Kyle Frazier, J.D., Broker Associate with Compass | (415) 350-9440

Marin Luxury Homes | Real Estate | April 2013 Report

Marin County sellers enjoyed the best of both worlds in the first quarter of 2013: Their homes sold quicker than they have in years, and median sale prices rose considerably. For buyers, it was another story. The supply of homes for sale continued to shrink and multiple offers were common – they often faced over a dozen offers for desirable, well-priced properties. In particular, first-time buyers (e.g., buyers who required financing) were disheartened as their bids were overcome by all-cash offers time and again.The tight market prompted a rise in off-market deals – transactions that close without ever being listed on real estate websites or multiple listing services. So far in 2013, I have had several properties close in this manner.Tiburon was especially active in all price points, especially the market for homes priced at $2 million and higher. In Novato, homes priced at $800,000 to $900,000 sold as soon as they became available, and sales rose noticeably in the $2 million-plus market. Mill Valley, San Rafael, and Corte Madera were also busy in the quarter.We also experienced fewer distressed homes coming to market. In recent years, the number of short sales, foreclosures, and bank-owned homes had been on the rise, but that supply has mostly sold. Investors remain active in the market, though their numbers are not as high as in 2011 and 2012.

Looking Forward: We expect to see more homes coming on the market in April and continuing through the summer months. Multiple offers will remain the norm throughout the second quarter, although a greater supply of homes will bring more balance to the market.

Defining Marin County: Our real estate markets in Marin County include the cities of Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Novato, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, and Tiburon. Contact Kyle Frazier for sales data relating to these communities.

Sellers, Start Your Engines!
After record-breaking results in 2012 for units and volume of residential real estate, activity in the first quarter suggests 2013 will once again reach new highs. Local trends drive the dynamics of our markets, but overall we expect 15 to 17 percent increases in units sold in the Bay Area and price appreciation of 4 to 9 percent.The single most important dynamic driving this growth is our healthy regional job market. Economist Stephen Levy noted that the Bay Area led California job growth in January, with San Francisco at the forefront and the Oakland, Napa, Santa Rosa, and Vallejo metro areas all posting gains far above the state and national average.These are high-quality, high-paying jobs in the technology and professional services sectors. We believe confidence in jobs and business in general is driving consumer confidence and the intense pent-up demand for residential real estate. 2013 may be the last year of this cycle that money (mortgage interest rates) remains on sale as real estate prices lift from the bottom and consistent appreciation returns for a sustainable period of time.Intense demand is occurring even as the supply of available homes remains constrained, and coupled with modest price appreciation is driving the return of equity into homes. This may allow more sellers to realize gains, sell existing homes, and trade up to new dream homes or neighborhoods.These dynamics are occurring in nearly every one of the markets Pacific Union serves, and we expect it to entice move-up buyers to act – making them a likely source for new, mid-tier inventory.

The Sellers’ Market Heats Up

It has been a bitterly cold few years for would-be sellers in the Bay Area, but spring is bringing welcome warmth for both home values and buyer activity.Home prices have been rising for a year across all of Pacific Union’s eight regions in the Bay Area and Tahoe/Truckee. In San Francisco the median sales price of homes rose nearly 30 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, and double-digit increases were recorded in all other regions as well.In a recent Wall Street Journal survey economists agreed that home prices will continue rising at least through 2017, and the Bay Area’s strong economy suggests price increases here will outpace those in most of the rest of the nation.Those rising values translate to greater equity, and many homeowners who believe they are “underwater” – owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth – may be surprised to learn that they’ve regained equity based on recent sale prices for comparable homes in their neighborhood.Why the lift? In part it’s because a persistent shortage of homes for sale has created a veritable army of aggressive and highly motivated buyers who are willing to outspend the competition. For example, in our East Bay offices, 90 percent of transactions in the first quarter involved multiple offers; on average, homes sold for 13 percent over asking price.Homes in the Bay Area sold within weeks of coming on the market, frequently in all-cash deals, and multiple bids pushed sales prices above asking prices in all regions, much to the delight of sellers.
Click to view larger chart.

Overall, the increased velocity of real estate activity in the first quarter of 2013 was nothing short of remarkable.This means that sellers looking to trade up to a higher-priced home may now make significant gains in the current market. For example, consider a homeowner whose property was valued at $300,000 in 2006 but dropped 20 percent in value to $240,000, for a loss of $60,000. That same 20 percent drop in value for a higher-priced home – say, a $450,000 home now valued at $360,000 – gives a trade-up buyer savings of $90,000, or a net gain of $30,000 on the new home.Today’s low mortgage rates also offer serious savings to trade-up buyers. In 2002, when the interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage stood at 6.5 percent, the monthly payment on a $500,000 loan was $3,160. At current rates, which hover around 3.6 percent, approximately the same loan payment would buy a home with a $700,000 mortgage – a net gain of $200,000.The benefit won’t last forever, so prospective sellers should move quickly: A report from the Mortgage Bankers Association predicts that rates will average 4.4 percent by the end of 2013. That 0.8 point rise will add $230 to the monthly payment on a $500,000 mortgage.So if you’re thinking about selling in this blazing market, don’t get burned by waiting too long. And count on the expertise of a real estate professional who knows the local market to help assess your home’s current value and prospects. Looks like it’s shaping up to be a hot season for sellers!If you have any questions or would like a custom market analysis of your home’s current likely sales price, please call me.

My name is Kyle Frazier. I am a Broker, Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), and Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS) with Christie’s Great Estates | Pacific Union International Realtors.

And if you are a buyer, I am also a member of the Top Agent Network (Top 10% in Marin County) and the Marin Platinum Group (Top 100 agents in Marin County). These are elite agent networks with access to dozens of homes being marketed informally and not on the MLS. It is always my pleasure to be of service. Call me at (415) 350-9440.

Pacific Union – Christie’s International Real Estate | Marin County, CA Luxury Home Sales (January 2013)

Pacific Union – Christie’s International Real Estate | Marin County, CA Luxury Home Sales (January 2013). The new year dawns with bright prospects for an active and successful 2013 in Bay Area real estate. But 2013 comes after an awkward year of recovery. Buyers, champing at the bit after a half-decade of retrenchment and recession, were forced to compete with each other for a limited supply of homes as sellers held out for higher prices after years of declines. Bidding wars became commonplace. However, prices drifted only slightly higher despite excruciatingly low inventory. Here’s a look back at the busy year that just ended:

JANUARY — The latest jobs data shows the first signs of economic recovery, with California’s unemployment rate falling to 11.1 percent in December 2011, the second month in a row the number declined. (Quick jump ahead: by November 2012 the unemployment rate had dropped further, to 9.8 percent.). Pacific Union International’s Q4 2011 Real Estate Report is released. In it we declare that 2012 “could be one of the finest times in the past twenty years to be a buyer of real estate,” with low home prices and exceptionally low interest rates. We were right on the money.

FEBRUARY — Sellers are urged to “join the party” as the number of homes under contract jumps significantly. In Marin County, homes under contract were up an astounding 82 percent from the start of the year. A look at the math shows that historically low interest rates give homebuyers an extra $100,000 in purchasing power. (And it still holds true today.)

MARCH — Rental rates are rising precipitously across the Bay Area — up 16 percent in San Francisco — making buying a home an even more attractive option.

APRIL — Pacific Union gets kudos from our peers with the release of a Real Trends survey showing that our real estate professionals are the fifth most productive in the United States and a report from Real Estate Magazine naming us one of the nation’s top “Power Brokers.” Buyer demand in the first quarter drives an increase in the number of homes sold in all seven of Pacific Union’s Bay Area regions. The upcoming America’s Cup yacht races are fueling a boom in San Francisco real estate as buyers jockey for homes with commanding views of San Francisco Bay.

MAY — Homes are more affordable than ever, according to a report from the California Association of Realtors. The percentage of households that could afford to purchase a median-priced, single-family home in the Bay Area rose to 45 percent in the first quarter, a record high. Rising home sales and prices make clear the housing recovery is on solid footing in the Bay Area, according to our own monthly market analysis and a report from the California Association of Realtors. Pacific Union expands in Northern California with the opening of offices in the North Lake Tahoe area.

JUNE — The Bay Area housing market and overall economic scene continue to set the pace for the national recovery, and sometimes that means standing in contrast to gloomy national reports. We’re pleased to report that Pacific Union is expanding again, this time launching Pacific Union International Property Management Inc. Kudos continue: A list of the top 1,000 real estate professionals and teams in the United States includes three from Pacific Union. Reports in the national news media declare that “the housing bust is over,” which comes as no surprise to homebuyers and sellers in the Bay Area.
JULY — Pacific Union’s exclusive interview with economist Stephen Levy makes clear that the economic recovery has reached all corners of the Bay Area and is enduring. Our Q2 Real Estate Report shows home sales are up more than 30 percent across the Bay Area, foretelling a strong year ahead.

AUGUST — The Bay Area continues to lead California’s economic recovery, and that’s good news for the region’s housing market. In a sign of how tight the housing market has become, the Oakland metro area is No. 1 in the nation for the greatest reduction of homes for sale. It’s also No. 1 for the shortest number of days on the market.
SEPTEMBER — Foreclosure activity drops sharply across the Bay Area, led by San Francisco, where notices of default — the first step in the foreclosure process — fall 71 percent from a year ago. The Bay Area’s red-hot real estate market continues to set records, with August home sales at a six-year high. Home ownership can bring big savings when compared with the cost of renting in San Francisco and Oakland, according to a report from the online real estate search service Trulia.
OCTOBER — The East Bay housing market has trailed San Francisco in its recovery from the recession, but recent reports suggest the region’s economy is poised for substantial growth in the coming year. Our Q3 Real Estate Report has plenty of good news in it: Home values are rising, foreclosures are dropping, and housing starts are increasing across the Bay Area. We’re on track to see the best year in housing since 2005 in many regions.
NOVEMBER — The monthly Case-Shiller home prices report confirms that home prices continue to rise at a steady pace across the Bay Area as well as nationwide, but a close look at the numbers also reveals much more: the extent of the housing market collapse five years ago and the strength of the recovery now under way.
DECEMBER —  The supply of homes for sale in the Bay Area remains severely constrained, but that hasn’t held back buyers. They’re snapping up properties at a pace we haven’t seen in at least six years. Tech companies like Pinterest and Square are increasingly choosing San Francisco over Silicon Valley for office space, and that’s having a direct effect on residential real estate in the city. The Bay Area continues to drive California’s economic recovery, with the state’s unemployment rate dropping below 10 percent for the first time in nearly four years. That’s a good sign for real estate markets.


Kyle Frazier, J.D. & Broker, Certified Luxury Home Marketing Marketing Specialist (CLHMS), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Realtor with Pacific Union | Christie’s International Real Estate. Call Kyle Frazier at 415/350-9440 for more luxury home market information in Marin County, California (the San Francisco Bay Area’s “North Bay”).