Pacific Union Quarterly Report: Q3 2016

Bay Area home price growth continued to moderate in the third quarter, with most regions posting single-digit percent gains from one year earlier. The exceptions were Marin County and the East Bay, where prices were up by about 10 percent from the third quarter of 2015. Silicon Valley and the Mid-Peninsula saw slight annual price declines in the third quarter.

Below we offer a brief summary of third-quarter real estate activity in each of Pacific Union’s regions. The accompanying links lead to the full report for each region, where you can access the latest regional and community-specific market data and statistics to help you make a better, more informed homebuying or selling decision.

Contra Costa Countycoco-q3-16_sm

Following a slow start during the summer, the third quarter of 2016 in Contra Costa County ended on a strong note. While July’s sales activity disappointed when compared with July of 2015, the August and September rebound equaled last year’s activity. Also, after healthy increases in inventory in the first two quarters, the number of homes for sale stabilized at the same levels seen at the end of last summer — stubbornly low.

Slim inventory is the main hurdle preventing a larger pickup in sales activity, and this lack of supply is contributing to continued home price appreciation. Buyers remain more cautious and weary of bidding wars, with homes selling at a slower rate. Fewer homes sold above the asking price and at smaller premiums than at the same time last year.

The surplus of homes for sale at the high end of the market — those priced at $2 million-plus — that began earlier in the year leveled off by the end of the summer, as sellers who priced their properties too aggressively recalibrated their expectations in order to sell.

Looking Forward: Unlike the slowing sales activity observed last fall, which followed some of the strongest months of the last few years, we expect market activity to remain in line with August and September as the year winds down. With home shoppers having more properties to choose from, the balance between buyers and sellers is approaching healthier levels.

East Bayeastbay-q3-16_sm

Third-quarter sales activity in the East Bay slowed from the same period last year but remained strong. The largest slowdown was observed at the beginning of the quarter, with the number of sales in July falling by double-digit percentage points across the entire Bay Area. The remainder of the quarter, however, fell in line with activity observed at the same time last year. The main driver for slowing activity remains a lack of inventory, particularly in the more affordable range priced below $1 million.

Bifurcation of sales activity across lower and higher price ranges was more notable in the East Bay, where low-priced inventory remains depleted. At the same time, inventory of homes priced above $1 million has built up, and this price point is facing a greater sales challenge when compared with last year. Nevertheless, about two-thirds of homes are still selling above the asking price, the highest share in the Bay Area. The East Bay’s relative affordability is helping to push price appreciation, and the region has seen one of the biggest continued gains in the Bay Area.

Looking Forward: Activity should remain strong this fall, as the East Bay continues to absorb spillover demand from buyers shut out of San Francisco. Neighborhoods with transit accessibility remain very attractive for commuters who are looking for relative affordability and easy access to San Francisco.

Marin Countymarin-q3-16_sm

After a strong finish to the second quarter, third-quarter sales activity in Marin County slowed. Buyers remained cautious, and homes took longer to sell. While sales activity in the affordable range — homes priced below $1 million — continued at a relatively steady pace, the most notable slowing was seen for homes priced between $1 million and $3 million.

In general, higher-priced inventory in Marin County has faced a series of challenges this year. The inventory of homes for sale in the higher price range has built up over the last year, and indicators suggest a slight pause in the market. At the same time, the inventory of lower-priced homes has not budged markedly and remains low. Nevertheless, sellers across all price ranges were less likely to receive premiums, which were smaller than last year. Buyers remained interested and open houses were busy, but the sense of urgency seen in previous years has dissipated.

Looking Forward: Uncertainty surrounding the presidential election and the consequent instability in financial markets will continue to keep a lid on higher-end market activity. At the same time, the lack of affordable homes in Marin County remains a challenge.

Napa Countynapa-q3-16_sm

Napa County‘s third-quarter market activity fared relatively well when compared with other parts of the Bay Area. While July sales were lower than they were a year ago everywhere in the region, activity saw a solid annual increase in August in September. Generally, Napa’s sales activity has remained rather consistent over the last few years, while other parts of the Bay Area have seen ongoing declines. Napa’s relative affordability coupled with a healthy supply of homes is helping to boost sales.

Competition among buyers for homes priced below $1 million picked up in the third quarter, with more homes selling above the asking price. Sales of homes priced higher than $1 million also remained steady.

Looking Forward: A solid supply of inventory and a persistent influx of buyers will continue to fuel Napa County sales activity over the next few months. Affordability in Napa is unquestionably helping the area stay ahead of other Bay Area regions in terms of sales volume.

San Franciscosf-q3-16_sm

The third quarter in San Francisco continued along the same path seen in the previous couple of quarters, with normalizing market conditions striking a better balance between buyers and sellers. Sales activity in August and September was on par with the same period one year ago. July sales fell notably from last year, but this trend was consistent across the entire Bay Area and reflected a drop from the peak activity seen last July.

Home price appreciation came to a halt this summer, and some segments of the market saw lower median sales prices than last summer. Normalizing prices are a function of buyers’ affordability ceilings, as well as a buildup of inventory. Nevertheless, while increasing supply conditions provided a breather, inventory is still tenaciously low and continues to present a challenge for the San Francisco housing market. A lack of affordable homes is a considerable issue for the city, as young adults are attracted to urban amenities. The inventory of homes priced above $1 million has been growing, but supply still remains markedly below the level that is considered normal or representative of a balanced market.

Looking Forward: San Francisco saw incredibly strong housing market conditions over the past few years, and this year’s normalization trends may be interpreted with concern. But housing demand in San Francisco remains robust, and the tech industry continues to fuel investment in the region. Uncertainty surrounding the upcoming presidential election and its impact on global financial markets has led to some trepidation in the market, yet demand from traditional buyers should persist.

Silicon Valleysilval-q3-16_sm

As observed in the previous few quarters, sales activity in Silicon Valley continued to normalize in the third quarter. Sales were lower during the summer months, and the quarter ended with fewer transactions on an annual basis.

Generally, all market indicators point to a better balance between buyers and sellers, with properties selling at a more normal pace and the share of homes selling above the asking price dropping. Also, premiums are shrinking from past quarters, yet Silicon Valley, along with the East Bay, remains the Bay Area region with the highest share of homes selling above the asking price. Also, despite inventory gains, supply conditions remain persistently low and well below the level that is considered normal.

Slowing of sales at the higher price segment — homes priced more than $3 million — trended lower again, and third-quarter sales at this price point were about 20 percent lower than during the same period last year. More inventory in this price range also brought supply closer to its historical average. Sellers of homes priced above $3 million were much less likely to get offers at the asking price, and more sellers had to settle for lower prices than they originally anticipated.

Looking Forward: The lack of homes priced below $3 million continues to affect Silicon Valley and is a major constraint going forward. At the same time, the area’s core competency in generating venture capital is back in line with the highest levels seen during last’s year peak and will translate to continued job growth.


Sonoma Countysoco-q3-16_sm

After a slow summer, September activity in Sonoma County picked up and fell in line with last year. Relative affordability and inventory constraints continue to drive home price appreciation. Lower median home prices than in other parts of the Bay Area are helping to draw buyers, but the frenzy seen across the region over the last few years is waning, and fewer shoppers are willing to engage in bidding wars.

The slowdown in Sonoma County was most notable for homes priced higher than $2 million, with buyers paying much smaller premiums than last year and expressing some reluctance to close deals. Still, absorption rates maintained at the same level as last year.

Looking Forward: Although Sonoma County’s sales activity was still in line with the early autumn of 2016, a notable drop in homes for sale will pose difficulties going forward, especially as demand remains strong. The lack of balance between buyers and sellers will continue to put pressure on prices, which should appreciate at a high single-digit percentage annual rate.

Sonoma Valley soval-q3-16_sm

Sonoma Valley market activity finished the third quarter on a stronger note than it started, with a notable pickup in September sales when compared with one year earlier and consistent inventory. Increased demand helped push home prices higher, and annual appreciation rates outperformed other Bay Area regions.

Unusual for this period when compared with last year and the recent past, September appeared to be somewhat of a turning point. Whereas the third quarter of 2015 was marked by a slowdown in new properties in escrow, September of this year was a different story, with more multiple offers and overbids, perhaps due to the uncertainty over the upcoming election.

Looking Forward: Sonoma Valley will continue to benefit from buyers with more discretionary income for second and third homes and from traditional first-time and move-up buyers. Activity throughout the remainder of the year will remain solid and in line with last year. With depressed levels of homes priced below $1 million, appreciation rates for properties in that price range should continue to accelerate.

Lake Tahoe/Truckee          tahoe-q3-16_sm

The third quarter in the Lake Tahoe/Truckee region was marked by a strong uptick in activity, as sales rose to the highest level in 15 years. Sales were particularly strong in Placer County, while activity in Nevada County picked up from previous quarters. As a result, the inventory of homes for sale also reached a low point not seen since the beginning of the housing recovery.

Sellers remained cautious about strategically pricing their properties in order to ensure a brisk sale. Consequently, price appreciation held steady, and homes were trading at about the same price as last year. Homes priced below $1 million continued to see the highest appreciation and sold faster than higher-priced properties. Nevertheless, sales volume at all price segments was higher this year than it was last year.

Looking Forward: Given that demand for Lake Tahoe real estate usually increases in the fall, we anticipate no shortage of buyers searching for vacation homes. However, dwindling inventory may pose a challenge for prospective buyers, and it will also fuel price appreciation.

SOURCE: http://blog.pacificunion.com/pacific-union-quarterly-report-q3-2016/

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San Francisco’s Most Expensive Home Sells For $21.8 Million

The housing costs in the San Francisco Bay Area are totally off the charts.

Let’s take you to the plush-beyond-imagination area of the city known as “Pacific Heights.” That’s where you’ll find this cozy little number, at 2250 Vallejo. This 1902-era home just sold for $21.8 million, according to Curbed. While that’s a shocking amount of money, it’s actually lower than it’s initial listing price of $28 million back in 2015, and the $25 million asking price it’d been dropped to last summer.

vallejo-street

Seven bedrooms, seven baths. We are assuming seven maids are included in the deal, but that’s not confirmed.

This 4+ story, single-family home has over 9,000 square feet. Maybe the new owners could get another family or three in there to defray the costs.

In fact, this mansion was originally a single family home that was transformed into apartments for veterans and then converted back into a single family home within the past few years.

James Francis Dunn designed the property in 1901, and architect Paul McClean gave it a makeover.

The listing says the home has “unobstructed 180-degree views that encompass the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, and the majestic waters of the San Francisco Bay.” This is the view from the, um, Spa Terrace. Nice infinity pool, too.

While the exterior is largely the same as it was when it was built, but the interior is all new. If you don’t want to take the stairs—there’s always the elevator.

And there’s plenty closet space for designer duds.

All in all, a fine abode. Heck, you even get a backyard!

But if you get tired of the great outdoors, we’ve got lots more rooms.

Remember the realtor’s mantra: “Location, location, location!” Have all these photos properly whetted your appetite?

SOURCE: http://www.simplemost.com/san-franciscos-expensive-home-sells-21-8-million/

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The Modern Touch Makes for the Fastest Appreciating U.S. Home Style

While America’s architectural styles are as diverse as the country itself, those who own modern homes are netting the biggest gains when they become sellers.

A recent Realtor.com report examines common U.S. home styles and how they stack up in terms of geographic distribution, list prices, and recent price growth. The type of home mentioned most often across the country in Realtor.com listings is the ubiquitous ranch-style home, which takes the top spot in 29 of 50 states. Although originally designed with the Old West in mind, ranch-style homes proliferate in suburbs across the country. With a 2016 median list price of $189,900 — up 19 percent from 2012 — the ranch-style home is also one of the most budget-friendly options, along with cottages and bungalows.

Owners of modern homes have enjoyed the best price growth over the past four years, with the median list-priced $425,850 property up 37 percent from 2012. Tim Cannan, President of PreservationDirectory.com, told Realtor.com that modern homes are popular with buyers due to their energy efficiency and cheaper repair costs when compared with other types of homes.

The nation’s most expensive architectural style is also the only one that Realtor.com profiled that hasn’t appreciated at double-digit-percent rates. At $749,900, the median list price for a Mediterranean home is flat since 2012. Mediterranean or Tuscan-style homes are popular with luxury home builders and average 3,325 square feet. Cannan notes that Mediterranean homes can be more expensive to maintain partially because of their iconic red clay roofs.

Home styles vary by geography, a reflection of climate differences, residents’ countries of origin, and building materials available locally at the time. Victorian homes, which were popular on the East Coast and in the Midwest, reflect the influence of Britain’s Queen Victoria during the mid- to late 19th century. Meanwhile, California’s abundance of Spanish-style homes are a nod to its history, while cabin-style homes are a natural fit in mountainous areas of the U.S. like the Lake Tahoe region.

Given California’s high real estate prices, it’s not too surprising that Spanish-style homes are among the most expensive of those profiled, with a median list price of $638,900, up 17 percent over the past four years. Victorian and Craftsman-style homes, both popular architecture types here in the Bay Area, saw 14 percent and 13 percent appreciation, respectively. While Craftsman homes tend to appeal to buyers because of their unique designs, this also makes them more difficult and expensive to maintain.

Source: http://blog.pacificunion.com/the-modern-touch-makes-for-the-fastest-appreciating-u-s-home-style/

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Christie Brinkley Lists Her Second Hamptons Property for $25M

Earlier this year, supermodel Christie Brinkley listed her Bridgehampton shingle-style for $29.5M. Now, she is letting go of her second Hamptons property, a white-columned Colonial on 4.5 harborfront acres in lively Sag Harbor Village listed with Douglas Elliman’s Enzo Morabito for $25M.

The 5,500-square-foot home is a rustic-chic retreat with circa-1843 period details including multiple fireplaces and wide plank pine floors. An open modern kitchen features soapstone and marble counters and the spacious living and dining rooms provide plenty of room for entertaining. The master suite includes a private sitting room and terrace, which has panoramic views of the bay. Landscaped gardens, a Gunite pool and 327 feet of private shoreline strike the perfect balance between a country and beach home.

2016-10-14-09_09_30-christie-brinkley-lists-her-second-hamptons-property-for-25m-over-the-wire

Stats
5 Bedrooms
5.5 Bathrooms
5,500 sq. ft.
$25 Million

SOURCE: http://www.cottages-gardens.com/Over-the-Wire/October-2016/Christie-Brinkley-Sag-Harbor-Estate-For-Sale/?mc_cid=c55cdfe2d8&mc_eid=2097c11ba7

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Spelling Manor for sale at $200 million

Start your engines. On the heels of the Playboy Mansion sale and Beverly House’s new $195-million listing, one of Los Angeles County’s biggest homes is gearing up for a run at a nine-figure sale.

The Manor, the former Candy and Aaron Spelling estate, is listing in the Westside neighborhood of Holmby Hills for $200 million — a price that puts it among the most expensive homes for sale in the United States. Rick Hilton and David Kramer of Hilton & Hyland, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, hold the listing.

Current owner Petra Stunt, the daughter of Formula One billionaire Bernie Ecclestone, bought the Manor from Candy Spelling five years ago for $85 million in an all-cash deal. Though the estate was previously shopped privately two years ago at an asking price $150 million, the bar has been set even higher in the wake of several landmark sales.

After a slow start to the season, L.A.’s high-end sector has taken off in recent months, propelled by the $100-million sale of the Playboy Mansion to Daren Metropoulos and the $90-million deal for storied Owlwood, the Westside estate that was once home to Sonny Bono and Cher.

Including Beverly House, which is offered privately at $195 million, there are three homes for sale at $135 million or more. At least a dozen L.A. County homes are listed for $42 million or more.

Of the upper crust, the Manor is without question the largest of the bunch. Dubbed Candyland after former owner Spelling, the Manor measures 56,500 square feet, or about 1,500 square feet larger than the White House, with 14 bedrooms and 27 bathrooms.

An estimated 123 rooms were customized for specific purposes by the Spellings during their ownership. Among them is a flower-cutting room, a humidity-controlled silver storage room, a barbershop and multiple gift-wrapping rooms. The basement bowling alley, which has its own shoe closet, was a favorite of late TV producer Aaron Spelling.

Stunt, who is married to English billionaire James Stunt, has updated the mansion during her ownership, opting for more contemporary interiors. Among her additions were a lounge/entry lined in black-striped marble, a large aquarium in the study and a nightclub makeover in the basement level.

A room that formerly housed Candy Spelling’s doll collection now serves as a hair salon and massage parlor.

Outdoors, a tennis court, a koi pond, gardens, a citrus orchard and a swimming pool with a pool house lie within landscaped grounds of 4.7 acres. More than 100 vehicles can be accommodated in the motor court and 16 carports.

A separate service wing houses five maid’s bedrooms and two butler’s suites.

SOURCE: http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/hot-property/la-fi-hotprop-manor-holmby-hills-for-sale-200-million-20161004-snap-story.html

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Top 3 Tuesday – Famous Marin Authors

As the weather begins to change, make sure you have a few good Fall books from world famous Marin #authors! @isabelallende @annelamott @amytan #books #writersoninstagram #writeslife #authors #awardwinning #nytimesbestsellers

authors

#luxurylifestyle #luxuryproperty #Top3Tuesday #Marin #MarinCounty #SanFrancisco #Top3Challenge #1KentfieldRealtor #2RossRealtor #luxurymarinhomes #marinlivingoutsidethefourwalls #MDL #MillionDollarListing #Marin #MarinCounty #LuxuryRealEstate #Luxury #LuxuryLiving #Realtor #InstaHome #RealEstate #TopMarinRealtor @ChristiesInc @ChristiesRealEstate @PacificUnionRealEstate

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36 Hours in Marin County, Calif.

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, you arrive in Marin even before landing on solid ground. The county line hangs above the water’s edge, which is fitting, since the county itself feels suspended — ethereal, privileged, a place apart from the rest of the Bay Area. Fearing the perils of suburban sprawl, Marin invested early and often in conservation. Outside of a handful of small cities (San Rafael and Novato the largest among them), Marin is a surprisingly rural landscape of cattle ranches, rolling hills, redwood groves, houseboat communities and roadhouses. Among the wealthiest counties in the country, Marin’s affluence is apparent in towns like Mill Valley. But Marin, one of the state’s smallest counties, also has small towns, like Bolinas and Fairfax, that retain an endearing Northern California eccentricity.

Friday

3 p.m.
1. Past and Present

Housed in a Victorian on a hillside in old San Rafael, the Marin History Museum (1125 B Street, San Rafael; marinhistory.org) has an intriguing collection of local mementos and exhibitions about county icons and institutions like the Golden Gate Bridge or the notorious San Quentin Prison. Around the corner, the Falkirk Cultural Center (1408 Mission Avenue, San Rafael; falkirkculturalcenter.org) is a magnificent Queen Anne mansion with floor-to-ceiling stained-glass windows and a creaky staircase that leads to a gallery that features local artists.

5 p.m.
2. Dead and Alive

Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead modeled Terrapin Crossroads (100 Yacht Club Drive, San Rafael; terrapincrossroads.net), which opened last spring in San Rafael’s Canal district, after Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles in Woodstock, N.Y. On the waterfront, the music space, restaurant and bar often hosts jam sessions featuring Mr. Lesh and his friends. Tuesday through Friday happy hour (4 to 6 p.m.) has an exceptional list of Northern California draft beers for $4, half-off pizza from a flaming wood-fired oven and appetizers like the Hangtown Fry, a taco-size crepe with wilted spinach, crispy fried oysters and bacon ($11.50).

7 p.m.
3. For the Soul

Occupying an imposing lime green building in downtown San Rafael, Sol Food (901 Lincoln Avenue, San Rafael; solfoodrestaurant.com) is a bright, plant-filled space with communal tables and Puerto Rican classics like shrimp sautéed in a garlic, onion and tomato sauce, with mofongo (mashed green plantains), salad and fresh avocado (from $11.95). Sol Food serves no alcohol; wash dinner down with mango ice tea ($2.45) or Mexican Coke ($2.25). Save room for Fairfax Scoop (63 Broadway Boulevard, Fairfax), an elevator-size ice cream shop where there’s almost always a line. Try classics like mint chip and cookies-and-cream and more exotic options like vanilla honey lavender and toasted hazelnut (from $1.75 to $3.95). Open until 10 p.m.

9 p.m.
4. Fairfax for All

For an after-dinner drink, head over to 123 Bolinas (123 Bolinas Street, Fairfax; 123bolinas.com), a new wine bar across from Bolinas Park that serves small plates, local beer and regional wines. The bar top is carved from a 100-year-old fallen oak, the furniture is built of reclaimed barn siding, and there’s a U.F.O.-shaped fireplace. For something more casual, head to the cycle-centric beer and sausage spot, the Gestalt Haus Fairfax (28 Bolinas Road, Fairfax), which has board games, a CD jukebox, cyclocross posters on the walls and 20 or so tap beers ($5 to $7). Then sample one of the several lively spots in downtown Fairfax, a 7,500-person town that claims to have had live music every night for more than 30 years.

Saturday

9:30 a.m.
5. Head for the Hills

Start the day with beignets and chicory coffee at the homey, New Orleans-inspired Hummingbird (57 Broadway Boulevard; Fairfax), which was opened by a Hurricane Katrina-displaced fine art photographer in 2010. Afterward go mountain biking in the sport’s self-proclaimed birthplace. Stop by Sunshine Bicycle Center (737 Center Boulevard, Fairfax; sunshinebicycle.com) to rent a high-performance mountain bike ($60 or $90 a day, including helmet), grab a map and get directions to the Lagunitas Lake loop (known locally as the “Gentleman’s Loop”), a relatively nontechnical trail that travels past lakes and through chaparral, oak groves and meadows.

2 p.m.
6. Coastal Picnic

Stop into the Cowgirl Creamery (80 Fourth Street, Point Reyes Station;cowgirlcreamery.com), which sells exceptional cheeses, like triple-cream Red Hawk and Mt. Tam, along with baguettes, charcuterie and wine, in a restored barn in downtown Point Reyes Station. Then head to Hog Island Oyster Company (20215 Highway 1, Marshall;hogislandoysters.com), where the $5 shuck-your-own oyster picnic gets you a picnic table and grill, rubber shucking gloves and knife, oyster condiments (lemon, hot sauce and freshly grated horseradish) and views of Tomales Bay. There are two three-hour time slots each day, and reservations are required, often weeks in advance. For bivalves without the elbow grease (or the planning), Hog Island also has a walk-up oyster bar (Friday to Monday, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) housed in a half-buried boat. The Marshall Store (19225 Shoreline Highway, Marshall;themarshallstore.com) is a waterfront seafood shack that serves barbecued oysters in chorizo butter ($14), smoked oysters on crostini ($13) and grilled fish tacos with chile lime slaw and avocado-tomatillo salsa ($13).

4 p.m.
7. Down to Drakes

At the entrance to the historic Drakes Bay Hereford Ranch, take theEstero Trail, one of Point Reyes’s lesser-known hikes, through grasslands and a Christmas tree farm and egret rookery. Then descend to a wooden bridge across a narrow inlet of Drakes Estero, an estuary that’s a breeding ground for seals. From the bridge, it’s possible to spot the leopard sharks gliding back and forth at the water’s surface. If time allows, continue to Sunset Beach, for a total round-trip hike of eight miles.

8 p.m.
8. Get Fresh

Opened in June in the town of Inverness (population 1,300), Saltwater (12781 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Inverness;saltwateroysterdepot.com) is an unusual restaurant. A partnership with Pickleweed Point Community Shellfish Farm, which trains “underserved youth” to work in the oyster industry, the 34-seat bistro was crowdsource-financed. Painted in grays, white and mustard yellow, the restaurant has exposed rafters, local wines on tap and an open invitation for local fishermen to sell their catch directly at the kitchen door. The menu changes with the harvest and includes artfully executed dishes like local king salmon with garbanzo beans, eggplant relish and arugula pesto ($20), and pizza with lamb sausage, Padrón peppers, Manchego cheese and picholine olives ($16) and crispy lamb tongue with lentils and fingerling potatoes ($17).

Sunday

8 a.m.
9. To Market, To Market

The third largest farmers’ market in California, the 26-year-old Sunday Marin Farmers Market (10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael;agriculturalinstitute.org) in San Rafael has 160 vendors selling everything from radishes to prepared foods at the Marin Civic Center, Frank Lloyd Wright’s last major commission. Pick up one of the mini pies at Little Ladybug Bakery, which come in seasonal flavors like heirloom pumpkin and pecan-walnut, or the So Good Belgian waffles at the Waffle Mania food truck. For a local take on Mexican, Donna’s Tamales makes vegetarian enchiladas, breakfast burritos and tamales in flavors like smoked Cheddar, black bean and yam. The Sunday market is open year-round, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

10 a.m.
10. Over the Hill

Take your picnic breakfast and join the slow Sunday parade of drivers winding their way over Mount Tamalpais. The views, which sweep back toward the bay and then west to Stinson Beach, are worth the crawl. On the coast, stop in at the Bolinas Museum (48 Wharf Road, Bolinas;bolinasmuseum.org), which opens at noon and has a regional history museum, three contemporary art galleries and a permanent collection of works by West Marin artists. Another option, for those averse to the drive, is the short but breathtaking 1.7-mile walk through the Tennessee Valley to the cliff-flanked Tennessee Beach.

1 p.m.
11. Through the Woods

Back in East Marin, stop in Mill Valley, at the base of the Dipsea Trail, which is known for its 670 or so steps (give or take a few) that climb toward Muir Woods. Next continue on to the Sun Trail, which leads to the Nature Friends Tourist Club (touristclubsf.org), a Bavarian-style private lodge and hiking club that serves beer on an open deck from 1 to 5 p.m. most weekends (except the second and third weekend of each month). Check the Web site for details and trail directions. Tucked away on a dead-end street beside a marina, Fish. Restaurant (350 Harbor Drive, Sausalito; 331fish.com) serves a decadent Dungeness crab roll ($25), among many other worthy offerings, at picnic tables overlooking the water. Beware the aggressive sea gulls. Then walk the waterfront for a glimpse of Sausalito’s eclectic houseboats.

IF YOU GO

Part of a local three-hotel chain, the 25-room Mill Valley Inn (165 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley; marinhotels.com/mill-valley-inn) is surrounded by redwood trees at the foot of Mount Tamalpais. Rooms start at $189, with a two-night minimum on weekends. An evening wine reception, continental breakfast, with an espresso bar, and hybrid bikes are all included.

The Gerstle Park Inn (34 Grove Street, San Rafael;gerstleparkinn.com) is a self-described “English-style estate,” with eight opulent rooms (from $189), elegant gardens, free wine, and a full eggs-to-order breakfast.

SOURCE: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/travel/36-hours-in-marin-county-calif.html?_r=0

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San Francisco Returns to Top of Hottest U.S. Housing Markets Rankings

San Francisco, which lost its title as the hottest U.S. real estate market to a Bay Area suburb back in the spring, returned to the head of the class in September, coinciding with a miniature Indian summer heat wave in Northern California.

That’s according to Realtor.com’s recurring monthly list of the nation’s 20 hottest housing market, as gauged by the briskest pace of sales and the most listing views on its website. Homes in these metro areas typically sell 23 to 43 days faster than the national average and can receive nearly four times as much online traffic.

For much of the past year, San Francisco has topped that list but was usurped by the Vallejo-Fairfield metro area in May. In September, the San Francisco metro area — which includes nearby cities such as Oakland and Hayward — regained the No. 1 position, up from No. 4 in August. Vallejo fell one spot on the hot list to end the month at No. 2.

California cities have been mainstays on the hot-markets list since its inception, and September was no exception, with the state claiming 10 of the 20 spots. The rest of the Golden State pack: San Diego (No. 5), Stockton (No. 6), Sacramento (No. 8), San Jose (No. 9), Modesto (No. 11), Yuba City (No. 13), Santa Rosa (No. 15), and Santa Cruz (No. 17). All 10 of those communities made the hot list in August, while Fresno dropped off in September.

The rankings come shortly after Realtor.com named the country’s 10 hottest ZIP codes, based on the same criteria it uses for its monthly list. That list included two Bay Area ZIP codes — Pleasant Hill’s 94523 and Petaluma’s 94954. Both cities are relatively affordable compared with other parts of the Bay Area; the median sales price is $630,000 in Pleasant Hill and $596,000 in Petaluma.

But it’s not just California and Bay Area markets that were on a hot streak last month. Realtor.com says that the U.S. median sales price held steady at $250,000, up 9 percent year over year and a record high for September. Amidst tight inventory conditions nationwide, homes are selling 4 percent faster than they did one year ago. In a statement accompanying the rankings, Realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said that he expects low supply and high demand to persist through the final quarter of the year.

SOURCE: http://blog.pacificunion.com/san-francisco-returns-to-top-of-hottest-u-s-housing-markets-rankings/ 

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California Adds More Jobs in August Than in Any Other Month This Year

Unemployment rates improved in every Bay Area county last month, with California’s economy adding substantially more jobs than it did in July.

In its most recent monthly jobs report, the California Employment Development Department says that the state’s unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in August on a seasonally adjusted basis, unchanged from July. The national unemployment rate also held steady from the previous month at 4.9 percent.

California added 63,100 nonfarm positions in August compared with 36,400 in July. That makes August the busiest month so far this year for hiring and the second month that the state has added in excess of 60,000 new jobs.

As in July, the construction sector led California’s job growth in August, with an annual gain of 4.0 percent. The professional and business services sector, which includes many tech jobs, also posted solid year-over-year job growth of 3.6 percent, followed closely by the educational and health services and leisure and hospitality industries.

Those high-paying tech jobs are driving California and the Bay Area’s economy, with the San Jose metropolitan area posting the largest annual gross domestic product growth in the U.S. in 2015, at 8.9 percent. According to a recent analysis of the California economy by Pacific Union Chief Economist Selma Hepp, while many of nation’s tech epicenters are also its fastest-growing economies, the industry appears to have particularly benefited the Golden State’s economy, which is now the world’s sixth-largest.

A separate report on job creation called the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which captures data quarterly but is considered more accurate, showed tech-industry gains of 8.5 percent year over year in the first quarter. Monthly data referred to above, called Current Employment Statistics, showed a 3.4 percent increase for the same period.

Jobless claims dropped in all nine Bay Area counties from July to August on a nonseasonally adjusted basis and remain below 5 percent in every county except Solano, the only place in the Bay Area with a unemployment rate higher than the statewide average. San Mateo County has California’s lowest unemployment rate, at 3.2 percent, followed by San Francisco (3.5 percent), Marin (3.5 percent), Santa Clara (4.0 percent), Napa (4.1 percent), and Sonoma (4.1 percent) counties.

SOURCE: http://blog.pacificunion.com/california-adds-the-highest-2016-monthly-number-of-jobs-in-august/

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Proud to Be a Californian: State Among the Nation’s Fastest-Growing Economies

Executive Summary:

  • The Federal Open Market Committee did not raise interest rates yesterday but not for the lack of confidence in the economy. The FOMC wants further confirmation that everyone is benefiting from the employment growth.
  • A separate report says that California leads the nation in economic output, with the San Jose metro area growing at the fastest pace in the nation in 2015, an impressive 8.9 percent. The Bay Area follows closely, with 5.8 percent annual growth.
  • Tech-heavy metro areas are seeing the fastest economic growth in the nation.
  • The Bay Area is one the most attractive places for businesses, due to talent, knowledge, and the spillover effects of the tech industry (not to mention the weather).
  • Three of the five largest U.S. companies by market valuation are located in the Bay Area.
  • California’s economy is poised for strong growth, though addressing the housing affordability conundrum is critical.

Getting a grasp on the U.S. economy has become increasingly more divisive. Some say the country is doing great, and some say we are doing awful. At the very least, FOMC Chairwoman Janet Yellen announced yesterday that it will not raise interest rates this month. The group came across feeling conflicted on the course of action, much like the rest of the economic experts who closely watch the Federal Reserve’s decisions. It seems that the U.S. is truly starting at the tale of two economies. On one hand, tech-heavy areas are bustling, while in others there are still people who are unemployed, underemployed, or otherwise not better off than they were a few years ago.

One thing we can say with certainty is that most of the California’s metropolitan areas are doing an outstanding job on the economic front. The Bureau of Economic Analysis released 2015 gross domestic product estimates this week for the U.S. metropolitan areas. The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area saw its GDP grow by 8.9 percent in 2015, the largest increase in the U.S. The San Francisco metro area grew its GDP by 4.1 percent, No. 6 in the country. Combined, the San Jose and San Francisco metro areas accounted for 8 percent of the national GDP growth from 2010 to 2015. According to Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, the Bay Area’s GDP grew by 5.8 percent in 2015, outpacing both California (4.1 percent) and the U.S. (2.4 percent). In fact, all major California regions grew faster in 2015 that the nation in aggregate.

The Bay Area now ranks No. 18 in the world in terms of goods and services output, up from No. 21 in 2014. California improved its ranking too, climbing to the world’s sixth largest economy, with a 2015 GDP of $2.5 trillion.

A recent article in The New York Times sheds some light on what makes California special. In short, “California is the capital of American business.” One in five companies on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq are located in California. According to the author’s analysis: “From 1965 through 1979, 10.07 percent of public companies were based in California. The number has continued to grow, so that from 2000-13, 19.46 percent of public companies had their headquarters in California.” At the same time, California’s population increased from comprising 10 percent of the total U.S. population to 12 percent.

It helps that three of the five biggest companies in the U.S. are tech companies based in the Bay Area: Apple, Facebook, and Google. (Seattle-based Amazon.com and Microsoft round out the top five.)

The technology revolution has benefited other parts of the country as well. The fastest growing U.S. economies — including Raleigh, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon; and Denver — are also tech-heavy markets. The technology boom, however, seems to have benefited California relatively more than those other areas.

According to The New York Times, it appears that economies of agglomeration are driving the growth. In urban economics, economies of agglomeration are benefits obtained by firms locating close to each other and deriving economies of scale and network effects. In other words, interesting job opportunities draw people to a particular location where they interact with other interesting people and share and develop new ideas, and this transfer of knowledge benefits everyone.

And now with that accumulation of the talent, ideas, and entrepreneurship, California is poised to continue to lead the technology revolution and nurture a new crop of valuable companies. The challenge for the Golden State remains its prohibitive housing costs, as well as the share of residents who have not benefited from the economic activity and still live below the poverty level.

SOURCE: http://blog.pacificunion.com/proud-to-be-a-californian-state-among-the-nations-fastest-growing-economies/

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