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Ted Strodder

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

January Market in Marin: The New Year Starts Now For Buyers and Sellers

It’s 2020. Wow. When Barbara Walters launched the news program of the same name way back in 1978, who would have imagined what our world today looked like, at least that far into the future. Well it’s here and I for one am astounded by the changes in our society with technology and changes in our society due to technology. Think of all the apps, websites and software not around even twenty years ago, including those for real estate home searches. 

Back in 2000, the internet had not yet seamlessly merged with real estate. There was only one public portal for listings that was courtesy of our own MLS service, but the data was delayed and limited at best. Today, we have over a dozen ways for the non-licensed public to browse new or existing listings, with Zillow, Trulia and Redfin leading the pack, none of which were in existence then. The data is now in real-time, but it too is limited with two very important missing pieces: 

  1. Off-Market listings are usually shared only to top agents who have to pay for the software that keeps us updated on what’s Coming Soon, or what properties may not even hit the active market and MLS.  
  2. Confidential non-public remarks are posted only to licensees. This is important stuff and often includes a seller’s motivation to sell, pricing strategy, level of activity and a set date to look at offers. None of this is available to the public and often (if not always) can mean the difference between a winning and losing bid by an active buyer. All of this can only be passed on by a licensed agent and those buyers who choose to “go it alone” by relying on the limited data published to a public portal are at an extreme disadvantage.

How can all this be so critical? One word: inventory. 

Marin has one of the lowest attrition rates in the country. Fewer people move out of here voluntarily than almost anywhere else and those who sell, often trade up or down within the county. (The national average hovers around 7% annually, while Marin is closer to 6%). With a long standing steady track record of solid appreciation over the last seventy years (when they started keeping records), many homeowners have learned that once they sell and move out, the chances of getting back in at the same price point usually means a substantial trade off: they can buy back in, but usually get less house and less property in a lesser location. And with so little for sale here, smart buyers hire a local expert to pass on Off-Market listings and to disseminate the Confidential Remarks (it’s literally called that) section of the MLS. I’ve seen my clients win time and again with this, and others lose, continually, so it’s a no-brainer as to whether or not buyers or sellers should hire a local, experienced agent. Going forward in 2020, we see this only increasing in importance, not going by the wayside of a new app’ or site. 

As for home values, we saw a steady 2251 homes change hands for an average price just under $1.7 mil and a median of $1.3 mil. All of these are basically flat from last year, but this is for the entire county. The more accurate data is reflected not only by town, but by area or neighborhood, most of which revolve around level land and proximity to schools, shops, parks and the commute. Those streets that “checked all the boxes” were up, often by quite a bit. Many central, flat areas in Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae and Kentfield were up 5%-10%, offsetting less-desirable parts of the county. 

Where do we go in 2020? Well if history and current projections by the big brains are any indication, likely more of the same. Slow and steady appreciation overall will likely rule the markets as it has in the last several years, with no jack rabbit swings in either direction, unlike other investments. But let’s see how this blog reads a year from now. 

Until then, thanks for ready. Let me know of any questions and here’s to a terrific 2020 for all of you. 



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