Marin Real Estate (March 2009)

March 24, 2009

Although February was a short and rainy month, Marin County, CA., still experienced a good number of sales. So far in March 2009. we are seeing increasing inventory similar to “normal” years (I hesitate to call 2009 a “normal” year in light of the current economic situation). Recent gains in the stock market are a welcome change. Interest rates are down to about 5% on conforming loans right now, which is great (that is more than 1 full point lower than this time last year). So, it seems the pump is primed. We’ll see if the real estate market responds.

Obviously, the more stringent underwriting policies of lenders are stifling demand. Although word on the street is that at least one big lender has taken steps to loosen up underwriting practices. It is obvious to everybody who comes into contact with the Marin real estate market that home buyers are continuing to wait for the perceived bottom. This, despite the FACT that interest rates are as low as could be realistically expected and prices in many Marin communities and neighborhoods have receded to 2003 or 2004 price levels.

[Click here for the rest of the report, courtesy of]

Marin Luxury Real Estate (March 2009)

March 24, 2009

While sluggishness has trickled-up into the luxury real estate market in Marin, CA., there is legitimate cause for optimism in coming months. For example, there were 161 new escrows opened in Marin County in February 2009. While the majority of these (68%) were value plays in Novato and San Rafael, it was the highest level seen since August 2008 and was 19% higher than February 2008–encouraging news since we had just 19 “working days” last month. Moreover, the first 2 weeks of March 2009, resulted in 116 opened escrows. In March 2008, we saw just 98 homes go into escrow. That is an increase of 18% over last year. Again, encouraging. For a detailed accounting of national trends, click here for the March 2009 Market Report from Institute for Luxury Home Marketing. Note, if you would like a local report relating to any town or zip code in Marin or San Francisco, e-mail me.

It is clear to me that with minimal social proof, buyers will return to the market and pent-up demand will create a surge in sales figures. The $8,000 no-strings-attached credit from the government (for first time home buyers, loosely defined as someone who has not owned a home for the past 3 years and meets income limitations), the increased conforming loan limit (set to go back up to $729,750 some time in April 2009), and a pronounced level of increased affordability across the board is a recipe for sales. I should also note that with the increased conforming loan amount, buyers with 25% down (and who otherwise qualify) will be able to obtain top-shelf financing for purchases of a little over $1.6 million.

[Click here for the rest of the article, courtesy of].

San Rafael Real Estate Market Report (March 2009 Home Sales Update)

March 9, 2009

Following Novato’s lead, San Rafael’s real estate market is gathering momentum at the low end as foreclosures and short sales drive the market. We are currently experiencing 31% pending ratio for homes priced at or below $600K. Although not as strong a market segment as Novato, I would still characterize it as competitive price band.

Importantly, San Rafael’s bread and butter homes, priced between $600K and $800K continue selling at a rapid clip — 31% of these homes are in escrow (up 2% from January 2009). Low interest rates on conforming loans are helping many buyers in the lower price ranges attain home ownership. Meanwhile, rates for conforming jumbo loans are a bit higher and apparently not being embraced by buyers as the San Rafael housing market is flat above $1 million (see lower chart). But, the $8K tax credit for first time home buyers should also help pull buyers into the fray as value priced properties come onto the market. Amazingly, we have 15 homes currently being marketed under $500,000 (there were just 5 last month), and another 16 under $600,000. Overall, the number of homes on the market remains relatively low, with 153 homes (up from 142 last month). 

As many inquiries come in regarding the distressed market, the chart below illustrates the number of, and percentage of, distressed sales so far in 2009.

SFH Sales – January 1 – March 6, 2009






% of Total

Marin County








San Rafael & Novato








All Other Cities








Source:  BAREIS March 8,2009


Roughly 50% of the sales in Marin County this year were in San Rafael and Novato. Of these San Rafael and Novato sales, nearly 50% were distressed sales. In all other cities the distressed component of the market is roughly 17%. 

Despite the relatively high ratio of pendings in San Rafael, only 12 homes sold in February 2009 (granted, that is a short month), which is 33% lower than January 2009. The average days on market was 148 days, sales price was $673,000, square footage was 1,846–roughly $394 per sq. ft. San Rafael’s strongest micro-climate markets in were Terra Linda, Lucas Valley, and Peacock Gap. Finally, if you know anyone interested in an Atrium Eichler on a quiet cul-de-sac, please let me know as 25 Calafia Court in Terra Linda is currently active.

Price Range

Total Homes

Pending Listings

                Up to $600K                    42 (up 2)                     40%

$600K – $800K

61 (up 9)


$800K – $1 mil.

35 (no change)


$1 mil. – 1.5 mil.

33 (up 6)


$1.5 mil. – $2 mil.

11 (down 1)


$2 mil. & Up

16 (up 3)


If you have any questions regarding the current real estate market in San Rafael, CA, please contact Kyle Frazier, Marin Realtor & CRS, Morgan Lane Marin Real Estate: (415) 350-9440.