Marin County Escrows on the Rise March ’09 new escrows up 17% from March ’08 and 58% from February ‘09

Posted by Christina I. Bonner — April 6, 2009

MARIN COUNTY, CA - (APRIL 2009) - In Marin County, the most reliable indicator of changing market conditions is new escrow activity. The chart below illustrates activity over the past thirteen months. The blue line and bars represent new escrows and the green line and bars represent closings by month. New escrow activity (blue line/bars) began to decline in June ’08 and as a result, closings (green line/bars) closely followed.

New escrow activity bottomed out in December 2008 and began a modest ascent through January and February 2009. This sharp increase in new escrows in March ’09 is a combination of demand returning to the market and the cyclical nature of the business. April and May closings should rise accordingly.

Graph1

Another interesting trend is the surge of activity in central and southern Marin. In the first half of ‘08, nearly 60% of the units sold were in central and southern Marin. By January ‘09, largely a result of the October ’08 stock market meltdown, this activity gradually fell to 37% of the units sold in Marin. In February and March ’09, the percentage rebounded to nearly 50% of the county’s activity. This upbeat trend in central and southern Marin is consistent with the activity for Morgan Lane Marin, Inc. and a solid sign of strengthening buyer confidence. “We expect a strong spring season in Marin County real estate,” said Mark McLaughlin, President of Morgan Lane Marin, Inc.

As a seller, pricing for “perceived value” has proven to be a very successful approach as homes sold in the first 60 days generally close at or above 95% of the original list price. Homes sold after 120 days on the market generally achieve less than 80% of the original list price. One additional important fact- Marin County single family homes over $500,000 experienced only 173 closing in Q1’09, this is less than 20% of the available listings. The best-priced homes are selling the quickest. The chart below represents the percentage of sale price to original list price by days on the market.

Graph2

“We are frequently asked, ‘Where is the bottom?’ Our approach is neighborhood-by-neighborhood and client-by-client; many of our current trends are positive. As demand returns to the market (see new escrow chart above), prices generally stabilize and begin to climb. As for ‘ringing the bell at the bottom’, we feel the bottom has formed,” explained Mark McLaughlin.

The question is - would you rather be partially right and get in now, or late and miss the current market opportunities?

Morgan Lane is one of the most influential Northern California real estate companies with nine offices throughout Napa and Sonoma Counties, Fairfield and Marin.

For more information on Morgan Lane Marin, Inc., please contact Mark A. McLaughlin, 415-457-8200 or mmclaughlin@morganlane.com.

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