Country Property Tag

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...

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. ...

Water and Country Property in Sonoma County

[caption id="attachment_1473" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="70 % of Sonoma County Homes get their water from Private Wells"][/caption] Buying a country property is not like buying a home in a city tract or a subdivision, especially in Sonoma County, where 70 percent of the homes are not hooked in to public water and sewer. Water comes from a well and your sewage is disposed of on site in a septic system. I would never have thought that this liberal arts graduate would have learned so much about well and septic systems, but it is essential knowledge for any realtor who likes to buy and sell country property, as I do. The nature of your well and septic systems and the specific country location you are interested in will impact the scope of what you can do with your property, either from a building and development standard or in terms of livestock and agriculture. The vast majority of country properties here in Sonoma County get their water from wells, although I have sold a few properties which had no well but extensive, well producing springs. I have seen some cool spring houses and catch systems for spring water and oddly they can be a few hundred yards away from properties that barely produce any water from their wells. This is really common for example, along Westside Road that stretches from Forestville through Healdsburg. When you buy a home on well water in Sonoma County you need to know about a few different topics: What is the Groundwater Classification Area for the property? How many Gallons per Minute (GPM) does the well yield? What is the condition of the well pump and related equipment and storage, if any? How is the Water quality? Now don't let this list scare you. Most of these items are treatable, except lack of water of course. If you write an offer on a country property, your realtor will be able to arrange to have qualified professionals inspect the water systems. The cost of the inspections are typically the buyer's responsibility. I think sellers should provide as many of these inspections up front as they can, these inspections especially IF THERE IS ANY QUESTION or concern or doubt about water scarcity or quality in a given location. An experienced country property realtor can also give you a heads up if any of the properties you might be considering could have water "challenges" for your use. If you are...

Tour Talk: New Country property listings in Sebastopol

It was a glorious sunny day for touring West Sonoma County and seeing the latest properties to come on the market for the Sebastopol MLS. I am continually amazed at the breathtaking beauty of our back roads and the incredible variety of terrain, vegetation, trees, views and micro-climates that make up Sebastopol and Graton. So many nooks and crannies offering everything from 1910 farmhouses to contemporary estates and Tuscan style villas, vineyards, horse properties, garden paradises (where was the experimental farm of Luther Burbank?), apple orchards, organic farms, dairies --both cow and goat--and idyllic country retreats. Not to mention redwood groves and ocean views. And this was just today's tour! ;) Today we started with a delightful end of lane listing at 8349 Lewanna, off of Elphick. For $699,000 you can have a 1232 sf home on just under an acre. A modest home which could use updating but the views are spectacular:a panorama of the SE Santa Rosa hills and the home looks directly over a sprawling vineyard. Properties don't come up often on this lane and the setting is truly unique. With a property like this you have the benefit of what I call "borrowed acreage" --you can look at it and pretend it's yours but you don't have to take care of it or pay for it. Small parcels bordered by little ones can be delightful in this way. Next we drove way out Burnside Road to view Cary Fargo's latest cool listing at 4910 Burnside Road. This is the quintessential old farmhouse with fir floors and a tilting chimney, spring and tiny studio and pond. Lots of chamomile and herbs tumbling around and we spotted a doe and fawn leaping away. The spring has a hand dug 10 foot deep well and tiny well house covering it. Not much as been done to this house except for some blue tiles that appear to date from the 70's in the kitchen and a massive open beamed ceiling in that room. Lots of wainscoting and original character and KILLER views of Mt. St. Helena. The 3 plus acres appear to be very usable and Cary said there are some potential building sites on the property so that perhaps the cute farmhouse could become a granny unit and leave room for a larger main home. Check...

Tour Twitter heard on the Grapevine–mixing metaphors and maybe technology

It is going to be a gorgeous day to check out the latest West County new listings (Sebastopol MLS tour) tomorrow--I will have on my walking shoes and sunscreen, and James the trusty navigator on my TL will be well rested so he can plot out the best driving strategy for me and Izetta and hopefully another pal or two so we can economize on gas. (author's note:  I had hoped to Twitter my way through tour but that didn't happen this week, maybe next time.) Hopefully there will be some good munchies provided by the hosting agents since for some reason there are a pile of properties this week when there have been very few the last week or two. It is important for listing agents to incent their peers to tour their new listings, especially in a crowded field. At one property last year (a country property listing of mine in Sebastopol) had so much going on that in order to convince agents to wait around and smell the roses, i.e. learn all the property had to offer, I had a masseur doing chair massages in one room, a lender pouring hot-mulled wine and apple cider in the kitchen, and bagels, lox and cream cheese for all. Two of us directed traffic and parking as well. I lost my voice after hours of tour-guiding. It was worth the effort because we had 3 offers the first week and sold for over asking to a buyer who is now very happy in his new country home. This in last year's down market. What kind of creative broker tour incentives have you seen? Anyway, I will report on the latest new West Sonoma County properties after tomorrow's tour. Heard on the Grapevine: In Healdsburg, I know of a great new listing coming up in early July--a classic Craftsman bungalow walking distance to the Healdsburg plaza. About 1600 sf with a new roof and paint, new deck and some interior updating, but a lot more room to improve (including the stand-up full length attic), or liveable and rentable now. It will be very competitively priced on a street with some gorgeous vintage homes. More info in the coming weeks. Enjoy the lovely summer solstice week and tune back in for the tour and gravevine reviews and news. I also just...

Horses and Wine Country

When I started to ride seriously as an adult, my Hanoverian/Thoroughbred cross Reilly and I trained with Sarah Sheehy, Terry Church and Siri Larssen, all in either Marin County or Sonoma county at the time. I have stayed in touch with them over the years and just received word of an updated website, Natural Sporthorse.com which links them all together and promotes Natural horsemanship, inspired by Tom Dorrance and others, for the disciplines of hunters, jumpers and dressage. The purpose is to develop a partnership with your horse based upon improving the rider's balance and feel so as to allow the horse to develop their utmost potential in a sound, healthy and natural way. There are many practitioners of natural horsemanship in Sonoma county. Natural Sporthorse links to some of the best and has links to many other resources as well. Worth a visit! ...

Inventory, Inventory: Who's got the Country property inventory?

Help! There is not enough country property for sale in Sonoma County. I have buyers and very little to show them at the moment. Sebastopol, Healdsburg and the Valley of the Moon in particular are very low on new country real estate for sale. A really lovely piece of land with two legal units in an estate setting between Graton and Forestville just went into escrow with multiple offers. A charming farmhouse with two studio buildings and a small horse setup privately situated just 5 minutes outside of Sebastopol is in contract with multiple offers. An all cash buyer, rumor has it, plopped down nearly 2 million in cash (pending inspections) for a GORGEOUS 20 acre piece with a classic coastal home and large studio building within a week of entering the market. I think sellers are hunkering down due to the negativity in the press and uncertainty and fear in the economy. But well-priced, well marketed and properly prepared homes in Sonoma County, particularly country property, will sell quickly. There are a lot of buyers out there who have gotten off the (classic 3 rail wood board) fence who are looking for new homes or weekend getaways. If you have a country property in Sonoma County that you want to sell, please contact me for a free market analysis!...

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