Archive for the 'Market updates' Category
Buyers are out in force searching out bargains in Sonoma County real estate with the number of open escrows (ratified sales contracts for home purchases which have not yet closed) reaching the highest level in over two years. This appears to solidify a trend first noted in this blog in early February. The newly ratified purchase contracts will not close till 30 to 45 days after ratification on average and some will no doubt not close, but indications continue to be positive for the state of this spring’s market for real estate sales in Sonoma County. Many of these sales have been in the under $500,000 market, where first time buyers and investors are feasting on the large inventory of bank-owned or REO properties where some terrific bargains can be found. For a list of bank-owned properties, please email me. Meanwhile, the following chart shows the sales trends for both new escrows and closed sales for the last two years of real estate sales in Sonoma County.
Help! There is not enough country property for sale in Sonoma County. I have buyers and very little to show them at the moment. Sebastopol, Healdsburg and the Valley of the Moon in particular are very low on new country real estate for sale. A really lovely piece of land with two legal units in an estate setting between Graton and Forestville just went into escrow with multiple offers. A charming farmhouse with two studio buildings and a small horse setup privately situated just 5 minutes outside of Sebastopol is in contract with multiple offers. An all cash buyer, rumor has it, plopped down nearly 2 million in cash (pending inspections) for a GORGEOUS 20 acre piece with a classic coastal home and large studio building within a week of entering the market. I think sellers are hunkering down due to the negativity in the press and uncertainty and fear in the economy. But well-priced, well marketed and properly prepared homes in Sonoma County, particularly country property, will sell quickly. There are a lot of buyers out there who have gotten off the (classic 3 rail wood board) fence who are looking for new homes or weekend getaways. If you have a country property in Sonoma County that you want to sell, please contact me for a free market analysis!
I just got off a phone call with fellow Realtor Donna NordbyÂ of Diversified Lending and Real Estate.Â We were comparing notes about our busy weeks when she told me that she showed 22 homes in the $300,000 to $350,000 range last week to some clients.Â Most if not all were REO (bank-owned) properties that had been through foreclosure.Â Fully FIFTY percent of them had already received anywhere from 10 to 15 OFFERS each.Â She literally put the listing agents’ office on speaker phone so thatÂ her clientsÂ could hear the newsÂ with herÂ as they called one property after another and got the same news.Â The nice properties in nice locations were the ones with multiple offers.Â The rougher ones in less desirable locations comprised the fifty percent without offers.Â Â Â Â At one property (not her listing), she had opened it up to show clients and three potential buyers walked in the door and asked her if they could see it.
Meanwhile I had a full house yesterday with a record amount of traffic at the country property I was hosting.Â Had some great talks with a steady stream of buyers and the consensus was that now was the time to buy.Â Late last year the thinking was more a wait and see attitude.
Â I have a feeling we are going to have a warm and lively spring.
I enjoy looking at market statistics for the Sonoma County real estate market. As a realtor and full time professional in the market, I look to statistics to confirm or enlighten me vis a vis my own perceptions. I also know the damage that can result from a broad brush focus on statistics. Witness the overall drop in Santa Rosa real estate values year over year of over 15%. (according to Zillow) Not only Zillow but lenders use this sort of data to tar any Santa Rosa home, when the truth is the hardest hit have been the large tracts of entry level inventory that Sonoma County communities such as Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Rohnert Park/Cotati and Windsor have. These communities have the highest preponderance of entry level single-family tract homes which were hardest hit by the sub-prime crisis. All of these communities have some wonderful country properties, vineyard properties and horse farms which will be negatively impacted from a lender’s eye in terms of valuation, relative to equivalent properties in Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Sonoma. They could be equally or more scenic, have oodles of wine country juice but are harder hit from a statistical eye.
That is why the laser beam approach is best when you are actively in the market for real estate, or are planning to sell a property for that matter. As my colleague in coastal San Mateo county, Marian Bennett said recently,
“Coastside real estate is very â€œlocation specificâ€. Trends can be information but they are not the whole picture if you are ACTIVELY in the market. In our office alone, 2 homes sold within hours of being listed last week. Part of that may be heading into the spring buying time and/or the seller had the golden triangle (my phrase) of Location, Price, and Presentation. “
Last month I posted an encouraging word about increased January 2008Â real estate sales Â activity in Sonoma county.Â My fellow realtors and I are all noticing a pickup in buyer activity since December.Â “People are realizing that their are some “smoking” deals out there and getting down off the fence.Â I think 2008 will be the year of the buyer.” said my broker at Coldwell Banker, Rick Laws , on a brief phone call today.Â He had just emailed us the first look at February real estate sales data for Sonoma County homes and condominiums and the data verify the gut feel possessed by many of us who as realtors are active in the market on a daily basis.Â Â I am glad because I was feeling a bit like Pollyanna after my last post, given the gloom and doom in the media.Â The mediaÂ spinÂ generally lags street level reality by weeks or months, which is why timing the real estate market or any market for that matter, is so difficult to do.
Â Anyway, newly opened escrows (ratified contracts) are up over 65% this month from last to 363 units.Â January saw the largest number of ratifieds of any month since last July 2007, but get this, February’s sales are up to a level not seen since AUTUMN of 2006!Â Given seasonal factors, that is a pretty encouraging sign.Â January ratifieds were 220 units and December was at 171.
If you are interested in learning about some of the great real estate buys in Sonoma County, whether for single family homes, country property, horse property or investment purposes, please feel free to email me or call.Â Â I will post more in depth data for February when it becomes available in another week or so.
Unlike the entry level where inventory keeps growing, and sales are also up sharply this last January, properties priced from $500,000 to $750,000, what is our lower mid-range, are showing declining sales, but also declining inventory at nearly the same rate.Â Â Buyers at this price range are entering jumbo loan territory, and sellers who don’t have to absolutely sell may be taking themselves out of the market.
OK, back to more serious stuff.
Not surprisingly the supply and demand dynamics for Sonoma County real estate vary greatly at various price levels indicating different forces at work.Â The next few posts will look at different price ranges and the number of ratified sales (escrows opened) versus the number of new listings.Â Â Â My broker, Rick Laws, compiles a detailed view of market statistics on a monthly basis which is shared with the Press Democrat newspaper.Â Once a month I receive about 20 or 30 reports looking at homes, properties over $1 million dollars, and condominium sales throughout Sonoma County.Â These are pulled from sales data from the BAREIS MLS for Sonoma County and supplied via Brokermetrics.Â Â When I need data for a particular area or type of property I can drill down deeper in Brokermetrics but the monthly standard reports give a good statistical overview of the county as a whole.Â Â While we are “in the market” everyday and like to think we can sense trends as they emerge, it helps to have the data to confirm your senses.
The benefit being that it helps us to hopefully deduce some trends for our buyer and seller clients so that we can come up with the best strategy for their real estate needs.
Â The low end of our market (under $500,000) is flooded with inventory compared to two years ago.Â A year ago new listings were steadily trending upward and buyer activity was nearly level.
However, the number of ratified sales in January (sales that should close in February or March) is up significantly by nearly 50%, anÂ encouraging sign and evidenceÂ of the increased buyer activity post holiday and Super Bowl.Â Â The question is how far up will that inventory rise, and will the buyer bump up trend continue so that the lines level out or converge, rather thanÂ trend apart as they have in the recent past?
Well they have been out in force even in the rain, but it is sure a lot more fun to look at property when the sun is shining.Â Our local Coldwell Banker Santa Rosa office had 23 open escrows last week which is a noticeable post-Super Bowl bump perhaps.Â Â In a “normal” market we average 20-30 escrows a week opened but December and January were down under 20 for the most part.
Marian Bennett in Coastal San Mateo county notes a similar trend in a recent post:Â “They came from the Frenchmanâ€™s Creek neighborhood, Fremont, San Francisco, Sonoma, even southern Californiaâ€¦tired of waiting for the bottom to hit, or starting the spring house-huntingâ€¦and many checking out our coastside communities on one of our â€œ10â€³ days on my subjective weather meter.”Â Â Â Even in the rain two weeks ago, I had buyers come from all over the Bay Area to view a lovely Sebastopol country property I was holding open.Â Â Buyers who may feel like Redfin employee Susan Brady–a self-confessed mid-Peninsula resident with Sonoma Country property aspirations, on the outside looking in.
If you want to see that same property in the sunshine so that you can appreciate the fabulous 360 degree views in a typical Sebastopol mini-farm setting on nearly 2 acres at the end of a peaceful country lane, please come see me tomorrow, February 17 Â at 5611 Hessel Avenue in Sebastopol, Ca 95472 from 1 pm to 4pm.Â Â ThisÂ property is listed by my friend Izetta Feeny, and is extremely well-priced at $725,000.Â See you there!
Â 5611 Hessel Avenue, SebastopolÂ Open House this Sunday 2/17 from 1 to 4 pm.
I felt a bit non-plussed when the Santa Rosa Press Democrat posted a very gloomy (yet again) outlook on our local real estate market, indicating the low level of sales (167) for the month of January and the year to year drop in the median price.Â Â Sobering facts indeed and at first glance my previous post, Sonoma County Market May be Picking up in 2008Â , made me feel that I might be perceived as having the typical realtor Pollyanna view of the market.Â How embarrassing!Â Â However, if you read my post closely you will note that I mentioned that the number of PENDING sales (266) Â is up higher than any month since last July just before the subprime mess hit the fan.Â Â So perhaps there is a glimmer of hope after all. It is also interesting that the PD failed to mention a month to month increase of nearly $50,000 in the median home price for the county.Â Of course month to month numbers are not really as telling as year over year comparisons, but you can be sure they would have mentioned it had the price gone DOWN on a month to month basis.Â
Just got an interesting email from my broker Rick Laws.Â Rick compiles many of the Sonoma County real estate market statistics used by the Press Democrat newspaper.Â I ‘ll have more in depth reports on January 2008 real estate sales in a couple of weeks.Â But briefly, Rick says,
“There are 260 pending SFDÂ sales reported (so far) for January. That is theÂ strongest month since last July.The median price has bounced back up to $500K from $466,500 in December.”Â
Â As many of you know, the market for country property in Sebastopol, Healdsburg and parts of Santa Rosa, has been reasonably strong.Â What is interesting is that we are seeing much more activity at the troubled lower end of the market, with many more multiple offer situations on short sales and REO’s.Â Maybe buyers are starting toÂ notice that here are some great bargains out there in Santa Rosa and Sonoma county real estate.Â More information as the data comes in….
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