Country Property

Pardon Our Dust! Meanwhile Sonoma County Country Property Values up 37% since 2015

This website came into existence in summer of 2007 and we saw the end of a market runup and a catastrophic nationwide recession beginning in late 2007.The Sonoma County real estate market hit a low in February 2009 and bounced along the bottom for a few years. Since 2012 we have seen steady appreciation in prices and sometime in the last year the median value of Sonoma County homes exceeded the previous high. Currently the median price is just under $700,000. Country properties never saw the frothy runup that single family homes did in the previous decade but they have been making up for lost time every since. Over the last three years homes sitting on over an acre have increased in value by 37%. The home you used to be able to buy for $935,000 now will cost you a bit under $1,300,000. Why? At only an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge, our beautiful country properties represent a tremendous value compared to the skyrocketing costs of an SF Bay Area home. And the stress and congestion of Bay Area freeways and urban living make our homes on acreage very appealing. As one of my clients recently told me when we celebrated her two year anniversary of buying her Healdsburg home, "This property helps me maintain my sanity and I am enjoying the peace i find up here even more than I hoped I would!" NOTE: We are in the process of designing a completely new website so pardon our dust while we work on that in the background! [caption id="attachment_2303" align="alignleft" width="300"] Here is a look at the median price of listed and sold properties over 1 acre in Sonoma County since 2015[/caption]...

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...

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!...

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...

Glen Ellen's Got a New Star

[caption id="attachment_1776" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="The New Kid in Town: Glen Ellen Star Restaurant"][/caption] Yesterday morning I went over to Glen Ellen to check out some new country properties on the Sonoma Broker Tour. As agents we hold our new listings open so that the agent community can preview the new inventory without having to make an appointment. We just show up. Ideally refreshments are provided Sometimes there is a drawing for a bottle of wine or a gift certificate. Yesterday I was able to look at two beautiful new country property listings in Glen Ellen and also to check out the hottest new restaurant in town. Glen Ellen must have one of the highest ratios of restaurants to business establishments of just about anywhere, and now there's a new spot to check out. We ran in to look at the menu--it is only open for dinner. Looks promising. And here is a link to Heather Irwin's first look review in Bite Club, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat foodie blog. Oh, and those new listings were pretty interesting too. The first is on 26 acres on Enterprise Road.  It has a rambling country house with nice views of the surrounding countryside and the horse pasture below the property.  This really is a "Wine Country and Horses" property as it also has a several acre zinfandel vineyard.  You can ride in to Jack London State Park and come home and sip wine from your own property afterwards.  Not a bad combination.  The house was very comfortable with beautiful old wide plank floors and woodwork with a lot of character.  The master suite had some of the best views on the property.  If you want my opinion on the asking price of $4.2 Million, please call me to discuss. [idx-listing mlsnumber="21213674" showfeatures="true" showlocation="true"] The other property is on Chauvet Road and you could easily walk to the Glen Ellen Market or any of the MANY good restaurants in town. You could also get up in to Jack London pretty easily from here as Chauvet runs in to London Ranch Road.  I should do a post on Jack London State Park as it is easily one of the most beautiful and interesting places in Sonoma County, whether you bring your horses or hike or drive in. This particular new listing on Chauvet will probably sell very quickly because it is the type of country property that will strongly appeal to someone...

Sonoma County Country Property Pending Sales up 238% Over the Market Bottom in 2009

Following (or leading?) the general pickup in the real estate market both locally here in Sonoma County, and nationwide, country properties are strong. Newly pending sales of properties on 2 acres or more in Sonoma County are at more than the three year high, up 238% !! over the same time in 2009. In fact, February 2009 was the bottom for the median sales price in the county, and the chart belo0w conveniently looks at the sales of country property throughout Sonoma County during that time. All sales that are opened don't necessarily close--there could be property "issues" or financing "issues." Still the number is a good leading indicator of market activity. The jump in sales of country properties is SIGNIFICANTLY higher than the jump in sales of all single-family residences. [caption id="attachment_1629" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Country Property Sales up 238% from Market Bottom in 2009"][/caption] Contrast this with the overall rate of newly signed contracts for all single-family residences in Sonoma County. Compared to SFD's, country property sales really took a dive when the market did the same, while sales in 2009 were focused on inexpensive single family homes and condos. The change in rate of sales for all single family homes (including country properties) has increased, but risen only 21% from the trough year in 2009. So what does this mean? In short, if you have a nice country property to sell in Sonoma County and have been on the sidelines, this spring and summer might be the right time for you to sell. Inventory is becoming more balanced between buyers and sellers, and there is strong demand. I believe that will only continue to grow, as Sonoma County's lifestyle and close proximity to San Francisco make it such a desirable place to live. Please give me a call or drop me an email if you would like to learn more! ...

Buying Sonoma County Country Property; What About the Quality of My Well Water?

So far in our Wine Country and Horses country property series we have discussed well testing, county regulations for new home construction in water scarce areas, and how much water is enough when it comes to the production of your well. Last but not least is the quality of the water being pumped out of the ground. Most newer wells pump from pretty deep under the ground--some old wells are only 80-100 feet deep abut I have heard of wells in Bennett Valley vineyards for example that are 700 feet deep. Contrast that with old hand-dug wells that still exist in a few spots in Sonoma County. You would think that since the water source is from deep undergroung it typically is not contaminated by surface bacteria and pathogens, and you might be right. However the well seal could have been compromised or somehow surface water pathogens can contaminate your well water. After the rainy season it is very possible that your well could be tainted with coliform bacteria. Fortunately that is easy to treat by "shocking" the well with chlorine bleach. But you might never know that the contamination exists without testing. Bacterial complication is not something to panic about, as it is easily treatable. I once saw buyers pull out of a country property purchase since coliform bacteria was found in the water. It was unfortunate for them and for the seller. The buyers' agent had little country property experience. She could have arranged for the well inspector to talk to the buyers. Maybe they could have had their fears assuaged and gone through with the purchase. Who knows? Some people may not be cut out to buy country property. What else should you test for besides bacteria? Most wells here offer water with a very high mineral content, typically lots of iron and or manganese. It is helpful to know what the mineral concentration is. So what are some of the items we test for? Besides bacteria and mineral content, there are other frequently found metals or contaminants found in our water. The well inspector will help you as a buyer determine what to test for. Commonly arsenic (which percolates from rocks in the soil layers) and nitrates (from decades of agriculture and chicken farming) are seen in our water. Fortunately water purification treatment systems can adjust for most of these items. It is important that water sampling be done...

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