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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

“As Winter Approaches Will Jerome Powell and the Fed Rain on Marin Home Prices?”

It’s November in Marin, with cool weather in the forecast as we move into winter. Heck, it even rained the last couple of days. I know, right? Rain, one big 1/4″ of it. Now to what this blog is really about: whether or not this cloudy weather is going to impact Marin home sales and prices.

If you follow this or any other publication nationwide, you already know that real estate sales and values have both changed, often dramatically depending on the location. This continues to be a very localized market dynamic though, often with sales and prices varying greatly depending on a few factors. Prices in Milwaukee are usually far different than they are in Mill Valley, mainly due to the abundance of buildable land back there and the lack of it right here. There is an abundance of listings nationwide right now, while inventory remains low here in Marin. But why is that?

The reasons are many, but most accounts point to the trade factor. Sellers have to become buyers, which means they may reap the rewards of a nice price when they sell, but now they have to buy and the real estate shoe is now on the other foot, so to speak. They now face all those challenges their  buyers faced, not the least of which is not a lot of houses to choose from. This is why I advise all sellers before they hit the market, “Become the buyer and pretend you’re out looking for a house. What price and condition do you want to see in the market that day?” It helps tremendously to look at it like this when selling anything from a car to a house, or in between. 

The second reason is a perceived affordability of a new, often much higher mortgage interest rate. Many homeowners contemplating selling today are frozen in their tracks (often literally in places like Milwaukee) when they see they’re giving up their 3% mortgage for one approaching 7% or even beyond. Some of them sell, especially if they already own a home somewhere else. But those with no house to move to and no mortgage already in place are stalling and not selling. Therein lies the Low Inventory Blues, at it were. 

While slowing has been prevalent here over the last six months, buyers continue to buy. People need a place to live, after all, and with rents high it often becomes a smart rental alternative to own something, even if it’s not your end all first choice of a home. I’ve had several buyers do this in the last couple of months with great results. They don’t have a landlord and they get some much needed tax advantages to owning versus renting. While home prices are certainly down here, the market is not out. Marin home buyers still value our quality of life and the long term return on that investment with years of enjoyment to follow.  

That’s it for now. It’s a whole new world and I for one am very curious to see what happens. In my thirty-five years of doing this, I’ve never seen anything like what we have now with sales moving up ever so slowly, even in the face of often severe price reductions in over-built areas nationwide. Until next time, enjoy November wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

“No September Slump Seen in Marin Yet Despite Price and Sales Drop Off Elsewhere”

It’s September in Marin, with some of our best weather this month and next. Warm temperatures are the norm temperatures for the next eight weeks before the ultimate fall cooling kicks in. Whether or not the real estate market cools is a whole other story, though we’ve only seen a trace of what other parts of the country are getting. Google the words “real estate market” and you will get over a billion results (1,160,000,000) as of today. If you scroll through you’ll see not one site boasts anything to do with a strong home sales market or prices going up. Quite the opposite, as a matter of fact. I stay on top of some YouTube channels that are fairly balanced in their approach here but the one take away you’ll get (though not overtly) is that it’s a regional phenomenon, one that often varies by neighborhood or town. Given how eclectic Marin can be with housing variations, it’s tough to generalize much here with market trends. One house can sell in a week with five offers still today while the one across the street sits for weeks or months as it doesn’t have the same yard, view, layout, etc. So we continue to buck the national trend due to our fixed supply and growing demand. 

Who knows what lies ahead going forward, but smart sellers are pricing “effectively” to sell, not sit on the market. For the month, 238 homes sold here, which is down 100 from August last year, but inventory is also lower. If homeowners continue to stay and not sell, we should see the same healthy balance going forward. 

Meantime, buyers are still stepping up and buying, often after one or even two price reductions. Yes mortgage rates are higher, but not exactly “high” if you look over time. Many of my buyers think rates are still cheap around 5%, given what they saw in the 80’s and 90’s. I’ve heard more than once that their plan is to refinance in a few years when rates likely will ease and come down. 

That’s it for September. It’s a whole new world and I for one am very curious to see what happens. In my thirty-five years of doing this, I’ve never seen anything like what we have now with sales moving up ever so slowly, even in the face of often severe price reductions in over-built areas nationwide. Until next time, enjoy September wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

“August Arrives With a Tale of Diverse Markets Nationwide”

August is here in Marin, bringing more warm temperatures to the county and the local housing market, despite widespread–and often severe–cooling in other areas. It’s impossible not to see some news alert on your phone and computer about a changing housing market nationwide. Inventory is rising and prices are dropping to some degree in all fifty states, with those high growth areas being the hardest hit. This is especially the case in any city where prices rose up to 100% in just two years, reminding us of the hare that drops out before the race is over. This includes Phoenix, Austin, Nashville, Charlotte, Denver and Boise–all places where we heard people were moving to given the cheap housing. Unfortunately, what goes up rapidly often drops just as fast with the housing market. The 15% a year average appreciation we saw in Marin made us the tortoise, but buyers and homeowners here are being rewarded as we watch the headlines in many cities, not just those listed above. Even as that appreciation was just 5% last month, there are plenty of places where they saw a decline of that figure, often many times over. 

The bigger question is where we go from here. I have no idea, is the safe answer, but given what I see on my screen each day, I have to believe we keep plodding forward, even if it’s slightly. There are just too many buyers out there, even today, and just not enough houses. We saw a place on Alta Way in Corte Madera close last week with 14 offers on it and $800k over asking to close at just over $3 mil. Extraordinary, yes, but remember that leaves 13 buyers (at the least) out there still, looking for a single level home on a nice lot, just like that.   

For the record, the the median home price dropped to $1.875 mil and the average down to $2.1 mil for the year. The median likely decreases going forward as more lower end properties sell than higher end homes, especially over $5 mil.  

That’s it for August. It’s a whole new world and I for one am very curious to see what happens. In my thirty-five years of doing this, I’ve never seen anything like what we have right now, even in the face of higher (though certainly not “high”) interest rates. Until next time, enjoy August wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

“Marin Home Sales Continue But Not in All Price Ranges, Cooling Underway in Other Areas”

July is here in Marin with nothing but warm temperatures and daily sunshine that–like most things–is ahead of last year. It’s a little hotter each year here, along with other parts of the US, but not so much with the housing market. Home sales and the economy are near the top of everybody’s talking list these days as we’re all touched by both of those to some degree. While prices and sales continued to move up in May and June, it was at a much slower pace than a year ago. And while many other parts of the country have cooled (or have gone cold) at least there is a pace here, even if it’s plodding along and it’s certainly not in all price ranges.

As usual, the median and average price ranges continue to dominate the sales stats. You’ll see below that is now $2 mil and roughly $2.6 mil respectively, with 112 sales being right there in the $1 mil – $2 mil mark, with approx half that in the $2 mil – $3 mil range. Still a strong showing $4 mil – $5 mil, but very quiet over $5 mil though. 

Take a look at the two charts here:

Marin Market Snapshot June 2022
Marin Market Inventory Snapshot June 2022

The big question (which I get almost daily) is where we go from here. Despite the availability of good charts, we’re very much in uncharted territory here. While we really don’t know beyond a month down the road, I can say that sales are still strong for those properties that are smartly priced and check a few boxes for buyers, at least in the $1 mil – $3 mil range. Those homes still sell every single day, including yesterday and the day before that. So demand continues and supply is still limited, but for those homes that aren’t well-priced or box-checkers, look out. It could be a long cool summer for you. So if you’re a seller, listen to your agent and don’t over-price. If you’re a buyer and looking for a long term (more than five years) home, don’t pass up an opportunity hoping the price drops. Just because you read an article about a crumbling market in Austin, Phoenix or Denver, it doesn’t mean it’s happening here. All those areas (and many more) saw tens of thousands of new homes being built, flooding the market and with many more to come. As I’ve said for months now, “look out” if you’re a seller there. Prices are tumbling down, big time. But luckily for sellers here, we still have a fixed supply of homes with a still-growing demand to live here. 

That’s it for now. It’s a whole new world and I for one am very curious to see what happens. In my thirty-five years of doing this, I’ve never seen anything like what we have right now, even in the face of higher (though certainly not “high”) interest rates. Until next time, enjoy July wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

“Buyers and Sellers Watch For a June Swoon as Market Cools Nationwide”

Is it really June already? Man, where does the time go. It’s so frenetic lately I often don’t know what day it is. Mid week is the worst with Tues-Thurs often being a blur, given it’s been a seven days work week for two straight years now. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and am blessed to work with (and around) some terrific people. So if it continues like this, I’m absolutely fine with that. I just don’t know. There may be a slight cool down coming and a return to normality, which is also fine, as long as my buyers or sellers get where they want to go. The big question is, at what cost? For that, we go to some recent data, both nationwide and locally.   

Corelogic just posted another uptick of 20% appreciation over the last 12 months on their U.S. Home Price Insights. You’ll see some easy to read charts, along with some not-so-easy-to-read ones, but you’ll note a forecast of only a 5.9% increase in home prices over the next year. That’s a significant reduction and due in part to both the release of thousands of newly constructed homes throughout the country, but also rising interest rates and a declining stock market. But it is on prices nationwide, not in all areas. Predictions are that many of the smaller, regional markets may outperform that, albeit slightly. Home prices in the Bay Area and Marin are forecast to rise only 7%-9% which is our typical average and a far more normal market. Given there’s no new construction here, we’re still subject to higher interest rates and economic volatility in the stock market. We’ll see where we go, but a cooling will certainly be a welcome sight to many buyers, mine included. 

Many of us busy, usually productive agents have had several buyers lose out on properties in the last few months. The normal 5-10 multiple offers pushed prices up into a range that none of us were comfortable with, for starters. Also, many winning offers are all cash with no mortgage, which isn’t a smart or safe practice unless your net worth is a 5X on whatever you’re purchasing. Always carry a mortgage if you can, they’ve always said and I believe in that. Even if you’re paying 5% interest, after your tax write off, it’s much closer to a net of 3%. So if any of you have lost out to an offer that’s way over any reasonable value, don’t worry. Be cautious and be patient as if feels like the market will adjust to you, at least given all we’re hearing and reading. 

Sellers? Step lightly and with great caution also. Listen to your agent and do all the required fix up, no matter how long or for how much $$. When you’re ready, check your Zestimate on Zillow and don’t be afraid to price 5% under that. You may have only one chance to grab a buyer in the next thirty days, no matter what month that thirty days is in. If you price it right, you could still see multiple offers (as we’re seeing here). If not, you’ll be priced to sit, not priced to sell, with buyers looking at what’s wrong with it, not what’s right with it, which is happening here too and everywhere else. The selling season is now and usually only goes through July for the most part. If you don’t want to really sell and just want to try it and put your toe out there in selling pool, go ahead. Most agents will work with you and invest time on your behalf as you never know what may happen.   

That’s it for now. It’s a whole new world and I for one am very curious to see what happens. In my thirty-five years of doing this, I’ve never seen anything like what we have right now with strong demand and limited supply, coupled with a very dynamic, ever-changing economy. Until next time, enjoy June wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

May Marin Market: Same Story One Year Later

May is here in Marin and as I stand at my ergonomic desk to write this, something occurs to me: So little has changed in the past year, I could take the newsletter for last May and just cut and paste it here. The home buying frenzy has continued, despite a much lower stock market and much higher interest rates, neither of which has slowed buyers seeking the new dynamic of what “home” means. It’s now a much more important place to call live, work and play, not just a place to sleep. This has nudged buyers to write bigger and bigger offers, believing this will be a 15-20 year home, so why not pay a little more today for a great place to live? At least this is what we’re seeing in the nicer areas of California. Anyway, here’s what I said 12 months ago. See if this sounds familiar: 

May 1, 2021

As the sun warms the county, people are moving from indoors to out. Given the new relaxed mask mandate, out they will go. We’ve all been cooped up and restricted for much too long and this summer couldn’t come at a better time. Walk the trails, ride the bike paths or just stroll the open air malls of Corte Madera these days. Not only can you see the relief in people’s eyes, you can feel it.

Unfortunately, there’s not much relief for Marin home buyers these days. Inventory remains at record lows, with home sales setting new highs every day, though with higher values, not higher volume. This is good news for sellers, but most of those folks are going to turn right around and become buyers. Very few go back to renting. As I say when I counsel folks when they’re proposing to sell, “Great, your house will sell quickly and likely at a record price for the neighborhood. Now where you gonna go?” 

See what I mean? Still the same low inventory of homes and high inventory of buyers, though the next few months will be very telling on that. May and June tend to be a big buying and selling season for Marin, with people trying to get their housing plans locked and in place by the end of July. Any interest rate increase usually propels buyers forward even further (and often faster) for fear of higher rates to come. That’s how it’s gone for the last three decades for me, anyway, but we’ll see this year. It’s a new world, so we won’t know where we’re going until we look back and see where we’ve been. For now, it appears to be more of the same. Until next time, enjoy May wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

“Hey Ted, When is the Market Going to Slow Down?”

It’s April already in Marin and what a frenetic start to our year with the local real estate market. As you may have read last month, it’s been just as crazy as you think it has with multiple offers and home prices being moved up slowly and methodically. It’s not hard to figure out why, given the supply and demand economy of the housing market. People continue to want to live here more than most places due to the quality of life, we get it. It’s not hard to figure out how long it’s going to last and where prices might be going, though it’s a question I’m asked at least once a day, and that’s just from my kids. 

We have some of the lowest numbers for available housing inventory I’ve seen in my 36 years of doing this. Back in the day, we’d have anywhere from 1,000 – 1,200 combined homes and condo’s to show prospective buyers. Today, that number is exactly 173, ranging from a low of $125k for a retirement home condo in San Rafael to a spectacular $60 mil Sotheby’s listing in Belvedere. If that’s too rich for you, the next highest is a mere $39 mil we’re also offering in Belvedere with the prices just dropping from there to $31 mil and on down. But in all of our twelve towns: 

  • Only 14 of those are priced under $1 mil
  • Only 40 are priced $1 mil – $2 mil
  • And 34 of those are in the $2 mil -$3 mil range  

Not a lot to choose from if you have a list of boxes you need to check for that next house. At least you won’t use a lot of gas at $6 a gallon, driving around to look at half a dozen homes to choose from. If you have more than one, you’re right in the norm. 

As for buyers, we have some of the highest numbers of those I’ve ever seen. Way back when, any agent would have maybe 2-3 well-qualified buyers they were working with. Some of those had a house to sell, meaning they were a “Contingent” buyer, though there was always a 14 day inspection contingency and a 21 day loan contingency with every written offer. Today, we all seem to have at least 5-6 active buyers, none of whom have a house to sell and all of which have read a complete Disclosure Packet in advance, all are fully loan approved or all cash too, meaning no contingencies at all. They offer over asking, and they still may not be successful, so it’s on to the next one with all the other second place finishers. But how long can this continue? The answer is “Not forever, and while there’s still no end in sight, things may be changing due to higher interest rates, high inflation and world wide economic uncertainty.”

Mortgage rates have risen over a full point in the last year, up from around 2.75% to approx 4% today. This is due in part to the Fed raising their rates once already, but more importantly, there are six more hikes coming this year alone. Read the full US News article here, but you already know the easy math: the higher the mortgage payment, the lesser the home value. But that doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Even with these higher mortgage rates, buyers continue to just shake it off and be thankful it’s not the 7% average their parents had. Who knows, going forward, but unless we have some unforeseen huge uptick in new listings, I for one see buying activity remaining very active in the next 3 months. After that, my crystal ball gets very foggy, but for now, think “hot” but not necessarily “boiling”. 

That pretty much does it. Enjoy April wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

Marin Market Marches on and Yes, All Those Stories Are True

March is here in Marin and what a first two months of the year we’ve had. A lot has happened nationwide and world wide, but this is a real estate blog, so let’s get right to that. As you see in the heading here, it’s just as crazy as you think it is and the stories you’re hearing are likely true. Honestly, you can’t know the half of it given you aren’t in my chair seven days a week, so you’re hearing just a fraction of what’s actually going on. Close to zero inventory, multiple multiple whopping over asking offers by 15 different buyers, you name it. All true with all the data to back it up as buyers from surrounding areas or transplants use whatever powers they have to move to Marin, or at least try. One of the questions you may have is, “When is it going to slowdown or stop”. The answer to that, as you probably know is, “We’ll have to wait and see, but no time soon”. Two reasons for that.

  1. With 15 offers on any given property, that still leaves 14 active buyers out there, cash in hand, loans ready to go (if a loan is needed at all) and no house to sell, only one needed to buy. Add to that list of 14 buyers a couple more who join the fray each week and you can see how the demand is being continually fueled and if the supply doesn’t keep in step and also go up, prices rise. 
  2. As with any major asset market, we don’t know where a bottom or top is until we’re passed it. In our case, that’s usually 6 months out. Things can start slowing over the course of 3 months, but a real, documentable slowdown doesn’t kick in until 6 full months of any trend. We don’t know where we are until we’re well passed were we’ve been.  

Going forward, there’s no doubt things are going to remain very active in the near term, well into Q2. If you read this blog regularly, you’ll see that as a departure from what the forecast was for January and February. We all thought we saw a slight cooling trend coming, but that never happened, not even close. Maybe it’s our unseasonable nice weather, the threat of higher mortgage rates, or the new importance of house becoming a real home to fully enjoy. But for now, the frenetic buying continues. Check in next month to see where we are. Should be very interesting. 

That pretty much does it. Enjoy March wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

January Jump in Home Sales and Values as the Sun Shines on Marin

February is here in Marin and while the rains of December and January abated, the buying of Marin real estate did not. Tahoe got dumped on with snow and our reservoirs got restocked with fresh water, but fresh inventory of homes in all areas was at the lowest I can recall in all my years of doing this. At one point last month, there were only 47 single family homes for sale in the entire county. It’s not much better today as that number is still less than a hundred at only 96. That’s in all price ranges. If you narrow it down to homes under $2 mil, there are only 49. Under $1 mil and there are only 10 houses to choose from in the entire county. Given the demand for East Bay and SF buyers who want to flee their cities for a safer, more tranquil environment, it’s hard to see how any homes are going to last in this market. We’ll see how long it continues.

Mortgage rates are set to start inching up further in March, so the big brains say. But they’re already up nearly a full point from a year ago and still, no slow down. Remember, it’s only early February. Our home buying season tends to start in the middle of this month, just after the Superbowl, but you wouldn’t know it. It’s busy as can be. 

I had a lot of comments on these figures from last year, so I wanted to print them again here. For the year in 2021:

  •      2075 single family homes were sold, down from 2312 in 2020
  •      The average sale price was $2,151,000, up 15% from $1,814,000
  •      (Note: 15% was also the national increase in average sales price for the country in 2021)
  •      Sale prices averaged 99% of asking price, though whopping over asking sales were frequent
  •      The average price per sq ft was $912 adjusted heavily for level land and condition, among others
  •      Average Days on Market was 28, but the median was only 14

Going forward, I still see a continued “up” market for 2022, though perhaps not as robust as 2021 or the last half of 2020 even. Think “hot” instead of “boiling”. For now, that pretty much does it. Enjoy February and this entire new year, wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

Lots of Fresh Water Brings a Fresh Beginning for a Great New Year in 2022

Wow. What a difference a month makes. Just thirty days ago I wrote a blog about the importance of rain and water for our county. It’s like somebody above was reading that as the skies opened up and boom! Rain for days, with over 40″ falling in December. That’s 220% of normal for that month and a start to filling our dry reservoirs here and throughout the state. We aren’t out of trouble just yet, but with more storms forecast even this week, we’re at least well on our way to a good, healthy winter of rain and Sierra snowpack. 

That’s looking ahead. Looking back and water woes aside, what a year it was for Marin real estate, along with much of the nation for that matter. For the year in 2021:

  •      2075 single family homes were sold, down from 2312 in 2020
  •      The average sale price was $2,151,000, up 15% from $1,814,000
  •      Sale prices averaged 99% of asking price, though whopping over asking sales were frequent
  •      The average price per sq ft was $912 adjusted heavily for level land and condition, among others
  •      Average Days on Market was 28, but the median was only 14

That’s where we’ve been. Now let’s see where we’re going. The answer is two simple words: Who knows. It used to be much easier to predict, looking at historical charts and economic headlines. That’s all different now, thanks to Covid. Home sales skyrocketed when we all were certain they would fall. Buyers moved when we all thought they would stay. Sellers relocated to new climates, whatever that looked like to them, but often out of their city, their neighborhood, or even out of California. Our population likely will remain flat at just under 40 million people, but the figures aren’t officially in yet. Still, considering how many residents we lost due to illness or old age, it’s a wonder we aren’t down significantly. 

If it matters, I for one see a continued “up” market for 2022, though perhaps not as robust as 2021 or the last half of 2020 even. The desire to live here is still astronomical and likely still exceeds what you think it is, but you aren’t able to see what we agents are. That would be the MLS field under “Sold” that indicates if there were Multiple Offers (Y/N) and if so how Many Offers there were. We saw some big numbers here throughout the year, as mentioned above, but we also saw it right through December, which is normally one of our two slowest months. The other being January. So go figure. We’ll see, but for now, who really knows. 

For now, that pretty much does it. Enjoy January and this entire new year, wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com