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Marilyn Rich Featured in Marin IJ Market Story

Median price up 16% to $982,500

The median resale price of a single-family home in Marin soared a surprising 16 percent in January year-over-year,  to $982,500, a real estate informa­tion service reported Tuesday.

Sales fell, a trend that has been in place for years, with a mere 125 single-family homes changing hands in Marin in January. This was a 7 percent drop year-over­ year, according to Irvine-based CoreLogic.

Condo prices were up in Marin as well, hitting a median of $475,750 year-over-year, a 6 percent increase. Condo sales in­ creased, with 58 condos selling compared with 42 the same time last year.

Prices were up across the Bay Area, soaring 21 percent in Napa. The lowest increase was Santa Clara County, with prices up 2 percent.

The median price of a single­ family home in the Bay Area was $645,000, a 4 percent increase. The double-digit jump in Marin home prices was unusual, as increases have been in the sin­ gle digits for months.

“Prices have fluctuated quite a bit over the last year,” said Peter Nielsen of Marin Realty Experts. “The market is unsettled.” Prices even dipped a cou­ple of times in 2016.

Overall, Nielsen said, there is “a modest upward trend,” a conclusion sup­ported by the fact that home prices edged up 5 per­ cent in 2016. “It still seems like there is a lack of inventory,” Nielsen said, referring to a shortage of homes for sale that has been the case for easily two years now. “The demand re­ mains strong. I’m still see­ing a lot of multiple offers above asking prices.”

Spirit Wiseman of Brad­ley Real Estate agreed about the dearth of homes on the market. “Our inventory was very, very low in December and January,” she said. ”A lot of sellers wanted to wait until the weather was beautiful and the wisteria were out.” At the same time, she said, “buyers have been very, very active.”

Sales were down 7 per­ cent in Marin, and Sonoma, San Mateo and Santa Clara saw sales drop as well. Sales increased just 1 percent Bay Area-wide.

“The San Francisco Bay Area’s housing market ex­perienced its usual, sea­sonal drop-off in sales be­ tween December and Jan­uary, while activity was basically flat   compared

with a year earlier and re­mained well below aver­age,” said Andrew LePage, research analyst with Core­ Logic. “Two of the main rea­ sons are a thin inventory of homes for sale and af­ fordability constraints that have been exacerbated by recent increases in mort­ gage rates,” LePage said.

Nielsen said, “It seemed for a while that the mar­ ket was cooling off, but there still seems to be strong demand,” at least at the low and middle range of prices. The agent described the fourth quarter of 2016 as a strong seller’s market for homes priced less than $750,000, because 50 per­ cent of those homes were in escrow. Also, 54 percent of the homes selling for between $750,000 and $1,250,000 were in es­crow, also a seller’s mar­ket.

However, only 21 per­cent of the homes selling for above $1,250,000 were in escrow, he said.

This might ind icate that the market was cool­ ing off, “but the numbers from CoreLogic do not suppor t that ,” Nielsen said, referring to the 16 percent price jump.

“We will have a clearer story in April and May as to how the market is do­ing, because there will be more homes selling dur­ ing the spring per iod,” traditionally the busiest season for home sales, the agent said.

“We’re all looking forward to what happens be­cause we have more buy­ers than we have prod­uct,” said Marilyn Rich, a Pacific Union agent.

The agent cautioned that overall statistics such as those offered by CoreLogic can’t necessar­ily be applied to a given area in the county.

“You have to analyze specific areas and not just take the overall percent­age,” she said.

Generally, the closer an area is to San Francisco, the higher the income level and the home prices.

In northern Marin, prices tend to be lower. “That’s something peo- ple should take into consideration when all those zeroes are flying around,” Rich said.

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