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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

Marin and Much of The Country Saw Record Sales in 2020, How Does 2021 Look?

It’s 2021, thankfully. We’re all ready to move on. Let’s just put yesterday behind us and look to an optimistic, brighter tomorrow. I for one think that Americans will prove to be more resilient than ever, learning and growing individually and as a whole. Strength and resolve will be the new culture this year, just watch, along with the universal marketing slogan “All new and improved for 2021.” What may not change this year is the housing market. If anything, we expect to see a continued housing boom if all predictions are correct, fueled by three important factors, among others. 

Factor #1: Beginning last April, home buyers began to flee cities across the U.S. with San Francisco being no exception, if not the banner ad photo for people leaving the crowded space of a city for the wide-open space of a nearby county (read: Marin). We saw this in many other cities in the Bay Area–and statewide–but perhaps nowhere more specific than right here, given the fresh air of our county is only twenty minutes from most of SF. Granted, many single family home neighborhoodsof San Francisco saw an enormous influx of new buyers, with multiple offers of 10-15 on each new well-priced, well-located listing. Most of these buyers were apartment or condo dwellers, looking to get away from lobbies, elevators and narrow hallways, aiming for healthier climes of some space between them and their neighbors. This describes most of Marin already, along with parts north, so it was a natural to see these renters become buyers, especially with mortgage rates hovering at or below 3%. Remember after your interest deduction write off on your taxes, these rates are effectively 2%. And with rents already high, why not become a homeowner? 

Factor #2: The new WFH (work from home) economy for employers and employees. Figures were just released today that indicate companies are saving an average of $10,000 per employee for those who work from home. Multiply this by thousands of people and the numbers are really big. The employees themselves are also saving an average of $5,000 by not having to commute (or wear long pants), but neither of these speaks to the increase in productivity for both sides. We’ve all read that tech giants like Apple, Google, Salesforce and Facebook have given their employees late into this year or next to return to work. But the question is, will it ever be the same with hundreds of thousands of commuters packing our roadways each day. Or will WFH be the new norm, further increasing the demand for larger home areas to work within? 

Factor #3: The passing of Proposition 19. As you may have read, home sellers can now trade down and take their property tax basis with them, throughout the entire state (as opposed to just 9 counties previously). If they’re over 55, have a disability or lost their home in a natural disaster, they can also do this 3 times. Sellers can also trade up in value and take their basis with them, but have to pay an adjusted value that still makes it economically viable. This could result in a giant musical chairs of home and tax base swapping statewide, we just don’t know. But at least sellers now have more options if they want to remain in California.     

That’s it for now. Enjoy January and all of 2021 wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

December Usually Means the Start of Our Winter Market, But Where’s the Slowdown?

December is here in Marin, though you notice I didn’t say “winter”. We may have to wait until next month to see any real rain as right now it’s clear and cool, at least in the short run. What’s not clear or cool is the housing market. Buyers continue to buy and sellers continue to sell, much as they’ve done since mid April, defying all normal trends for this time of year. Usually, most people take a break to enjoy the days before and even long after Thanksgiving. Not so this year, which is far from “usual” as of this writing. I showed homes on four out of the last seven days and wrote two strong offers for well-qualified buyers. Both were multiple offer situations and in both cases the buyers were grabbing today’s prices and today’s interest rates, rather than risking a likely increase in both of those in the months to come. We’ll see how December plays out, but right now, it’s as busy as ever for many of us with the strong feeling that the wave of city buyers moving to Marin has only just started. All of our recent buyers tell us, “my friends and neighbors are all trying to get over here also” while streets and sidewalks on weekends are packed with moving trucks in even the best neighborhoods of SF. While a new lockdown has just started here (and in LA) it seems that most people are using that as an opportunity to propel their search to leave their cities and head to the nearest country for fresh air and open spaces, like Marin.  

How the work-from-home world looks in 2021 also remains to be seen. But companies large and small have realized that their workforce works better, faster, smarter and cheaper from home. Gone are the hours and expense wasted in the car, stressing in traffic, dealing with delays and trying to park. For those lucky enough to work from home it’s now out of bed with more rest than ever before, at it on the computer being more productive, happier and healthier. This new norm may just become the norm, but it’s too soon to tell. Right now, we’re all just reading about where we’ve been and where we are while working with and through the Pandemic. Where we go remains to be seen, but if the last six months are any indicator, let’s hope all goes smoothly for parents and school kids alike. Our ability to adapt as people hasn’t been tested to this extent for some time, if ever, and I for one have great faith we’ll pull through this better and stronger than ever before. 

Let me know of any questions on that. I’m here to help. Meantime, enjoy December wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

Will This Be a November to Remember, Or Will Strong Home Buying Continue in Marin?

November is here in Marin and what a fall it’s been so far. All housing records were shattered here over the last few months with sales volume and prices hitting record territories, albeit in an organized, methodical fashion. No panic buying (or selling) but more of a momentum push of buyers seeking to leave where they are and move to or within Marin County, purchasing all variety of properties for any number of reasons. Mostly though, we heard time and again a desire for a better quality of life as the home has become a workplace and could stay that way for many years to come, if not indefinitely.

Companies large and small have realized that their workforce works better, faster, smarter and cheaper from home. Gone are the hours and expense wasted in the car, stressing in traffic, dealing with delays and trying to park. For those lucky enough to work from home it’s now out of bed with more rest than ever before, at it on the computer being more productive, happier and healthier than ever before. This new norm may just become the norm, but it’s too soon to tell. Right now, we’re all just reading about where we’ve been and where we are while working with and through the Pandemic. Where we go remains to be seen, but if the last six months are any indicator, let’s hope all goes smoothly for parents and school kids alike. Our ability to adapt as people hasn’t been tested to this extent for some time, if ever, and I for one have great faith we’ll pull through this better and stronger than ever before. 

Meanwhile, our “New Market” continues with buyers still leaving the confines of nearby cities to find a new place to shelter. Marin, Sonoma and Napa are all seeing strong home sales though that isn’t unusual. But even Tahoe properties are selling like crazy, helped in part by these crazy interest rates. Of the twenty-odd properties I’ve sold in the last year, most of my buying clients have mentioned in passing that they’re compromising on their wish list, if only to not miss a fixed rate at 2.875%. The savings over time are dramatic and not worth missing for any reason. 

Let me know of any questions on that. I’m here to help. Meantime, enjoy November wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

October in Marin: Will Buyers Finally Hit the Pause Button or Will Prices Continue to Rise?

October is here in Marin and our “New Market” continues with buyers still leaving the confines of nearby cities to find a new place to shelter. Marin, Sonoma and Napa are all seeing strong home sales though that isn’t unusual. But even Tahoe properties are selling like hotcakes. The big question is, will it continue? If history is any guide, the short term answer would seem to be yes, but after that, it gets a little cloudy, to say the least. 

Beginning just after Labor Day, our fall market usually is a last gasp for Marin real estate. Buying activity tends to thrive right through October, then slow as Thanksgiving approaches. By Christmas, it’s generally pretty quiet. Throw in an election year and it could get really  quiet. At least that’s in years past. This year, who knows with the pandemic and people now working and living from home full time. Maybe we’ll see a busy winter. It doesn’t hurt that mortgage rates are hovering at (or below) 3%. You can see a chart of those in the center of this newsletter, but by the time you take your mortgage write off, you’re borrowing money at around 2%! Reports tell us they could stay low for another two years and if that isn’t a motivator, I don’t know what is.  

Let me know of any questions on that. I’m here to help. Meantime, enjoy October wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

September in Marin: Marin Real Estate Market Moves Forward Even During Normally “Slow” Months as Home Buyers Flee Nearby Cities

September is here in Marin and our “New Market” continues. Gone are the normally slow months of July and August as these last two were incredibly busy, mostly with more buyers leaving the confines of nearby cities to find a new place to shelter. Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Tahoe, they’re all seeing strong home sales though that isn’t unusual for the last three there. It is for Marin, no question. Most residents focus on vacations or getting ready for school, but not this summer. It was a buying frenzy for well-located, well-priced homes with at least 4 br’s and a pool (a pool?) if possible.  

City buyers still dominated the lists for most agents as people from apartments or condos sought out the safety and open spaces of Marin. Multiple offers slowed down somewhat last month, but were still the norm on most well-priced homes that checked all the buyer-boxes. Those that were “Done” and remodeled remained in the highest demand. Buyers sheltering in place look now for enough bedrooms to convert one into an office as many large (and small) companies have issued work-at-home guidelines into 2022. 

Mortgage rates sure didn’t hurt things as we started seeing rates below 3%. Look up in the center of his newsletter and see those numbers. It’s crazy. That too is a first and we don’t see that ending anytime soon, either. 

Let me know of any questions on that. I’m here to help. Meantime, enjoy September wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

August in Marin: Crazy Times For Real Estate as Home Buyers Flee San Francisco

It’s August already here in Marin and as I look back, I can’t believe how things changed so quickly. Our normal busy months of March and April were basically at a buying halt due to the SIP in Marin and throughout the Bay Area. But as of May 1st, things were back to normal, with buyers looking to buy and get moved for the summer. By June 1st? The craziness was in full swing with unheard of buying activity, going straight through July with no end in sight. 

City buyers dominated the lists for most agents as people mainly from apartments or condos sought out the safety and open spaces of Marin. Multiple offers were the norm on most well-priced homes with those “Done” and remodeled remaining in the highest demand. Buyers sheltering in place look now for enough bedrooms to convert one into an office. And for the first time since I can remember, pools are all the rage. If you gotta stay at home, why not make it your own private resort, right? 

Mortgage rates sure didn’t hurt things as we started seeing rates below 3%. That too is a first and we don’t see that ending anytime soon, either. 

Let me know of any questions on that. I’m here to help. Meantime, enjoy August wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

July in Marin: Crazy Times For Marin Real Estate as Home Buyers Flee San Francisco Looking For Fresh Air

It’s July in Marin and it looks like the home-buying fireworks from June are going to add to those in celebration of the Fourth. These last two months are usually a fairly busy time for active real estate agents, but I have to say May and June have been some of the craziest ever in my thirty four year career (I started when I was three). In addition to sellers trading within the county–often in the same town–we’ve seen a threefold increase of city buyers seeking all that Marin has to offer: a house with an actual yard or view, great schools, ample parking everywhere you go, plus miles of open space with all the fresh air you need for safe social distancing. Let’s hope everyone keeps that distance and continues with a mask. Life can go on, just with some strict modifications for our health and safety, along with those around us. But back to the market. 

As you read last month, the low and mid price ranges have been incredibly active since home sales dipped following the SIP announced on March 16th. Prices didn’t drop during that brief period, but as is common with any big news event, people just hunkered down and did nothing. Sellers stopped selling and buyers stopped buying, for the most part, just not entirely. We hit the bottom of the trough in mid April and the market started to slowly ramp back up, averaging roughly 5 home sales per day. Since then, we’ve seen 158 homes sell in May and another 280 in June, (over 9 per day) pushing the average sale price up to $1,758,000, much of it again driven by San Francisco residents moving to Marin. But it’s the higher price range sales that’s helped move the average up north of $1.7 mil. We’re now seeing that strata of the market get just as hot in the lower ranges, especially if there’s level land and “done” condition involved. And speaking of hot, pool homes are all the rage again as people hope to shelter in their own mini-resort if possible. Watch for sales of properties to continue here, especially if interest rates stay at these crazy-low levels. 

Let me know of any questions on that. I’m here to help. Meantime, enjoy July wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

May in Marin: Despite Inventory Reduced by Half, Strong Sales Continue, But How Long Will it Last?

Welcome to the New World, and not the one discovered by Columbus. Things are different now for all of us in nearly every aspect of life. What isn’t different is our resolve as Americans to get through this–or any–crisis, intact and maybe down, but certainly not out. We’ve had our challenges before and this too shall pass, ultimately. In the meantime, the resilience we’re seeing out there is incredible. It hasn’t gone perfectly by any means, but it was (and is) a brand new challenge where we all had to think on our feet, while at the same time staying OFF those same feet and sheltering in place. We will get through this, just watch, and the way the real estate community has responded is certainly no exception to our ability for flexibility and compromise. This is my fifth downturn cycle and by all accounts it will be the shortest recovery of all of them. 

For those of you who read this blog last month, you know that buyers continued to buy in Marin, even after the SIP was announced here on March 16th. April saw 94 properties go into escrow, down from 109 in March. This is roughly half what we see normally this time of year, but inventory itself is down more than half. So we are seeing fewer sales, but still multiple offers and over asking sold prices for the right property at the right price. Yes, that surprises even us seasoned veterans. We had 120 properties close escrow and post as Sold, down from the 174 of March, but again buyers had slim pickings to choose from.

So even despite restrictions on “safe showings” with masks, gloves, groups of no more than two and social distancing at all times, people continued to look at their home here as a long term investment, so look they did. Some made offers even after simply viewing photos and online videos, with a safe walk thru to follow once the home was able to be temporarily vacant. But as of May 4th, we can now carefully move to showing homes that are occupied but only AFTER prospective buyers have driven by, looked at all posted media and presented proof of being approved for a mortgage or all-cash. There’s also a California PEAD form that needs to be submitted by the agent prior to showing, indicating all the guidelines have been met. We’ll see how it goes. 

Let me know of any questions on that. I’m here to help. Meantime, enjoy May wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

April in Marin: Surprise of Strong Sales in Late March, But Will it Continue?

I’m going to make this quick as things are changing almost day to day, so anything I write here could easily be outdated very quickly. But I trust all you readers are safe and aiming to stay that way. It’s a new world and one that is certainly going to impact us all for many months to come, if not years in some regards. For those of us who have been around awhile, we’ve discovered that we’ve never been so aware of our own hygiene and social distancing. Ironically, we should all have been practicing this our entire lives, but seems like that’s only been most of our medical professional friends or clients. It’s now all of us, hopefully, more aware of potential germs than ever before. But now to the Marin real estate market, which has gone through its own changes and a few surprises. 

First, the surprising part. Many of you who follow this in real-time and already know that despite the worldwide pandemic and historic stock market declines, buyers continued to buy in Marin for the month of March, even long after our SIP began. Last month saw 109 properties go into escrow, with just over half of those being after the SIP of March 17th, even yesterday or the preceding days. We had 174 properties close escrow and post as Sold, with 88 of them being after March 17th. So even despite restrictions on “safe showings” with masks, gloves, groups of no more than two and social distancing at all times, people continued to look at their home here as a long term investment, so look they did. Some made offers even after looking at photos and online videos, with a safe walk thru to follow once the home was able to be temporarily vacant. Who knows if this continues in April, but I have to agree with those who chose to step and buy when many weren’t. We’re going to get over this at some point, maybe in a series of weeks or months, but it IS beatable and we will go on as a society.

Let me know of any questions on that. I’m here to help. Meantime, enjoy April wherever you are and please stay safe. As always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com

Marin Market Marches Ahead, Are “Stupid Low” Interest Rates Balancing Buyer Hesitation?

March is here and whoa, what exactly is going to happen this month? We’ve seen stock market gyrations and global health news before here, but never to such extremes and never at the same time. So I’m asked constantly, “What’s going to happen with home prices and sales”? My answer is simple, “Nothing. Yet, anyway”. Nothing will happen immediately, and in fact the market has been busier in the last few weeks than any February on record. Multiple offers abound as people always need a place to live and interest rates are “stupid low”, likely softening the blow of uncertainty to any would be home buyer. But what happens here long term depends on what happens nationally and globally going forward. As we’ve seen in the short run, offers will be submitted, escrows will close and buyers will move into their new homes as it appears that any economic or health scares are going to be relatively short lived. But as each day brings new (and news) updates, things may change. It’s just not clear in which direction. 

As with any real estate market, we won’t know what the trend is until we’re past it and able to look back. But in my experience, long term uncertainty tends to freeze people in their tracks from making big short term decisions. They can click and trade stocks in an instant, but real estate purchases are much more long term and people tend to look forward, months or years from now. While every day can be  a revelation of further virus outbreaks or wild stock market swings, those could be good revelations, not bad, with fewer virus outbreaks and ultimate control of the disease. We just don’t know yet. It’s way too soon.

All that said, the past month revealed multiple cases of multiple offers, with three escrows of my own all having 3-4 buyers on each one. Smart sellers price to move their homes quickly, not fight the dreaded DOM (Days on Market) and are often rewarded with whopping offers with no (or very limited) contingencies. Remember, it’s not always the higher offer that wins. It’s usually the best offer and if that “best” is a slightly lower price but contingent-free, a sure bird in the hand for the seller usually takes it. Keep that in mind as you choose to write it up this spring. Get your financing all 100% in place and review comprehensive Disclosure Packets up front. You can then write a clean offer that could very well put you at the top of the stack, if there is a stack to compete with. Just know that any bad headlines are soon to disappear and things will be right back to where they were. These are very interesting times for all of us, but the dynamics of supply and demand in Marin are still in place. Nothing has changed here, yet anyway. 

Let me know of any questions. I’m here to help. Meantime, enjoy March wherever you are and as always, thanks for reading.

Ted

415.377.5222

ted@gomarin.com