Sonoma County Real Estate Report Q1 2014

Quarterly Real Estate Report Q2 2014

Pacific Union
Quarterly Real Estate Report Q2 2014
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Gus Kyriakos
Broker Associate
Properties for Sale  |   Neighborhood Data  |   Pacific Union Blog
Sonoma County: Q2 Results
After a slow start in the first quarter, home sales in Pacific Union’s Sonoma County region picked up significantly in the second quarter as more, higher-priced inventory arrived on the market. After sitting on the fence for years, sellers saw equity levels rise substantially and decided the time was right to get in the game. Buyers, meanwhile, were anxious to take advantage of the expanded supply. Many homes received multiple offers, but typically two or three per property – not the 10 or 12 bids seen over the past year.

The median sales price rose moderately, but less because of appreciation and more because of the changing nature of home sales. A few years ago the Sonoma County market consisted mostly of short sales and foreclosures, whereas today they account for 10 percent or less of sales. Equity sales and higher-priced properties are currently predominant as the housing recovery advances and the market returns to normalcy.

Looking Forward: As long as the inventory of available homes continues to rise, we expect continued growth in the region. Demand for homes will not be as frantic as we’ve seen over the past year, but it still runs deep. We look forward to a strong second half for 2014.

Defining Sonoma County: Our real estate markets in Sonoma County include the cities of Cotati, Healdsburg, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, and Windsor. Sales data in the charts below includes all single-family homes and farms and ranches in Sonoma County.

Median Sales Price
The median sales price represents the midpoint in the range of all prices paid. It indicates that half the prices paid were higher than this number, and half were lower. It is not the same measure as “average” sales price.
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Months’ Supply of Inventory
The months’ supply of inventory is a measure of how quickly the current supply of homes would be sold at the current sales rate, assuming no more homes came on the market. In general, an MSI below 4 is considered a seller’s market; between 4 and 6 is a balanced market; and above 6 is a buyer’s market.
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Average Days on the Market
Average days on the market is a measure that indicates the pace of sales activity. It tracks, on average, the number of days a listing is active until it reaches “pending” status, meaning all contingencies have been removed and both parties are just waiting to close.
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Percentage of Properties Under Contract
Percentage of properties under contract is a forward-looking indicator of sales activity. It tracks expected home sales before the paperwork is completed and the sale actually closes.
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Sales Price as a Percentage of Original Price
Measuring the sales price as a percentage of the final list price, which may include price reductions from the original list price, determines the success of a seller in receiving the hoped-for sales amount. It also indicates the level of sales activity in a region.
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A Closer Look at Sonoma County
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Three Reasons Why This Housing Cycle Is Not a Bubble
Bay Area real estate values, fundamentals, and “noise” continue to be hot topics at social gatherings and client meetings. Does this cycle resemble the dot-com era bubble? Can the pace and valuations we are seeing continue?

While supply and demand are very basic and scalable market dynamics, I do believe it is important to separate the pace of sales from valuations. In terms of sales volume, the market’s current pace still displays somewhat of a “slingshot” effect from constrained demand as a result of the 2008 equities-market meltdown. Buyers sought safety on the sidelines for three or four years, but in the last 24 months, demand has been ferocious.

Although we anticipate Bay Area sales volume will experience year-over-year growth of less than 5 percent by 2016 and 2017, slowing demand will not relax pricing.

The following three fundamentals are currently driving Bay Area real estate markets:

  1. Supply constraints: Our region has limited land available for new housing development.

  2. Exceptional job growth: Northern California enjoys the hottest employment market in the U.S., with intellectually challenging, highly sought-after, and lucrative jobs. (See our feature story below for more on our region’s economic outlook.)
  3. Population growth: The chart below illustrates that population growth across our nine-county region has exceeded new housing supply by an average of nearly 200 percent in four years.
Click to view larger chart
Each of the market dynamics listed above generally has very positive impacts on residential real estate. I doubt there is another major U.S. market that is experiencing and enjoying the combination of all three of these factors.

On a global stage, the Bay Area trails New York City, London, Hong Kong, and Beijing on a dollar-per-square-foot valuation perspective. Over the next five years, look for our region’s real estate prices to meet the aforementioned international markets.

A few years ago I attended a Bay Area real estate conference where Leslie Appleton-Young, vice president and chief economist of the California Association of Realtors, spoke. When asked about the best time to invest in California real estate, Leslie replied, “I’ve been answering that question for 30 years, and my answer has always been ;five years ago.’”

If I am not mistaken, Warren Buffet said, “Buy all the real estate you can,” in a 2009 television interview. I suspect we will all feel the same way in 2019 when we look back at today’s market.


Mark A. McLaughlin, CEO, Pacific Union

Bay Area Job, Population Growth Will Continue
to Fuel Housing Demand
The Bay Area’s tech-industry-driven economy continues to add extremely desirable and high-paying jobs, attracting talented workers from around the nation and globe. But even though our region’s phenomenal economic growth likely will begin to slow over the next couple of years, intense demand for housing is almost certainly here to stay thanks to a pronounced lack of available homes.

"We’re getting closer to full employment," says Stephen Levy, director and senior economist of Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. "And what that means is that as we near full employment, that’s going to bring in people, which will add to the housing demand."

May statistics from the California Employment Development Department show that each one of our Bay Area counties boasts an unemployment rate lower than the statewide average of 7.6 percent. Job growth remains particularly strong in Marin, Napa, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties, all of which have unemployment rates of less than 5 percent.

Levy believes that the Bay Area’s unemployment rate will never return to dot-com-era lows, when it hovered in the 2 to 3 percent range in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. However, he forecasts that even though job growth will level off over the next two years, the Bay Area will continue to outperform the rest of the country.

Population Growth Outpacing New Housing in Key Markets

Since the U.S. began to emerge from the Great Recession in 2010, the Bay Area’s population rate has jumped sizably, according to California Department of Finance data. Over the past four years, the number of residents in San Francisco and San Mateo counties has grown by nearly 4 percent while increasing by almost 5 percent in Santa Clara County.

But none of those counties has built enough new housing units to keep up with the expanding populace. Since 2010, new housing has grown by just 2 percent in Santa Clara County, 1.3 percent in San Francisco, and 0.9 percent in San Mateo County.

"Peninsula prices and rents will continue to outpace the state and national average unless we see a dramatic increase in supply, and even then it would be snapped up pretty quickly," Levy says.

Economic Climate Much More Stable Than in Dot-Com Days

As was the case in the dot-com boom and subsequent bust, the tech industry remains the primary driver of Bay Area employment growth. However, Levy believes that our current economy is far less frenetic than it was 15 years ago.

"I think it’s quite different," he says. "These are real companies, and they have customers, profits, and burgeoning sales. The dot-com era was more about business plans."

Still, technology companies aren’t the only businesses fueling Bay Area job growth. Other industries, including hospitality, health care, and construction, are seeing employment upticks, Levy says. However, he cautions that tremendous growth in the Internet sector could eventually slow expansion in other industries, including brick-and-mortar retail and financial services.

While the Bay Area’s economic outlook appears solid for the foreseeable future, the housing shortage may eventually impede growth, as workers could become wary of relocating to an area where finding a home is so difficult. Therefore, new construction remains a crucial factor in keeping our region’s economy moving upward and onward.

"I think [our economy] will always grow, but absolutely, housing poses a constraint to our growth over the long term," Levy says. "The lack of housing could take some of the bloom off of the rose and limit some of the growth that might otherwise be there."

Bay Area 10-Year Overview
Here’s a look at home sales in the Bay Area’s real estate markets in the second quarter of 2014, with a glance back at the 10 preceding second quarters.
10 Year Chart
Click here to see specific 10-year data on key cities in the Bay Area.
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3095 Jaylee Drive, Santa Rosa
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Los Angeles Luxury Home News


Well the news about Luxury Home sales continues. In the Los Angeles area a home owner listed there house for $3.625 million and received seven offers.

WOW! This is fantastic news as apparently other areas are also experiencing multiple offers on Luxury Homes. Overall across the US Luxury Home sales have increased 7.2 % in March for homes One million or more.
See the Bloomberg

Russian Hill Real Estate

Its always exciting seen a project come to completion. This one is especially rewarding as the finishes and craftsmanship are first rate. It was well over a year and a half ago that my friend and client asked me about this property and I sent out a handwritten note to the owners that eventually resulted in a successful closing.

Now 18 months later this property is what I would consider a “Trophy Property “ Views of the Bay, Hardwood Flooring, Modern Finishes, roof Deck with Glass Rail for unobstructed views.

My oldest son happened to be along with me on a trip when the builder was picking the flooring and got him involved with which one of the dozen options to go for. Months later I brought my son along for another look and it was great to see his expression when he walked in the units and saw the flooring he picked.

This property is located on Leavenworth and is walking distance to the water front. This will be a hard project to duplicate as the market has changed dramatically in the past 18 months. My client who has decades of experience taught me a very important lesson. As bad and pessimistic everyone was about Real Estate this was the time for him to go out with me and make things happen. Even though I have been doing this for 20 years most of us including myself have not seen as bad downturn as this past one. It was another Life Lesson.

If you have a property in Russian Hill or any other desirable San Francisco location give me a call and I can put you together with my clients who also do remodel work. Need drywall work? Yes they are active in that business also. Residential and Commercial.


Sonoma County News

Lots of real estate news from around the country. California cities with reduced inventory are experiencing multiple offers across many price ranges.

Sonoma county Luxury Homes are on a recent tear with 29 million dollar plus homes entering contract in the last 30 days. That’s more than the 3 previous months combined.

So what’s now fueling this multiple offer market and renewed interest in Luxury Homes?

I can write a lengthy article here about buyers on the sidelines and pent up demand and lots of independent theories…..but I won’t. I think it’s quite simple..

Don’t Fight The FED!!! that’s it. It is common knowledge the banks are printing and that the FED is accommodative..and that eventually this will stimulate the Real Estate Market. Well it appears its finally working.

A client of mine that I represented in the purchase of a few buildings in San Francisco is just now putting up for rent the units he purchased and rebuilt in brand new condition.

These Russian Hill units have Bay views of Alcatraz and Golden Gate. The rents he is getting are up an astounding 35% from the time we did the analysis during the purchase phase and he has no shortage of renters.

My most recent buyer closing is one of the original iphone engineers and is still with Apple. Full price close in 30 days. Last time I wrote an offer like this was the spring of 2007. Many agents are experiencing similar situations and there is definitely a feeling of a market change.

Now of course this is all before the Facebook IPO which is slated for this week.

Who knows maybe the 29 buyers of the million dollar price homes are all the parents of some of the new young billionaires that will be born this week.

Pretty exciting stuff that’s for sure. Local News Here.

Palo Alto Luxury Home News


News of the pending Facebook IPO is having a very real impact in the Palo Alto Luxury Home market. Agents and local area buyers are concerned that with a shortage of inventory and with multiple offers already gripping the market that home prices could climb even higher.

A New York Times article by Michael Cooper goes into further detail.

In Santa Rosa Real Estate news the market inventory has definitely tightened up. It’s a little early yet but showings and inquiries for Luxury Homes are the highest in many years. I am receiving calls form agents throughout the county and Marin asking if I know of any new properties coming on the market.

One of our in house team of agents Charles Himes and Larry Tristano received 16 all cash offers on a fixer in Petaluma in early February of this year. The fact that ALL offers where cash is a very strong signal that the market could very well be on the road to recovery.

In another situation I was made aware that an offer of $30,000 above asking in a Fountain Grove home was not enough as another party offered more and put the home in contract.

Last fall I wrote in this blog that I believed that the Luxury Home Market values had bottomed in Sonoma County. With recent news of a pending Bank Deal with the State AG’s and the HARP 2 program that allows people to refinance with no CAP on the LTV (incredible) it certainly feels like the market could see some positive results this spring.

Unfortunately I do not have any Facebook employee friends….maybe I could Facebook Friend some of them….if I did I would be writing on their wall about what a great place Santa Rosa and Sonoma County are to spend some cash and buy a couple of homes for the price of one in Palo Alto.

Santa Rosa Luxury Estate Values – Transitory

This morning I ended up watching Ben Bernanke’s testimony until such time he mentioned inflation and transitory in the same sentence. I abruptly shut down my laptop and hit the gym. During my work out I reflected on my attitude towards the news and politics and came to the conclusion that I was just jealous that I could not have an audience to speak to and engage so as to be able to put certain words together so I can sound like I know what I am talking about.

I remembered that does have an audience as several hundred visitors visit this site monthly of which a full 25% + are local. When I run an adwords campaign traffic triples. A few years ago most of the Traffic was coming from New York, now its San Francisco…..New York is #7 in visitor’s traffic and #2 is Santa Rosa.

The first half of 2011 sales results are in with the following statistics. $1.5 million – $5 million closed sales for Santa Rosa are up approximately 35% from the same period last year. In the $1.0 mil to $1.5 mil closed sales are down 40% from last year. Entry level closed sales 100k – 400k identical to last year.

Values are down year to year with a noticeable shortage of available inventory. I believe this to be Transitory as our friends in Washington are prepared to be accommodative if necessary and have taken steps and have made plans to “Tighten” monetary policy if necessary.

Looking at the Santa Rosa Crystal Ball so to speak…….I believe that the bottom in values is in…..and what we in the field like to use as a barometer is under contract and pending statistics that are UP and the fact that the number of buyers looking in the Million plus range is up considerably.

Only question is…will they pull the trigger? If they do delay it will only be Transitory.


Luxury Estates

Estates photo

Luxury Home news from around the country and the world are definitely mixed. With some economies slowing down sales in those countries have cooled substantially.

In the US 2010 was definitely a buyers market as most buyers including the every affluent looked for good values. Though generally this group of buyers in the past simply bought what they wanted because they could afford to do so this recession has been so brutal that even the affluent either scaled back their purchases or in many cases looked for and got the most bang for their buck.

In Sonoma County this is very apparent in the 1 to 2 million dollar price range as the closed sales showed value purchases with an average sold price of 84.69 % of original list price. Average time on the market 6 months. A close look at the numbers reveals that the sellers that priced their home closest to what the market was willing to pay sold their homes with an average market time of 45 days at 100% of list. Out of 131 sales 12 of these homes sold for asking price.

Bay Area buyers are looking and buying if the price is right. Locally buyers are buying but many are sitting on the sidelines. Conversations with other agents led to remarks along the line of buyers not finding what they are looking for and overall inventory very light. Conversations I have had with buyers have led me to believe that some buyers are more motivated by price more than they are about finding the right home.

With interest rates on the rise and many sellers having taken their homes off the market it should be a very interesting spring market. If the Stock market continues on its upward path and rates staying firm or rising even slightly we could see price stability. As I have repeated before a positive Jobs announcement would be a good sign for all regardless if you are a buyer or seller. web site visitor statistics for 2010 show some very interesting trends. The first 6 months of the year my highest visitor count came from the following cities New York, Santa Rosa, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland.

The last 6 months Santa Rosa with the most visitors by a margin of 3 to 1 followed by Oakland and San Francisco.

Internationally the following countries in order of the most visitors. 1) US 2) India 3)United Kingdom 4) China 5) Philippines 6) Turkey 7) Vietnam 8) Thailand 9) Italy 10) Pakistan and 11) Canada followed by an additional 114 countries

On the upper upper nose bleed sections of Sonoma County prices 5+ million dollars the stories of multiple offers all cash continue.

Santa Rosa Multiple Offers

If you are following the Real Estate Market than its not necessarily news that depending on the property and price range, multiple offers are part of the market. Vastly reduced prices on Short Sales and Bank Owned ( REO ) are the leading reason for multiple offers.


However just a few days ago I called clients on a new listing that came on the market and I set up the showing. Great house great location and priced well north of one million dollars. My clients thought that the home had many of the qualities that they where looking for and decided to write an offer.


I notified the listing agent who informed me that there was serious interest from several parties. Armed with this information the clients and I got together and talked about an offering strategy. My input was requested and I recommended FULL price and ALL cash. The buyers went with my recommendation and understood that there would be competition.


The offer was presented on the second day the home was on the market. A total of FIVE offers where presented with several above asking and several all cash. Multiple offers in this price range is not a shock to me as the property was well priced but I must admit I was a little taken aback when informed of FIVE offers. You would think with all the inventory on the market how did that many buyers converge on this same home? If you are a seller of one of these homes you are probably thinking the same thing.


In a past post I wrote Santa Rosa Luxury Homes  about other homes receiving multiple offers, that buyers where active, and understood fully the great values today in the market. If you are a buyer today in the high end market don’t be surprised if you run into competition. The buyers called me back yesterday and wanted to see a home at a higher price range that was on the market at the begining of the year, it had come off the market and back on.


It was a beautiful storming wet day, the sellers where kind enough to let us in and the listing agent met us at the home. Prior to the showing we where told that the sellers where in negotiations with a prospective buyer.


If the multiple offers continue and many homes come off the market for the holidays, we could be looking at sellers demanding more for their homes in the spring. If you are a seller and have a home with views, room for an art studio and an outside living space easily accessible from the home without stairs I have the buyers. Prefer newer and in the Santa Rosa city limits. Price range up to 2 million. My cell 707-695-8811

Sonoma County Luxury Homes – Record High Sale

Sonoma County continues to make news around the world. There is no doubt especially amongst the wealthiest that Sonoma County is a coveted world destination. What appears to be a record sale of 31 Million dollars has closed escrow on a Luxury Estate situated on 382 acres located west of Sonoma.

The record sale price is the highest in the State since a 26.5 Million dollar sale in Bel-Air in 2009.  More details in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.