Every Olympics has its stars and memorable takeaways and the Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will be no exception. The world will watch Michael Phelps attempt to swim to further glory, rightly claiming the title of Best Swimmer Ever. The Fastest Human Ever, Usain Bolt of Jamaica, will be the joining Phelps at theses Games. After an injury scare earlier this summer, Bolt announced that he would be competing, and sports enthusiasts around the globe sighed in relief.

That said, there are Olympic moments that transcend time and continue to resonate. Here are our top five:

1) Rome, 1960

A brash, young boxer by the name of Cassius Clay from Louisville, Kentucky, all of 18 years old, quite literally pounded the international competition to claim the gold in the light-heavyweight division. Thirty-six years later, in Atlanta, Mohammad Ali — then a 10-time heavyweight champion as well as an eloquent spokesman for civil and religious rights, now battling Parkinson’s Disease — took to the Olympic stage one more time to face perhaps his most daunting challenge. The applause thundered and eyes welled worldwide as, despite all odds, Mohammad Ali’s failing body and shaking hands lit the Olympic Torch.

In Rome, Ali also surpassed all athletes in the time-honored tradition of trading national pins. He loved nothing more than walking through the Olympic Village to meet people from around the world, proving that he was an ambassador before he knew he was one. Ali went home after the 1960 Games to encounter Jim Crow laws in his home state. Even after bringing honor to the U.S. with this Olympic gold, he couldn’t dine in the same restaurants with whites. That experience forged his tireless advocacy for his race, and next, his newly discovered Muslim religion, and also his vehement objection to the war in Vietnam. In the end, his support for all races and cultures was universal. He was a humanitarian.

We cannot close this sport chapter without acknowledging Ali’s oratory talents. His comments were genius, for example: “Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”

Mohammad Ali passed away in June.

Mohammad Ali the stole the limelight in 1960 and continued to dominate it over the next six decades.
Mohammad Ali the stole the limelight in 1960 and continued to dominate it over the next six decades.

2) Montreal, 1976

Way back in 1976, one was hard-pressed not to see Bruce Jenner’s face peering off a magazine cover, not to mention a Wheatie’s cereal box, after his record-setting win in the Olympic decathlon. The victory came at the height of the Cold War. Russian Nikolay Avilov was the 1972 gold medalist, an event long dominated by the U.S. and such iconic athletes as Rafer Johnson, Bob Mathias and Jim Thorpe. Jenner won back the title for the U.S. and in doing so, ascended into the firmament of Olympic greatness.

The Olympic Stadium in Montreal
The Olympic Stadium in Montreal

Jenner didn’t just win the decathlon, he broke the previous Olympic mark. No, he didn’t just break the previous mark, he pretty much annihilated it, by 164 points. Jenner then jogged gloriously around Stade Olympique as his competitors, prone in utter exhaustion, littered the track after the event’s 10th competition, the 1,500-meter race. The winner of the Olympic decathlon is typically bestowed the title of “World’s Greatest Athlete.” On that day, Jenner claimed it as his own.

The Decathlon will once again determine the Greatest Athlete of this Olympics.
The Decathlon will once again determine the Greatest Athlete of this Olympics.

Forty years later, after a turn in reality TV, Jenner publically transformed into Caitlyn Jenner, becoming the most famous transgender woman in the world and another champion — one for the rights of the LGBT community.

3) Los Angeles, 1984

These games were a supernova of Olympic star accomplishments – Mary Lou Retton’s All-Around Gymnastic Gold among the most notable – but no achievement shines brighter than Joan Benoit’s win in the first ever women’s Olympic marathon.

Women were finally given the opportunity to compete in the grueling 26.2-mile race, having been allowed to compete at the iconic New York Marathon since 1970. It was due time. Joan Benoit, small in stature but with the heart of a warrior, lined up with the rest of the field in gray uniform that looked a little too big and donning a quirky white cap. She had spent the time leading up to the trials recovering from knee surgery and relentlessly pedaling a stationary bike to keep in shape. It was almost unthinkable that she was in the field at all.

Benoit had begun to distance herself from the field by the first water station. The distance opened and soon television cameras couldn’t capture the leader and the field in the same frame. And still the distance opened, with Benoit, whose own mother described her as a little gray mouse, leaving the long-legged thoroughbreds in her wake. She won by more than four minutes. Four minutes? Enough time to enjoy a coffee and scan the newspaper. Second place went to Sweden’s Grete Waitz, widely considered among the best distance runners of her generation. Benoit’s field of competitors was world-class and she bested them all with grit and perseverance, thereby vaulting women’s running into the mainstream.

Track and Field, which includes the Marathon, will be a headliner event in Rio.
Track and Field, which includes the Marathon, will be a headliner event in Rio.

4) Barcelona, 1992

The U.S. Dream Team burst onto the scene in Spain, mounting a full court press of awe and athletic star power that continues to amaze. This was the first team of NBA players to compete in an Olympics following a rule change previously banning professionals on the Olympic basketball court. The motivation for the rule change was to up the level of Olympic play, and boy, these gods of hoops certainly dazzled.

The Dream Team still stands as the greatest sport team ever assembled in any sport. Superstars Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, who had just tested positive for HIV, formed the nucleus showcasing their competitiveness and wizardry at every turn. Add to that the thunder dunks of Charles Barkley and Karl Malone and the precision passing of John Stockton and opponents didn’t have a prayer – and few seemed to care.

The Barcelona Olympic Stadium
The Barcelona Olympic Stadium

Charles Barkley was a mainstay at the Olympic Village, much like Ali some 30 years prior. Like a gigantic Pied Piper, throngs of camera-toting fans followed him about and he achieved U.S. ambassador status by happily posing or providing autographs. There is a famous story, posted on the NBA website, of an opposing player in an early round guarding Magic and waving desperately at his teammates on the bench to get an action shot of the two of them. The Dream Team scored an average of 44 points over their opponents; rather than hanging their heads in defeat, the losing team only wanted autographs from the victors. At the medal ceremony, these seasoned pros with multiple NBA championship rings between them, jumped and laughed like giddy school kids, underscoring the power of the Olympic spirit and just how perfectly the game of basketball can be played when the world’s finest are assembled on one team.

The 1992 Dream Team brought basketball into international prominence.
The 1992 Dream Team brought basketball into international prominence.

5) London, 2012

It is hard to compete with an Olympiad that opened with the Queen Mother parachuting out of a chopper with Daniel Craig as the James Bond theme played, saw the Spice Girls reunited and then closed with Sir Paul McCartney singing “Hey, Jude.”

Athletes still commanded the spotlight. For the first time ever, at the London Games, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Brunei entered female athletes. Women’s boxing was included for the first time, distinguishing these Games as the first where females competed in all events. These were also the first Olympics where every participating country included female athletes. Quite a statement.

In London, women’s boxing made its debut as an Olympic event.
In London, women’s boxing made its debut as an Olympic event.

In London, Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, earning his 22nd medal. The fastest human ever, Usain Bolt of Jamaica, gifted with a surname that captures his speed, amazed once again by claiming the gold at the 100, 200 and 4×100 meter relay. He became the first man in modern Olympics to win six gold medals in sprinting and win the 10 and 200-meter titles at consecutive Games.  Both Phelps and Bolt are scheduled to compete in Rio so stay tuned.


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Top 10 Bay Area Olympians to watch in Rio

Much of the U.S. delegation of 555 athletes marched into Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Maracana Stadium on Friday for the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Of that number, more than 80 have ties to Northern California.

From returning medal favorites to first-timers, U.S. rosters are littered with alums of the region’s high schools and colleges — or, as in the case of swimming sensation Katie Ledecky, athletes who will be Bay Area college-bound in the fall.

While such prominent names as the Warriors’ Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, or U.S. women’s soccer stars Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, will headline teams favored to repeat as gold medalists, here are our top 10 Bay Area Olympians to keep your eye on over the next two weeks.

Katie Ledecky, of the United States, celebrates after winning the women’s 800m freestyle final at the Swimming World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in 2015. Ledecky has gone from a surprise gold medalist in London to one of the world’s most dominant swimmers at age 19.

Katie Ledecky, swimming

Name an Olympic swimming great and Katie Ledecky has already been compared to him or her. The incoming Stanford freshman burst onto the international swimming scene in London four years ago, when she won gold in the 800-meter freestyle by a 4-second margin.

Ledecky has only added to her list of accolades since then and currently holds the world record in the 400, 800 and 1,500 free. Ledecky took a gap year to train for the Olympics and plans to enroll in the fall at Stanford, where she will compete for Olympics assistant coach Greg Meehan.


Maya DiRado of the United States competes in a final heat for the Women’s 200 Meter Individual Medley during Day Four of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials at CenturyLink Center on June 29, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

Maya DiRado, swimming

Maya DiRado has been pretty busy this year. The NCAA champion graduated from Stanford, found a job at McKinsey & Company, got married and qualified for the Olympics. Is it any wonder that the 23-year-old is good at multitasking?

In a recent carpool karaoke video released by USA Swimming, DiRado can be seen singing, dancing and driving with a skill equal to that which she displays in the pool. Having improved her times dramatically over the past year, DiRado stunned everyone — including herself — when she qualified for three events at the Olympics trials in June. Despite the high profile of being an Olympian and the pressure that comes with competing on an international stage, the Santa Rosa swimmer has put the Olympics in perspective. Set to start work Sept. 9 after a European vacation, DiRado is fully prepared to leave the pool after Rio, win or lose.

LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 05: Kyle Brown of South Africa (bottom) and Danny Barrett of the United States battle for the ball during the USA Sevens Rugby tournament at Sam Boyd Stadium on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Danny Barrett, rugby

This marks the first year that rugby sevens is included in the Olympic lineup, and Pacifica native Danny Barrett is looking to take full advantage. After poor grades kept him off the Sacred Heart Cathedral baseball team, Barrett had to find another athletic outlet. He joined the San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby club and became so passionate about the sport he never returned to baseball.

After a successful high school football career, Barrett turned down the option of playing football at San Jose State to join Cal’s rugby team. A friend convinced him to join the U.S. rugby sevens program in 2014, and the team qualified for Rio after winning the NACRA Sevens Championship in June 2015. While not expected to medal in Rio, Barrett and the rest of the rugby sevens squad are hoping to increase the sport’s visibility and popularity when the rugby tournament begins Tuesday.


Kerri Walsh Jennings collects balls after beach volleyball practice in preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics with her partner, April Ross, at Manhattan Beach, Calif., June 3, 2016. Walsh Jennings will be going for her fourth Olympic gold medal in Rio, and her first with Ross, who replaced her previous partner, Misty May-Treanor, who retired after the 2012 Games. (Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Kerri Walsh Jennings, beach volleyball

Kerri Walsh Jennings is to beach volleyball what Michael Phelps is to swimming. Unparalleled. Set to compete in her fifth Olympics, Walsh Jennings arrives in Rio a very different player from the one who took her first gold in Athens in 2004. Since then, the 6-foot-2 Saratoga native has won two more gold medals, had three children and undergone five surgeries on her right shoulder.

Walsh Jennings first became an Olympian in 2000, when she competed in Sydney with the U.S. women’s indoor volleyball team. The Stanford graduate transitioned to the beach after those games, combining with Misty May-Treanor to become the greatest beach volleyball team of all time with three consecutive golds. Walsh Jennings is seeking her fourth straight gold medal — the most of any Olympian in a team sport — with new partner April Ross. They hit the sand Saturday.


Tony Azevedo of the United States shoots takes a shot against Australia during the 2016 Olympic team trials at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center on May 22, 2016 in Los Angeles.

Tony Azevedo, water polo

When Tony Azevedo marched behind the American flag during Friday’s Opening Ceremony, it was in fact a homecoming for the Stanford grad. Azevedo was born in Rio and is the son of former Brazilian water polo great Ricardo Azevedo, who was also the head coach of the U.S. national team and Long Beach State.

Azevedo grew up around the sport and played for Stanford, where he won back-to-back national championships in 2001 and 2002. The Long Beach native has appeared in every Olympics since Sydney 2000 and won silver in Beijing, the team’s first Olympic medal since 1988. Following his graduation from Stanford, Azevedo signed with a European professional team and has played abroad since, becoming the first American to have over a decade-long career overseas.


Kanak Jha, a 16-year-old table tennis phenom from Milpitas who is the first Millennial, born in 2000, to qualify for the Olympic Games takes part in Friends with Paddles fundraiser event to benefit 2016 U.S. Olympic Table Tennis Team at Spin in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, July 21, 2016.

Kanak Jha, table tennis

The youngest member of the U.S. delegation first picked up a table tennis paddle seven years ago, when he was 9. Kanak Jha watched his sister, Prachi, compete in table tennis tournaments and wanted to try the sport out for himself. Just 16 years old and a rising junior at Milpitas High, Jha spent the past year living in Sweden with his sister and training at table tennis facility Halmstad BTK.

Jha is the first member of the U.S. team born in the 2000s to compete in the Olympics and the youngest-ever table tennis player to qualify, but the teenager has already proved he can take the pressure. At the North American Olympic qualification tournament in April, Jha clinched the United States’ qualification by winning the tournament, ensuring that the American men would compete in their first Olympic team contest.


Eleanor Logan of the USA competes in the Women’s Single Sculls heats during the first day of the 2013 Samsung World Rowing Cup II at Eton Dorney on in Windsor, England.

Eleanor Logan, rowing

No American woman has won three Olympic gold medals in rowing. Stanford alum Eleanor Logan is looking to become the first next week. After winning gold in Beijing and London, the top spot on the podium is all she knows. In May, Logan was named the Pac-12 Women’s Rower of the Century. She won her first gold medal while still an undergrad at Stanford. Logan also helped lead the Cardinal women’s rowing team to its first NCAA championship as a four-time All-American and was the 2010-11 Pac-10 Rowing Women’s Athlete of the Year.

Kristian Ipsen, diving


Kristian Ipsen performs a dive during the men’s three-meter springboard final at the U.S. Olympic diving trials in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 25, 2016.

At the age of 23, Kristian Ipsen has been a national team member for the past decade. He was the youngest diver to win a junior national championship and has only improved from there, winning an Olympic bronze medal in synchronized diving four years ago. Born in Walnut Creek and raised in Clayton, Ipsen competed for Stanford until he graduated with a degree in science technology and society in 2015.

This Olympics will be the first time Ipsen competes solo and not in synchro. Ipsen was a three-time NCAA champion while at Stanford and was named Pac-12 Diver of the Year twice. When he’s not training, Ipsen is working at his family’s popular East Bay restaurant chain, Skipolini’s. Ipsen and the rest of USA Diving open competition Monday, Aug. 15.

Marti Malloy, a bronze medalist from London, is from San Jose State.

Marti Malloy, judo

San Jose State is sending two seasoned Olympians to Rio this year. One is 30-year-old Marti Malloy, a bronze medalist from London. The other is her coach, 96-year-old Yoshiro Uchida, under whom Malloy has trained since she was an 18-year-old college freshman. At her first senior judo competition when she was 16, Malloy defeated top athletes, including an Olympian, to claim gold.

After high school, Malloy joined San Jose State’s renowned judo program and improved further, culminating in an Olympic bronze medal four years ago. Malloy trained overseas in the lead-up to this summer’s Games, honing her skills in France, Japan and Cuba against bigger, tougher competition. She’ll start to see whether it has paid off when competition opens Monday.


The USA’s Shannon Rowbury celebrates after the 3000 meters final at the IAAF World Indoor athletic championships in Portland, Oregon on March 20, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RalstonMARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Shannon Rowbury, track and field

Shannon Rowbury travels all over the world for track competitions, but she always returns to San Francisco. Rowbury grew up in the Sunset District and ran at Sacred Heart Cathedral before a track scholarship took her to Duke for college. Now, Rowbury is competing in her third-straight Olympic Games. In 2008, Rowbury finished seventh in the 1,500 meters in Beijing, followed by a sixth-place finish in London.

Claire Fahy is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Twitter: @clairemfahy


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Marin from the Air

And this is why we LOVE Marin!! <3

Marin from the air

Marin from the air – Matador Network

WELCOME TO MARIN COUNTY, California, where epic beaches meet rolling hills. Marin has done an outstanding job protecting its natural beauty — the beaches are clean, the air is pure, and open spaces prevail. In other words, it’s an active person’s heaven. Watch the video, and find out why it’s different in Marin and that’s no accident.


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Q2 – The Marin County Market at a Glance

Marin County Market Overview


From Selma Hepp, Economist Pacific Union International – 07/15/2016

Marin County home shoppers took a more cautious, measured approach in the second quarter, lacking the sense of urgency that characterized quarters past. Buyers were less like to engage in bidding wars, and many refused to settle for properties that fell short of their ideal. Some sellers found that their homes were taking too long to sell and were considering renting them and trying for a sale next year.

That said, top-notch, well-priced properties continued to generate plenty of interest and multiple offers. Homes priced between $1 million and $3 million saw the highest sales volume. As in other parts of the Bay Area, Marin County’s ongoing inventory constraints are hampering affordability for many potential buyers, who are waiting for prices to settle before they can make a move.

Although Marin’s housing market benefits from San Francisco’s strong employment market, the area still posted 4,000 new jobs since last May, translating to 3.6 percent growth. The majority of new jobs added were in the higher-wage professional and business services sectors and also in the education, health, and retail trades.


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Brexit Effect On US Real Estate: Why Millennials May Be Priced Out Of Some Markets

Pricey New York real estate might get even more costly whether or not Britons vote to shuck their membership in the European Union, and millennials might see either more competition from foreign investors pricing them out of the market, or will benefit from falling interest rates — cheaper mortgages — engendered by a faltering global economy.

With the Brexit vote looming Thursday, high-net-worth real estate investors — both individual and institutional — are eyeing New York and other gateway U.S. cities as safe havens, spooked by uncertainty that has crept into the London market in the last year, not only as a result of the contentious Brexit campaign but also because of recent policy changes involving visa approvals and real estate taxes.

New York real estate attorney Edward Mermelstein said big-money foreign investors have been shifting to the U.S. market for the past year, and the turmoil generated by the Brexit campaignhas escalated the trend.

“There is a fairly strong consensus the British economy is going to be negatively affected by Brexit,” Mermelstein said. “Paired with what has been happening recently in the investment atmosphere, it’s only going to put additional pressure on Britain as a place to invest.”

Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, estimated that foreigners invested $80 billion in U.S. real estate last year. Overall, U.S. real estate is worth approximately $22 trillion, about 2 or 3 percent of it controlled by foreign investors.

Last year, 16 percent of that investment came from China, followed by Canada at 14 percent and Mexico at 9 percent. Eight percent of investment came from India, followed by Britain at 4 percent, France and Germany at 3 percent, and Venezuela at 2 percent.

Countries of Origin - NARForeigners invested $102 billion in U.S. real estate from April 2014 to March 2015, buying homes that averaged $500,000 each.PHOTO: NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS

From April 2014 through March 2015, the Realtors estimate, foreign buyers bought 209,000 houses, valued at $104 billion and representing 8 percent of the sales volume, with Florida, California, Texas and Arizona accounting for half the purchases. The average price of those houses was $500,000, compared to the average U.S. home price of $256,000.

New York real estate attorney Edward Mermelstein said big-money foreign investors have been shifting to the U.S. market for the last year, and the turmoil generated by the Brexit campaign has escalated the trend.

“There is a fairly strong consensus the British economy is going to be negatively affected by Brexit,” Mermelstein said. “Paired with what has been happening recently in the investment atmosphere, it’s only going to put additional pressure on Britain as a place to invest.”

Should Britons vote to go it alone, the British economy is expected to slow, pressuring the pound sterling and bonds.

“The implication of Brexit taking place is that it is looking good for the U.S. market,” Mermelstein said.

Yun said the prospect of Britain turning toward isolationism has raised “questions of confidence,” encouraging investors to seek opportunities elsewhere. “The U.S. will be considered competition or a safe haven,” Yun said, adding that a Brexit implies a reduction in international trade and a negative impact on economic expansion for both Britain and the EU, which will trickle down to other countries.

“That could lead to interest rates falling. The mortgage rate here in the U.S. could begin to decline because of lower GDP [gross domestic product] expansion. That always benefits the housing market,” Yun said.

Yun said in addition to New York, cities like Washington, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco are most likely to benefit, also possibly the Tampa Bay area in Florida, Chicago and Dallas. Smaller metro areas are unlikely to see much impact unless foreign investors see the bigger markets as overbought, Yun said.

Mermelstein said major European cities, including Paris and Rome, also are likely to benefit and attributes the shift out of London to the British trying to revive the concept of home ownership. British officials are trying to open the market to local purchasers by restricting visa applications and altering real estate tax laws to enable Britons to purchase homes at younger ages.

“Britons value ownership of personal property differently. In many cases they don’t get married until they are able to afford a home,” Mermelstein said. “This has caused the birth rate in Britain in plummet. Families are starting much later. Home ownership has become out of reach for many people.”

Yun said an influx of foreign capital to the U.S. real estate market could make it more difficult for young adults in the targeted cities to purchase property as well.

“First-time buyers are struggling to get into the market as it is. If more foreigners, typically cash purchasers, get into the market, they will face stiff competition to get their properties,” Yun said. “Typically younger purchasers need a mortgage. If they have to compete with foreign buyers with all cash, that hinders first-time buyers from getting their home.”

Mermelstein said, however, the influx of foreign capital probably would have little impact on first-time buyers, likely because they would be looking at the lower end of the market. He sees most investment coming from individuals willing to buy $15 million properties.

“Ten to 15 people will shift the needle significantly,” he said. “An investor I was advising was making London home base. He shifted his business and home to the U.S. His home purchase alone was $40 million. That’s not including the business interests. Individuals are making those kinds of commitments to the U.S. as opposed to Britain. You don’t need too many of them to move the needle.”

Another side benefit to a Brexit would be the creation of an atmosphere of stability in U.S. credit markets, Mermelstein said.

“The commercial real estate market also will continue to attract foreign investment — in secondary markets, not just New York, San Francisco and Chicago,” he said.


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Bay Area Suburbs Again Top San Francisco as Hottest U.S. Housing Market


While San Francisco may steal the majority of the national headlines when it comes to Bay Area real estate, cities in relatively affordable Solano County are commanding the most attention from prospective homebuyers as June draws to a close.

That’s according to’s monthly look at the 20 hottest real estate markets in the U.S., as measured by a combination of most listing views on its website and the quickest pace of home sales. Homes in these markets typically sell 20 to 38 days faster than the national average, which is 65 days for June.

For the second consecutive month, the Vallejo-Fairfield metro area is June’s top-performing housing market, coming in ahead of San Francisco, which owned the No. 1 spot for much of the past year. The City by the Bay ranked in the No. 2 position, also unchanged from the previous month. Part of Solano County’s appeal is likely its relative affordability when compared with other Bay Area locales. According to the California Association of Realtors, the median sales price for a single-family home in Solano County was $382,000 in May, less than one-third the cost in San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties.

California continues to dominate the ranks of’s hot markets, placing 11 cities on the list in June. Other state metro areas to make the latest list: Stockton (No. 4), San Diego (No. 5), Santa Rosa (No. 6), Sacramento (No. 8), Modesto (No. 9), San Jose (No. 13), Santa Cruz (No. 15), Eureka (No. 16), and Los Angeles (No. 20). The latter, usually a mainstay on the list, returned to the top 20 after dropping off in May.

In a statement accompanying the report, Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said that seasonality definitely affects the Golden State’s housing markets. “California markets tend to be fairly consistent — we don’t see huge changes,” he said.

Inventory constraints remain an issue across the country, pushing up prices and making for the fastest-paced June in a decade. Although estimates that 525,000 new listings will hit the market by the end of this month, that still won’t be enough to satisfy pent-up demand. Listing inventory is down by 5 percent from June 2015, while the median list price is up 8 percent year over year to $252,000.



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Top 3 Tuesday: Best Mountain Bike Trails in Marin

Grab your bike and get moving on some of the best mountain biking trails in Marin!

1. Willow Camp Trail, Stinson Beach

willow camp

2. Five Brooks Trail, Point Reyes

5 brooks

3. Ridge Trail, Bolinas

5 brooks


Point Reyes – Five Brooks Trail Head – Stewart, Coast, Old Out Road, Almea, Greenpicker, Stewart Loop

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Brexit: Something is Rotten in Denmark


Great Insight from Pacific Union’s Chief Economist, Selma Happ

Executive Summary:

  • The United Kingdom’s unexpected vote to leave the European Union, otherwise known as “Brexit,” was not accounted for in global financial markets prior to the vote. Thus, stock market volatility is sorting out the anticipated effects going forward.
  • While the financial market volatility will persist, the direct impact on the U.S. is minimal.
  • U.S. economic fundamentals remain strong, as they are based on domestic activity. Indirect impacts may actually bode well for U.S. housing markets, as investors seek safe, stable investments.
  • However, more volatility may be in store in the weeks to come.

To say that global financial markets were not pricing in Brexit prior to the vote is an understatement. Financial markets have gone haywire overnight, with many recalling the sell-off following the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008. While volatility will stay with us for some time, the current situation is nothing like the 2008 financial crisis. And though no market was spared again, Europe’s fragile markets suffered from a severe lashing and will likely to continue on the rollercoaster ride.

Nevertheless, the Brexit vote still does not mean that the U.K. will leave soon; the referendum is not legally binding, and only Parliament can pass the legislation to leave the EU. Even if this happens, it would take at least two years for the EU and the U.K. to renegotiate their bilateral agreements. However, since no one yet really understands the full implications of Brexit, a period of volatility and much uncertainty is likely to persist.

Who Wins and Who Loses?

Unfortunately, it is easier to surmise Brexit’s direct effects than its indirect effects. In principle, the exit decision should have little direct impact on the U.S. or global economies. The U.K. economy accounts for only 4 percent of global gross domestic product. Also, U.S. exports to the U.K. comprise only 0.4 percent of our GDP, while the U.S. receives just 3 percent of its imports from the U.K. Additionally, our country’s bank exposure to U.K assets represents only 3 percent — thus a potential U.K. recession would have a limited impact on U.S. financial systems.

Among all parties impacted, the outlook for the U.K. is the haziest, followed by the uncertainty that will shadow over the EU. And while the direct impact on the remaining 27 EU countries is somewhat limited, the indirect effects cannot be fully foreseen at this point. The volatility and debate over what the next steps should be will not bode well for confidence or economic growth, and it may lead to further loosening of monetary policy.

Indirect Effects on the U.S. Could Help Our Housing Markets

Brexit’s indirect effects on the U.S., however, may not be so gloomy. First, the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates will most likely be further delayed due to this development. Also, with global financial uncertainty seemingly everlasting, U.S. Treasuries are continuing to look very attractive and will probably woo many investors. Both factors are going to keep interest rates low — particularly mortgage interest rates.

Also, U.S. economic fundamentals are essentially unchanged, and the country should continue to post solid job and wage growth. U.S. housing markets may further benefit from global uncertainty, as they are still perceived as safe, relatively stable, and to some extent underpriced, especially when compared to London’s exorbitant real estate market.

Selma Hepp is Pacific Union’s Chief Economist and Vice President of Business Intelligence. Her previous positions include Chief Economist at Trulia, senior economist for the California Association of Realtors, and economist and manager of public policy and homeownership at the National Association of Realtors. She holds a Master of Arts in Economics from the State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo, and a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning and Design from the University of Maryland.

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Top 3 Tuesday: Best Dive Bars in Marin

Summer is here! Stay cool and enjoy a drink at one of these local watering holes.

1. Smitty’s Bar, Sausalito


2. Silver Peso, Larkspur

silver peso

3. 2am Club, Mill Valley




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Economic Straight Talk: A Tale of Two Economies: The U.S. and California

Real Estate Economic Analysis from leading expert  and Pacific Union Economist Selma Happ

house on money

This year has certainly not been without its challenges. Since January, news has kept pundits and the general public going back and forth on the state of the economy. This week’s news is no exception in that regard.

Wednesday’s Federal Reserve announcement to hold interest rates steady was highly anticipated. After all, the latest U.S. jobs report came as a shock to even the most pessimistic of observers. However, the perspective looming in the most recent statement was somewhat new and sheds light on how the U.S. government sees the future path of the economy — and what it expects to do through the rest of the year.

Reading between the lines suggests that the Fed won’t do anything. While many Federal Open Market Committee members anticipate at least one interest-rate hike by the end of year, the uncertainties raised in Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen’s speech won’t be resolved any time soon, including a lack of inflation, a lack of productivity, slowing job growth, international economic developments, and the upcoming vote on Britain potentially exiting the European Union (otherwise known as Brexit). And to top it off, there is the U.S. presidential election in November.

Nevertheless, it is important to point out that some of these uncertainties have become notoriously complex to measure, which is making the Fed’s job increasingly difficult. Many of the economic measures used today, such as inflation and productivity, rely on assumptions that were developed well before the technology era — when consumer baskets were weighted differently. Even a recent article in The Economist calls into question the usability of gross domestic product as a measure of economic prosperity.

Aside from inflation and productivity, consumers currently feel pretty good. They appear to be spending increasingly more on online purchases and dining out. And despite some speculations about slowing consumer spending, the last retail-sales report suggests that it has not weakened but that households have changed where and how they spend their money.

Also, businesses are feeling better. A survey of CEOs at the largest U.S. firms suggests that businesses plan to step up capital expenditures this year, which is a welcome turnaround in investment. But just to point out how confusing the news headlines can be, these are two that appeared in The Wall Street Journal earlier this week — both referring to the same survey:

CEOs Turn More Bullish About Business Investment: A Business Roundtable survey shows improving outlook but muted 2016 growth projection
Weak Business Investment Weighs on Policy Makers: CEOs are pessimistic but many plan to increase capital spending during the rest of the year
Take those headlines how you will, but there is still a plenty of optimism and fuel to keep the American economic engine firing for some time. And even if the growth does not appear staggering, there are no indications of immediate risks for the U.S. economy. There is no major buildup in asset prices, personal debt ratios are low, and price-to-earnings ratios for technology companies are one-fifth of what they were in 2000.

Also, the most recent economic data for California suggests that the state is doing better than most other global economies. On its own, The Golden State’s output ranks it as the sixth largest economy in the world, once again surpassing France and Brazil. California’s exceptional growth of 4.1 percent in 2015 exceeded the U.S. growth rate of 2.1 percent and France’s 1.1 percent. Last year, California created the most jobs of any state, including Florida and Texas collectively, which are the second- and third-most-populous states.

California, along with the other West Coast states, benefited from growth of information-technology and knowledge-based industries in general. Information and professional, scientific, and technical-services jobs were the major drivers of growth in all states that ranked as the highest performers in the last year and were the major contributors to the overall nation’s output growth.

However, the future is a little less clear. The next national jobs report, which comes out in early July, will be telling. Also, The California Employment Development Department released May’s job numbers this morning, showing an increase of 15,200 jobs in May. This number is consistent with the low national numbers released earlier in the month and will likely be revised upward. April’s job gains were revised by over 10,000 to show 70,000 jobs added. Over the last 12 months, California added jobs at a rate of 2.8 percent compared with 1.7 percent nationwide.

Certainly, adding jobs through the first half of the year shows that the Bay Area can expect slower growth than we saw last year — that is the nature of economic cycles.

As we approach full employment, which is already the case in the Bay Area, it becomes harder to see strong year-over-year job-growth numbers moving forward. That doesn’t mean we’re nearing another recession, but only that we are reaching a plateau in the current economic cycle.

Selma Hepp is Pacific Union’s Chief Economist and Vice President of Business Intelligence. Her previous positions include Chief Economist at Trulia, senior economist for the California Association of Realtors, and economist and manager of public policy and homeownership at the National Association of Realtors. She holds a Master of Arts in Economics from the State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo, and a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning and Design from the University of Maryland.



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