Pending Sales – Trends in Marin Home Sales

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Confidence in Rising Home Prices Tops 50%

Image of arrows pointing up

Confidence in the housing industry passed a milestone recently, with more than half of all Americans now expecting home prices to rise within the next year.

An April housing survey by the mortgage agency Fannie Mae found that 51 percent expect home prices to climb at least 3 percent. A year earlier, only 32 percent of those surveyed were optimistic prices would rise.

“Crossing the 50 percent threshold marks a significant milestone as most Americans believe a housing recovery is truly occurring throughout the country,” said Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan, in a statement accompanying the survey.

That optimism is borne out in the Bay Area, where double-digit increases in home values have become the norm and economists say the region’s strong economy will support further increases for years to come.

Pacific Union’s April Real Estate Update noted that the median price for single-family homes reached $1 million in San Francisco for the first time in more than five years and the median price in our Sonoma Valley region jumped 65 percent over the past year.

In another encouraging sign from Fannie Mae’s survey, the share of respondents who said now is a good time to sell has doubled over the past year, climbing to 30 percent last month.

Americans’ increasing optimism toward the selling market may bode well for continued improvement in housing activity, Fannie Mae said, as recent market data suggest that five out of eight people who buy a home first have to sell one.

“Many homeowners who have been underwater are gradually returning to positive equity, and selling is now becoming an available and attractive option again,” Duncan said.

Other highlights from Fannie Mae’s survey:

  • Those who believe home prices will go down over the next year held steady at a record low of 10 percent for the fourth month in a row.
  • The share of respondents who said mortgage rates will go up fell 3 percentage points to 43 percent, while those who say they will go down increased slightly to 7 percent.
  • Those who said they would buy if they were going to move increased slightly to 65 percent.
  • At 39 percent, the share of respondents who say the economy is on the right track increased 4 percentage points over March.
  • Those who said their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago held steady at 20 percent.

(Illustration courtesy of FutUndBeidl, via Flickr.)

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San Francisco is America’s happiest city (but seventh in the world)

San Francisco is America’s #1 happiest city and the 7th happiest city in the world according to a new global survey.  Those of us who are lucky enough to live in or near San Francisco ie Marin County are not surprised with these findings.  With world class food and wine, unparalleled scenic beauty, the World Champion SF Giants,  the almost Super Bowl Champion SF 49ers, the upcoming America’s Cup, Cal and Stanford and a booming economy, it is simply the place to be.

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America’s Cup Real Estate Boom Underway

There’s a new real estate boom under way in San Francisco, with a select group of properties commanding top prices among buyers frantic to make a deal. What, you haven’t heard about it? Apparently your life isn’t consumed by the prospect of the America’s Cup races coming this year to San Francisco Bay!

Among sailing fans, the America’s Cup is the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Masters, and Wimbledon all rolled into one. And the chance to see it live, from the comfort of one’s own home, is driving frenzied interest in properties with prime views of the regatta, coming here in September 2013.

recent article in the Wall Street Journal told of one couple, Peter and Gwendolyn Jacobsen of Yountville, who paid $158,000 for a fractional interest in a one-bedroom unit with a Bay view in a condominium development near the waterfront. Never mind that the couple already owned a share in another unit in the same building – that other unit doesn’t look out on San Francisco Bay.

“It was an opportunity to lock in the perfect view,” Peter Jacobsen told the Journal.

Some homeowners are opting to rent their Bay-view homes during the regatta. One such property is on the market for $35,000 a month for a long-term lease that covers the America’s Cup race. Another home, in Pacific Heights, with panoramic views of San Francisco Bay, is going for $60,000 a month.

Some real estate agents say prices could reach $100,000 a week during the racing finals, though no such deals have been signed yet.

There are less-costly options, of course. If you get there early enough, a seat in the city’s Marina Green park is free.

Source: Pacific Union

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Hot Hot Hot!

Hot off the press. This week 24 Council Crest, Corte Madera (list price $650,000) received 20 offers and 23 Monte Vista Avenue, Larkspur (list price $995,000) received 12 offers and the scoop is that the winning bid was over $1,200,000.  It’s going to be a smoking hot year for real estate in Marin County!


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Luxury Home Buyers Changing Ways

Goodbye bling, hello quality and value.

That’s the new approach luxury home buyers are adopting in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to Alf Nucifora, chairman and founder of the Luxury Marketing Council of San Francisco.He says lessons learned from the recession, baby-boom buyers eyeing legacy purchases, and young tech turks who value function over form are fueling the trend.

“The recession taught us that we can live without unnecessary extravagances,” says Nucifora. “And that has led to a systematic shift in the way people buy. We are less concerned with showing it on the outside but more concerned with enjoying it on the inside.”In addition, so-called baby boomers (born 1946 through 1964) now make up a significant portion of the luxury-buyer market, and they are shifting from making to preserving wealth.“We (boomers) played and we made and we splurged, but we don’t need the fancy cars, the watches, or the showplace home anymore,” he says. “Now it’s the notion of bespoke, of things crafted with an eye to enduring value. We have kids and grandkids and want a legacy to be handed off to them.”The young dot-com and IPO millionaires might not be thinking about their future family bequests, but many also eschew frippery for functionality. They choose jeans and T-shirts over Brioni suits and sink their money instead into elite experiences and artisanal comfort. They may not have the biggest house on the block, but there’s a La Cornue range in the kitchen and a custom Jacuzzi in the backyard.What this all translates to is a shift away from showy excess and toward a search for quality, value, and connoisseurship, especially in the $2 to $10 million range, says Nucifora. It’s the consumption of wealth on a quiet, introspective basis, as opposed to ostentatious display.

“Buyers are now more focused on the view, the privacy, how good the kitchen really is — things that go into the enjoyment of the family experience as opposed to letting me show my neighbors how big and wealthy I am,” he says.While luxury buyers still spend plenty of money, it’s now more often on things like interior remodels, home theaters, expensive custom cabinetry, or top-of-the-line appliances – items that create a high-end quality of life experience but are invisible to anyone on the outside.

And even the most well-heeled buyers are looking for bargains.“They can easily afford to pay above listing price, but they want to get a deal because it affirms their sense of self, their smartness,” says Nucifora.

What does this mean for 2013? Expect to see these trends continue, he says. Sellers in these price ranges would be smart to invest in staging, because today’s value-savvy luxury buyers are willing to shell out for the right experience – and a luxury residence with empty rooms or dated furnishings doesn’t fit that bill.“In buying real estate, it’s that visceral reaction when I walk in,” Nucifora says. And, he adds, bad presentation is obvious: “When you walk into some of them it’s like entering an abattoir.”Pie-in-the-sky pricing schemes will also be a thing of the past, even as home values rebound; buyers in the high-end market will continue to look for deals and choose substance over show-off style. The cachet of spending piles of money on a pile of bricks has worn somewhat thin, he says.

“The recession taught us all that we can live without unnecessary extravagances, that we should look for quality, and really ask ourselves whether that purchase is absolutely necessary,” he says. “And most of us found out we can live without it.”

Source: Pacific Union

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Happy New Year and Welcome!

Welcome to my new blog! I am kicking off the new year with a blog devoted to some of my favorite real estate related topics: what’s going on in the market, local and national trends, lifestyle and home and garden design. It’s a new way for me to stay in touch with you and share what I am seeing and reading about on a regular basis.

I also launched my new site with features that include: a new property search feature, in-depth neighborhood information and up-to-the minute market conditions.

Check back later this week for my first post or feel free to sign up and subscribe to receive updates from blog!

Happy New Year!

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