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

Marin County Luxury Homes Report (April 2010–Pacific Union International)

As with many of Marin County’s micro-markets, Marin’s luxury home market is showing signs of increased velocity and buyer optimism. As reported in previous months, “real buyers” continue to snap up homes in prestige locations such as Belvedere, Ross, Kent Woodlands, etc., along with “value” properties with locational upside, views of San Francisco, southern exposures, knolltop properties. In the $2 million to $4 million price band, sales have eclipsed last year’s low numbers, inventory is down significantly and the number of homes with accepted offers (in escrow) is very high. This combination of factors looks promising for continued improvement. And we are not alone — click HERE for a detailed snapshot of current national trends from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing. The below chart shows the dramatic increase in the number of luxury homes under contract in Marin County, as compared with last year.

$2 Million to $4 Million Luxury Homes

Following a lackluster January 2010, sales in February and March 2010 increased quite a bit, with 9 trades. Incredibly, we have another 28 homes currently in escrow (there were just 16 in escrow last month). This is a leading indicator of increased sales next month. Certainly, buyers are feeling some urge to buy as it appears that the overall economic environment is improving, the DJIA has trended up over 11,100, and the pricing in the marketplace suggests “value.” However, inventory remains low (although higher than last month) at just 96 homes on the market.

Cities recording March 2010 sales in this price band included: Belvedere (1), Tiburon (3), Mill Valley (1), and Kentfield (3). These homes averaged 141 days on market. Their average sales price was $2.627 million (roughly $660 per square foot), with an average of 4,062 square feet. The absorption rate for Marin homes in this price band is approximately 10 months.

$4 Million & Up Ultra-Luxury Homes

The low inventory level of Marin County’s ultra-luxury market (homes priced in the $4 million and up range) bumped upwards this month — we now have 50 homes for buyers to choose from, compared with 40 last month.

Note: As a member of the Marin Platinum Group, I have access to a database with several dozen luxury homes not currently offered on the MLS, but available for sale. Please contact me regarding your specific desires.

The highest concentrations of homes in this price band are Tiburon and Belvedere. Marin County experienced just one sale last month in this price band — a $6.5 million all-cash sale. Such limited sales activity vitiates the possibility of meaningful analysis. Sales are expected to pick up in the coming months as we head into the traditional selling season.

By: Kyle Frazier, Certified Luxury Home Marketing Marketing Specialist (CLHMS), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Broker Associate, Realtor | Christie’s Great Estates — Pacific Union International. Call Kyle Frazier at 415/350-9440 for more luxury home market information in San Francisco and Marin Counties.

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

The luxury home market in Marin County, California, which is vastly improved over a year ago, seems to have hit a comfortable level of activity. As reported in previous months, real buyers continue to homes in prestige locations with emphasis on views and lifestyle amenities (such as large usable yards, proximity to athletic clubs/shopping, reputable schools, and sensible scales). And they are seeking “value.” For the last 2 quarters, the Marin County luxury market has strongly favored homes priced under $3 million. [For a detailed snapshot of current national trends from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, click HERE. And if you would like a hyper-local report relating to any town or zip code in Marin or San Francisco, e-mail or call me at (415) 350-9440.]

The below graph tracks asking prices for 3 popular cities in Marin — Tiburon/Belvedere (they are combined here because they use the same zip code), Mill Valley, and Kentfield.

Year over year luxury market inventory levels in Mill Valley have hovered at around 20% higher than last year for 6 months (and are now down to about 15%). Meanwhile, inventory in Kentfield is up 40% and Tiburon – Belvedere inventory levels are over 60% higher than last year.

Below is a new chart focusing on the percentage of homes that have experiencd price reductions and the depth of those price reductions, on average. This chart examines these trends in Mill Valley and in Belvedere – Tiburon. It is perhaps not surprising that approximately 25% of listings in Tiburon – Belvedere have experienced a price reduction and those reductions average about 8%.

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

$2 Million to $4 Million Luxury Homes

Following a very strong October, November sales were also quite high given the typical seasonal slowdown. Buyer activity has sustained through November. With 13 sales, this November was stronger than anybody may have anticipated (there were 9 sales in October). Additionally we have 14 more homes in escrow. Certainly, previously patient buyers are feeling some urge to buy now as it appears that the poor economic environment may be improving and the pricing in the markerplace suggests “value.” Inventory is low, as is typical this time of year, with just 70 homes on the market between $2 million and $4 million.

Cities recording November 2009 sales in this price band included: Belvedere (2), Ross (1) Mill Valley (4), Larkspur (1), Tiburon (3), and San Rafael (2). These homes averaged 98 days on market. Their average sales price was $2.858 million (roughly $799 per square foot), with an average of 3,673 square feet. The absorption rate for Marin homes in this price band is about 5.3 months (down from 13 months in November — this huge reduction is the result of seasonally reduced inventory levels).

$4 Million & Up Ultra-Luxury Homes

The already low inventory level of Marin County’s ultra-luxury market (homes priced in the $4 million and up range) dipped slightly to 40 homes for sale (there was 47 such homes on the market in November 2009). The highest concentrations of homes in this price band are Tiburon and Belvedere. Marin County experienced just 2 sales last month in this price band and these homes had the following characteristics: days on market – 107, price – $5.237 million, square feet – 4,906, price per square foot – $1,059. Note that Christie’s Great Estates agents represented all buyers and sellers in last months ultra-luxury market segment in Marin County. 

By: Kyle Frazier, Certified Luxury Home Marketing Marketing Specialist (CLHMS), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Broker Associate, Realtor | Christie’s Great Estates — Morgan Lane International. Call Kyle Frazier at 415/350-9440 for more luxury home market information in San Francisco and Marin Counties.

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

Marin County, CA’s luxury real estate market segment continues to take shape in the aftermath of the equities meltdown of Fall 2008. In our New Economy, buyers are placing emphasis on prestige locations, sweeping views, grand appointments, compelling “estate history,” and impressive scale. The luxury market in Marin remains weighted towards homes priced under $4 million, although we did have 3 sales of homes priced over $4 million in July 2009. The number of sales in July 2009 is off by 74% from July 2008. The news is not all negative, however, as we had several significant properties trade last month and another 30 luxury homes are currently in escrow. For a detailed snapshot of current national trends from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing dated August 2, 2009, click here. Note, if you would like a local report relating to any town or zip code in Marin or San Francisco, call me at (415) 350-9440.

Buyers remain dubious of price stability for good reason (see chart below reflecting year over year median asking prices in Tiburon, Mill Valley, and Kentfield). But, increased conforming loan limits and a pronounced level of increased affordability across the board should help sales moving forward into the Fall as buyers with 25% down will obtain top-shelf financing for purchases of $1.6 million. While not necessarily “Luxury” territory here in Marin (although declining prices are putting some very nice homes into the sub-$2 million price bands), a sizable segment of buyers of luxury homes must sell their current homes first (80% of buyers are sellers). The chart below indicates that across the trend in Marin’s luxury segment is for lower prices — 10-25% lower than last year in Mill Valley, Belvedere, and Kentfield. 

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 rocketed nearly 90% higher this year compared with last year. In combination, Tiburon and Belvedere inventory levels are about 70% higher than last year. Prediction: Kentfield and Tiburon / Belvedere prices will continue to recede through Q4 2009. Indeed, we can see that trend has set in dramatically in the above chart which tracks asking prices of homes currently for sale.  

Among the sales last month, was a $9.8 million trade in Kentfield after just 3 days on the market. Our agents are noting a more focused approach by buyers. In addition, Carlos Santana’s San Rafael estate sold last month after just a couple of weeks on the market. Indeed, we are also starting to see buyers lose out on properties they loved because they assumed there was no urgency in writing an offer.
 
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

The definition of this market stat is: “Percentage of homes on the market that have decreased their asking price at least once over the past 90-day period.” In any market, even in strong seller’s markets, there will always be some number of properties that will decrease their listing price. These may include sellers that drastically overpriced their homes just “to see what they could get” or homes that simply entered the market at a price level above what the market will bear.

Even in strong seller’s markets, the Percent Price Decreased will be 10-12%, so some repricing of individual properties is common in any market. In weaker markets, this value begins rise into the teens, 20%, 30%, and higher. Percent Price Decreased is an incredibly insightful gauge of demand levels in the residential housing market. This statistic illustrates how many listed properties may be behind the “price curve” – listed at a price above what the market is willing to pay for similar properties. However, “Percent Price Decreased” alone does not indicate the overall health of a particular market. This statistic should be combined with other market stats to determine the overall direction of a market.
 
$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 over the past week, home sales in July 2009 were limited to six. It seems that there is a lot of home shopping going on, but few sales. Inventory has dipped to 126 homes on the market between $2 million and $4 million (down from 135 last month, but up from 110 in March).
 
Quick recap of 2009: Since the emergence of the “new economy” (post-October 2008), sales numbers in this price band are down. For example, there were 18 sales in October 2008 (a relatively strong time of year for sales and, of course, these buyers were well into their escrow periods at the time of the meltdown). Then, by February 2009, sales dipped to just 2. As things began to improve in April & May 2009, sales bumped up to 8. And June 2009 was relatively strong with 16 sales. Although that number fell to just 6 in July 2009, I believe we will pleased in coming months with sales numbers. Today, there are 25 homes in escrow in this price band. That portends stronger sales months to come.  
Cities recording sales in this price band included: Belvedere (2), Kentfield (1), Ross (2), and San Rafael (1). These homes averaged 61 days on market. Their average sales price was $2.993 million (roughly $747 per square foot), with an average of 4,177 square feet. As noted above we also have a stockpile of homes in the escrow pipeline, including homes in Belvedere (5), Tiburon (4), Sausalito (2), Mill Valley (4), Corte Madera (1), Larkspur (1), Ross (3), and Kentfield (3), and San Rafael (1). The absorption rate for Marin homes in this price band is up to 21 months. Most sellers seem to understand that they must position their home at the head of the line when it comes to pricing if they want to sell. 
$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 static with 54 homes for sale. The highest concentrations of homes in this price band are Tiburon, Belvedere, and Ross. Recent activity in this price band is improved. Marin County saw three homes sell last month, including a $9.8 million sale Kentfield, Carlos Santana’s San Rafael estate, and a spectacular Belvedere home. Moreover, there are an additional 5 homes currently in escrow in this price range (including 2 in both Belvedere and Ross). Marin cities and towns with homes priced over $4 million include Tiburon, Belvedere, Sausalito, Kentfield, Ross, Mill Valley, San Rafael, and Novato. The absorption rate for these homes is 18 months.  

Marin Cities & Towns

$2 Million — $4 Million

$4 Million & Up

Active

Pending

Active

Pending

Sausalito

12

2

7

0

Belvedere

26

5

10

2

Tiburon

20

4

21

1

Mill Valley

30

4

4

0

Larkspur

2

1

0

0

Corte Madera

0

1

0

0

Kentfield

11

3

2

0

Greenbrae

2

0

0

0

Ross

6

3

8

2

San Anselmo

6

0

0

0

San Rafael

6

1

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)

Call Kyle Frazier, Marin Realtor & CRS, Member of Institute of Luxury Home Marketing, Broker Associate, Morgan Lane Marin Real Estate, Pacific Union International, Christie’s Great Estates of Marin, 415/350-9440 for more luxury home market information. You can also e-mail Kyle at mailto:Kyle@ImagineMarin.com.