Posts Tagged 'Rohnert Park'

Real Estate Market in Sonoma County – Many Offers and Cash is King

On October 1 I entered 152 Firethorn Drive, Rohnert Park into the MLS.  After a week of constant showings and a well attended open house, I received 10 offers on October 8.  We accepted a full cash offer from a party that was willing to do inspections during the period of review for a preapproved short sale with Bank of America.  The sale closed on October 30 with no hitches.  This home was a fixer but was in a great location and had good “bones”.

Yesterday I learned that an offer we submitted on a major fixer in the Rincon Valley area of Santa Rosa was not the winning bid.  They received 17 all cash offers and ours was the only one for an owner occupant.  The asking price was $229,000.  I believe that the final contract price was around $255,000.  We will not know until the property closes.  What is a “major fixer”?  The roof was caved in at one spot and the floor boards underneath were rotted through.  Read the article below and you will learn that this is not an unusual scenerio.

Realtors’ 2012 Housing Survey:

Competition Is the Name of the Game in California

A highly competitive market pushed California’s housing recovery into high gear in 2012, forcing homebuyers into bidding wars for available homes and rewarding sellers with the strongest prices seen in years.

A new report — the California Association of Realtors’ annual Housing Market Survey — helps explain the dynamics of today’s market.

The survey found that 57 percent of home sales received multiple offers in 2012, the highest in at least the past 12 years, with each home receiving an average of 4.2 offers, up from 3.5 in 2011. Lower-priced homes – typically short sales and bank-owned properties known as REOs – attracted more offers than equity sales. Seven of 10 short sales and REO sales received multiple offers, while only half of equity sales received more than one offer.

Such a competitive housing environment has led to more properties selling at or above the list price, with 41 percent of homes selling without a markdown from the asking price, the highest since 2005 and up from a long-running average of 32 percent.

Additionally, homes sold faster in 2012, with equity sales selling in 32 days compared with 67 days in 2011. REOs took 30 days to sell compared with 50 days in 2011, while short sales took 90 days compared with 141 days in 2011, reflecting the still-difficult process.

Many regions in the Bay Area saw even tighter markets.

“San Francisco saw a higher percentage of multiple bids than the statewide average,” said Patrick Barber, president of Pacific Union International’s San Francisco region. “A solid majority of homes here are selling at or above the asking price.”

Chart showing the share of home sales with multiple offers.

The share of California home sales with multiple offers is the highest in at least 12 years.

In the East Bay, nearly 70 percent of home sales received multiple offers in the third quarter, and many homes went into contract within two weeks of coming on the market.

Across the state, the competitive market is being fueled by favorable home prices and record-low interest rates combined with pent-up demand and a severe shortage of available housing.

“Well-qualified buyers are recognizing the once-in-a-generation opportunity to purchase a home in California and are jumping into the market,” C.A.R. President LeFrancis Arnold said in a statement accompanying the survey. “However, the fierce market conditions have forced many buyers to compete with all-cash offers and investors, setting off multiple offers and bidding wars, making it even more difficult for first-time buyers to become homeowners.”

Other findings from the survey:

  • The percentage of homebuyers making all-cash purchases has more than tripled in the past 11 years, from 9 percent in 2001 to 30 percent in 2012.
  • Demand for investment properties and second homes remained strong in 2012, with investors accounting for 16 percent of sales and second-home buyers for 7 percent. The remaining 77 percent purchased homes as a primary residence.
  • International buyers accounted for 5.8 percent of sales in 2012, relatively unchanged from 5.7 percent in 2011. Buyers from China, Canada, India, and Mexico made up the vast majority of international buyers at 39.1 percent, 13 percent, 8.7 percent, and 8.7 percent, respectively.
  • Reflecting tighter lending standards, very few homebuyers have a second mortgage. The share of home sales with a second mortgage has fallen dramatically from a high of 43.4 percent in 2006 to 1.8 percent in 2012.

The C.A.R. report was based on a questionnaire sent to a random sample of 15,000 real estate agents  throughout the state.

 

Open Houses in Sonoma County

417 N Main Street, Sebastopol

Tomorrow (yes, that is a Wednesday) 417 N Main Street in Sebastopol will be open from 9:30 AM until noon.  Agents and individuals are welcome to visit.  There is no sign outside this home and it is not listed in the MLS – but it is for sale with an asking price of $450,000.  This sale is not a short sale or a bank owned property.  Real people are selling their home of many years.  Specifics on the home are:

Modern bathroom has vintage style

  • Built in 1903 and many original details are still intact
  • Addition which includes Family Room with gas fireplace, bathroom, laundry area and two bedrooms was completed with permits in 2005.
  • 4 bedrooms with 2 baths
  • Granite countertops in Kitchen
  • Hardwood floors in Living and Dining Rooms
  • Ceramic Tile in Kitchen and Family Room
  • Parking in Back with Alley Access

New ceramic tile floor in kitchen

The updates to this home have been done with attention to the style of the era in which it was built.   The latest improvement to the home is a new ceramic tile floor in the kitchen.  It was much needed and makes the kitchen shine.  When you visit, you will see pictures of this home when horses and buggies were the mode of transportation.  Today it is tucked back from Main Street but clearly across the street from Safeway.  While many folks comment on the busy street, my clients have loved sitting on the porch sipping coffee and watching the hustle and bustle of Sebastopol life.  There isn’t a better location to watch the Apple Blossom parade and no excuse to not have all the ingredients for a spur of the moment special meal or dessert.

I have no expectation for the open house tomorrow.  It is on a Wednesday – it is not advertised in the MLS.  I am prepared for whatever comes.

152 Firethorn Drive, Rohnert Park

This weekend I held an open house at my listing in Rohnert Park.  152 Firethorn Drive is a 4 bedroom single level home in need of much tender loving care.  The list price is $299,000 which is within range of many buyers.  I knew that I would have a good turn out.  The crowd was amazing – at least 40 people visited – I could not keep up my count and answer questions both.  Yesterday I received 8 offers.  Today we will compare the submissions and chose a buyer.  The market is HOT!   Buyers who are trying to do it on their own without an agent, are at a disadvantage.   Even with the internet, they do not have access to everything on the market or all of the details that are in agent’s comments on the MLS.  Of course, I would love to work with  more buyers and sellers.  If you know anyone, have them contact me.

Open  houses are a great way to see how the market is.  As one person put it to me at the open house, “This is a real wake up call.  I thought we were in a buyer’s market.”  Prices are still affordable but not as low as last year.  Interest rates are at an all time low – FHA is at 3.25% with a 3.5% down payment.  If a home is priced well, it will have offers in a few days.  Short sales are getting more reasonable in timing.

What a great time to be in real estate!

Blogging and Living – are they compatible?

Image2012 has not been my best year for blogging.  After a couple of years of getting at least one blog a week done – I have been getting about one blog a month written and it has been something that must be said.  As I sit in my easy chair with a terrible cold (yes, I am thinking it may be bronchitis at this point), I ponder on what the differences are between 2012 and years prior.  Two things pop out immediately – the real estate market is very active which has translated into my business being active and I have found myself at home less for both personal and professional reasons.  But I must be honest here – I have plenty of time to write a quick blog.

When I started this journey of blogging, I was intent on writing about real estate and the wonderful reasons for living in Sonoma County.  I took it very literally and struggled with the content.  Then I saw the movie,  Julie and Julia, and decided that I was taking the writing far too seriously.  I started writing about what I did that was fun and whatever came to mind.  Blogging was no longer a chore but an outlet.  Last night I saw that movie, again. (Yes, when you are sick enough that moving is a painful experience, TV is a great pastime.)  While I saw the movie through different eyes, I got the same bottom line.  I need to get back into putting it down on the screen and stop keeping it all in my head.  I need something that puts me out there and that is about me.  So welcome back, Barbara, and may your readers enjoy the ride.

So what have I been doing?  As I said before, business is booming in Northern California.  Does that mean that prices are skyrocketing? No.  But it does mean that there are lots of buyers out there and at a bargain (compared to 2007) price homes are selling like hotcakes.  I hear about homes that are getting 13 to 15 offers in 3 days.  These are at the lower end of the market but I have had multiple offers at the $1M price point.  My goal is to have 3 listings at all times and I don’t mean the same three!  I have a short sale listing that is now going on it’s 9th month.  I keep holding out hope that this is the month that the stars align and all of the lien holders, sellers, buyers and new lenders are ready and in agreement at the same time.  It is a challenge but I know that it can happen.  The home on Chileno Valley Road should close on October 1 and I have a new listing in Rohnert Park that you should be able to view on this blog in the next week or so.  I know that it will sell quickly – great location – right price point.   I am looking for the replacement listings for these three so that I keep the well primed.  I could possibly handle more than three at a time but I don’t know how to give less service so there is a limit to how many I can take.  On the other side of the business, I am working with a number of buyers who are ready to buy but need to find that special property whether it is $120,000 or $2,500,000.  I love showing property so bring on the challenge.

ImageIn the midst of this real estate frenzy, I have been out of town for about half of August – some business – most pleasure.  Early in the month I drove to Los Angeles to a real estate event to catch up on the latest in marketing and business techniques.  It was inspirational and tactical – just want I needed.  Katy went with me and we stopped at my sister’s home in Cambria, visited Hearst Castle and spend some time at Disneyland.

Home for four days and then I was off to Seattle (the opening picture is from the Chihuly exhibit in Seattle by the space needle) and an Alaskan cruise.  The scenery was spectacular.  The cruise wonderful.  Business was conducted at the ports of call.

Looking forward to doing more posts when I am feeling better.  Cheers.

2011 Has Been A Wonderful Year

Happy American Canyon Buyers and Los Altos Sellers!

The last day of 2011 and what a year it has been.  When January 2011 came around, I had no idea where I was going or what the year was going to bring.  My first post was about the increased and difficult business of real estate.  Thankfully the volume continued and I am pleased to report that I closed more transactions than I have in any other year of my real estate career.  The year finished as it had begun with a flurry of activity.  Alas, the difficultly continues as sales are plagued with late appraisals, slow loan approvals and the hurry-up-and-wait process of short sales and bank-owned properties.  Home values have continued to decline except in those few areas where the prices fell so precipitously that there is nowhere to go but up – specifically Rohnert Park has seen some price increases in single family homes.  This December was a very busy month.  Not only was I working on Sonoma County real estate but I closed transactions in American Canyon (Napa County), Los Altos (Santa Clara County) and Lakehead (Shasta County).  These put a few miles on my car but I love working with great folks and these buyers and sellers were top-notch in my book.  I would go anywhere in the State of California for people like them.  And speaking of going – I only attended 8 parties in 14 days during this frenzy of work.  I needed a rest week after Christmas.

View from a Bedroom Window - No difference which one - they are all fantastic!

I am starting 2012 with a listing that I expect to be of great interest to anyone looking for a luxury weekend getaway.  Privacy, space and up-to-the-minute elegance is the best description.  This modern tree house is in a wonderfully sunny spot on Green Valley Road.  It will hit the market late January and you can be certain that you will see it on this blog.  There are many people looking for bargains in real estate and I am working to serve them.  But enough about 2012.  This post is about 2011!

The statistics for this blog were sent to me today.  Around 5,300 hits in 2011 with 35 posts.  I have made a New Year’s resolution that you will get a weekly update on Sonoma real estate.  This is something I follow and I should be sharing the information.  I was surprised to learn that my most read post in 2011 was the one I wrote in May of 2009 on our Redwood Empire Rose Show.  I guess that tells me that I should be more diligent about reporting on the Rose Society.   And, of course, I will continue sharing events around Sonoma County and my travels.  I don’t expect much traveling this year but then, one never knows.

Just a quick report on the Sonoma County real estate numbers.  Here are some numbers comparing November 2010 to November 2011.  The months of inventory (meaning – at the rate houses are selling, how many months would it take to sell all the houses on the market if no new ones were added for sale) has dropped significantly from 5.9 months to 3.3 months.  This is an indicator that buyers are taking advantage of these great prices and low interest rates.  Another interesting fact is that while the average list price has increased from $616,000 to $773,000 (about a 25% increase), the averages sales price has only increased from $374,000 to $386,000 (only a 3% increase).  This tells us that more expensive houses are coming onto the market as owners realize that holding out for better prices may not be a good idea.  The lower priced homes are not getting any lower and the higher priced homes are seeing a price compression.

Maike in Kauai

This last week I have spent on Kauai with my granddaughter – oh, and her parents and my friend, Katy.  What a great way to spend Christmas – no hassle, no clean up, no expectations.  We have had a wonderful time and I may get to reporting on our activities here.  But now it is New Year’s Eve and I wish the very best of 2012 to all my readers, colleagues and friends.

View of Bali Hai from the St. Regis Beach

What is Happening in Sonoma County Real Estate?

Amazingly I realize that it has been almost two months since I have posted.  It is not that I have not thought about it – it all has to do with timing.

December was filled with getting myself situated at RE/MAX PROs in Rohnert Park.  Yes, it is the same office as CPS Property Advocates which I joined in November.  Four affiliations in the span of six weeks is quite an undertaking.   Fortunately during this time, I have been able to get some business transacted.

Last week the little cabin in Maribel Heights of Forestville closed.  Two days prior to the close, the short sale on Gamay Street in Santa Rosa was approved and inspections were completed.  Early last week, we opened escrow on a bank owned condominium on Racquet Club Circle in Rohnert Park.  I would say that business is picking up in Sonoma County.

But none of these escrows are straight forward or “easy.”  What is a “straight forward” escrow?  Straight forward is where the seller agrees to an offer, the inspections are completed to everyone’s satisfaction, the appraisal is submitted and accepted by the bank, the escrow company draws up the papers, the buyers and sellers sign the documents, the bank funds the loan and the sale closes.  There are many steps but everything goes in a smooth order.  This does not seem to happen often these days.

8190 Knoll Drive, Forestville

The sale in Forestville was the perfect opportunity for a regular, straight forward transaction.  It is a cute, clean cabin – built in the 50’s (maybe – who knows when the county did not keep records at the time) and with a second lot next door.  First problem was that many did not believe that the lot was buildable (i.e. that the county would allow a residence to be built upon it).   We finally (okay, it was only a couple of weeks) got an offer that seemed to be acceptable to all parties and opened escrow.  Second problem was that while there were other homes sold in the last three months in the neighborhood, none were with post and pier foundations or with a lot as large.  Then the appraisal came in $40K less than the agreed upon price – not much value for the extra lot and no comps in the same area.  When the bank reviewed the appraisal, they decided that errors were made and took another $20K+ off of the value.  So now we have a buyer who was willing to pay more and a seller who was expecting more.  After much back and forth, it was agreed that the house would sell for some over the appraisal (based upon what extra cash the buyer could pull together) and after the first of the year to allow time for the sellers to find a property to exchange into.  Everything was set – and then the interest rates began rising.  The property finally closed but it was nail biting down to the end.

1623 Gamay Street

The home on Gamay Street is a short sale.  What that means is that the bank is owed more money than the house will bring in a sale.  Wachovia is the bank who holds the note and they have been proactive in addressing the issues.  My client was qualified for HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives) which is a very good program for people who are losing their homes due to financial circumstances beyond their control.  The two major benefits of HAFA for the seller are that the loan is forgiven (meaning that the bank cannot come after the seller in the future to pay off the remainder of the loan) and the seller is given $3000 to cover moving expenses.  All was going well and then the appraiser climbed under the house and said that he observed a leak in the plumbing.  The bank said that there needed to be a licensed plumber called to remedy the leak.  Two inspectors had been under the house and did not observe a leak.  The plumber did not observe a leak.  We are awaiting a resolution from the bank.

The condo in Rohnert Park is in escrow with a bank.  Fortunately (based upon the two earlier examples) there is no loan and, therefore, no appraisal.  The challenge is that the bank wants everything done yesterday but seems to be taking their own sweet time about getting their end of the deal done.  I am sure that it will work out well but I expect that something out of the ordinary will happen.

This is real estate today.  Deals are getting done.  Nothing is easy.  Most buyers and sellers are stressed.   But the bottom line is:  When you need to sell, sell.  When you need to buy, buy.  There is no better time to do it.

When I return to Sonoma County from my vacation, I will be holding the home on N. Main Street in Sebastopol open and I will be listing a horse property on Sonoma Highway.  Watch here for details in early February.

417 N Main Street, Sebastopol - OPEN FEB. 13, 2011 1 to 4

The Changes Keep Coming

The Real Estate business has become a continual field of change over the last few years.  The market numbers no longer tell the same story of years past and the processes of buying and selling have changed significantly.  On top of that, there is a considerable consolidation and movement amongst the brokerages.  It is hard to keep up and difficult to interpret the meaning behind the statistics.

417 N Main Street, Sebastopol

Third quarter results are out and the numbers show an increase in the average price with a decline in the number of homes sold.  This might give an encouraging sign to home sellers – but don’t jump to conclusions.  Sales have declined because there are fewer homes on the market.  Over the last few months, foreclosures have slowed and, therefore, fewer homes are on the market.  There is a great deal of talk about the shadow market – homes that are either foreclosed and not on the market or homes that are to be foreclosed soon.  This shadow market continues to discourage investment buyers who are waiting for a greater selection and lower prices.  In the meantime, people who need to buy homes to live in are out looking for the great deal on their dream home.  Some of these folks are buying and they are buying higher priced homes at a significant discount from previous years.   Home seekers buying higher priced homes and investors sitting on the sidelines result in a higher average selling price without an increase in the price of any individual home.

More loan programs have been introduced that will allow first time home buyers to purchase a home with little to nothing down.  The programs differ from the exuberant past in the guidelines for qualification for these loans.  Interest rates are incredibly low which makes this a great time to buy if one is qualified – read this as a steady job, with a paycheck, good credit and little debt.   The all cash offer is still the trump card on well priced real estate.  Multiple offers make it difficult for first time home buyers to be successful in the low end of the market.

Barbara Ellis - Realtor

On the business side of real estate, there is a great deal of movement in the brokerages and their affiliations.  I do not want to add to the rumor mill so I will focus on just my changes.  A couple of weeks ago, I moved from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate – MasonMcDuffie (which was Prudential Real Estate a week before) to join CPS Property Advocates in Rohnert Park.  My reasons were many but the compelling motivations were to more centrally locate along the 101 corridor and work with a locally owned brokerage. CPS Property Advocates is an independently owned and operated office led by Spence and Ann Hiatt – skilled, established professionals with sound reputations within the community.  I am delighted that they have recently announced their change in affiliation to ReMax, one of the largest and most successful real estate companies in the world.  So in a couple of weeks, I will have yet another new set of business cards and will be sending out announcements of my change.  I think that this is the last change for quite a while.  I am ready for some stability and selling some homes.  You know that I am available to provide the very best in service for you and your friends and family.

What about those Foreclosures?

Last night I was chatting with my son and daughter-in-law over the best chili relleno in San Jose about the current reality of getting into contract on a less than $250,000 priced home.  My son quoted a news story that 13% of all mortgages in the USA were either in foreclosure or had been foreclosed on.  I found this statistic unbelievable.  I stated that I just didn’t see how that could be.  Foreclosures are a huge part of our real estate business right now but to say that 13% of all mortgages were in foreclosure seemed excessive.  When I got to my Google page, I saw the real story – 13% OF ALL MORTGAGES HAVE MISSED A PAYMENT.  Okay, that seems a bit more realistic but didn’t feel real.  The article broke down the numbers as 9% had missed payments and 4% were in foreclosure proceedings.  That still seems to be way off from my experience.  Another statistic which I found on the fdic.gov website was that 1 in every 200 homes will be foreclosed. While that is huge if you are the 1, that is no where near 13%.  This would calculate to more than 85% of the homes in USA not having mortgages.  That doesn’t seem realistic either.   What is it that Mark Twain said?  “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.”  I don’t know how to reconcile these statistics but I can look at this from a different approach.   I decided to examine some sales figures to work with facts instead of feelings.

Closest to home is Sebastopol.  In the last six months 109 homes have sold in the “Sebastopol” area.  That area includes Freestone, Occidental, Graton and the lands around them.  Of those sales, 22 were bank owned properties referred to as REOs and 5 were short sales.  A short sale is when the sales price does not cover all of the liens.  These are short on funds but not in time.  A short sale can take up to a year to complete depending on the bank and circumstances.  Either an REO or a short sale is considered a “distressed” property.  That makes 25% of the sales being destressed properties.  This is higher than I had expected because of the 119 currently active listings only 6 are REOs and 3 short sales.  The REOs are all under $500,000 list price and the short sales are all under $800,000.  Of the 37 homes in escrow, 6 are REOs and 12 are short sales.  My interpretation of this data is  that while there are many homes on the market that are not distressed, the ones most likely to sell are the distressed properties. 

In Sonoma County, Sebeastopol is one of the less distressed markets and Rohnert Park is one of the most distressed markets.  There are only 37 properties active in Rohnert Park.  11 of these are REOs and 14 are short sales.  The highest asking price is $625,ooo.  In the same 6 month period as quoted for Sebastopol, 238 sales have closed in Rohnert Park.  Of those 238 sales, 114 were REOs and 55 were short sales.  105 homes are in escrow with 75 being short sales waiting for bank approval.  I wrote an offer for a client in February and we are one of those 75 still waiting for an answer.  The stark difference between these two markets is why national statistics are so difficult to decipher.  

Bottom line on all of this is that there are a great many distressed properties on the market and they are the ones that are selling.  Short sales are closing behind REOs due to the long approval process with lien holders.  It is a sad time for homeowners who are losing their homes with the counterside of first time home buyers bringing their dreams to fruition.   The high percentage of distressed property sales has impacted the selling prices for those homes that are not distressed.  This is good news for the conventional homebuyer.   Economic forecasts are positive this week but I don’t know what statistics are being used for that prediction.  In my mind, this is a wait and see environment.


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