Existing Home Sales Surge 6.1 Percent

The Bay Area housing market got off to a strong start to the all-important spring selling season as the majority of homes sold in San Francisco in March went for over $1 million. The primary reason behind rising prices is a declining inventory of homes for sale, as there are fewer homes listed for sale than in last March, and that trend has been affecting markets nationwide. According to a report issued Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors, sales of previously lived-in homes rose 6.1 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 5.19 million. Those numbers were particularly promising considering home sales started slowly this year due to harsher winter weather, alleviating concerns that the housing sector was in decline.

About the only negative factor in the housing market currently is the issue of supply. According to recent reports, the market is currently holding about 4.6 months of supply, at March’s sales pace. Economists generally consider a supply of about 6 months as indicative of a healthy US housing market. Diminished supply has a negative impact on affordability, which prevents a lot of first-time buyers, considered a vital part of a healthy housing sector, from even considering buying. Tight supply drives prices higher and effectively cuts out many lower-end buyers that are unable to afford to buy. On a year-over-year basis, home values have risen 7.8 percent to a national median of $212,000, according to the NAR report.

While huge strides have certainly been made, the US housing sector is still striving to recover from the 2008 crash that brought on the worst economic downturn in the US since the Great Depression. A number of factors have impeded this recovery, including the uneven pace at which different parts of the economy improve. Rising home values are surpassing wage gains, which diminishes the pool of potential home buyers by making even the least expensive homes out of reach for lower income buyers. Prices continue to rise, meanwhile, because many possible sellers are underwater, meaning they owe the bank more than their home is worth. This trend limits active listings which pushes prices higher.

Despite the challenges still faced by the housing market, the NAR’s March report offers promise. The report marks the first time this year that the sales pace topped 5 million, and gives hope that the market can reach the so-called healthy level of 5.5 million sales this year. But even if sales slow slightly through the rest of the year, most economists fully expect sales to increase from last year’s paltry total of 4.94 million. Home sales surged in March in all four regions of the nation, led by the Midwest and Northeast, where sales were most significantly impacted by weather in the winter months. Last month also saw an increase in first-time buyers, which accounted for 30 percent of all sales last month, up from 29 percent in February.


05 2015

Bay Area Residents Asked to “Spare the Air”

Bay Area residents are being asked to take action to reduce pollution this week as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) kicked off its 2015 Spare the Air campaign. Among the initiatives, BAAQMD staff are encouraging commuters to search for alternate paths that will decrease the amount of traffic they see. “Increasingly, Bay Area roads are at a standstill with more commuter traffic which creates unhealthy smog,” noted BAAQMD chief Jack Broadbent. “Instead of sitting idle on gridlocked roads, rethink your commute. Consider a commute alternative by carpooling, taking transit, biking or walking to reduce summer air pollution, giving you time to read the news, check your email or play Candy Crush,” he continued.

In addition to suggesting alternatives for commuters to adopt personally, the group is also asking employers to encourage carpooling. It’s already mandatory for companies with 50 or more employees to offer commuter benefit options. In addition, the BAAQMD has also launched a website, www.stacommutetips.org, that offers tips for Bay Area locals to shorten their commute or share rides. The group will also stay on top of pollution conditions throughout the summer, issuing health alerts when pollution reaches unhealthy levels.


04 2015

Luxury Rentals in Marin County

If you are looking to relocate to the Marin area and not purchase a home immediately there are a number of high end rentals available.  As of July 1, 2014 there are 13 single family homes for rent ranging from $8,000 to $15,000 per month.  You can email me for details and I will send you a list.


07 2014

New on the Market in Marin County




Beautiful 5 bedroom home in Novato.  Hardwood floors throughout main level, multi-sport athletic court, and stunning un-obstructed views. 




Beautiful 3 bed home in the Dixie school district in San Rafael.  Refinished hardwood flooring, new paint inside and out and stunning views of the surrounding hills.



Gorgeous bayview home in Belvedere.  Views of the Pacific from nearly every room in the house, plus an observation deck overlooking the Bay.



Click Here to view more info about the above listings, or, Click Here for info on more recent Marin County listings.




05 2014

Housing Affordability Improves as Mortgage Rates Continue 4-Week Slide

The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.14 percent this week, down from an average of 4.20 percent a week ago, according to a Thursday report from mortgage giant Freddie Mac. The report marks the fourth straight week in which the average rate for a 30-year home loan fell, alleviating concerns about housing affordability. Rates also fell for 15-year fixed and 5-year adjustable-rate mortgages this week, while the average rate for a one-year ARM was unchanged at 2.43 percent.


Housing affordability has fallen off considerably in recent months as prices steadily rose and mortgage rates climbed from record lows set last summer. The issue is particularly disconcerting in the San Francisco market, where home values have surged to all-time highs in recent weeks. Some observers have even predicted that San Francisco is on pace to completely price out the middle class within the next ten years. While the recent downward movement of interest rates will alleviate the affordability problem somewhat, the issue may still be a pertinent one until there’s another housing crash to reduce values.


05 2014

Existing Home Sales Surge in April

The National Association of Realtors reported Thursday that the US housing sector finally showed signs of a spring buying season in April as existing home sales rose 1.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annualized pace of 4.65 million units. Of course, sales are still down nearly 7 percent from last April as higher mortgage rates and property values have simply priced lower income buyers right out of the market. The pace is also still well below the total of 5.1 million US homes purchased in 2013, and almost a million units behind the 5.5 million unit pace considered healthy for the US market.


Last month’s sales gains came primarily in the volatile multifamily market, as sales of condos and townhomes rose7.3 percent from March to April. Sales of single-family homes, meanwhile, rose just 0.5 percent nationally. Sales have been on the slow side since last summer, when mortgage rates began rising after the Federal Reserve started tapering stimulus measures. At the same time, declining inventory and heightened demand from investors has depleted inventory, driving prices higher and putting a dent in affordability for the middle and lower classes. The median price paid for homes sold in April was $201,700, up 5.2 percent from the month prior.


05 2014

Bay Area Home Prices and Sales Nearing Pre-recession Levels

The Bay Area housing market is all the way back to pre-recession levels, according to a string of recent reports.  A report issued Wednesday by real estate information provider DataQuick shows that median sales prices reached post-recession highs in several Bay Area counties last month, including Contra Costa and Alameda, while prices in Santa Clara County reached an all-time high in April.  Sales in the region, meanwhile, shot up more than 10 percent from March, though they were relatively flat when compared to the previous March’s numbers.  For the entire nine county Bay Area region, the median price paid for homes sold in April was $610,000, the highest that number has been since November 2007, and a 16 percent improvement year-over-year.  Sales, meanwhile, rose almost 20 percent between March and April, prompting numerous housing insiders to proclaim the San Francisco market as the best-improving in the nation.


05 2014

San Rafael Chamber Holding Health & Wellness Event for Seniors

The San Rafael Chamber of Commerce is scheduled to hold a free health and fitness event for seniors next Wednesday.  Organized by the Chamber’s health and wellness group, the event will be held at the Drake Terrace Senior Living Community Center, May 28th from 2 to 4 PM.  There will be a handful of health professionals on hand to offer advice and information, plenty of literature for seniors to take home with them, and healthy foods for participants to sample.  The Drake Terrace Center is located at 275 Los Ranchitos Rd in San Rafael.  For more information, call the Chamber of Commerce at (415)491-1935.


05 2014

1st Marin County Tesla Outlet to Open Saturday

Marin County is set to get its first Tesla store this weekend as the electric automobile maker is opening a location at The Village of Corte Madera. The store will be the seventh Tesla location in the Bay Area, and the 55th in the US. The Tesla store will not be a typical outlet for an automotive company, as the company won’t stock cars to sell to the public. Instead, visitors to the Tesla outlet are treated to an educational experience about the environmentally-friendly cars. There will be two Model S cars in the store, as displays, plus a bare drive train from the Model S used to illustrate where the car’s batteries go. Those looking to buy a Tesla will be able to learn about the company’s various options and even order their car in the store, though delivery time is expected to be from three to six weeks.


While Tesla currently only sells one model, the Model S, it offers myriad options that can drive the price tag up from a base of $70,000 to nearly $130,000. The company offers a total of nine exterior color schemes in addition to seven different interior packages. That means that while there’s only one model, there are 63 different combinations from which customers can choose. The company is also working on its second model, the Model X, which is an electric crossover SUV set to debut next year.


05 2014

Officials Look to Address Growing “Water Squatters” Problem

Waterfront homes in sunny Sausalito can be quite expensive, at least it is for those living on the shore and paying taxes. Officials called attention this week, however, to a growing number of so-called “water-squatters” living in boats anchored offshore. These Anchor Out residents enjoy the luxury of Pacific Coast living without paying the exorbitant taxes that most residents suffer. That’s because the waters near Sausalito‘s shoreline are designated anchorage, though boaters are subject to local rules and regulations. The problem, many onshore residents say, is that there’s confusion over what rules they must follow and whose jurisdiction it would be to enforce them.


The Anchor Out colony near Sausalito has been drawing boat dwellers for years, with some calling the sea home for as many as 15 years. Some of these Anchor Outs actually attend school or work, while others are simply enjoying life without bills while getting their food from the Pacific. A handful of Sausalito taxpayers actually like the floating colony, though most have become concerned with the environmental damage the Anchor Outs are causing. There is a Richardson Bay Regional District rule that requires boats to move on after being moored for three days, but it hasn’t been enforced because of the confusion over jurisdiction. The District is scheduled to meet tonight, May 14th, to discuss passing a rule that all boats in Richardson Bay be currently registered. The rule might pose a problem for the Anchor Outs, though it remains to be seen which agency would enforce the rule.


05 2014