The Road Ahead

Posted on January 20, 2021 by michelle_magnus

Now that it’s the end of January 2021 and the dust has more or less settled around 2020, we turn a collective eye to 2021. Despite record high unemployment due to the pandemic, it is undeniable that real estate throughout the country, and in particular in California, remains a bright spot in the economy. The question is: How will this bull market fare in 2021?

So far, most indicators point to a real estate market that will continue to be extraordinarily active and strong. For one thing, it appears that interest rates will remain at all-time lows. And secondly, the “urban flight” trend looks like it is here to stay for awhile as the desire for space and privacy grow hand in hand with working from home. What remains unclear is what role possible mass home foreclosures might play as government financial protections related to the pandemic continue to linger in limbo. For California in particular, more inventory on the market is what is needed to alleviate pent up buyer demand, so foreclosures may have little negative impact in terms of supply and demand. Time will tell.

If you are a seller, it is said that your home might not ever be worth more than it is now. The 2021 market is so far shaping up to be a sellers’ market. Both anecdotally and statistically, it appears that many California sellers–roughly 30%– are considering leaving the state altogether and likely heading for more affordable and less restrictive climes. States such as Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee are the top four destination trends. It will be interesting to see what the outcome is for so many transplanted Californians. Although California has its share of messy problems and complexities, it’s hard to deny the many benefits of living in California, prime among them the climate. In addition to climate, California is renowned for its personality as a progressive, cosmopolitan lifestyle-state that is truly unique to California alone. These are traits that are hard to recreate but easy to take for granted until you move elsewhere. Additionally, Proposition 19 will likely make it less punitive for older homeowners with a lower tax basis to relocate within the state, so that could free up inventory and create a more active market as well. And while some California sellers are choosing to move out of the state, there appears to be international buyers ready and able to take their place. In 2020 California was the top destination state for international buyers from China, Canada, India and Mexico, respectively.

So if you’re a buyer and wanting to stay in California while you realize the American Dream, what’s in the cards for you in 2021? More than likely, you will see housing prices remain high and inventory remain tight. What is almost certain is that if you are preapproved to buy, waiting for prices to come down is probably a lost cause. At some point you just need to jump in, regardless of the current bumps in the road. With interest rates at record lows, 2021 could be an ideal time for buyers to get in the California market. And, with average rents hovering at two thousand dollars and up, and programs available for lower down payments, it’s easy to see how buying a home sooner rather than later will save you money while building equity at the same time. At the end of the day, a home is an investment, especially here in California, but it is also much more than that: it is the place where your family can feel safe and protected from whatever life in the outside world brings us next.

If you are ready to make a move, we are here to guide you with over forty years of collective real estate experience in the North Bay area. Call 707-322-2000 or email

The Agency’s MVP & Chairman Award Winners of 2020

Posted on January 20, 2021 by michelle_magnus

The Agency is pleased to announce our Chairman Award and MVP winners of 2020. The newly unveiled Chairman Award recognizes the Top 5% of agents at the company and the Top 5% of agents in each region based on sales volume for the year. The MVP Award goes to the agent or agents who reached the top production based on sales volume companywide. Beyond their sales success, the winners are stewards of The Agency brand and core philosophy, representing our service-first approach and culture of collaboration in their work every day of the year. Congratulations to all of our award winners!

New to the Market

Posted on January 15, 2021 by michelle_magnus

Heritage Oak Vineyard in Napa Valley


Premier Chardonnay Vineyard in Los Carneros AVA/Napa Valley

43.06 Acres with 27.74 planted vineyard acres planted exclusively to Chardonnay | $4,000,000


Terroir Description

Carneros AVA earned its status in 1983. One of the world’s premier winegrowing regions, Los Carneros – “The Ram” in Spanish – is located less than 40 minutes from San Francisco. Marin County, the East and North Bays, Sacramento and the South Bay are all just a short distance further.

A cool climate appellation, Carneros has long been known for its distinctive Chardonnays, elegant Pinot Noirs and its sparkling wines. In recent years, Carneros has been recognized for the quality of its Syrah, its Merlot and new varietals now emerging throughout the appellation.

As inland temperatures rise during the day, moist air over the cold Pacific is drawn inland over Carneros, cooling temperatures from mid afternoon into evening. These fresh afternoon winds slow activity in leaves, stressing the vines even when irrigated. Fog rolls in throughout the night and this provides a gentle buffer to the next morning’s sun, repeating the climatic cycle. Carneros was the first wine region based on climate rather than political boundaries.

Carneros soils tend to be dense, shallow (approximately three feet deep), high in clay content, and of low to moderate fertility. These soils impact the vine’s vigor by restricting development of the root system, providing just enough nutrients and water to sustain growth without excess development. Subsoils also vary in Carneros. Each of the different subsoils substantially changes the environment of a grapevine’s roots, and affect the composition of the fruit. As such, the Carneros AVA is known to produce wines with a great amount of diversity.

Full confidential package available with a signed NDA | Call Mark Stevens 707-322-2000 or email Mark.

Premier Chardonnay Vineyard Opportunity in Sonoma Valley AVA

Posted on January 15, 2021 by michelle_magnus

Sonoma Valley Vineyards


Sonoma Valley AVA Chardonnay Vineyard

40.71 Acres with 29.43 vineyard acres planted exclusively to Chardonnay | $4,000,000

Terroir Description
The Sonoma Valley AVA centers on the Sonoma Valley (also known as The Valley of the Moon) in the southern portion of the county. The appellation is bordered by two mountain ranges: the Mayacamas Mountains to the east and the Sonoma Mountains to the west. Along with being the area where so much of Sonoma County’s winemaking history took place, the area is known for its unique terroir, with Sonoma Mountain protecting the area from the wet and cool influence of the nearby Pacific Ocean. The Sonoma Mountains to the west help protect the valley from excessive rainfall. The cool air that does affect the region comes northward from the Los Carneros region and southward from the Santa Rosa Plain.
Because the valley is cooled from the north and south, it is different from other California north-south-oriented grape growing valleys in the interior. In addition, the daily wind that makes its way into the northern and southern sections of the valley slows ripening, which prolongs hang time and promotes natural balance in the wines. In the appellations of the North Coast, the wind is unique to Sonoma Valley and Carneros. The soils of the Sonoma Valley, like the rest of the county are varied. One finds a wide disparity between valley floor and mountain soils; those found in flatter, valley areas tend to be quite fertile, loamy and have better water-retention while the soils at higher elevations are meager, rocky and well-drained. In general, the structure, rather than the composition of the soil, is the deciding factor where grape plantings are concerned.

Full package available with a signed NDA | Call Mark Stevens 707-322-2000 or email Mark.

Real Estate: The “Bright Spot” in California’s Economy

Posted on December 17, 2020 by michelle_magnus

The beginning of 2020 saw the California real estate market humming along at a good clip. Then came March and the COVID-19 lock-down and everything came to a screeching halt. Sellers pulled homes off the market, afraid of contagion, and buyers stopped looking, mostly for the same reason, as the entire US economy literally shut down for about the next three and a half months.

But in June of 2020 things began to change. Real estate was designated “essential” and Home buyers, driven by a refocused need of home as a refuge, began to come out again. This resurgence was in part fueled by a large segment of workers in our economy who needed to work remotely from home, many with children who were also schooling remotely from home. Home has always been held in high esteem, but the pandemic raised the idea of Home as a Refuge to new levels of demand not seen before.

In July, the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) reported that home sales across the state rose by a whopping 42% from May to June 2020. That’s partly due to the state’s gradual reopening which happened at that time as well as from pent up buyer demand.

What was a surprise and has since become a trend is the exodus of buyers leaving high priced, high-density urban areas, like San Francisco, for suburban areas that offered more space, privacy, and affordability. In fact, as we speak, San Francisco continues to experience a softening of prices in its housing market. And local news channels report that a significant number of San Francisco rentals are sitting vacant.

As an example, this trend was readily seen last summer in areas like the Russian River of the North Bay. Out of the way comparatively “cheap” river shacks along Rio Nido, Guerneville, Monte Rio and Cazadero were gobbled up like so many potato chips left unattended at a picnic with all-cash offers and little to no contingencies. Other rural to suburban areas, like Murphys, is experiencing similar value shifts in its housing market. With many now having the ability to work remotely, areas once inaccessible as a primary residence are now doable.

Home Buying Institute (HBI) predicts the following for the California real estate market in 2021:

  1. Home price appreciation will tick upwards as buyers and sellers realize that real estate deals can still be conducted despite the pandemic and because of upcoming vaccinations which will help to create confidence and normalize life.
  2. “Urban Flight” will continue to be a thing, with the desire for space and privacy at an all time premium which will continue to drive up prices in small towns, suburbs and more rural areas.
  3. Home inventory is expected to grow as more sellers get comfortable with putting their home on the market again and as we see more foreclosures come to market.
  4. Mortgage rates are expected to stay at an all time low at around 3-3.5% well through 2021.
  5. An increase in home sales is expected as the urban to suburban migration continues, which should keep California’s real estate market very active all through 2021.

In conclusion, the housing market continues to surprise economists and analysts. During this unprecedented pandemic it has been referred to, repeatedly, as the one “bright spot” in the nation’s economy. This surprisingly strong performance is expected to continue through the end of 2020 and well into 2021. And as we collectively face the challenges ahead, including what is now commonly termed a “dark winter” it’s nice to have a bright spot on the horizon. Finally, it’s worth remembering that the shortest, darkest day of the year is December 21st, but after that, days will get longer and brighter. Think of the pandemic as the shortest, darkest day of the year and look forward to things getting better and brighter.

Wishing you and your loved ones hope and brightness in the days to come. May 2021 be the year more of our hopes and dreams come true.

—Mark Stevens and Associates at The Agency, Healdsburg

December 18, 2020



Source citations:


HBI (Home Buying Institute),

“Affordable” Housing in Sonoma County? Yes!

Posted on September 15, 2020 by michelle_magnus

Sticker shock was in full force when I moved from Northern Colorado to Northern California in 2016. In Colorado, $350,000 could get you a modest three bedroom, two bath rancher along the Front Range. In Sonoma County wine country? Not so much.

I had about $80,000 as a down payment and a new job and after adjusting to the new market metrics, I began to get acclimated to my environs and the crazy California housing market. I was renting a downtown Santa Rosa apartment for about $2200 a month…..renting. It was driving me crazy because who wants to throw away that much money every month towards something you don’t own and that pays someone else’s mortgage? For the past twenty years I had owned my own home and I knew the value of owning rather than renting. In addition to having your investment appreciate in dollars, there is also the psychological value of knowing that you are in charge of where you live (meaning, no landlord to raise the rent or end your lease or decide to sell).

After getting my ducks in a row and working with a good realtor, I discovered an established town home complex called Courtyards East in Windsor and fell in love. The complex is mostly owner-occupied and surrounded by heirloom oaks and mature Redwoods and maples. Located near the 101 highway it also made for easy commuting. Once I discovered all the nearby hiking trails, I really fell in love and felt like I had stumbled upon a secret that not many others seemed to know about. And the town of Windsor is so quaint and cool–Oliver’s Market, Russian River Brewing Company, and weekly town green concerts in the summer (pre-COVID). And there are so many other great places nearby….world-renowned Calistoga is a mere 30 minutes around the corner, and the  same for funky Russian River towns like Guerneville and Monte Rio with the coast just a few minutes further. And don’t forget Santa Rosa and all its conveniences is a short drive down the highway, with Healdsburg only five miles north and always a draw for wine tasting, shopping and dining.

Three years have passed since I got my foot firmly lodged in the Sonoma County real estate market and it’s time to let someone else do the same and take advantage of “affordable” housing in Sonoma County. My beautiful town home, which holds so many great memories, is now available as I transition into a new life in a new home with a great guy (soon to be my husband). If you are done with renting and want a home under $400,000, and want to take advantage of today’s crazy-low mortgage rates, come take a look at my place at 216 Courtyards East in Windsor. You’ll be glad you did!