Marin County Real Estate Market Update – July 2017

Marin County Real Estate Market Update - July 2017


Welcome to my July 2017 Marin County Real Estate Market Update! Summer is in full swing, and many Marinites are on vacation. I have to admit I enjoy the lighter traffic and empty parking lots. On the real estate front, our market rebounded nicely in the spring after the slow start in Q1, and now is slowing down again as is typical in the summer months. Sales remained strong in June, reflecting the brisk activity in April and May. The imbalance between the sustained high demand and our reduced inventory of Marin homes for sale continues to push prices up, albeit at a slower pace than in the recent past.

So far this year, the hottest markets in terms of the number of overbids and sales over the list price have been Greenbrae (with the average sale price at 106.64% of the original list price), Corte Madera (105.73%), Kentfield (105.52%), San Anselmo (105.18%) and Fairfax (104.79%). Larkspur and Mill Valley properties sold for 103.36% and 102.05%, respectively, of the original list price. Novato was at 100.63%, San Rafael 100.54% and Sausalito 100.50%. In the high luxury markets, Ross was at 99.70%, Tiburon 99.45% and Belvedere at 91.48% as their high prices attract a smaller, less competitive pool of buyers. The lower number of foreign buyers this year compared to last year for very high end Marin properties is further reducing that pool.

The low supply of homes for sale remains our market’s major challenge, as more baby boomers are staying put instead of downsizing than in the past. Many of them are reluctant to move, fearing not to find a replacement property. Succeeding in managing the simultaneous sale of their existing home and purchase of their new residence is also another serious hurdle. What is the best option? Unless you have the cash, how do you handle the challenge? Some sellers qualify “all in,” i.e. they can get qualified for the second mortgage. Others use a cross-collateralization program, or a departing residence program. Others bite the bullet and use a bridge loan. I can introduce you to my preferred lender who is very knowledgeable of the ins and outs of these various options and can recommend the one best suited for your unique situation. This will determine whether you sell first, and then buy, or vice versa. With a well thought out strategy, you may be able to avoid having to write an offer contingent on the sale of your existing home.


Marin County Real Estate Market Update - July 2017

  •  The average number of active listings increased slightly in June compared to May, but was 8% lower than it was in June 2016.
  •  The number of new listings decreased compared to May, which is not unusual. It also was lower than in June 2016
  •  The number of sold properties was a little higher than in May, and also slightly higher than last June. One might expect that the decrease in active listings would choke off sales, but they remain strong.
  •  The number of pended properties (or properties in contract)the most accurate indicator of how the market is performing right now–was up month over month, and year over year–a strong testimony that demand remains high for Marin County properties.
  •  The average active (or list) price went down slightly month over month, but was up 3% year over year.
  •  The average sales price decreased month over month. The normal seasonal pattern is for prices to spike in the spring, and again in September, while settling a bit during the summer and winter months as activity wanes. Year over year, the average sales was up slightly. 
  •  The median sales price also decreased month over month, but went up by 2% year over year. It is important to keep in mind that while movements in the average sales price and median sale price are a great measure of what’s selling, they’re not necessarily an accurate measure of appreciation or changes in value and are extremely susceptible to changes in mix.
  •  Days on Market remained relatively flat month over month, and year over year. 
  •  The months’ supply of inventory (based on pended properties) decreased compared to May’s number and was down 26% year over year, a reflection of the increased level of absorption as demand continues to be higher than the supply of Marin homes for sale.

For a longer perspective on the market trends, let’s take a quick look at Q1 and Q2 statistics for the past six years:

Marin County Real Estate Market Update - July 2017

Since the recovery began in 2012, the major trends have been as follows:

the number of active listings has decreased steadily every year, and then remained almost flat in the first half of 2017 as compared to the first half of 2016.

the number of sales, after jumping in the first half of 2013,  has decreased every year, and then remained almost flat in the first half of 2017 as compared to the first half of 2016.

the average sale price, median sale price and average price per square foot have increased every year. The fundamental driver of price increases is, of course, demand outstripping supply.

average days on market has decreased steadily

Here are your best strategies in today’s market:

Buyers: The Marin market remains extremely competitive with demand remaining higher than supply. Understand that is is a tough market, not the type of market in which anything is going to feel like “a deal.” There are still multiple offers on prime properties, and homes selling for significantly over the list price. However, I am seeing more price reductions, as sellers are meeting with resistance when they try to push prices higher. The advice I always give aspiring homeowners bears repeating:

  • seek a pre-approval from a local, respected lender who can, and will, move fast
  • know what your budget and limits are
  • be prepared to make a decision fast and write your highest and best offer first, you probably won’t get a second chance
  • begin discussions early on about your housing wants and needs with a savvy Realtor who knows how to navigate this market
  • consider listings that have been on the market for a while: sometimes they don’t sell because they are overpriced, or they don’t check all the boxes. They might offer you the opportunity to make an offer with less competition and a very motivated seller.finally, listen to your agent: price is definitely very important to sellers, but you can make your offer attractive through other terms. A savvy agent can guide you and help you win. I just helped two buyers present the winning offer as they were competing with other eager buyers and close on their dream home after a short, smooth escrow. I would be happy to help you too!

Sellers: Buyers have access to more and more market information and are working with savvy agents who are very knowledgeable of values.

  •  it is important to work with an agent who is intimately familiar with market trends and values
  •  despite the seasonal slow down in our market, I am still seeing some overbids. Our market is still a strong seller’s market.

2.The Big Picture

The San Francisco Market

San Francisco is suffering from low inventory, just as we are in Marin, and prices are at record highs, while supply remains at record low levels, particularly for single family homes.

The hottest neighborhoods, based on the number of multiple offers received on properties, are actually some of San Francisco’s coolest in terms of weather. Parkside, the Outer Sunset, and Lake Shore and Lakeside are well within the foggy reaches of the Pacific Ocean. These are the most affordable neighborhoods for single family homes. Of course, Eureka and Cole Valleys are still hot, and remain very popular with techies wanting easy access to the South Bay. Meanwhile, luxury neighborhoods like Pacific Heights and Noe Valley seem to be reaching somewhat of a peak in their pricing, as overbids appear to be moderating — for now.  

The luxury condo market has seen a dramatic drop of almost 50% in sales reported to the MLS year over year, despite the fact that listing inventory in SOMA has hit new highs. San Francisco experts are surmising that because there have been large, very expensive, high-rise projects coming on the market, they may to some degree be cannibalizing MLS sales in the resale market. Furthermore, as foreign buyers have played a significant role here in recent years, it is possible (there is no hard data) that this demand has declined due to political issues in the US and in China as well.

The Economy

Employers added 222,000 new jobs in June, well above expectations, the Labor Department reported. April was revised up from 174,000 to 207,000, and May was revised up from 138,000 to 152,000 jobs. With these revisions, employment gains in April and May combined were 47,000 more than previously reported. The unemployment rate was little changed at 4.4 percent. Employment growth has averaged 180,000 per month in 2017, in line with the average monthly gain of 187,000 jobs in 2016.

However, average hourly earnings showed just a 0.2 percent gain from May and 2.5 percent gain year over year.

After a slight pause, US equity markets continued higher in June delivering the best quarterly earnings growth in five years. The US economy continues to offer a Goldilocks-like scenario of low unemployment, benign growth, and low inflation. The Dow Jones average closed at 21,475 at the end of June! However, given the tight labor market, the Federal Reserve (Fed) raised rates again in June and remain on track for 1-2 more increases this year.

In the first quarter of this year alone, household net worth climbed by $2.3 trillion and it is now a record $94.8 trillion, or five times GDP. This is much higher than during the housing or dotcom booms and no doubt a contributing factor to the record consumer confidence figures.

Consumer confidence increased moderately in June to 118.9 following a small decline in May, and remains much higher than last July when it was at 98. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved to a nearly 16-year high (July 2001, 151.3). Overall, consumers anticipate the economy will continue expanding in the months ahead, but they do not foresee the pace of growth accelerating”


Interest Rates

Bonds offered a different narrative. After falling since March, interest rates saw a sharp spike upwards at the end of June as investors responded to a less dovish tone from European central bankers. Mortgage rates still remain historically very attractive however. See below current interest rates as reported on Monday, July 17 by Terra Mortgage Banking:

Marin County Real Estate Market Update - July 2017


Number of Homes Sold

With 629 sold, Marin single family homes sales were up 123% from Q1 2017, and down 3% compared to the same quarter last year. Increased inventory, following a weather-hampered Q1 and an increasingly positive economic outlook, helped to fuel the Number of Homes Sold in Q2.

Marin County Real Estate Market Update - July 2017

Average Price Sold

The Average Sale Price of Marin single family homes increased in Q2 2017 compared to Q1 2017, at $1,622,175 and $1,575,411, respectively. Compared to the same quarter last year, the Average Sale Price remained relatively unchanged, increasing by just 1%.

Marin County Real Estate Market Update - July 2017


In Contract by Area

At the end of Q2, Corte Madera had 58% of Homes in Contract recorded in June, followed by Larkspur (53%), Greenbrae (50%) and Novato (49%). San Rafael, Mill Valley and Fairfax also had a high percentage of homes in contract, at 48%, 45% and 42%, respectively. In contrast, less active markets were Belvedere (7%) and Tiburon (17%).

Marin County Real Estate Market Update - July 2017

Home Sales by Area

Novato and San Rafael continue to see the highest Number of Homes Sold in June at 39 each, with Mill Valley not far behind with 26 sold. San Anselmo had a notable number of homes sold at 22, while Greenbrae (2) and Larkspur (7) saw a slowdown in home sales compared to Q1 and early Q2.

Marin County Real Estate Market Update - July 2017

Sales by Price Point

In Q2, the highest number of homes both available (415) and sold (299) were between $1-2 million. There were 139 homes sold between $750,000 and $1 million, while 85 homes sold in the $2-3 million price range. A notable 17 homes sold between $4-5 million. There were only 7 homes sold at $5 million or higher.

Marin County Real Estate Market Update - July 2017

With July 4 right behind us, we are in the typical summer doldrums months.  There continues to be activity however, and I am around for the rest of the summer. So feel free to reach out. If you are particularly interested in the Larkspur market, check out The Scoop on Larkspur Real Estate – July 2017  As always, your comments, referrals, and suggestions are much appreciated!

If you don’t already follow me on social media, join the 7,500 people who LIKE my popular YourPieceofMarin Facebook Page. If you live,work or aspire to live in Larkspur, LIKE my LiveInLarkspur page for information on the community and the real estate market.

About the Author: The article Marin County Real Estate Market Update – July 2017 was written by Sylvie Zolezzi. I live in Marin, work in Marin and LOVE Marin!!! 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 intelligence—and a genuine concern for their needs. My association with Golden Gate 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, Golden Gate 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 work with you. I can be reached via email at or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.