Author: Pam Buda

A Country Property Course for Realtors in Sonoma County

[caption id="attachment_2147" align="alignleft" width="300"] A view across a private horse arena in Blucher Valley Sebastopol[/caption] I have been away from posting for far too long.  One of the things that has kept me occupied (besides the day-to-day of working with home buyers and sellers!) is my work this year as Chairperson of the North Bay Association of Realtors (NORBAR) Education and Technology Committee.  I have volunteerd on this committee for over five years and find it rewarding to work with my peers to create and promote training for realtors throughout Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino Counties.  We have developed new agent training (the practical kind) and many other courses on technology for realtors, etc.  One of our most successful series has been the Country Property Series for Realtors.  We have been working away on the latest round which will take place over five weeks in June and July.  If  you are planning to buy or sell country real estate in Sonoma County, you want to make sure you work with a realtor who is very qualified to help guide you through the complexities of a country property transaction. Here are the classes we are teaching.  Our faculty consists of experienced realtors and subject area experts.    These courses are only available to realtors but I just wanted to give you and idea of the scope of things to consider when buying or selling a country property!     This is a list of topics! Week 1:  Market Study--sales trends in country property.  I will be teaching this with Mike Kelly of Keller Williams. Septic Systems  Mike Treinen is teaching this class. He is a licensed septic consultant and used to work for the county of Sonoma in that capacity.   He is the guy my clients hire to analyze and inspect their systems, current and proposed. Wells, Springs and Water Quality County Resources (an overview of the Sonoma County Permit Resources and Management Division (aka PRMD) Week 2:  Zoning and Permits These two topics alone will take up a whole afternoon of our time and we will only scratch the surface.  If you are buying a property you want to be as sure as possible that the zoning matches your planned purposes for residential use, vacation rentals, agriculture, livestock, etc. Week 3:  Survey, Grading and Drainage Issues Environmental Issues (toxic waste and endangered species anyone?) Legal Issues (easements, encroachments, boundary disputes, ask me about my current escrow with an...

Holiday Greetings from the Sonoma County Wine Country

Happy Holidays everyone! 2013 has been a great year--a return to "normal" (whatever that is) in the real estate market for 2013. If December's activity is any judge, I suspect that early 2014 is going to be a very strong market. My gut tells me we will see more appreciation again this year, with many moveup buyers within the county and many continuing to relocate or buy second homes here in 2014. We will see more "chains" of linked transactions as a seller sells and becomes a buyer on the next transaction and so on along the tree of real estate life. I hope you take advantage of the holidays to be with your loved ones and to have a respite from our busy world. We will be taking a short break and will be back in the office on Monday January 6, 2014! See you then! [caption id="attachment_2139" align="alignleft" width="300"] Cold weather makes for a dramatic sunset at the old Saitone Vineyard, Russian River Valley.[/caption]...

Median Sonoma County Home Price Rises 25% in the Last Year

Here are the latest charts for residential real estate market statistics in Sonoma County. They represent market data from the BAREIS Multiple Listing Service as displayed by Clarus MarketMetrics. The continuing big story is the 25% rise in the median home price versus October of 2012. This is a direct result of actual appreciation in home values as well as an increase in the number of higher priced homes being sold. It does not mean that every home has appreciated 25% in value--just that the overall mix of homes sold lands at that higher value. At the lower (sub $500,000 ) price ranges, in some cases appreciation might have been as high at 28%, whereas at the upper end the appreciation is more modest, but the rate of sales has increased greatly. I have attended a few economic forecast meetings this fall and the "experts" think we will see more modest appreciation in 2014, more in the neighborhood of 6%. This probably makes some sense as the overall mix of types of homes may have stabilized so there will be less of a bump from that change. Although last year I believe the same experts predicted 5-8% appreciation for 2013 so who knows? Bottom line if you have questions about your specific situation, whether buying, or selling, or just sitting pat but curiuos, give me a call or pop me an email and I will be happy to research it for you! Sonoma County Home Salest Report October 2012 through October 2013 by Pam Buda...

Dressage in the Wine Country Celebrates the Sport Horse in Sonoma County

Wine Country and Horses is celebrating its seventh year tonight at Dressage in the Wine Country at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds! I am so appreciative to those of my clients and friends who are gathering tonight to celebrate the sport horse in Sonoma County. Whether your discipline is dressage, hunters, eventing, barrel racing, trail riding or jousing (JOUSTING?), you can find kindred spirits in the horse community throughout Sonoma County. If you want to know more about country and horse properties here, contact me and I will send you the latest Country Property Market Repot for Sonoma County. See you there! ...

Median Home Price in Sonoma County Up $100,000 in last year

[caption id="attachment_1925" align="alignleft" width="300"] The Sonoma County market for homes appears headed in the right direction if you are selling.[/caption] I figured that headline might grab your attention whether you are a Sonoma County home buyer (feeling panic!) or a Sonoma County home seller (feeling excitement!) You can click through the link below to access the full Sonoma County Home Sales Report as of June 1, 2013. We look at sales statistics for Sonoma County as a whole because the sample sizes for the smaller towns such as Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Sonoma and Petaluma are so small as to be somewhat misleading. The broad brush numbers are interesting and helpful in terms of assessing overall trends, but each location and property type is unique, so your particular results may vary. So what does this mean to you if you are a buyer? Home Sellers in Sonoma County are firmly in the driver's seat--if you are a buyer you are looking at visibly rising sales prices for almost everything priced under $600,000 or $700,000. At the higher price ranges, over $900K or a million, homes are selling extremely rapidly in many cases, often with multiple offers. You really need to team up with a good agent to succeed in this market, be fully pre-approved with a good lender, or have proof of funds if you are a cash buyer. You have to be realistic about what you are willing to spend and perhaps narrow your search criteria to something $50,000 or more under what you ultimately want to spend. It is not uncommon for homes to sell $50 to $100 thousand OVER asking, so adjust your search criteria accordingly. At the million plus price ranges the overbid can be more. A $1.2 million dollar property on West Dry Creek in Healdsburg came on the market and received 4 offers within the offer period and sold well over asking. The home was in a pretty setting with a pool but dated with lovely gardens. What does this mean to you if you are a Sonoma County Home Seller? It is possible your home may be worth more than you think. Hurray! Maybe you have more equity than you think. Maybe you have a reason to move--job change, downsizing, new baby on the way. This could be a great time for you to sell. It DOESN"T mean you can overprice your home. It will sell eventually and possibly for less,...

Happy Valentine's Day! Where to Find your Sweetie Some Sonoma County Chocoate

We set out to learn about chocolate in Sonoma County this month in honor of Valentine's Day, Chocolate style. There are a number of specialty candy and chocolate shops here, from Sonoma to Cotati, Petaluma to Healdsburg. We found two that were willing to offer friends and clients a special Valentine's Day discount! For a coupon or special discount code, email me for details and I will be happy to share! Did you know that Sonoma County has it's own manufacturer and online purveyor of fair trade, organic and even Vegan chocolates? I did not until our chocolate investigation team got to work and found Sjaak's Organic Chocolates in Petaluma! Besides buying some chocolate this month to celebrate Valentine's Day, be sure to visit Sjaak's site and read their story, which stretches from Holland and Spain to Eureka and finally Petaluma, here in Sonoma County. Sjaak's has graciously offered our friends a 15% discount through February 28, 2013, so please email us for a discount code! Recently I had lunch in downtown Petaluma with a friend. Afterwards we had a sweet tooth so we wondered in to Viva Cocolat at 110 Petaluma Blvd. North. We went straight for the salted caramels but were entranced by the variety of gourmet chocolates from around the world. Next time I am going to stay for a hot chocolate! Or maybe I will take on chocolate appreciation class. Not that I need help in that department. The lovely folks at Viva Cocolat offered our friends a coupon worth 10% off on purchases between now and April 30th. Email me and I will send you a coupon! Happy Valentine's Day from Sonoma County! ...

Steady Decline in Homes for Sale Continues in Sonoma County, therefore Home Values are Rising!

[caption id="attachment_2007" align="alignleft" width="300"] There are 53% fewer homes for sale as of February 1 than two years ago this time.[/caption] Each month I pull the Home Sale Statistics for Sonoma County. Each report has a dozen or so graphs and charts showing various aspects of our local real estate market. As I review them, I try to think of the one slide that says it all for that month. This month, it is the above chart showing the number of listings available throughout our county. Normally I show median price, months of inventory or active vs sold listings, but this month I thought I would cut right to the chase. We need more listings! Listings are typically low in January and February as home sellers and buyers haven't geared up for the spring and summer selling season. This year however buyers did not get the memo to take the holidays off! Most of the Bay Area agents I regularly talk to agree that this year we barely took a breath over the holidays and based upon January, 2013 looks to be a very strong year for our real estate market, one that continues to heal. Prices and values are rising. There are fewer and fewer distressed properties and rising home values are lifting more homeowners every month in to an equity position rather than an underwater position. This is all good news! But now potential sellers need to get the memo. Take a look at the graph above. In 2011 on January 31 there were 2205 homes for sale in Sonoma County. This there there were only 1039 available, a 53% decline. That represented declines in both bank-involved sales AND equity sales. When I look at our Multiple Listings Service on February 1, of those 1,039 homes for sale, only 592 were actually Active. The rest had already accepted offers and were either Contingent (working through loan, inspection and other contingencies) or Pending (waiting to fund and close.) So the actual number of homes available is much less than it appears. What does this mean? Home values are rising rather steadily, with the largest rises coming at the lower end of the market. I believe that sellers are starting to get the word, and we should see more inventory coming on the market at all price ranges in the coming months. If you were considering making a move, please call or...

Pam's Pick: West County Broker Tour Stunning Contemporary on 29 PLUS Acres…

I am still daydreaming about the gorgeous West (Sonoma) County estate property I saw yesterday.  I knew I had to share it with you.  Not only does the home sit on 29 +- stunning classic Occidental acres off Frati Lane, but it features one of the most thoughtfully designed contemporary country homes I have every seen.  In addition, there are two adjoining buildable/probably also plantable lots surrounding this parcel.  You could have a total of 66 +- acres to enjoy now and hold for investment value or as an idyllic family compound.  Occidental can be problematic when it comes to water but this is a Zone 3 property and the listing agent, Randy Rousseau, quoted some pretty high production rates for the three installed wells. (my comments continue below the listing info.)  This would be great for horses but the personal estate vineyard potential could be significant. [idx-listing mlsnumber="21301206" showpricehistory="true"] The main home has wonderful flow indoors and out, great privacy, very high design and materials quality.  You can tell it was designed for function and usability and simple elegance.  Minimalist and I could easily picture living there myself! ;) There is a salt water lap pool and a solar system and geothermal heat pump for sustainability. The property is priced at $2,300,000.  It is rare to find this type of contemporary design in Sonoma County, particularly in West County.  When you add the location, setting and abundance of land and water, old apple orchards and redwoods, you have an unbeatable combination.  I believe that the property could have been price higher but it should sell quickly as it is.  The entire package of home and two buildable lots at 66 acres +- is on offer for $3,600,000.  If you would like to see it email or call me and I can arrange a showing. The location feels like the end of the world but it is only 5 or 10 minutes to downtown Occidental, about the same to Graton and a few minutes more to downtown Sebastopol.   Vineyards, wineries, world-class dining and the stunning Sonoma Coast are all in easy striking distance of this week's Pam's Pick tour property!...

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