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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!

Rare Home and Rental Find Within Sebastopol City Limits

Posted on September 15, 2020 by Admin

Two for One Makes this Offering Very Special!

Welcome to 7934 Juanita Court located within the city limits of Sebastopol with easy access to all Russian River recreation and wineries. The main house is a single story Rancher with two bedrooms and a half bath. The second dwelling is located at the back of the property and is a contemporary, spacious studio with a full bath and kitchen. This offering is a rare and fantastic home and rental opportunity within the city limits of Sebastopol.

Loads of charm potential and investment value in this 2 bedroom/1.5 Bathroom Rancher in the heart of Sebastopol,complete with a gorgeous detached Studio with a full bathroom and kitchen located at the back of the property. Tons of rental potential. Main house would be easy to transform into a charming, adorable home. Floor plan features two bedrooms on either end of the house for maximum occupant privacy. Features original hardwood floors, 2-car garage, large backyard with outdoor shower and mature trees. Within walking distance to parks, restaurants, art galleries, The Barlow, and more. A little TLC and a few finishing touches will make this home sparkle!

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

Guide To Mendocino Wine Country

Posted on January 09, 2019 by Admin

Mendocino County is quickly becoming one of California’s top wine destinations. Featuring the famed Anderson Valley and highly acclaimed Pinot Noir wines, Mendocino is a beautiful mix of charming small towns and rugged nature.

Mendocino seems to have more than its share of natural beauty— the county is expansive, with many diverse regions, ranging from the expansive coast to the warm interior valleys. Defined by soaring redwoods, flowing rivers, an expansive coastline and, of course, lush vineyards, this county will not disappoint.

If you want to make a part of Mendocino County your own, check out our great listings in the area:

Take some time out in Mendocino and be sure to check out the following vineyards and resources as you plan your visit.

Balo Winery and Estate—This ultra-premium winery is located in the in the heart of Anderson Valley—far enough from the city to experience quiet country charm, yet close to the comforts and modern conveniences of town to attract plenty of wine enthusiasts.

Yorkville Highlands Vineyards—These vineyards represent approximately 30% of the entire Yorkville Highlands Viticulture Area. The property is comprised of eight parcels and offers numerous estate-building sites with spectacular views.

Talmage Vineyards—103± acres of premium vineyards in Mendocino County. This property includes 2 homes, an irrigation pond, plus barns and staging area’s developed for amazing events.

Towns and Regions

Check out this guide from VisitMendocino.com to you wrap your head around the various parts of the county. Explore the website to find a ton of useful articles and event listings as well.

“Mendocino County is not so much a place as a state of mind. Spectacular scenery, a sense of isolation, an aesthetic sensibility, and a strong sense of community are the standout highlights of a trip to Mendocino County.” READ MORE


Appellations

This article is a good overview of the various appellations in Mendocino County. In it you will find descriptions of the AVA’s and which notable producers call them home.

“The overarching “Mendocino County” appellation is home to a total of eleven American Viticultural Areas (AVAs).

One of them is named, simply, “Mendocino AVA” which largely nests together six smaller AVAs that you may be familiar with (Anderson Valley, Yorkville Highlands, McDowell Valley, Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, and America’s smallest AVA, Cole Ranch).

In addition, “Mendocino County” appellation also encompasses “Dos Rios” AVA, “Covelo” AVA, and “Mendocino Ridge” AVA.” READ MORE

 

This article from GuildSomm describes both the history of wine in Mendocino, as well as a detailed descriptions of the various AVA’s and their exceptional features.

Mendocino is a county with two faces. One face, the softer side, is well known. This is the coastal half that contains Anderson Valley, where delicate Pinot Noir and exceptional sparkling wines are enjoying increasing, and deserving, renown. The other face of Mendocino resides further east, in the cache of old vines that sprawl across the Redwood Valley appellation and surround the towns of Ukiah, Talmage, and Hopland. Here the vines have long labored without fanfare, their fruit blended into anonymity across county lines. But a growing number of vintners, both local and ex-county, are waking up to the remarkable quality contained within these venerable vineyards, and more attention is sure to follow. As exciting as the lacy creations of the coast may be, it’s time to turn our backs to the sea and our eyes toward the remarkably preserved historic legacy of inland Mendocino.” READ MORE

 

*map courtesy of mendowine.com