Marin County Real Estate Blog

Home Buying: How to Win a Bidding War

Buying a House Caught in a Bidding WarIn a lot of regions that do not have a cold real estate market, a bidding war may be a common problem. For the best properties, there are many potential buyers. If you can afford a bit more than the minimum and you really want a particular home, these tips will help you get ahead on a bidding war.

Be Sure of the Property

The rush of getting into the game can make it hard to keep control of your head. This means that you really have to be ready to buy the property before you make a bid. Getting into a bidding war means that you will have to do a little more work than you would for a home that has only occasional interest. The seller has many buyers to choose from, but you should remember that there are still plenty of homes in the area. Make sure the home meets your list of needs and at least some of your wants before you proceed.

Be an Ideal Candidate

Sometimes, the lower bid from a more attractive candidate wins. You may not be able to give the sellers everything they are looking for, but you can and should come as close as possible. If you cannot offer to pay in cash, at least show your mortgage pre-approval letter so that they know you have financing secured. Limit the number of contingencies you plan to set, especially if they involve factors (such as minor repairs) that you could probably manage easily on your own. Offer the seller as much flexibility as possible to hopefully earn their...

Terra Linda 3/2 Eichler not on MLS Until 5.31.17

Coming Soon at $900,000, this is a wonderful home for your family or excellent investment opportunity. 3 Bed 2 Bath Terra Linda Eichler with Family Room and Two-Car Garage . Great light. Original mahogany paneling. Two-car garage. Close to Scotty's Market, Terra Linda Community Center and Pool; Great for kids! In good, mostly original condition with some upgrades over the years. Move right in, or remodel to your own specifications! Tenant-occupied. Please do not disturb tenants. Please contact Fred Anlyan at Marin Modern for details and information 415-847-0602 or email

More photos can be seen at


Four Tips for Effectively Making an Offer

So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you finally found one! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure that you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!

Freddie Mac covered “4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their latest Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

“While it's not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”

This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ should really take place before you start your home search process.

As we’ve mentioned before, getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).

2. Act Fast

“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.”

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report...

DIY Bathroom Upgrades Before Selling Your Home

Bathroom Upgrades to Make Before the Home SaleMost bathrooms may be small, but they're an important part of the home. Upgrading the bathroom before selling can make a property more attractive to buyers. Some bathroom improvements can even help boost property values and may lead to a bigger sale price.   

Pick A Fresh New Decorating Scheme

 Mismatched towels, rugs and curtains can detract from the attractiveness of bathroom. Picking a fresh new color scheme and redecorating the bathroom to match that scheme can help unify the space and make it pop. 

  • Choose a theme. Picking a theme for your bathroom can give you a starting point when it's time to decorate. 
  • Paint the walls. Painting the walls can make the bathroom look fresh and clean. When choosing a color for your bathroom, select one that goes with the theme or pick a neutral like beige or gray. 
  • Buy matching towels and curtains. Matching towels and curtains can help pull the decorating scheme of the bathroom together.  

Install Attractive Storage

Clutter can make a bathroom appear small and claustrophobic. To get rid of the clutter in your bathroom, install attractive storage. A small cabinet, open shelving lined with attractive baskets and a new towel...

What You Need to Know About Qualifying for a Mortgage [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Many buyers are purchasing a home with a down payment as little as 3%.
  • You may already qualify for a loan, even if you don't have perfect credit.
  • Take advantage of the knowledge of your local professionals who are there to help you determine how much you can afford.

Divorcing? What to Know Before Putting the Home Up for Sale

How to Sell a Home During a DivorceWhen couples fall in love, marry, and purchase a home together, divorce is the farthest thing from their minds. But research shows that many people will eventually have to deal with divorce. In fact, current projections suggest that as many as 40-50 percent of the United States population is likely to experience divorce at some point in their lifetime. Divorcing couples who own a home together will need to determine what to do with the home they owned together while married, and for many, selling will be the most practical solution.

*Please note: The division of marital property has legal ramifications and each case is unique. This is why it is important for divorcing spouses to seek the counsel of a competent attorney to assist them with any questions regarding the distribution or sale of any marital property.

What is a Quit Claim Deed?

If either spouse wants to keep the family home and can afford to reimburse the other spouse for their share or can work out some other arrangement that is satisfactory to both parties, ownership of the home can usually be transferred via quit claim deed. This type of deed transfer is often used in divorce situations to transfer ownership rights to a home or other real estate. Once the quit...

Selling vs. Renting – Choices When Moving to a New Home

Real Estate DecisionsIt’s nearly impossible to know what the future holds, and buying a home now might mean that in the next several years, a move might be in store. If that’s the case, there are a few options if leaving the area is a must. Homeowners can of course choose to sell their home and hopefully make some money while doing it, or they can opt for keeping the home and renting it out.

Either option can be a good one, depending on one’s financial situation and both short-term and long-term goals. Renting or selling both have the potential to bring positive outcomes, yet the type of income as well as the work involved do vary quite a bit.

When Renting Can Work

Deciding to keep your property and rent it out works well from a long-term investment perspective. Perhaps home values haven’t gone up that dramatically, or it just might be nice to have property to pass down. Whatever the case may be, keeping a home to rent it out is a job all its own.

Before allowing a tenant to move in, it’s a good guess that some work will need to be done. Whether it’s just cleaning the carpet and repainting or more serious remodeling, the home must be prepared for others to live in it.

Once a tenant has moved in, it’s critical that you protect yourself as a landlord. It might help to gain advice from a real estate agent and property management company in this case, as certain documents and contracts must...

3 Charts That Shout, 'List Your Home Today!'

In school, we all learned the theory of supply and demand. When the demand for an item is greater than the supply of that item, the price will surely rise.


The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the inventory of homes for sale stands at a 3.8-month supply. This is considerably lower than the 6-month supply necessary for a normal market.


Every month NAR reports on the number of buyers out in the market looking for homes, which is also known as buyer traffic. As seen on the map below, buyer demand in March was strong or very strong in 42 out of 50 states nationwide, and Washington, DC.

Many buyers are being confronted with a very competitive market in which they must compete with other buyers for their dream homes (if they are even able to find a home they wish to purchase).

Listing your house for sale now will allow you to capitalize on the shortage of homes for sale in the market, which will translate into a better pricing situation.


Many homeowners underestimate the amount of equity they currently have in their homes. According to a recent Fannie Mae study, 37% of homeowners believe that they have more than 20% equity in their homes. In reality, CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report tells us that 78.9% actually do!


Selling a Home With a Large Lot

Home on Big AcreageFor home buyers, a large lot can seem like a a benefit or a burden, depending on the way the lot is maintained and presented. Emphasizing the benefits of your large lot and keeping the landscape simple can help you stage your home and boost curb appeal during the home selling process.

Maintain the Fence

Many home buyers are reluctant to buy a property with a labor-intensive repair project like repair of a fence. A poorly maintained fence may cut into your profits when the house sells. Before putting your home on the market, check the fence that lines the property. Look for problems like peeling paint, rust, rotten wood and other problems. Make any repairs that need to be made. 

If the fence has been stained, you'll be able to tell whether or not the fence needs to be re-stained by the way the wood absorbs water. Spraying the fence with a jet of water from hose, a fence that needs to be re-stained will soak in the water. A fence that does not need to be re-stained will repel the water, and droplets will roll off without being absorbed into the wood. 

Hire a Gardener

During the home selling process, many home owners become caught up with keeping the house clean for showings and packing their belongings to move. This can make it hard to maintain a large yard. Allowing the grass to grow too long or neglecting the flower beds...

Buying a Home After Water Damage: 4 Questions to Ask

Guidelines and Steps for Buying a Home With Pre-existing Water DamageAfter the home inspection, buyers may learn that the home they want has sustained damage from water in the past. For buyers considering homes with water damage, consider these questions to help determine if the house has been sufficiently repaired and is ready to buy.

What Was the Extent of the Damage?

The type of damage that home flooding can cause depends on the location, nature and severity of the flood. A burst pipe in the winter that never led to water in the house is a very different kind of damage than a flooded river or a water heater that dropped hundreds of gallons of water in a basement. If the seller’s insurance covered the incident, there should be a detailed property claim estimate of the damages with recommendations for repairs or replacement. Ask to see this list because it will identify precisely where damage occurred and all structures, systems and equipment involved.

Which Repairs Have Been Completed?

With the list of recommended repairs, buyers must also check to see which of them were done to specification. In some cases, homeowners try to save money or time by repairing something themselves. They may simply not get around to replacing things that did not seem particularly damaged. Since everyone has a different...

The Anlyan Report 4.16.17. Marin County February Home Sales, Prices Down From Year Ago

According to Core Logic/Data Quick, a real estate news service, the number of homes sold in Marin County in February, 2017 was 164, down 9.9% from February of 2016. The median sales price of a Marin County home was also down 4.7% in the same period.

Here's how it broke down:

City           Feb'17 #Homes Sold  Median$ Feb'17   Median$ Feb'16  Difference  

Mill Valley            28                     $1,260,050            $1,009,500             +24%

San Rafael          41                      $  791,050             $650,000               +21%

Novato                46                      $ 664,000             $675,000                 -1.6%             

The Data Quick report notes that, Bay Area Wide, it is normal for the number of housing units sold to increase about 2.8% from January to February in any given year. However Marin home sales declined 11.4% in the 1st two months of 2017, with 185 units sold in January and only 164 sold in February. Median prices during that period did increase very slightly from $810,000 to $815,000, a gain of .06%. Prices in Mill Valley and San Rafael Increased significantly and other Marin cities (Belvedere, Greenbrae, Larkspur, and San Anselmo) experienced wide swings to the minus side, however with relatively small numbers of sales, the individual homes sold can...

Buying in Marin County this Spring? Be Prepared for Bidding Wars

Traditionally, spring is the busiest season for real estate. Buyers come out in force and homeowners list their houses for sale in Marin County, hoping to capitalize on buyer activity. This year will be no different!

Buyers have already been out in force looking for their dream homes and more are on their way, but the challenge is that the inventory of homes for sale in Marin County has not kept up with demand, which has lead to A LOT of competition for the homes that are available.

A recent Bloomberg article touched on the current market conditions:

“It’s the 2017 U.S. spring home-selling season, and listings are scarcer than they’ve ever been. Bidding wars common in perennially hot markets like the San Francisco Bay area, Denver and Boston are now also prevalent in the once slow-and-steady heartland, sending prices higher and sparking desperation among buyers across the country.”

Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic went on to explain why buyers are flocking to the market in big numbers:

“In today’s market, many buyers think the trough in [interest] rates is over. If you don’t get in now, it’s just going to be worse later. Rates will be higher, prices will be higher, and maybe inventory selection will be lower.”

In some markets, “thirty-five percent of properties are selling within the first week or two of hitting the market.” Homes are selling at a rapid clip in places like:

  • Oakland, California
  • Denver
  • Seattle
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Boise,...

What is the Home Building Process Like?

What you need to know about building a new homeBuying a brand new home is a significantly different experience compared to buying an existing home. This guide walks you through the process of buying new construction, with tips on what you can expect at each stage.

Stage 1: Purchasing

The first thing you need to do is prove that you can afford the home you want to buy. If you are going through a builder, you may only need to get mortgage pre-approval and then select a lot in the subdivision where you want to live. Buyers who are planning to have a much heavier hand in the process may have to apply for a construction loan first. This provides the money for the architect, designer and various contractors to receive pay for their services. Once construction is complete, you can often refinance the construction loan into a regular mortgage.

Stage 2: Site Preparation

With a complete design and the knowledge that you are ready to build the home, it takes a few weeks to prepare the property and lay the foundation. This involves a number of smaller steps, such as clearing trees and other vegetation, digging space for a basement, and pouring the concrete for the foundation. The concrete needs time to cure, and the space must be given waterproofing before contractors can start to build the home.

Stage 3: Construction

Although the ...

Selling a Home? Improve Your Odds of Success with These Affordable Updates

cheap home renovations to help sellHomeowners who are planning to sell their home soon are likely hoping for lots of buyer interest, good offers, and a fast trip to the closing table. But sellers who take the time to make some updates in their home may be able to increase their chances for this type of success. Want to know more? Here are some of the most affordable updates proven to have real impact on getting a home sold. 

Make Bathrooms and Kitchens Shine

The two rooms most likely to grab buyer attention are the bathroom and the kitchen, and even modest updates in these rooms can really pay off. Some affordable improvements to consider for these rooms are: 

  • replacing worn, discolored caulking around tubs, sinks, showers, and vanity areas
  • making these rooms feel new with a coat of fresh paint on both ceilings and walls, using colors that will help these rooms look larger and more attractive
  • removing dated wall coverings and replacing it with updated wall paper or paint
  • painting dark kitchen cabinets white or another lighter color to make the kitchen seem new and welcoming
  • replacing worn or ugly cabinet door knobs and drawer pulls with vintage or whimsical ones to draw buyer attention and add more appeal 
  • adding inexpensive under-cabinet lighting to brighten kitchen work spaces
  • removing harsh light bulbs in bathrooms and replacing them with bulbs that cast warmer, more flattering light


What Does it Cost to Sell a Home?

Paying After Home SaleWhen a homeowner puts their home up for sale, they are focused on the finish line: what price will the home sell for and how much money will they make? And, while a seller is correct to focus at least partly on profit, they should be aware that there are many costs associated with the sale of a home. 

Expect Some Pre-Sale Costs

Before a seller takes the plunge and lists the home, he or she should expect to incur some expenses in getting the home ready for listing. First impressions are crucial when selling a home and a seller wants to be certain that they put their best foot forward right out of the gate. 

  • Freshening up the home: A new coat of interior and exterior paint can go a long way toward making a home seem airy, bright, and new. Combine painting with a professional deep cleaning, window washing, new exterior mulch and plants, and power washing the deck and the home will sparkle inside and out. 
  • Basic maintenance: It is easy for a homeowner to ignore a loose cabinet door or a cracked window on a daily basis but when readying a home for sale these items must become a priority. A buyer sees these imperfections as future home improvement jobs. This doesn't mean a seller has to overhaul an entire kitchen, rather simply ensure that basic maintenance items are squared away before listing. 
  • Staging and decorating:  The key to selling a home quickly is to make it inviting to potential...

The Benefits of Buying a New Construction

Since the average home is built to provide suitable shelter for decades, a century, or sometimes even longer, it makes sense that roughly 559,000 new homes were sold in 2016, as compared to the nearly ten times more (5,440,000) existing homes that were sold in that same year. But even though they are not as numerous as existing homes, newly constructed homes offer some real benefits to the people who opt to buy them.

Buyer's Choice in Location

Unlike existing houses, buyers who choose new construction have the opportunity select their ideal location. Buyers can situate newly constructed homes on available building lots in suburban settings, or they can choose to find their dream property and have their builder construct their new home on it. New construction buyers can also look for building lots in developments that are specifically geared to their activities and needs and then have their dream home built there instead of having to sacrifice their housing dreams in order to own a home on their favorite lake, golf course, or other location. 

In addition to a precise location, choosing to custom build a new home offers buyers the freedom to face the home in any direction they choose or position it where they want it, in accordance with any existing local regulations. Want to...

Tips to Sell a Lived-In House

It's not uncommon to have to sell one home before you can buy the next. The process of living in your house while you are selling it, however, can put a lot of stress on you and your family. To ensure that you sell quickly and are able to easily move on to your next home, consider the following steps so your transition goes as smoothly as possible.

Pay Attention to Curb Appeal

The curb appeal of a house is the first impression that potential buyers get when touring a home, and that first impression can be instrumental in wowing them and potentially leading to a sale. Remember, buyers see a lot of houses in their searches, and the best way to get their attention is to make yours stand out––in a good way.

The first step to adjusting curb appeal is cleaning. Pressure wash the driveway, house, and front walkway to make them look clean and new, and neatly trim any trees and hedges to make the house more visible. If there's time, consider giving the house a new paint job, updating the front door or siding, or looking for other projects. Buyers linger a lot in the doorway, so you want your front porch looking its best.

De-Clutter your Closets

It's inevitable: interested buyers are going to peek. Make sure that they like what the see when they look in closets.

One option for cleaning out closets is to sort through everything and determine what you do or don't want to keep. Throw...

Can You Buy a Home With Bad Credit?

Bad Credit Buyer SearchWhen looking for a home to buy, having less than desirable credit can be disheartening for some. Due to certain life circumstances, protecting your score from dropping might not have been possible. In reality, it is likely possible to purchase a home, whether it’s your first or not, with a credit score that is low.

Often times it just takes a bit of research and creative thinking to uncover pathways to making the purchase successful. This out of the box thinking can result in a positive buying experience, and provides hope for those who once thought homeownership was out of reach.

A Popular Option For Funding

The money to purchase a home doesn’t have to come solely out of the buyer’s wallet, as there are a variety of government programs designed to help those with less disposable income, and more specifically bad credit. One of the more well-known options is the FHA loan, granted by the Federal Housing Administration. Only available for first time buyers, an FHA loan provides a low interest rate and approval despite a less than desirable credit history.

For those looking into living in a rural area, the United States Department of Agriculture offers a loan if you might not have the resources for a down payment. Bad credit is acceptable with this funding option, but it does have a minimum score requirement. As long as the home is within a specific geographic area, the USDA loan will get you in the door for zero down.

Home buying with bad credit is possible for those...

Marin County Real Estate. Spring Forward!

Some people love Daylight Savings Time, while others, given a choice, would eliminate it entirely. I love the long evenings and late light of spring and summer, but whichever side of the fence you're on, you don't want to miss anything by being an hour late! So remember to change your clocks this Sunday, March 12, at 2:00 am (or maybe just change them before you go to bed!). Spring is only a few days away; beginning this year on March 20, it will be a welcome change after a wet winter!

Looking ahead to the spring real estate market, we reviewed the most recent report available from Core Logic/Data Quick real estate data service. Their figures show Marin County January 2017 sales at 185 units, up 4.5% from 177 in January 2016. January's year-over-year prices were up 12% with the average Marin home going for $812,500 in January 2017 compared to $725,000 in January of 2016. Preliminary data we are seeing from other sources seems to show February 2017 prices may be down slightly (1.7%) from February of 2016. Inventory is still fairly slim, currently at a 2.1 month supply and down about 9% from this time last year. With interest rates poised to continue their upward climb, buyers are eager to complete their purchases at more affordable current rates. We are expecting an active spring market here in Marin. 

If you're looking for a new home, want to sell your current one, are moving up, downsizing, or moving out of the area, your best source source of information, advice, and assistance is a REALTOR who knows the local market and the people who make it run.


Just On The Market in Terra Linda - 597 Tamarack Drive

We are pleased to represent the owners of this three bedroom Kenny Built home in Terra Linda. Terra Linda is exactly what buyers dream about when they think of neighborhood living in Marin County. The spacious home has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a lovely family room adjoining the bright and upgraded kitchen. There are hardwood floors throughout much of the house and a lovely fireplace in the family room.

The oversized back yard has a swimming pool, deck and yard areas. You will want to sit outside and enjoy views of the hills or have summer BBQ’s here.  Charming and ready to move into, this single story home is convenience and comfort plus.

The Terra Linda community consists of many ranch style houses, parks, great public schools, plentiful shopping, including a wonderful neighborhood market, and Kaiser Hospital. There is a community center with public swimming pool and convenience to the 101 commute corridor is an added plus.

Terra Linda is a hiking and biking paradise. Surrounded by acres of open space, there are many trails to traverse in all different directions.  The trail starts at the end of Freitas Parkway and is an easy walk into Sleepy Hollow and San Anselmo or downtown Fairfax.  I love seeing the nesting western bluebirds and tree swallows.  It is a lovely walk and connects with many other trails too.

When we’re not out enjoying hiking the Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide we’re exploring China Camp on the bay.  The beaches, commemorative museum and the surrounding trails overlooking the marshlands and the bay make for a wonderful day out.

Call Yvonne Berg at Marin Modern for a tour of this nice home.
415 233-1626

Current Homes for Sale
Southern Marin
City # Price Range
Belvedere 12 $1.9m - $13.0m
Mill Valley 74 $649k - $9.5m
Sausalito 29 $399k - $9.0m
Tiburon 60 $739k - $11.5m
Central & North Marin
City # Price Range
Corte Madera 14 $619k - $25.0m
Fairfax 17 $629k - $2.9m
Greenbrae 7 $499k - $1.8m
Kentfield 20 $900k - $6.4m
Larkspur 7 $399k - $2.9m
Novato 103 $335k - $4.2m
Ross 14 $1.6m - $18.9m
San Anselmo 29 $489k - $3.7m
San Rafael 107 $248k - $13.0m
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