Archive for the 'Buyers' Category

Signs of a Shift in the Tides of Sonoma County Real Estate Continue

filed under: Buyers, Sellers posted on September 17th, 2012

Five Years Later A Shift of the Tides in Sonoma County Real Estate

In case you are wondering why I have a video of the San Francisco Bay Model embedded here–it is a throwback nod to my first blog post in 2007, when I used the Bay Model as an analogy to explain Sonoma County’s relationship to the Bay Area Real Estate Market. Well, just as our market seems to have a fresh start–so does the Bay Model–which completed a two year refurbishment earlier this year–you can take a look above! As I said in that earlier post, the Bay Area real estate tide eventually floats Sonoma County’s real estate market boat. We used to say that our market was about 18 months behind the Bay Area market but I believe that is changing for certain marquis properties–country estates in Healdsburg and Sonoma for example, or very stylish homes in walking distance to the Plazas of either of those towns. That is where the Facebook effect is being felt here, as multimillion dollar homes or vineyard and equestrian properties are being snatched up by cash buyers.

What does this mean for you as a home buyer today?

You must have your ducks in a row to be competitive in this market. There are multiple offers at most price points and thirty percent of buyers (also at most price ranges up to millions of dollars) are cash buyers. That means full pre-approval if you are applying for a mortgage. Proof of funds if you are paying cash. If you need a referral to a good lender, I know some great lenders that I trust who can work with you to understand your options. Let me know if I can refer you. You cannot write a serious offer to buy a property without pre-approval from a lender and proof of the funds needed to close.

What does this mean for you as a possible seller?

The market for your home may be stronger than you think. While prices are not what they once were, you will find a much more active market to sell in to, and you will find great values for the next home you wish to purchase. We are seeing significant overbids for strategically price properties and prices may be coming up a few percent. Activity is strong at all price points. Million dollar plus properties that might have sat on the market for months last year are selling quickly this year. Days on market are half of what they were last year. Even if you get less in the sale of your property than you might have at the peak, it is a lot more pleasant to sell quickly and minimize the stress of showings. Please feel free to email or call. I can help you to determine the value of your home and what your priorities should be for preparing it for market, either now or next spring. It makes sense to get a head start on preparations.

What if Your Home is Underwater?

If you owe more than your home is worth, there is better news now as well. It has taken years, but most lenders are far, far better at working with you and your agent to sell your home in a “short sale”, so the options for you are better than they have been in some time. Please check in with me to discuss your options. I have listed and sold several short sale homes and it is far easier now than it used to be. Most experts feel that the number of actual foreclosures will continue to decline as more and more lenders have improved their short sale processes. They can realize more on a short sale than in a foreclosure. As property values increase of course fewer homes will be underwater. And that is good news.

PS

The San Francisco Bay Model is a 1.5 acre scale model of San Francisco Bay from the Golden Gate to the Delta. It is definitely worth a trip to Sausalito in Marin County to see. I had the good fortune years ago to visit when it was operating and to listen to a talk by a well known yacht racer from San Francisco Bay as he discussed the tactical use of the tides in sailboat racing on the bay. Very cool stuff–before I got back in to horses I spent my weekends racing sail boats on the bay and off shore on the coast, so the tactical tide tips came in handy.

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on Signs of a Shift in the Tides of Sonoma County Real Estate Continue

5 Less Famous Sonoma County Towns Where You Can Find Your Dream Wine Country Home

filed under: Buyers, Country Property posted on August 20th, 2012

Burnside Road, Sebastopol, Sonoma County

The Sebastopol countryside, off Burnside Road

Yesterday I wrote about a conversation I had with clients about their experience finding the right country home for them. They pointed out that many country property buyers who might not be aware that they have many towns in Sonoma County that they can consider for their wine country homes, not just the most famous ones.   Here is a little closer look at some nice Sonoma County communities that haven’t received all the hype (yet.)

 

Santa Rosa

As the 4th largest city in Northern California, Santa Rosa is more than a town but it also contains some of the most gorgeous countryside, where you can find classic country retreats, grand estates and horse properties large and small. Santa Rosa is divided in to four quadrants, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest. The terrain AND climate vary widely as it stretches for miles. Here is a link to the newest country property listings in Santa Rosa (2 acres or more) Santa Rosa Country Property Listings (NOTE: These listings are displayed with acres in square feet, so it is a little confusing.  FYI, 87,120 sf is two acres!)

Sebastopol

Sebastopol is a much smaller community than Santa Rosa, but it also stretches for miles, from the windy southern edge  bordering Petaluma which is nice and close for southbound commutes, to the gorgeous wine country estates of the Vine Hill Road area to the north and to the redwood forests of Occidental to the west.  Graton is also part of West County and it stretches to Forestville on its northern border.  Many of my clients have found country properties here and would have equally considered others from Santa Rosa to Healdsburg and east to the Valley of the Moon.  Here are some current  Sebastopol Country Property LIstings  (87,120 sf equals two acres.)

Forestville

Forestville is probably filled with the greatest contrast in terrain.  On the western side it becomes very wooded and increasingly hilly as it merges into Guerneville and the Russian River area.  This part of Forestville has many tiny river cabins, some in the flood and many country properties, many of them very wooded and shady.   But the southern and eastern part of Forestville, surrounding the town with the same name, is as wine country as it gets, with vineyards and orchards expanding in all directions, often bordered by redwoods.  There may not be a lot of country property inventory here but it is worth adding to your search list.  I leaned that lesson a few years ago with clients from Berkeley looking for a weekend home.  We could not find just the right property for them–it was all about the setting and ideally a home needing work but with some style and views.  On a Sunday drive, I found the perfect property for them, just over the border from Healdsburg in, you guessed it, Forestville.  Here are a few Forestville Country Property Listings  (87,120 sf equals two acres.)

Windsor

When people think of Windsor, they generally think of the expanse of tract homes on the east side of 101 as you go north from Santa Rosa.  In recent years, they also think of the bustling town green with its shops, restaurants and farmers markets.

But people looking for country estates, equestrian property and vineyard property would do well to include Windsor in their search. Again the inventory can be limited but there are some beautiful stretches of rolling hillsides and expansive vineyards in Windsor.  Earlier this year i listed and sold a twenty acre west Windsor home and horse property which never hit the open market.  A neighbor bought the property to plant pinot noir.  (Alas, another horse property bites the dust, but that is another story.)  On the west side of town there are some magnificent estate properties as well as some smaller country properties.  On the east side of town there is the Shiloh Estates development of large country properties with high end homes on larger lots.  There are  also a number of country properties along the eastern ridge of the hills wich make their way up to the southern Healdsburg border.  Here are some  Windsor Country Property Listings

Graton and Occidental

I could have gone in a variety of directions with this fifth offering.  Technically I already covered Graton and Occidental in the Sebastopol paragraph.  But I thought I would mention them separately as well, as I have seen how clients who discover them for the first time are drawn to them.  Often I will have people tell me that they have narrowed their search to either Healdsburg or Graton!   They may have heard of Healdsburg before but not necessarily Graton.  Like Occidental, it has a charming one street downtown.  Also like Occidental, it has a number of really good restaurants and pubs, and its own markets and galleries.  Not only do people like the scenic beauty of the area, but they like (I like!) to congregate in the small villages.  The best of both worlds would be to have a country property and also be able to walk or bike to town.  It isn’t always easy to find but it is not impossible!  Here are some Graton and Occidental Country Property Listings

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on 5 Less Famous Sonoma County Towns Where You Can Find Your Dream Wine Country Home

The Road Less Traveled: Could Your Sonoma Wine Country Home Be in One of these Less Known Spots?

filed under: Buyers, Country Property posted on August 19th, 2012

Nearly every home in Sonoma County contains at least ONE apple tree, if not many more.

I had dinner recently with clients who bought a country property in northeast Santa Rosa’s Mark West area about five years ago. I love visiting their home as it feels like a mini-vacation! The pool is on a hillside overlooking dramatic wooded ridges. You cannot see another home from the extensive decks around the house, even though the lot is only 2.5 acres. For Jeff and Brian who spend nearly every weekend at the property, it is a welcome and necessary respite from challenging careers in San Francisco. Monday through Thursday they live in Noe Valley, but Fridays after work they head up to Northeast Santa Rosa with their springer spaniel, Margo for a relaxing wine country weekend. Vacations and holidays are mostly spent here and family and friends ensure a social life that extends from the Bay Area to the wine country.

At dinner on the deck we were talking about their house hunt back in 2007. Brian was remarking how much they love their location between Santa Rosa and Calistoga–how beautiful it is–how convenient to SF, to Napa and St. Helena and how affordable it was compared to Napa County. “We had no idea that Santa Rosa had so much beautiful country! We didn’t realize how many wine country alternatives to Napa and Sonoma that there were. We had no clue about Sebastopol, Forestville or Santa Rosa!” All they knew about Sonoma County was the Russian River resort area, or Healdsburg or Sonoma. They had no idea that they could find the wine country experience they were seeking in any of several Sonoma County towns.

In fact, Jeff and Brian are like many of the out of town buyers I work with. They are not married to a particular location when they buy a country home or estate. Rather they are looking for a certain experience. So, with all due respect to the more well-known towns of Napa, St. Helena, Sonoma and Healdsburg, here are some surprising alternatives where you may find a perfect wine country home or estate. A good country property agent (myself included) will have a good feel for country property inventory throughout the county, and more importantly, they will know the ins and outs of wells and septic systems and zoning regulations, which are especially critical when you are buying land.

Tomorrow we will take a look at some of these less well know country property locales, meanwhile you can look at all the latest Sonoma County country property listings here, and see some of my previous posts on country property topics here.

 

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on The Road Less Traveled: Could Your Sonoma Wine Country Home Be in One of these Less Known Spots?

Silicon Valley Says Unplug from Technology–One Way? Stop and Smell the Roses in Sonoma County

filed under: Buyers, Wine Country Living posted on July 24th, 2012

Go Ahead Stop and Smell Them!

 

Today in the New York Times, one of the most widely shared articles talks about the search for work life balance in Silicon Valley, and the virtues of unplugging from your iPhone, iPad and laptop from time to time, to enrich your life and achieve some balance. The incessant call of technology can distance us from what is real and important, whether you work in Silicon Valley or just have technology so embedded in your life it can be difficult to break away.

That thinking is a FAR FAR cry from the world of Silicon Valley startups I used to inhabit, when I still found it important to duck out for a quick sail or to go horsebackriding. At those unstructured moments, I would often come up with my best ideas. Meanwhile one CEO of mine would boast about how he gamed his email to make it appear that he was on the job at 2 or 3 am. (This was a long time ago so forgive the quaint technology reference!)

My first thought upon reading today’s story was that so many people I know, including me of course, found one solution to this challenge. I just moved someplace so beautiful and interesting that I am forced to have balance every day. I moved to the countryside of Sonoma County!

It’s true–heads up Silicon Valley! Come on up. You can still work from here. ! Many of my clients telecommute. Or we can find you a fabulous retreat for getaway weekends and holidays now, something that might be your full time home one day. So many people I work with on the buying side are doing just that. Coming up most weekends (it is not a long drive to the Bay Area) from SF, or Mountain View, or Oakland. Their plan is to live here full time in one or two or three years.

Some of my clients bought homes here and live out of state. The home of one is a very successful vacation rental that they can only visit a few times a year but it will be a toehold for when they come here full time in a few years. I have other clients looking to do the same thing. One set has a home in France and a home in Healdsburg. Most of them tell me their second home helps them to maintain their sanity.

So OK Silicon Valley leaders, yoga and meditation classes are just fine. There is even a conference, Wisdom 2.0  But if you really want to nourish your soul, spend some quality time in the gorgeous valleys and hillsides of Sonoma County. Take a walk outside first thing in the morning and visit with your horses, or pluck some fresh eggs from the hen house. Stroll through your vineyard. Had an intense conference call. Take a break and prune a rose for ten minutes, then get back to it. Sit back with a glass of wine at the pool overlooking some vineyards and redwoods. Listen to the quiet.

It will refresh, restore and recharge you. And you can still stay plugged in. Just ask some of my happy clients!

(Please note–I do not want to trivialize the concerns expressed in the article–I am glad to see them being discussed.  I am just proposing one possible solution!)

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on Silicon Valley Says Unplug from Technology–One Way? Stop and Smell the Roses in Sonoma County

Is it Sonoma County Horse Property? Or is it Horse-Able? What matters most to you?

filed under: Buyers, Horses and Wine Country posted on May 31st, 2012

Grazing at Home Next to a Russian River Valley Vineyard”]I have been working on “how-to” series this month. How to Buy Country Property? What you need to know about Water and Country Property. Last but most definitely not least is “How to” buy horse property in the wine country? This blog is called Wine Country and Horses after all.

I thought it would be a pretty straightforward matter until I started talking to my clients who have purchased horse property through me, until I realized there was one basic point to consider before getting in to the details.

When you buy your horse property, what is most important to you as you search?

A. The land, location (including trail access), setting and house?

B. The fencing, barn and arena, if any?

I realize that my clients tend to fall in to one of the two camps.

I personally was in the first camp. The setting and location and to a lesser extent the house were paramout to me. I would have loved to find a property that also had a barn and fencing but that was secondary. I had to find the right place first for the horses and me. For the right price I could buy the property and put the improvements in as I saw fit.

When I was looking for my place in 1999, I saw one house in Sebastopol that didn’t do too much for me, but the neighboring property had a nicely put together arena, fencing and a barn. If that one had been for sale at the time I might have bought it.

Arena with a View

Guess what? It came on the market yesterday. Here is a link to the listing. If you want a combination of a true wine country Sebastopol location, PLUS dialed in horse facilities: a six stall MD Barn with paddocks off the stalls on one side, trailer parking and a bunch of pasture turnout linking barn and a nice arena with proper drainage and footing, here you go. I have seen most of the horse properties, or horse-able properties in Sonoma County. IF you want to learn more, please call or email me.

We're sorry, but we couldn't find MLS # 21212955 in our database. This property may be a new listing or possibly taken off the market. Please check back again.

posted by Pam Buda // 1 Comment »

Tales of the Wine Country: From the South of France to Healdsburg

filed under: Buyers, Healdsburg, Wine Country Living posted on May 21st, 2012

Recently I was working with some long term clients who, though American, had been living in Provence for the past seven years, and London prior to that. They decided it was time to return to the states permanently, and had the entire 50 states from which to choose, as they could work anywhere. I was referred to them by an agent to Santa Barbara, who was introduced to me via Twitter through mutual colleagues. A decidedly high tech (at the time in 2009) connection!

I had originally met them when they first decided to return to the US from France. I introduced them to all of the beautiful towns and Sonoma and Napa. Unfortunately family stuff kept them in France until recently. We stayed in touch via email and phone–we shared some common interests in good food and wine and they kept an eye on the market. Just recently they decided it was time to return to the US.

Of all the places in the world they could go, they chose Healdsburg. I couldn’t agree more. Sonoma County and especially Healdsburg is a beautiful place to be.

My clients flew in from France to get started on their new home search. It was mid-January and there was almost nothing on the market. They had decided they wanted a quality vintage home walking distance from the Plaza in Healdsburg, ideally with a decent sized lot as they were coming off five acres and loved to garden. Guest quarters and a pool, with some architectural interest and high quality rounded out the bill.

Being well connected to our local real estate market, By networking with other realtors all over the county, not just in Healdsburg, I was able to find the perfect property that was not yet listed on the market. I knew it was a good bet when two different agents both suggested it. We had about six properties to look at and a weekend to find them something as the shipping container was shortly to be filled with their possessions and strike out across the Atlantic.

My clients loved the “stealth” house, made a good offer and got into contract almost right away. Just in time to as threats of two more offers came in just hours after our offer was accepted and the seller’s friend tried to buy it out from under us once he found out the property was being sold.

Fortunately, we were in contract before any problems could start.

My clients are now flying back to France to finalize the sale of their Provence home and will be returning to Healdsburg and their new dream home. Meanwhile, I arranged for all the necessary inspections and attended them, and arranged for bids on some of the items that came up in the initial round of inspections. They were back in France packing like mad. We handled the entire escrow and final negotiations via phone and email and electronic signatures.

A couple of months later, they were firmly ensconced in their new home in Healdsburg, and we have managed to celebrate more than once over some of that good wine country food and wine.

Call me if you would like to find your dream home in the Wine Country.

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on Tales of the Wine Country: From the South of France to Healdsburg

The Five Inspections every Sonoma County Country Property Buyer Should Have

filed under: Buyers, Country Property posted on May 7th, 2012

When you are buying country property in Sonoma County you will need to plan to spend from $1500 to $2,000 or more on inspections. It is a big chunk of money but in the long run it will save you headaches and might save you a bunch of cash in the future. Smart sellers may provide some recent inspections as part of their presentation of their property, but in general as a buyer you should be prepared to invest in pre-purchase inspections once you and the seller have come to terms and your offer is ratified. After ratification you have a buyers’ investigation period specified in the purchase offer. The standard term is 17 days but the inspection period can be shorter or longer. It can also be extended if necessary but it is not guaranteed that a seller will extend a contingency period.

People often ask me when we are writing an offer if they have to specify in advance all the inspections they want to have. In California, absolutely not. You may not be able to anticipate up front all of the necessary inspections so you are not limited in any way. You can have your astrologist out to the property if you want!

A good country property realtor can help you to avoid investing time or money on an obviously unsuitable property for your needs, but the only way you will know the whole truth about a property will be to investigate it thoroughly. I have a range of professional experts in various fields that I can recommend to my clients to choose from to hire, and we arrange most appointments as a service to our clients.

As part of our Wine Country and Horses Country Property series we will be looking at many common areas to investigate Some properties may merit more extensive inspections. For example a few years back my clients decided it would be smart to have a geologist evaluate the 2.5 acre site they had in escrow. Why? There was a massive rock hillside just to the back of the house. The geologist crawled all over the property, assured them that the hillside was relatively stable, and pointed out a massive bolder up the hill over their pool that probably needed staking! Now they have a lovely, wonderful weekend getaway place that I love to visit for dinners and parties.

At the very minimum, these are the basic inspections for a country property:

1. Well and Water Quality $400-$500.
2. Septic System $300-$700 if the tank needs pumping
3. Termite Inspections (aka Structural Pest Inspection) $250-$400 depending on the size and number of structures.
4. Professional Home Inspection (Contractor’s Inspection) $400-$500 or more if more dwellings.
5. Permit History Free but requires the buyers’ time to go to Sonoma County PRMD with their agent to pull the permits. As agents we are not allowed to pull permits due to liability concerns, but we can accompany you and show you the ropes.

Oftentimes other aspects will come to light in the initial investigation that will lead to investigation by other specialists: geologists, plumbers, arborists and very importantly, surveyors. Fence lines often do not accurately represent boundary lines and I have heard of cases where parts of entire structures were actually built across a property line on to a neighbor’s property. Not a fun thing to deal with! The only way to accurately know what the corners are for a property is to hire a surveyor. Sometimes sellers can identify corner markers but the survey is the most reliable way to get accurate information. Surveys can cost thousands of dollars but a mislocated garage or vineyard can be very expensive to undo!

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on The Five Inspections every Sonoma County Country Property Buyer Should Have

Begin with the End in Mind: How to find your Dream Wine Country Home

filed under: Buyers, Country Property, Sellers, Wine Country Living posted on May 1st, 2012

A ridgetop view north from ForestvilleOver the last year we have seen a broader range of quality wine country properties for sale in Sonoma County, with sellers who are more realistic about pricing.  That combination, and ultra low interest rates, have brought out of the area buyers out in force.  In 2011 and 2012 alone I have worked with people from the East Bay, San Francisco, France, the UK, Idaho and Texas for a start. There is a lot of competition for the best properties, and as a smart buyer you will want to do your homework to find the best spot and country package for you!

That said, it is possible to find a special property within an hour’s drive of the Golden Gate Bridge (more or less) that can give you years of pleasure and rejuvenation.  So where do you begin in your search for a wine country home?

Begin with the End in Mind!

(with a nod to Steven Covey in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”)

When I first start to work with new clients I spend a lot of time learning what they hope to accomplish in working with me–what are their ideal outcomes, where would they like to be six months from now?  In that way I can learn more about their values and how to serve them most effectively.

With buyers in particular, I often offer a visualization exercise to help them envision their ideal home.  For people coming from outside California this really feeds in to their “w00-woo” image of us!  But I have worked with doctors and lawyers and other very left-brained individuals and couples and found that this exercise serves them as well as it does all the right-brained folks who are ready to jump on board.  With country property or horse property, we are not only talking about types of homes but types of grounds, terrain and microclimates.  (Disclaimer: this could be a huge post but I am going to try to break the topic in to bitsized pieces!)

To get back to  Stephen Covey:

Habit 2 is based on imagination–the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint. If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default.

Why is this step so important to purchasing a second home or a new main home in Sonoma County’s wine country?  I was discussing this with clients (now friends) the other day at Sunday brunch.   During the week they live in San Francisco’s Noe Valley.  In 2007 we found them a second home  in the countryside of Northeast Santa Rosa.  The other day they said to me, “we had no idea we could find the perfect country property in Santa Rosa!  All we knew were Napa and the Russian River area”. When we met they had already looked at property in Napa County to the east and Lake County to the north.  Lake County was too far from home in SF and in Napa they could not find the “wine country experience” they wanted to have at a price that made sense for them.

They each had a sense of what they wanted to acheive in a second home and we worked to clarify that vision.  They wanted a certain experience of peace and privacy, to be surrounded by nature and inspiring views, to have a pool and home where they would enjoy entertaining friends and family. They wanted a complete get away from it all experience that was still accessible, ie only a maximum one hour drive from SF.

They both have pretty high power jobs that entail a lot of travel so it needed to be easy to get to enough that they would be there regularly.  It didn’t really matter what Sonoma County town it was in so long as it met their criteria.  NOTE:  This is an important point to consider in your property search! To find the right combination of terrain, vegetation, house and views, there are a dozen or more areas you can consider, and should consider, to find the right package for you.

As Jeff and Brian told me, most of their friends and colleagues in the Bay Area did not know much about specific Sonoma County towns so we looked in a variety of communities–“West County” aka Sebastopol, Occidental and Graton, Northwest Santa Rosa and Forestville and Northeast Santa Rosa, where we finally found their home.  With other clients we have expanded that list to include Healdsburg, Windsor and Guerneville, Sonoma, Kenwood and Glen Ellen and other parts of Santa Rosa.

As a country property specialist, I make it a point to search out the best listings in a wide area to meet my clients’ needs. It is very difficult in our market of a collection of charming small towns and countryside to focus only on one community.  I recall from my own search for my country home covering a very wide swath of ground till I found the right setting and home for the horses.  I ended up buying in a place I had not even considered initially and am very happy with the choice.  Later this month we will look at other aspects for finding your wine country home.

(HINT:  If you are a seller of such a wine country property, please call me, we need more inventory to sell, and that is a topic for another post soon!)

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on Begin with the End in Mind: How to find your Dream Wine Country Home

25% Home Sales Drop in Sonoma County this October

filed under: Buyers, Market updates, Sellers posted on November 15th, 2010

A winter chill seemed to come early to Sonoma County’s real estate market. Sales were at their lowest level for October since 2007. Sales also dropped from September of 2010, which makes me wonder if the news of robo-signing of foreclosure documents just put a huge wet blanket on already skittish buyers.

Inventory was up only slightly, and newly pending sales maintained a very good pace, belying the drop in closed sales. It is possible that all the concern about the possible risk of buying foreclosed properties put a damper on sales. In that case short sales might be marginally more attractive to buyers.  (Editor’s Comment: it is hard to make a short sale (they are anything but short) attractive to a potential buyer, but if it is the only game in town then I guess they look better, more about that in another post.)

The median home price dropped about 9% to $342,500. It has been bouncing around in the mid-$300,000 range for over a year.

I have been tracking home sales on this blog since mid-2007. This is the first big (non seasonal) drop in sales volume since late 2008. One month does not a trend make however.  It will be interesting to see if is a temporary reaction to the headlines, or represents a more sustained trend.

What does this mean for you if you are a Buyer? If your income situation is stable (a big if for a lot of people), then this winter could present an excellent buying opportunity. Rates have dropped even since the summer to a decades low. Bottom line if you are a buyer now and the numbers work for you, this may be a great chance to buy with less competition at very low cost.

If you are a Seller? Without a doubt the drop in sales has got to give you pause if you are a seller. However, to whatever degree there is uncertainty about foreclosure inventory, your “normal” home is going to look a lot more attractive, but not if you overprice it.

I can think of any number of “normal” homes that are not priced in line with the competition and are just sitting, getting stale. If you are considering selling within the next two to three years, then you will want to be aggressive and pro-active about how you approach your sale, given the circumstances. It is better to be ahead of the market trends if you are a seller, not behind them.

Your home is not going to sell at a good price if it doesn’t show in tip top condition, and not if your listing agent does not know how to market it online. (Hint: talk to me about what it will take to get your home sold in this market!)

Anyway–for a closer look at the sales data and trends, visit the document below. You can find previous sales data for Sonoma County there as well.

And if you have any questions about Sonoma County real estate, and what these numbers mean to your real estate situation, please email or phone me.

Sonoma County Home Sales Trends October 2010

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on 25% Home Sales Drop in Sonoma County this October

Sonoma County Home Sales Resume Pace 2 Months after Tax Credit Expiration

filed under: Buyers, Market updates posted on August 8th, 2010

There are no hugely exciting sales trends to proclaim this month. Trendlines we have noted in the past continue in unspectacular fashion which is good news as the market continues to stabilize. The best news is that newly pending sales (ratified home purchase contracts that have yet to close) rose up in July to nearly the same level as April.

The pending sales figures for April 2010 were very high, following several months of increase leading up to the expiration of the $8,000 federal tax credit, only available to homes “under contract” by April 30, 2010.

Throughout much of the country and in Sonoma County, newly pending sales dipped as expected, in May and June, since many people who might have bought in those months rushed to beat the deadline.

Here in Sonoma County, the July’s pending sales numbers are nearly as high as April’s however, probably due to seasonal effects a well as even lower interest rates than last spring.

Sales have not looked so good elsewhere in the US, but seem stronger here in Northern California and the greater Bay Area, a phenomenon we have been accustomed to over the last 30 years. I am concerned about the state of California’s budget woes and their long term impact on our markets, but that is a whole other topic.

Newly pending sales in Sonoma County reflect a couple of trends.

The rate of closed sales is down slightly from 2009 when sales of distressed properties peaked in the late winter.

Days on market continue to decline, reflecting a decline in inventory at the lower price points.

At the current rate of sales, the number of months supply of inventory is hovering around 3 months–a seller’s market– but only for properties priced under $450,000 or $500,000. There are plenty of sellers sitting on high priced (over priced) inventory throughout the county.

The median price is hovering in the low to mid $300,000’s.

The proportion of “bank-involved” properties is declining as an overall percentage of the sales mix. Regular folks have decided that now is as good a time as any in the foresee-able future for them to sell, so we see a greater mix of homes available to purchase.

Rates are ridiculously low, as little as 4.5% for a thirty year fixed mortgage for some credit-worthy folks! (Check out rates UNDER 4% for some 15 year loans!!!)

This means some people who want to move up to a bigger property, or a country property, are feeling more confident this year than last and willing to take that step. What they might lose on the sale of their existing home, they will gain with a good purchase price (at insanely low rates) on whatever they buy.

Here is a look at all the market reports for the last 18 months. Please email or call me if you have any questions or I can help you to figure out how they apply to your particular situation!

August 2010 Sonoma County Real Estate Home Sales Trends (August 2009 to August 2010)

posted by Pam Buda // Comments Off on Sonoma County Home Sales Resume Pace 2 Months after Tax Credit Expiration