Kyle Frazier, J.D., Broker Associate Ι Pacific Union International | Christies International Real Estate | (415) 350-9440

Marin County, California, Luxury Homes Report (September 2009–Sales and Inventory Analysis)

Earlier this month marked the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the equities market meltdown, which profoundly impacted Marin County, California’s luxury real estate market. In our New Economy, real buyers have become less numerous and have placed increased emphasis on prestige locations, views, lifestyle amenities (usable yards, proximity to clubs/shopping, etc.), schools, and sensible scale.

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As reported all year, the luxury segment remains weighted towards homes priced under $4 million — while we had 3 sales of homes priced over $4 million in July 2009, yet August 2009 saw just 1 sale in this affluent price band. Among the sales last month, was a $5.1 million trade in Belvedere (an amazing home on a double lot on the Belvedere Lagoon) and an off-market $8 million Kentfield (both buyers and sellers were represented by my company). The reasons for the slowdown in sales is no mystery, so too are the reasons we will eventually return to normalcy. First and foremost, the economy must give reason for optimism and the stock market must continue to win back gains lost over the past year. Once some of those gains are recaptured, affluent buyers will feel more comfortable with major purchases again. And it looks like we are heading in that direction — last week, Ben Bernanke noted that the recession is likely over and the Wall Street Journal (a media source which is not-so-subtly slanted against real estate investment) noted that real estate “has rarely looked better” — click HERE for article. Also, for a detailed snapshot of current national trends from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing dated September 13, 2009, click HERE.  And if you would like a hyper-local report relating to any town or zip code in Marin or San Francisco, call me at (415) 350-9440.
The below graph tracks asking prices for 3 “hot” locales in Marin — Tiburon/Belvedere (they are combined here because they use the same zip code), Mill Valley, and Kentfield. Interestingly, while Belvedere continues to see asking prices drop, Kentfield and Mill Valley have seen asking prices increase over the 60 days (although still lower than last year at this time).

The year over year inventory levels in Mill Valley have hovered at around 20% since May 2009 (much improved from a nearly 60% inventory increase in February 2009). Meanwhile, inventory in Kentfield has doubled this year compared with last year. In combination, Tiburon and Belvedere inventory levels are about 80% higher than last year.

The graph below reflects a 90-day rolling average of asking prices for homes in the topmost quartile (e.g. prices of the most expensive homes) in 3 touchstone Marin County cities: Tiburon, Mill Valley, and Kentfield. As you can see, over the past year, prices have declined, although asking prices appear to have leveled in all 3 towns.
Below is a new chart focusing on the percentages of homes in Tiburon and Mill Valley that have experienced price reductions, as well as a look at how deep those reductions have been, on average.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

$2 Million to $4 Million Luxury Homes
Summertime is a traditional slow season for Marin real estate because many families focus more on vacations than on home buying. While buyer activity has picked up significantly, home sales in August 2009 were limited to seven. It seems that there is a lot of home shopping going on, but not a whole lot of sales (this August we had 62% fewer sales than one year ago). Inventory remains low with 133 homes on the market between $2 million and $4 million.
Cities recording sales in this price band included: Ross, San Rafael, Novato, Larkspur, Corte Madera, Tiburon, and Sausalito. These homes averaged 123 days on market. Their average sales price was $2.542 million (roughly $655 per square foot), with an average of 4,195 square feet. The absorption rate for Marin homes in this price band is up to 19 months.
$4 Million & Up Ultra-Luxury Homes
The inventory level of Marin County’s ultra-luxury market (homes priced in the $4 million and up range) remained virtually unchanged with 56 homes for sale. The highest concentrations of homes in this price band are Tiburon, Belvedere, and Ross. As noted earlier, Marin County saw just two sales last month — a spectacular Belvedere Lagoon home which sold for over $5 million and an off market sale of a Kentfield estate. There is another Belvedere home currently in escrow. Marin cities and towns with homes priced over $4 million include Tiburon, Belvedere, Sausalito, Kentfield, Ross, Mill Valley, San Rafael, and Novato.

Marin Cities & Towns

$2 Million — $4 Million

$4 Million & Up

Active

Pending

Active

Pending

Sausalito

13

0

7

0

Belvedere

18

3

11

1

Tiburon

33

2

22

0

Mill Valley

30

3

5

0

Larkspur

3

0

0

0

Corte Madera

0

0

0

0

Kentfield

10

3

3

0

Greenbrae

1

1

0

0

Ross

9

1

6

0

San Anselmo

7

0

0

0

San Rafael

7

0

1

0

Novato

5

0

1

0

The above graph identifies the numbers of active listings and homes in contract in the Marin County luxury ($2 million to $4 million) and ultra-luxury ($4 million and up) home market segments. Note that all homes in contract are included in the category “Pending” even though some are technically “Contingent” properties (e.g., the buyers have not removed all contingencies). This information is limited to Marin County’s Highway 101 corridor towns and cities that consistently maintain a monthly inventory of luxury and ultra-luxury homes (Western Marin coastal homes are not included).By: Kyle Frazier, Marin Realtor & CRS, Broker Associate, Morgan Lane Marin Real Estate, at 415/350-9440 for more luxury home market information. You can also e-mail Kyle at mailto:Kyle@ImagineMarin.com.

For help finding the perfect home for your lifestyle, Click HERE, fill out the confidential Home Preferences Survey, and Kyle will personally call you for a consultation.

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  2. […] there are lots of homes on the market in the higher price bands, which have not sold. [Click HERE for the rest of the article, courtesy […]

  3. […] of homes on the market in the higher price bands, which have not sold.     [Click HERE for the rest of the article, courtesy […]