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Bay Area Families Are Fueling Napa Valley’s Real Estate Market

Ellen Paris Contributor Real Estate

Napa Valley vineyard
Families are moving to Napa Valley as alternative to urban living GETTY

The Napa Valley real estate market is booming with multiple offers and bidding wars. Bay area families looking to escape the realities of urban living during a pandemic are fueling the market.

Listen to Compass California President Mark McLaughlin on the market dynamics. “Home has become everything to us as our schools, gyms, and workplace have been taken away. We adapted our work life, immediately, into our homes. As a result, we are experiencing a flight to quality in housing, McLaughlin explains. “Quality is defined by space, indoor and outdoor, by setting, resort-like, and finally room for family activities that were previously accommodated by gyms, schools, community centers, and the like. We all want to love our homes.” 

That’s exactly what Courtney and Jonathan Flookes were looking for.  The couple recently decided to leave their 1,600 square foot Alameda townhouse for a 2,800 square foot remodeled home in North Napa. “We have two young children and since the pandemic began our townhouse seemed smaller and smaller. We were planning on a buying house in Alameda. Then we saw how expensive it is for even a small older home that needs work. My husband suggested we look in Napa for more space and it’s away from the city,” Courtney said.

Alameda County has one of the highest infection rates in the Bay Area.  “We love Napa and I could not believe how much house we could get for under a million. It suddenly made sense to move there, ” The couple works remotely so a move to Napa made sense. They expect to move-in, August 1 in time for the new school year for their children ages four and seven. “Before the pandemic, I never would have thought we’d move to Napa,” Courtney confides.Most Popular In: Real Estate

Napa, California
Napa is the largest city and the county seat of Napa County, in California’s Wine Country. GETTY

According to Compass’ Chief Market Analyst Patrick Carlisle, “generally speaking, market activity as measured by the number of listings going into contract continued to pick up rapidly in May,” Carlisle said. “That’s bouncing back from the steep plunge following the first shelter in place orders.” For May there were close to 70 accepted offers for homes $1.5 million and above in both Sonoma and Napa counties. That’s compared to almost 50 for May 2019.

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Hillary Ryan, of Compass’ Napa office, numbers tell the story. Since mid-March, Ryan has closed around $36 million in sales volume. This almost twice her sales during the same time last year. Prices for properties she has sold this year range from $745,000 to $10.2 million.

“We are seeing buyers from the Bay Area looking at all price points. They realize they can work from home and get more for their money in the Napa Valley,” Ryan said.  Then add in the feeling of safety and security from living in smaller communities and it’s not surprising Napa is receiving more attention from first time buyers and families.  “We are now being asked about schools, neighborhoods, and health care. These aren’t questions second home buyers typically ask.” Ryan adds.

Compass Realtor Maurice Tegelaar recently inked contracts on nine homes in Sonoma Valley in seven days. “In the last six weeks, we have seen an influx of families in their mid-thirties to fifties.”  Top of the current must-have list is space for kids to play, swimming pools, and fast closings. “People want to leave the city. I continue to hear what is on the market that is move-in ready,” Tegelaar notes. He points to a recent sale with two-acres. He had 12 back to back to back showings immediately. The result was multiple offers and an above asking price sale. 

Cessna Barrett a broker also at Compass’ Napa office knows first-hand about family living Napa style.  A St. Helena native, Barrett grew up in the Napa Valley and is now raising her three young children there. “There is positive community focused living here with safety and security. Everyone watches out for each other.” Barrett points to the Valley’s beautiful and peaceful surroundings, a quality education system, and most importantly a sense of belonging. “Even as children grow up and move away when they come back to visit, it is often as they never left. They are always considered locals.”

Look for more families to call the Napa Valley home.

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