Author: Pam Buda

Amgen Tour of California Winding its Way through Santa Rosa and Sonoma's West County Today!

I have been having fun today following the progress of the breakaway group and peleton on Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California . A bunch of us from the block were able to walk to the corner and watch the tour go by this morning! Big stuff for a sleepy country neighborhood! You can keep up with their progress on an app which is handy because it shows it on the map in real time. It is a big deal in Santa Rosa this week but the riders are travelling through a big chunk of West County from Windsor, Healdsburg, Sebastopol, Occidental, Monte Rio, Cazadero, down the Sonoma Coast and back over Coleman Valley Road to Occidental and finishing later today in downtown Santa Rosa! There are some pretty steep but short climbs in Cazadero on King Ridge and then heading down to Highway 1.  One of the most spectacularly beautiful roads anywhere in the world is Coleman Valley Road coming up from the coast highway back in to Occidental.  Truly amazing coastal views and then you climb back up in to the redwoods! Besides redwoods, some of the commentators on the app have suggested the riders stop at the numerous Russian River Wineries they are passing, but as far as I know they are saving that for later! I'l have some video later but this picture of some of my neighbors will have to do for now! [caption id="attachment_1525" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Watching the Amgen Tour of California Stage 1 in West Sonoma County May 13, 2012"][/caption]...

Home Sales Report for the town of Sonoma and the Valley of the Moon

The town of Sonoma has long had the most cachet in Sonoma County, although Healdsburg is coming fast. This sales report looks at the whole Valley of the Moon, including Glen Ellen and Kenwood as well as Sonoma town. There is a bit more sales volume here, but the sample size is somewhat small, while bigger than both Sebastopol and Healdsburg. Like the other towns, median sales prices can be impacted by outlier high end home and ranch sales, so beware of drawing too many conclusions. Bottom line, inventory is shrinking and sales are up. The chart below shows newly pending sales that have not yet closed. As of the end of April newly pending sales were at the highest level in Sonoma of any month in the last two years, exceeding even the normally higher summer months for new sales. Inventory is at only 2.6 months supply, very low considering that Sonoma has a big mix of some very high end homes and ranches factored in to these figures. This are may have the highest percentage rate of sales of properties over a million dollars in Sonoma County. Sonoma Home Sales Report ...

Santa Rosa Home Sales Update: Only 1.3 Months Supply of Inventory Available, Down 60 Percent!

[caption id="attachment_1701" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Real Estate is Coming up Roses in Santa Rosa"][/caption]Santa Rosa is the big kahuna town in Sonoma County, so it's market stats for real estate will be a bit more true and resemble more of Sonoma County as a whole. Again, no surprise in the story here. Declining inventory. Two years ago, inventory was already low, but real estate sales were concentrated under $300,000 or so. Now the market is finally more active at all price points. In April 2010 there were only 3.2 months supply of inventory. Anything between four to six months is considered "balanced" between buyers and sellers. Fast forward to April 2012 and MONTHS SUPPLY OF INVENTORY is only 1.3, down a whopping SIXTY (60) PERCENT! I think if we only looked at homes priced under $500,000 we would find that there are only TWO WEEKS of inventory available, similar to some hot markets in the immediate Bay Area. Something's gotta give. Can you say "price increases"? haSanta Rosa Home Sales Report...

Healdsburg Homes and Ranches Market Update

[caption id="attachment_1693" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Pointing the way in a Westside Road garden in Healdsburg"][/caption]Healdsburg is one of the most desirable communities in Sonoma County and is fast becoming a desination for travellers and homebuyers from all over the globe. Much of Healdsburg's charm stems from the fact that it is a small town. Small town sales volume does not lend itself to great real estate stats since the sample size is so small. That is why I mostly look at sales and real estate market stats county wide. Nevertheless, once in a while we look at individual communities. By looking back at charts over a two year period you can see the seasonality of the numbers and get a little more of a feel for the market. Beware though. Healdsburg has seen some of the highest sales prices in the county (in the many millions) and also has some more typical lower entry level prices around $300,000. If you throw in a property that sells for many many millions of dollars one month in to the mix with only a few other homes and you will see wild fluctuations in median and average prices. That doesn't mean the price of your Healdsburg home has gone up fifty percent in a month as the slide on median sold prices indicates! Probably the most telling slide is the one that shows supply and demand. Inventory of homes for sale is down 34% over the last two years, and the number of sold properties is up 24%. Increasing demand, declining supply. Same story you see throughout Sonoma County. Healdsburg for its size has a higher percentage of expensive homes and ranches, and has had fewer distressed sales. Healdsburg Home Sales Report ...

A look at Sebastopol Area Home Sales April 2010 through April 2012

[caption id="attachment_1684" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Apple orchards give way to vineyard views in this typical Sebastopol country side scene off Burnside Road"][/caption]. Here is a look back at residential real estate sales in the Sebastopol area of Sonoma County, including Graton and Occidental, from April 2010 through April 2012. The reason I usually post county wide numbers is that it is easier to discern pricing and other trends on a month to month basis with the numbers for the county as a whole. You might be interested in just your town, so from time to time I will pull just the numbers for a specific locale, in this case the greater Sebastopol area. Though a small sample size makes it difficult to spot month to month trends, in general inventory is declining and sales activity rising, resulting in only 2.4 months supply of homes for sale in Sebastopol. Two years ago there were 4.6 months supply of inventory. Sales activity is strong but declined slightly (by one house--see what I mean?) in April 2012 compared to April 2010. Take a look through the reports and let me know if you have any questions! By the way, I archive these reports at a document sharing site called Scribd Sebastopol Home Sales Report...

The Five Inspections every Sonoma County Country Property Buyer Should Have

When you are buying country property in Sonoma County you will need to plan to spend from $1500 to $2,000 or more on inspections. It is a big chunk of money but in the long run it will save you headaches and might save you a bunch of cash in the future. Smart sellers may provide some recent inspections as part of their presentation of their property, but in general as a buyer you should be prepared to invest in pre-purchase inspections once you and the seller have come to terms and your offer is ratified. After ratification you have a buyers' investigation period specified in the purchase offer. The standard term is 17 days but the inspection period can be shorter or longer. It can also be extended if necessary but it is not guaranteed that a seller will extend a contingency period. People often ask me when we are writing an offer if they have to specify in advance all the inspections they want to have. In California, absolutely not. You may not be able to anticipate up front all of the necessary inspections so you are not limited in any way. You can have your astrologist out to the property if you want! A good country property realtor can help you to avoid investing time or money on an obviously unsuitable property for your needs, but the only way you will know the whole truth about a property will be to investigate it thoroughly. I have a range of professional experts in various fields that I can recommend to my clients to choose from to hire, and we arrange most appointments as a service to our clients. As part of our Wine Country and Horses Country Property series we will be looking at many common areas to investigate Some properties may merit more extensive inspections. For example a few years back my clients decided it would be smart to have a geologist evaluate the 2.5 acre site they had in escrow. Why? There was a massive rock hillside just to the back of the house. The geologist crawled all over the property, assured them that the hillside was relatively stable, and pointed out a massive bolder up the hill over their pool that probably needed staking! Now they have a lovely, wonderful...

Water and Country Property: How many Gallons per Minute does your Well Produce?

As part of our Wine Country and Horse Country Property Series we have been looking at water. One of the most important items to consider when evaluating a country property is how much water does the well produce? How many gallons per minute (GPM)? Sonoma County's minimum requirement is currently ONE gallon per minute to build a single-family dwelling. Typically when a well is evaluated as part of the pre-purchase inspection, the tap is opened and run for a minimum of two hours to draw down the well and see how quickly it replenishes. When you think about it, one gallon per minute of water is actually a lot of water but I would be very hesitant to recommend a purchase of a property with this level of production unless you also had storage to accumulate some of that water for drawing down later for irrigation and home use. I know of one property in Sebatopol on acreage that only had a 1 GPM well. The builder decided to rent it out to a family of five for a year to prove that it was viable. Still, they had drought tolerant, minimal landscaping and it was a push. It is really not practical to to any extensive irrigation at this level, let along think about vineyards, orchards or livestock. A property with 2-5 GPM will likely need to have storage as well. As you go over 10 GPM (my property is blessed with 27 GPM) then the storage requirements drop. It can literally vary from hill to hill so it is important that your realtor have some familiarity with water issues in the area you are considering before you seriously pursue a particular property. When it comes to evaluating the water system on a property you are in escrow on, then the experts come in to do their full-blown testing. That can run about $400 or $500 dollars or more depending on the extent of the exam. For example, when you evaluate water quality for a potential vineyard, the water testing is more extensive and more expensive. In water scarce areas, Sonoma County has more extensive flow testing and requires it be done at the end of the dry season. The time of the year can impact the flow rate, and at the end of the dry season a well flow...

What does a Well Test involve in Sonoma County?

As part of my research for the water topic in our Wine Country and Horses Country Property series I googled Nick Brasesco of Ray's Well Testing, who does most of my well inspections for clients. I found this nice video, courtesy of Robert Ramirez, an agent at Century 21 in Petaluma. It is about seven minutes long but it gives a good overview of all the components of evaluating a well for a basic country property pre-purchase inspection. (Note: prior to the inspection, it would be smart for the buyer to pull the permit history and try to get the well log (the description of the depth of the well and the soils) so that Nick could review that as well. On a recent inspection for a client we found that the new well had not had the permit finalled by the county, and we asked the seller and the well driller to get that sorted out prior to closing the sale. I am so glad my clients and I investigated the permit history at Sonoma County PRMD. Here is a link to a previous post on PRMD. ...

Groundwater Classification Areas in Sonoma County key to Country Property Possibilities

As part of our Wine Country and Horses Country Property Series we are looking at water sources for country properties. One of the important things to know about your country property is which groundwater classification ares it is in. They range from water rich Zone 1 to very water scarce Zone 4. Sonoma County is huge but LARGE areas of it don't have adequate water to support development, which is why you see so much rugged and lightly occupied wild terrain to the west of Healdsburg for example. In Sebastopol you can go from one street to the next, one ridge to the next, and go from a reasonable Zone 2 to a Zone 3 area. Much of the Santa Rosa plain is water rich Zone 1. Take a look at the map below. [caption id="attachment_1478" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Sonoma County Water Zones range from 1 (Rich) to 4 (Scarce)"][/caption]...

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