Mill Valley CA. Real Estate Market Report (September 2009 Home Sales Update)

September 18, 2009

The Mill Valley, CA. real estate market fulfilled low expectations in August 2009 with 22 sales — same as in July 2009. It has become apparent over the past several months that asking prices have largely halted their downward spiral. As is evident in the graph below, which tracks the median price per square foot (down from $740 to $612), in Mid-June prices flattened out in Mill Valley and have more or less remained stable. It will be interesting to see whether this flattening out carries over into the sales prices of homes trading this Fall and Winter.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com
Based on last month’s sales total of 22, we currently have an overall inventory of homes sufficient to last a bit more than 5.5 months (virtually the same as August 2009) — this is called the absorption rate. This is still a HUGE reduction from the absorption rate from May 2009, which stood at well over 8 months. The number of homes in escrow is also up by over ten percent from last month, which suggests that sales activity will increase in the late Fall and into the Winter months (as is normal for Mill Valley). We think there are many real buyers out there who have been waiting for “a sign” to buy — we don’t know what that sign will be (there are likely to be many “signs”), but we feel it will likely come soon.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

As with Marin overall, the most active segment is the sub $1 million price bands, which can be characterized as neutral markets, favoring neither buyers nor sellers. Well over half of last month’s sales were under $1 million. The number of “bread and butter” homes (those priced between $1 million to $2 million) currently in escrow is up from 12% last month to about 18% this month. Meanwhile, the luxury market in Mill Valley (homes from $2 million and up) saw very limited activity last month (just 1 sale) — but there are 7 such homes in escrow.

Price Range

Total Active Homes

Pending Listings

Up to $800K

17 (same)

48%

$800K – $1 mil.

19 (up 1)

21%

$1 mil. – 1.5 mil.

35 (down 5)

19%

$1.5 mil. – $2 mil.

19 (up 1)

17%

$2 mil. – $4 mil.

30 (same)

14%

$4 mil. & Up

5 (up 1)

0%

Mill Valley’s 22 sales from August 2009 gave rise to the following averages: 111 days on the market; an average price of $911,857; and about 2,109 sq. ft. (or about $449 per sq. ft.). Homes in Tam Valley, Scott Valley, Sycamore Park, and Country Club generated the most calls this month. If you would like more information about neighborhoods, sales, schools, or local Mill Valley services references, just give me a call at (415) 350-9440 or e-mail me at Kyle@MillValley101.com.

Readers of my monthly reports on Mill Valley, CA. are well aware of my love for Mill Valley. And what’s not to like? For starters: (1) A quick and easy commute to San Francisco, (2) often spectacular views of the Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge (a short 5-10 minutes down HWY 101), and Mt. Tam, (3) excellent schools, (4) pleasant weather, (5) a mellow, laid back ambiance, (6) a town square unlike any other in Marin (you have to go to the town of Sonoma for anything like it), (7) diverse social events (think Mill Valley Film Festival & The Dipsea Race), (8) lots of good restaurants, and (9) excellent shopping choices, including non-gentrified, family-owned boutiques and shops of all kinds.

p.s. I currently have several clients who want to be sellers, but are waiting in the wings. Please contact me to determine if any of these opportunities fit your needs. If you would like my Mill Valley Hot List, call or e-mail me: (415) 350-9440 | Kyle@MillValley101.com. It is always my pleasure to be of service. Christie’s Great Estates | Morgan Lane Marin and Pacific Union International.

Marin Real Estate (August 2009)

September 10, 2009

Marin real estate has, it appears, survived the worst of the downturn. While prices are down across the board no matter how you slice it, the road to recovery is in view. Yet, virtually every call I get from potential buyers, at some point in the conversation, eventually turns to short sales and foreclosures — distressed sales remain featured on many buyers’ dance cards. In fact, distressed sales are very competitive and often receive multiple offers. In Northern Marin (a.k.a Novato), 82% of homes priced under $500,000 are in escrow (that’s 40 out of 49 homes!). In San Rafael, 84% of homes priced at or below $600,000 are in escrow (that’s 32 out of 38!). These sales are propelled by value, the $8,000 tax credit, and the increased FHA loan limits which went into effect in April 2009.

Early in the year, buyers were ALL talking about how they anticipated interest rates would go down to 3% (and some buyers were insisting that rates would go even lower). I would just nod my head and concede that was a possibility. After all, what do I know about the unknowable? But, I always pointed out that whatever rates fell to, you could never know the bottom until it was gone. And that rates would surely go back up again — I was not going out on a limb; every economist on Earth is saying the same thing (most believe this will occur by the end of Q1 2010). Sure enough, it seems buyers are picking up on this inevitability and they are out in droves.

Standing back and looking at the higher price bands (especially in Southern Marin), things look a little different. Some sellers still suffer from pricing strategies that prevent them from realistically engaging with qualified buyers. These sellers are either: 1) NOT Sellers; or 2) are getting poor advice and direction from their agents. They will learn that “time on the market” is not their friend. Being a “smart seller” today means negotiating strong terms aimed towards a successful close of escrow within 30-45 days.
The chart below shows a 90-day rolling average of Mill Valley’s new listings and absorbed listings (e.g., sales), comparing current numbers with those of last year. Note that the while the numbers for new listings are about the same, the number of absorbed listings is about equal to 2008. If you would like to review a similar chart for any other town or city in Marin or San Francisco, please let me know.
[Click HERE for the rest of the article, courtesy of www.NorthBayRE.com.]

Marin Real Estate (July 2009)

September 10, 2009

The Marin County, CA real estate market is a mixed bag. Recent escrow activity levels have been refreshing, if not invigorating. New escrows generated in April – June 2009 represent the three best months since June ’07. This progress seems to be continuing. In fact, we could experience the busiest summer in MarinCounty real estate in recent years.

This increase in activity (not price appreciation) follows the slowest six month stretch we have seen in sixteen years. Closings of Marin County single family homes in the 4th quarter of 2008 (457) was the lowest since 1994. Closings in 1st quarter 2009 (222) and 2nd quarter ’09 (421) both set the sixteen year low as well. We feel this recent rally is a reflection of increasing consumer confidence either as a result of, or in combination with, the stock market rebound which began in March 2009. And just when Wall Street looked as though significant further downward movement was in the cards (after a month of week over week declines from mid-June to early July), last week’s results erased all losses from the past month as quarlterly earnings reports have been coming in higher than expected.

On a year-over-year basis, pricing of single family homes in Marin County is a completely different comparison. Depending on your neighborhood, the value of your home could be off 15% – 50% from its peak. As I have documented in previous newsletters, Marin County real estate was impacted by two financial events. Beginning in August 2007, the northern part of the county (Novato and areas of San Rafael) suffered from the sub-prime lending crisis. The activity level in Central and Southern Marin was nearly frozen from October 2008 thru mid-March 2009 — a result of the stock market meltdown.

Today, it appears that our housing recovery will be driven by an increase in units sold. Today’s buyers are driven by value and opportunity. Sellers clinging to what they recently paid for a home or what they “need to sell it for” seem to be grasping at “hope” and have become frustrated in a buyers’ market where days on the market produces diminishing returns.

[Click HERE for the rest of the article, courtesy of www.NorthBayRE.com.]

Marin Real Estate (June 2009)

September 10, 2009

This year has been peculiar in real estate. Obviously, prices are down in all categories. Obviously, short sales and foreclosures are featured on many buyers’ dance cards. And obviously, the market is suffering from a negative feedback loop fed by the media. I spend all day, every day, talking with prospective buyers, prospective sellers, and contemplative owners of real estate. Early in the year, buyers were ALL talking about how they anticipated interest rates would go down to 3% (and some buyers were insisting that rates would go even lower). I would just nod my head and concede that was a possibility. After all, what do I know about the unknowable? But, I always pointed out that whatever rates fell to, you could never know the bottom until it was gone. And that rates would surely go back up again — I was not going out on a limb; every economist on Earth is saying the same thing. Sure enough, since my last report, interest rates have jumped up almost a full point and the forecast does not look as though rates will fall back to the levels buyers were talking about just a short 2 months ago (let alone where they were three weeks ago). Meanwhile, it seems buyers are picking up on the FACT that rates are likely to climb and they are out in droves.

Predictably, the low end is getting the most attention. In Novato, 72% of homes priced under $500,000 are in escrow (that’s 44 out of 60 homes!). In San Rafael, 64% of homes priced at or below $600,000 are in escrow (that’s 29 out of 45!). Incredibly, 11 homes in Novato sold last month under $400K, 9 more sold under $500K, and another 11 sold under $600K. That’s 31 Novato homes selling under $600K. Three years ago, under $600K, you would see perhaps 3 or 4 for homes on the market at any given time. These sales are propelled by value, the $8,000 tax credit, and the increased FHA loan limits which went into effect in April 2009.

[Click HERE for the rest of the article, courtesy of www.NorthBayRE.com.]

Marin Real Estate (May 2009)

September 10, 2009

The leading indicator of future sales is the number of homes in escrow at a given time. We have experienced over 60 new escrows in five of the past seven weeks and over 70 for the past three weeks. May 2009 new escrows will likely surpass the levels of April and May 2008. As you can see from the below chart (which goes back 6 months), the number of escrow is up 105% and sales are up 30%.

The upsurge in sales and escrows is seasonal, but also due to low 5% interest rates on conforming loans right now. We are also seeing a spike in home sales at the low end due to the increased FHA loan limit (now at $729,750). Given the activity we are seeing, it seems likely that the traditional Summer slowdown in home sales will be modest as buyers continue pursuing those “value” properties through the Summer. This year is shaping up to be one defined by “value.”

[Click HERE for the rest of article, courtesy of www.NorthBayRE.com.]

Marin Real Estate (April 2009)

September 10, 2009

March 2009 new escrows up 17% from March 2008 (and 58% from February 2009) – In Marin County our most reliable indicator of changing market conditions is new escrow activity. New escrow activity bottomed out in December 2008 and began a modest ascent through January and February 2009. I believe the sharp increase in new escrows in March 2009 is a combination of demand returning to our market and the cyclical nature of the business. It stands to reason that thought is that April and May closings will rise accordingly.

Another interesting trend is the surge of activity in central and southern Marin. In the first half of 2008, nearly 60% of the units sold were in central and southern Marin. By January 2009, largely a result of the October 2008 stock market meltdown, this activity gradually fell to 37% of the units sold in Marin. In February and March 2009 the percentage rebounded to nearly 50% of the county’s activity.This upbeat trend in central and southern Marin is consistent with the activity in my business and a solid sign of strengthening buyer confidence. We expect a strengthening Spring season in Marin County real estate.

[Click HERE for the rest of the article, courtesy of www.NorthBayRE.com.]

Marin Luxury Real Estate (August 2009)

September 10, 2009

Marin County, CA’s luxury real estate market segment continues to take shape in the aftermath of the equities meltdown of Fall 2008. In our New Economy, buyers are placing emphasis on prestige locations, sweeping views, grand appointments, compelling “estate history,” and impressive scale. The luxury market in Marin remains weighted towards homes priced under $4 million, although we did have 3 sales of homes priced over $4 million in July 2009. The number of sales in July 2009 is off by 74% from July 2008. The news is not all negative, however, as we had several significant properties trade last month and another 30 luxury homes are currently in escrow. For a detailed snapshot of current national trends from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing dated August 2, 2009, click hereNote, if you would like a local report relating to any town or zip code in Marin or San Francisco, call me at (415) 350-9440.

Buyers remain dubious of price stability for good reason (see chart below reflecting year over year median asking prices in Tiburon, Mill Valley, and Kentfield). But, increased conforming loan limits and a pronounced level of increased affordability across the board should help sales moving forward into the Fall as buyers with 25% down will obtain top-shelf financing for purchases of $1.6 million. While not necessarily “Luxury” territory here in Marin (although declining prices are putting some very nice homes into the sub-$2 million price bands), a sizable segment of buyers of luxury homes must sell their current homes first (80% of buyers are sellers). The chart below indicates that across the trend in Marin’s luxury segment is for lower prices — 10-25% lower than last year in Mill Valley, Belvedere, and Kentfield.

The year over year inventory levels in Mill Valley have hovered at around 20% since May 2009 (much improved from a nearly 60% inventory increase in February 2009). Meanwhile, inventory in Kentfield has rocketed nearly 90% higher this year compared with last year. In combination, Tiburon and Belvedere inventory levels are about 70% higher than last year. Prediction: Kentfield and Tiburon / Belvedere prices will continue to recede through Q4 2009. Indeed, we can see that trend has set in dramatically in the above chart which tracks asking prices of homes currently for sale.

[For the rest of this report, courtesy of www.ImagineMarin.com, click HERE.]

Marin Luxury Real Estate (July 2009)

September 10, 2009

Marin County, CA’s luxury real estate market segment is slow and remains weighted towards homes priced under $4 million — just one home priced over $4 million sold in June 2009 and it was an off-the-market sale. The number of sales in June 2009 is off by over 40% from June 2008, yet the average price of sold homes is down just 3% from last year. In Marin, only the homes with special locations, views, or features seem to be getting significant attention. For a detailed snapshot of current national trends from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing dated July 19, 2009,click hereNote, if you would like a local report relating to any town or zip code in Marin or San Francisco, call me at (415) 350-9440. Yet, the news relating to home starts and permit applications is again improved this month. As earnings reports come in for Q2 and the stock market has found some hope in the numbers, it does not appear that such developments consitute the siren call buyers seek.

As noted last month, buyers remain dubious of price stability for good reason. But, increased conforming loan limits and a pronounced level of increased affordability across the board should help sales moving forward into the Summer as buyers with 25% down will obtain top-shelf financing for purchases of $1.6 million. While not “Luxury” territory here in Marin, a sizable segment of buyers of luxury homes must sell their current homes first (80% of buyers are sellers). The chart below indicates that across the trend in Marin’s luxury segment is for lower prices — 10% to 28% lower than last year in Mill Valley, Belvedere, and Kentfield.

The year over year inventory levels in Mill Valley have hovered at around 20% for the past couple of months. Meanwhile, inventory in Kentfield has rocketed to 60% higher than last year. Belvedere is 75% higher than last year. Prediction: Kentfield and Belvedere prices will continue to recede markedly through Q4 2009. Indeed, we can see that trend has set in dramatically in the above chart.

[For the rest of this report, courtesy of www.ImagineMarin.com, click HERE.]

Marin Luxury Real Estate (June 2009)

September 10, 2009

As noted in prior reports this year, Marin County, CA’s luxury segment is slow and currently weighted towards homes priced under $4 million. In fact, not a single home priced over $4 million sold in May 2009 and just 2 are currently in escrow (although that could change in a moment as the domino effect is very real in home sales). Of course, the luxury home slump exists throughout the country as affluent buyers wait for a signal to buy. For a detailed snapshot of current national trends from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing dated June 14, 2009, click here. Yet, the news relating to home starts and permit applications is improved again this month. And while the stock market closed in the black for the year last week, this week has brought a correction. So, it appears we will continue to wait for the buying signal. Note, if you would like a local report relating to any town or zip code in Marin or San Francisco, call me at (415) 350-9440.

Buyers are dubious of price stability for good reason (see chart below reflecting year over year median prices in Tiburon, Mill Valley, and Kentfield). But, increased conforming loan limits and a pronounced level of increased affordability across the board should help sales moving forward into the Summer er as buyers with 25% down will obtain top-shelf financing for purchases of $1.6 million. While not “Luxury” territory here in Marin, many buyers of luxury homes must sell their current homes first (80% of buyers are sellers).

[Click HERE for the rest of the article, courtesy of www.ImagineMarin.com.]

Marin Luxury Real Estate (May 2009)

September 10, 2009

Real estate sales in Marin County’s luxury segment are currently weighted towards homes priced under $4 million. In fact, not a single home priced above $4 million is in escrow (although that could change in a moment as the domino effect is very real in home sales). But, as it stands, the ultra-luxury home sales segment is flat-lining in Marin County, CA. For a detailed snapshot of current national trends from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, click here (May 17, 2009 Report). Note, if you would like a local report relating to any town or zip code in Marin or San Francisco, call me at (415) 350-9440.

Yet, the news relating to home starts and permit applications is improving: the West experienced a 42.5% jump in housing starts; the National Association of Homebuilders reported increased confidence (as high as it has been in 9 months); and construction and permits both rose last month (these are considered leading indicators on the macro level relating to housing stability). Nonetheless, the inertia of caution remains firm.

Buyers are dubious of price stability for good reason (see chart below reflecting year over year prices in Tiburon, Mill Valley, and Kentfield). But, increased conforming loan limits and a pronounced level of increased affordability across the board should help sales moving forward into the Summer as buyers with 25% down will obtain top-shelf financing for purchases of $1.6 million. While not “Luxury” territory here in Marin, many buyers of luxury homes must sell their current homes first (80% of buyers are sellers).

[Click HERE for the rest of the report, courtesy of www.ImagineMarin.com.]

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