Saturday, February 23, 2008

Update 2008: Marin County, CA

California's Marin County reflects other similar high-end communities in California. The rich get higher prices and low-end home owners get lost.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Deadline Newsroom - Marin County lies just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco and due south of California's Wine Country.

The area's real estate market is slow, but it remains as diverse as its geographic location.

Fewer homes are selling, rarely does a home sell at or above the asking price, but somehow average prices continue to defy gravity.

In 2007, the region set record price levels and 2008, so far, has continued the trend.

The county-wide home price average was more than $1.35 million in January.

Area native Kelley Eling with Pacific Union Real Estate puts it in perspective.

She says, "It's neighborhood specific."

As is the case in many California markets, entry-level priced markets like Novato, where prices are below $700,000, are tainted with foreclosures, bank-owned properties, properties in undesirable areas and properties in bad shape.

At the low end, it's pretty much, well, gone to the birds, with owners struggling with ballooning mortgage payments, have little choice but to sell short or succumb to foreclosure.

There are price-bargains to be had, but after purchase fix-up costs make them a hard sell.

On the other hand, homes in high-end enclaves, Tiburon, Sausalito and other more bayside or coastal regions now account for a greater percentage of sales. That's pushing up the average price.

Eling says the high end is holding up well because, so far, the wealthy are more or less unaffected by tighter lending standards and affordability issues.
She also says wealthy sellers can afford to hold out for their asking price or pull the property off the market.

Caught in the middle are homeowners who can't afford to move up and would have a hard time selling their homes even if they could.

When a priced right listing hits the market in tip-top shape, bidding wars break out -- even in the current topsy-turvy market.

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© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service, and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's new backshop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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