The stats are in for December so it’s time to look at the 2015 Marin housing market and how it compared to the years previous. The short answer is that the pattern continued: low inventory and rising prices. If anything, inventory levels were even lower than they had been, with last month having the fewest new listings and lowest months supply of inventory in years. In the chart below, the blue bars represent how many months it would take to sell the current supply of homes based on how quickly they are selling, and it’s down to less than a month for December, at the far right. That’s crazy low.
It was a combination of very few new listings and an uncommonly high amount of sales closing for what is typically a quieter month. In this chart you can see the dark green bar, representing closed sales, is higher than the Decembers previous, while the blue line, which is new listings, is lower than for any month across the three year span of the chart.
So basically, few new properties were coming on the market at the end of 2015 and buyers were snapping them up. We’ve been waiting for a few years now for the floodgates to open and for more new listings to come on the market in Marin and it just hasn’t happened, while demand has remained extremely strong. As long as those dynamics remain prices will continue to increase as buyers are forced to compete for homes. There are a number of things that could change this picture, including rising interest rates, a correction in the tech sector in SF, or the stock market and economy in general. With so many variables to watch it should be an interesting year ahead, and as always we’ll be here helping our clients navigate the complex Marin market.
If you have questions about what’s happening in Marin or would like market info tailored to your price range or area feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Liz West via Flickr Creative Commons
Hard to believe the 4th is already coming up next weekend, and there’s plenty to do all over Marin. Marin Mommies has a great list of fun Independence Day activities, from Nicasio to Sausalito. And if one night of fireworks isn’t enough, the Marin County Fair will have a display every night it’s running, July 1st through July 5th.
Source: Kerrie Kelly Design Lab
Via Zillow Digs, some trends in patio decor. Not sure about some of them but the vertical garden idea is pretty cool.
Photo courtesy of Bay Area Discovery Museum
With summer coming up fast it’s time to start thinking about fun stuff to keep the kids busy. Our friends over at Marin Mommies have a handy Summer Camp Guide that lets you browse by camp activities, grade level, and location. There’s a lot to choose from–everything from arts & crafts to mountain biking–making it a fantastic resource.
I have lived in Homestead Valley since 1993 and there are many things I love about this part of Mill Valley. Definitely in the top five is our abundance of hiking trails. Over the years, we’ve had friends whose house it was faster to hike to than to drive. I used to leave the house every weekday morning at 6:00 am, meet my buddy on the trail and hike the “Homestead Loop” which took an hour. I don’t get up that early anymore for my walk, and have included a few others in my regimen, but my dog and I can be spotted on the trail about once a week after dropping the kids at school.
Our community is blessed to have the Homestead Valley Land Trust, and they put together a trail map that I think is an amazing resource for residents and visitors. It shows the Homestead trail where we now hike all the way to Amaranth, which then loops to four corners, and eventually drops us down on the Homestead-Lattie Lane trail (I didn’t know that was the name of it, we just call it Waterview). Then we turn back onto the Homestead trail to get home. This has evolved into an hour and a half work out that takes us through different terrains and microclimates, and is beautiful!
My family occasionally walks out the back door and hikes all the way to Muir Beach where we have snacks on the grass at the Pelican Inn or explore the tide pools (my husband drives there and runs back so we don’t have to walk both ways). While the map doesn’t take you that far, it could be the first step to many new adventures.
With softball and baseball season right around the corner, it’s a good time to find places that can help your kids get in practice shape for their teams. I’ve been taking mine to Line Drive Baseball, which opened recently in a really convenient location in San Rafael, and it’s great!
Reasons I suggest going here:
- It’s an indoor facility. I know we’ve had beautiful weather but we might get some rain someday.
- Hours of operation are extensive.
- The softball pitching machines are not loopy like some other places, they are fast pitch.
- The management and staff are friendly and experienced.
- Group or private lessons are available.
They have an indoor field for rent, four batting cages, and eight hitting tunnel cages. They also have rooms for party rentals and have a variety of camps available. Check out their website for more information and prices.
3160 Kerner Blvd, San Rafael 415.233.8862
Seems like it’s been in the works forever, but you could actually see a SMART train being tested on the tracks in Marin as soon as April, with passenger service expected to start in late 2016. At launch it’ll run from Santa Rosa to downtown San Rafael, with the extension to the Larkspur Ferry coming later.
Selling a home in areas served by the Ross Valley Sanitary District got a little more complicated as of January 1st. Thanks to the new Ordinance 66, when you list a property in Fairfax, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Ross, or San Anselmo you now will have to have a pressure test performed on the sewer lateral if the home is more than 20 years old or the lateral hasn’t been replaced in the last 20 years. Then if the line doesn’t pass the test it will have to be replaced, and as they are saying that pretty much any older sewer lateral will fail that test, basically it’s going to mean that everyone selling a home with an older line in the RVSD will need to replace it or negotiate with the buyer to take on that responsibility. This testing requirement is also triggered by any remodeling project that costs $75,000 or more or involves adding a bathroom.
This is a big deal. Replacing a sewer lateral is often a $6,000 to $10,000 job, but can be more than that if it’s a long run or a complicated situation. And to make matters worse for some sellers, the ordinance also says that shared laterals are no longer acceptable, so if your property shares a line with a neighbor you will need to create a whole new lateral, which could get really messy if that means you need permission to dig up your neighbor’s yard and there is no easement in place.
Sellers should keep in mind that RVSD has a lateral replacement grant program under which they will pay for half the cost of replacement up to $4,000, as long as money is available in the fund for the fiscal year. Since this new ordinance will mean a lot more people will be taking advantage of that program, it might be wise to get a jump on applying if you’re going to be selling a home with an older lateral and you’re considering just doing the work up front.
While we applaud efforts to fix faulty sewer lines and think it’s an important health and environmental issue, we’re not fans of placing the burden on homeowners at the time they go to sell their property. There should be a better way to handle this than making it a point of sale requirement.
As of this writing there is no info on Ordinance 66 on the RVSD website, which is a little surprising, but here is a link to the FAQ they have made available. We have a feeling you’ll be hearing a lot more about this issue in the coming months. Feel free to get in touch with us if you need advice about the best way to approach dealing with the issue when selling your home.
When you think about it, Marin County is remarkably undeveloped, especially when you consider how much sprawl there is all around the bay in other directions. As a recent article in the IJ highlighted, there’s a cool website where you can see illustrations of some of the crazy projects that were proposed for Marin back in the 50s and 60s. While development, or lack thereof, continues to be a controversial subject around here we think it’s safe to say it’s a good thing there isn’t a bridge to Angel Island or a freeway system stretching out to Tamales Bay.
26 Shell Rd, Listed by Bill Stewart at Alain Pinel.
In case you needed any more proof that the market in Mill Valley is super-heated due to tons of demand and limited inventory, here’s a great example. We knew 26 Shell Rd was going to get multiple offers and go well over asking, as it has an amazing lot and tons of potential. It’s on a big, sunny parcel, in the Alto Sutton Manor neighborhood that has become very hot the last few years, with good weather by MV standards, an awesome commute location, and the revamped Edna McGuire elementary school.
The original homes in the area are modest, but many have been expanded or even completely rebuilt, and prices have been shooting up. This one has a dated but pleasant 1454 square foot home, a second bonus building, a pool, and lots of flat usable space. Asking was $1,100,00, which was an aggressive price, but it got 10 offers and closed recently for $1,603,000.