Bay Area Annual Home-Price Gains Double California Rate

Although home prices eased a touch across the Bay Area from August to September, they still grew at more than twice the statewide rate on a year-over-year basis.Money_Suburb

In its September home sales and price report, the California Association of Realtors says that the median sales price for a single-family home across the nine-county Bay Area was $796,470 last month, a decline of 1.0 percent from August. Across the Golden State, single-family home prices fell by 2.3 percent from the preceding month to $482,150.

On an annual basis, Bay Area home prices were up 10.7 percent, more than double the 4.3 percent price growth recorded in California. Eight of nine counties saw year-over-year price gains, ranging from 13.3 percent inAlameda to 4.0 percent in Napa. In Marin County, home prices fell by 9.4 percent from September 2014.

In a statement accompanying the report, CAR Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young said that home prices across the state are moderating due to more buyers seeking out lower-priced areas. She noted that home sales in the Central Valley represented 26.4 percent of California transactions in September, up from 25.5 percent one year ago. During that same time period, the share of Bay Area homes sold declined from 18.8 percent in 2014 to 17.2 percent this year.

An uptick in sales in California’s Central Valley could likely be due to the rise of so-called “mega-commuters,” San Francisco and Silicon Valley workers who are willing to travel hundreds of miles from far-flung places where homes are much more affordable. The San Jose Mercury News recently reported on this trend, documenting back-breaking commutes such as the trek between the San Joaquin County city of Manteca and downtown San Francisco — a 150-mile round trip that can take up to three hours each way.

Bay Area workers hoping to buy a home closer to the office had a bit more properties to choose from as fall officially began, with the months’ supply of inventory (MSI) across the nine-county region rising from 2.3 in August to 2.5 in September. Napa and Solano were the only local counties where inventory dropped on a month-over-month basis.

Bay Area homes continued to sell at a quick clip in December, with the properties finding a buyer in an average of 22.3 days, unchanged from the previous month. Alameda County had California’s fastest past of sales, at 18.0 days, followed by San Mateo (18.7 days), Santa Clara (19.1 days), Contra Costa (20.3 days), and San Francisco (21.5 days) counties.

Source: (

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Happy Back to the Future Day!

‘Back to the Future’ Day: Time is in flux, and the ‘Future’ is today

back to the future


(CNN)“Back to the Future” Day has finally arrived.

In “Back to the Future Part II,” Marty McFly travels to October 21, 2015, to save his children, yet to be born in “Back to the Future’s” 1985.

What did ‘Back to the Future II’ get right?

The plot gets tangled — by fixing one thing, McFly and Doc Brown (and the villainous Biff Tannen) create a number of new messes — but what remains is the film’s vision of a year that was still more than a quarter-century away when the movie was shot and released in 1989. The entire trilogy is even being rereleased Wednesday, so you can see for yourself.

The film’s record isn’t bad, given that director Robert Zemeckis wasn’t pleased with setting part of “Back to the Future II” in 2015.

“I always hated — and I still don’t like — movies about the future,” he says in a new book, “Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History.” “I just think they’re impossible, and somebody’s always keeping score.”

In the Internet age, Zemeckis has grounds for concern. Over the past few years, Photoshopped images of “Future’s” DeLorean time machine have popped up on the Web, insisting that TODAY is “Back to the Future Day.” And now that the day has actually arrived, there have been countless articles (like, frankly, this one) and videos about what the film and its screenwriter, Bob Gale, got right about 2015.

As with other movies dealing with the future, such as “2001: A Space Odyssey” (set in the early 2000s) or “Blade Runner” (set in 2019, which will be here before you know it), the predictions of “Back to the Future II” are hit or miss: big-screen TVs, yes, Mr. Fusion, no; virtual-reality goggles, yes, “Jaws 19,” no.

The story behind the car that made time travel stylish

Coincidentally, perhaps the most important invention in the film is one behind the scenes: the VistaGlide motion-control system, a computer-operated camera operation that enabled Michael J. Fox to seamlessly share all those scenes with himself. The software was written by an Industrial Light & Magic developer, Bill Tondreau, specifically for the movie and was a milestone in moviemaking technology.

Still, it says something about the popularity of the trilogy that here we are, 26 years after the release of “Back to the Future II” (and 30 years after “Back to the Future”), and we care enough to “keep score.” Even “Back to the Future” stars Fox and Christopher Lloyd discuss the topic in a new Toyota ad.

Elijah Wood, who made his film debut in “Back to the Future Part II,” is also fascinated by the movie’s predictions and discussed them on a recent “Conan.” ‘Back to the Future II’ was this star’s first movie
'Back to the Future II' was this star's first movie

Wood and host Conan O’Brien did single out an item the film got wrong — the colander-like hat Wood’s character wears in the film. They never became fashionable.

Christopher Lloyd on the timeless charm of ‘Back to the Future’

There’s one prediction that could be aced in the next couple weeks. According to the film, the Chicago Cubs win the World Series in 2015 (over Miami, a city that didn’t have a baseball team in 1989).

As of “Back to the Future” Day, those Cubs are in the National League Championship Series, one step short of the big prize.

If they do go all the way, perhaps the Chicago-born Zemeckis won’t mind a little score-settling.

Source: CNN (

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Marin County: 3Q Results

The frenetic pace of real estate activity in Pacific Union’s Marin County region began slowing in the third quarter, even as sales prices continued to rise. We saw more price reductions in the quarter than we’ve seen all year, and several instances where homes didn’t sell. Buyers seemed less eager to jump through the hoops some sellers demanded, suggesting that they are either doing more market research or are perhaps simply exhausted after repeatedly losing out on bidding wars.

Nonetheless, open houses were well-attended and homebuyers were plentiful. Attractive homes in desirable neighborhoods sold quickly, often at prices well above list. Inventory levels remained exceptionally slim, although we saw an uptick in new listings starting after Labor Day. The market for high-priced homes – those in the neighborhood of $10 million and above – was particularly strong.

Looking Forward: Marin County is a desirable place to live and increasingly attractive to buyers with high-paying tech jobs in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. We expect strong sales in the fourth quarter, with many qualified buyers looking to get into new homes before the holidays.

Defining Marin County: Our real estate markets in Marin County include the cities of Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Novato, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, and Tiburon. Sales data in the charts below includes single-family homes in these communities

Median Sales Price:

The median sales price represents the midpoint in the range of all prices paid. It indicates that half the prices paid were higher than this number, and half were lower. It is not the same measure as “average” sales price.

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Month’s Supply of Inventory:

The months’ supply of inventory is a measure of how quickly the current supply of homes would be sold at the current sales rate, assuming no more homes came on the market. In general, an MSI below 4 is considered a seller’s market; between 4 and 6 is a balanced market; and above 6 is a buyer’s market.

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Average days on Market:

Average days on the market is a measure that indicates the pace of sales activity. It tracks, on average, the number of days a listing is active until it reaches “pending” status, meaning all contingencies have been removed and both parties are just waiting to close.

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Percentage of  Properties Under Contract:

Percentage of properties under contract is a forward-looking indicator of sales activity. It tracks expected home sales before the paperwork is completed and the sale actually closes.

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Sales Price as a Percentage of Original Price:

Measuring the sales price as a percentage of the final list price, which may include price reductions from the original list price, determines the success of a seller in receiving the hoped-for sales amount. It also indicates the level of sales activity in a region.

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A Closer Look at Marin County:

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Marin Headlands home to be offered for rent by National Park Service

point bonita house

One of Marin’s newest real estate rentals offers mind-blowing views of the Golden Gate and the opportunity to live in a national park.

And it’s not cheap.

The landlords, the National Park Service, are asking at least $6,500 a month for the 2,100-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom homethat rests on a bluff between Point Bonita and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Once used for employees of the U.S. Life Saving Service and built in 1964, it has since been used by park employees who are charged below market rate. When a long-time resident left in 2014, park service officials decided to work on the home — one of three on the bluff — and put it on the open market. Bidding starts Tuesday.

“One of our mandates is to keep and maintain these historic buildings,” said Alex Picavet, spokeswoman for the park service, as she stood in the front yard of the home, which overlooks a mass expanse of sea. “The rent on this home helps us do that. This is unique, to open it to the public for rent.”

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area has many historic buildings to maintain, but with limited resources from Congress it is looking to be creative in how its finances upkeep and repairs. Offering the home to the public is one way to do that.

“We didn’t make a lot changes,” said Katharine Arrow, a park official who helped oversee the project. “But it has been refreshed.”

The home maintains its mid-1960s feel. Louvers have been saved, green Heath tiles have been set masterfully into the kitchen and ceiling light shades harken back to a simpler time. Because the home is part of a historic district, many of the elements had to be maintained, including a 50-year old sink in a washroom.

“Anything that we did to the house was defined by historic values and was in keeping with preservation,” said Melissa Bleier, realty specialist for the park service.


The airy home’s bathrooms are brand new, as are the appliances and kitchen, but they all become secondary to the view. To the east is the Golden Gate Bridge and downtown San Francisco and to the west is the entrance to the Gate and an endless sight line — at least when the fog is away.

“The sunsets are amazing from here, and it’s all outside of these windows,” Picavet said, as she gazed out.

The home’s existence can be traced back to the U.S. Life Saving Service, which was established at Point Bonita in response to a plethora of shipwrecks in the later 1800s.

The service put a life saving station at Point Bonita in the Marin Headlands at the turn of the century. There, rescuers used slow heavy boats, which were launched directly into the water, along a set of rails, which still exist in a rusted state.

Quarters for the life savers were first located in a Victorian higher on the bluff. Eventually it was torn down and the three homes were constructed in the 1960s.

“It’s history and that’s why we want to preserve these buildings,” Picavet said.


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$9.5M Off-Market Sale Breaks Record on Potrero Hill

potrero hill house

The modernist house at 1740 20th St. has shattered Potrero Hill real estate records with a off-market sale. The listing agent confirms the home sold for $9.5 million, and since it reportedly has a little less than 3,000 square feet, that puts it at approximately $3,100 per square foot.

Everything about the deal is hush-hush. It was an off-market transaction, and the listing agent, Katharine Beckwith, doesn’t offer much information. She does confirm the sales price. When asked if it was a record-breaking deal, she emailed simply: “I would presume.” She says that the official records show the house at 2,976 square feet (three bedrooms, two baths). There are unconfirmed reports it might be slightly larger.

A blog by Zephyr real estate agent Eileen Bermingham has more information: “The previous owners obtained signed-off permits over the summer for a horizontal addition, garage expansion, and roof deck that had been in the works several years earlier,” she writes. She says the buyer was Atom Holdings LLC.

Bermingham also says that the previous Potrero Hill sales record was at 772 Wisconsin, a four-bedroom home that sold for $3.7 million in May 2014.

· 1740 20th St. [Zillow]
· Modernist Potrero Home Breaks Sales Record for Neighborhood[]
· Freshly Expanded Potrero Home Hits the Market for $3.395M [Curbed SF]



Source: Mary Jo Bolling:

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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, 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 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


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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.


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

Bay Area Behemoths_0

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.

Bay Area Behemoths_1_10 Homes More Than 21,000 Square Feet - Supersize Me - Curbe

Bay Area Behemoths_2_10 Homes More Than 21,000 Square Feet - Supersize Me - Curbe

Bay Area Behemoths_3_10 Homes More Than 21,000 Square Feet - Supersize Me - Curbe

Bay Area Behemoths_4_10 Homes More Than 21,000 Square Feet - Supersize Me - Curbe

Bay Area Behemoths_5_10 Homes More Than 21,000 Square Feet - Supersize Me - Curbe

Bay Area Behemoths_6_10 Homes More Than 21,000 Square Feet - Supersize Me - Curbe

Bay Area Behemoths_7_10 Homes More Than 21,000 Square Feet - Supersize Me - Curbe


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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.”


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.


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.”


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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.

Flintstone House 2

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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