Fannie Mae Offers New Buyer Incentives on Homepath Homes


New Buyer Incentive on Fannie Mae HomePath® Homes

Fannie Mae is offering buyers up to 3.5% in closing cost assistance on HomePath properties through December 31, 2010.

Buyers must meet the following qualifications to be eligible for the incentive:

  • HomePath property sale must close on or before December 31, 2010 and close within 60 days of offer acceptance
  • Only owner occupants purchasing a HomePath property as their primary residence will receive up to 3.5% in closing cost assistance
  • the initial offer must be submitted on or after September 23, close within 60 days of offer acceptance and close on or before December 31, 2010. No bonus will be given for investor purchases.
  • Buyers must request incentive upon submission of initial offer in order to be eligible.

Note: Offers submitted after November 15, 2010 may be difficult to close by incentive deadline of December 31, 2010.

Terms & Conditions:

  • The 3.5% seller contribution is to be used towards closing costs, including a home warranty, if desired and available.
  • Retail and public entities are eligible for the incentive however pool and auction sales, and sales to investors are not eligible.
  • Fannie Mae reserves the right to remove any property from promotion or end the promotion at any time. Any dispute over the payment of a bonus shall be resolved by Fannie Mae in its sole discretion.
  • Buyers should consult their lenders for guidance on financing. Lenders and mortgage products may impose their own limitations on the use of the 3.5% incentive. For example, the lender may consider the incentive a Seller Contribution and limit the amount to 3.0%. In those instances, the remaining 0.5% will no longer be available to the buyer.

See link to search for Fannie Mae Homepath Homes

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! 


Marin Real Estate Home Sales Statistics as of June 15, 2008

Compare to four months ago, in the middle of winter, the number of inventories almost doubled (from 844 to 1586).  The good news is, the market has started to move again, after the dramatic slow down. 

The percentage of pending sales for bread and butter homes priced under $1M increased a healthy 6%, from 20% to 26% (brings it right to neutral market).  Homes priced higher than $2M stays the same at 15% and homes priced between $1M and $2M dropped 2% from 22% to 20%.  

The lowered price for start homes are allowing buyers who were not able to afford a Marin Home to start buying again. 

There is a silver lining in all that cloud! 🙂  

As of 06/15/2008      
     On Market In Contract % Pending
Marin Real Estate – Total 1586 362 23%
Belvedere Real Estate 22 4 18%
Corte Madera Real Estate 50 13 26%
Fairfax Real Estate 40 7 18%
Greenbrae Real Estate 33 7 21%
Kentfield Real Estate 29 7 24%
Larkspur Real Estate 35   5 14%
Mill Valley Real Estate 169 42 25%
Novato Real Estate 458 123 27%
Ross Real Estate 18 4 22%
San Anselmo Real Estate 80 17 21%
San Rafael Real Estate 400 94 24%
Sausalito Real Estate 65 13  23%
Tiburon Real Estate 86 8 9%
Marin Homes $1-2 million 396 80 20%
Marin Homes  > $2 million 215 32 15%
Marin Homes $0-999,999 975 250 26%
Buyer’s Market <25%
Neutral 25% – 40%
Seller’s Market >40%

Wildfire Alert – Guidelines from Marin County Open Space

Today, I received the ANNUAL FIRE LETTER from the Marin County Department of Parks and Open Space.

This letter is especially critical at this time of year when fire risk is increasing; particularly with the fact that we are already facing a very dry summer season.

Here is the information on the letter, which can be found on the county website Wildfire Safety Information as well.

Excerpt from Marin County Open Space District:


It is extremely important that your clearance work does not start a fire and that you follow the guidelines below:

  • Confirm that the property you want to mow is owned by the Marin County Open Space District, not your neighbor or another agency. Information on lot lines and property ownership is available at the County Assessor-Recorder’s Office (499-7215, or go to and the County Community Development Agency (499-6269, or go to
  • Mow only grass. If you wish to cut brush or trees on Open Space District lands, you will need a permit; please call the District field office at 415-507-2816.
  • Never mow under high fire hazard RED FLAG conditions; call 415-499-7191 for current conditions.
  • In the heat of summer, mow early in the morning or during the evening when it is cooler and less likely that you could start a fire. Use extra caution with power mowers or other spark-producing tools.
  • Keep a 5-pound “ABC” fire extinguisher AND a fully charged garden hose at the work site while mowing or other work is taking place.
  • Do not use metal mowing heads on power scythes (weed whips) as they can spark from contact with rocks.
  • Make sure spark arrestors are in place and functioning.
  • Do not lay power tools in dry grass where hot metals may ignite flammable vegetation.
  • Re-fuel tools away from vegetation — on paved surfaces or cleared areas. Store gasoline away from site.
  • If possible, have someone spot you (keep a close watch) while you are working to watch for problems.
  • Watch for hikers and other open space visitors; cease work until they are clear from the work area.

Information on the Open Space District is available on the internet at:

For guidelines on fire protection, call your local fire agency or check the internet:

Fire Safe Marin

Marin County Fire Prevention Officers


Marin County Fire Services

City of Novato Fire Services

FEMA – Wildfire brochure


Marin County Farmers Market Up and Running

Marin County Farmers Market - Courtsey of Marin IJMARIN COUNTY FARMERS MARKET SCHEDULE 

May marks the opening of most Marin County Farmers Markets, other than the newly approved Ross Farmers Market which received the authorization from the Ross Town Council on  4/10/08.

The Ross Farmers Market will run from 4 to 8PM, Thursday nights from June through September.  The market will begin after Ross School goes on summer break, to avoid traffic issues downtown. 

The following is the list of market and respective schedule as reported by local Marin paper, Marin IJ.

Corte Madera Farmers Market, Town Center courtyard in Corte Madera noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays year-round.. Call 382-7846.

San Rafael – Marin Civic Center Farmers Markets, by the lagoon Thursdays and behind the Civic Center Sundays, both from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round. Call 472-6100 or go to

San Rafael – Downtown San Rafael Farmers Market, Fourth Street between B Street and Lincoln, 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sept. 25. Fruits and vegetables, arts and crafts, baked goods and entertainment. Call 457-2266.

Fairfax Farmers Market, 124 Bolinas Road, 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through October. Call 472-6100, ext. 113, or go to

Larkspur Farmers Market, Larkspur Landing Circle at Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through September. Call 382-7846.

Novato Farmers Market, Grant Avenue, 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Sept. 30. Call 472-6100, ext. 104, or go to

Sausalito Farmers Market, Ferry Landing parking lot at Tracy and Bridgeway, 4 to 8 p.m. Fridays through October. Call 382-7846.

Marin County Population Marks Growth in 2007

According to Marin Independent Journal (Marin IJ), the populaton in Marin Country grew by 2,326 in 2007, almost a 1% growth, the largest jump in 4 years.

Marin population grew from 255,080 to 257,406; a 0.9% growth from 01/01/2007 to 12/31/2007; which is in line with those of the state of California, which measures growth from 07/01/2006 thrun 06/30/2007.

Mill Valley had the largest growth percent wise at 1.1%, or 154 residents; San Rafael, on the contrary, saw the smallest growth of 0.7% or 392 residents.

Property type wise, Novato has the most single-family detached homes, at 12, 196; and the largest number of mobile homes at 718. San Rafael has the largest number o multi-unit apartments, at 2,070. Ross has the laragest number of people per household, with 2.97; while Sausalito hasthe smallest, at 1.74.

The largest city in Marin county is San Rafael, with 58,235 residents, followed by Novato, at 52,737. The smallest city in Marin is Belvedere, 2,161.

California’s population grew by 1.3% t 38 million with 490,000 new residents in 2007. One out of eight Americans now lives in California (12.5%).

San Francisco grew a whole 1.5% during 2007. The new population is 824,525 on 12/31/2007.

Forbe Magazine Ranks Marin among Nation’s Wealthiest Counties

It is official now – Marin county is one of the wealthies county in the country – Forbes Magazine ranks Marin the 15th wealthiest county in the U.S.  

However, Marin still does not compare with the nation’s capital (Washington D.C) where there are three wealthiest counties in the county – wonder where all that money comes from!   The reankings are based on median household income. 

A few others in the bay area – Santa Clara County, ranked no. 4, and San Jose, ranked 17 respectively. 

Check out the Forbe’s America’s Most Lucrative Neighborhoods – places S.F.Grove and Webster street neighborhood with a 2006 median home price of $1.28M

Novato selected as Best Affordable Suburbs in California by Business Week

Partridge Knolls under Mt. Burdell

My home town, Novato, the north most suburb in Marin county, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, has just earned the distinction of the “Best Affordable Suburbs in California in 2007” from Business Week.

 We have lived in Novato for the past 10 years, and I can attest to the Marin IJ Article “Novato a ‘besaffordable’ town”

When you drive towards Novato from 101, you will go through a section of 101 framed by breathtaking hills on both sides of the highway.  Then the hills open up to unveil Novato.

Look around, there are open spaces all over with many hiking/biking trails, Rush creek is near by with dedicated marsh area for local birds and wildlife.  Indian Valley, Green Point, Black Point are all famous for the surrounding view and horse properties; Marin Country club has a warm micro climate, again surrounded and protect by hills; Stafford Lake holds annual Rock and Blues By the Lake, Labor Day Fire Work and many other local events;  renovated Old Town hosts farmers market, local festivals and plenty of specialty boutiques; Vintage Oak offers discounted shopping attracts buyers from around the county,  There is even one of the best dog parks in Novato.  These are just a few of the distinct areas in Novato.

The schools are outstanding, with many excellent, distinctive and diversify programs offered.  There are several charter shools, GATE program, alternative teaching methods, etc.  There are some of the best performing arts programs at different school levels as well as sports, Academy, visual arts and challenging Honors and AP programs for students with different needs and wants.  Outdoor activities are plentiful – Hiking, Biking, several golf courses, tennis clubs (private and public), horseback riding, boating; Novato is also minutes away from west Marin and other bay area beaches.

The choice is unlimited.  Give me a call when you are in town; come and check it out.