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Wonderful Sebastopol Mini-Farm with 4 BR/2BA

Sunday afternoon, March 9, I will be hosting an open house at a lovely country home on just under 2 acres in South Sebastopol. It would be suitable for horses or 4H, orchards and possibly vineyard.The 4BR/2 BA home sits on a knoll at the end of a private country lane, equidistant between 101 and the quaint town of Sebastopol, a vibrant community with everything from world class dining, excellent schools, a Whole Foods Market, weekly farmers markets and a small community theater and cinema. With the sunshining you will be able to appreciate the fabulous 360 degree views, including Mt. St. Helena.Please come see me tomorrow, March 9 at 5611 Hessel Avenue in Sebastopol, Ca 95472 from 1 pm to 4pm. If you click on this link it will take you to the interactive Press Democrat open homes guide. Type in your criteria such as the town of Sebastopol, price range, etc. and you will get a map of the homes open this weekend, along with directions and a route guide. The home I am hosted is listed by my good friend Izetta Feeny, and is extremely well-priced at $725,000.See you there!5611 Hessel Avenue, Sebastopol  Open House this Sunday 3/9 from 1 to 4 pm ...

Finding great real estate deals requires a laser beam approach

I enjoy looking at market statistics for the Sonoma County real estate market. As a realtor and full time professional in the market, I look to statistics to confirm or enlighten me vis a vis my own perceptions. I also know the damage that can result from a broad brush focus on statistics. Witness the overall drop in Santa Rosa real estate values year over year of over 15%. (according to Zillow) Not only Zillow but lenders use this sort of data to tar any Santa Rosa home, when the truth is the hardest hit have been the large tracts of entry level inventory that Sonoma County communities such as Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Rohnert Park/Cotati and Windsor have. These communities have the highest preponderance of entry level single-family tract homes which were hardest hit by the sub-prime crisis. All of these communities have some wonderful country properties, vineyard properties and horse farms which will be negatively impacted from a lender's eye in terms of valuation, relative to equivalent properties in Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Sonoma. They could be equally or more scenic, have oodles of wine country juice but are harder hit from a statistical eye. That is why the laser beam approach is best when you are actively in the market for real estate, or are planning to sell a property for that matter. As my colleague in coastal San Mateo county, Marian Bennett said recently, "Coastside real estate is very “location specific”. Trends can be information but they are not the whole picture if you are ACTIVELY in the market. In our office alone, 2 homes sold within hours of being listed last week. Part of that may be heading into the spring buying time and/or the seller had the golden triangle (my phrase) of Location, Price, and Presentation. "...

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...

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