kitchen and a massive open beamed ceiling in that room. Lots of wainscoting and original character and KILLER views of Mt. St. Helena. The 3 plus acres appear to be very usable and Cary said there are some potential building sites on the property so that perhaps the cute farmhouse could become a granny unit and leave room for a larger main home. Check...

Tour Twitter heard on the Grapevine–mixing metaphors and maybe technology

It is going to be a gorgeous day to check out the latest West County new listings (Sebastopol MLS tour) tomorrow--I will have on my walking shoes and sunscreen, and James the trusty navigator on my TL will be well rested so he can plot out the best driving strategy for me and Izetta and hopefully another pal or two so we can economize on gas. (author's note:  I had hoped to Twitter my way through tour but that didn't happen this week, maybe next time.) Hopefully there will be some good munchies provided by the hosting agents since for some reason there are a pile of properties this week when there have been very few the last week or two. It is important for listing agents to incent their peers to tour their new listings, especially in a crowded field. At one property last year (a country property listing of mine in Sebastopol) had so much going on that in order to convince agents to wait around and smell the roses, i.e. learn all the property had to offer, I had a masseur doing chair massages in one room, a lender pouring hot-mulled wine and apple cider in the kitchen, and bagels, lox and cream cheese for all. Two of us directed traffic and parking as well. I lost my voice after hours of tour-guiding. It was worth the effort because we had 3 offers the first week and sold for over asking to a buyer who is now very happy in his new country home. This in last year's down market. What kind of creative broker tour incentives have you seen? Anyway, I will report on the latest new West Sonoma County properties after tomorrow's tour. Heard on the Grapevine: In Healdsburg, I know of a great new listing coming up in early July--a classic Craftsman bungalow walking distance to the Healdsburg plaza. About 1600 sf with a new roof and paint, new deck and some interior updating, but a lot more room to improve (including the stand-up full length attic), or liveable and rentable now. It will be very competitively priced on a street with some gorgeous vintage homes. More info in the coming weeks. Enjoy the lovely summer solstice week and tune back in for the tour and gravevine reviews and news. I also just...

Sonoma County Market Dynamics for May 2008: Demand up, Supply of New listings down 14%

Ok so I admit that there is more to being successful in buying and selling real estate (as a realtor or an actual buyer or seller) than knowing market statistics. But the dynamics of this real estate market are changing so rapidly, and the various locations and price points add multiple additional layers of complexity, so that it bears spending some time looking at the numbers. Most of us also like to see if the trends on aggregate bear out our senses as we live and breathe in this market every day. So any of my clients or friends who ask me "How's the market?" knows that I can wax poetic on the subject. Tongue slightly in cheek. ;) Anyway, my broker Rick Laws, just released May's sales statistic for Sonoma County to us this morning and the sales up-tick we noted previously appears to be continuing or even accelerating. Add that to the big news that the number of new listings is actually down 14%. This is for all residential sales in Sonoma County at all price points. I have asked Rick for some additional breakdowns. This is a rough pass of the data because as Rick says, some of the sales reporting for last month can be a little late and dribble in over the first 10 days of the month, which is when he normally compiles the stats that you see in the Press Democrat. Closed sales are up slightly over last year at this time. But even more interestingly, newly opened escrows (sales under contract but due to close in 1 to 2 months) are up 68 percent this year over last. Even if some fall out of escrow, that is a significant boost to a trend we first noted here in early March. Even more interestingly, new listings are down 14% over last year. So where do you think the market is heading? Please click on the image above for a larger view.      ...

Entry Level Sonoma County Real Estate Market Hopping!

Please click on the image above to see one that is actually readable! The trend we first noted in February is continuing in Sonoma County Real Estate Sales, led by our entry level market of homes under $500,000. Not only is the number of new CLOSED sales up to the highest point in over two years, the number of newly opened escrows (UNDER CONTRACT above) is increasing even more rapidly, on pace to close next month. Many of these homes are bank-owned (REO's) or short sales and the buyers consist of investors and first time buyers or folks who are down-sizing. The number of newly opened escrows in this category is up 274% over last year at this time. While buyers think they can offer considerably lower than asking, that is not necessarily true. I just opened escrow for a client in this price range and we were able to get a great property that had been on the market for some time (not a foreclosure) and ridden the price trend down. The perils of overpricing in this case benefited my buyer who is in contract to purchase this home for 33% less than the original asking price, and 15% under the most recent price. But the REO's are now priced to sell for the most part and attracting multiple offers. One of the best deals I saw in Montgomery Village last week at under $320,000 had four offers within a few days of coming on the market and still the bank had not selected which cherry offer to pick. But even if this property sells for slightly over asking, it is a great solid home (in need of much TLC) on a prime street and lot with surrounding homes that will love to see this one fixed up! Perhaps the big thud we heard in Sonoma County last winter was the sound of the market hitting bottom. We shall see. More stats and opinions to come on other segments of the Sonoma County Real Estate market this week....

Open May 18 1-4PM: A Panoramic Country View Property in Sebastopol

As a 10 year resident of Sonoma County, one of the only things I really missed when I moved up here from the San Francisco Bay Area in early 1999 was my fantastic 3 Bridge SF Bay view with spectacular sunsets every night from every room in the house. It was a great way to transition from a busy day by enjoying the sunset in the evening. My current home is not situated to take the western views in, although when I feed the horses, that is my sunset viewing time. That is why I love the listing at 2210 Pleasant Hill Road in Sebastopol, and offered to Pamela Bernier, the listing agent, that I would hold it open this Sunday May 18 1-4 PM in the hopes that I might introduce the property to some folks looking for a lovely 2.6 acre parcel, home and small horse setup set way back near the end of a peaceful country lane. The entire home faces the rolling western hills of Sebastopol with panoramas of vineyards, orchards and distant redwoods. The acreage is very usable and would accommodate horses or livestock, an avid gardener or grape grower or just some folks who want to kick back on the decks at sunset and unwind in a their very own Shangri-la. Come visit tomorrow and learn about this or other properties on the market, as well as current Sebastopol and Sonoma County real estate market trends. This last week I toured 11 new property listings on the market in Sebastopol, as well as others around the county, so I can fill you in! ...

Sebastopol and Sonoma County Real Estate Market Update

Since I have been looking at the foreclosure market in Sonoma County, I decided to switch gears back to country property and take a look again at the health of that market. Tomorrow, May 18th, I am holding open a 2.6 acre country property with a spectacular view setting, usable for horses, gardening, grapes or getting away from it all. So I decided to look at the Sebastopol market trends for properties in a similar price range, $600,000 to $1.1 million dollars to see how prices and inventory are doing now, and over the last year. Some of my previous posts have covered this topic in the past. Here is a chart of Market Trends for the $600K to $1M price range for real estate in Sebastopol for the last year. The median price through April has risen from $735 to $765. With such a small sample size this number can fluctuate widely but the really startling number is the amount of listing inventory, which has declined from 93 last May to 63 now. Have the sellers been scared away? The number of accepted listings versus sales inventory is also a good indicator that this upward trend could continue. Perhaps it is because the foreclosure and short sales are in short supply in Sebastopol. That is why all real estate is local, and buyers and sellers alike can benefit by looking at market trends for their particular area. I heard a good reference the other day which stated that looking at national or statewide real estate trends to figure out what is going on in your market is like trying to predict your local weather by referencing a national average temperature of 57 degrees. Kind of hard to do. If you have questions on this data or would like to slice it a different way, please email or call me, or visit tomorrow at 2210 Pleasant Hill Road. ...

Drilling down to look at the foreclosure market in Sonoma County

Sonoma County Foreclosure Active Listings by Area Of the 404 active foreclosure listings in Sonoma County today, here is a snapshot overview. For a more detailed look, and information on specific properties available on your own private web portal, please contact me directly and I will email you a report. Of the 404 properties available today, the average number of days they have been on the market is 63 days. Buyers on top of their game are jumping on the best properties in the best locations (surprise, surprise) and many are subject to multiple offers, but generally under asking price. Banks are sometimes offering concessions such as credits to closing costs for certain repairs, but it really depends on the property and the competitive landscape. Of these properties, the minimum price is $101, 200. The maximum price is $1,249,000. The median price is $309, 975, well below the median sales price for the county. Click the link above to get to a Google Doc which breaks the foreclosure market down by area within Sonoma County. Cotati/Rohnert Park, parts of Santa Rosa, Windsor and East Petaluma are the most effected whereas communities such as Sebastopol and Healdsburg have very few foreclosure properties on the market. Also, the price points tend to be the lower ones with the median price at just over $300,000. Sunday April 27th Update: Just popping by to update yesterday's post with a link to today's article on the hardest hit parts of Sonoma County by Michael Coit of the Press Democrat.  I guess we are on the same wavelength today. Foreclosure hot spots Three of every five mortgage defaults last quarter occurred in three sections of Sonoma County By MICHAEL COIT THE PRESS DEMOCRAT ...

How Many Foreclosure Properties are for sale in Sonoma County?

Currently there are 404 active listings on the MLS for Sonoma County that are bank-owned foreclosed properties, also known as REO's.  Many real estate investors and first time home buyers are seeking out real estate bargains here due to the large number available.  Investors had fled the county for a number of years due to rapid appreciation but the proliferation of bargain priced bank-owned (REO) properties and short sales have attracted them back.  As a realtor, I often am asked by clients where the best deals are, and sometimes they are surprised that not every type of property is a potential bargain, nor are they equally dispersed throughout Sonoma county. As colleague Marian Bennett on the San Mateo coastal front says in her blog: Bottom line:  There are foreclosure properties out there, and probably more coming through the remainder of ‘08.  Buying such a property requires research, patience, ready cash…and a bit of a stomach!  Support of your team may be helpful to some and crucial for others (be it contractor, accountant, real estate professional, loan consultant, or parents). If you’re interested in starting your own online research, I just got this tip from Kevin Boer about foreclosureradar.com.  I’ll be tracking it along with where I currently have an account, Realtytrac, to look for San Mateo County trends.  My Realtytrac research has shown their properties to be pretty out of date so I may try to find another one to use as a comparison to foreclosureradar.  If you know of another good one, make a comment to share with everyone. By the way, colleague Sam Benson at Real Estate 680 in Contra Costa county is opining on the same subject....

Heard on the Grapevine: Cool country property not yet on the market

Just got back from a sneak preview of an upcoming country property in the wine country of NW Santa Rosa on approximately 3 acres at the end of a private lane. 2 story farmhouse style with a wrap around porch and deck, HUGE 2 story shop building, a diversity of trees, a seasonal creek and small setup for horses. Very comfy and could take a nice update. Has the potential to be the quintessential wine country farmstead with endless vineyard and sunset views. Surrounded by horses and wine country! Please contact me for details and an early showing. Price to be determined but in the $1 to $1.2 million range....

Horses and Wine Country

When I started to ride seriously as an adult, my Hanoverian/Thoroughbred cross Reilly and I trained with Sarah Sheehy, Terry Church and Siri Larssen, all in either Marin County or Sonoma county at the time. I have stayed in touch with them over the years and just received word of an updated website, Natural Sporthorse.com which links them all together and promotes Natural horsemanship, inspired by Tom Dorrance and others, for the disciplines of hunters, jumpers and dressage. The purpose is to develop a partnership with your horse based upon improving the rider's balance and feel so as to allow the horse to develop their utmost potential in a sound, healthy and natural way. There are many practitioners of natural horsemanship in Sonoma county. Natural Sporthorse links to some of the best and has links to many other resources as well. Worth a visit! ...

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