California Still Dominates the Ranks of Hottest U.S. Housing Markets

California cities account for more than half of the nation’s hottest real estate markets as autumn gets underway, with San Francisco at the top of the list for the fourth consecutive month. SF Skyline

In a running monthly report, Realtor.com ranks the country’s 20 hottest housing markets based on quickest pace of sales and most listing views on its website. As in the previous two months, 11 of those metro areas are located in California in September, and Bay Area communities make a strong showing.

Homes in the No. 1-ranked San Francisco metro area, which includes Oakland and Hayward, are selling in a median 29 days in September, the fastest of any of the nation’s hottest markets. San Jose is the list’s second fastest-moving market, with homes taking 31 days to find a buyer. Nationwide, the median inventory age is 80 days.

According to Realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke, U.S. housing inventory is currently reaching its 2015 peak at the same time as the pace of sales slows, opening a window for buyers who have been shut out of the market. But in the nation’s hottest cities, house hunters shouldn’t take this as a reason to drag their feet.

“Sellers in these markets continue to see listings move much more quickly than the rest of the country in September, and the seasonal slowdown is not as strong in these markets,” Smoke said. The pace of sales in San Francisco was unchanged from August to September, while homes in San Jose spent an additional four days on the market.

As in August, Vallejo ranked fourth on Realtor com’s list, while San Jose moved up a spot to the fifth position. The rest of California’s hot markets: San Diego (No. 6), Santa Rosa (No. 7), Sacramento (No. 8), Santa Cruz (No. 9), Yuba City (No. 10), Stockton (No. 12), Los Angeles (No. 13), and Modesto (No. 18). The latter replaced Ventura County’s Oxnard, which appeared on the list in both July and August.

Predictably, Northern California cities have the largest home price tags of the 20 hottest markets. San Jose was the most expensive, with a median list price of $878,000, followed by Santa Cruz ($824,000) and San Francisco ($750,000).

Photo: Flickr/Peter Kaminski

Sourcehttp://blog.pacificunion.com/california-still-dominates-list-of-hottest-u-s-housing-markets/

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Bay Area Homes Sales Slip in August as Inventory Shortages Persist

According to the California Association of Realtors’ August home sales and price report, there were 431,800 single-family home sales in August, the most since October 2012 and the fifth straight month that sales were above 400,000. Statewide, home sales were down 3.9 percent from July but up 9.3 percent from August 2014.

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In a statement accompanying the report, CAR Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young said that home sales should finish the year on a high note, with more affordable regions helping to boost the state’s totals.

“We’re on track to post stronger than expected home sales for 2015, with the last quarter moderating but still solid,” she said. “Strong sales in the Central Valley and Inland Empire markets should help to propel statewide sales higher, thanks to better affordability and greater housing supply, while sales soften in the Bay Area.”

Across the nine-county Bay Area, sales volume declined by 12.9 percent from July and was up just 0.2 percent from one year earlier. All nine counties saw sales decline from July to August, ranging from 31.8 percent in Napa County to 6.1 percent in Solano County.

Statewide, the median sales price for a single-family home was $493,420, a year-over-year gain of 2.5 percent, the smallest such increase in more than three years. According to CAR President Chris Kutzkey, the modest annual gain is a sign that California housing prices are stabilizing, but Bay Area home shoppers should expect continued escalation throughout the remainder of 2015 due to supply constraints.

The median sales price for a single-family home across the nine-county region was $804,190 in August, a year-over-year gain of 10.4 percent. Prices were up in all nine counties on an annual basis, with eight of them posting double-digit-percentage gains.

San Francisco was the state’s most expensive county in August, with a median single-family home price of $1,242,650, an increase of 26.9 percent from a year earlier. San Mateo County ranked No. 2, at $1,234,000, followed by Marin ($1,087,500), Santa Clara ($973,000), Contra Costa ($814,390), and Alameda ($741,460) counties.

The nine-county region ended August with a 2.3 months’ supply of inventory (MSI), the lowest of any major metro area in California. All Bay Area counties recorded year-over-year MSI declines, and six of them have the state’s fewest homes for sale.

Consequently, CAR says that the Bay Area is the only California region where homes are selling for more than original price, an average of 103.4 percent in August.

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Bay Area Behemoths: 10 Homes More Than 21,000 Square Feet

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In San Francisco, where space is at a premium, many people would consider homes tipping the scale at 4,000 square feet to be roomy. But Joel Goodrich, a luxury real estate agent, found that there are 15 homes in the Bay Area that weigh in at more than 19,000 square feet—you just have to know where to look (hint: Hillsborough). Today, Goodrich has released his latest real estate report, which includes a list of these mansions compiled by writer Damion Matthews by analyzing data from tax and MLS records. The information is both fascinating and entertaining. (After all, isn’t it fun to dream about a 20-car garage?) Goodrich and Matthews came up with the idea after noticing that none of the top 10 largest homes in the United States were located in Northern California. They decided to bring down to a local level.

Asked if he thinks more mega-mansions could be forthcoming, Goodrich said it’s not likely. “The culture here is different and though we still have extraordinary examples of grand classic architecture, people are more understated, so mega-mansions are simply not part of the culture,” he says. But in his report, he notes that one in the top 10 is on the market (10 Serenity Ln. in Alamo, asking $42M), so if you need much, much, much, more space (it’s 26,739 square feet), this is your chance.

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Source: http://sf.curbed.com/archives/2015/09/10/bay_area_behemoths_10_homes_more_than_21000_square_feet.php

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Marin luxury real estate market holding its own

Marin Luxury RE Market

Marin’s luxury real estate market is holding steady with sales essentially unchanged from last year, held back by a dearth of homes on the market, experts said.

Forty-eight homes valued at more than $4 million sold between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, 2015, while 49 such homes sold during the same period in 2014, according to Bay Area Real Estate Information Services, a North Bay multiple listing service.

“We still have a lack of inventory,” said Marcus Robinson, an agent with Coldwell Banker. “The supply is really down. In all of Marin, in every price range, we only have 318 detached single-family homes for sale (at present).”

“I have four buyers looking for something in the $6 million to $7 million range and I can’t find anything for them. I’ve been trying for a year,” said Marilyn Rich, a Pacific Union agent.

Eric Gelman of Bradley Real Estate said, “Right now the luxury market is a seller’s market. It’s a good time to be a seller.”

Complicating the short supply of homes for sale is the tendency of upscale buyers to be finicky about what they purchase, agents said.

“Each of my luxury buyers wants a particular town, or two towns, and has particular needs,” Rich said. “They are very discerning and very particular. They know exactly what they want and are willing to wait for it.”

“If they are going to be spending $3 million or $4 million, they want it to be move-in ready,” Robinson said. “Buyers are thinking twice about buying a house and having to redo kitchens and baths. A lot of buyers don’t have the time to go through that — the permit process, hiring an architect, a contractor. Some of these people are high-powered, they have demanding careers.”

“They want to move in and put their coffeemaker on and their toothbrush in the toothbrush holder,” said Carey Hagglund Condy, a Pacific Union agent. “Women are running companies, just like their husbands.”

High-end buyers “want land. They want a nice flat piece of property,” Rich said. “They want to be able to put in a swimming pool if they want to. The $8 million and above (buyers) want a guest house on the property.”

PHOTOS IMPORTANT

According to Robinson, when selling an upscale home, “What’s very important is photos that are on the Internet, because 85 percent of buyers go to the Internet first. Your house had better show well in pictures. If it doesn’t, buyers are not going to call the listing agent to see it.”

“In general, it’s important for sellers to make the best effort. You need to present your house well and price it right,” Gelman said.

Several high-profile luxury sales have closed in Marin recently. Locksley Hall, an 1895 Belvedere mansion, sold in August for $47.5 million, smashing price records in the county. Also, Barry Zito, the former San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics pitcher, sold his Kentfield mansion for $8.15 million.

A price of $1.5 million or more is often used by real estate information services to designate luxury homes. However, with Marin’s median price hitting $990,500 in July, this number is deemed too low in the context of Marin County, agents said.

Rich Benson, Marin County’s assessor-recorder, concurred.

“That ($1.5 million) is not much when you’re comparing it to $47.5 million,” Benson said, referring to the sale of Locksley Hall.

POSITIVE OUTLOOK

As it happens, the market looked much the same when the numbers were run for sales valued at $2 million or more.

Two hundred and sixty-nine homes valued at $2 million or more sold in Marin County between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, 2014. And 276 such homes sold during the same period this year, according to the multiple listing service.

Looking to the immediate future, agents were crossing their fingers.

“We’re hoping for more inventory after Labor Day,” said Kate Hamilton of Coldwell Banker. “Things seasonally slow down in August, but we’ll sometimes see a flurry following Labor Day weekend.”

The experts felt the outlook for the long run was positive, saying that the technology boom in San Francisco and the South Bay has affected not only those areas but the surrounding areas as well, boosting prices at all levels.

“We are one of the hotbeds of the U.S. economy,” said John Zeiter of Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty. “Google has $65 billion in cash and Apple has $155 billion in cash. They have employees who are making money — and small companies making a product and selling it to Google and Facebook. These employees are getting big buyout numbers and that money is turning around and going into real estate.”

“I don’t think we can help but reflect what’s happening in the Bay Area in general,” Assessor-Recorder Benson said. “Marin is a very desirable area.”

Source: http://www.marinij.com/business/20150905/marin-luxury-real-estate-market-holding-its-own

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California ‘Flintstone House’ is on the market for $4.2 million

One of the most recognized and beloved homes in the Bay Area is for sale. The Flintstone House!!

Flintstone House

Yabba dabba doo! California’s well-known ‘Flintstone House’ is on the market.

The 2,370-square-foot home sits on a hilltop overlooking Interstate 280 just outside San Francisco. The 39-year-old, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home is listed at $4.2 million.

“Many of you have seen this house from Highway 280 for years. Your curiosity will be satisfied when you see the great photos,” listing agent Judy Meuschke said in a Sept. 1 Facebook post.

The house was designed by architect William Nicholson and built in 1976. The home became informally known as the “Flintstone House,” a nod to the cartoon sitcom about a family that lived during the Stone Age. The quirky home was was also called the “Barbapapa House” in the 1970s, according to Curbed San Francisco.

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Meuschke told NBC Bay Area that the asking price is “pretty good price for a landmark.”

She said the owner chose to remain anonymous and has lived in the home for 19 years.

“You can see by her artwork and her furnishings and the things she collected that she loved this place,” she told NBC.

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Barry Zito unloads Marin County villa for $8.15 million

Former San Francisco Giants pitching ace Barry Zito has sold his Marin County mansion for a loss, getting only $8.15 million for the villa he listed for $11.495 million in 2012.

Barry Zito

Zito, now a minor league pitcher with the Oakland A’s, originally bought the property for $8.863 million. It had also been on the market as a $25,000 per month rental. The main house has 7,116 square feet that encompass four bedrooms and five bathrooms, as well as a wine cellar.

The home, at 660 Goodhill Road, sits on two acres. It boasts a guest house, pool, sweeping views of Mount Tamalpais and Phoenix Lake.

The sale was brokered by William Bullock, Max Applegarth and Lydia Sarkissianof Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty.

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Exclusive: Locksley Hall in Belvedere Sells for $47.5M, Shatters All Records

Once the most expensive home for sale in California at $65 million, Locksley Hall in Belvedere sold today for $47.5 million, just $1.5 million shy of its latest asking price of $49 million. The sale breaks the record for the highest reported single-family home sale in San Francisco proper by $12 million, and the highest reported sale in Belvedere by around $22 million.

The estate—a three-story, 9,235-square-foot abode with a poolhouse, rose garden and panic room—is located on the southern crest of Belvedere Island with jaw-dropping views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.

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The gigantic (by Bay Area standards) estate was built circa 1895 by San Francisco banker C.O. Perry, and was purchased in 1995 by mining mogul Robert Friedland and his wife, Darlene, for $5.5 million. The couple then sank approximately $30 million into the renovation and restoration of the historic landmark over the next nine years. Interior designer Suzanne Tucker took care of the interiors, while Stephen Suzman Design handled the landscaping.

As Curbed reported late last year, “one bonus for prospective billionaires is the property tax situation: Because this is a historicspread, 440 Golden Gate falls under California’s Mills Act, which reduces property taxes in exchange for preserving buildings.”

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Bay Area’s Dubious Distinction: Tightest Housing Supply in California

The supply of homes for sale in the Bay Area remained exceptionally tight in July, with no other region in California even close to our constricted inventory levels. The limited supply had predictable results: Sales prices were up solidly from a year earlier, and the Bay Area remained the only region where multiple offers pushed final prices above list prices.

Monopoly toy housesThe California Association of Realtors said in its July 2015 sales and price report that the months’ supply of inventory (MSI) for single-family homes held steady at 2.0 across the nine-county Bay Area, compared with 3.6 in the Los Angeles metro area, 3.9 in the Inland Empire, and a statewide average of 3.3.

San Mateo and Marin counties had the tightest housing supply in the state, both with an MSI of 1.5. They were followed by San Francisco (1.6), Alameda and Santa Clara counties (1.8), Contra Costa County (2.2), Sonoma County (2.6), Solano County (2.7), and Napa County (3.2). An MSI of 6.0 to 7.0 is typically considered to be a balanced market, with larger numbers favoring buyers and smaller numbers favoring sellers.

The median sales price in the Bay Area was $831,290 in July, down 0.2 percent from June but up 9.1 percent from a year ago, outpacing the state’s annual home price growth of 5.4 percent. July sales were down 0.2 percent from June but up 5.2 percent from a year earlier.

“While July home sales rose at the statewide level, the market is still constrained by low housing affordability and a tight supply in areas where job growth is robust, such as San Francisco and San Jose,” said CAR President Chris Kutzkey in a statement accompanying the sales and price report. “Neighboring regions such as Napa, Solano, and Sonoma are experiencing strong sales due to their affordability and proximity to job centers. However, housing affordability could become a bigger issue in these areas if housing demand continues to grow but supply can’t keep pace.”

On an annual basis, median sale prices rose in all but one of the nine Bay Area counties, led by San Francisco, up 19.9 percent to $1,312,500; followed by San Mateo, up 16.4 percent ($1,300,440); Alameda, up 12.2 percent ($810,640); Santa Clara, up 12.1 percent ($965,000); Sonoma, up 11.8 percent ($570,190); Solano, up 7.4 percent ($360,690); Marin, up 2.7 percent ($1,057,140); and Napa, up 0.9 percent ($655,610). Contra Costa posted the only year-over-year price decline, falling 5.8 percent to $746,040.

The Bay Area is home to the six most expensive counties in California: San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Santa Clara, Alameda, and Contra Costa.

Homes statewide sold at a median of 98.8 percent of the list price, except in the Bay Area. Homes here sold at a median of 5.2 percent above the list price, up from a 3.4 percent premium a year earlier, but down from a 6.3 percent premium in June.

San Francisco had the highest price per square foot in July at $804, followed by San Mateo County ($748), and Santa Clara County ($574).

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San Francisco Ranked Nation’s Hottest Real Estate Market for Second Straight Month

San Francisco’s famous fog traditionally brings chilly temperatures to the city during the summer months, but the real estate market was caught in a heat wave in July. Ditto for real estate all over California, where more than half of the nation’s hottest housing markets are located.foggy_sf

In its newest monthly report, Realtor.com ranks the 20 hottest U.S. real estate markets based on buyer demand – here meaning listing views – and fewest days on market. In a statement accompanying the report, Realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said that buyer demand is so intense in these markets that listings often receive up to three times as many page views as the national average.

As in June, San Francisco ranked as the hottest housing market in the U.S., with the average home taking just 30 days to sell. Realtor.com classifies the cities of Oakland and Hayward as part of San Francisco, underscoring the point that homes in the East Bay are also in high demand as escalating prices push more buyers out of the city.

Vallejo, which was the nation’s second hottest market in June, fell to the No. 4 spot, with homes selling in an average of 31 days. Santa Rosa ranked as the No. 5 hottest U.S. housing market, with homes selling in 32 days, followed by San Jose at No. 6. Homes in San Jose sold in an average of 28 days in July, the fastest pace of any of the cities on the list.

Other Golden State real estate market named among the country’s hottest were San Diego (No. 8), Santa Cruz (No. 10), Sacramento (No. 12), Stockton (No. 13), Yuba City (No. 14), Los Angeles (No. 17), and Oxnard (No. 18). The latter two returned to Realtor.com’s list after dropping off in June, while Yuba City, located about 40 miles north of Sacramento, is a newcomer.

Across the U.S., homes sold in an average of 69 days in July, down 7 percent from one year ago but up 5 percent from June. Smoke said that while demand for homes remains strong as summer peaks, the slowing pace of sales indicates that market conditions are becoming more balanced, which points to more moderate price growth this fall.

Northern California homebuyers would likely welcome any drop-off in home prices, which were more than three times the national median list price of $234,000 in some places. In July, the median list price in San Jose was $898,000, the highest of the 20 hottest markets. Santa Cruz had the list’s second largest home price — $824,000 – followed by San Francisco at No. 3, with a median list price of $748,000.

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Zillow’s dotloop Acquisition: It’s About Trust

I don’t trust Zillow. It’s that simple. I have frequently communicated my lack of trust to Zillow’s C-suite.MarkMcLaughlin_small

As someone who runs a real estate brokerage, I have always been wary of Zillow’s ambitions. There were, and are, just too many contradictions to stomach.

Consider the following:

  • From the beginning, Zillow has positioned itself as the consumers’ friend but has cynically titillated millions with inaccurate “Zestimates.”
  • The company aggressively markets itself as the best place to find a home even as its listing coverage and quality leave much to be desired.
  • Zillow’s business model depends on advertising and selling services to real estate professionals, yet it touts consumers’ ability to post self-listed homes on the site.

For me, many of the real estate professionals at Pacific Union, and brokerage leaders across the country, this has hardly engendered admiration. But Zillow’s recent acquisition of dotloop, a real estate transaction-management software company, represents something much more serious: a total failure of trust.

At risk here is the industry’s most sensitive personal and financial information and our legal and ethical duty as real estate advisors.

It’s time our industry takes a stand, pushes back, and demands the same trust and integrity from Zillow that our clients expect and receive from trusted real estate professionals.

In my mind this comes down to three issues:

The Gap Between Words and Actions

First, this acquisition is the greatest disconnect between Zillow’s words and actions to date. For the past year, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff has proclaimed to anyone who will listen that Zillow sells ads, not houses. I suppose this was meant to make those of us in the real estate business feel better, but many of us were asking ourselves the question “Does he think we’re stupid?” even before the dotloop deal.

Now Zillow has done something quite odd for a self-proclaimed “media company.” It has potentially extended itself deep into the mechanics of the real estate transaction. Rascoff’s spin on this is that Zillow acquired dotloop to make the leads it sends agents more valuable.

Zillow said that it simply sells ads. What Zillow just did is something quite different.

As the saying goes, “Fool me once … ”

Privacy and Common Sense

With the dotloop acquisition, Zillow will offer real estate transaction-management software while continuing to sell advertising. Selling advertising is about matching advertisers with audiences. These days, that is done through sophisticated data mining, tracking, and targeting technologies that concern many privacy advocates.

Now, I am not paranoid. I am not a conspiracy theorist. And I have no reason to believe that the Zillow team has plans to egregiously violate thecommon-sense privacy policies consumers expect and real estate professionals would demand of a service provider.

But it seems obviously reckless that sensitive data needed for a life-changing financial transaction will be housed in a system owned by a company that sells a ton of advertising.

Would you upload your bank statements or Social Security number to a Facebook group? Would you store your medical records in your Yahoo! account?

Real estate transactions are built on trust between professionals and their clients. At Pacific Union, we will not jeopardize that trust by treating our clients’ information cavalierly.

Below I identify some huge gaps in dotloop’s privacy policy that may alarm you – indeed, now that Zillow owns the company, they may terrify you.

The Fine Print

Let’s do what dotloop and Zillow hopes you won’t and take a moment to consider some of the fine print – dotloop’s privacy policy. Warning: This is not a trust-building exercise.

First comes the reality directed at real estate professionals:

“You agree and consent that we may collect, use, and disclose your personal information in accordance with this Policy. To make this Policy easy to find, we make it available on our homepage.

Then, an ambiguous definition of the sort of information that may be collected and shared:

“The type of personal information collected on the website includes, but is not limited to: Name, Address, Email Address, Phone Number, and your involvement in a real estate transaction.

Followed by the reality that they’re not just talking about your information – your clients are on the hook too:

” … the same types of information previously described in this paragraph will also apply to other people’s information.

Then, the kicker:

“We may share your personal information with third parties who may offer services that may be of interest (“Third Party Sharing”).

Of course, users are informed that they can opt out of third-party sharing. But I don’t think many real estate professionals will feel comfortable bringing this up with their clients, do you?

The Bottom Line

Zillow is feeling extreme pressure from Wall Street – the word “desperate” comes to my mind. The company’s stock price has fallen from $160 on July 28 of last year to $81.50 at the close of trading last Friday. And while Rascoff recently said that Zillow’s management thinks about the company’s trajectory in “decades,” the heat is on to grow revenue – fast.

I therefore expect more moves like the dotloop acquisition. I expect more efforts to frantically spin the industry into believing that Zillow is a trusted partner. I predict more disconnects between words and actions.

I know I am not alone in holding these views. And on behalf of our company, our professionals, our clients, and our industry I will not remain idle. I will continue to ask hard questions, and I won’t accept deflective answers.

I don’t trust Zillow.

– Mark A. McLaughlin, CEO, Pacific Union

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