Novato Marin Schools in Session, Duke is Happy at Dogbone Dog Park

Novato public schools are back in session, and Duke, our beloved Laborator / Pointer mix is very happy that he gets to go to Dogbone Meadows Dog Park to see his best friend, Hunter, again.  Since Dogbone Dog Park is in the opposite direction of my house in Partridge Knolls, San Marin Area, to my work, Frank Howard Allen Realtors, Duke only gets to go there after I drop my younger son off at the local school which is just a block away from the park.  This means Duke has not been there for quite sometime 😦  

The park is very popular, lots of dogs and their humen go there to hang out with their buddies.  The place can get overwhelming for Duke and I late afternoons after work.  I love going there in the mornings where things are calm, and there are only a few familiar dogs and very responsible dog owners.  We enjoy seeing each other and catching up.  And Duke!  He is in heaven!  You can not find a happier dog (o.k. maybe the other dogs at Dogbone Dog Park).

See the following for info about the very premier Dogbone Dog Park, Duke and his best friend, Hunter!  I still need to take some pictures later in the day when the sky is blue and bright.

—————————————————————————————————————–Dogbone Meadows Dog Park in Novato, Marin County, located en route to Stafford Lake and West Marin, dogs often bring their people when they are on the way to the beaches.  The dog park is right accross from Novato Chase luxury homes, is probably the best dog park in Marin County, or maybe even California.  Due to the great location and the natural surroundings, there are talks of starting the first community garden in Novato next to the dog park. 

Built by dog loving volunteers (or shall we say, slaves of dogs), the property is around 1 acre, with tracks for dogs and human alike, toys and exercise stations (the hoops, loops, bridges, jumps, tubs, etc) for dogs only.  The volunteers planted trees for shade, put down benches and , water fountains, , porchesThe backdrop is Open Space, part ofO’Hare Park, great hiking, horseback riding trails.

This is a morning with unusual heavy fog from West Marin, a beautiful background for the dog park. 

Duke (black with white spots, rescued from 2nd Chance Rescue) and Hunter (Golden, dapper with his red bandana – he has a whole collection of those) love to come here in the morning – Duke, after dropping his brother off at local high school, and Hunter, after dragging his mom for his daily 2 hour walk and play (can’t say Hunter does not have a GREAT life, even Duke is envious of him!) – Hunter will chase the tennis ball and Duke will run along Hunter.

Makes Happy Dogs and Happy people when their dogs are tired the rest of, the day!   

It’s a foggy morning, but I thought it’s interesting, so I snapped the pictures.  


Duke and Hunter waiting for Hunter’s mom to throw the ball.

Time to chase the ball!

Duke’s best friend, Hunter, whose only passion is chasing the tennis ball!

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

SERVING MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA – FOR ALL YOUR REAL ESTATE NEEDS Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.

Singing Praises to 101 Freeway Widening Project in Central Marin

101 Freeway WindenedI hesitate to jump on the bandwagon to sing praises to the improved 101 traffic in Marin County since they opened the lanes on a stretch of San Rafae in first quarter, 2009. 

It amazes me to see people who hardly drive on 101 filming the traffice at 6:00AM while reporting how great the traffic is 😉 

As a Realtor, commuting during traffic hours is not the norm as I have the priviledge to schedule appointments away from traffic hours and that is what I normally do.

I feel that for reliability, I have to wait until I actually have the chance to drive during traffic hours regularly before reporting with confidence about the improvement, if any. 

Well, my younger son signed up for classes at Cal.  The classes start at 8:10am / 9:10am; and I have the priviledge of driving him to UC during traffice hours every morning for the last two weeks.

So far, I am very impressed by how much traffic has improved.

During the height of construction period, it took me up to 1 hour  to inch from North Novato to just befroe Central San Rafael.  This includes finding all local detours (which many don’t know) to avoid the heavies 101 traffic depending on how each stretch of traffic is moving at the time.

And now, I can be on the Richmond bridge in just over 20 minutes and be in the middle of Cal campus (which includes driving through the famously painful Unversity Avenue) in abuot 35 minutes. 

O.K. I have to admit that I took advantage of the car pool lane with my younger son in the car.  However, I was able to observe the heavier part of traffic when I drove by.  There are still stretches where the traffic slows down but the stretch is much shorter – just before St. Pablo and right after that exit.  The traffic, although slower, is not that bad.  The cars still move along nicely isntead of the agonizing stop and go.

In addition, I also surveyed my clients who commute to the city for work.  The reports are a resounding YES! on how much better the traffic is now.  A client told me the improvement is anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes driving the 101 stretch in Marin county.  I am pleased to hear that. 

So, my overall report on the 101 widening project in Central Marin, although slow in coming, is – Yes, A Great Improvement!   


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 Homes, Architecural Distictive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange. Chinese Realtor.


Novato July 4th Parade, Marin County, CA

I have never been ‘IN’ the Novato July 4th parade before.  A few times I was there, I was a bystander, watching for my then young sons marching down Old Town Grant Avenue as part of Novato Summer Music Institute Marching Band.  It was fun watching them, but I had never be IN one before.

Yesterday, I got the taste of actually being in the Parade while riding the truck with the Penguin Empire Robotics Team (San Marin High School Robotics Club).  I have to say that it was a lot of fun riding with the students, pretending that I was helping (yes, they knew exactul what to do). and waving to the bystanders (now that I am in it, I might as well enjoy the parade!)

The parade drew record entries and recrod crowds – presumably the difficutl economy kept a lot of people home during the summer; but being in Marin for the summer can not really be considered a hardship, I have to say.  

There were over 200 entries; including the perennial entry of fleet of antique tanks and military vehicles (a private collection, can you believe that?), basset hound parade and they are very serious about that (yes, hundreds of them and their proud owners – brings smile to my face everytime I think about that), MY personal favorite is the Pini Hardware Plunger Brigade, this year, with an automatic toilet built by Penguin Empire adviser Mike Sousa (I think Pini Hardware did the garbage can routine one year), many student groups – the Novato Summer Institute, Five Charming Lads from San Marin, San Marin Jazz Choir, Marin Summer Theater, Novato Unified School District, Various Novato schools and Novato School Fuel thanking Novato for passing Measure A+ for Kids campaign, dace clubs, Taken do clubs, anti-tax protesters, archers, musketeers, Coast Guard Strike Team, and much more.

It’s also fun to see so many friends and neighbors out there watching and enjoying the parade.  Novato, a town of 50K+ population, a lay-back and very friendly town can seem so small and personal where we seem to know everyone and care about everybody!

Oh, not to forget about the Penguin Empire Team – the students did great and the crowds were awed by the awesome robot whenever we stop (we did stop a lot more than we were allowed to).  The students remotely controlled the robot, drove it down the ramp, made some tight turns, performed a couple of routines (unfortunately, due to the crowd, we were not able to show the full potential of the robot) and drove it back up the float.  The crowds were quite enthusiastic about the robot and the team 🙂  

Here are a few picturs to share with you (Sorry, I was too busy to be IN the parade and did not have time to take as many picturers as I have liked!):

Penguin Empire Pre-Parade

2009 July 4th Parade MST 2

Pini Hardware Plunger Brigade

Parade 3

Parade 2

Parade 4

Parade 1

Parade 5

And the Parade is not complete without the viewers cheering us on!

Parade 6

9 Fabulous New Luxury Homes on Olive Court. Novato, Marin County

9 Fabulous New Luxury Homes on Olive Court, Novato, Marin County

Please make appointments with Sylvia Barry or your Realtor if you want to see these new Craftsman Style Homes located on Olive Court in Novato.

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, April 01, 2009

Millworks Novato

 Millworks Novato (going strong with a lot of interest -check with Sylvia to see)

Novato Real Estate Market started to pick up after the gloomy winter – Yes! (by the way, is there such a thing as gloomy winter in Marin?  – we are so spoiled, when there are more than a drizzle and a little bit of wind, we complaint about the weather and then secretly congratulate ourselves for being in such a wonderful place – there is a premium there :-))

Thanks to the press, both prnt and online and yes, the Obama Stimulus plan, the buzz out there is this is a great time to BUY in Marin county.  Finally, we have affordable prices (o.k. affordable is a relative term), but more affordable houses here in Marin.

The condo/townhome cotinue to pick up pace, as well as the below $500K single family homes.  These are the ones that went thru the worst downturn and were the ones who led the short sale / foreclosure pact, but are now being recognized as the best purchases in town.  

Many former renters find it costs them less to own than to rent; in the mean time, they are able to enjoy the write offs from owning a home. 

That buzz drives the market right above it to go up.  ‘Starter’ homes up to $700,000 saw across board increases in % Pending.  Being able to sell the condos and entry level homes means they can also move upward.  

This allows the $500K – $700K homes to see the biggest surge in % pending. 

The $800K and up range still lag behind – many are waiting for lenders to come up with the policy for Super Jumbo (between $625K and $729K) pricing structore.  Other move up buyers have their homes on market, are relunctant to ‘buy contingenty upon sale’ are hoping to sell and move into upper end houses here in Novato.  

Overall inventory starts to climb, as we expect it to be in Spring.  Homes for sale went up 25 homes, from 305 to 330 in a month (March to April). With the slower release of foreclosures, the inventory is not growing as much as we thought it would.   

Make Sure You are not waiting for the ‘bottom’ of the market. Remember, that is always hindside, by the time you look back, the bottom has already came and went. 

Call Sylvia now to discuss the market and the trend, get familiar with the buying process, and start hunting.  It’s never too late to get ready.     

Give me a call at (415) 717-0293 or email me at for inventories on the market, whether REO, Trust Sale, start home, luxury homes.. I will be very happy to find the best house / investment property for you! 

It will be my pleasure to serve you!  

category   Total Units/ In Escrow   % Active   % Pending % +/- since 09/10/08
All SFD’s and CID’s   330/120   64%   36% (N) +1%
SFD’s   231/75   68%   32% (N) +2%
CID’s   99/45   55%   45% (S) +0%
$0 -$500K SFD   64/34   47%   53% (S) +2%
$500,001-$600K   35/15   57%   43% (N) +15%
$600,001 – $700K   27/10   63%   37% (N) +9%
$700,001 – $800K   28/7   75%   25% (N) -2%
$800,001 – $999,999   35/2   94%   6% (B) +2%
$1M – $1.25M   18/2   89%   11% (B) -2%
$1.25M – $1.5M   14/3   79%   21% (B) +3%
$1.5M+   10/2   80%   20% (B) -13%
  • Buyer’s Market  < 25%
  • Neutral                25% – 40%
  • Seller’s Market   > 40%



Novato Real Estate Market Overview. March 4, 2009

Stafford Lake County Park, Novato, CA

Stafford Lake, Novato, CA

The last time I did a blog post on Novato Real Estate Market Statistics was back in November, 2008 – almost seems like an eternity; so much has happened in the past four months.  I have to say, the fun and challenge is all in there.   

Novato Real Estate Market statistics stays pretty flat with a few big gain in percent pending – under $500K starter single family homes had a gain of 10% to a strong sellers market at 51% pending; the midrange, properties between $700K and $800k enjoyed an 8% increase in pending.  The total now reach 27%, moving towards the right direction. 

The Biggest gais are the over $1,25M market – I guess people with money can take advantage of the softening market and buy luxury homes when the prices are low; a couple I know bought with cash! One thing to keep in mind is that due to the very small volume of the homes avaialbe, a house or two sale makes a huge difference percentage wise. 

The ratio is held steady by dwindling inventory – overall inventory dropped by another 20%, from 370 to 305. This can be attributed to several reasons –

* The normal beginning of the year brings slower new inventories

*  The bail out plan gives many home owners hope and they decided to refinance or negotiate for a ‘loan modification’  Whether they will get their loans modified is irrelevant for this moment.  The reality is it brings down the available homes market. 

* Sellers are holidng onto their properties for the right moment – either the prices go up or when they HAVE to sell.  This also limits the inventory.

This is a great time to buy, with bargains abound, whether it’s in Novato, San Rafael or Southern Marin.  Bank owned homes or sellers with plenty of equity are pricing homes low to attract multiple offers. 

Make Sure You do not spend TOO MUCH time waiting for the right price and when you finally buy, you already missed the bottom of the market.

Just Remember, The Bottom of the Hill is all hindsight – You don’t know it’s here and when you discover it’s the bottom, you have already missed it!

Give me a call at (415) 717-0293 or email me at for inventories on the market, whether REO, Trust Sale, start home, luxury homes.. I will be very happy to find the best house / investment property for you! 

It will be a pleasure to serve you!  



Total Units/ In Escrow


% Active


% Pending

% +/- since 09/10/08

All SFD’s and CID’s






35% (N)








30% (N)








45% (S)


$0 -$500K SFD






51% (S)








28% (N)


$600,001 – $700K






28% (N)


$700,001 – $800K






27% (N)


$800,001 – $999,999






4% (B)


$1M – $1.25M






13% (B)


$1.25M – $1.5M






18% (B)








33% (N)


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



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

SERVING MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA – FOR ALL YOUR REAL ESTATE NEEDS Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.