Blog

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!...

Wine Country and Technology Team up to Drive Sonoma County Economic Growth in 2013

[caption width="480" align="alignleft"] The Sonoma County Harvest Fair Wine Competition, courtesy of Williamson Wines in Healdsburg[/caption] This morning I received the newly released Sonoma County Economic Development Board study of the Sonoma County economy, prepared by Moody's Analytics, a national economic research firm. Technology, led by the many medical device manufacturers in Sonoma County, wine and tourism (the wine country part) are strengthening and are expected to lead Sonoma County to grow faster than the state and national averages in the second part of 2013. These are all encouraging signs for a real estate market that continues to strengthen, and where values are at long last rising. Now all we need are more homes listed for sale! Now is not too soon to begin planning to sell or buy in 2013. Please email or call me with your questions, after New Year's Day. We are taking a short break now and look forward to working with you in 2013. Happy New Year! And take a peak at the report below, it has some interesting graphs and analytics. It likes back to my document collection at Scribd.com, where I have also posted the latest home sales statistics for the Sonoma County market through November 2012. Sonoma County Economic Development Report    ...

Signs of a Shift in the Tides of Sonoma County Real Estate Continue

Five Years Later A Shift of the Tides in Sonoma County Real Estate In case you are wondering why I have a video of the San Francisco Bay Model embedded here--it is a throwback nod to my first blog post in 2007, when I used the Bay Model as an analogy to explain Sonoma County's relationship to the Bay Area Real Estate Market. Well, just as our market seems to have a fresh start--so does the Bay Model--which completed a two year refurbishment earlier this year--you can take a look above! As I said in that earlier post, the Bay Area real estate tide eventually floats Sonoma County's real estate market boat. We used to say that our market was about 18 months behind the Bay Area market but I believe that is changing for certain marquis properties--country estates in Healdsburg and Sonoma for example, or very stylish homes in walking distance to the Plazas of either of those towns. That is where the Facebook effect is being felt here, as multimillion dollar homes or vineyard and equestrian properties are being snatched up by cash buyers. What does this mean for you as a home buyer today? You must have your ducks in a row to be competitive in this market. There are multiple offers at most price points and thirty percent of buyers (also at most price ranges up to millions of dollars) are cash buyers. That means full pre-approval if you are applying for a mortgage. Proof of funds if you are paying cash. If you need a referral to a good lender, I know some great lenders that I trust who can work with you to understand your options. Let me know if I can refer you. You cannot write a serious offer to buy a property without pre-approval from a lender and proof of the funds needed to close. What does this mean for you as a possible seller? The market for your home may be stronger than you think. While prices are not what they once were, you will find a much more active market to sell in to, and you will find great values for the next home you wish to purchase. We are seeing significant overbids for strategically price properties and prices may be coming up a few percent. Activity is strong at all price points. Million dollar plus properties...

Homes in Sonoma County Are Selling Twice as Fast This Year–We Need More Listings!

Sonoma County Home Sales Report through August 2012 The latest Sonoma County home sales figures through August 2012 show more of the same--increased rate of sales, a higher median price due to the addition of more expensive sales and more non-distressed (equity sales) in to the mix as well as significantly fewer listings than a year ago.  The result?  Homes that sold in over a hundred days a year ago are now selling in 54 days!  Given that more homes also went in to contract in August than any month in the preceding THREE YEARS (!), it seems likely that the decline in inventory and increase in sales are trends that will continue for at least the next several months.  The upcoming presidential election does not seem to be factoring in to most of my clients' thinking here in Northern California. Here is the full set of reports.  Please email or call if  you have any questions about this data or real estate in Sonoma County.  The link will take you to a PDF of the full document at my Scribd page.  There you can see all the of the reports I have done in recent years.   ...

The Road Less Traveled: Could Your Sonoma Wine Country Home Be in One of these Less Known Spots?

[caption id="attachment_1925" align="alignleft" width="300"] Nearly every home in Sonoma County contains at least ONE apple tree, if not many more.[/caption] I had dinner recently with clients who bought a country property in northeast Santa Rosa's Mark West area about five years ago. I love visiting their home as it feels like a mini-vacation! The pool is on a hillside overlooking dramatic wooded ridges. You cannot see another home from the extensive decks around the house, even though the lot is only 2.5 acres. For Jeff and Brian who spend nearly every weekend at the property, it is a welcome and necessary respite from challenging careers in San Francisco. Monday through Thursday they live in Noe Valley, but Fridays after work they head up to Northeast Santa Rosa with their springer spaniel, Margo for a relaxing wine country weekend. Vacations and holidays are mostly spent here and family and friends ensure a social life that extends from the Bay Area to the wine country. At dinner on the deck we were talking about their house hunt back in 2007. Brian was remarking how much they love their location between Santa Rosa and Calistoga--how beautiful it is--how convenient to SF, to Napa and St. Helena and how affordable it was compared to Napa County. "We had no idea that Santa Rosa had so much beautiful country! We didn't realize how many wine country alternatives to Napa and Sonoma that there were. We had no clue about Sebastopol, Forestville or Santa Rosa!" All they knew about Sonoma County was the Russian River resort area, or Healdsburg or Sonoma. They had no idea that they could find the wine country experience they were seeking in any of several Sonoma County towns. In fact, Jeff and Brian are like many of the out of town buyers I work with. They are not married to a particular location when they buy a country home or estate. Rather they are looking for a certain experience. So, with all due respect to the more well-known towns of Napa, St. Helena, Sonoma and Healdsburg, here are some surprising alternatives where you may find a perfect wine country home or estate. A good country property agent (myself included) will have a good feel for country property inventory throughout the county, and more importantly, they will know the ins and outs of wells and septic systems and zoning regulations, which are especially critical when...

X