Marin home prices hit record $1.25M for May


The median price of a single-family home in Marin County, Calif., hit a new high in May to $1.25 million, a real estate research firm reported Thursday.

That benchmark, which was for a resale detached single-family home, was up 5.2 percent from the same period a year ago, according to Irvine, Calif.-based CoreLogic.

At the same time, the median price for all homes in Marin — including resale, condos and new homes — also hit a record $1,132,750, up 16.8 percent from a year ago.

“May is usually a very busy sales month for homes in Marin,” said Kathy Schlegel, of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty. “Inventory continued to be low while buyer interest was strong.”

Andrew LePage, an analyst for CoreLogic, confirmed that Marin’s trend of peak prices in resale and all-homes categories dovetailed with Bay-Area-wide record high medians in May of $818,000 for resale homes and $755,000 for all homes.

“Low inventory continues to foster a pressure-cooker environment in which prices edge higher,” LePage said. “As job growth, low interest rates and higher consumer confidence fuels housing demand, demographic and other trends constrain the number of resale homes listed on the market — while new home construction remains below historically normal levels.”

LePage said Marin and the Bay Area were still slightly below the pre-recession peak median prices in 2007 — when those peaks were adjusted for inflation. But it was definitely edging closer to a full rebound — in the case of Marin, the current May median price record for all homes is perhaps only about 2 percent below the pre-recession 2007 peak when adjusted for inflation, he said. According to LePage, the peak median price in June 2007 for all homes in Marin was $961,250, while the resale homes peak median price was $1.125 million.

“A lot of time’s gone by,” he said. “We’re talking about 10 years ago.”

Marin’s condo market was flat in sales volume in May from the 70 sales a year ago, but the median price was up 10.6 percent to $569,500.

Only three new homes were sold in May in Marin, compared to seven sold a year ago, but the median price for those three rose 57.9 percent to $1.560 million — likely too small a sample to be significant.

Weather impact

Blaine Morris, of Pacific Union Real Estate in Kentfield, said May’s results were pushed higher by the heavy winter rains, which caused many sellers who would have put their homes on the market in February or March to wait until April so they could have time to spruce up landscaping or do some painting.

“Usually the market is slowing down by Memorial Day,” said Morris, a past president of Marin Association of Realtors. “Instead we’re continuing to be busy — a lot of new listings came on the market in June because people got a late start.” Because of the relative influx of new listings, recent competition is not quite as intense in the mid-market range of about $800,000 to $1.5 million in Marin, Morris said.

“There are more choices, and not as many people competing, so we’re not seeing the crazy overbids and high numbers of offers,” he added. “Homes that we would have expected to get five or six offers, we’re getting two offers.”

That said, Morris notes the Marin market continues to be very strong for the right properties.

“If you have a well-priced home, in a good neighborhood, with good schools, on a flat lot, with sun, it’s still going to be very competitive in most price points,” he said.

Interest rates

Schlegel, also a past president of Marin Association of Realtors, said the market in May was “back to the supply and demand equation,” she said. Despite the high demand, however, she was “not seeing quite the frenzy in the market the last few weeks,” she said. “This is probably due to graduations, Father’s Day and the start of summer vacations.”

Schlegel added that “it is expected that the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates, so this could be a very good time for buyers who are on the fence to jump into the market.”

Morris said he has not seen a huge impact on long-term interest rates, such as mortgages, from the recent interest rate hikes. Average mortgage interest rates are still low at about 4.25 percent, he said.

“I think it’s having more of an impact on credit cards and other types of loans,” he said.

However, he said some people could have a “psychological” worry about interest rates continuing to rise, and that could make them want to get in the market before that happens.

LePage said Marin’s resale home market was the most busy in May, comprising about 80 percent of the local market. New home construction in Marin continues to be very limited.

“If resale houses are at a record, there’s good chance it will pull up the median for all homes sold in Marin,” he said. “That’s not always the case in places like Southern California, where there’s lots of new home construction that impacts the overall median prices.”


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