Four Easy Ways to Reduce Your Water Consumption by 25% in Marin County

Did you know we are experiencing the driest year on record since 1879 in Marin County and it’s high time we start seriously conserving water?

Water conservation in Marin County - 2014 - www.YourPieceofMarin.comConsidering that seventy five percent of our water comes from rain captured in seven Marin County reservoirs, we are highly dependent on rain and our water supplies are precariously low. On January 21, the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) Board of Directors passed a resolution requesting a voluntary 25-percent reduction in water use by all water users. We did have some heavy rains since then, and we are expecting more precipitation tomorrow, but the drought is still on, and it’s time to conserve.

The plan is: If our water storage levels drop below 40,000 acre-feet by April 1, 2014, MMWD will activate 25% mandatory reductions. If you have already been conserving significantly over the last year or two, you will not be expected to further reduce your water use now and you will not be penalized for prior conservation efforts.

MMWD reports that it has heard from many of its customers that they have already started cutting back on a voluntary basis. Have you?

We are all in this together. Each of us has a responsibility to conserve water. Every little bit you conserve today, during the voluntary reduction phase, will help us preserve our existing supply.

Marin residents have done it before. After three bone-dry years in 1974-77, the water district imposed rationing of 35 gallons a person, using a billing program that imposed stiff fees for excess use, and a similar program is now under review. OUCH!

According to MMWD, the average daily use per person in Marin has increased steadily over the past two years to 88 gallons of water per day. A 25% reduction in use would bring it down to 65 gallons per day, almost twice the daily consumption during the previous drought!

Chart courtesy of Marin Municipal Water District
Chart courtesy of Marin Municipal Water District

MMWD recommends four easy ways to reduce your water consumption starting today:

Chart courtesy of Marin Municipal Water District
Chart courtesy of Marin Municipal Water District

There are many other ways to conserve this precious resource around your home and your yard, including the use of gray water. The MMWD has approved joining Mill Valley and other agencies in a program promoting gray water systems.  Click here for more conservation tips from the MMWD’ website. As spring approaches, make sure to adopt drought resistant gardening habits: click here for a guide to water saving plants.

There appears to be nothing in the current water management plan for the County about increasing supply. Until our water supply can be increased, our only solution is to conserve.

It will take our community’s focus on this important goal — every single drop counts. It’s going to depend enormously on individual actions, yours and mine.

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White glove service - www.YourPieceofMarin.com by Sylvie ZolezziAbout 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 am an award winning Realtor specializing in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I offer a wide range of real estate solutions for buyers, sellers and investors, attracting clients who demand excellence—in marketing, negotiations, market knowledge—and a genuine concern for their needs. My association with Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty allows me to provide a high-end luxury experience to all my clients at every single price point.  It also enables me to leverage our unique combination of local knowledge and global resources, providing highly personalized service and unmatched exposure to my clients’ properties locally and worldwide.

I service all of  Marin County’s beautiful towns: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


The Story Behind Tiburon’s Iconic St. Hilary’s

This charming Tiburon’s iconic hillside landmark is a great favorite of mine. The charming little building is sited in a magical setting, overlooking one of the best views in Marin and surrounded by a wildflower preserve. More on the preserve later.

It was originally a mission church named for St. Hilaire, Bishop of Poitiers, France. The one-quarter acre site with its spectacular view of the Bay and San Francisco was deeded for $2 to the Archdiocese of San Francisco by the heirs of of John Reed—who held title to El Rancho Corte Madera del Presidio, the Mexican land grant that included the Tiburon Peninsula. The Archdiocese built the church as a place of worship for local railroad workers in 1888.

The building is of significant architectural importance because it is one of the few remaining Carpenter Gothic churches to survive in its original setting. It is constructed of redwood, with redwood doors and a Douglas fir ceiling. Amber glass replaced the original stained glass windows after they were broken. The stained glass window above the door has been restored and depicts St. Hilary (fourth century), patron saint of scholars. It was a gift from Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin Lyford.

The current electric lights are replicas of coal-oil chandeliers. Heating and water are modern additions. Original furnishings include the white altar rail and two stands for statues on either side of the sanctuary, as well as the restored Stations of the Cross in the nave. A donor salvaged the cross from a church in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The church was deconsecrated to make way for a new, larger one and was headed for destruction until several individuals intent on preserving local history established the Belvedere-Tiburon Landmark Society and purchased the site and building in 1959.

It has served as a schoolroom and town meeting hall and is now a popular setting for weddings, concerts and other memorable events. The Landmarks Society’s mission is to acquire, preserve and maintain artifacts, landmarks, and open space of local historic significance and make them available to the public.

The Wildflower Preserve

The John Thomas Howell Wildflower Preserve, adjacent to Old St. Hilary’s Landmark, is home to several rare plants, including the Tiburon paintbrush, Tiburon buckwheat, Marin dwarf flax and the black jewel flower, which exists only in serpentine on the tip of the Tiburon Peninsula.

The rarity and profusion of plants is a result of the preserve’s geology, which includes steep hillsides of serpentine, level areas of deeper soil and a series of fresh-water springs. With full sun and prevailing winds, the area allows an impressive number of sedges, rushes and grasses to thrive along with attractive and conspicuous flowers.

I don’t claim to be an expert on any of these plants, but I love meandering through the preserve all year round. To find out more information about the preserve’s treasures throughout the seasons, please visit the Landmark’s Site.

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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 am an award winning Realtor specializing in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I offer a wide range of real estate solutions for buyers, sellers and investors, attracting clients who demand excellence—in marketing, negotiations, market knowledge—and a genuine concern for their needs. My association with Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty allows me to provide a high-end luxury experience to all my clients at every single price point.  It also enables me to leverage our unique combination of local knowledge and global resources, providing highly personalized service and unmatched exposure to my clients’ properties locally and worldwide.

I service all of  Marin County’s beautiful towns: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.

 


Marin County Market Update – January 2014

Bay Area Market Update January 2014 - www.YourPieceofMarin.com by Sylvie ZolezziBay Area Market Update

I like to start my review of the Marin Market with a quick analysis of the Bay Area market to give some geographical context to our market trends.

Bay Area home sales remained at a six-year low in January, largely because too few properties are being put up for sale, reported San Diego based real estate information service DataQuick in a recent article. However, DataQuick’s President said continued price appreciation could help inventory expand over the next few months.

Home sales always decline from December to January, usually around 30 percent. “Mid-winter numbers don’t really tell us much about upcoming activity. March is much more predictive….This spring should be interesting. We may find out how much pent-up supply and demand is still on hold from the great recession, and how it will play itself out,” he added.

Meanwhile, prices went through their normal mid-winter dip, but are still well ahead of year-ago levels. The median price paid for a home in the Bay Area in January was $525,000. That’s down 4.3 percent from $548,500 in December, but up 26.5 percent from $415,000 in January 2013. To put it in perspective, the Bay Area median peaked at $665,000 in June and July 2007, then dropped to a post-boom low of $290,000 in March 2009.

The Bay Area luxury market -especially the $2 million to $3 million range, was as hot as the rest of the market in 2013.

 

Marin Market Snapshot

Marin County Market Snapshot SFR - January 2014 - www.YourPieceofMarin.com

In Marin County,  our unusually dry January encouraged an abundance of eager buyers to continue competing for a limited choice of properties.  This lack of inventory across the county caused the sales volume decrease.

While still relatively low, the number of active listings for Single Family Homes in Marin increased substantially from the previous month, with the number of listings in contract tripling. This indicates that as well-priced homes come on the market they are quickly going into contract. Just like in the rest of the Bay Area, the average sale price increased significantly from $1,177,000 in December to $1,484,000, 22 percent higher than the 2007 peak.  The price per square foot in January jumped from $526 to $596, just 1 percent under the 2007 peak monthly average of $601.

 

Marin Market by Price Point

Marin County Market by Price Point - www.YourPieceofMarin.com

Most of the activity continues to be in the lower price range. Nearly 60% of Single Family Homes in Marin that were active and available for sale were under $2 million but they represented nearly 80% of the sales.

Rising interest rates and the slow economic recovery didn’t seem to have much of an impact on the high-end market, according to industry economists. There were 3 or 4 months of inventory at all price points up to $7 million. With no sales over $7 million, the months of inventory in that price point is significantly larger. There were two sales over $6 million this month. The Sotheby’s International Realty brand represented all four sides of those transactions.

 

Home Sales in Marin by Area

Marin County Home Sales by Area - January 2014 - www.YourPieceofMarin.com

Novato had the highest number of sales, followed by Mill Valley and San Rafael with 28, 17 and 15 sales, respectively. The Beach Cities (Stinson Beach, Bolinas and Muir Beach) had the highest priced home sale in January, at $6,400,000. The next highest priced sale was for $6,200,000 in Tiburon.  The days on market were the greatest in the most expensive areas–Beach Cities, Belvedere and Tiburon–that attract fewer buyers with their more expensive properties.

 

Average Sale Price

Marin County SFR Average Listed and Sold Prices - January 2014 - www.YourPieceofMarin.com (640x379)

As illustrated by the chart above, the Average Sold Price surged to $1,490,000 in January from $1,177,000 in December 2013, a 26 percent increase, and from $1,000,000 in January 2013, a huge jump of 49 percent year over year.  As the market moves out of its cyclical holiday lull, and inventory increases, we anticipate the increase in both the Average List and Sale Price to slow down.

 

Homes in Contract

Marin County SFR percent in contract - January 2014 - www.YourPieceofMarin.com

Corte Madera continues to thrive with an overwhelming 75% of inventory in contract for the month of January. Seven of the Marin locales in our report have half or more of their inventory in contract for the month of January. The fewest homes in contract were in Belvedere at 5%; luxury homes have a limited exclusive buyer pool, which also contributes to Belvedere having one of the larger average days on market at 220, as mentioned above.

 

Number for Sale and Sold

Marin County SFR Homes for Sale and Sold in January 2014 - www.YourPieceofMarin.com (640x379)

The number of Single Family Homes for sale in Marin in January 2014 is higher than the number of homes for sale last March, although the number sold was about the same as in January 2013.

The heavy imbalance between supply and demand and resulting surge in prices over the past year and a half has driven most home owners back above water. This should bring even more sellers into the market come spring, and I would expect rising inventory to moderate price gains this year.  Which is why, if you are thinking of selling, you may want to consider coming on the market now while inventory is still very scarce and the competition among buyers as fierce as ever, leading to multiple offers and handsome sale prices.

Feel free to contact me to discuss your options, or just to find out how much equity you have in your home today.

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White glove service - www.YourPieceofMarin.com by Sylvie ZolezziAbout 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 am an award winning Realtor specializing in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I offer a wide range of real estate solutions for buyers, sellers and investors, attracting clients who demand excellence—in marketing, negotiations, market knowledge—and a genuine concern for their needs. My association with Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty allows me to provide a high-end luxury experience to all my clients at every single price point.  It also enables me to leverage our unique combination of local knowledge and global resources, providing highly personalized service and unmatched exposure to my clients’ properties locally and worldwide.

I service all of  Marin County’s beautiful towns: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.

 


2013 Marin County Market Report

For monthly updates on the state of the Marin County Real Estate Market, subscribe to my blog.

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White glove service - www.YourPieceofMarin.com by Sylvie ZolezziAbout 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 am an award winning Realtor specializing in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I offer a wide range of real estate solutions for buyers, sellers and investors, attracting clients who demand excellence—in marketing, negotiations, market knowledge—and a genuine concern for their needs. My association with Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty allows me to provide a high-end luxury experience to all my clients at every single price point.  It also enables me to leverage our unique combination of local knowledge and global resources, providing highly personalized service and unmatched exposure to my clients’ properties locally and worldwide.

I service all of  Marin County’s beautiful towns: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


2014 Top New Trends in Bathroom Design

bigstock-Modern-Bathroom-interior-with--56523659 (640x378)

The bathroom is the new den. Today people want luxury in their bathrooms. They want to feel like they’re going into a spa.

More and more, people are retreating to the bathroom to relax and even luxuriate after a day in the rush-rush world, according to a recent MSN Real Estate Article.  Homeowners are upgrading the rooms — outfitting them with everything from soaking tubs to heated floors – turning them into a sanctuary.

But luxury and comfort aren’t the only motivating factors. An upgraded bathroom helps sell a home and can be a good investment. And Marin County is no exception to this trend.

If you’re planning a remodel, here are twelve trends to consider, both for yourself and for the market. I have noticed them in many of the poshest Marin County homes.

Large, airy showers: Showers are big, literally. In small bathrooms, homeowners are tearing out the tub to expand the shower. Not only is the stall getting larger, it’s getting more airy, with much more glass. Some homeowners are even taking out partial shower walls, or all shower walls entirely, and making the entire tiled bathroom a shower — a European approach that requires correct drainage.

Noisy Jacuzzi’s replaced by soaking tubs: The tub is far from dead, however; it’s just changing. People today prefer the quiet, serene experience of a soaking tub.

Let the light and the view in: Now that they spend more time in the master bathroom, home owners want them to be brighter and more sun-filled than before.  That means adding windows and even skylights to a bathroom to bring in light and views.

Remodeled bathroom in San Anselmo - www.YourPieceofMarin.com

Remodeled bathroom with view of Mt. Tam – San Anselmo, CA

The big blow: What bathroom couldn’t use better ventilation to clear off mirrors ASAP and extend the life of the finishes? Jeff King of San Francisco’s Jeff King & Co. recommends a remote fan — with a motor elsewhere, such as the attic — because it “is about 10 times as powerful” as an old-school fan and costs only about $50 more. “They’re also extremely quiet” if installed properly, King says. Also on the market are fans with humidity sensors that switch on automatically.

Walling off the loo:  One of the biggest trends I have witnessed in both new construction and higher-quality remodels is privatization of the toilet—another European approach. This means giving the master bath’s toilet its own private room, or at least a privacy wall.  This includes relocating the toilet where it makes sense, and where it’s inconspicuous. You may think it’s impractical to move things, but with PVC pipes it can be done fairly easily for a couple hundred bucks.

Bathroom as entertainment zone: OK, so it’s not exactly a sports bar. But more folks are requesting creature comforts such as small refrigerators and flat-screen TVs. Why not hide your flat screen behind a mirror, where you don’t see it until it’s turned on?

Smarter storage: Additional storage is a big need in bathroom remodeling. Several experts say vertical storage is really catching on, because it works well, while saving space. People really enjoy the pre-manufactured medicine cabinets or vanity cabinets that have an outlet inside for an electric toothbrush, shaver or curling iron. These remove the items from out in the open and give the bathroom a much less cluttered look.

Dueling vanities: Homeowners in Marin continue to ask for his-and-hers sinks and vanities, even in small bathrooms. Sinks keep on becoming more stylish, too. Homeowners are interested in “vessel sinks” that rise up from a base, or faucets that protrude directly from a wall, or sinks that have their own legs or stand.

Grab bars: Once found only in nursing homes, grab bars are hand bars bolted to walls in showers and above tubs to help keep people from falling. They’re appearing in many bathrooms now. A big reason is that baby boomers are graying and looking for a surer grip. But younger people are accepting them, too, because the bars no longer look so institutional, some even look attractive.

Bring on the heat: Designers often add radiant electric heating to clients’ floors, the ultimate luxury in my book. Who wants to step on cold tiles? Companies such as Nuheat sell a mesh that is placed under the tiles when they’re set, and then is connected to a thermostat on the wall. The cost has become much more reasonable: it’s not thousands of dollars, a bathroom could be just hundreds.

IMG_6778 (225x300)Good tiles and dark paint: Linoleum and glazed tiles are so yesteryear. Italian marble is the new material of choice in Marin County.  But you don’t have to bust the bank on imported marble to enliven your floor or walls. Porcelain tile, stone tile and glass tile are also gaining in popularity and are very attractive solutions.

A caveat here: Especially if you think you might be selling your home in the next several years, I recommend sticking with more natural tones in things such as glass tiles — cool greens, light browns, clear glass colors. You can strike a bolder note with things that are not permanent, such as towels, bowls, and paint.  I have noticed of late a definite trend to go bold with paint, especially in small powder rooms: black, dark gray or brown, red are more common and make a beautiful, striking statement.

On-demand water heaters and other green products: With so much interest today in luxury and indulgence — heated floors, soaking tubs, flat screen TV’s — it could be easy to lose sight of the larger trend in home remodeling: sustainability and green ethics. There are several ways to make your improvements more energy-wise: If you do put in a heated floor, make sure it’s attached to a timer. Also, check out the latest low-flow toilets by companies such as Toto and Kohler that have two buttons: One releases much less water, when very little is needed. Another thing that’s become more popular in Marin is these on-demand water systems. The unit heats water almost instantaneously, eliminating the need for a water heater.

If you are planning on selling your home and would like to discuss how to best prepare your home for sale, I would be happy to meet with you and go over your options. I can recommend top notch professionals to help you whether a major remodel or just a few minor upgrades are in your plans.

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white glove serviceAbout 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 am an award winning Realtor specializing in luxury residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I offer a wide range of real estate solutions for buyers, sellers and investors, attracting clients who demand excellence—in marketing, negotiations, market knowledge—and a genuine concern for their needs. My association with Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty allows me to provide a high-end luxury experience to all my clients at every single price point.  It also enables me to leverage our unique combination of local knowledge and global resources, providing highly personalized service and unmatched exposure to my clients’ properties locally and worldwide.

I service all of  Marin County’s beautiful towns: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.