Marin Market Update-August 2016

Part of what we love about Marin County is living here in the summer months. The nights are cool and the days are hot with plenty to see and do right here at home. August is traditionally a light month for real estate, so we thought in addition to stats and figures, we’d take time to appreciate the County we live in, highlighting the elements around us that come together to create the complete Marin Summer experience!

Before we do that though, let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the Marin real estate market:

  • Inventory continues to be light (currently 356 single family homes on the market vs. 349 single family homes last year at this same time); many buyers (and agents) are on vacation, so there seems to be less activity. Those who have forgone their vacations to work on the market may indeed reap some rewards for their dedication.
  • Many homes are showing price reductions (perhaps the usual summer slowdown or maybe an initial misstep in pricing)
  • Moderately priced neighborhoods are moving quickly; in particular, Bret Harte, Sun Valley, Terra Linda and Santa Venetia, heck, all of San Rafael seems to be doing quite well with 11% increase in activity.
  • Interest rates continue to be at all-time lows and the number of “all cash” sales seems to be tapering a bit, so we are expecting a fairer playing field for buyers who need to finance their purchase.
  • Buyers who have written several offers and have been outbid too many times are actively on the prowl. Now that Labor Day is fast approaching, they are anxious to get into contract before the competition heats up again in September.
  • The strength of the international market, upcoming presidential elections, and unease about continued terrorist attacks may all be having some influence on the current market and what may happen in the market this Fall.


The graph above shows us that we’ve had about 100 less sales this past month than same time last year in July which at a high of 300 closings remains the highest number of month-end sales in the past twelve months. January and February saw the lowest number of sales this year, hovering at just around 100 sales in all of Marin for single family homes. As far as price goes, the median price is up to $1,170,500 vs. $1,050,000 a year ago. The low came in January in the $800,000s with May peaking at about $1,250,000 for a single family home in Marin.

Less supply certainly seems to be driving costs higher, but we’re also seeing limits of how much buyers will pay for any given home. Whether we’ve reached the top of the market or not still remains to be seen, but we’re definitely noticing some slowing which could be attributed to the summer doldrums, or an overall shift of caution in the market. In any case, predictions for the fall are all pointing to a robust market with the hope of more inventory exciting us all!


With an overall 11% rise in the Marin median price point since last July ($1,170,500 vs. $1,050,000) the market seems to be following the basic economic principles of supply and demand. Markets seeing a great deal of growth in pricing are Larkspur with a 136% price increase, starting to feel more like Kentfield’s luxury market twin. Kentfield on the other hand saw a significant drop in the median price with more of that area’s lower-priced homes selling this year versus last year. San Rafael had a great month with a significant bump in pricing as more moderate neighborhoods looked like a steal and buyers saw value and opportunity in many of the city’s various neighborhoods. Fairfax, which has had an amazing growth in the past few years in terms of pricing tapered off a little and even dipped down 10% to an overall median of $910,800 – still pretty impressive for this once sleepy and eclectic Marin hamlet.


Homes in all price categories moved a little slower this summer than a year ago.  We are seeing significant slowing in the $1.5 million to $2 million range and the $3-5 million range – perhaps a sign of the uncertainty of the international global economy, sporadic terrorist attacks and an impending election – world events that naturally make all economies a bit more cautious. More telling will be the mood of the market when we have a little more settling in Q3 and Q4. We expect to see more confidence amongst consumers and more awareness of real estate as a continually solid investment.

At our next writing we will have just passed Labor Day and be entering into the second busiest time of year for the Marin real estate market. The Fall market will be a major indicator for what’s in store in 2017. We’re already anticipating an uptick of inventory, but will also pay close attention to our buyers’ willingness to step up and purchase that inventory, and also our sellers’ willingness to listen our buyers’ threshold for aggressive pricing. The market always looks for a nice balance, so we will watch with interest and do what we can to bring buyers and sellers together to make a deal happen.

Should you wish to know more about the Marin market before our next report, please don’t hesitate to contact The Costa Group to learn to see how a move might work for you.