Marin County Quarterly Real Estate Report Q4-2015

Marin County: Q4 Results
There were plenty of buyers in Pacific Union’s Marin County region during the fourth quarter but nowhere near enough homes to accommodate them – a problem that has persisted across the Bay Area for several years. In a marked change, however, buyers in the second half of the year started to gain the upper hand in negotiations. They displayed little sense of urgency and were more likely to pass on an attractive house at a competitive price, waiting to see what will come on the market in the weeks and months ahead.

Sales prices rose throughout the year, climbing aggressively earlier in 2015 before moderating in the fourth quarter. Demand for housing remained high, and sellers continued to enjoy healthy premiums. Private purchase agreements – reached without homes ever appearing on a local MLS and without competing bids – were not uncommon.

Looking Forward: Marin County remains an attractive destination for buyers. The chilly weather may affect sales in January and February, but we expect a very busy spring and summer, aided by a booming Bay Area economy. Interest rates remain exceptionally low, and any further increases would likely have little effect on Marin County sales.

Defining Marin County: Our real estate markets in Marin County include the cities of Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Novato, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, and Tiburon. Sales data in the charts below includes single-family homes in these communities.

Median Sales Price
The median sales price represents the midpoint in the range of all prices paid. It indicates that half the prices paid were higher than this number, and half were lower. It is not the same measure as “average” sales price.
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Months’ Supply of Inventory
The months’ supply of inventory is a measure of how quickly the current supply of homes would be sold at the current sales rate, assuming no more homes came on the market. In general, an MSI below 4 is considered a seller’s market; between 4 and 6 is a balanced market; and above 6 is a buyer’s market.
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Average Days on the Market
Average days on the market is a measure that indicates the pace of sales activity. It tracks, on average, the number of days a listing is active until it reaches “pending” status, meaning all contingencies have been removed and both parties are just waiting to close.
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Percentage of Properties Under Contract
Percentage of properties under contract is a forward-looking indicator of sales activity. It tracks expected home sales before the paperwork is completed and the sale actually closes.
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Sales Price as a Percentage of Original Price
Measuring the sales price as a percentage of the final list price, which may include price reductions from the original list price, determines the success of a seller in receiving the hoped-for sales amount. It also indicates the level of sales activity in a region.
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A Closer Look at Marin County
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Marin County Housing and Economic Forecast Through 2018

This affluent San Francisco suburban bedroom community offers older, but generally well-maintained and desirable homes. Supply constraints and great schools make this market a relatively safe long-term investment.

  • Decent Jobs: Marin County is only a bridge away from San Francisco but is a world apart with a quiet, suburban environment. It has an employment basis of only 112,000 and recent job growth has been a solid 1,900 jobs in the last year. We project continued job growth ahead, at least for the near term.
  • High Pay Growth: For the San Francisco MSA as a whole (San Mateo, San Francisco, and Marin Counties), the higher-paying sectors – finance, information, and professional and business services – are critical and have experienced tremendous growth over the last three years. These sectors added over 68,500 jobs MSA-wide from 2011-2014.
  • Highly Employed Population: Only 3.1 percent of the county labor pool cannot find a suitable job.
  • Well Off and Getting Better: Marin County is highly affluent, supporting a 2014 median household income of $100,700 per year. Wage growth has recently been excellent and is projected to be very strong for the next few years as well.
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  • Slow and Steady: Marin County is home to a little over one-quarter of a million people in 106,000 households. Population growth is forecast to remain fairly slow as it has been historically, both a function of high housing prices and a generally slow-growth sentiment.
  • By the Numbers: Growth projections translate into about 2,000 new residents annually in Marin County, or about 1,000 new households, with household growth projected to increase at a slightly faster pace.
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Housing Market

  • Prices Strong Then Slower: Our Burns Home Value Index (BHVI) estimates price appreciation for the entire resale market. Currently, the BHVI for the San Francisco MSA shows prices up 6.9 percent over the last year. We expect appreciation to shift to a more modest trend in the coming years as recent price increases have pushed absolute price points to extraordinary levels.
  • Consistent Resale Volumes: There have been about 3,500 resales in Marin County over the last 12 months. At the MSA level, we forecast annual sales growth of 1-2 percent in 2016 and 2017.
  • Shrinking Affordability: Despite low mortgage rates, the San Francisco MSA’s current affordability level is worse than its long-term norm. Specific to Marin County, a household earning the median income would need to pay 56 percent of their income to buy a median-priced resale home and an infeasible 97 percent for a median-priced new home (new home activity in Marin is extremely limited and therefore median pricing can fluctuate substantially).
  • High and Still Rising: Marin County sees very few new homes built in any given year. Thus undersupply, an attractive environment, and strong incomes mean new home prices are always high, with a current median of over $1.6 million over the last year.
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Market Color

  • Will Tech Fill Departing Jobs?: The Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. announced this summer they were packing up their office of over 700 employees in Novato for more affordable rent 12 miles north in Petaluma. While this hurts the local jobs picture, there has been a buzz about who will occupy the 500,000-square-foot office complex in Marin. A number of Silicon Valley-based companies have inquired about the soon to be unoccupied space, including the Google-founded biotech company Calico. According to Novato economic development officials, a new tenant will be determined by the end of 2015. Though no more than rumors, other tech-oriented companies are said to be looking into Marin County for its proximity to the core Bay Area and lower rents.
  • SMART on Track: The SMART train will provide a rail commuter option that parallels the congested Highway 101 from Sonoma County to the north and into Marin County, terminating at Larkspur. SMART is currently testing track to check onboard systems and operational requirements, and is on schedule to open several stations in late 2016. SMART riders will need to catch a ferry in Larkspur to commute to San Francisco jobs, but it will certainly take pressure off Highway 101 and make Marin County homes more attractive to those working in San Francisco.
Review the Latest Bay Area Data & Stats
Bay Area 10-Year Overview
Here’s a look at home sales in the Bay Area’s real estate markets in the fourth quarter of 2015, with a glance back at the 10 preceding fourth quarters.
10 Year Chart
Click here to see specific 10-year data on key cities in the Bay Area.
Recent Activity
Recent Activity
54 Lower Crescent Avenue, Sausalito
Listed at $4,999,999

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Contemporary four bedroom, six bath masterpiece with views of the San Francisco skyline. This elegant property sits on two hillside parcels providing breathtaking vistas from almost every room. Majestic oak trees and various floras adorn the gardens. The luxurious master suite features his and her master bathrooms and three walk-in closets. Other features include 2700-bottle wine cellar, gym, 4 car garage, plus a detached patio house with kitchen and half bath.



54 Lower Crescent Ave, Sausalito