Marin County Real Estate Blog

Buyers Are Regaining Some of Their Negotiation Power in Today's Housing Market

Buyers Are Regaining Some of
Their Negotiation Power in Today's Housing Market | MyKCM

If you’re thinking about buying a home today, there’s welcome news. Even though it's still a sellers' market, it's a more moderate sellers' market than last year. And the days of feeling like you may need to waive contingencies or pay drastically over asking price to get your offer considered may be coming to a close.

Today, you should have less competition and more negotiating power as a buyer. That's because the intensity of buyer demand and bidding wars is easing this year. So, if bidding wars were the biggest factor that had you sitting on the sidelines, here are two trends that may be just what you need to re-enter the market.

1. The Return of Contingencies

Over the last two years, more buyers were willing to skip important steps in the homebuying process, like the appraisal or inspection, to try to win a bidding war. But now, fewer people are waiving the inspection and appraisal.

The ...

Experts Increase 2022 Home Price Projections

Experts Increase 2022 Home
Price Projections | MyKCM

If you're wondering if home prices are going to come down due to the cooldown in the housing market or a potential recession, here's what you need to know. Not only are experts forecasting home prices will continue to appreciate nationwide this year, but most of them also actually increased their projections for home price appreciation from their original 2022 forecasts (shown in green in the chart below):

Experts Increase 2022 Home Price Projections | MyKCMAs the chart shows, most sources adjusted up, and now call for more appreciation in 2022 than they originally projected this January. But why are experts so confident the housing market will see ongoing appreciation? It's because of supply and demand in most markets. As Bankrate says:

After all, supplies of homes for sale remain near record lows. And while a jump in mortgage rates has dampened demand somewhat, demand still outpaces supply, thanks to a combination of little new construction and strong household formation by large numbers of millennials.

Knowing that experts forecast home prices will continue to appreciate in most markets and that they've actually increased their original projections for this year should help you answer the question: will home prices fall? According to the latest forecasts, experts are confident prices will continue to appreciate this year,...

Why Are People Moving Today?

Why Are People Moving Today?
| MyKCM

Buying a home is a major life decision. That's true whether you're purchasing for the first time or selling your house to fuel a move. And if you're planning to buy a home, you might be hearing about today's shifting market and wondering what it means for you.

While mortgage rates are higher than they were at the start of the year and home prices are rising, you shouldn't put your plans on hold based solely on market factors. Instead, it's necessary to consider why you want to move and how important those reasons are to you. Here are two of the biggest personal motivators driving people to buy homes today.

A Need for More Space

Moving.com looked at ...

Homeownership Is a Great Hedge Against the Impact of Rising Inflation

Homeownership Is a Great
Hedge Against the Impact of Rising Inflation | MyKCM

If you're following along with the news today, you've heard about rising inflation. Today, inflation is at a 40-year high. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):

Consumer prices accelerated again in May as shelter, energy and food prices continued to surge at the fastest pace in decades. This marked the third straight month for inflation above an 8% rate and was the largest year-over-year gain since December 1981.

With inflation rising, you're likely feeling it impact your day-to-day life as prices go up for gas, groceries, and more. These climbing consumer costs can put a pinch on your wallet and make you re-evaluate any big purchases you have planned to ensure they're still worthwhile.

If you've been thinking about purchasing a home this year, you're probably wondering if you should continue down that path or if it makes more sense to wait. While the answer depends on your situation, here's how homeownership can help you combat the rising...

Today's Home Price Appreciation Is Great News for Existing Homeowners

Today's Home Price
Appreciation Is Great News for Existing Homeowners | MyKCM

If you're planning to sell your home this season, rising prices are great news for you. But it's important to understand why prices are rising to begin with. One major factor is supply and demand.

In any industry, when there are more buyers for an item than there are of that item available, prices naturally rise. In those situations, buyers are willing to pay more to get the product or service they're looking for when options are scarce. And that's exactly what's happening in the current real estate market.

Selma Hepp, Executive, Research & Insights and Deputy...

The Dream of Homeownership Is Worth the Effort

The Dream of Homeownership Is
Worth the Effort | MyKCM

If you're in the market to buy a home this season, stick with it. Homebuyers face challenges in any market, and today's is no exception. But if you persevere, your decision to purchase a home will be worth the effort in the end. In fact, a recent survey from Bankrate shows homeownership is so powerful that:

Nearly three in four homeowners say they would still buy their current home if they had it to do [sic] all over again.

That means the results – owning a home and the benefits that come with it – outweigh the effort needed to achieve their goal. If you're a homebuyer, let that provide you with the confidence to know the work you're putting in today will pay off for years to come. Here are a few reasons to stick with your search and focus on the outcome.

Homeownership Contributes Significantly to Your Financial Well-Being

The ...

Why This Housing Market Is Not a Bubble Ready To Pop

Why This Housing Market Is
Not a Bubble Ready To Pop | MyKCM

Homeownership has become a major element in achieving the American Dream. A recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) finds that over 86% of buyers agree homeownership is still the American Dream.

Prior to the 1950s, less than half of the country owned their own home. However, after World War II, many returning veterans used the benefits afforded by the GI Bill to purchase a home. Since then, the percentage of homeowners throughout the country has increased to the current rate of 65.5%. That strong desire for homeownership has kept home values appreciating ever since. The graph below tracks home price appreciation since the end of World War II:

...

Where Are Mortgage Rates Headed?

Where Are Mortgage Rates
Headed? | MyKCM

There's never been a truer statement regarding forecasting mortgage rates than the one offered last year by Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American:

You know, the fallacy of economic forecasting is: Don’t ever try and forecast interest rates and or, more specifically, if you’re a real estate economist mortgage rates, because you will always invariably be wrong.

Coming into this year, most experts projected mortgage rates would gradually increase and end 2022 in the high three-percent range. It's only April, and rates have already blown past those numbers. Freddie Mac announced last week that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is already at 4.72%.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at ...

Balancing Your Wants and Needs as a Homebuyer Today

Balancing Your Wants and
Needs as a Homebuyer Today | MyKCM

Since the number of homes for sale is low today, it can feel challenging to find one that checks all your boxes. But if you know which features are absolutely essential in your next home and which ones are just nice bonuses, you can land a home that fits your needs.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com, explains it like this:

Focus on the goal you set out for yourself, like your list of must-haves and nice-to-haves and your budget, . . . Stick to that. Be persistent.

So how do you go about creating your list of desired features? The first step is to get pre-approved for your mortgage. Pre-approval helps you better understand your budget, and that plays an important role in how you'll craft your list. After all, you don't want to fall in love with a home that's...

What's Happening with Mortgage Rates, and Where Will They Go from Here?

What's Happening with
Mortgage Rates, and Where Will They Go from Here? | MyKCM

Based on the Primary Mortgage Market Survey from Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has increased by 1.2% (3.22% to 4.42%) since January of this year. The rate jumped by more than a quarter of a point from just a week ago. Here's a visual to show how mortgage rate movement throughout 2021 was steady compared to the rapid increase in mortgage rates this year:

What's Happening with Mortgage Rates, and Where Will They Go from Here? |
MyKCM

Just a few months ago, Freddie Mac projected mortgage rates would average 3.6% in 2022. Earlier this month, Fannie Mae forecast mortgage rates would average 3.8% in 2022. As the chart above shows, rates have already surpassed those projections.

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie...

Pink Owl Coffee - featured Bay Area Small Business

Here in Marin County, we are so lucky to have incredible local businesses that help shape this growing community for the better. One face behind these businesses is deserving of spotlight: Joe Carlo, owner and founder of Pink Owl Coffee. Pink Owl Coffee is more than just your run-of-the-mill coffee shop—they offer far more than just coffee and aim to provide a Zen retreat from the pressures of daily life for the local community. All of their coffees are made from organic fair trade coffee beans sourced worldwide, and roasted in-house.

Funnily enough, roasting coffee beans in-house was how all of this got started. Before Pink Owl had been conceived, Joe and his fiancée, Saandra Bowlus, would commonly make their own home coffee roast.

“And then we’d give them away as Christmas presents,” Joe said. “That’s how we got our hands involved in this. Eventually someone said, ‘You should start a business! You roast really good coffee.’ So we actually took that to heart and started roasting coffee professionally.”

Saandra is a breast cancer survivor and Pink Owl Coffee derives its name partly from the desire to support women in this important endeavor. Now that the two of them co-own and operate the business, that desire is a reality. From the beginning, Joe and Saandra planned to contribute annual revenue to breast cancer research and support for women.

“Saandra, is in remission—she’s good,” Joe said. “When we started this, we wanted to give back to the community. So 10% of what Pink Owl makes goes toward breast cancer research.”

In addition to their San Rafael location (1816 Second St, San Rafael, CA 94901), Pink Owl has a second location in Petaluma (617 E Washington St,...

Should I Wait Until Spring to Sell My Home?

question:

Should I wait until Spring (or later) to list my San Rafael home for sale?

We want to capture the highest sale price possible and I’ve always heard that Spring is the best time to list a home.  Does this advice still hold true today?

This is an excellent question  that local homeowners have been asking me with increased frequency. There has always been a seasonality to our local real estate market and Spring has typically been the best time to list a home for sale—at least in the years before the pandemic-fueled housing boom.

Historically, Spring has been a popular time to sell since buyers tend to come out of winter hibernation and hit the market in droves. Improved weather, combined with school schedules and the absence of major holidays (which inhibit most people from moving due to family obligations), generally means a strong buyer pool which can be advantageous to sellers.  

That said, the pandemic has thrown a wrench into the traditional seasonality of the market and the bigger factor we see playing into timing the market right now is inventory. The reason why inventory  should play a factor into your consideration of when to list your home for sale is simply a matter of economics. When there are too many qualified buyers chasing too few homes available for sale, it means home prices will continue to rise as long as interest rates (or inventory) don’t get too high.

Interest Rates & Buyer Demand

Mortgage rates remain at historic lows and buyers benefit from these low rates since it gives them more buying power and keeps their monthly housing payment lower. The opposite is also true—the higher a buyer’s mortgage interest rate, the higher their monthly payments are...

The #1 Reason To Sell Your House Today

The #1 Reason To Sell Your
House Today | MyKCM

Almost every industry is currently struggling with supply chain disruptions. This also applies to the current U.S. housing market, where buyer demand far exceeds housing supply.

Purchaser demand is very strong right now. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) just released their latest Existing Home Sales Report which reveals that sales surged in January. Existing home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.5 million – an increase of 6.7% from the prior month, with sales up in all regions. However, there's one big challenge.

Inventory Is at an All-Time Low

Because purchaser demand is so high, the market is running out of available homes for sale. The above-mentioned report states that the current months' supply of inventory of homes for sale has fallen to 1.6 months. This prompts Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, to say:

The inventory of homes on the market remains woefully depleted, and in fact is currently at an all-time low.

Earlier this month, realtor.com released their inventory data for January. It helps confirm this point. Here's a graph comparing inventory levels for January over the last six years:

...

Are San Rafael Home Prices Cooling?

The buzz is everywhere, the headlines abound: the housing market is poised to cool. But is it? And what does that mean? What trends or factors point to this? We’ll try to answer these questions, and then take a deep dive into the data.

What do experts mean by a “cooling” real estate market?
Simply put, it means a decline in housing demand, transactions, and ultimately, prices. And it’s certainly fair to predict cooling when the market’s been heating up for so long; real estate is cyclical after all. But it’s important to keep in mind that even the savviest expert wouldn’t place a high bet on any specific set of metrics, especially these days.

Why? We’re dealing with unprecedented circumstances like the pandemic, federal stimulus, work-from-home, and other dynamics that don’t factor in to normal housing market prediction models. In fact, if you look back to the predictions real estate experts made in March or April of 2020, right when Covid happened, you’ll notice that almost nothing that they predicted materialized. With many market dynamics in the Freakanomics category still very much at play, it’s difficult to predict future prices with reliable accuracy.

So, to say things will cool off is ambiguous at best, and anxiety-producing at worst. It’s a loose term to describe a wide range of guesses. Instead, let’s look closer at the numbers, and try to get a sense for what they really tell us.

What would cause this to occur?
It’s true that in San Rafael (and almost everywhere in the US) home prices have been rising for years, and then unexpectedly surged during—of all times—a global pandemic. We know inventory shortages and rock-bottom interest rates, coupled with stimulus programs and newfound work-at-home flexibility, all played a role. But no one predicted so much demand and...

School of Rock San Rafael - Marin Music School for Kids

Here in Marin County, we are so lucky to have incredible organizations that help shape this growing community for the better. One face behind this community service is deserving of the spotlight: Heather Riley, owner and general manager of School of Rock San Rafael, opening in late February.

School of Rock is a performance-based music school that focuses on five key instruments: bass, drums, guitar, keyboards, and vocals. Their main programs combine weekly one-on-one lessons and group band rehearsals rounding out a great music education in a fun and nurturing environment. And let’s not forget that these students put on live shows at real Rock venues throughout the year!

When Heather was pulled in to help get neighboring School of Rock Santa Rosa up and running in 2018 she immediately felt fortunate to be involved. With about 250 School of Rock’s in the U.S. (300 plus globally), it was clear that this project was successfully changing communities and the lives of the kids involved. “They brought me in for my business administrative experience,” Heather said. “I turned down a very safe job, if you like, with Sonoma County to do this as it sounded much more exciting and challenging. And indeed it was! In doing so, I discovered that music was way more important to me than I realized.” Heather knew that she had always loved music, but her experience was heightened by combining the musical element with taking care of people.
“The upshot is that we teach kids to play music, we teach adults to play music, and we teach them to play music with each other,” Heather said. “With that comes a tremendous boost in confidence. And bigger than that, you get this local tribe and community that develops as a school - which has a real impact.”


Right now, Heather is noticing that this kind of community is what people are really craving. “They...

The Next Generation of Homebuyers Is Here

The Next Generation of
Homebuyers Is Here | MyKCM

Many members of Generation Z (Gen Z) are aging into adulthood and deciding whether to rent or buy a home. If you find yourself in this group, it's important to understand you're never too young to start thinking about homeownership. The sooner you start planning, the sooner you can move on from renting.

As you set off on your journey and plan your next move, here are a few reasons to think about homebuying this year.

The Reasons Gen Z Want To Become Homeowners

While the majority of Gen Z haven't entered the housing market yet, a large portion plan to according to a realtor.com report. The report found that 72% of Gen Z would rather purchase a home than rent long-term. As George Ratiu, Manager of Economic Research for realtor.com, says:

With nearly three-quarters of those surveyed preferring to buy versus renting long-term, the housing industry should be prepared for millions of Gen Z buyers to bring a new wave of demand along a similar stage-of-life timeline as the millennial generation before them.

...

With Mortgage Rates Climbing, Now's the Time To Act

With Mortgage Rates Climbing,
Now's the Time To Act | MyKCM

Last week, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate from Freddie Mac jumped from 3.22% to 3.45%. That's the highest point it's been in almost two years. If you're thinking about buying a home, this news may have come as a bit of a shock. But the truth is, it wasn't entirely unexpected. Experts have been calling for rates to rise in their 2022 projections, and the forecast is now becoming a reality. Here's a look at the projections from Freddie Mac for this year:

  • Q1 2022: 3.4%
  • Q2 2022: 3.5%
  • Q3 2022: 3.6%
  • Q4 2022: ...

Why Inflation Shouldn't Stop You from Buying a Home in 2022

Why Inflation Shouldn't Stop
You from Buying a Home in 2022 | MyKCM

If you're following along with the news today, you're probably hearing a lot about record-breaking home prices, rising consumer costs, supply chain constraints, and more. And if you're thinking about purchasing a home this year, all of these inflationary concerns are likely making you wonder if you should wait to buy. Investopedia explains that during a period of high inflation, prices rise across the board. And while home prices aren't immune from this increase, here's why inflation shouldn't stop you from buying a home in 2022.

Homeownership Offers Stability and Security

Home prices have been increasing for quite some time, and experts say they're going to continue to climb throughout 2022. So, as a buyer, how can you protect yourself from rising costs for things like food, shelter, entertainment, and...

Key Things To Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage

Key Things To Avoid After
Applying for a Mortgage | MyKCM

Once you've found your dream home and applied for a mortgage, there are some key things to keep in mind before you close. It's exciting to start thinking about moving in and decorating your new place, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any major life changes, be sure to consult your lender – someone who's qualified to explain how your financial decisions may impact your home loan.

Here's a list of things you shouldn't do after applying for a mortgage. They're all important to know – or simply just good reminders – for the process.

1. Don't Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts Before Speaking with Your Bank or Lender.

Lenders need to source your money, and cash isn't easily traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

2. Don't Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your Home.

New debt comes with new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt-to-income ratios. Since higher ratios make for riskier loans, qualified borrowers may end up no longer qualifying for their mortgage.

3. Don't Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone.

When you co-sign, you're obligated. With that obligation comes higher debt-to-income ratios as well. Even if you promise you won't be the one...

Homebuyers Are Going on a Shopping Spree This Winter

Homebuyers Are Going on a
Shopping Spree This Winter | MyKCM

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, which means some shoppers have wrapped up their holiday buying. But there's still a group of buyers that are very active this holiday season – homebuyers.

Experts anticipate the real estate market will see a flurry of activity this winter, and that's great news for today's sellers. If you're planning on listing your home, there's no need to wait until the spring for better conditions – today's real estate market is already heating up.

Buyers Have Warmed Up to the Idea of Purchasing This Winter

The past 18 months brought about significant lifestyle changes for many of us, including the rise in remote work, job changes, and even early retirement for some. For many people, it's prompting a search for their next home now rather than waiting for warmer months.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), points out how this winter may see a significant number of sales:

...
Current Homes for Sale
Southern Marin
City # Price Range
Belvedere 15 $4.6m - $39.5m
Mill Valley 34 $555k - $14.5m
Sausalito 13 $725k - $20.0m
Tiburon 12 $1.3m - $9.3m
Central & North Marin
City # Price Range
Corte Madera 8 $935k - $2.4m
Fairfax 9 $525k - $2.5m
Greenbrae 9 $169k - $1.5m
Kentfield 4 $1.6m - $3.9m
Larkspur 5 $489k - $5.0m
Novato 63 $270k - $2.9m
San Anselmo 7 $985k - $3.3m
San Rafael 88 $90k - $3.0m
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