Real estate double dips in Q1?

According to the latest Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index released today, home prices nationwide fell 5.1 percent in the first quarter compared to first-quarter 2010, back to where they were in mid-2002. The index fell 4.2 percent compared to fourth-quarter 2010.

Please read on to find out the index trend in Marin County.

Twelve of the 20 metro areas tracked by the index hit new lows in March: Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Cleveland; Detroit; Las Vegas; Miami; Minneapolis; New York; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; and Tampa, Fla.

While the overall numbers in the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for March are down and disappointing, it is essential to remember that  the pattern is not uniform.   This is a composite index that does not reflect the reality of any market in the country, but rather is determined from averaging  trends in 20 different markets.  A few areas — Washington, D.C., and San Francisco and San Diego — remain above their recent lows.   At the other end of the scale, Detroit is about 30 percent below its level of January 2000.”

This shows that it pays to read articles in their entirely and not stop at attention grabbing headlines which can be totally misleading.

For more information, read this Inman News article.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Home buyers try to beat “jumbo” loans squeeze

In case you missed my recent post “Marin County’s conforming loan limits expiring soon” , here is a Reuters.com article that will give you a similar perspective on the upcoming loan limit changes.

While private mortgage lenders had not ventured back into the market, mortgage lenders are telling me private mortgage lenders are already starting to timidly step back in and will have to fill the void when the government backs down.  The question is when will that happen?

Feel free to call me with any questions or for a referral to a mortgage professional you can trust.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.

 


How To Set Your Ceiling Fan For Summer to Keep Your Cool

Ceiling fan rotation

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, and most parts of the country are already feeling the heat. Temperatures reached record highs in more than 50 cities yesterday.  Marin County did not get the memo this year though; our temperatures have been unseasonably low.  They will rise soon however and here are some tips to help you stay cool when they do.

And, for homeowners with ceiling fans, the turn of season offers a simple way to lower your home’s energy bill, too. All it takes is the flick of a button.

Ceiling fans are designed to circulate the air in a room. During colder months, ceiling fans push warm air down from the ceiling, raising the temperature of a room. During warmer months, ceiling fans push cold air back into circulation, creating a windchill effect, of sorts.

This video from The Weather Channel explains how it works.

  • When your heating system is on, rotate fan blades clockwise
  • When your cooling system is on, rotate fan blades counter-clockwise
Eichler home, San Rafael, CA

As compared to adjusting your home’s overall temperature in the summer, ceiling fans are economical and “green”. Using the equivalent amount of energy as 100-watt light bulb, a single ceiling fan can reduce a room’s effective temperature by 4 degrees. There’s similar benefits in the colder winter months, too.

If your home is without ceiling fans, they’re relatively inexpensive, and simple to install. There are tutorial videos online for the do-it-yourselfers, or you can call a qualified electrician for assistance. Need an electrician’s name and a reference? Call or email me — I’m happy to offer a referral.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


LARKSPUR REAL ESTATE MARKET UPDATE FOR THE WEEK OF MAY 23, 2011

New listings: only one

  • 352 Riviera Circle  – Single Family Residence: 3 bedroom/2 bath with beautiful water views, fully remodeled – List price: $1,299,000 – price per square foot: $600.55

 Price reductions:  three

  • 228 Larkspur Plaza DriveCondominium: 1 bedroom/1 bath – reduced to $229,000 (foreclosure)
  • 260 Piedmont Road – Single Family Residence: 3 bedroom/3 bath – reduced to $1,079,900 – price per square foot: $544.58 – a fully remodeled home in a magical, secluded setting in Baltimore Canyon
  •  38 Bayo Vista AvenueSingle Family Residence: 3 bedroom/3 bath – reduced to $949,000, price per square foot: $431.36, a great value with a smoking hot $150,000 price reductionCome by today Sunday, May 29, I will be there from 1-4 PM. 

Went In Contract: three

  •  253 Tulane Drive – Single Family Residence: 3 bedroom/2 bath – List price: $830,000 – price per square foot: $507.33
  •  272 Madrone AvenueSingle Family Residence: 2 bedroom/2 bath – List price: $519,000 – price per square foot: $365.49 – short sale
  • Escalle – Condominium: 2 bedrooms/3 bath – List price: $544,000 – price per square foot: $399.71

 Pending: one

  • 170 Wilson Way – Single Family Residence: 4 bedroom/3 bath – List price: $799,000 – price per square foot: $394.76

 Sold: two

  • 98 Cornell Avenue – Single Family Residence: 6 bedroom/5 bath – List price: $1,389,000 – Sale price: $1,389,000 – price per square foot: $516.55
  • 77 Piedmont Court – Single Family Residence: 3  bedroom/3 bath – List price: $1,095,000 – Sale price: $1,105,000 – price per square foot: $534.85

 

View from 352 Riviera Circle

 

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Waterfront living in Larkspur

This brand new listing from Frank Howard Allen is located at 352 Riviera Circle, in a prime Larkspur Marina location with a deep water boat dock.  You can experience vacation living all year long in this extensively remodeled home. The desirable one story floor plan provides easy indoor/outdoor living and a spectacular water view. The level backyard with large lawn area leads to the private boat dock with access to the bay. A true sanctuary setting, yet close to downtown Larkspur, schools, shopping and transportation.  Call me at 415-505-4789 to view this stunning waterfront home.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Home Affordability Still Soaring; New Records Reached

Home Affordability Q1 2011

Home affordability moved higher last quarter, buoyed by stable mortgage rates and falling home prices nationwide. The National Association of Home Builders reports that Q1 2011 Home Opportunity Index reached an all-time high for the second straight quarter last quarter.

Nearly 3 of 4 homes sold between January-March 2011 were affordable to households earning the national median income of $64,400. It’s the 9th straight quarter in which home affordability surpassed 70 percent, and the highest reading in more than 20 years of record-keeping.

From metropolitan area to metropolitan area, though, affordability varied greatly.

In the Midwest, for example, affordability was high. 7 of the 10 most affordable markets were in the Midwest, including Kokomo, Indiana, in which 98.6% of homes were affordable to median income-earning families. Indianapolis, Indiana placed second for “big city” affordability.

The most affordable “big city” last quarter was Syracuse, New York. With a 94.5% affordability rate, Syracuse ranks 8th nationally in the Home Opportunity Index. It’s the second time that Syracuse placed first in the last 4 quarters.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of home affordability, the “Least Affordable Major City” title went to the New York-White Plains, NY-Wayne, NJ area for the 12th consecutive quarter. Just 24.1 percent of homes were affordable to households earning the area median income, down more than 1 percent from the last reading. 

The San Francisco Bay Area ranked next to last, with 33.2 percent of homes affordable.  Because of the very high desirability of the Bay Area our prices have always been and continue to be among the highest in the nation.  Despite our ranking, home affordability is at the highest it’s been in the Bay Area in many years as our home values, while still high relative to the rest of the country, have been trending down since the height of the market in 2007. 

Regardless of where you live, remember that rising mortgage rates can levy more pain on your budget than can rising home values. And mortgage rates are expected to rise long before home prices do.

The rankings for all 225 metro areas are available for download on the NAHB website.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Home Price Index Shows Values Down 19 Percent From Peak

HPI delta from peakHome values dropped for the sixth straight month in March 2011, according to the Federal Home Finance Agency’s Home Price Index. The Home Price Index(HPI) is a government-sponsored home value tracker.

The HPI report is the latest in a string of “falling home values” stories — a trend that’s troubling home sellers nationwide.

However, although the Home Price Index says home values are falling, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are. Like most statistics in the housing sector, the Home Price Index is plagued by poor methodologies and a lack of timeliness.

Despite its shortcomings, though, we can’t ignore the Home Price Index completely. It’s among the most thorough home valuation models available, and it’s used in public policy discussions. When the HPI says prices are down, Wall Street and Capitol Hill take notice, and that trickles down to everyday life on Main Street.

Since peaking in April 2007, the Home Price Index is off 19.1 percent

Marin County Home

Let’s look at why the Home Price Index is flawed in four ways.

The first big flaw in the Home Price Index is that it only measures the values of homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Homes financed via FHA, or via other means are specifically excluded from the calculation. For today’s purchase market, that leaves more than 1 in 4 homes “uncounted” — a big percentage of the market.

Second, the Home Price Index determines home values by measuring price change from sale to subsequent sale. This eliminates new homes — a major market segment nationally.

Third, the Home Price Index reports on a 60-day delay; we’re only now seeing data from March. This two-month lag renders the HPI a trailing indicator for the housing market instead of a forward-looking one. If you’re a home buyer looking for market insight, the HPI can’t give it — it’s out-dated and out of season.

And, lastly, the Home Price Index only tracks values and reflects trends on a national basis.  Our local market in Marin County often bucks national, state and even Bay Areal trends.   In Marin County the average sales price for single family homes has declined from $1,485,000 at the height of the market in September 2007 to $987,609 in April 2011 or 33.5%.  Again, this is a county wide number, and price declines vary by city/town and by price range and condominiums have lost more value than single family homes.  For trends on our local market, you can refer to my April Marin County Market Update.  To receive my monthly newsletter with my detailed market update and useful tips, send me an email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com.  

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


All-Natural Pest And Weed Control For Your Garden

If you’ve spent time making your garden look great this spring, you’ll want to spend time helping it stay that way through the summer. This brief video will teach you how to keep your yard pest- and weed-free using eco-friendly products and nature, itself — all without the use of dangerous chemicals.

Some of the tips in the video include:

  • Planting flowering nectar-bearing plants to attract “beneficial” insects
  • Using electronic repellents and netting to keep pests away
  • Adding a bird feeder to your yard

And, of course, you’ll want to use all-natural pesticides made from the extracted oils and fruits and spices which, when combined, keep weeds and bugs under control.

One thing to remember with respect to lawn care, though, is that “organic” doesn’t always mean “greener” and better for the environment.  A recent study has found that in certain instances, organic products have a higher environmental impact because they need to be used in much larger quantities.   Spot-application of a chemical-based product may be best for your lawn’s particular needs, and you might consider using harsher, traditional pesticides in small quantities when needed.

When in doubt, talk to a lawn care specialist.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Distressed Homes Now Selling At A 20 Percent Discount

Existing Home Sales April 2011The housing market recovery stalled last month. At least temporarily.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales slipped 1 percent in April from the month prior, falling to 5.05 million units on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. The reading is exactly in-line with report’s 6-month average which also reads 5.05 million units.

The data may appear “average”, but there’s another angle to consider. 

In April, as compared to March, the supply of existing homes for sales spiked. At the current pace of home sales, it would now take 9.2 months to exhaust today’s complete home inventory. This is almost one full month worse than March. It’s the worst home supply reading of the year.

There are also more homes “on the market” today than at any time since September 2010.

Other noteworthy statistics in the April Existing Home Sales report include:

  • 31 percent of all homes sold in April were purchased with cash
  • First-time home buyers bought 36 percent of all homes in April
  • Distressed properties typically sold at a 20 percent discount

This “discount”, it should be noted, is a major reason why distressed properties accounted for 37 percent of the home resales in April. Home buyers are finding bargains when they’re willing to consider homes in various stages of foreclosure and short sale.

Overall, the April Existing Home Sales report represents opportunity for home buyers. Home sales are stagnant, supplies are rising and there’s no shortage of properties from which to choose. Furthermore, mortgage rates remain low.

If you’re considering a home purchase this fall, home supply may not be as ample, and financing conditions may not be as favorable, post-Labor Day. Talk to your real estate agent about what’s possible today. You may want to move up your time frame.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Marin County Market Update – April 2011

 

 Single Family Homes April 2011 March 2011 April 2010
Median Price: $759,000 $814,500 $865,000
Average Price: $987,609 $1,036,341 $1,164,496
Home Sales: 155 180 159
Sale/List Price Ratio: 95.40% 94.80% 95.50%
Days on Market: 93 100 80

After a strong rally in March, Marin County home sales fell in April to 195, 58 of which were distressed sales (including short sales and foreclosures). 

Months’ supply of inventory is lower than last year at 5 months—a balanced market is generally considered to be 6-7 months—with close to 1000 homes listed for sale at the end of the month.  Average days on market is just below 100 at 93.

Sales of single-family, re-sale homes fell in April to 155 from 180 in March. Year-over-year, single family sales were off a modest 2.5%. Year-to-date, however, single family home sales are up a healthy 9.3%.   

Mediterranean style home – Greenbrae

The median price for single-family, re-sale homes dropped 6.8% in April to $759,000 compared to $814,500 in March. It was down 12.3% year-over-year. The average price was down 15.2%, year-over-year.  But as supply shrinks with inventory down and demand increases with the number of sales trending up, we should start seeing prices level off.  If you are a seller, the increased demand does not mean you can become complacent: buyers remain picky, and are looking for well presented, turnkey homes in the best locations.  Pricing your home to correctly reflect its condition, amenities and location is essential to ensure buyer interest.

The range of April selling prices was from a low of $120,000 (for a small, foreclosed condominium in Novato) to a high of $4,650,000 (for a stunning estate in Kentfield).

The lower end of the market—below $1 million– continues to outperform the higher end.  The percentage of homes priced at $1,000,000-$1,999,000 and $3,000,000 and up has edged down slightly as compared to March.  The $2,000,000 to $2,999,000 has come up from 17.11% in contract in March to 20.41%.   Many of the higher end sales continue to be cash purchases.

Marin County – Single Family Residences as of May 3, 2011
  Total Active In Contract % In Contract
ALL PRICES 1087 331 30.45%
0-$999K 627 247 39.39%
1MIL-$1,999K 262 55 20.99%
2MIL-$2,999K 98 20 20.41%
$3MIL + 100 9 9.00%

 

FIRST TIME BUYER HOUSING AFFORDABILITY INDEX AT AN ALL TIME HIGH

With mortgage rates trending back down after rising earlier this year and prices continuing to slide, the opportunity is here for buyers to purchase their Marin County dream home at a cost they could only dream of until recently. 

While buyers are still in the bargain hunting mode, they are realizing that affordability is at an all time high.  As a result, multiple offers are more and more common, resulting in a higher number of sales at or above –albeit modestly so– the asking price: of the 195 homes that sold 14 sold at their original asking prices and 29 sold over their original asking prices. 

The chart below shows the upward trend of the home affordability index, which has only gone up as prices have continued to come down since 2010.

CITY BY CITY ANALYSIS

City by City Analysis-Single Family & Condos May 3, 2011. All price ranges combined  
City  Total Active In Contract % In Contract
Sausalito 69 22 31.88%
Belvedere 33 2 6.06%
Tiburon 111 18 16.22%
Mill Valley 182 45 24.73%
Corte Madera 52 20 38.46%
Larkspur 37 13 35.14%
Greenbrae 34 12 35.29%
Kentfield 39 11 28.21%
Ross 21 6 28.57%
San Anselmo 80 28 35.00%
Fairfax 30 12 40.00%
San Rafael 311 106 34.08%
Novato 321 127 39.56%

Of the 13 Marin towns and cities, 4 increased their percentage in contract, 6 decreased, and 3 remained essentially unchanged. With 40% of listed properties in contract, Fairfax replaced Greenbrae which was at the top of the heap in March with an amazing 51.43%.   Novato is still doing well at 39+%, with Corte Madera close behind at 38%. Larkspur and Greenbrae are both hanging in nicely at about 35% and San Rafael just above 34%. Belvedere is back down to 6%, with only 2 of 33 listed properties in contract as of May 3: definitely a buyers’ market and a great opportunity for high-end buyers!

If you– or someone you know–are thinking of buying or selling a Marin County home, time is of the essence to take advantage of the spring selling season.  Call me at 415-505-4789 or email me at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com.  For a wealth of information, statistics, pictures and videos on Marin County please visit my website at www.YourPieceOfMarin.com and my www.Facebook.com/YourPieceofMarin and www.Facebook.com/LiveinLarkspur pages.



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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.