Marin Real Estate (July 2009)

September 10, 2009 by  

The Marin County, CA real estate market is a mixed bag. Recent escrow activity levels have been refreshing, if not invigorating. New escrows generated in April – June 2009 represent the three best months since June ’07. This progress seems to be continuing. In fact, we could experience the busiest summer in MarinCounty real estate in recent years.

This increase in activity (not price appreciation) follows the slowest six month stretch we have seen in sixteen years. Closings of Marin County single family homes in the 4th quarter of 2008 (457) was the lowest since 1994. Closings in 1st quarter 2009 (222) and 2nd quarter ’09 (421) both set the sixteen year low as well. We feel this recent rally is a reflection of increasing consumer confidence either as a result of, or in combination with, the stock market rebound which began in March 2009. And just when Wall Street looked as though significant further downward movement was in the cards (after a month of week over week declines from mid-June to early July), last week’s results erased all losses from the past month as quarlterly earnings reports have been coming in higher than expected.

On a year-over-year basis, pricing of single family homes in Marin County is a completely different comparison. Depending on your neighborhood, the value of your home could be off 15% – 50% from its peak. As I have documented in previous newsletters, Marin County real estate was impacted by two financial events. Beginning in August 2007, the northern part of the county (Novato and areas of San Rafael) suffered from the sub-prime lending crisis. The activity level in Central and Southern Marin was nearly frozen from October 2008 thru mid-March 2009 — a result of the stock market meltdown.

Today, it appears that our housing recovery will be driven by an increase in units sold. Today’s buyers are driven by value and opportunity. Sellers clinging to what they recently paid for a home or what they “need to sell it for” seem to be grasping at “hope” and have become frustrated in a buyers’ market where days on the market produces diminishing returns.

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