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

Posted on December 17, 2020 by Admin

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

December 18, 2020

 

 

Source citations:

Norada, https://www.noradarealestate.com/

HBI (Home Buying Institute), http://www.homebuyinginstitute.com/news/california-housing-predictions-for-2021/

“Affordable” Housing in Sonoma County? Yes!

Posted on September 15, 2020 by Admin

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!

Live the Good Life in Healdsburg

Posted on July 21, 2020 by Admin

Healdsburg is a small, tourist community in Sonoma County in the heart of California’s beautiful Wine Country. Healdsburg truly takes the pleasures of life seriously with natural beauty, world-class wineries, farm-fresh food, and friendly residents. Considering moving to Healdsburg? Get ready to experience life in what is frequently ranked as one of the Coolest Small Towns in America and one of the Best Small Towns in the U.S.

The Sonoma region is best described as a haven for wine lovers and a grown-up’s theme park with restaurants that are less pretentious than in nearby Napa Valley yet just as chic and three of America’s top wineries all within reach.

The population of Healdsburg, CA is 11,721 and it’s one of 30 communities in Sonoma County, CA ranging from small coastal villages and quaint towns to major cities like Santa Rosa. The city has a median age of 44.6 years old, far above the national average 36.8 years, and this reflects the community’s high share of professionals, retirees, and highly educated residents. About 28% of people in the city have at least a bachelor’s degree compared with just 19% of the United States as a whole. Healdsburg is somewhat diverse with an ethnic composition of 62.6% white alone, 33.7% Hispanic of any race, 2.2% two or more races, and 1.1% Asian.

Looking for a safe place to live and raise a family? It’s hard to beat Healdsburg’s low crime rate. This safe city has far lower reported crime rates for theft, property crime, burglary, and violent crime than the California and national averages.

If you’re considering moving to Healdsburg, CA, you probably already know that life in central Sonoma Valley isn’t cheap. Healdsburg’s cost of living index is about 170 compared to the national average of 100 and the California average of 138. Much of this is attributed to high housing costs in Healdsburg, CA.

The average home price in Healdsburg is $647,600, nearly three times the national average, and the homeownership rate is slightly below average. Still, you can find homes that run the gamut with condos and townhomes priced below $250,000 to beautiful estates topping $3 million. You can start searching for Healdsburg, CA homes for sale to get an idea of what you can get with your budget.

So, how much does it cost to live in Healdsburg as a renter? Average rents in Healdsburg are around $1,466, according to RentCafe. That makes the city more affordable than nearby Santa Rosa where rent tops $2,200.

As a small city with just 4.5 square miles of area, Healdsburg doesn’t have many neighborhoods. That doesn’t mean you don’t have plenty of choice in where to live in Healdsburg, though. Every area of the city is highly rated for safety, great schools, and outdoor recreation.

One of the best places to live in Healdsburg if you like to be near the action and vineyards is the City Center. This is where most of Healdsburg’s businesses are located along with a handful of homes and apartment complexes. It’s here that you’ll have the best luck finding an apartment for rent in Healdsburg.

The Powell Ave/University St neighborhood is home to the Healdsburg Golf Club at Tayman Park and many residential developments with single-family homes. There are plenty of parks to explore in the neighborhood and one of the city’s famous vineyards.

The Lytton/Simi area is the largest area of Healdsburg and it’s home to the most open space, beautiful views, and spacious homes. If you want room to explore and more privacy from your neighbors, you’ll probably want to be in this area farther from the city center.

Take a look at our featured listing for Healdsburg: Turn-Key Craftsman Charmer


Article courtesy of Jesse Lovan. Access full article here: https://mentorsmoving.com/blog/moving-to-healdsburg-ca/

 

The Significance of Rental Price Increases for Real Estate

Posted on July 23, 2019 by Admin

According to Inman, “Rents in the US just keep going up and up…..The average rent was up 3.2% year-over-year in June. Last month also saw the biggest average rent increase in more than a year….”

In a nutshell, it’s a perfect time to buy rather than rent. Reasons why include:

  • Very low interest rates
  • A real estate market that has “softened” over the last year more in the direction of buyers
  • Tax breaks that come with buying and owning
  • Control over the place you call home
  • Realizing the “American Dream”
  • Building equity/apprecation over time (a house can be like a big piggy bank)
Zeroing in on Sonoma County, here’s what we have:
And take note: the “doldrums” of summer is the perfect time to visit open houses, get pre-approved for a loan, and make an offer. The market is typically “slow” this time of year, with more inventory and less bidding, so you are more likely to get something you want at a price that works.
Need help finding the right place? Give us a call. We are here to help you find your dream home!
Mark Stevens & Associates, 707 322 2000
Graphs courtesy of RentCafe

History of the Sonoma Valley AVA: Making Wine For 150 Years

Posted on November 07, 2018 by Mark Stevens

The fledgling town of Glen Ellen has a post office, hotel and cooper shop. The area is home to “some of the most experienced vine-growers in the county . . . a radius of six miles, with Glen Ellen at its center, would, in the opinion of many, include the finest grape-growing section in the State of California.”
—Thompson’s Historical Atlas of Sonoma County, 1877

The Sonoma Valley AVA is the first winemaking region in Sonoma County. Home to one of the original commercial wineries in California (established in 1857), Sonoma Valley produces unparalleled, world class wines that bring in tourists from all around the globe.

*There are 18 AVAs in Sonoma County, encompassing 60,000± acres of planted vineyards & 425± wineries. The Sonoma Valley AVA is in the Southern portion of the county on the border of Napa County.

Sonoma Valley earned AVA status in 1981. It consists of 55 wineries and 14,000± vineyard acres along a 17± mile stretch of the Valley of Sonoma (also known as the Valley of the Moon). This unique and beautiful region is bordered by the Mayacama Mountains to the east and the Sonoma Mountains to the west. Significant towns of the region include Glen Ellen, Sonoma and the hamlet of Kenwood.

The vineyards are planted among groves of ancient Valley oaks. Established aquifers and seasonal creeks provide water year-round. Once home to Native American tribes, pioneers during the California Gold Rush era, grizzlies, Steelhead trout, salmon, migrating birds, tule elk, and pronghorn, the valley is rich in human and ecological history.

Known for its unique terroir, the vineyards of Sonoma Valley have long benefited from the cool air that flows through the valley from the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo bay. The valley has ideal growing conditions for the world-class Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes of the region. Sonoma Valley winemakers have, for decades, transformed these grapes into fine wines that are unparalleled in body and flavor.

Discover a Few of Our Favorite Historical Wineries in the Sonoma Valley AVA

Established in 1857, Gundlach Bundschu is the oldest continuously operating family winery in California. The walls of the tasting room showcase the deep history of the winery. Surrounding grounds offer some of the best picnicking in the area. The tasting room is open daily 11 am – 4:30 pm.

Buena Vista Winery opened just three months prior to Gundlach Bundschu. Now owned by the Boisset Family, you can travel back in time with a tour in the retrofitted original building and caves. Stop by the tasting room any day between 10 am – 5 pm.

In operation since 1904, Kunde Winery is currently run by 4th and 5th generations of the Kunde family. The original winery was located a few miles from the winery you see today. Still, the place is steeped in a deep knowledge and unique history. Tasting room open daily, 10:30 am – 4:30 pm.

Annadel Estate Winery was first established in 1880 by the Bolle family. The Bolle family home still stands. And the old stone walls of the original winery still grace the property. Purchased in 2007 and renovated over the past decade, this estate vineyard is a stunning example of Sonoma Valley history. Tasting is by appointment only.

We are thrilled to announce a new listing for Majestic Oaks Estate Winery in the Sonoma Valley AVA! View the listing: CLICK HERE

News This Week: “Best Of” Sonoma County & Other News

Posted on October 12, 2018 by Mark Stevens

EACH WEEK WE COLLECT TOP LOCAL NEWS AND RECENT REAL ESTATE STORIES

“Best Of” Sonoma County Awards
Award recipients—including Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery and Cowgirl Creamery (our fav)—were honored at the Luther Burbank Center on Wednesday evening. READ MORE

Explore Marin County
Find out the best places to eat, drink, play, shop, and stay. READ MORE

Best Remodeling Projects of 2018
Remodeling Magazine just announced their awards for the best remodeling work in the past year. Discover the top 5 home remodeling projects for smart design tips and trends. READ MORE

Sustainability Award for Jackson Family Wines
Jackson Family Wines has been given a Green Power Leadership Award from the US EPA for  their continued commitment to using renewable energy; the company uses 100% certified green power, including power coming from solar installed on their 12 wineries. READ MORE

 

*featured image courtesy of 7×7.com