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

October 16, 2009

The good new is that it seems the media has turned a corner on its reporting of the U.S. and worldwide economies, as well as the housing market. Positive press coverage has permeated all forms of media and is certain to change the tide, although it will take time. Significantly, San Francisco agents are reporting a significant surge in sales and prices. We know from past experience, that once San Francisco recovers, surrounding communities recover in a geo-concentrically expanding fashion.

Yet, the Mill Valley, CA. real estate market continues to limp along, offering hope of recovery, but not fully reaching the plateau (or nadir, as it were). Pardon the inevitable mixed metaphors, but it seems the real estate market is like an elite athlete with an ankle sprain, constantly at risk of further injury or re-aggravation. Our low expectations for September were fulfilled as we had just 21 home sales — same as in July and August 2009.

While is seemed that prices had gathered traction after a slippery first half of the year, last month’s price per square foot of homes sold dipped to $529 — note that the graph below tracks asking prices and the average price per square foot for homes on the market is holding steady at about $615. We have been waiting to see whether this flattening out of asking prices would carry over into the sales prices of homes trading this Fall and Winter and it appears the answer in “no.”

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

Based on last month’s sales total of 21, we currently have an overall inventory of homes sufficient to last a bit more than 5.67 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 virtually the same as last month. 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

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 last month to about 20%. Meanwhile, the luxury market in Mill Valley (homes from $2 million and up) saw strong activity last month (5 sales) — and another 9 such homes are in escrow.

Price Range

Total Active Homes

Pending Listings

Up to $800K

17 (same)


$800K – $1 mil.

19 (up 1)


$1 mil. – 1.5 mil.

35 (down 5)


$1.5 mil. – $2 mil.

19 (up 1)


$2 mil. – $4 mil.

30 (same)


$4 mil. & Up

5 (up 1)


Mill Valley’s 21 sales from September 2009 gave rise to the following averages: 66 days on the market; an average price of $1,156,667; and about 2,165 sq. ft. (or about $529 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

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 | It is always my pleasure to be of service. Christie’s Great Estates | Morgan Lane Marin and Pacific Union International.