2012 Trends: Kitchen Remodels

Gaggenau Induction Cooktop

Are you planning on remodeling your Marin County kitchen in 2012? 

Kitchen updates rank among the most popular home improvements.  Kitchens are generally the room in the house where most families spend the majority of their time nowadays.  It is where families congregate at the end of the day and where people entertain. 

Kitchen upgrades provide an excellent return on the investment, even in a down economy. 

While a sluggish housing market and high remodeling construction costs continue to push down remodeling return on investment, a kitchen remodel has stayed relatively steady.  A major kitchen remodel still has a 68.7 percent return on investment for the 2011 cost analysis.  On a national average, customers spend $58,367 for a major kitchen remodel and recoup $40,126 in resale values.  Keep in mind this figure is a national average.  In the Bay Area, the cost tends to be higher. 

There are two things you should be vigilant about:

1. Do not spend too much on your remodel relative to the overall value of your home.  In other words, you have to avoid “over-improving” your home relative to your neighborhood. 

2. Make sure your new kitchen matches the over all style of your home and if it opens up to your dining room and/or family rooms, choose cabinetry and finishes that will match the style and level of sophistication of these rooms seamlessly.

Miele Coffee Center

You will want to read about the hot new trends in kitchen design, many coming our way over the Atlantic from Europe.

The new must-haves include concealed or built- in appliances, including induction cooking (popular in Europe for many years) or built in coffee makers (I love the Miele Coffee System), intuitive Touch Screen Interfaces (easy to use and with a memory), High Tech Design (appliances that will closely resemble iPads) and steam ovens.

Read more here about kitchen remodels.

If you need a referral to a great contractor or any other vendor, feel free to contact me for a referralt to a great professional in Marin County.  Email me 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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

 

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  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 Real Estate Market Update – Where are we headed in 2012?

Welcome to 2012!  May it be your best year yet and may all your real estate dreams come true!

Where is the Real Estate market headed for 2012?

The real estate market is already off to a more energetic start this year than last year at the same time and I do believe, as most experts tend to agree, that the worst is over and that 2012 will be the year housing turns the corner and starts heading in a more positive direction.  

It’s been a bumpy ride for the real estate market in the past five years as witnessed by a drop of nearly 40% in housing prices nationwide.  Click here for an update on the 2011 national real estate market.  However, as positive factors–low interest rates and the lure of affordability—and negative factors–the dark cloud of foreclosures, stiffer lending requirements and the struggling economy—continue to offset one another in 2012,  we can expect prices to finally stabilize, setting the stage for gains in 2013 as the economy continues to recover.  Of course the European crisis and the uncertainty of the elections could throw a wrench in this cautious recovery.   

On a local level, Marin County has weathered the storm better than most areas as one of the most thriving economic areas nationwide.  The Bay Area continues to create jobs and attract investments, and Marin County leads the state with the lowest unemployment rate at 6.5%, as recently reported in the Marin IJ.  

Signs of recovery in Marin County

As 2011 came to an end, the signs of a slow and guarded recovery in our market were evidenced by a slight increase in the number of sales—up approximately 4% compared to 2010–, continuing a three year upward trend.  Single family homes unit sales went from 1,831 in 2010 to 1,917 in 2011, and condo unit sales went from 479 in 2010 to 583 in 2011.

Sales by Price Range

It is important to note the shift in the percentage of homes sold by price point in the past six years: in 2005, half of the sales were in the $800,000 to $1.5 million range and 28.5% of the sales were below $800,000.  In 2011, the trend reversed and almost 55% of the sales were below $800,000 and 30.26% of the sales were in the $800,000 to $1.5 million range.

Single family home median prices have trended down, pressured by short sales and REOs and the shift in market mix, dropping 20% from $941,000 in 2005 to $721,000 in 2011 and average sales prices from $1,211,000 in 2005 to $957,000 in 2011. Most analysts attribute about half of the average price decline to loss of value, with the other half attributable to market mix, as seen above.

Below is a chart illustrating the trends for all property types for the county and each town/city for 2011 as compared to 2010.

Low Inventory and Pent Up Demand

While many areas of the country are struggling to liquidate their high inventory, Marin County finished the year with a meager 413 single family homes for sale, compared to 552 at the end of November: a 25% drop in inventory and to 719 in December 2010, a 43% drop!!   

Why is Marin’s inventory so low compared to the rest of California’s?  It is in great part the product of our no-growth policy: because of the limited number of newly constructed homes, sales of homes from sellers moving up to bigger homes or downsizing to smaller ones have traditionally fueled the bulk of the activity in our market.  As many homeowners are under water, they are postponing their move up or down.

Single Family Home Inventory – Marin County

City by city Analysis

As a result of the low inventory, the percentage of homes in contract is very high, with almost 41% of all homes in contract in Marin County.  Here is the percentage of homes in contract per city as of January 3, 2012.

 

Greenbrae continues to lead the pack with over 50% of its listings in contract.  Belvedere, on the other hand, has only one of its homes for sale in contract out of 21!

Affordability is at an all time high

This could be one of the best times in the past twenty years to buy real estate in Marin County, as long as you are buying to hold for a minimum of five to seven years.  The market fundamentals—low home prices and historically low interest rates—create a unique window of opportunity.  Savvy, qualified buyers striving to take advantage of this increased affordability have encountered fierce competition however as inventory remained stubbornly low all year, as discussed above.

In the last few months I have represented several clients involved in multiple offer situations.  With the shortage of inventory, well priced, well presented homes in good locations are generating a lot of interest and often receiving multiple offers.   Here is a chart illustrating the national housing affordability index for the period 2008-2011.

I am working with several qualified, motivated buyers who cannot find a home in Marin County!  Sellers thinking about putting their well-priced home on the market in the near future will likely attract serious activity.

Have you formulated your real estate plan for this year, the next 3-5 years?   I would be happy to sit down with you to help you evaluate the value of your home if selling is on the horizon for you, and to help you craft a plan if buying a Marin County home ranks among your goals for 2012. 

 I am here to serve.  Feel free to contact me at 415.505.4789 or 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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  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.

 

 


A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (January 25, 2012)

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishWednesday, the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within its current target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

The Fed Funds Rate has been near zero percent since December 2008.

For the third consecutive month, the Fed Funds Rate vote was nearly unanimous. Just one FOMC member dissented in the 9-1 vote, objecting only to the language used in the Fed’s official statement.

In its press release, the Federal Reserve noted that the the U.S. economy has “expanding moderately” since its last meeting in December 2011, adding that the growth is occurring despite “slowing in global growth” — a reference to ongoing economic uncertainty within the Eurozone.

The Federal Reserve expects moderate economic expansion through the next few quarters but is wary of “strains” from global financial markets, and these three threats to the U.S. economy :  

  1. The housing sector remains “depressed”
  2. The unemployment rate remains “elevated”
  3. Fixed business investment has “slowed”

On the positive side, the FOMC said that household spending is rising and inflation remains in-check. The group also believes that employment will gradually improve nationwide going forward.

The Federal Reserve neither introduced new economic stimulus, nor discontinued existing market programs.

Immediately following the FOMC’s statement, mortgage markets rallied, pressuring mortgage rates to fall. 

Mortgage rates remain near all-time lows and, for homeowners willing to pay points plus closing costs, conventional, 30-year fixed rate mortgages can be locked at below 4 percent. If you’re in the process of buying or refinancing a Marin County home , it’s a good time to lock a mortgage rate with your lender.

The FOMC’s next scheduled meeting is a one-day event slated for March 13, 2012.

I am here to serve: feel free to contact me with your real estate questions or needs at 415.505.4789 or 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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  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.


Existing Home Sales Approach Bull Market Territory

Marin County ended the year demonstrating the signs of a slow, cautious recovery with improved sales compared to the previous year for the third year in a row!  Click on the link to read my Marin County Year End Market Report. 

For now, let’s look at the national market, it has a huge impact on national policies and the economy.

Existing Home Supply 2011The housing market nationwide finished 2011 with strength, and is carrying measurable momentum into 2012. 

According to data from the National Association of REALTORS®, on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis, December’s Existing Home Sales nationwide climbed by 120,00 units overall from the month prior on its way to an 11-month high.

An “existing home” is a home that’s been previously occupied; that cannot be considered new construction.

After 4.61 million existing homes were sold in December, there are now just 2.38 million homes for sale nationwide.  The last time the national home supply was this sparse was March 2005.

At today’s sales pace, the complete, national home inventory would be exhausted in 6.2 months — the fastest pace since before the recession.  A 6.0-month supply is believed to represent a market in balance. 

The December Existing Home Sales report contained noteworthy foreclosure and short sale statistics, too :

  • Foreclosures sold at an average discount of 22% to market value
  • Short sales sold at an average discount of 13% to market value
  • Together, foreclosures and short sales accounted for 32% of all home sales

Clearly, “distressed homes” remain a large part of the U.S. housing market.

Furthermore, in its report, the real estate trade group also noted that one-third of homes under contract to sell nationwide succumbed to contract failure last month.  That’s up from 9% one year ago.

Contract failure occurs for a multitude of reasons, most notably: homes appraising for less than the purchase price; the buyer’s failure to achieve a mortgage approval; and insurmountable home inspection issues. December’s high failure rate underscores the importance of getting pre-approved as a buyer, and of buying homes in good condition.

For today’s home buyer, December’s Existing Home Sales figures may be construed as a “buy signal.”  Home supplies are dropping and buyer demand is rising.  This is the basic recipe for higher home prices ahead.

If your 2012 plans call for buying a home, consider that home values are expected to rise as the year progresses. The best values of the year may be the ones secured this winter.  For detailed information about what can be expected in Marin County in 2012, please read my Marin County Year End Market Report.

I am here to serve.  Feel free to contact me with your real estate questions or to set up an appointment to discuss your 20121 real estate plans.  Contact me at 415.505.4789 or Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com.

41 Estelle Avenue, Larkspur, CA - my beautiful new listing!

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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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  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.


When Should I Change My Home’s Air Filters?

Keep a clean air filterAs winter and rain have finally arrived in Marin County, we are spending more time indoors and the quality of the air we breathe in our homes becomes even more important.

How long has it been since you last changed your home’s air filters? 

Home air filters trap and remove dust and particles from the air you breathe; leaving “clean air” to circulate your home. And clean air in your home is important because it promotes better health.

One way to keep your home’s air as clean as possible is to replace its used air filters at least once per quarter; or once monthly in homes with shedding pets or that otherwise “get dusty”.

Changing air filters is among the easier do-it-yourself chores for a homeowner; a task that takes less than one minute. The secondary benefit of doing it is that new filters help keep your HVAC unit in tip-top shape. 

Here’s how to change your home’s air filter :

  1. Open the air filter compartment door/slider on your HVAC unit.
  2. Note the size of your current filter. It’s typically written on the frame.
  3. Note the direction in which the filter is pointing. There may be an arrow on its frame.
  4. Purchase a new filter at a hardware store. Make sure the sizes matches the size from Step 2.
  5. Remove the old filter. 
  6. Replace old filter with the newly purchased one from Step 4. Make sure the arrow is pointing in the same direction as the original filter’s arrow.
  7. Using a marker, note the date of filter change on the side of the filter.
  8. Close the air filter compartment door/slider.

And that’s it.

When you find a filter type and style that you like, consider buying them in bulk — it can be helpful to have extra air filters laying around the home for when you need them — especially during season changes when you may want to replace filters more frequently.

In addition, when purchasing air filters, don’t opt for the cheapest available. Often, the least expensive filters allow large particles to recirculate through the HVAC unit, and back in to your home. Choose a middle- or top-line product instead.

Your home and your health will thank you.

I am here to serve.  Call me any time you or someone you know has a question about Marin County real estate. I can be reached at 415.505.4789 or 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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  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.


Behind The Housing Starts Headlines, The Story That Matters

Housing Starts 2010-2011

When it comes to housing data, sometimes you have to look past the headlines. December’s Housing Starts data offers a terrific illustration of why.

Each month, the Census Bureau tallies Housing Starts for the month prior. A “housing start” is a home on which construction has started.

The Housing Starts report is separated by property type. There is a count for single-family homes; a count for 2-4 unit homes; and a count for buildings of 5 units or more, a category including apartments and condominiums.

In December, as reported by the government, Housing Starts fell 4 percent nationwide overall. This runs contrary to recent strength in housing and the story was quickly picked up by the press :

Now, although these headlines are factually true, they’re also are a little bit misleading.

Housing Starts did fall 4 percent last month but that was for all Housing Starts, across all three property types. Data like this is somewhat irrelevant to home buyers nationwide.

Few buyers purchase 2-4 unit homes, and almost nobody purchases an entire apartment building. Rather, it’s the Housing Starts reports’ “single-family” tally that matters because that’s the home type that the majority of home buyers purchase.

In December, for the fourth straight month, Single-Family Housing Starts increased.

Single-family housing starts climbed 4 percent last month to 470,000 units on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. This is the highest number of Single-Family Housing Starts since April 2010 — the last month of last year’s home buyer tax credit.

The Single-Family Housing Starts data is the latest in a series of data that point to a housing rebound nationwide. New Home Sales, Existing Home Sales, Pending Home Sales and Homebuilder Confidence have each posted multi-month highs and all are poised for strong gains into 2012.

Why is this important for us in Marin County you may ask, since we have so little new construction?  The health of the national housing market has a huge impact on the overall health of the economy and on national policies.

For information about the state of the real estate in your Marin County neighborhood, call me at 415-505-4789 or subscribe to my enewsletter to receive my monthly updates by emailing me at Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com.

And talking about homes…here is one of my very favorite Larkspur homes!

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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  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.

 

 

Gorgeous home in Larkspur

 


How To Clean An Exposed, Interior Brick Wall

Do you have an exposed interior brick wall in your Marin County home?  Exposed brick can add a nice, decorative touch to your home, but because brick is a porous material and prone to staining, it can be cumbersome to clean.

Standard household detergents alone are rarely enough to clean brick properly, so if your home features exposed interior brick, plan to use alternative cleaning methods instead.

Here is how to do it.

First, find a pair of sturdy rubber gloves to protect your hands from the harsh brick surface and from your cleaning agents. Then, with a dry dish cloth, gently wipe the entire surface of the brick wall to remove loose dirt and dust.

Next, pour a grease-cutting dish detergent into a small bucket. Do not add water to the detergent. Add a small amount of table salt instead.

Mix well.

Next, apply a thin layer of the soap-and-salt mix to the bricks using a cloth and allow the mix to sit on the bricks for 10-15 minutes. Then, with a hard-bristled scrub brush, gently scrub the brick to remove the stubborn dirt.

Lastly, dip a clean dishcloth into a warm water-filled bucket and use the dishcloth to remove the detergent mix from the wall.

Allow the wall to air dry.

Cleaning exposed interior brick is more complicated than cleaning other household surfaces but a clean brick wall can help reduce in-home health hazards and keep your brick in its best possible condition for the long-haul.

If you need to buy or sell a house with an interior brick wall, or any Marin County house for that matter, make sure to contact me at 415.505.4789 or 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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  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.


Will Home Values Rise This Year?

Will your home gain value over the next 12 months? Nobody can know for sure, of course, but should recent housing trends continue, there’s concrete cause for optimism.

The housing economy has suffered since 2007, knocking home values down nearly 20% nationwide. And while some areas have fared better as compared to others, in general, home values are down, including here in Marin County.

Mortgage rates are down, too, and that’s good news for buyers. The combination of low rates and low prices has led home affordability to an all-time high. As you’ll hear in this 4-minute interview with NBC’s The Today Show, carrying a mortgage costs 25% less per month as compared to just 3 years ago.

Some other notes from the interview include :

  • There are more buyers out looking for homes today, which leads to more sales
  • The housing market is expected to get gradually better, month-by-month, in 2012
  • Foreclosures will continue to be a big part of the housing market

With housing supplies shrinking, buyers may find their best “deals” today — before the Spring Buying Season begins in February.

However, we can’t forget that housing markets are local — not national. Each town and neighborhood has its own market drivers and prices where you live may have already started to climb.

For accurate, up-to-date data on our Marin County housing market, talk with a local real estate agent.  I am happy to answer your questions.  Contact me at 415.505.4789 or Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Corte Madera Creek, Greenbrae

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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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  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.

 

 

Fed Minutes Show An Improving U.S. Economy and Housing Market

Good news! FOMC Minutes December 2011The Federal Reserve has released the minutes from its most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting. The Fed Minutes are a detailed meeting recap; the companion piece to the more brief, more well-known press release.

As a comparison, the minutes of the last FOMC meeting contained 60 paragraphs and 7,027 words. The post-meeting press release was just 5 paragraphs and 382 words.

December’s Fed Minutes shows Fed members with a positive, cautious, take on the economy.

Recent data suggests that the U.S. economy is expanding, the Fed said, but “strains” in global financial markets pose “significant risks” to the downside. This tell us that the Fed believes its economy-stimulating programs are working, but that officials remained concerned by events in the Eurozone.

The U.S. economy could be impacted by fallout. 

Other meeting consensus included : 

  • On growth : The economy is expanding, despite slowing in “global economic growth”
  • On housing : Data suggests the “depressed” market “could be improving”
  • On inflation : Prices are stable, and remain within tolerance levels

The Fed’s analysis was of little surprise to Wall Street, and going forward, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke wants to keep it that way. The Fed Minutes contained a passage regarding market communication, and how the Fed will be more pro-active about it in the future. 

With the release of its minutes, in a section called “Market Policy Communications”, the Federal Reserve showed its plans to release 4 times annually its economic forecasts, and plans for the Fed Funds Rate. This signals in a shift in Federal Reserve transparency.

The Federal Reserve will begin including the forecast in its economic projections beginning after its next policy meeting, January 24-25, 2012.

Mortgage rates were little changed after the release of the Fed Minutes.

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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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  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 Could Suffer from Thursday’s Retail Sales Data

Retail Sales Growth (2008-2011)

Consumer spending continues to rise nationwide, fueled by jobs growth and a rosier outlook for the U.S. economy. Unfortunately for mortgage rate shoppers nationwide and here in Marin County, it may also lead to higher mortgage rates later this week.

Thursday morning, the Census Bureau will release its U.S. Retail Sales data for December. The report is expected to show an 18th consecutive monthly increase, with analysts projecting sales volume higher by 0.4 percent from November.

This would be double the increase from last month, which saw a 0.2 percent increase in Retail Sales.

The Retail Sales report tallies receipts collected by retail and food-service stores nationwide. When the sum of these receipts rise, it puts pressure on mortgage rates to do the same. The connection is straight-forward.

Retail Sales are the largest part of “consumer spending” and consumer spending accounts for the majority of the U.S. economy — up to 70 percent, by some estimates.

As the economy goes, so go mortgage rates.

Remember: today’s ultra-low mortgage rates have been partially fueled by weak economies — both domestic and abroad — going back 4 years. Stock markets have sold off as economies have faltered worldwide, leading investors to seek refuge in the relative safety of U.S.-backed mortgage bond market. The new-found demand for mortgage-backed bonds has helped drop mortgage rates to levels never seen in history.

When economic recovery is apparent, therefore, we should expect a mortgage rate reversal, and should expect for it to happen quickly. Stock markets should rise; bond markets should fall. Mortgage rates will climb. Rate shoppers will lose.

Last week’s strong jobs report sparked hope for the U.S. economy. If Thursday Retail Sales data reveals similar strength, the risk in “floating” your mortgage rate may be too great. The safer play is to lock your rate today.

The Retail Sales report will be released at 8:30 AM ET.

 

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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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  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.