Marin County – Quarterly Real Estate Report – Q3 2014

Marin County: Q3 Results
Third-quarter real estate activity in Pacific Union’s Marin County region was a study in contrasts. July and August were exceptionally slow, but after Labor Day, the market caught fire as vacationing Bay Area residents returned home and set about the business of finding the perfect property. The higher end of the market saw strong sales, with multiple offers the rule for any well-priced home located in an attractive area.Inventory remained slim, however, as sellers held off putting their homes on the market. The run-up in prices over the past two years offered a clear incentive to sell, but many owners were caught in a Catch-22: Selling, even at a healthy profit, puts them in the same predicament as other buyers, scrambling to find their next home in an extremely tight market.

Mill Valley and Kentfield were the most active markets in the region. Homes priced from $1 million to $1.3 million sold briskly.

Looking Forward: Unlike the start of the third quarter, real estate activity in the fourth quarter looks to be quite vigorous, continuing the momentum that broke out in September. Buyers are already scouting the region to close sales before the holiday season arrives.

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.

Q3_Median Sales

Months’ 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.

Q3_Months Supply

Average Days on the 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.

Q3_Average Days on Market

Percentage of Properties

Under ContractPercentage 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.

Q3_Percentage of Properties Under Contract

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.

Q3_Sales Prices as Percentage

A Closer Look at Marin County

Q3_Marin County Q3


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10 Luxury Homes With Slashed Prices

Interesting article from Forbes Magazine about home prices in Belvedere. A definite read for all Marin County residences.

By: Erin Carlyle 

Home prices are rising across the nation. According to the latest data available from S&P/Case-Shiller, April sales prices across 20 major metros were up 10.8% year-over-year. But on prestigious Belvedere Island north of San Francisco, the most expensive home officially listed on the market is being offered at a deep, 31.6% price cut.

Initially listed at $27.5 million in May 2010, the 9,415-square-foot, six-bedroom home has been price-slashed twice. In February 2013, the price dropped to $21.95 million. Then in March, it dipped even further, to $18.8 million. Given the fact that the property has been on the market for four years now, a buyer might snag it for even less.

Despite a string of record-breaking $100-million-plus home sales this year, price tag reductions in theluxury market aren’t all that unusual. ”The upper end is going to look at their property a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork,” explains Ken DeLeon, a luxury broker in Palo Alto, Calif. “You’re more inclined to see people try a bold number, a big number, to start. And when that fails, you have to kind of get more realistic …It’s no longer a Rembrandt, it’s just a home.”

With the help of, which collects more than 98% of the listings on the nation’s Multiple Listings Services, Forbes compiled a list of 10 homes with majorly reduced prices. More than half of these properties have seen price reductions of greater than 20%; two have been reduced by more than 30%. The home closest to its original list price is still being offered at a 12% discount.

Luxury Homes at Discount Prices

Sellers and brokers who find they need to reduce prices may have been overly optimistic. to start out, says Dolly Lenz, an ultra-luxury broker in New York City. ”Perhaps [they] see a trophy sale reported (by you) and think that can happen for them as well,”

In many cases, the discounts are bucking against the local trends. In the greater San Francisco area, the median price for the top one-third of the residential market rose 34.1% from November 2011 (when the national housing market hit bottom) through March 2014, according to Zillow Z -3.37%. In other words, as luxury home prices in San Francisco were rising by about more than 30%, the nearby Belvedere Island estate dropped its price at about the same rate.

A similar situation holds true for “Fidelio,” a 12,000-square-foot home plus 5,000-square foot office on 61 acres in rural The Plains, Virginia,. Listed for $21 million in April 2013, the estate has since dropped to $15 million, a 28.57% cut. Meanwhile, about an hour East in Washington, D.C., prices have moved in the opposite direction: the median price for top-tier homes rose 11.5% from the November 2011 national bottom through March 2014. Thirty-five miles southwest, in Culpeper, Va., the median price for the top one-third of the residential market is up 15.3% in the same period.


The situation is replicated a third time in Post Falls, Idaho, where a 28,469-square-foot waterfront estate with 13 bedrooms and a 10-car garage was initially listed for $15.995 million in September 2011, then dropped by 25% to $11.995 million in July. In Spokane, Wash., 25 miles across the Idaho-Washington state border, the median price for a top tier home is up a modest 4.5% since the national market bottomed out, according to Zillow. A luxury property in the prestigious Old Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas, Tex., is being offered at $14.99 million, a 23% price cut. Meanwhile, the median price for the top one-third of the Dallas-Fort Worth residential market has gone up 12.6%.

Given that these luxury homes are moving in a downward direction, the cuts likely indicate a case of the “Rembrandt” pricing that DeLeon referenced.

“The luxury market has always seen list prices that were set higher above actual market levels,” says Jonathan Miller, president of real estate appraisal and consulting firm Miller Samuel Inc. “The housing stock tends to be less homogeneous so it is higher to price and [has] longer marketing times. It also sees more price creep than most sectors–i.e. ‘The house down the street got $5 million, so my house that is half the size must be worth at least $4 million.’”

Of course, some markets aren’t seeing price reductions in the luxury market at all. “I certainly don’t see it in Beverly Hills because the inventory is so minimal,” says Jeff Hyland, president of Los Angeles firm Hilton & Hyland, who says that sellers there wait out the market rather than cut prices. “We’ve seen a 20% increase in property prices, so I don’t see price reductions unless someone has bought another property, or there’s a divorce, or a death.” (And indeed, no property on our list is located in Los Angeles.)

Check out our full list of Luxury Homes With Slashed Prices.

(Note: Our tally of the most expensive homes on the market in Belvedere Island excludes Locksley Hall, which in 2005 was listed at $65 million, before dropping to $48 million. That home now features a price available “upon request” and is not officially on the market, according to agent Oliva Hsu Decker.)


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Two S.F. restaurants join world’s best, elevated to three Michelin stars

The 2015 Michelin Guide to restaurants made superstars of two more San Francisco fine-dining establishments, elevating Saison and Benu to three stars.

SF Restaurant Stars

The Bay Area and Wine Country now have four restaurants with three stars: The French Laundry, The Restaurant at Meadowood, Saison and Benu. Only approximately 100 restaurants worldwide hold three stars, and the designation is significant for chefs, who can use it to pack tables and boost their reputations in the often cut-throat fine dining world.

Michelin cited Chef Corey Lee‘s “incredibly precise culinary technique…. Corey applies a combination of classic French technique along with American, various Asian and noticeable Korean flavors to produce truly unique culinary creations.”

Saison’s Chef Joshua Skenes was praised for offering “seafood of stunning quality with a clear respect for Japanese cuisine, combined with a mastery of the northern California culinary philosophy”

Saison recently set the table for a $495 private dinner with Skenes and wine director Mark Bright. The restaurant’s regular tasting menu comes in at $248 and beverage pairings are an additional $248. Saison’s most expensive menu — the “discovery menu” is $646 with wine pairings. Now, those prices may be easier to justify, with the additional star.

But Skenes is not just content to go high-brow, he’s also targeting fast casual eaters, withthe announcement that he is opening Fat Noodle at Second and Mission Streets.

Benu’s Lee has also been ambitious and in expansion mode lately. French Laundry alumLee recently opened French eatery Monsieur Benjamin in Hayes Valley, which has seen strong reviews.

In addition to Benu and Saison winning accolades, the Bay Area restaurants with two stars are Acquerello, Atelier Crenn, Coi and Quince in San Francisco, Baume in Palo Alto and Manresa in Los Altos, which is temporarily closed after a fire in July.

According to Eater SF, “Acquerello was the only new entrant to the two-star category, and that upgrade makes chef Suzette Gresham America’s third female chef with two Michelin stars; no woman in the U.S. holds three stars as of yet.”

The one-star list, which includes stalwarts Spruce, SPQR, State Bird Provisions, La Folie, Aziza and many, many others, saw two newcomers: Kusakabe and Maruya, according to Michelin.

The Bay Area and Wine Country Michelin Guide goes on sale tomorrow.


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The 21 Best Dive Bars in America – 2014

21 Dive Bars in America 2014

I was pleasantly surprised to see our local Silver Peso in Larkspur made the list for top 21 Best Dive Bars in America!

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New York penthouse sells for a record $90 million

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — An unnamed buyer paid more than $90 million for a Midtown Manhattan penthouse, the highest price ever paid for a New York apartment, according to the building’s developer.

The seller, the Extell Development Co., had been asking $98.5 million for the 10,923 square-foot condominium. Gary Barnett, Extell’s president, wouldn’t confirm the exact price the condominium went for or who the buyer was, but he would say the apartment sold for about $8,000 a square foot.

$90M Apartment in NYC

Located on the 89th and 90th floors of the One57 building on 57th street, the apartment features 23-foot ceilings, rosewood flooring, panoramic views of the city, Italian marble and custom hardware and light fixtures.

The building, which is still being constructed, includes a total of 95 condos and is built on top of a five-star Park Hyatt hotel. Prices start at $6.75 million and about half of the units have been already sold, said Barnett. Occupancy won’t begin until early next year.


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A Love Letter to the Marin Headlands

Amazing Video!!

Marin Headlands

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Bay Area boasts top counties in California

The “best county” in California is Marin, according to real-estate site Movoto. Of course “best” is a very subjective term, but Movoto used 2010 Census data on unemployment rankings, percent of families below the poverty line, average commute time (the lower the better for all of the above), as well as the median household income, median rent, median home price and high school graduation rate (the higher the better for all of these).

Marin County Estate

Unsurprisingly, the “best” counties ended up being some of the wealthiest, with tony Marin at the top of the heap:

1. Marin County
2. San Mateo County
3. Santa Clara County
4. San Luis Obispo County
5. Ventura County
6. Placer County
7. Napa County (tie)
7. Orange County (tie)
9. Santa Barbara County
10. San Francisco County

San Francisco, just making the top 10, received high points for low unemployment, high median household income and very few families below the poverty line. But an average 53-minute commute time brought down the overall score enough that San Francisco just barely beat out Mono County in the Eastern Sierra, which came in the middle of the pack in terms of home prices and unemployment, but boasts only a 3-minute average commute!

Back in number-one Marin, the commute time was a much heftier 41 minutes, but the county ranked first in unemployment (or lack thereof), median household income, median rent and median home prices. Just like San Francisco, Marin’s median home price hovers just above $1 million. The photos above show what you can get for that price in California’s “best” county.

According to Movoto, it wasn’t just numbers that put Marin over the top. “The Marin Museum Of Contemporary Art, Muir Woods, one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Center (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) all make this a hub of culture, natural beauty and just plain awesome,” its editors wrote.

Emily Landes is a writer and editor who is obsessed with all things real estate. She also has a DIY problem that she blogs about at


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16 hikes you must do in Marin County


While we’re pretty much convinced you can’t go wrong with when it comes to hiking in Marin, there are some areas you undoubtedly must visit at least once.

Considering Marin’s seemingly endless selection of open space and trails, creating a list of the best hikes the county has to offer was no easy feat. But we gave it a shot, selecting a mix of cardio-pumping routes and easy flat trails that are kid friendly.

In the above slideshow we’ve highlighted what we consider the best hikes in Marin.

These hikes range from more intense all-day treks to little half-day loops. We also included a range of scenery, including well-forested parts of Mount Tamalapais, the shores of Point Reyes National Seashore or a sunny spot in central Marin that’s the perfect escape during a cold and foggy day in San Francisco.

Take a look through the above slideshow (captions include links to Google Maps of the hikes) and tell us in the comments if you agree with our top picks.

One caveat: We skipped some other superior hikes that already have nightmarish parking or trailheads that are locals-only secrets we promised not to spill (don’t worry, most of these also fell in the category of not being able to handle a large influx of visitors).

Hiking safety tips you probably already know but should still read:

We recommend always carrying plenty of water, extra layers, some snacks (trail mix or protein-loaded bars) and being extra mindful of your surroundings and how much daylight you have left. Trailheads in some of these featured areas can reach very remote areas and it’s not uncommon for hikers to get lost. Also, keep in mind that you may not always have cell phone service.

And, remember, even though you aren’t far from San Francisco, you are hiking in the wild. We don’t want to deter you, but there’s rattlesnakes, powerful sneaker waves on the Pacific Coast, poison oak and lots of wild animals. (In the very unlikely chance you see a mountain lion, make yourself as big and loud as possible. Do not run away!) But, seriously, don’t worry. Keep in mind that there are very few serious hiking incidents.

Want more hikes?

If you really want to familiarize yourself with Marin County hiking, there’s a book by Don and Kay Martin called “Hiking Marin.” We have the third edition and it includes 141 hikes. Many of the hikes in this slideshow were discovered via this book. It’s a great resource.

Here’s a map showing the general location of each of the featured hikes.

Hiking Map


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Real Estate Report Ranks Marin as No. 1 – Called best place to live; leaders seek improvements

By: Janis Mara

Marin leaders rejoiced at the news that the county was judged California’s best to live in, while remaining mindful that there is still room for improvement.

Marin #1 Ranking

Movoto, a real estate website, Friday released a report naming Marin No. 1 based on its high median household income, median home price and median rent, low unemployment and second-lowest number of families below the poverty line. With San Mateo second and Santa Clara third, it was something of a Bay Area sweep.

“It is no surprise that Marin is the most desirable place to live,” Supervisor Judy Arnold said in an email. “It has so much going for it: open space, ranch land, good schools and healthy foods.”

However, she added, “As supervisors, we also deal with the not-so-desirable aspects of living in such beauty: high rent, lack of housing, traffic congestion and health problems. It is important to celebrate the good things of our county while realizing the problems that are not celebrated and try to make Marin even better for everyone.”

Rob Eyler, head of the Marin Economic Forum, offered a note of analysis in his response.

“I think it shows that Marin is not only attractive, but also a by-product of its location. There is likely wealth migrating in from San Francisco and the greater Bay Area looking for a more suburban existence,” Eyler said.

“This is where Marin’s housing market is very much related to the greater Bay Area as the most desirable place (weather, proximity to SF, amenities, schools) in a very desirable regional globally,” Eyler said.

In a somewhat similar vein, Blaine Morris, the head of the Marin Association of Realtors, said, “We have all the amenities of big city living available within a half hour but when we come back to Marin we could be in any small town in America. You can earn a big city living while having a semi-rural life here.

“When my wife and I lived in Los Angeles 20 years ago, we were always trying to figure out where to go to get out of Los Angeles for the weekend. We finally decided to move somewhere we would like to spend the weekend,” Morris said. Even when he got a job at Oracle in Silicon Valley, Morris refused to move out of the county, he said.

In addition to the county’s economic indicators, the blog mentioned several other factors. “Marin County loved education, with establishments like the College of Marin and Dominican University of California.”

The good words were apparently appreciated. “As the community’s college, we are honored to be cited as one of the reasons that Marin is the Number One county in the state to live in,” David Wain Coon, superintendent/president of the College of Marin, said in an email. “College of Marin is committed to providing all residents of Marin County outstanding educational opportunities.”

As for Dominican, “As a relatively new resident of Marin, I can attest that this is a great place to live, and education is central to Marin’s high quality of life,” said the university’s president, Mary Marcy.

“When we invest in new facilities and programs, we consider how our investments will impact both our students and our greater community,” Marcy said, noting that the university is opening a health sciences facility next year and its business school “is forming global partnerships that will result in new opportunities for students and local businesses.”

The report also mentioned the Marin County Free Library.

“I’m not surprised. It really is a great library system with tremendous community support and a very literate community that loves its libraries and uses them,” said Sara Jones, director of county library services.

Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s Public Health Officer, offered a nuanced view.

“This is an interesting set of indicators, because it really is almost directly related to affluence,” Willis said. “You really could call this the wealthiest counties ranking.

“So what’s seen as a strength here might be seen as a liability by someone with a low or middle income. For our middle-income community — our police, our teachers — when they can’t afford to live here, and yet they make up the fabric of our community, this is potentially a vulnerability for us and an important piece here,” Willis said.

Willis referred to Marin’s March ranking as the healthiest county in California by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “It’s because we have opportunities for recreation, 600-something miles for trails, small farms and produce. Healthy eating and active behavior are normal to Marin.”

On the other side of the equation of the Movoto blog, Willis said, “is the experience of people of limited means” who may be working two jobs and too busy to work out.

“What I would love to see is a ranking that reflects a balanced community and a community that allows for diversity, culturally, ethnically and economically,” Willis said. “These rankings don’t reflect the fact that we lack that diversity.”


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Asia’s most expensive home on sale in Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) is offering a super-deluxe house on The Peak for HK$175,735 per square foot according to SCMP.

If it fetches that amount, it will be the world’s most expensive home in terms of price per square foot.

SHKP released the price list of the 12 houses at Twelve Peaks in 12 Mount Kellett Road on Wednesday night, with the priciest, No 1, going for HK$819.1 million.

Hong Kong 2

The house has a saleable area of 4,661 sq ft, a 4,478 sq ft garden, a private pool, a 273 sq ft terrace, a 813 sq ft rooftop and 917 sq ft of car parking space. It also comes with a 220 sq ft air-conditioning plant room.

SHKP bought the site at 12 Mount Kellett Road in 2006 for a record HK$1.8 billion, or HK$42,196 per square foot.

Hong Kong 3

The most expensive home in Hong Kong is House 10 at Skyhigh on Pollock’s Path, which measures 5,989 sq ft and fetched HK$800 million, or HK$133,578 per saleable square foot, in June 2011.

The second-priciest home is a 5,145 sq ft house at 3 Gough Hill Road, which was sold in February this year for HK$650 million, or HK$126,336 per sq ft.

Source: SCMP

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