Saturday, November 23, 2013

Most Popular Features for Homes Change w/The Times

As always, people who care not only about their lifestyles, but also about maintaining the highest value and quality of their homes consider from time to time what to add to their home that they don't already have installed. It may be a hot tub, granite counters in kitchen and/or bath or a tankless water heater. It could even be something as simple as raised beds for someone's veggie gardens (trust me personally on that one; tomatoes are the best ever!). Well, as tastes change, so do the things that lead in popularity and value.
Marble baths are big right now. So are rooftop decks and oversized windows. But demand for barbecue grills, once a hot commodity, has cooled considerably since last year. And hardwood floors and plantation shutters? Not so much.
Marble bathThe shifting sands of consumer tastes are revealed in the latest “lab report” from the real estate classified ads website Trulia, which examined the last two years of luxury-home listings to see what amenities are trending up and down.
Some of the changes are  dramatic.
Marble baths, for example, appear in luxury listings 78 percent more often than they did a year earlier. Mentions of marble floors are up 30 percent.
Rooftop decks and terraces are 63 and 42 percent more common, respectively, than they were last year. Oversized windows have seen a 56 percent surge. Similarly, floor-to-ceiling windows are up 39 percent and ceiling windows are up 37 percent.
Rounding out the list of top-10 gainers this year are storage space (42 percent), wine rooms (30 percent), and gyms (28 percent).
Amenities on the downside this year don’t show such dramatic changes, but many of them are kitchen- or food-related.
Barbecue grills are mentioned 16 percent less frequently this year than last, and custom cabinets are 9 percent less popular. Double sinks are down 8 percent, and stainless appliances are off 7 percent, followed by center islands in the kitchen (6 percent) and granite counters (5 percent).
Elsewhere in the home, hardwood floors and plantation shutters both saw 13 percent declines, and covered patios are down 11 percent. Meanwhile, lush landscaping and fireplaces are both down 9 percent, while listings with swimming pools sank by 7 percent.
So, when considering what to add--or subtract--from your own home, use the above as a guide of the moment--or call us for assistance: Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.

Friday, November 15, 2013

'Walk Score: Very Important Info for Your Home's Value

Well, when you value a home, you always consider the room count, bedrooms, baths, type of kitchen, and a lot of other items as well. In the past couple of years, a new item has entered the consideration of a home's value. That is the "Walk Score". Basically, it is the 'score' given to a home based on the walkability from the home to various other sites in town.

It turns out that walkability is emerging as a major factor in homebuyer preferences as families increasingly turn away from cookie-cutter developments devoid of retail stores and restaurants in favor of mixed-use neighborhoods.
Sixty percent of Americans say they favor suburban neighborhoods with a mix of houses and stores and other businesses that are easy to walk to over neighborhoods that require greater driving among home, work, and recreation, according to a Community Preference Survey just released by the National Association of Realtors.
The least-popular neighborhood is a suburban one with just houses in it, the survey found.
“Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach, smart growth is typically characterized by mixed-use development, higher densities, and pedestrian-friendly streets that accommodate a wide diversity of transportation modes,” said NAR President Gary Thomas, in a statement accompanying the survey results.
The survey was backed up by a study last year by The Brookings Institution that found that the more walkable an area is, the higher the real estate values and rents are there.
The NAR survey was posted online a few days before Walk Score released its latest annual ranking of the most walkable U.S. cities and neighborhoods.
San Francisco remains the second most walkable city the country, according to Walk Score (New York is No. 1),  while Oakland moved up a notch to No. 9. The ranking is based on access to nearby amenities and “pedestrian friendliness.”
San Francisco also ranked No. 2 in the nation among transit-friendly and bike-friendly cities.

While the above info is centered on San Francisco, for the most part, it is worth noting that a lot of the items that give many of its better homes a high walk score are similar to the factors existing in many of Marin's town and cities. What does that mean? It means, simply, that these locales are very desirable, even before considering specific homes, due to their high scores. That desirability translates into higher values for you when you consider selling your home.
For a discussion of these and other factors in valuing your home, give us a call.  We'd be happy to help you properly price your home. Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Fairfax: A Great Place to Live!

If you live in, or are familiar with, Marin County, you know that there are a great many fabulous towns to call home. In addition to reasonably close access to the rest of the Bay Area, and, in many cases, good schools, each town has its own little unique characteristics that make it a great location to come home to.  Fairfax is no different.
Unabashedly quirky, Fairfax serves up a small-town vibe that stands in unique contrast to the more suburban settings of some other Marin County communities. But in addition to the town’s one-of-a-kind character, Fairfax residents also enjoy access to some of the best outdoor recreational activities in the Bay Area — practically in their backyards.mtnbike
Located three miles northwest of the Marin County seat of San Rafael, Fairfax is about 10 times smaller in terms of area: just 2.1 square miles. Likewise, it is far less populated than San Rafael, with only about 7,500 residents.
Fairfax’s compact downtown area, roughly centered around Broadway Boulevard and Bolinas Road, packs in more than a dozen locally owned shops and restaurants in a two-block stretch. The strip even has its own six-screen movie theater, which became the first multiplex in the nation powered by solar electricity in 2008.
Thanks to its small size and tightly centered downtown section, Fairfax is one of the most walkable communities in Marin County. WalkScore, an online service that assigns locations a walkability score based on amenities within a quarter-mile distance, ranks Fairfax a 97 on a scale of 100.
While Fairfax is indeed a good fit for pedestrian-minded homebuyers, it also draws outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes, according to Brent Thomson, senior vice president of Pacific Union’s Marin County region.
“[Fairfax has] an exquisite natural setting, with access to some of the best mountain biking, trail running, and hiking in Marin County — and possibly Northern California,” says Thomson.
Due to its central location within Marin County, the town lies within close proximity to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Pacific Ocean, and dozens of smaller regional parks and preserves.
One of the closest outdoor playgrounds Fairfax residents have at their disposal is Cascade Canyon Open Space Preserve, a 498-acre county park that’s popular with hikers and trail runners. Cascade Falls, which comes to life during the rainy winter and spring months, is one of the park’s highlights and is easily accessible by a quick, 1.2-mile round-trip hike.
Marin is unofficially considered the birthplace of mountain biking, and the county’s official bicycle coalition makes its headquarters in Fairfax.  The Marin County Bicycle Coalition publishes a bicycle map that details mountain-biking trails and commuter routes across the county. The official Marin County Parks website also lists two dozen parks that offer biking trails.
The median sales price for a single-family home in Fairfax  — many of which sit along winding streets in the hills surrounding downtown – was $634,000 in September, according to MLS data. The current median sales price represents a 2 percent increase from September 2012.
Fairfax homes are currently a hot commodity, selling for 8.9 percent above their original asking prices in September, the highest premiums we’ve seen in the town in the past two years. Meanwhile, homes in our overall Marin County region sold for an average of 5.8 percent below their list prices in September.
So, if you like some place that's got a central 'downtown' area; good schools and yet some of the best access to all of the wonderful outdoors sites and activities anywhere in the Bay Area, then you really ought to visit and try Fairfax.
Need help in finding a place in Fairfax, not to mention the rest of Marin? Call us! With a combined 46 years and counting, we have the knowledge and experience to help you find the best possible home to suit your wants and needs.  If you're already here, we can help you to make that next move, be it to a larger home as your family grows, or to down size once that family has grown and left the nest! Our numbers: Jane: (415) 531-4091; Peter: (415) 279-6466. Or, try email: .  Either way, we'll be happy to help you!

Friday, November 01, 2013

What Makes Mill Valley Unique!

Most of us who have lived here for any length of time know for certain that Mill Valley is not only a GREAT place to live, but also a very unique one.  It is that uniqueness, in part, that makes it such a wonderful location.

Not many suburban communities boast a vibrant downtown with loads of dining and entertainment, a rich artistic history, and extraordinary access to nature. But Mill Valley’s got all those things in spades, along with excellent schools and a tight-knit community.
“It’s beautiful, with a strong sense of community, and the downtown is very quaint,” said Brent Thomson, a senior vice president at Pacific Union International and branch executive of our Marin County region.
And ready “access to the outdoor life” draws hiking, running, and mountain-biking enthusiasts to the area, Thomson noted.
It’s easy to take in Mill Valley’s physical beauty almost anywhere in town, from your home’s deck to the many nearby trails, including Tennessee Valley, the Dipsea, and Matt Davis. In addition, both Muir Woods National Monument and Mount Tamalpais State Park are adjacent to the city of 14,050.
Mill Valley’s connection to the arts runs deep. Well-known residents have included musicians such as Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin and Beat writers Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder.
In January, the Sweetwater Music Hall reopened with help from the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, paying homage to the original concert venue of the same name, which started hosting performances in 1972. Now in its 56th year, the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival still attracts crowds, and the 46-year-old Marin Theatre Company puts on six shows a year.
Downtown, the 142 Throckmorton Theatre offers film, theater, and music in an intimate setting, and comedian Robin Williams sometimes drops in to practice new material in front of an audience. The California Film Institute’s Mill Valley Film Festival has been bringing independent and world cinema to the Bay Area for 35 years.
The punishing but beautiful Dipsea Race – the oldest trail race in the U.S. – takes place each year on the second Sunday in June.
A community gathering space, the Depot Bookstore & Cafe is located on the main plaza. Other popular businesses include restaurateur Tyler Florence’s El Paseo, Vasco, Piazza D’Angelo, and the Buckeye Roadhouse.
Dive bar the 2am Club has been around in one form or another since 1906.
The city continues to attract young families and professionals with its strong schools and proximity to San Francisco. In 2012 the Mill Valley School District earned an overall state Academic Performance Index score of 944 out of a possible 1,000. Tamalpais High School received an 864.
Mill Valley homes for sale vary in style, but many have a craftsman influence. Homes in the hills tend to offer decks with astonishing views, while those in flatter areas like Sycamore and Tamalpais parks and Strawberry may feature yards.
“Mill Valley homes make good use of indoor and outdoor space — that’s one of the draws here,” Thomson said.
In October the average sale price for a single-family home in Mill Valley increased 12 percent to $1.4 million, up from $1.2 million a year earlier, according to MLS data.
At the same time, buyer demand has been growing. The months’ supply of inventory plummeted 59 percent to 2.5 months in October, compared with 6.2 months in the year-earlier period.
“We’ve seen multiple offers and not nearly enough inventory — it’s a highly desirable area,” Thomson said.

So, if you already live here, keep on enjoying it! If you don't, but wish you did, call us! We'll help you make your dream a reality! Peter: (415) 279-6466; Jane: (415) 531-4091.