Author: Pam Buda

Highest level ratified Sonoma County real estate sales since autumn 2006

Last month I posted an encouraging word about increased January 2008 real estate sales  activity in Sonoma county.  My fellow realtors and I are all noticing a pickup in buyer activity since December.  "People are realizing that their are some "smoking" deals out there and getting down off the fence.  I think 2008 will be the year of the buyer." said my broker at Coldwell Banker, Rick Laws , on a brief phone call today.  He had just emailed us the first look at February real estate sales data for Sonoma County homes and condominiums and the data verify the gut feel possessed by many of us who as realtors are active in the market on a daily basis.   I am glad because I was feeling a bit like Pollyanna after my last post, given the gloom and doom in the media.  The media spin  generally lags street level reality by weeks or months, which is why timing the real estate market or any market for that matter, is so difficult to do.  Anyway, newly opened escrows (ratified contracts) are up over 65% this month from last to 363 units.  January saw the largest number of ratifieds of any month since last July 2007, but get this, February's sales are up to a level not seen since AUTUMN of 2006!  Given seasonal factors, that is a pretty encouraging sign.  January ratifieds were 220 units and December was at 171. If you are interested in learning about some of the great real estate buys in Sonoma County, whether for single family homes, country property, horse property or investment purposes, please feel free to email me or call.   I will post more in depth data for February when it becomes available in another week or so....

Mustard and Wine Country

We went for a drive yesterday after breakfast (OK, I know, a Realtor's busmen holiday consists of driving around and looking at property!).   We took all back roads from the house in the Olivet area outside Santa Rosa, crossed over Wohler Road to Westside Road, stopped in Healdsburg for coffee, then back to West Dry Creek Road, Lambert Bridge Road to Dry Creek Road, Lytton Springs Road to Chalk Hill Road (to preview a new country property there) and back all the way down the east side on Chalk Hill to Faught Road in Windsor.   I will try to duplicate the drive on Google Maps, but you can email me if you want the specifics, but we covered the better parts of the Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys and got to ogle lots of gorgeous Sonoma County country property on a glorious early spring day. The mustard, daffodils and acacia trees were at the peak of their yellow blooms, leading us to wonder what it is about the first flowers of spring that so many of them are so YELLOW! ...

This weekend or next come barrel taste along the Russian River Wine Road

Just had lunch today with a group of friends (aka The Russian River Valley Girls) at the new Bistro 29 in downtown Santa Rosa--they graciously opened for us for a private lunch and the food and service were fantastic!  It was a tough day to schedule for a lot of folks who are furiously preparing to host lots of locals and tourists for this weekend's Russian River Wine Road Barrel Tasting.  Anne Giere of Sapphire Hill Winery, who heroically organized our lunch at the same time she is getting ready for the weekend, reminded me that this is the 30th Anniversary of the Barrel Tasting tour!   It has become such a big success that this year, as in 2007, the festivities stretch to cover two weekends.   Hard on the wineries to staff but lots of fun for the rest of us.  Many of my friends from the Bay Area come up and rent limos or designate a driver and then cover the area vineyards to sample wines not yet committed to bottles.   People have been known to buy copious amounts of cases to bring home and wine futures to pick up at a later date. "Barrel Tasting is not a food or themed event.  It's all about the WINE...

Mid-range Sonoma County property sales AND inventory trend down

Unlike the entry level where inventory keeps growing, and sales are also up sharply this last January, properties priced from $500,000 to $750,000, what is our lower mid-range, are showing declining sales, but also declining inventory at nearly the same rate.   Buyers at this price range are entering jumbo loan territory, and sellers who don't have to absolutely sell may be taking themselves out of the market. ...

Housing Inventory Supply and Demand Varies by Price Point

OK, back to more serious stuff. Not surprisingly the supply and demand dynamics for Sonoma County real estate vary greatly at various price levels indicating different forces at work.  The next few posts will look at different price ranges and the number of ratified sales (escrows opened) versus the number of new listings.    My broker, Rick Laws, compiles a detailed view of market statistics on a monthly basis which is shared with the Press Democrat newspaper.  Once a month I receive about 20 or 30 reports looking at homes, properties over $1 million dollars, and condominium sales throughout Sonoma County.  These are pulled from sales data from the BAREIS MLS for Sonoma County and supplied via Brokermetrics.   When I need data for a particular area or type of property I can drill down deeper in Brokermetrics but the monthly standard reports give a good statistical overview of the county as a whole.   While we are "in the market" everyday and like to think we can sense trends as they emerge, it helps to have the data to confirm your senses. The benefit being that it helps us to hopefully deduce some trends for our buyer and seller clients so that we can come up with the best strategy for their real estate needs.  The low end of our market (under $500,000) is flooded with inventory compared to two years ago.  A year ago new listings were steadily trending upward and buyer activity was nearly level. However, the number of ratified sales in January (sales that should close in February or March) is up significantly by nearly 50%, an encouraging sign and evidence of the increased buyer activity post holiday and Super Bowl.   The question is how far up will that inventory rise, and will the buyer bump up trend continue so that the lines level out or converge, rather than trend apart as they have in the recent past? ...

Wine Country and Ducks

Last night I heard some raucous quacking in several short bursts.  I sleepily wondered if the duck couple that naps by my pool every spring had returned for their sojourn again--one of those wonderful seasonal evidences of the rhythms of the countryside.   As I stepped off a conference call this morning to refill my coffee, sure enough, there they were.   Their nest is nearby and every morning they come for a bath and a snooze on the warm concrete pool deck.  The Papera vineyard is behind the house, 17 acres of old vine zinfandel planted by Charley Papera in 1934, still going strong.   Makes great zin, by the way!   Charley used to own much of this street if not all. It was pasture for cattle and still throws up some good oat hay.  Nice to see the sunshining and the days getting longer.  Not a bad place to be a duck (or a person). ...

Where to dine in Sonoma County

I guess because it is lunchtime and I am hungry that I am reminded how much I enjoy Heather Irwin's Press Democrat blog, Bite Club, for the latest Sonoma County foodie news, restaurant gossip and reviews.  Plus fantastic archives that make it easy to find, let's say, the best chile rellenos in Santa Rosa.  Hmmm...

Heard on the Grapevine

Up and coming cool Sonoma County country property listings: West Sebastopol   1 acre 3/2 house in scenic area  $759,000 end of Feb Prime close-in country location near downtown Sebastopol   $825,000 "ish"  3/2  1/5+- acres coveted end of lane location Prime wine country home and 3.5 acres surrounded by vineyards and horse properties.  Now set up for horses, eminently plantable to Russian River pinot noir or Syrah or?  Pool, 4BR, 2BA.  Lovely views and fabulous bucolic setting on a quiet lane.  Price TBD. South Sebastopol mini-farm with horse setup, house and granny, in the $800's.  Coming end of February. Healdsburg  2 useable acres in prime end of lane location surrounded by larger parcels, lovely views, modest 2BR comfy home.  $850,000 ish.  Later this spring. Call or email me to check on these or other upcoming properties in Sonoma county,...

Wild Stage 1 of Amgen Tour of California finish in Santa Rosa today

Juan Jose Haedo of Team CSC repeated his 2006 Stage 1 victory in this the 3rd running of the Amgen tour of California, and the 3rd year that the race has had a stage finish and start in downtown Santa Rosa.   It was an exciting finish including a crash in Railroad Square by then-leader George Hincapie as well as a big lead change in Occidental near the end of the nearly 100 mile race today.  Tomorrow Stage 2 will run from Santa Rosa to Sacramento.   For up to the minute coverage of the Tour of California, the Press Democrat is running a special on-line section.  Santa Rosa's own Levi Leipheimer exhorted the crowd at the finish to join his website, www.letleviride.com  to fight the disqualification of his new team Astana's in the 2008 Tour de France. "On February 13th, the Amaury Sports Organization (ASO) barred Team Astana from competing in any race or event organized by the ASO in 2008. The ASO owns premiere cycling events like Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Tours, and the famed Tour de France. The ASO cited the doping scandals of last year’s Tour de France as justification. There can be no comparison between the Astana team of 2007 and the new Astana. The entire organizational structure has been rebuilt under the direction of the team’s new General Manager, Johan Bruyneel, who has thoroughly cleaned house. What’s more, Astana has adopted the rigorous doping controls developed by anti-doping expert Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard, and Astana now spends more money on anti-doping controls than any other team in the pro peloton." The Amgen Tour of California brings a lot of excitement to Sonoma county.  30,000 people attended the wild finish dowtown Santa Rosa today. For some  excellent photos of today's tours, and other links, head to Spare Cycles....

Bay Area Real Estate Buyers out in force as the sun shines

Well they have been out in force even in the rain, but it is sure a lot more fun to look at property when the sun is shining.  Our local Coldwell Banker Santa Rosa office had 23 open escrows last week which is a noticeable post-Super Bowl bump perhaps.   In a "normal" market we average 20-30 escrows a week opened but December and January were down under 20 for the most part. Marian Bennett in Coastal San Mateo county notes a similar trend in a recent post: "They came from the Frenchman’s Creek neighborhood, Fremont, San Francisco, Sonoma, even southern California…tired of waiting for the bottom to hit, or starting the spring house-hunting…and many checking out our coastside communities on one of our “10″ days on my subjective weather meter."    Even in the rain two weeks ago, I had buyers come from all over the Bay Area to view a lovely Sebastopol country property I was holding open.   Buyers who may feel like Redfin employee Susan Brady--a self-confessed mid-Peninsula resident with Sonoma Country property aspirations, on the outside looking in. If you want to see that same property in the sunshine so that you can appreciate the fabulous 360 degree views in a typical Sebastopol mini-farm setting on nearly 2 acres at the end of a peaceful country lane, please come see me tomorrow, February 17  at 5611 Hessel Avenue in Sebastopol, Ca 95472 from 1 pm to 4pm.   This  property is listed by my friend Izetta Feeny, and is extremely well-priced at $725,000.  See you there!  5611 Hessel Avenue, Sebastopol  Open House this Sunday 2/17 from 1 to 4 pm....

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