Sonoma-County-Real-Estate Tag

An Upturn in the Housing Market May Be Reversing –

But what about Sonoma County and Northern California? If you read this article in the business section of today's New York Times, An Upturn in the Housing Market May Be Reversing - you'd find very justifiable skepticism about the increase in real estate sales volume nationally that we've experienced this summer and fall. As some friends and I discussed at dinner in Healdsburg Monday night, no one is convinced that the economy is on firmly recovering footing, Wall Street enthusiasm aside. So are we up for a "W" recovery--meaning another downturn in housing prices? From the article, which discussed the latest Case Shiller Housing Index Report: The two housing price reports lag, by a month, the figures on the volume of home resales, which were issued Monday for October. Home resales jumped 10.1 percent to the highest level in two years, better than analysts had expected. Much of the increase was attributed to the $8,000 first-time buyer’s tax credit, which had been set to expire Nov. 30 but has been renewed through spring. Buyers who have already owned a home are now eligible for a $6,500 credit. While brisk sales volume should, in theory, push up prices, Maureen Maitland, the vice president for index services at S.& P., said the oversupply of inventory was acting as a brake. “You can look down the street and have 10 houses to choose from,” she said. About 3.57 million used homes are for sale, a number that has been declining but is still higher than the historic average. It represents seven months of inventory at the current sales rate. Ms. Maitland speculated that the housing market might follow a “W” pattern, as the price lows plumbed last spring are tested again this winter. It's all well and good to look at national statistics, but (and this is a cliche so forgive me)--looking at the national housing market to try to determine what is happening with home values in your neighborhood is like trying to know what the weather will be like by knowing what the average temperature in the US is at any given time. Just look at the paragraph above--7 months available inventory nationwide. In Sonoma County we have less than three months of inventory available county wide, and less than two months at the lower price ranges. Even at the upper price ranges we have about 10 months of inventory...

"It ain't over till it's over." or what Yogi Berra can teach first time buyers about Real Estate

yogiisms.jpgSo if you know me well, you know that I am a die-hard THIRD generation New York Yankees fan. (DISCLAIMER: Despite this fact, I have several clients, good friends and colleagues who are Boston Red Sox fans, but that is another story.)

How does Yogi Berra relate to the current real estate market in Sonoma County, Ca?
Well as current clients of mine will tell you-they thought they’d found a perfect house. We’ll call it “Park Place”. Great commute location, walking distance to shops and restaurants, and best of all a vastly over-sized, 13,000 square foot park-like back yard (complete with its own redwood tree and veggie garden).  Unfortunately for them, 18 other buyers also thought it was a great property and the winning offer was not ours, even thought we went well over asking, my clients were extremely qualified first time buyers. In this case it wasn’t enough. But they gave it their best shot at a price that made sense to them and lived with the results.
After a four week break to take care of family obligations, my clients were ready to write an offer on another pretty interesting property.   Meanwhile, I had told the listing agent for the first property to keep us posted if something happened to the original offer.
Also we  kept an eye on things.  We don’t want to rely on an overburdened REO listing agent. To make this easy for everyone, I set up a private web site for my clients updated in real time with changes to the MLS (Real Estate Multiple Listings Service). You may not realize it but most public facing websites are not reliably up to date, so a property could be back in escrow and not available again before you know it.
In this client website, we can keep homes in “Newly Matched”, “Saved”, and “Rejected” Tabs.  That way we are in sync and can both keep tabs on things so to speak. With my out of town clients, the “Comments” feature helps my get to know their preferences pretty quickly.
Back to the Yogi Berra situation: the same day we were writing on place number 2, I received a phone call from the listing agent on “Park Place” –the house of the 19 offers. Apparently the first buyer could not perform due to problems with their FHA financing.   The 3`cash buyers had gone elsewhere.  My clients were selected next by the bank who owned “Park Place” (bank as property owner-is an “REO” for real-estate owned).
Long story short, my clients are now in escrow to purchase “Park Place”.  Of course, it ain’t really over till escrow closes.  It is always wise for buyers of any property not to fall in love until they are moved in.  But this one, given up for good a month ago, looks pretty good now.
So thanks Yogi, for the real estate wisdom.   And I thought you were just a great catcher, hitter and 10 time World Series Champion!

Are you a Property Virgin? $8,000 $Reasons to find why now might be the time to buy your first home

I have got to give credit where credit is due..Krisstina Wise is an Austin real estate broker, head of the Good Life Team. Earlier today she followed me on Twitter. I decided to check out the website of her self-described "hip" Austin real estate brokerage. I found it engaging, well-thought out, informative and professionally done. They use video judiciously and well and have some good tools for buyers and sellers. Their blog had a post on the new federal tax credit for first time home buyers. It wasn't the feds who coined the "Property Virgin", nor did I, so I MUST give credit where credit is due. Thanks to Krisstina and the Good Life team. Here is a bit of their post: No joke. The 8,000 reasons to buy today are quantified in terms of real dollars — $8,000! That’s right. As part of the stimulus package, Uncle Sam is offering “First-Time Homebuyers” (Let’s call you Property Virgins) up to $8,000 in the form of a tax credit for purchasing a home in 2009. If you have been on the fence or if you are considering buying a home in the next year or so – you must learn about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – The First-time homebuyer tax credit. This is a special opportunity that enables you, as a Virgin, to be one of the few who can BENEFIT from this crazy economy. What is it? As part of the Stimulus package, a Property Virgin who purchases in 2009 is eligible to receive up to 10% of the cost of the house –up to $8,000– in the form of a tax credit on their tax return (did we just use stimulus and virgin in the same sentence?). A tax credit means that the $8,000 is a dollar for dollar reduction in what you owe in taxes. This means that if you owed $8,000 in income taxes and you received the $8,000 tax credit, you would owe nothing to the IRS. If you are owed a refund of $1,000, after the credit you would receive a refund of $9,000! And no, you don’t have to pay it back if you live in your new home for at least 3 years. Actually both the term property virgin and first time buyer are not really accurate. Eligibility for this tax break really focuses on your...

Sonoma County Real Estate Pending Sales up 96% versus December 2006

There was no seasonal dip in newly opened escrows this December as brave (or desperate) buyers and investors sought a home for their cash, literally. Despite the horrendous news in the financial markets, the rate of sales actually increased and the number of new listings continued to decline over the most recent months. Maybe the 2 point drop in interest rates over the last three months has continued to spur buyer activity, and not just at the low end of the market (under $500K--or really under $350K). I just got my hands on all sorts of juicy data and four major price points so you will hear more from me as I analyze the results. The steadily increasing sales continues a trend lead by low-priced REO properties we first noted in February and March of 2008. Meanwhile, here is the quick overview. (Thanks to my broker, Rick Laws, of Coldwell Banker, who is a data geek. He pulls Sonoma County real estate sales data from the local multiple listings service (BAREIS) via the Brokermetrics service.) Since December 2006: Pending Sales are up 96% Closed Sales up 7% New Listings up 48% Take a look at the trend lines over two years, because that tells a partial story of our market in Sonoma County real estate. More to come. Stay tuned. ...

October Sonoma County Real Estate Sales Snapshot

This week I received this quick sales snapshot from Rick Laws, my broker at Coldwell Banker.   It provides a 13 month overview of Sonoma County residential sales activity at all price ranges and in all locations county wide.  Sales activity and area trends vary widely by price and location but this is a quick view based upon MLS data pulled by Brokermetrics. In about a week I will have more detailed information available covering the various price points and separating out condo activity. Sonoma County Real Estate Market Dynamics October 2008                                 Oct 07        Oct 08         # Units Change       % Change Under contract       227              604                        377                      166% Sold                       227              488                         261                     115% New listings            530               551                           28                       5% The biggest takeaway here is that this is the first time in over two years that the number of newly opened escrows has exceeded the number of new listings.   Despite everything that happened in the financial markets in October, the number of newly opened escrows was up 166% and hit its highest point year over year.  In addition, the number of closed escrows reached a new high for the year.  We all know that not every opened escrow will close-but the number of newly ratified sales continues its upward trend, and bucks the national trend. The tail wagging the dog in this market continues to be the REO (bank-owned) home at the low end with an increasingly high volume of sales under $500,000 for both single family homes and condos.  Sales through October seem to be driven (this is anecdotal) equally by first time buyers or owner occupants and  real estate investors....

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...

Sebastopol and Sonoma County Real Estate Market Update

Since I have been looking at the foreclosure market in Sonoma County, I decided to switch gears back to country property and take a look again at the health of that market. Tomorrow, May 18th, I am holding open a 2.6 acre country property with a spectacular view setting, usable for horses, gardening, grapes or getting away from it all. So I decided to look at the Sebastopol market trends for properties in a similar price range, $600,000 to $1.1 million dollars to see how prices and inventory are doing now, and over the last year. Some of my previous posts have covered this topic in the past. Here is a chart of Market Trends for the $600K to $1M price range for real estate in Sebastopol for the last year. The median price through April has risen from $735 to $765. With such a small sample size this number can fluctuate widely but the really startling number is the amount of listing inventory, which has declined from 93 last May to 63 now. Have the sellers been scared away? The number of accepted listings versus sales inventory is also a good indicator that this upward trend could continue. Perhaps it is because the foreclosure and short sales are in short supply in Sebastopol. That is why all real estate is local, and buyers and sellers alike can benefit by looking at market trends for their particular area. I heard a good reference the other day which stated that looking at national or statewide real estate trends to figure out what is going on in your market is like trying to predict your local weather by referencing a national average temperature of 57 degrees. Kind of hard to do. If you have questions on this data or would like to slice it a different way, please email or call me, or visit tomorrow at 2210 Pleasant Hill Road. ...

Drilling down to look at the foreclosure market in Sonoma County

Sonoma County Foreclosure Active Listings by Area Of the 404 active foreclosure listings in Sonoma County today, here is a snapshot overview. For a more detailed look, and information on specific properties available on your own private web portal, please contact me directly and I will email you a report. Of the 404 properties available today, the average number of days they have been on the market is 63 days. Buyers on top of their game are jumping on the best properties in the best locations (surprise, surprise) and many are subject to multiple offers, but generally under asking price. Banks are sometimes offering concessions such as credits to closing costs for certain repairs, but it really depends on the property and the competitive landscape. Of these properties, the minimum price is $101, 200. The maximum price is $1,249,000. The median price is $309, 975, well below the median sales price for the county. Click the link above to get to a Google Doc which breaks the foreclosure market down by area within Sonoma County. Cotati/Rohnert Park, parts of Santa Rosa, Windsor and East Petaluma are the most effected whereas communities such as Sebastopol and Healdsburg have very few foreclosure properties on the market. Also, the price points tend to be the lower ones with the median price at just over $300,000. Sunday April 27th Update: Just popping by to update yesterday's post with a link to today's article on the hardest hit parts of Sonoma County by Michael Coit of the Press Democrat.  I guess we are on the same wavelength today. Foreclosure hot spots Three of every five mortgage defaults last quarter occurred in three sections of Sonoma County By MICHAEL COIT THE PRESS DEMOCRAT ...

Rising Real Estate Sales Trend continues in Sonoma County

Buyers are out in force searching out bargains in Sonoma County real estate with the number of open escrows (ratified sales contracts for home purchases which have not yet closed) reaching the highest level in over two years. This appears to solidify a trend first noted in this blog in early February. The newly ratified purchase contracts will not close till 30 to 45 days after ratification on average and some will no doubt not close, but indications continue to be positive for the state of this spring's market for real estate sales in Sonoma County. Many of these sales have been in the under $500,000 market, where first time buyers and investors are feasting on the large inventory of bank-owned or REO properties where some terrific bargains can be found. For a list of bank-owned properties, please email me. Meanwhile, the following chart shows the sales trends for both new escrows and closed sales for the last two years of real estate sales in Sonoma County....