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Fairfax Real Estate News

Just Sold! 386 Oak Manor Drive, $1,250,000

By | Fairfax Real Estate News, Marin Real Estate News

Sold off market!  Available for the first time in over 46 years. One of the very best lots in desirable Oak Manor, this was the original builder’s own custom property.  3BR/2BA home sits on a premium level lot of over 1/4 acre with all-day sun.  Soaring cathedral ceilings, open floorplan, and tremendous pride of ownership.  Large yard offers sparkling pool and many play areas.  Just a couple of blocks from award-winning Manor School, and close to trails, the perfect home for hikers, bikers, and neighborhood lovers!

Just Sold! 53 Dominga Avenue, Fairfax, $705,000

By | Fairfax Real Estate News

This is a sweet vintage home in downtown Fairfax. Well-maintained property with a very efficient use of space, you’ll be close to everything. This 2 Bedroom/1 Bathroom cottage offers an open floorplan with soaring ceilings, gleaming wood floors, and a cozy fireplace. Remodeled kitchen with stainless appliances and quartz countrtop, an updated bathroom, and attention to detail. Off-street parking and large shed for storage. Terrific covered back porch and entertaining patio for Marin’s indoor/outdoor living. Steps to the vibrant downtown, close to trails. Come home to Fairfax!

53 Dominga, Fairfax

Just Sold! 152 Ridge Road, Fairfax $795,000

By | Fairfax Real Estate News

152 Ridge Road, Fairfax

You will be amazed when you step through the gate to this premium hideaway in the Fairfax hills!  Supreme privacy and sweeping panoramic views from every room.  The 3 bedroom/1.5 bathroom home has been lovingly updated through the years with soaring ceilings and a useful floorplan that allows for the best of indoor/outdoor living.  Pride of ownership shows throughout.  Sit by the fireplace and watch the changing light across Loma Alta and Big Rock Ridge.  Immaculate landscaping with decks, gardens and multiple outdoor spaces.  There is a bonus artist studio and an oversized 2-car garage, plus lots of additional off-street parking.  Adjacent to trailhead to open space, great for hikers, bikers and nature lovers.  The perfect home base for your active Marin lifestyle!

Just Listed! 53 Dominga Avenue, Fairfax $649,000

By | Fairfax Real Estate News, Marin Real Estate News

Come see my new listing, 53 Dominga Avenue, in Fairfax this Thursday, 06/11, from 10:30-2pm and Sunday, 06/14, 1pm – 4pm.

This is a sweet vintage home in downtown Fairfax. Well-maintained property with a very efficient use of space, you’ll be close to everything. This 2 Bedroom/1 Bathroom cottage offers an open floorplan with soaring ceilings, gleaming wood floors, and a cozy fireplace. Remodeled kitchen with stainless appliances and quartz countrtop, an updated bathroom, and attention to detail. Off-street parking and large shed for storage. Terrific covered back porch and entertaining patio for Marin’s indoor/outdoor living. Steps to the vibrant downtown, close to trails. Come home to Fairfax!

53 Dominga, Fairfax

Just Listed! 144 Toyon Drive, Fairfax, $1,287,000

By | Fairfax Real Estate News, Marin Real Estate News

144 Toyon Fairfax

 

Enchanted living in the coveted Upper Cascades! This rarely available sunny and level premium parcel is just over 1/3 acre+/-. Main house offers country style, updated kitchen & master bath, beautifully preserved vintage floors. Bonus suite presents many possibilities for guest, studio, or home office. Well-loved mature gardens, roses, fruit trees, privacy & great light. Lots of parking, storage. 1 block to open space & trails. Come home to the Cascades!

Click here for more information on 144 Toyon Drive in Fairfax.

Housing Density Update, Fairfax Rent Control Proposal and Novato Tour

By | Fairfax Community News, Fairfax Real Estate News, Marin Association of Realtors, Marin Community News, Marin Real Estate News

Good morning MAR members!

I’m hopeful that all of you had a nice long holiday weekend! For those of you who left town, I hope your travels were safe. For those of you who stayed closer to home, I hope that the little secret of how nice Marin is when everyone leaves played itself out for you.

As for me, I stayed very close to the home base in Cascade Canyon. Lots of quiet time in the shade, and making the circuit between the pool, the refrigerator, and the grill. Ah, summer!

Speaking of summer, I continue to be involved in at least one death match multiple offer scenario every week. All the same buyers, week after week, competing over the same limited inventory. This is usually the quiet season, and it definitely feels that way with few new listings. But my goodness, when a nice one comes on, all the buyers are there waiting!

HOUSING DENSITY UPDATE

It is the quiet season at MAR, lots of people going on vacation, and the politics have gotten quiet as well. Last year at this time it was all-out war over Plan Bay Area, but blessedly this year there is no comparable, all encompassing issue. The density conversation goes on, however. Fairfax is having a town hall meeting next Saturday, July 12 at 1:00 to discuss its General Plan and with it the Housing Element…there is even a banner announcing it across Sir Francis Drake Blvd.

In Corte Madera, rather than face off with a jittery public closely monitoring density, the developer for the 1441 Casa Buena project scaled back his project from 138 unit to 48 townhomes. You can read about itHERE. Everyone in the neighborhood seems much happier with that number.

FAIRFAX RENT CONTROL PROPOSAL

Thanks to MAR member Diane Hoffman for bringing to my attention and to MAR’s attention the new development in Fairfax where Vice Mayor Larry Bragman is advocating for a rent control discussion in Fairfax. Marin County is currently without any local rent control ordinances, but right across both bridges rent control is alive and well in San Francisco and Berkeley. MAR is looking to learn more about Vice Mayor Bragman’s proposal, and we have alerted the California Apartment Association about this development (which they were not aware of). The matter was discussed at last week’s Town Council meeting, and will be discussed at the next meeting. Stay tuned.

SEWER LATERAL AND INCREASED ROSS VALLEY GRANT AMOUNT

The first “working group” meeting with Ross Valley Sanitary for their new point-of-sale later inspection program will be held this week, so I will report back next week on that matter.

Ross Valley Sanitary did contact me this week to try to get the word out about the increased funding and contribution limits for their lateral grant program. For many years, RVSD had a grant program that would pay 50% of the cost of a lateral replacement, up to $4,000, for a qualifying lateral. That grant was scaled back to $2,000 over the past couple of years. Good news, the program has been re-funded and the grant program is back to the old 50%/$4k level. For more info you can read about it HERE.

THE NOVATO TOUR

Finally, I want to talk about a subject for which I admit I could be better-educated: the Wednesday morning Novato buy/sell and tour. I have from time to time through the years come to the Novato Tour meeting, most often when I have a new listing to present. It’s always been a nice meeting, and it’s seemed to me that the meeting was useful. I’ve also been impressed with the cooperative team spirit among the Novato Tour attendees, and the community announcements and opportunities to give back to the community always seemed to be a step in the right direction.

Several times, I’ve wondered if we shouldn’t have a similar gathering in Central and Southern Marin.

Several weeks ago, without warning, I received three phone calls within a couple of days from members with feedback on the Novato Tour. The overwhelming message I received was that these members found it to not be useful, and poorly attended by Realtor members. Again, this was all news to me.

These members wondered if the useful life of the meeting had been exceeded. So I’m putting it out there to the membership, at least so I can discuss the matter with a level of knowledge:

Is the Novato Tour meeting useful, and a good use of everyone’s time?

While I have no real opinion on the subject, one pet peeve that I do have are the occasional new listings in Novato not being listed on the MLS broker tour, but being listed on the Novato Tour. I guess the simple answer to me is “go to the Novato Tour meeting” if I don’t want to miss some of those listings. But it’s not always convenient to get to the meeting.

My sense is that for many of you, the Novato tour is useful. For others, not as much.

MAR does not sponsor the Novato Tour meeting, so it will go on regardless of what MAR thinks. I’d just like to get a sense from membership about whether you like the tour as it is, or if you’d like to see it changed…or if you’d like to see it done away with.

I will report the findings of this admittedly unscientific poll back to the membership in the coming weeks.

That’s it for now. Stay cool, safe travels, and enjoy the summer season!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine Morris

2014 MAR President

Fairfax, Marin County, California 2012 Spring Real Estate Market Report, 2011 Recap Fairfax, Marin County, California 2012 Spring Real Estate Market Report, 2011 Recap

By | Fairfax Real Estate News

Fairfax, Marin County, California 2012 Spring Real Estate Market Report, 2011 Recap

75 homes sold in Fairfax in 2011, a 2.7% increase over 2010 and over 30% more than in 2008, which was the bottom of the sales volume market in Fairfax

There were 7 townhomes that sold in 2011, the same number as 2010.

The average price of a single family home in Fairfax in 2011 was $594,754, and the median price was $560,000.  These numbers unfortunately represent an 11.9% and 8.9% decrease, respectively, from the 2010 numbers.  To arrive at these numbers, I stripped out two uninhabitable homes:  a home with major fire damage, and an unlivable tear-down that was sold for lot value only.

What to make of these numbers?  I’ve got some good news to report and some neutral news to report.  I don’t have much bad news to report.

  • As has been the case the past few years, the “like for like” sales prices haven’t really gone down much…it’s been more of a disproportionate number of cheap and distressed sales…the three D’s as we realtors say:  Death, Divorce and Dire Straights
  • Distressed sales activity was a little up, 13 in 2011 vs 10 in 2010 and 2009.  These sales represented just over 17% of all sales.  Foreclosures were down from 6 to 5, but short sales doubled from 4 to 8.  As we look at the overall numbers, 7 of the 11 cheapest homes to sell in Fairfax last year were in this “distressed” category.  These distressed sales certainly affected the overall numbers.
  • More on the distressed market:  out of the 13 distressed sales, 10 out of the 13 happened in the first half of 2011, with only a single foreclosure and two short sales in Fairfax in the second half of the year.  Of the short sales and foreclosures that occurred in the first half, most of these were sales processes and transactions that were initiated in 2010.  I think this means that these distressed properties were working their way through the system from prior years.
  • The hillside market is back in a big way, sales-volume wise.  32 of the 75 homes that sold last year in Fairfax were hillside homes.  That was 42.6% of the market.  This is a normal figure, actually a little high.  Generally about 35-40% of the market in Fairfax is hillside.  A couple of years ago you couldn’t give away a hillside home…there was almost no market.  As I reported last year at this time, in the first half of 2010, only 10% of the homes that sold in Fairfax were hillside, and as recently as the second half of 2010, 26% of sales were hillside homes.  Then it’s over 42% in 2011.

    Why?  One major factor is “life change” vs. “lifestyle choice”.  For the past 4 or so years, “life changes” have been driving the buyers’ motivation in the Fairfax real estate market and in Marin in general:  people getting married, people having babies, babies getting bigger, and people downsizing to a smaller home or moving off the hill.  All of these buyers were generally looking for family-friendly properties, with a yard, in the Fairfax “flats”…that is, not in the hills.  “Life changes” have been driving these decisions.  Houses in the hills are not driven by “life changes”, the market for these homes is driven by “lifestyle choices”: views, privacy, close to trails, etc.  And for the past 4 years, people haven’t been making “lifestyle choices,” they’ve been staying put, holding things together so to speak. Thus it has been hard to sell these homes.

    In the second half of 2010, to a small degree, certainly in 2011, and today in 2012, people are again making the “lifestyle choice” to live in the hills and have a private view home.

    Another factor:  Of the 13 distressed sales mentioned above, 10 were hillside homes…so it’s safe to say that the “distressed” market was driving the “hillside” market to a certain extent in 2011.  More on the good news, though:  People are making those “lifestyle choices”, and they’re open to hillside homes.  A micro-neighborhood example:  The Manor Hill neighborhood is almost all hillside homes.  In that neighborhood, there were 12 sales last year (vs 5 in 2010).  That’s a 140% increase in unit volume on Manor Hill.  Why?  Partly because the hillside market is back, partly because Manor Hill had 4 distressed sales last year, 33% of the market, vs 1 distressed sale the year before…a 400% increase.  The Manor Hill neighborhood represented 31% of all distressed sales in Fairfax last year.

  • The Fairfax flats are “white hot”.  If you’ve got a home in the flat areas of town, you can definitely sell it as there is substantial pent-up demand.  If it’s in great condition and/or in a great spot, you’ll get top dollar.
  • Why didn’t we sell more homes in Fairfax last year?  Well, again, sales were flat.  But if you asked anyone looking for property, the answer would be “there is nothing for sale.”  Very few family homes in the middle part of the market, from $600-900k.  The houses that are going on the market, and thus the ones that are selling, are the small homes, the distressed homes, the hillside homes.  Very few flat sunny properties with a yard.  Believe me, the demand is there.  There’s just nothing to buy.  Think about it…if you’ve got a beautiful home, great yard, great kitchen, and you can afford it, you’re probably staying put…because you won’t be able to find a house to replace that home…because nothing is for sale.  It’s a vicious loop.  And even if you could find a great, original house on a nice lot, to fix it up you’d need all the money to do so in cash, as the lending market for this type of activity is almost non-existent.  So you stay.
  • Another factor was that darn debt limit debate/fiasco that played out in Washington last summer.  It dropped consumer confidence by a substantial margin, and consumer confidence is a leading indicator of real estate activity.  People just thought the country was going in the wrong direction last summer, and it had an effect on the real estate market.  We generally have a “second season” during the September/October “Indian Summer” period in Marin.  Last year, during the hangover of the debt debate, there was a notable pessimism among the real estate market.  Luckily, that conversation has waned.
  • Another factor is something I’ll call the “Zillow Factor”.  Now, I love Zillow, in fact I have a partnership with them and have made an investment in their technology to market my business.  But the Zillow numbers are COMPLETELY OUT OF WHACK for Fairfax.  Just about every house I look at has a Zillow estimate that’s $100k, sometimes $200k low.  Why?  No comparable sales of nice properties.  So your house, with its nice kitchen and great yard is being unfairly compared to that foreclosure on the hill that has no bearing in the real world on the value of your home.  But people look at Zillow, see the extremely low number, and think “well, I’ll wait and check again next year.”  If you’re discouraged about how much Zillow says your house is worth, give me or give your Realtor a call.  Either of us can tell you the real value, and more often than not in Fairfax it’s higher than what Zillow says.

The market is prime for 2012!  Buyers are out there.  Even the national media is saying good things about real estate…and that hasn’t happened in about 5 years.  So have faith, things are looking up in the Marin Real Estate Market!  Throughout the recession, Fairfax has had among the lowest unsold inventory in Marin…things have been selling even in the most difficult of times.  People want to be in Fairfax!  And also note that the beautiful new Good Earth Market is having an extraordinarily positive effect on our little town’s pride and image.  I predict that we will have a steady wind at our back in the 2012 Fairfax Real Estate Market.  I wish you a safe and prosperous 2012!

20 Cypress Drive, Fairfax CA – Just Listed – Marin Real Estate

By | Fairfax Community News, Fairfax Real Estate News, Marin Real Estate News

Offered at $525,000

3 Bedrooms, 1 bathroom

First time on the market in 32 years! Relax on your big front porch at this rarely-available premium location across from Kenneth “Doc” Edgar Park in the lower Cascades on quiet lower Cypress Drive.

Sweet vintage bungalow offers 2BR/1BA PLUS a bonus office/nursery (tax records call it a 3BR). Sunny level spot with many period details. Detached 1-car garage, wood floors, solid construction.

2 flat blocks to town, yet also close to Cascade and Deer Park Open Space Preserves. Really a special location, excellent for hikers, bikers, neighborhood lovers-the perfect home base for your active Marin lifestyle!

Visithttps://www.yourmarinhome.com/Properties/20_cypress_fairfax/20_cypress_fairfax.htmlor http://www.20cypress.com/ for more information or call Blaine Morris at 415-925-3279 to schedule a showing.

20 Woodland Road, Fairfax CA Real Estate – Just Listed

By | Fairfax Real Estate News, Marin Real Estate News

20 Woodland Road, Fairfax

2 Bedrooms, 1 Bathroom

Offered at $449,000

Spectacular views of Mt. Tamalpais and Cascade Canyon await at this sunny, south-facing bungalow in the desirable Upper Cascades. The 2BR/1BA home sits on one of the more usable large lots in the neighborhood, with gently sloping grounds and lots of possibilities. Sit by the crackling fire in the extra-large living room while taking in the outdoors through the many large windows. With refinished vintage floors, the house enjoys numerous period details. There is a 1-car detached garage, laundry room and 300 +/- sq ft workshop/bonus room under the house. With a large entertaining deck, this home allows for easy indoor/outdoor living. Close to trails and the Cascade Canyon open space preserve, this property will appeal to hikers, bikers and outdoor lovers!