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Ted Strodder


415.377.5222
Golden Gate
Sotheby's International Realty
189 Sir Francis Drake Blvd
Greenbrae CA 94904

Marin Real Estate Blog

July 2017 in Marin: Will Warm Weather Cool Marin Market?

  It’s July in Marin and summer is officially here. Everybody’s outside: hiking, biking, beaching, barbecuing–you name it. Many residents also go away this month, taking advantage of our close proximity to Tahoe, the wine country, southern California or Hawaii. Call it a Getaway Month for Marin and getaway they do, including some home buyers and sellers, at least in past years. But what about this summer?


If you’ve followed this blog or the Bay Area housing market over the last ten years or so, you’ll know that July and August tend to be slow months for home sales. Sure properties remain for sale and buyers are still out there, but for the most part, people tend to take a breather from the frenetic pace of spring sales, choosing to do any number of things, as long as it doesn’t involve buying or selling a house. Normally that’s how it goes, anyway.
Last year was an exception, with July being one of the busiest on record. We aren’t exactly sure why, but likely it was due to still-low mortgage rates, along with the expectations that home prices were only set to rise another 8% for the year, which they did. While this July could be a repeat of last, interest rates are up close to half a point (though still very affordable), yet inventory still remains at record lows. We’ll have to see what happens, but multiple offers still prevail on most well-located, well-priced properties. And as you know, for every five offers, only one is successful with at least four buyers out there to bid on the next one.
My advice? Buyers, keep at it, even if it means changing a vacation plan, providing you don’t lose any deposits. It’s like our December/January market. If some of your fellow buyers are busy doing other things, buckle down and enjoy possibly less competition on that new listing in your favorite area.
Sellers, stay with it. As I’ve always said, if you want to sell, sell. Clean up and stage before you go on the market, even lightly. Anything helps, but without a good visual presentation, you won’t have a good portrait of what to show your visually-hungry home buyers.
The rest of you? Enjoy July! It’s a great month with lots to do in the county, or nearby. As always, let me know of any questions, thanks for reading and here’s to a great summer season for all of us.
TS
Text or call 415.377.5222 or ted@gomarin.com

June 2017 in Marin: Summer is Here, But Will Market Continue to Rise With Temperatures?

It’s officially Summer in Marin County. Warm weather, hikes, bikes, walks, wine country, beaches and barbecues–it’s all here, as it is in much of California. After record rains this winter, the hills are alive with greenery and wild flowers around local yards and the surrounding 75% of dedicated Open Space, making for some of the most beautiful vistas any of us have seen in a long time. What we don’t see, however, are a plethora of For Sale signs, and not just here.


A series of media stories have been covering the low inventory of housing nationwide. No question that resonates in Marin and many parts of the Bay Area, esp San Francisco. This is a trend that we saw begin, ironically, with the mortgage meltdown starting in 2007. While many of the big brains (and even Realtors) thought this would lead to a huge influx of homes for sale, the opposite occurred. People sold their boats, extra cars or vacation homes, but they hunkered down and kept the place where they lived. Who knew. I sure didn’t see that coming. But apparently the security and stability of a roof, beat out the risk of a traded security.

Affordability of housing versus income and buying power have also been covered in these posts, but there’s something else we’re hearing. Homeowners are opting to keep modified or low interest mortgages on their homes. Trading up or down LOOKS desirable, but they run the numbers on a bigger mortgage at a higher rate, and they often don’t like the results. So they stay put.

So all this adds up to a common response I give to a common question about moving: “Okay, I can sell your house, no problem. Where you gonna go?” And therein lies the rub, or one of them.

As always, let me know of any questions, thanks for reading and here’s to a great summer season for all of us.

TS

Text or call 415.377.5222 or ted@gomarin.com

May 2017 in Marin: Spring Market in Full Swing

Spring is here in Marin County with summer right around the corner. The wild flowers are popping up all over, thanks to the wettest winter on record for most of Northern California. The landscaping is alive and it’s beautiful.

So too are For Sale signs springing up, as smart sellers take advantage of a strong seller’s market and smart buyers lock in a low mortgage rate now, even if they feel they’re paying a price premium. Time has proven that this wound heals quickly in Marin as home prices just slowly march forward. Given the early home sales track record, we’re all hearing from the experts that it will be another increase in the average home price, roughly by 8%, just like last year. Not a high flying IPO return, but safe, secure and as Mark Cuban says, you can’t live in a stock or mutual fund. As we sometimes call it, your “enjoyment of use” far exceeds the price you have to pay to live in this great county.

For now, enjoy May, wherever you are. The sun is out in most parts of the country and certainly here. As I write this, we’re looking at 80 degree days all week and as you hear around town, it feels all that much better after so much rain.

As always, let me know of any questions, thanks for reading and here’s to a great spring season for all of us.

TS

Text or call 415.377.5222 or ted@gomarin.com

April 2017 in Marin: Spring Market is Here as Prices Spring Forth

Spring is here in Marin County and there’s greenery as far as the eye can see. Weeds in my yard, that is. I don’t recall having so many, so early. This will likely be a “double pull” year, where we have to have them yanked out now, and again in May/June. No matter, at least the hills are as green as they get, all over Northern California, not just here.


Meanwhile the housing market started its own spring forward, right along with the clocks. February rains pushed things back into March, but as soon as the clouds parted, so came out the For Sale signs, right along with the sun. New inventory was much-needed and the buyers responded in droves with multiple offers on nearly all the well-located, well-priced homes and condos. The successful buyers on each? Well, there’s a strategy there.

Most homes on the market in Marin will have an accompanying Disclosure Packet along with the full color property brochure. Those packets contain a lot of boiler plate CA forms, but also often have recent Sewer Lateral, Home and Pest Inspections. If that’s the case, smart buyers will sign off on these and go in with a very short (or no) Inspection Contingency Period. It’s risky, but as long as you can spend days going over the inspections and back to the house for several visuals, you could be the winning bidder. Providing you meet one other popular criteria, that is: No Loan Contingency or All Cash.

That’s right, over half of all offers now have no loan attached at all, with buyers cashing in high flying stocks or using past equity (or both) to avoid a mortgage. I’ve overheard some strategy sessions here and the prevailing thinking is that there likely is no safer place for their hard-earned money. I tend to agree with that, but I’ve never been much of a stock player or gambler, either, so I may not be the one to ask.

Or, my favorite plan, is to get a fully approved (or preapproved) loan and just go in without a loan contingency. Considering the last few underpriced listings have had north of ten offers on them, real buyers have to put real buying packets together. Even then, they still may not win, leaving them and many others still out there looking. But with the desirability to enjoy the quality of life here not stopping anytime soon, it can be risky to wait. For every ten buyers on any given property, only one wins, leaving nine still out there looking, cash in hand. And every closing sets the bar for the next somewhat similar home for sale. Just keep looking forward, not at today, and you’ll be fine, I promise.

For now, enjoy April, wherever you are. As always, let me know of any questions, thanks for reading and here’s to a great spring season for all of us.

TS

March 2017: Marin Market Marches Forward

March is here in Marin, following the wettest February on record, for us and for the state. Record rains filled reservoirs to capacity (or beyond) all over northern California, signalling an end to the drought and much relief to central valley farmers. Things should start drying out this month and next, but what about the housing market. Will the drought of new inventory also end? Possibly, given all we know. Here’s more on that, but let’s back up a couple months.

December and January are snail-slow for Marin County real estate. The weather, the holidays, vacations, more weather, who really knows why. But typically, things start to crank up in mid February and by March 1st, the selling season is in full swing. Not so this year. The relentless rains pounded the county and most home sellers into submission, leaving our morning computer screens nearly empty with new, Active inventory addresses. Properties still went into escrow, showing as Contingent, Pending or ultimately Sold, further decreasing what few listings were available. Increasing demand, limited, fixed supply: it’s all math and we don’t see any change with that as more people pour into the state.

Smart sellers who keep in step with our slow appreciation and price right are usually rewarded with at least one strong offer. But over-pricing is still rampant and can often result in a final sale price below what most of us saw as true market value.

Buyers stepping in (or back in after the winter break), you will see more properties hit the market from now, straight thru June. From there, it could be the usual July 5th summer break, which also lasts approximately two months. So by April / May, hopefully you’ll find something that is a 6 out of 10 for you. If it is, take a hard look at it. If it’s 7, 8, or even a 9 out of 10, make a strong offer. (There is no 10 out of 10, regardless of price range.) Just don’t worry. Time heals all offer-shock wounds in Marin. Give it a few months, you’ll never regret it.

For now, enjoy March, wherever you are. As always, let me know of any questions, thanks for reading and here’s to a great spring season for all of us.

TS

Text or call 415.377.5222 or <a href=mailto:ted@gomarin.com>ted@gomarin.com</a>

It’s February in Marin and what a pounding we’ve had. Not from politics, the weather. With nearly 60 inches of rain locally and over 15 ft of snow in Tahoe, it’s safe to say that winter is definitely here. The winter of old, too, filling all our reservoirs for many days to come and lifting the drought in many northern parts of the state.


Meanwhile, in Washington, the new president made a record 20 executive amendments in his first 10 days, sending the clear signal that changes are on the way for the country. Some may ultimately impact the financial or lending worlds, but what does that mean for us? As you’ve probably heard most of the experts say, “Who knows”, and I agree. We have no history here of this volume of changes, past or future. All we can do is sit back and watch. And hope for the best.

For the Marin housing market, not much change in the last month: pretty much the same with high buyer demand and low inventory, but we expect both of those TO change soon. That is, more of each.

Our selling season starts early here, usually in February. But if it’s a month of rain (like January), that could delay new listings from hitting the market. Either way, more homes should be coming up for sale. Just don’t look for a flood, more of a trickle, unlike what the heavens have been unleashing on us.

February also brings more buyers to the market, growing in size as the weather warms up. Smart one’s will buy now, before the open houses get packed. Though I know it would be tempting to think the (near) perfect house may be just around the corner. My advice: don’t wait. Prices are likely to just continue up, slowly but surely, so why not lock in a price (and a property tax value) now, especially if you’re getting a mortgage. Just remember, without compromise and flexibility, you’re probably just going to keep looking forever.

For now, enjoy February, wherever you are. As always, let me know of any questions, thanks for reading and here’s to a great 2017!

TS

Text or call 415.377.5222 or ted@gomarin.com

2017 in Marin: Where We’ve Been and Where Might We Be Going

It’s 2017 and the watch words seem to range from “yikes” to “look out”. And that’s just talking about Mariah Carey’s next singing performance. Did you see that replay from NYE? Yikes. And she knew what was coming! There is a parallel here with the Marin housing market as many buyers seemed to also know what was coming.


Since we have nothing prerecorded to mess up on the lip synch, all we can do is look to where we’ve been to try and guess where we might be going. We often used the boating analogy here. When trying to navigate a straight line, a good captain will often turn around to look at the line they’ve just made. To see where they’re going, they look back at where they’ve been. I’ve tried this at the wheel of a boat and it works. I thought I was steering a straight course up a channel, only to look back and see I’d drifted a bit. You can use this concept in relationships or, in this case, in real estate.

Looking back, we can see a very steady course for Marin real estate. A low, fixed supply of properties coupled with a high, increasing demand to live here made for a healthy course of slow appreciation. And nothing points for this trend to end, not unless they somehow convert some of our 75% of dedicated public open space to housing, but we all know that isn’t happening anytime this century.

For the year, 2086 homes sold with the median at exactly  $1,200,000, which was $25,000 over the median asking price and 9% above last year, which was 9% over 2015. The average Days on Market (DOM) was up to 49, but the sought after locations sold with more than one offer in closer to 10 days. Smart buyers looked ahead to see no changes in the supply/demand dynamic and usually ponied up more than they wanted to pay: a tough decision to make, but one that was ultimately rewarding as values continued their slow rise. But will that continue?

Well, not to go silent while the soundtrack plays, like Mariah, but I just don’t know. We have an unprecedented new president, economic changes coming and mortgage rates likely on the rise. The first two, who knows, but the latter we can predict. As home loan rates increase, buyers tend to scramble and buy in the near term, further shrinking the supply. But as they continue up, many homeowners will opt to stay where they are, locked in to their cheap loan payment instead of trading up to a bigger home, but at a higher mortgage rate. This usually shrinks the inventory even further.

So what’s a buyer or seller to do? If you have to move, just move. The other situations are too numerous to cover, but if you keep in mind the enjoyment you’ll get out of your new home, you’ll likely forget about the small extra monthly increase. Just remember that very few residents stay in their house for 30 full years, so if you opt for a 5,7 or 10 year fixed rate loan, you’ll join the masses who often go this way. Until then, I’m as curious as you are to see what this year brings to our country (and county) as you might be.

For now, enjoy January, wherever you are. As always, let me know of any questions, thanks for reading and here’s to a great 2017!

TS

Text or call 415.377.5222 or <a href=mailto:ted@gomarin.com>ted@gomarin.com</a>

December in Marin: A Usual Slow Month For Home Sales as Buyers Wait for New Inventory

A chilly start to December brought out the down jackets and lovely holiday sweaters for many in Marin. I asked a few local retailers who said that Black Friday was a busy one, but the rain dampened the ensuing shopping days. If the early reports are accurate, many of those ventured to their screens to order, rather than to the mall, making it the busiest online shopping start ever. Not ironically, that’s what most do to shop for homes already anyway, so why not order the latest gadget with your mouse while viewing the latest listing from Marin? Nearly all do now, but let’s have a look at that.

christmastreeclose
Back in the mid 90’s (aka the Jurassic Era) real estate formed a relationship with the newly-introduced world wide web. The once-a-week printed MLS book was already long gone, but even by ’98, there was no clear method for the public (non-Realtors) to browse for homes on the internet. Many of us pasted a “Public Link” into our websites, which allowed any viewer to see a limited amount of data on any listed property. But the sites themselves were deplorable in content by today’s standards. They were usually based on a template for around $500, with 5-6 color patterns to choose from. Custom sites ranged upwards of $5k – $15k and were out there, but rare, and they still lacked good integration of data and internal links. Today, many website templates are free, or close to it. The purveyors make their money off of hosting ($50-$500 a month) with a confusing offering of SEO placement gimmicks, few of which seem to work. But these new websites always contain a new home search widget or link that goes directly to your local MLS at no charge, and with all the photos and data your agent sees. But few visitors even use those. Why? Hint: starts with a Z….

That’s right, Zillow / Trulia now virtually controls all the online searches for homes. By the year 2000, “over 50% of all home searches started online”, which was a whopping number to all of us. That slowly crept up and today, that number is at virtually 100% of buyers or sellers starting their search on the internet.

I mean, why not? You’re in your comfies and slippers, in your own home or sneaking in a bit of personal screen time from the office (on a break, always on a break). You, the general public, now see everything your agent see’s and usually in real time. (Zillow still only updates twice a day, but we’re expecting that to change in 2017). But all the 42 photos, video and drone aerials are there, along with a Google mapping feature that helps you to know all about any property before even getting in your car. It’s like Cyber Monday every day of the year. It saves time and gas, as that under-priced new listing quickly reveals to be right next to the freeway, something the photos omitted, but the map did not.

Looking to buy or sell in 2017? Go for it. Inventory will remain low, but at least beyond the nearly nonexistent numbers we’re seeing now. In some or our smaller towns, there may be only 1-2 homes for sale, or as we saw in centrally located Greenbrae last month 0 homes for sale over a two week period. A first ever, for me, as there usually is something on the market in any price range.

But with more people choosing to move into Marin instead of out, look for this trend to continue into the future. Yes there will be more homes on the market in the spring, but there will also be more buyers, so get ready to bid on anything that looks tempting, just be careful about losing out if you really like it. Every sale sets the bar for the next one down the street (so to speak) and that price will always be higher if the property components are roughly the same as the last Sold home.

For now, enjoy December, wherever you are. As always, let me know of any questions, thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!

TS

Text or call 415.377.5222 or ted@gomarin.com

This Month in Marin: Will It Be a November to Remember?

November is here in Marin and the big story is the elec–sorry, the weather. We seem to have gone right past fall and into an early winter, at least if you look at all the recent rain we’ve had. Those of us parents who ventured into the monsoon called Halloween found it the wettest ever, easily. But what about the real estate market in Marin, will it be any different this month than in those of the past few years? The answer is, sort of, but not really.

thanksgiving2
October, November and December are typically our slowest months. Many sellers withdraw their homes from the market for the holidays, with many buyers shutting down their home search at the same time. I often think this is a mistake for both parties. For a seller, if there is just one home (or no homes) for sale like yours in the area, why not go on MLS and see what happens? Give it just a month, even. You can always pull it off and relaunch in the spring.

And buyers, if most of your competition is watching football on weekends and avoiding the rain, why not venture out and see what’s for sale? It’s free to look and you never know. But I would not bet against prices this spring. They rise slowly here, but rise they do and even a small 5% gain can amount to a lot of money out of your pocket (and the bank’s).

October was a typical sales month as buyers continued to buy, though the turn out for multiple offers dropped into the 3-5 range, down from the 5-10 offers we saw in September. I guess that’s “slow” by Marin terms. Look for fewer listings to hit the market in the weeks to come as people start to focus on the holidays. But buyers, if you see anything remotely close out there, maybe jump on it. We don’t see prices dropping anytime soon, given the economic climates both nationally and locally.

For now, enjoy this month, wherever you are. As always, let me know of any questions and thanks for reading and have a Happy November!

TS

Text or call 415.377.5222 or <a href=mailto:ted@gomarin.com>ted@gomarin.com</a>

September in Marin: A Short Summer Ends, But Where Goes the Market After Labor Day?

September is here in our gorgeous county. This is our best weather month, at least for those who like warm sunny days and clear skies. It’s a near-perfect time to enjoy any of the local or nearby outdoor activities, including the harvest and crush in the wine country. That’s always spectacular if you haven’t been there.

The kids are also back in school, making the drop off / pick up hours a little more packed on the roads. But given that residents chose to eliminate buses years ago and put the money into the schools, that leaves us as the drivers and I think most of us are happy to do it. I for one love driving my kids to school or picking them up to hear about their day and what’s current. They’ll be out before I know it, so I’m grabbing it while I can and loving every minute of being a dad.

Fallcolorstrees
We have some of the best public (and private) schools in the state and it shows in the enthusiasm the kids have to show up and be a part of it. They’ve got every indoor, outdoor, art and sport activity you can think of, plus after school groups, projects and events to keep them engaged in learning. A far cry from the lousy school I went to as a kid, I can tell you. But at least we had a full three months of summer back then, not the weak two months these guys are stuck with today. The summer flies by for them, but I digress from the beat of this blog, which is real estate. More specifically, what will happen after Labor Day?

If you read this blog, you know where we’ve been: low supply levels of homes for (what seems to be) a growing demand to live here. Combine that with historic low interest rates and you’ve got a strong market for sellers, with buyers left to “compromise and flexibility” as their watch words to success.

September tends to be the last big push for real estate, with sellers capturing the great weather and buyers hoping to close and be moved in by Thanksgiving. More listings will hit the market this month, but it will be interesting to see how many and if it will slow the price advances we tend to see this time of year.

Buyers, if you’re waiting for a price drop, you may be out of luck. The demand to live here far exceeds whatever you think it is, I can pretty much guarantee you. Every busy agent I know has a dozen or so buyers looking in a variety of price ranges in areas, some for a year or even far more. Every listing that has five offers on it means four buyers remain in the market, with another one or two likely to jump in this month.

Also, don’t try and time the market. Not that we are reading about anything on the horizon, but experts say it would take a long, slow economic recession to lower home prices, which could take months or years. As they say, we won’t know we’re in this or any trend until we’re six months into it. So be careful. If a home looks good to you, hopefully that will be good enough and you can make a compelling offer and enjoy the holidays at your new place.

For now, enjoy this great weather, wherever you are. As always, let me know of any questions and thanks for reading and Happy September!

TS

Text or call 415.377.5222 or email ted@gomarin.com.