Saturday, April 15, 2006

April 2006 Marin Real Estate Newsletter

Here is the link to view the actual April Marin Real Estate Newsletter:
April 2006 Marin Real Estate Newsletter

Marin Home Sales Statistics – Sellers Market Again?

The overall Marin home sales market is once again “Heating up” according to the following statistics. The average overall Marin market shows it is once again a Sellers Market, as the % of homes in contract just hit 36%. It is very important to look at the specific category of house that fits your home or home that you’d like to either sell or purchase.

For example, homes priced from $500,000 to $1,499,000 are now all in a “Sellers Market”. (Whereas last month homes priced from $1M to $1.5 M were in a “Balanced Market.”) Homes priced from $1.5M - $2.5M are in a “Buyers Market”.

Additionally, looking at different cities in Marin is interesting: San Anselmo is in a “Strong Sellers Market”; Corte Madera, Fairfax, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Novato and San Rafael are all in a “Sellers Market”; Ross, Belvedere and Tiburon are in a “Buyers Market”; Greenbrae, Kentfield and Sausalito are in a “Balanced Market”.

Interest rates, although are now over 6% are still historically low. During this time last year (4/05) there were 738 homes on the market, as compared to 977 this year in April.

Click here to view the chart of statistics: April 2006 Stats

If you know of anyone who would like to receive this monthly newsletter or is thinking of either buying or selling a home please let me know. I’d love your referrals!

Home Staging: Interior Design... to Sell Your Home
by: Monica Soberman

What Is Home Staging?

Home staging is very similar to interior design and it employs many of the same concepts: using color, light and accessories to balance a space visually and make it more appealing and attractive. However, home staging is more than just interior design; it is the process of preparing a house for sale. So instead of designing the space to appeal to the current residents - the sellers – the space is designed to appeal to potential buyers.

Staging is becoming increasingly popular as real estate agents and sellers alike look to distinguish their property from the competition. If you’ve ever walked through a model home, you will understand the feeling that buyers get. They react emotionally to an attractive and beautifully decorated home that they can mentally move their things into.

Staging is an extremely effective marketing tool and it is a fact that staged homes sell faster and for more money than their non-staged counterparts. If you choose not to stage your property, you not only risk leaving money on the table, you also risk letting it sit on the market longer than necessary.

Clean, Neutralize, Declutter

Before staging begins, it is important to have the property thoroughly cleaned. Kitchens and bathrooms should sparkle! Have carpets shampooed or replaced, wash all the windows, and make sure the walls are painted with a neutral hue to appeal to the majority of buyers.

The most important aspect of preparation is to remove clutter. Clutter eats equity! Paperwork, small items, collections, and family photos on the countertops, shelving and tables should be packed up and put into storage. You are going to pack it all anyway, so it is best to pack it up now and get it out of sight of your buyers.

Extra furniture should be removed to storage. If a home has too much or too little in it, it is difficult for most buyers to visualize how their own things will look in the home. Staging makes it easy for them to see themselves in YOUR property. Remember: You are selling your house, not your things, and the way you live in your home and the way you market and sell your house are very different.

The exterior should be neat and appealing. The walk should be swept. Landscaping should be neither sparse nor overgrown; you can’t sell it if you can’t see it. Add colorful plants and flowers to brighten up your beds.

Ready, Set, Stage

The goal of staging is to showcase your home’s best features, such as a view, a large kitchen, wood flooring, a fireplace or unique architectural elements. Each room should have an obvious purpose. For example, a bedroom should look like a bedroom and not be packed with disparate miscellaneous items.

The stager will then choose a focal point to highlight in each room, such as a staircase, an arch or large windows. He or she will accomplish this by selecting a pleasant color scheme and then accessorizing with items such as rugs, vases, plants, linens, window treatments, and pillows. Often the stager will simply reposition your furniture and accessorize with existing items from the household, moving them from room to room and utilizing them in new and unexpected ways. This is where the artistry happens and this is how the stager earns her pay – by using her creativity and eye for decorating to make your home look beautiful - quickly. She will typically supplement with items from her own inventory and add some rented furniture, if necessary.

Another fun technique of the stager is the creation of vignettes – arrangements that set the stage and capture the imagination of potential buyers by making your home look elegant, relaxing and inviting... a laundry basket full of fresh white linens with some lavender tied with raffia, a breakfast tray on a fluffed-up bed with magazines and fresh flowers, and elaborate place settings and a beautiful centerpiece on the dining room table.

Once the staging is complete, it is Open House time. The stager will apply the finishing touches: open the blinds and shades, turn on all the lights and lamps, light candles, place up lights in dark corners, add fresh flowers, plug in air fresheners and perhaps put on soft music to create a peaceful ambience.

The Cost (Investment) of Staging

Staging can cost as little as a few hundred dollars for a detailed consultation (for those who wish to do it themselves but need some direction) to under $1000 for a small home to up into the thousands for a large vacant house in need of furniture, decorating and accessories. Many stagers will do as little or as much as the seller wants, and employing just a few decorating and staging techniques can go a long way. Typically the client will pay up front for the staging services, then pay a monthly rental fee for accessories and furniture that were brought into the home.

Regardless of the cost of staging, it is always less than your first price reduction, so it pays to make the investment up front and really impress the buyers. You typically won’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Finding an ASP™ Stager

You can find an Accredited Staging Professional™ in your area by visiting and searching by your city or zip code. ASPs have successfully completed a detailed course and passed a thorough examination on preparing homes for sale. Homes that are staged by an ASP™ look better than other homes on the market by being clean, clutter-free, and ready to show to prospective buyers. Staged homes traditionally sell faster and/or for more money in today’s real estate market. The ASP™ designation is a benchmark of true excellence in customer service for home sellers.

FREE…..You can search for Marin listings directly on Search for Homes

Remodeling Spending At An All-Time High, Exceeding $200 Billion In 2005
Record Increase Expected for 2006

March 28, 2006 - Passing $200 billion for the first time, Americans spent an estimated $210 billion on residential remodeling in 2005, based on the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) analysis of recently released third-quarter remodeling spending from the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, NAHB Remodelors™ Council forecasts the largest increase in spending in 2006 in more than ten years to a record $238 billion, a 13.2 percent jump.

“The devastating 2005 hurricanes, combined with a rebound in the rental market, are expected to spur a historically high increase in spending this year as repair work proceeds in the Gulf states and apartment owners renovate properties to maximize rental income,” said Vince Butler, CGR, CAPS, GMB, chair of NAHB’s Remodelors Council and a home remodeler from Clifton, VA. “The massive owner equity and low refinance rates that fueled recent growth will continue to drive strong expansion.”

The record industry growth forecast for 2006 is more than double the pace of growth in 2005, when remodeling spending grew by 5.8 percent, in line with average annual growth of 5.3 percent from 1994 to 2004. The previous growth record was posted in 2004, when spending jumped 12.2 percent due to a strong increase in the real estate market.

NAHB’s Economics Department recently analyzed the local economic impact of remodeling. For every $100,000 spent on additions and alterations, the local community receives $54,200 in income, $4,900 in taxes and other government revenue, and 1.01 full-time local jobs.

“The $200 billion remodeling industry is almost exclusively small businesses that operate in local communities,” said Butler. “And we can now confirm that money spent on remodeling stays local.”

Regionally, the South accounts for 31 percent of all remodeling expenditures, with an average of $1,513 spent per household in 2004, the last full year of Census data. The highest per-household spending occurs in the Northeast at $2,185, with a 23 percent share of all spending. The West spends $2,104 per household and accounts for 26 percent of all expenditures. The Midwest represents 20 percent of the remodeling market at $1,530 per household. The residential remodeling market accounts for approximately 40 percent of all home construction.

FREE…..You can search for Marin listings directly on Search for Homes

What do Liz’s Clients Say?

“We are writing to document the wonderful relationship that my wife and I had with Liz during the almost year process of finding our new home. Her use of email and the internet helped us save valuable time in reviewing properties and especially when it came time to sell our property. Once we found (and successfully bid ) on our property Liz, was prepared to sell our house quickly. My wife and I felt we had a nice home but Liz sold it in 2 days AND above asking price even before it officially came on the broader market.

Having dealt with other agents in the past plus this transaction, Liz was a much appreciated breathe of fresh air in the organization of the myriad of steps in the buying and selling process.

Thank You Liz!!“
-J & A Holko

If you would like to have Liz help you sell your Marin home or help you in finding a home, just send her an email:

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Fast Facts

Calif. median home price - Feb 06: $ 535,470 (Source: C.A.R.)
Calif. highest median home price by C.A.R. region Feb 06: Santa Barbara So. Coast $1,160,000 (Source: C.A.R.)
Calif. lowest median home price by C.A.R. region Feb 06: High Desert $ 328,690 (Source: C.A.R.)

Mortgage rates - week ending 4/11/06: (Source: Freddie Mac)
· 30-yr. fixed: 6.43%; Fees/points: 0.6%
· 15-yr. fixed: 6.1%; Fees/points: 0.5%
· 1-yr. adjustable: 5.41%; Fees/points: 0.7%
FREE…..You can search for Marin listings directly on Search for Homes

If you are thinking of selling your home, I would be more than happy to give you a free home evaluation report. I also create property specific websites for all of my listings: visit: for an example

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Liz McCarthy
Real Estate Broker, e-PRO certified