Archive for the ‘Fairfax’ Category
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.
No one would ever accuse me of being a “hippy.” Not by a long shot. Sure, I live in Marin and vote accordingly, but “hippy?” No. Not that I have anything against the hippy culture, of course. I just like wearing commercial perfumes over patchouli and have never been a fan of tie dye.
Which is why I always found it so curious that everyone would always tell me about the Fairfax Wednesday afternoon Farmer’s Market. The funny part is, they would tell me I would love it, and in the same breath describe it as a cute “hippy dippy” (which doesn’t sound like a positive phrase, if you ask me) collection of crafts, music, yummy food and organic produce.
At the description, my mind would flash to the overly crowded Noe Valley Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. I would picture the tiny parking lot where they would bring in a handful of tents, throw some chalk down for the handful of toddlers, bring a couple of folk singers and make the already congested area even more annoying. Picturing a version of that in down town Fairfax didn’t really sound appealing. So I spent my first entire year in Marin completely avoiding it. Naturally.
The first sign that I might be making a hasty decision about the Wednesday night Fairfax Hippy Fest was when I was having dinner at a friends house. They revealed the most delicious pre-roasted chicken from a bag, still steamy hot, and started carving. First of all, not having to make dinner is such a plus. And sure, you can get “warm” chickens every where. But this wasn’t a normal “warm” chicken. It was so hot and delicious, that the addictive smell wafted into every corner of the house, promising home roasted deliciousness. It didn’t stop there. There were potatoes, and grainy and crunchy rosemary salt that I could almost stick my tongue directly into. I refrained. Afterall, I was a guest at someone else’s house.
I could go on about the chicken, but the point was, it all came from the Fairfax Farmer’s Market. Wow, I thought. Maybe I should just check it out.
Coincidentally, the next week, I got an invite from some friends to join them there. With the roasted chicken still fresh in my mind, I agreed. I arrived on bike, although I could have easily have driven. Sure, it was crowded, but there were still plenty of parking at that point. (Side bar, I go several times a month in the summer and almost always drive – and have never not been able to find parking.)
When I arrived, yes, there were the folksy singers, and the throngs of toddlers dancing in circles, but it wasn’t a parking lot. It was the lush green center of Fairfax, under the redwood trees. It was warm, but shaded, and there were blankets thrown everywhere with neighbors laughing and sharing snacks.
I found my friends, spread out on several blankets, letting their kids play around them. There were piping hot sweet and savory crepes on sale, delicious grilled sandwiches and beautiful baked goods. And of course, there were the chickens.
I sat down and for the next two hours I felt like time stood still. Everyone was laughing, sharing sandwiches, lush ripe strawberries, cherries and plums. Kids were getting faces painted, and donning balloon dogs and swords. After a long work day this beautiful scene before me was such a pleasant alternative to grocery shopping in florescent lights and cooking.
Am I a hippy convert now, you may ask? No, I wouldn’t say so. But, I certainly see the merits in going native.
Jacquelyn Warner is a Marin based photographer. She was born in LA, raised in Texas, and has been sipping, dipping, hiking, bbqing, shopping and drinking here in the Bay Area for the last 14 years. She remains constant in her endless search for the perfect spot for just about anything in Marin.
Looking back at 2012 the big story the whole year was the incredibly low inventory level. It started low in January and never really ticked up much, and more buyers kept jumping in the market, sensing they had missed the bottom and had better buy a home before they missed the boat. The problem has been there just haven’t been enough houses for all of these buyers to buy. This has meant that correctly priced, desirable homes coming on the market have been getting tons of attention, and multiple offers have become common–almost a given in many cases. It’s been a great market for sellers and unless something changes dramatically it’s going to continue to be as we head into 2013. Here’s a look at all residential properties in Marin under $1.5 million (the most active segment of the market) over the last five years.
The light green bars that get lower and lower show the number of homes for sale each month, the dark ones indicate the number of homes closing each month, and that blue line that dips down to the floor at the end…that’s the number of new listings coming on the market. What does that say? We need more homes for sale!
And below is a look at the months supply of Marin County homes under $1.5 million, based on how quickly they’re going into escrow. It was down to 1.2 months in December! How bad is it? I just checked and there are only four active listings in Corte Madera right now–three single family homes. Three. This is not normal. There are only seven listings active in Fairfax right now. This is very unusual.
Now Real Estate 101 says you should bring a home to market in the spring when the weather is nice, the flowers are blooming, and a young man’s fancy turns lightly to thoughts of love, etc. And there are reasons for that of course. But if everyone else is thinking the same way then a bunch of homes will come on about the same time, so we get the big spike in listings like clockwork in April and May each year, as you can see in the first chart above (though 2012 was not quite a typical year).
On the other hand, if you go against the conventional wisdom and bring your property on in January or February, when there isn’t as much competition, you stand out more. And in a market like this with so little inventory and so many buyers chomping at the bit for a good house, going against the grain can be a solid strategy. Of course it helps if the weather cooperates and you’re not trying to sell your home in a monsoon, so there is that to consider.
If you’ve been thinking about putting your home on the market we’d be happy to help you figure out the best strategy for your situation. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give me a ring anytime at 415-819-3342.
With all the rain we’ve had over the last month Marin’s waterfalls are roaring along. One of our favorite spots is Cascade Falls in Fairfax. It’s a 15 minute hike to get to the falls and the walk is beautiful. You walk along the river the whole way and it’s a good way to get the kids out of the house during the holidays. Parking can be tough at the end of Cascade Drive where the trail starts, so keep this in mind but there is usually some parking down the road a bit if it gets full at the end. One of the main reasons we live in Marin is our close connection and access to natural beauty, and there’s nothing like waterfalls in the winter.
We’ve talked before about the cool program the Ross Valley Sanitary District has had in place for the last few years, where they’ll pay for half the cost (up to $4000) of a new sewer lateral for homes in the district that qualify. Unfortunately the money has dried up for now. I talked with someone at the office who said to keep checking back as they think they’ll have funds again sometime before July, so it sounds like this might be a temporary situation.
You can get more info at their website, www.rvsd.org, or by calling (415) 259-2949.
The wait is over and Fairfax has its fancy new natural foods store, with the Good Earth location at 720 Center Blvd. having its grand opening yesterday. We stopped by this afternoon to take a look and it’s impressive. They did a really nice job and the place is huge, especially compared to the old spot, and it was packed– both with shoppers and those just curious to check it all out.
While it’s a great addition to Fairfax and it’s very cool to have such a nice, big market in town, it’ll be interesting to see how it affects the vibe of the area. With all the traffic and cars in the parking lot it sure looks like it’s not going to be the same for the many cyclists who’ve been accustomed to having a mellow and convenient place to meet up, with easy parking. We’re wondering what happens when people want to keep parking there while they go on rides. Will the market have to end up monitoring the lot, and citing those who aren’t shopping?
Mountain bikers won’t want to miss this year’s annual Turkey Ride in Fairfax. It’s a 3-4 hour Thanksgiving Day ride out along the Pine Mountain Loop. Started in 1975 and celebrating the birthplace of mountain biking, this ride is an epic way to work up an appetite before you stuff yourself with all that turkey and mashed potatoes. Meet at Java Hut between 8-9 am for the start, and then end the ride at the Gestault Haus and top it off with a frosty pint of German beer. Last year we had something like 1,000 riders. Gobble, gobble!
This week we brought on this super cute cottage just over the San Anselmo/Fairfax border. It has a flat lawn, tons of charm, and the location is great.Â A stone’s throw to downtown and a block from the new Good Earth grocery store, but just far enough from Sir Francis Drake to avoid the road noise. First Sunday open house tomorrow!Â www.20willowave.com
We brought on a really cool new listing in Fairfax this week. An updated, open floor plan, mid-century home in a beautiful setting. Only a couple minutes up the hill from downtown. We’ll have it open both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, Aug. 13th and 14th, 1:00-4:00 pm. www.30mountainviewroad.com.
If youâ€™re looking for a good place to get some friends together for a picnic in Marin, then look no further than the Lake Lagunitas Picnic Area, just eight minutes from downtown Fairfax. The kids can go fishing, play in the creek, or ride their bikes around in the parking lot. We like to bring our mt. bikes and ride around the lake with the whole family. We also like this spot because it’s set in a redwood grove with lots of shade, and has good sized picnic tables with large bbq/grill areas.
We usually reserve the large tables and grills when we know itâ€™s a large group, but if you’re just going with a couple of families you might not need to reserve in advance as there are almost always enough tables to go around. A good hike is to make a loop with the kids around the lake…it takes about 30 minutes. In the summer when it gets hot this is the perfect place to hang out in the shade and be with friends. I have to say itâ€™s one of the most beautiful places in Marin.
The picnic area is at the end of the road adjacent to the parking lot.Â You’ll find directions and info on reservations here.