Marin County Real Estate Market Update – November 2015


As we approach year end, the real estate market seems to be slowing down a little. According to data just published by the California Association of REALTORS®  (C.A.R.) California existing home sales posted below the 400,000 level in November, down 8.4 percent compared with home sales in October and down 1.6 percent compared with home sales in November 2014. The year-to-year decrease was the first since January 2015. Is this the result of buyer demand finally waning?

Marin County Real Estate market update - November 2015 -

Tiburon, CA 

The new mortgage disclosures may have contributed to the drop in sales, according to C.A.R.’s president.  “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Know Before You Owe TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure, or TRID, which was implemented in early October, may have affected home sales in the last couple of months,” he said.”Some sales may have been either pulled forward into September to beat TRID’s effective date or been delayed. The impact, however, should be transitory as the roll-out and implementation process move further along.”

According to Andrew Lepage, a research analyst with CoreLogic, a real estate information firm: “The [decline in the number of sales] could be the result of lower affordability and also a still-tight inventory of homes for sale.”

Properties are generally selling below the list price in California according  to C.A.R., except in the San Francisco Bay Area where a lack of homes for sale is pushing sales prices higher than original asking prices, and thus decreasing affordability. The Bay Area is the only region where homes are selling above original list prices due to constrained supply with a ratio of 101.4 percent in November, down from 102.2 percent in October and up from 100.6 percent a year ago.

Affordability is becoming more and more a factor driving market activity: while the California housing market overall is softening in October, Mr. Lepage noted that sales have been increasing in some of the Bay Area inland areas, home to the region’s most affordable homes. Zillow ‘s predictions for 2016 are that, as affordable housing close to city centers grows increasingly scarce, people will move farther out. Dense, “walkable” suburbs with an urban feel – especially those that offer good access to the city – will be 2016’s new hot spots.

While affordable may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of Marin homes, our real estate is relatively affordable compared to San Francisco real estate.

I was quoted in a recent Marin Independent Journal article on the Marin Real Estate market, commenting  on this very fact: “In addition to the typical buyers we get — families who want to move here for the schools and the weather — we have people who are priced out of San Francisco.” San Francisco buyers find they get so much more house for their money in Marin.

The most recent nationally compiled data showed that the west has had the biggest gains in home prices. No surprise here: the Bay Area economy is the strongest in the nation. While some markets are still catching up, our market has fully recovered from the recession and our average sales price is actually higher than it was at the peak. The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro took the top spot in the country with the highest year-over-year increase of 7.97%. The top ten included four California metro areas, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Riverside-San Bernadino-Ontario and Stockton-Lodi.

Finally, a last note on a factor that may affect the real estate market in the months and years to come: “The Federal Reserve’s announcement [yesterday] to raise the federal funds rate negligibly has long been anticipated and shouldn’t have a significant adverse impact on the housing market since rates are still historically low,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “In fact, it may spur potential home buyers who have been waiting on the sidelines to finally jump in now that they see the rates may continue to rise slowly in the next couple of years.”


In Marin, the November numbers followed the same general trend and were lower than a year ago. They also predictably diminished from October due to seasonality and the drop of activity that accompanies winter and the holiday season. Winter typically offers the best buying opportunities (sellers who keep their home on the market during the holidays are generally very motivated) and historically has had the lowest sale prices.

However, the luxury market has been active and has influenced November’s Average Sale Price for single family homes which exceeded $1.5 million, 23% above the peak in 2007.

Marin County Real Estate Market Update - November 2015



Home sales in Marin County experienced a decrease of about 22% from October to November, although there was notable growth in both Larkspur and San Anselmo.

Marin County Real Estate Market Update - November 2015 - Marin County Single Family Home Sales by Area - November 2015 - by Sylvie Zolezzi


Greenbrae is the hot spot with the highest percentage of homes in contract for the month of November at 100%. Fairfax and San Anselmo follow at 76% and 75%, respectively. The Beach Cities and Sausalito had the lowest percentage of homes in contract, but buyers are still engaged even with lower inventory.

Marin County Real Estate Market Update - November 2015 - Percentage of Marin County Single Family Homes in Contract in November 2015 - by Sylvie Zolezzi


The Marin County market experienced a slight decrease from October to November in the average list price and average sold price of homes. The decrease was more evident in average sold price month-over-month as the luxury market had no sales over $10 Million in November.

Marin County Real Estate Market Update - November 2015 - Marin County Average Sale Price for Single Family Homes in November 2015 - by Sylvie Zolezzi


The most active price point in Marin County remains at $1-$2 million, with some increased activity in the $7-10 Million range. With a Marin County record total of 7 homes over $10 Million sold in 2015 so far, and no sales in November, and none in contract, we can only wait to see if the upper-end portion of the market has concluded for the year.

Marin County Real Estate Market Update - November 2015


This year the winter months and holidays have slowed the inventory of homes on the market even more than is customary. We may see continued activity in the market but the inventory is expected to remain low until after the New Year.

Marin County Real Estate Market Update - November 2015

If you would like additional information about the market in your Marin neighborhood and how it is affecting the value of your Marin County home, please feel free to contact me at 415-505-4789 or

About the Author: The above Marin County Real Estate Market Update – November 2015 was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi. I am an award winning, top producing 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 or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.

How much is your Marin County home worth? by Sylvie Zolezzi

How much is your Marin County home worth?

Whether you are thinking of selling your home today or not, you may be wondering how much is your Marin County home worth. Maybe you are just curious:  you are thinking of refinancing your mortgage, pulling out equity, considering buying a bigger home, downsizing, moving to a retirement home. Ultimately a home’s true value is determined when you sell it: it is equal to the price a buyer is willing to pay for it and a seller willing to accept, and in both cases it will depend on a multitude of factors and circumstances. The home’s listing price when it first comes on the market will greatly influence how quickly the market responds with showings and offers, and the final sales price. There are many other factors that come into play as well.

How much is my Marin County Home worth? by Sylvie ZolezziSeveral of these factors are within a seller’s control, others are not.

Some of the main factors no one can control include the property’s location, age, the current economic conditions in the region and your own community, mortgage rates and the balance between supply and demand. Currently experts suggest real estate values are starting to plateau in the Bay Area as we are approaching 2016. If you are thinking of selling your home, now might be the time to consider selling and purchasing a new home.

Here are some factors that you can control if you are considering selling your home in the near future:

Price it right from the start: 

Did you know that one of the first questions buyers ask when they inquire about a property is how long it has been on the market? You stand to sell your home for the highest price when it first comes on the market during the “honeymoon period.” Pricing it right from the start is paramount because the longer the home remains on the market, the less attractive it becomes to buyers.

How much is my Marin County home worth? www.YourPieceofMarin.comSellers generally want to sell for the highest possible price and often argue that they will be “leaving money on the table” if they don’t start high, or won’t “leave room for negotiating.”  But pricing high and lowering the price later has been proven to yield a lower sales price. If you want to sell your home quickly, it’s important to understand that more often than not, overpricing can backfire, regardless of market conditions. It should stand out from the competition from the start.

Even in today’s market where demand is outpacing supply, it can leave you with nothing to show for your efforts but a stale listing.

Many homes have been selling in Marin County for more than their listing prices because a large number of buyers has been competing for a limited supply of properties. In such market conditions, it is tempting for sellers to overprice their home. But, if your home is priced noticeably above other comparable homes on the market in your area, it is likely to fall outside of many home buyers’ budgeted price range, resulting in a smaller pool of potential buyers. While your home is overpriced, buyers searching for homes like yours are writing offers on the ones that are correctly priced. When you finally lower the price to the correct number, buyers often wonder if the property is flawed. As a result, homes that experience one or more price reductions sit on the market longer, and ultimately sell for less than similar homes.

Find the “Goldilocks” price:

How much is your Marin County home worth? by Sylvie ZolezziWe all remember “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”: the timeless fairy tale in which a little girl stumbles upon the home of three bears while they are out in the woods. She tries bowls of porridge, chairs and beds—experiencing too hot, too cold, too lumpy and too soft—until she finds the taste and fit that’s “just right.”

Finding the “just right” or “Goldilocks” price for Marin County properties, not too high and not too low, can also be quite a challenge.

Hiring a savvy agent who will go beyond pulling a few comparable sales (comps) to price your home to come up with a price jis key. Otherwise, you might as well use the Zillow Zestimate!

Don’t get me wrong, comps are very useful in determining a home value. Looking at recent sales of homes in your neighborhood with the same amenities is a good first step. Checking active and pended  listings will also yield valuable information on your home’s competition. Withdrawn and cancelled listings can help identify patterns as to why the homes did not sell and any common factors they share.

However even the most recent comps are lagging indicators as they reflect deal terms that were agreed upon thirty or more days before the sale. Furthermore, so much more comes into play when it comes to how much your Marin County home is worth.

Marin is made up of many micro markets that behave very differently. In which town is your home located? Do you own a condominium, a town home or a single family home? Does your home have a water view or is it tucked away in one of our valleys or sited on a wooded hillside? Does it have a flat yard? Is it close to the freeway for an easy commute? Is it in a good school district? Into which price range does it fall? What are the trends, including the relationship between the level of inventory and demand, percentage of homes in contract and days on market in your town and/or neighborhood?

The level of inventory, as well as inventory increases and decreases for your specific property price segment, must also be included in the evaluation process as should velocity of sales, or the absorption rate.

In a low inventory market such as the one we are currently experiencing in Marin County, the best strategy to get the highest possible price for your home is to spur competition. You can increase the interest in your property by setting the price at its targeted market value (based on the most recent sales) or slightly below. The lower your listing price is, the more your property will be perceived as a good value and the more potential buyers’ budget it will suit. By keeping the pool of potential buyers as wide as possible with your initial listing price, you can actually maximize your sale price.

When analyzing comparable sales, often overlooked are the seller’s motivation and the buyer’s particular situation. Maybe the home down the street sold for an unusually high price because the buyer had written several offers on other properties without success, and he was desperate to finally secure a property before school started to get his two children in the school district before school started. Also very important is the competition for your home? Where else can the potential buyers for your home look and what is available?

And of course, what is your own motivation for selling? Are you moving up, downsizing? Are you getting a divorce, relocating to another area because of a job transfer? Is there an illness in your family necessitating a quick sale? When do you want to be in your next home?

Finally, keep in mind that if your price is too high your property may not appraise, jeopardizing the sale.

Based on all these factors you can determine how to position your home on the market.

The selection of the sales professional you choose to represent you:

How much is your Marin County home worth? by Sylvie ZolezziBased on the multitude of factors that come into play when pricing your home, it is clear that finding a trusted adviser to guide and advise you in determining the best asking price is paramount and will ensure a successful sale. The best agents know that agreeing to overprice a home, even in today’s market, is a huge disservice to their client.

Be sure to select an agent whose objective is to achieve the highest selling price, not just a sale, and represent your best interest. Most real estate professionals in Marin County are hard-working, ethical and competent. However, as is the case in any industry, there are always a few rotten apples that seem to spoil the bushel.

When an agent determines a very high price for your home, it can be music to your ears. They are supposed to be the experts, after all, right? But the price you are quoted by the real estate agent may not be what your home is worth, especially if the agent is in dire need of new business. It is an unfortunate reality that some agents will over inflate a home’s value to lure clients and, after the home has been languishing for weeks or months on the market without selling, will convince the seller to drop the price to where it should have been in the first place, or lower. The owner is desperate at that point, and the agent gets a sale.

Those same agents will probably agree to discount their commission without even trying to negotiate with you. If they cannot defend their own value, how do you think they will negotiate on your behalf and defend the value of your home?

Talking about discounted commission, you should know that while you may think that a discounted commission will mean a higher net price at closing, it may actually backfire and work to your detriment. In Marin, most listing agents share the commission of a fifty/fifty basis with the buyer’s agent. However, the commission split is not set in stone, and listing agents who agree to drastically cut their commission often offer the buyer’s agent a lower split, and thus a lower commission. When a low commission property comes on the market, there is a good chance that some Realtors will avoid showing the property to their clients. And that is very bad news for you. If fewer potential buyers see the home, your chances of receiving an offer will be negatively affected.

If selling quickly and for a good price is important to you, make sure the price is right from the start and the commission is reasonable. Weak Real Estate agents will often agree to an inflated price and cut the commission for no other reason than they have no business and are in desperate need of acquiring some!

This is why it is so important for home sellers to interview multiple real estate agents before they hire anyone. Beware of the agents who swear they can sell your home for more than anyone else and agree to the lowest commission, they probably don’t have your best interest at heart.

Finally, in case you are flirting with the idea of selling your home without the help of a professional, I encourage you to read this article that highlights the reasons why you might be better off not going at it alone: 14 No-Brainer Reasons Why You Should Use a Real Estate Agent.

The condition of your home, grounds and its curb appeal:

How much is your Marin County home worth? by Sylvie ZolezziIf your home is not newly constructed, has it been updated recently? Recently does not mean in the past twenty years. Case in point: the dark oak cabinets and granite counters that were the rage a few years ago are now making your home look dated. Same thing for your jetted tub in the master bath. Your price should reflect the age of your amenities.

In any case, your home should in the best showing condition as possible, starting with its curb appeal. This factor is missed by quite a few sellers. Buyers search for homes on line and often drive by their favorites to narrow down their selection. Great curb appeal will ensure that they don’t rule out your home without even seeing the interior. Proper upkeep and cleanliness of your home are vital to ensure your home makes a good first impression once they step inside. Understanding the scope and timeline of getting your home in its best condition can determine when you are ready to list. Give yourself enough time to plan ahead.

If you are wondering whether you should undertake a remodel or minor upgrades, and which ones provide the best return on investment, feel free to contact me for a no-obligation consultation. I can also provide advice on whether you might maximize your net sale price with staging.

The way your property is marketed:

How much is your Marin County home worth? by Sylvie ZolezziYour home must be found where buyers are looking if you want to get it sold fast. Did you know that over 90% of home buyers begin their search on the internet, and more and more commonly on a mobile device? That’s huge – 90%! Don’t you want your home to be found by that 90%? Posting your home on the MLS and plopping a “for sale sign” in the front yard used to work in the 20th century. To ensure the greatest online exposure for your home today, you’ll want to hire a tech savvy agent with strong online marketing abilities. Most agents claim that they have the best marketing, but do they really? To find out, check their website (does it look professional, is it easy to navigate, does it have useful content including tips, community information and market updates, and finally is it responsive, i.e. is it designed for easy navigating on all types of devices, including mobile phones?) Do they have a blog? Do they post consistently? How is their social media presence? Do they appear knowledgeable and professional? Do you like what you see? What do they do to stand out from the competition? This should be a strong indicator of what will they do to make your home stand out from the competition?

What about the home’s online presentation through the use of photos and video? Do they use professional, high quality photography? A single property website? Are they affiliated with a brokerage with a strong, internationally recognized brand that will ensure global exposure, such as Sotheby’s International Realty? Is the home presented in a way to draw in prospective buyers, and allow them to imagine themselves living in the home? Will it make them want to find out more, see the home in person and buy it? Click on this link to view one of my videos that successfully attracted a large number of buyers. 

The accessibility of your property for showings:

Once you have listed your property, cooperation and communication with your real estate agent will be key. If the home is not vacant, having the home ready for a showing on short notice and being very flexible will greatly increase the number of showings. Allowing a potential buyer full private access is also paramount.

How much is your Marin County home worth ?

How much is your Marin County home worth? by Sylvie Zolezzi

If you are just wondering how much is your Marin County home worth, please feel free to contact me. I can send you a quick analysis of your home’s value, including comparable sales and local market trends.

Should you desire a full, custom analysis of your home’s value, please call me at 415.505.4789 or email me at  to set up an appointment so that I may preview your home prior to preparing the Comparative Market Analysis.

All information you provide will be kept strictly confidential. While many popular real estate websites sell your contact information, you can rest assured that your information will not be shared with anyone.

Additional Helpful Home Pricing Articles

Don’t just take my advice regarding pricing a home. You can read more about the damaging effects of overpricing by reading articles from other top Real Estate Agents nationwide, including Bill Gassett and Lynn Pineda.

Home pricing mistakes to be avoided by Kyle Hiscock

Why negotiating room is not needed by Karen Highland

Set the right price for your home via

Pricing your home to sell by Paul Sian

Why picking the right real estate agent is critical by Bill Gassett

Reasons why overpricing your home is a bad idea  by Anita Clark

Why Real Estate Agents Take Overpriced Listings by Bill Gassett

Should I price my home higher knowing a buyer will try to negotiate down? by Lynn Pineda

Damaging Effects of Overpricing a Home by Bill Gassett

What can I do to sell my home fast? by Lynn Pineda

The article “How much is your Marin County home worth?” was written by Sylvie Zolezzi.