Design Friday – Powder Room Facelifts

If you follow me on Pinterest, you already know I love Marin County and have a passion for real estate and interior design. I have decided to start a new feature on my blog on Design and will post on Fridays to inspire you just in time before the week end to start a new project or just enjoy beautiful pictures you can re-pin and save for the future.

Let’s start with Powder Rooms!

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Photo from TheDecorista.com

If you are itching to redecorate your home and experiment with some of the new 2015 design trends, your powder room is the best place to start. A recent Realtor Magazine blog post reports that more home owners are turning to the powder room to make a dramatic statement. They are packing in a lot of design into these often small spaces according to the 2015 Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, a survey of more than 3,000 home owners about their bathroom remodeling plans.

Home owners report that their powder room renovations are mostly driven by the desire to do cosmetic touches, and therefore, they are finding affordable, do-it-yourself upgrades to spice up the space. Your powder room can make a bold statement with personalized touches such as unusual sinks, mirrors (click on the image of my Mirrors Pinterest Board for some great examples,) tiles and wallpaper–which have made a huge comeback.

Talking about wall paper, while it may seem counterintuitive, patterned wall paper is a great way to make a small space feel more roomy, according to this article from Porch.com on how to make your small bathroom look bigger. Large scale patterns trick the eye into perceiving a foreground and a background, which makes walls feel farther away. Furthermore, you can get away in a small space with bold prints which might feel overwhelming in larger rooms, and you can splurge on the more expensive wall papers as you don’t need as much of it. You can find great “papier peint” at DeGournay.com. There are also many options now for easily removable wall papers that you can find on my Wall Treatments Pinterest Board.

In Marin County, while many master bathrooms are more neutral in style and color–think light colored marble or quartz–many home owners are being more adventurous in their powder room. I have seen many powder rooms with great swagger and painted either in very dark colors–black, navy–, or very bright–red, orange, bright green.  Wall paper is also a big favorite.

Just how bold are your prepared to be? Here is some inspiration for you from my Pinterest boards, just click on the photos below. Have fun!!!

 

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 mirrors large

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wall treatments large

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you are considering selling, let’s strategize on how to prepare and price your home for maximum returns. If it’s time to buy, let me know so I can give you the inside info on each neighborhood that may be right for you. In the meantime, have a wonderful summer.

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About the Author: The above interior design information was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi. 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 innovative and comprehensive 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 empowers me to leverage the unique combination of Sotheby’s global resources, Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty’s growing market share and local knowledge with my unmatched social media networks to provide highly personalized service and unmatched exposure to my clients’ properties locally and worldwide.

I would welcome the opportunity to show you how I consistently get outstanding Real Estate results for my clients. I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789. 

 

 

 

 

 


Why You Need a Permit When Remodeling Your Marin County Home

In Marin County, homeowners are required to obtain a building permit before they begin remodeling or making modifications to their property.

Why You Need a Permit when Remodeling Your Marin County Home - www.YourPieceofMarin.com by Sylvie Zolezzi

There are various types of permits depending on the type of construction/remodel you are undertaking and the city where your property is located. Some cities are much more vigilant (and sometimes more unreasonable) than others in enforcing permit laws. Before you do any work , make sure to contact the relevant building department to verify whether or not your project requires a permit. Permits are not required only for room addition or major remodels, as many homeowners believe, but are often required for minor upgrades to your home such as installing a new water heater or new windows.

If your home is in an unincorporated part of Marin County, you will deal with the Building and Safety Division which serves the public by enforcing State and County building codes and ordinances to ensure buildings are safe for occupancy. If you are in one of the 11 towns or cities of Marin County, you will have to apply for your permit with their respective building departments. Here are links to the County website and each of the respective cities/towns’ websites:

County of Marin
City of Belvedere
Town of Corte Madera
Town of Fairfax
City of Larkspur
City of Mill Valley
City of Novato
Town of Ross
Town of San Anselmo
City of San Rafael
City of Sausalito
Town of Tiburon

HOW/WHEN TO APPLY FOR YOUR PERMIT:

In order to receive a permit, the homeowner or his contractor are required to file an application and pay fees to the County or town/city. Certain cities, including San Rafael, have online permit centers allowing homeowners to obtain certain e-permits for straightforward upgrades such as residential water heater replacements, furnace replacements, electrical upgrades, window replacements and reroofs. Generally however, you or your contractor have to go in person to the County or City/Town Building Department to file the permit application (which you can download from their website) and pay the fees.

For major projects, you have to submit plans. Inspections are often required, and this means having to schedule and then wait for inspectors to approve the work to be done and approve the work once it is finished (“finalizing” the permit.)

When issued, most permits become null and void if work does not begin within 180 days of their date of issuance, or if work is not performed in a continuous manner for a period in excess of 180 days.

 

THE TEMPTATION OF NOT GETTING PERMITS

Most home owners are faced with the temptation to avoid getting a permit at one point or another for the following reasons:

Why You Need a Permit When Remodeling Your Marin County Home

  1. One common reason homeowners skip the permit process is to save money. Either they do the work themselves, have a friend or relative experienced in home renovations do it for free or they hire an inexpensive (maybe unlicensed) contractor to do it for a lower cost. It is understandable, as the cost of home improvements and additions can get quite high when you add high labor costs to the cost of materials. Your friend – or inexpensive contractor you hire – may convince you that you do not need to get a permit as they don’t want to have to worry about doing the work up to today’s stringent safety standards. This can lead to potentially hazardous conditions in your home and jeopardize the safety of your family. Don’t listen to them! You will be the one suffering from the long term consequences for not getting the permit. Also keep in mind that when you sell your home you can reduce the amount of capital gains taxes that you owe by documenting the improvements you have made on the house: if you do the work yourself or have cousin Charlie do it for you for free, you cannot include any labor cost in the total amount of the improvements to deduct from your assessed basis at the time of sale.
  2. The permit process can be time consuming and inconvenient in the short run. It is for this reason that some homeowners skip the permit process and why some contractors encourage them to do so. But it is well worth it. I speak from experience as many of my clients have had very traumatic experiences when selling their home due to non-permitted work, or permits that were not “finalized,” which means the work was not inspected when completed, resulting in the permit becoming void with time.
  3. But the real reason that many homeowners don’t pull permits isn’t because they want to avoid paying a few hundred dollars to the town hall or dealing with the inconvenience that comes with the whole process. They want to avoid having their home’s property taxes jump up as their home’s value is reassessed after the permits are pulled: when you add a bedroom or refinish your basement and add usable square footage to your property, your home’s assessed value is increased to reflect the improvements you’ve made. If you do the work without permits, the likelihood that the town will find out about your improvements is small until you apply for a permit for a subsequent project or sell the home. But is it really saving you money and a huge hassle in the long run?

WHY YOU SHOULD GET A PERMIT:

As tempting it may be to skip the permitting process, you should consider the serious problems that can arise when you avoid getting the necessary permits when remodeling your home.

  1. Unless your home is in the unincorporated part of the County, when you sell your home in Marin County, you will have to order a City Resale Inspection during which the City inspector is more than likely to identify the un-permitted work.Getting a permit retroactively can frequently be significantly more expensive and much more problematic than having obtained the permit before work commenced. If work was not done up to code and in accordance with the city regulations, or if the inspector is unable to determine if the work was done properly, you could be required to open walls and/or tear up floors, so that the inspection may take place, and in a worst case scenario, to redo the work up to code. Furthermore, you will be charged stiff penalties after your un-permitted work has been called out.
  2. Even if the inspector does not call out your un-permitted renovation, you will have to disclose it to potential buyers. In California when selling your home you have to fill out a form named the Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement in which you disclose everything you know that could materially affect the value of your home. And yes, you guessed it, one of the questions is whether you have done any “room additions, structural modifications, or other alterations or repairs … without necessary permits,” and you should answer it honestly. By not disclosing the lack of permits you run the risk of getting sued down the road by the buyer who purchases your home. The majority of law suits in real estate transactions stems from lack of disclosure. When you don’t pull a permit and something tragic happens years down the road, you run the risk of a lawsuit.
  3. Even in low inventory markets that favor sellers, buyers are typically concerned with any improvements that do not have the proper permits. In the mind of potential buyers a lack of permits can mean there may be safety and quality issues. Electrical work done haphazardly by a homeowner or a local handyman instead of a licensed electrician who follows safety regulations and standard building practices could be perceived, and rightly so, as unsafe by a buyer with small children. The fact that you do not have a permit may also result in the buyers wondering whether you were trying to cut corners. Whatever the truth is, buyers often suspect shoddy craftsmanship when there is a missing permit. As permits have become a hot topic, more buyers ask for permits to be pulled during the transaction, and fewer buyers accept work done without permits. This means you may have to discount your sale price or perform costly or time-consuming repairs before title can be transferred.

4. In some cases it is even possible that you may not have insurance coverage if there was a major catastrophe like, for example, a fire caused by faulty electrical wires or the un-permitted installation of a wood stove.

 

MORAL OF THE STORY – SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF NOW!

Resale inspections have become an opportunity for local Marin governments to generate additional revenue. And as such it has become a lot more difficult to get around non permitted work any longer. So if you are a homeowner, and want to avoid an increase in property taxes due to a room addition or significant remodel that will increase the value of your property, be forewarned. And please don’t let your contractor talk you out of pulling a permit for your remodeling project. You could be fined several times the permit fee (three times in San Rafael and Novato) in addition to the cost of the permit (which is based on the value of your project) and the penalties can run not just into the hundreds but thousands of dollars. It’s a stiff price to pay for not having contractors work with the local building department when doing the work. Understandably some contractors don’t want to pull out permits for work because they don’t want to go through the hassle. Plans need to be drawn up, submitted and approved. Inspections need to take place and job cards signed off. All of this takes time, and can be quite frustrating.

Home resale inspections standards in Marin County vary widely and the Marin Association of Realtors has made repeated attempts over the years to have the towns/cities adopt common inspection principles, including posting inspection rules, procedures and potential penalties publicly; making timely inspections so home sales aren’t held up; avoiding excessive fees; making standards between inspectors consistent in a given city; and accepting work that conformed to standards in effect at the time it was done.

The lack of consistent standards in a given city has become quite a serious issue for homeowners lately, especially in San Rafael, 

If you are a prospective buyer of a property, save yourself the future trouble and loss of money by researching whether all work on the premises has been done according to code and with the proper permits. You may obtain these permits by going directly to Building & Safety in the municipality in which the property is located.

If you are considering selling, let’s strategize on how to prepare and price your home for maximum returns. If it’s time to buy, let me know so I can give you the inside info on each neighborhood that may be right for you. In the meantime, have a wonderful summer. 

 

Additional information about permits can be found in these two excellent articles:

The Importance of Getting Permits for Additions and Improvements by Bill Gassett

Building Permits: When a Permit is Required and When It’s Not via Houzz



 

White glove service - www.YourPieceofMarin.com by Sylvie ZolezziAbout the Author: The above article about Why You Need a Permit When Remodeling Your Marin County Home was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi. 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 innovative and comprehensive 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 empowers me to leverage the unique combination of Sotheby’s global resources, Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty’s growing market share and local knowledge with my unmatched social media networks to provide highly personalized service and unmatched exposure to my clients’ properties locally and worldwide.

I would welcome the opportunity to show you how I consistently get outstanding Real Estate results for my clients. I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.

I sell homes in Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur,Greenbrae, Kentfield,Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato, with a special focus on Central Marin.

 

 


Marin County Real Estate Market Update – May 2015

HOW IS THE MARKET?

The consumer confidence index rose to 95.4 in May, after dipping to 94.3 in April.  How did this improved confidence affect the real estate market? Let’s take a look at the national real estate market, the San Francisco Bay Area and zoom to the Marin Market. This approach provides some useful perspective to understand how Marin is faring compared to the rest of the country, and why you need hyper local data. Please note that national and regional industry figures lag our local sales statistics which are available shortly after the close of the month.

This photo posted on Day 15 was the most popular of the collection.
Sausalito Floating homes – Marin County, CA

 

National Outlook:

Home prices have rebounded so far this year, and housing market statistics across the nation have indicated homeownership is on the rise in just about every area of the U.S. The health of once-hurting markets, like Florida and Arizona, is on the mend, while the cream-of-the-crop markets, including New York and California, continue to see their real estate conditions better nearly across the board.

Six of the top-10 seller’s markets across the U.S. in April resided in California, with Alameda and San Francisco leading the pack (108% sale price percentage of market value,) as reported by RealtyTrac.

The overview through the first quarter showed strong and widespread gains throughout most of the country. As reported by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA,) home prices are now, on average, roughly 20 percent above where they were three years ago. As of March 2015, nationwide home price gains have been at least 4% on an annual basis for roughly three years. This increase has been historically exceptional and is particularly remarkable in light of the limited household income growth and modest rate of overall inflation observed during that same time period. Much of it is attributable to the upward pressure on prices resulting from the current tightness of supply conditions.

Year over year, home prices rose 6.8% and were up 2.7% month over month. The median sales price in April was $203,500.

In spite of this impressive increase, the national home sale prices are still 9% below the peak for the US market. In contrast, Marin has recaptured the equity loss of the recession and the square foot price is just 2% below the peak which was in 2007 for Marin County.

San Francisco ranked first in Trulia's 10 cities best positioned to thrive in 2011Bay Area’s real estate market:

The region’s real market has been on a wild ride with insatiable demand from buyers, including a large number of tech workers and international buyers, and a challenging low supply of homes for sale (and for rent.) As reported in the DQNews February Bay Area Press Release, the median sale price has risen year over year for 35 straight months, beginning in April 2012. The February 2015 median sale price’s 4.6 percent year-over-year gain compared with February 2014 marked the smallest annual increase for any month since the median price began rising year over year in April 2012. In comparison, the February 2014 median sale price rose 33.3 percent from February 2013.

The Bay Area median sale price was $565,000 in February 2015: it had peaked at $665,000 in June and July 2007 and dropped to a post-boom low of $290,000 in March 2009. Marin’s median price was $850,000 in February 2015, and $935,000 in April 2015.

Mortgage Rates and Activity

The good news for new and existing borrowers is mortgage rates have remained near all-time record lows in the first five months of 2015, with long-term mortgage rates staying below 4%. This affordability is acting as a strong market motivator and has led to a spike in home loan applications — particularly during the start of the traditionally busy spring home buying period.

 

MARIN MARKET SNAPSHOT

The Marin market continues moving at a fast pace. Properties that are priced correctly and well presented elicit multiple offers, often all cash, from eager buyers willing to pay over the asking price to secure the property. It is important to note, however, that buyers are well educated about values and only the sellers who price their property realistically are rewarded with quick offers. This continued high demand for a limited inventory of properties for sale has pushed the median price of a single family home up to $1,171,000 in May, from $1,018 in May 2014, a 15% increase year over year. However, despite this high level of demand, sales of single family homes decreased from 928 for the first five months of 2014 to 855 for the same period this year as the inventory of homes for sale has remained lower than last year (with 391 homes available for sale at the end of May 2014 compared to 329 at the end of May 2015.) Compared to April however, we enjoyed a seasonal increase in inventory as homeowners who typically wait until spring to put their home on the market got off the fence, prompting a 12% increase month over month in the number of active listings for sale.

As home prices continue to increase, we anticipate additional inventory as sellers take the opportunity to cash out their equity. The biggest challenge for sellers in this market is finding a local replacement residence, and the rental market is severely impacted by home sellers in between properties.

Marin County Market Update - Market Snapshot for single family homes in May 2015 - www.YourPieceofMarin.com by Sylvie Zolezzi

 

HOME SALES BY AREA

The number of homes sold increased slightly month-over-month. Sales rose for Corte Madera, Fairfax, Kentfield, Mill Valley, San Anselmo, Sausalito and West Marin. Novato, Mill Valley and San Rafael occupy the top three locations in Marin County for highest unit sales for the month of May, holding these positions for the third month in a row. Days on market are spanning between an incredibly low 12 days in Greenbrae and a high of 1,183 in Belvedere where ultra high end properties tend to take much longer to sell.

Marin County Market Update - Home Sales by Area for May 2015 - www.YourPieceofMarin.com by Sylvie Zolezzi

 

HOMES IN CONTRACT

In May Greenbrae’s activity reached an impressive 75% of homes in contract, a 32% increase month-over-month. Greenbrae and San Anselmo are now occupying the top two spots for highest percentage of Marin single family homes in contract for May, with Fairfax following closely behind. Beach Cities, Greenbrae, Ross, and San Anselmo homes in contract have increased month-over-month, while all other Marin cities have decreased in percentage.

Marin County Market Update - Percentage of Homes in Contract in May 2015 - www.YourPieceofMarin.com by Sylvie Zolezzi

 

AVERAGE SALE PRICE

The average list price of homes sold in Marin decreased slightly in the month of May, not straying too far from about $2.5million. As predicted, the summer months are bringing demand for property in Marin even higher, yet the inventory of property in May increased slightly, leveling out the average listed prices of homes. The market is expected to see buyer demand continuing to rise and average listed prices beginning to increase within the coming months.

Marin County Market Update - Average Sale Price - May 2015 - www.YourPieceofMarin.com by Sylvie Zolezzi

 

MARIN MARKET BY PRICE POINT

The number of active listings across all price points saw a steady increase month-over-month with the exception of the $4m-$5m range which experienced a decrease of 4 homes, 3 of which sold and one more moving into contract. The largest increase of active listings in Marin County month-over-month occurred in the $1m-$2m price range rising over 19% which is not surprising considering the slightly increased inventory in Marin moving into the summer months. There were significant increases in the number of sales under $3 million.

The high end of the luxury market made significant gains in Marin with two home sales over $10 million, indicating that the waiting may be over for sellers at the top of the market.

Marin County Market Update - Market Activity by Price Point - May 2015 - www.YourPieceofMarin.com by Sylvie Zolezzi

 

NUMBER OF HOMES LISTED AND SOLD

The number of single family homes sold in Marin increased slightly in May while there was a more substantial increase in the number of homes listed. With an increase, although not dramatic, of inventory in Marin, buyer traffic has continued to rise and the competition among buyers still remains. Multiple offers are still a norm in the Marin market under $3 million, and days on the market remain low.

Marin County Market Update - Number of Homes Listed and Sold in May 2015 - www.YourPieceofMarin.com by Sylvie Zolezzi

 

If you are considering selling, let’s meet to discuss how the numbers above have affected your neighborhood’s values and strategize on how to prepare and price your home for maximum returns. If it’s time to buy, let me know so I can give you the inside scoop on each neighborhood that may be right for you. 

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White glove service - www.YourPieceofMarin.com by Sylvie ZolezziAbout the Author: The above Marin County Real Estate Market Update for May 2015 was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi. 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 innovative and comprehensive 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 empowers me to leverage the unique combination of Sotheby’s global resources, Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty’s growing market share and local knowledge with my unmatched social media networks to provide highly personalized service and unmatched exposure to my clients’ properties locally and worldwide.

I would welcome the opportunity to show you how I consistently get outstanding Real Estate results for my clients. I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.

I sell homes in Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur,Greenbrae, Kentfield,Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato, with a special focus on Central Marin.