Novato, Marin Real Estate Market Overview as of May 27, 2010


It’s been quite sometime since I published a Novato Markret Overview. As I have told interested parties – the market is hopping for homes that are entry level homes, attractive to both first time home buyers and investos; but can be quite challenging for high-end or move-up homes.

Vey clear drop in % in escrow happens between $700K and $800K, with a steep drop from sellers market to buyers market; this might have something to do with the Jumbo Conforming loan cut off point of $729K.

However, homes are very competitively priced and in great conditon can go into escrow quickly, no matter where the price point is.

  Novato Market
  Week of 05/27/2010
  # of Total Units % of Total Market
  # Total Units # In Escrow   % Active % In Escrow  
SFDs 255 98 62% 38% N
CIDs 89 47 47% 53% S
All SFDs and CIDs 344 145 58% 42% S
SFD by Price Range          
$0-$500K 55 32 42% 58% S
$500,001-$600K 38 16 58% 42% S
$600,001-$700K 38 16 58% 42% S
$700,001-$800K 36 19 47% 53% S
$800,001-$999,999 36 7 81% 19% B
$1M – $1.25M 20 3 85% 15% B
$1.25M – $1.5M 17 3 82% 18% B
$1.5M+ 13 2 85% 15% B
TOTAL SFDs 253 98 61% 39% N
% in Contract Type of Market      
< 25% Buyers      
25% – 40% Neutral      
> 40% Sellers


Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Real Estate
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frankk Howard Allen Realtors

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa. Starter Home to Luxury Property. REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View

Millworks Novato Grand Opening brings New Dimension to Town!

mw_logo_rgbA controversial project due to the sheer size, the location and what it is and what it is not (a bit vague?  Ask me!), Millworks Novato had it’s grand opening today (April 25th).  What a pleasant surprise the development is!

As a Novato resident and a Realtor; although I missed the design, approval phases of the project; I, as many Novatans,  have watched with great interest and concerns in the progress of the building.   Today, I got to tour Millworks with my friend, Barbara.  We came away quite impressed!

Millworks – According to the developer, Millworks Novato is “Nestled among the North Bay’s rolling hills landscape, charming Old Town Novato is the home to Millworks, and environmentally sustainable and pedestrian-friendly new home community”. 

Millworks Novato

Millworks Novato

The building, sits atop the coming-soon Whole Foods,  located at the east end of Old Town Novato, consists of 124 flats and townhomes.  The homes are designed to be a combination of 1 bedroom/1 bath, 2 bedrooms/2 baths flats and 2 bedrooms/2 baths plus Den Flats. 

Amentities — Other than a few larger units on selected locations; first and second floors are mostly for Whole Foods and parking for Whole Foods and third floor is mostly for residents parking.  In addition, there is a library, a fitness center and a social room for gatherings.


'Roof Garden - Living Roof' on 4th Floor

Roof Garden – One of the Millworks’ most unique design is the rooftop garden on the 4th floor where the interior units all have patios on the ‘Roof Garden’.  This Living Roof – centrally located with open sky courts – have living gardens and flag stone patiors, gives the 4th floor residents a sense of being on the ground floor which is a very appealing, surprising feature!

Views Galore – For outdoor lovers, the floor to ceiling windows brings tons of sunshine and the breathtaking surrounding Novato hill views inside.  I can only imagine how beautiful the night time views will be with the twinkling lights from the distance.

Kitchen and Living Room

Kitchen and Living Room

The Interiors – Millworks have open floor plan where kitchen opens into living and dining rooms (area – depending on plan).  Kitchens have granite slab counter tops, break fast bar, Bosch stainless steel, Energy Star appliances, Kohler sinks and faucets.  Bathrooms have Kohler faucets, Marble slab counters and surrounds on bathtubs.  Dual flush toilets conserve water.   All units are equipped with air conditioners (although I always say that we really don’t need that in Novato – the breeze from the ocean cools down most hot days by night).  Schlage hardware, recessed lighting, sustainable flooring, cable ready.

Green Features at Millworks

Green Features at Millworks

Building and Living Green – Millworks is also designed with ‘Building Green’ in mind as Sustainable is a big concern for environmental minded Marin Residents.  The building is designed with

  • Money Saving features such as emergency efficiencies while determining the direction of the building (South facing), insulation grades,  dual paned windows, doors, Energy Star appliances..
  • Preserving Health – such Cabinet doors are free of formaldehyde, none-toxic and low VOC Materials are used throughout
  • Environmentally Sustainable– Pre-engineered lumber, waste recycling during construction, Build-in recycling centers, sustainable flooring’s and cross ventilation windows are some example of the environmentally friendly design.

The Units and Pricing – One Bedroom / One Bath unit (812 sf to 883sf) starts from the low $400,000s; Two Bedroom / Two Baths Flats (1260 sf to 1360 sf) starts from the mid $400,000s and the Two Bedrooms, Two Bath plus Den Falts (1452 sf to $1595sf) starts from the high $500,000.  

HOA Fees – HOA fees ranging from $393 to $494 monthly.  An interesting chart provided by Millworks compares  HOA fee to the average single-family detached homowner’s regular maintenance cost per year, and of course, Millworks HOA seems more reasonable according to the chart – email me if you are interested!

Keep in mind the price includes standard features, and any and all upgrades will be additional costs to the buyers.

As a baby boomer and looking forward, I thought this will be a great place to retire – low to no maintenance, single story (elevator up/down), walk to town, new, green building, etc.  Having a Whole Foods downstirs works well also.   However, as a  young, single professional living in Chicago many years ago, I also enjoyed staying in downtown highrise for the amentities it provides (Millworks is not close to the 45th floor I was on before).  

Releases – The current plan the developer has is to release 10 homes at a time while gauging the interest ,control inventory and proper pricing. 

Tax Credit – And don’t forget the Federal First Time Homebuyer Up to $8,000 Tax Credit as well as the California State Up to $10,000 Tax Credit for purchasing new contrustions !

Interested in Checking out Millworks? – I enjoyed my visit to Millworks with Barbara.  Let me know if this stirs up your curiosity.  Please give me a call (415) 717-0293 or email me at sylvia@SylviaSellsMarin.comif you want to check out Millworks.  I would love to come with you and get your input about the building that changed the face of Old Town Novato, For Better For Worse, and hopefully, since it’s already here, we will make it ”For Better’ because that’s the only way we can all benefit! 


Novato Real Estate Market Overview, as of August 27, 2008

Changes since July 23rd, 2008 for Novato Real Estate Market – Total inventory dropped by 10 while units for pending sales remains the same at 28%.  The total market at a glance stays at the lower end of being Neutral tilting towards the buyers market (defined as pending sales is less than 25%).

Condos/Townhomes, where we see the biggest drop in prices due to many short sales and foreclosures, edged past neutral market and stays periosly on the sellers market.

Slight drop of 5% in SFDs priced under $500K – some REOs (Real Estate Owned – Bank Owned Properties) or Short Sales are a little rough, requires sweat equity.  As higher quality homes experience price drops and become more affordable, the lowest priced home saw some impact. 

Big swing in the pending is the starter single family homes priced between $500K and $600K, with a drop of 12% on pending sales while the next price range up of $600K to $700K SFDs, has a gain of 10% compare to the July report.  Due to the softening market, nice homes priced over $700Ks dropped below $700K and becomes a great buy.     

Homes priced over $700K stays within +/- 5% variance from a month ago, other than $1.25M to $1.5M which saw a 9% increase – for units out of 23 units went into escrow.  A small change in a small sample makes relatively large statement expressed in percentage.   

Give me a call at (415) 717-0293 or email me at if you for details, inventory on the market and what’s the best house / investment property for you! 

It will be a pleasure to serve you!  

Give me a call (415) 717-0293 or email me  at for details, inventory on the market and what’s the best house / investment property for you!  It will be a pleasure to serve you!  

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin, Sonoma Realtor



Total Units/ In Escrow


% Active


% Pending

% +/- since July 23, 08

All SFD’s and CID’s






28% (N)








22% (B)








44% (S)


$0 -$500K SFD






36% (N)








15% (B)


$600,001 – $700K






44% (S)


$700,001 – $800K






18% (B)


$800,001 – $999,999






19% (B)


$1M – $1.25M






14% (B)


$1.25M – $1.5M






17% (B)








3% (B)


  • Buyer’s Market  < 25%
  • Neutral                25% – 40%
  • Seller’s Market   > 40%

Marin Real Estate Home Sales 2008 Mid Year Report

p align=”left”>My clients or many Realtors on the National Forum have been asking me about how the market is in general and in Marin county.

My answer is always – Real Estate is LOCAL

No matter how much the media dramatizes the market condition, Marin County House Prices still hold steady. This is especially true for great houses in desirable locations in Southern Marin (such as Belvedere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Ross, San Anselmo, Sausalito and Tiburon), or for that matter, all of Marin.

One of the recent news (will follow up with another blog) is the fact that Marin Land Trust just purchased right to another agricultural zoned land at a prime location so that the owners can stay at the property but any future use, including sale of the land will have a restriction of keeping the land for agricultural purposes.

This helps keeping the Marin developable land to a minimum, future housing supply lower, and the Marin environment healthy and green as our pride and joy.

Commons at Mt. Burdell – Going Green, LEED Plantinum + Design

Novato Real Estate – For my Novato Neighbors and FFIC Friends

Background –

I recently (June 17th) attended a neighborhood presentation by American Assests, developer of the FFIC Site, about the proposed plan for their new project for the site – “Commons at Mount Burdell”.

I attended the meeting as a member of San Marin Improvement Association (SMIA) as well as a concerned Realtor who lives close to the project site and an ex-FFIC employee.  I have a vast interest in the project, for me, for my neighbors, for my friends and for our local community.  

I was probably the only one from SMIA, while most others were residents across from FFIC. 

Since this will have a major impact on our neighborhood, I have decided to share with you the information I gathered at the meeting.  The following are notes at the meeting.  In the interest of accuracy, I asked Ms. Margi Goodman,  representative of American Assets, to review the notes and have made corrections accordingly.  

To start with, from the information I received, I have created a graph with current FFIC topography and  American Assets’ “Commons at Mount Burdell” plan for comparison.   

Common at Mount Burdell and FFIC Current Facility
The Meeting –

John Chamberlain, CEO of American Assets, the owner of the site, was the presenter at the meeting. 

Since this is a project still being revised, please do check with the developer for details and updated plans (they are conducting meetings to get feedback from the community and will revise the plan if needed):

1. The project is called ‘Commons at Mount Burdell’, a place developed to serve the local community.  All the development is confined in the ‘LOOP’ – meaning the driveway surrounding FFIC campus with two entrances – West Campus and East Campus drive.

2. The plan is to keep and improve the three current FFIC buildings

3. The additional buildings will be built on the current parking facilities. All future parking will be underground with the exception of parking right in front of the center FFIC building, which they will keep as well as parkings for the two residential buildings.  Parkings for the two housing structures will be in the middle of the buildings and not visible from outside. 

4. There will be a new ‘world class’ hotel (similar to Sheraton Hotels) with a comprehensive health club (not a gigantic one but a luxury hotel quality facility). The health club will include swimming pool with possible retractable roof, weight room and will be accessible for FFIC employees.  (Note – Partridge Knolls neighbors wonder if they can get community membership)

The hotel will be located at the far east side of the property. The plan currently calls for a craftman style facility with 175 rooms, meeting facility, a large banquet room – capacity of 450, restaurant and the health club.  

5.  A residential facility in between the Hotel and FFIC building. The facility will house 150 units. The current plan is around 1/3 1BD/1BA units and 2/3 2BDs/1BA units. Rentals for 6 months to 12 months leases. All rental units will be on 2nd floor and up. 20% will be low income housing.

The first floor of the rental building will be shops and restaurants. Although after further inquiries (comments were there is really no need for restaurants and shops there), John said that the eateries will mostly consist of coffee shop, small stores, etc. for the hotel, apartment residents and office workers.

6. A few small office buildings will be built between the West Campus Drive and FFIC building. These will be built in the future pending needs.

7. They will donate a small parcel to Novato Rotary to build a community center.

8. The current ball park will increase in size. Some feedback is for multi purpose field. My personal feeling is that, the field and the community center for Novato Rotary, are part of what the developer wants to do to give back to the community and build local goodwill.  The exact plan is not clear at this point.  American Assets has contacted little leagues, etc, and will possibly be looking at a mixed use facility which they will build and maintain for local usage. 

9. The total projected usage will be for 5,000 people – the original maximum occupancy designed for the FFIC site. At the height of FFIC, there were 2,000 occupants and they currently have around 1,000 people on campus.

10. A big selling point is the green building aspect of the whole structure, hopefully a LEED Platinum (or exceeds Platinum) Certified complex. Platinum is the highest rating you can get from the LEED certification (Note – I did a research on this when making presentation at San Marin High School Green Week recently. So please do contact me if you need further information about LEED certification.)

11. Current FFIC buildings are up to 80ft tall.  The new buildings will be 40 feet at  most (most parkings will be underground).

If you are concerned, be sure to drive on San Marin Drive and imagine how it might look – which I do every time I drive by FFIC now. Good thing is that the trees at FFIC are more mature and the site sits lower than San Marin Drive.  My own feeling is that the new buildings might not be as intrusive as I first feared.  (Added 6/28- Also try to imagine how the site will look at night and when the leaves fall. It’s pretty dark now when you drive by, but it could be more lively at night with hotel, residential structures and community center. )

12. Per developer, they hope by doing this, they will be able to lower FFIC operating costs which will encourage FFIC to stay in Novato (there is always that speculation) and keep local employment rate up. With the new facility, they hope to attract other occupants, prevent the buildings from sitting empty and increase sales revenue for the city.

Major Concerns –

1. Traffic in and out of the site and how dangerous (per residents across from FFIC) it is currently and what it might do in the future. There are also concerns about the 101 interchange. Per developer, they are doing a traffic study including both and the plan will not go forward if 101 interchange needs to be improved – cost prohibitive.  In addition, the plan might change from Traffic Study Findings.

2. The effects on home values – opinions are divided on this. Some worried about what they will see out of their windows, some worried whether the residential units will affect the value of homes. Some thought the addition of world class facilities will add to home values.

3. Energy/water usage – see Green building plans

4. Views from residents who live on the hills across from FFIC

5. Noise level – from construction and from additional traffic

6. Secuirty (Added 06/28) – Another concern is the security of the site, especially the parking structures. The residential ones will be secured parking and public ones will have patrol – American Assets will be researching this.  

Design Review –

American Assets submitted the plan to the city on June 10th.  The city shall respond in 30 days after submission.  They will be conducting more neighborhood meetings to get feedback and anticipate revising plans from feedback received.   They will be going through Novato Design Reviews.  The high level time frame is estimated to be two years.      

Please make sure you attend future meetings for updated plans and let them know about your concerns. 

Comments –

I welcome your comments and do let me know if I have missed or misrepresented anything.  I will gladly make corrections. 

Updates and Meetings – (added 07/08) 

Ms. Margie Goodman has kindly agreed to keep me informed of updates and future meeting schedule so I can post them on this blog.   Please come back and check periodically. 

September 4, 2008 Update – The Fireman’s Fund meeting will be on Tuesday, Sept 9th at 6.30pm at the Nova Ro meeting room.  (From San Marin, take a right on Redwood Blvd, then take another right on Pinheiro Circle.  The meeting is at 31 Pinheiro Circle, upstairs in the mtg room.) 

The President of American Assets (John Chamberlin) will be there to show you the proposed project, listen to your feedback and answer any questions.   

Please bring neighbors along.
Thanks for your interest!
eMail Notices –  (added 07/08) 

Please email me at if you would like to be notified of future meetings.

References –

1. City of Novato Planning Department – Redevelopment of the Fireman’s Fund Office Campus – including two PDF files for detailed information.  

2.  Marin IJ Article  This article basically talked about the Green building aspects of the project and did not touch upon the concerns of the neighbors who attended the meeting – mainly the additional traffic in and out of the campus with the new Hotel, residential units and office buildings. Note that the first picture showed the angle from Ball Park to the campus, but the truth is the green space on the proposed campus is much smaller.

3.  Novato Advance Article, June 11, 2008

4. Another Marin IJ Article – announcing the Sale.

Marin County July 4th Events – For the Patriotic You!

Independence Day is a heartbeat away and one of the beauties of life in the North Bay is the variety of fun events that our charming communities organize at this time of year. Read on to learn of the many unique ways to observe this all-American holiday. Happy Fourth and be watchful of the neighborhood fireworks during this very dry season! 

Corte Madera-Larkspur
43rd Annual Corte Madera/Larkspur Chambers of Commerce 4th of July Parade – Elaborate floats, precision drill teams, classic cars and the Corte Madera Town Band.
Parade Time: 10:30 am
Route: From Redwood High in Larkspur, it moves down Magnolia into Corte Madera and continues down Tamalpais Ave to the Town Center.
Post-parade: Check out the festivities at Corte Madera’s Town Park: arts and crafts, food and drink, carnival games, children’s activities and live entertainment.
Info: (415) 924-0441.

16th Annual 4th of July Parade – Come see over 100 parade entries ranging from classic cars and vehicles from a military museum to Irish bagpipers and a Chinese drum and bell corps.
Parade Time: 10 am
Route: Downtown Novato, starting at the corner of Grant and Railroad Avenues  
Along the parade route, you will also find food and refreshment booths, and souvenir t-shirts.
Info: (415) 899-8900.
The 55th Annual Buckaroo Breakfast
Location: Redwood Credit Union parking lot: 1010 Grant Ave, downtown Novato
Time: Breakfast served from 7-10 am
Organizer: The event is presented by the Presbyterian Church of Novato.
Fee: There is a suggested donation of $5 for adults, $3 for kids. Proceeds will be donated to the Marin Community mission project.

First Annual Novato 4th of July Race
Tamalpa, a Marin running club, presents a “4 on the 4th” four-mile road race and a “Mayor’s Mile” one-mile family walk/jog.
Starting time/place: 7:20 am at 7th and Grant, downtown Novato
Entry fee: $15, which includes a race mug and post-race goodies
To register, go to the Tamalpa website.

– This year, Petaluma is observing its 150th anniversary, and they’re making a joint celebration to go along with Independence Day. The day starts off with a 10K run at Putnam Park, then the celebration moves over to the Marin-Sonoma Fairgrounds for live music, fun for kids, food and fireworks display.
Location: The Sonoma-Marin (Petaluma) Fairgrounds, entry on E. Washington & Ellis Streets
Fee: $5 admission, free for kids under 13
Time: Gates open at 3pm; fireworks after dark
Info: Go to the Sesquicentennial Calendar page 

Annual Ross Commons Picnic
– Pack your own lunch, or you can order from Eddie’s. The picnic begins at noon and will take place at the Grove area of the Common.

Info: (415) 453-1453, ext. 176
San Rafael
Marin County Fair and Fireworks

The Marin County Fair (at Marin County Fairgrounds, Civic Center Drive) offers Marin County’s official fireworks display. The July 4th concert features the Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans.
Fair admission: $12 to $14, and includes free carnival rides, exhibits, and music
Fireworks begin at 9:30 pm
Info: (415) 499-6400 or
Santa Rosa
5th Annual Bicycle Santa Rosa – 4th Of July Festival And Bike Ride
The celebration begins with a bike ride with elected officials and candidates. The festival will feature live music and vendors, a bike decorating contest and parade for kids, a slow bike race, a flat tire changing contest, water balloon toss, a jump house, various art activities, drawings for prizes and more. SCBC will provide free valet bike parking.
Bike Ride Time & Place:  9am at Julliard Park, returning around 11 am
Festival: 11 am-3 pm
Info: (707) 545-0153
4th of July Parade and Fireworks – This year’s parade will include the Cal Alumni Marching Band, floats of all shapes and sizes, and the Sausalito Fire Department.
Parade Time: 10 am
Route: Starting at South Bridgeway, it will move through downtown Sausalito to Caledonia St and into Dunphy Park.
Post Parade: A town picnic in the park with food, entertainment, raffles, tug-of-war, and an egg toss. Fireworks: 9:15 pm
For a complete schedule of the day’s events, go to
4th of July Parade & Old Fashioned Celebration – Complete with booths, food, art show, games, music by the Hometown Band, Crossfire and Carlos Herrera. After dark there are fireworks at the field by General Vallejo’s house (east of the plaza).
Location: Sonoma Plaza
Fireworks Cruise
– One of the best ways to see the San Francisco fireworks display is from the Bay! The Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry Co. will offer a 4th of July fireworks cruise.
Boarding Time: 7:30 pm and departs at 8 pm
Place: The Tiburon ferry dock off Main Street
Fee: $40 for adults; $20 for children
Info:  (415) 435-2131.

4th of July Parade and Pancake Breakfast

Breakfast Time & Place: 8-11 am at the Woodacre Fire Station, 33 Castle Rock Rd.
Cost: $7 for adults; $3 for children
Parade Time: Noon
Route: Starting at the Woodacre Improvement Club (1 Garden Way), it follows Railroad Ave to the Dickson Ranch.
Post-Parade: A good old-fashioned celebration at Dickson Ranch – A family affair with games, face painting for the kids, competitions (including the men’s ugly leg contest), horse rides, plenty of music, barbecue, bingo, and everyone’s favorite, the flea market.

Top Real Estate Video of 2008 by ActiveRain

There are many innovative ways to showcase a listing.  Mike Lefebvre of Century 21 Commonwealth outdid himself again this time and won the Activerain 2008 Video Contest. 

Don’t know if I’ll be this creative, but certainly something to think about when I list another Marin Home.

Check out the video and enjoy.  


Trulia Unveils Street View, a great Marketing Tool

Being one of the regular Trulia contributors and Founding Member (a real estate website dedicated to providing buyers and sellers with advise and providing tools for realtors and consumers alike) contributor, it is of great interest to watch Trulia grow by leaps and bounds through the year.

The latest innovation unveiled is the Integration of Trulia and Google Street View.

 There are a lot of National/International real estate sites and bloggers; after being introduced to Trulia by Frank Howard Allen technical manager (FHA is the one of the founding member of the site), I have decided to contribute to Trulia (and a selected few others) since their inception.

I have had a great time giving valuable advise to consumers on the site and have learned a lot about real estate issues from many angles. I have gained great friendship with top real estate pros around the country with whom we share ideas, concerns, Q and As.

The best? This endeavor and Alliance allow me to serve you better!