The week after Super Bowl has traditionally marked the beginning of the spring real estate market in Marin, historically a time of high home buying and selling activity in Marin County. This peak period usually lasts through the beginning of summer, and then at some point in the summer a “lull” begins as people go on their summer vacations — though in 2015 the market was fairly active all year. I was even very busy during December, normally a quiet month. Traditionally we see buyers and sellers take a break during August and early September, then one more burst of activity in September / October prior to the holidays. So what’s going to happen in 2016?
Please note that I am sharing my opinion as a top real estate agent in Marin County, but frankly no one really knows what 2016 has in store for us. The much-discussed gradual increase in interest rates from their historical lows began in late 2015. Rates are expected to stay low for the first half of the year, but there is talk of possible increases in the second half of the year. This has not affected the Marin market significantly as of this writing.
Having said that, over the period of a 30-year mortgage even these small increases do add up, so some theorize that fear of increased rates will drive buyers from the sidelines and into the market. I believe that is more the case in other markets around the country. Our market is driven by strong fundamentals: a booming bay area economy with strong job growth. Marin often looks like a bargain compared to its neighbors to the south, San Francisco and even parts of the South Bay.
Marin Real Estate Market: What About Inventory?
But what about inventory? The inventory of homes for sale in Marin County is at the lowest level in the last ten years. January offered only half of the average number of units for sale in of 2015, and 15% of the inventory in 2007, the height of the market. More buyers with less inventory means frustrated buyers. That has been the lament of Marin real estate agents and their clients for more than a year now. The next 8 weeks will give us good insight into the rest of 2016. Based on what I am hearing from other top agents on Top Agent Network, it sounds like the spring 2016 Marin real estate market is going to be a lot like spring 2015. I do have some listings in the pipeline, launching in March through May (watch my Facebook page for announcements!) Two of my good friends who are agents here in Marin have 7 properties coming on in the coming weeks…. and expect all 7 to go quickly. So bottom line, it looks fairly good for Spring inventory, but there are still a lot of buyers out there waiting for the right property to come along.
As of this writing, there are 168 active listings in Marin County on MLS, and of those 68 have come on the market just since February 1st.
At the end of January, the Marin Assessor’s Office announced that the new Marin median home price is $999,000, a 13-percent jump from just one year ago. The vast majority – more than 80% – of Marin County is protected from development, and that’s one of the reasons Marin is such a highly-desirable place to live. It is also one of the things that makes Marin real estate such a good investment.
At Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty, we hold a weekly”buy / sell meeting” where agents present their new properties for sale and discuss the home market in Marin. At the buy / sell meeting this week on Monday, February 8th, agents presented a number of properties coming online in the next two weeks. If you would like to be one of the first to see these properties, call or text me at 415-847-5584 and I can schedule an appointment with the listing agent.
What’s hot in Marin right now? Buyers continue to look for single-level homes or at least single-level living, meaning master, kitchen and family room on one level. This is driven by young families with children as well as older buyers who are downsizing and want to minimize stairs in their living space. Of course, views, great school districts, recently-remodeled kitchens & baths, and great neighborhoods like Fairhills and Forbes and the Dominican / Country Club in San Rafael are in demand. Farther south,Greenbrae and Larkspur have very low inventory – there’s just one home on the market in Larkspur as I write this! All of Mill Valley continues to be in demand, such as Sycamore Park and Scott’s Valley, where I have an upcoming listing.
At the higher end, a stunning new home for sale in Tiburon just hit the market last week. Just yesterday, I got a sneak peak of another new-construction modern home coming on the market in Tiburon in the $6,000,0000 price range.
This is a great time to be a seller and a frustrating time to be a buyer. We are caught in a bit of a feedback loop – some don’t want to sell their homes because they fear they won’t be able to buy another in Marin. This is where you need a trusted real estate agent to discuss the market dynamics with you and help you put together an approach for to attain your real estate goals. Please call or text me at 415-847-5584 – I would be happy to help!