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.

millworksinterior

'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! 

bg1a6

California Issues New Construction Tax Credit for Qualified Homebuyers

americandreamIn order to stimulate purchases of newly constructed homes as well as encouraging home ownership; the State of California has issued a (up to) $10,000 tax credit for homebuyers of new contruction properties.
 
Here are the details of the plan:
 
1)  This credit only applies to new homes that will be used as a primary residence and is limited to the first 10,000 new home purchases.
 
2)  The credit is for $10,000 or 5% of the home’s price, whichever is less.
 

3)  There is no down payment requirement to receive the $10,000 tax credit.
 
4)  There are no maximum income limitations so any buyer purchasing a new home can qualify.
  
5) The $10,000 tax credit is just that, a credit, not a loan, so if the home remains your primary residence for two years, you do not have to pay any portion of the tax credit back. If you sell the home in less than two years, then it has to be paid back at time of sale.
  
6) The new home cannot be located outside of the United States and it cannot be inherited property or a gift.

Dogbone Meadows Dog Park, Novato, Marin County, CA

Dogbone Meadows Dog Park, located on route to Stafford Lake in Novato, is probably the best dog park in Marin County.  Dogs often bring their people when they are on the way to the beaches.

Built by dog lovers, the property is around 1 acre, with tracks for dogs and human alike, and toys for dogs only.  The backdrop is Open Space, part of O’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, rescued from 2nd Chance Rescue) and Hunter (Golden) love to come here in the morning – Duke after dropping his brother off at local high school, and Hunter, after dragging his mom of his daily 2 hour walk adn play – Hunter will chase the tennis ball and Duke will run along Hunter

Makes Happy Dogs!  

 dogpark43

dogpark21

dogpark61

dogpark32

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
 
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

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.

 

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 sylvia@SylviaSellsMarin.com 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.

Novato Real Estate Market Overview as of May 28, 2008

Interesting Novato Real Estate Market Trend, May 28, 2008

As there are more Short Sales and Bank Owned (REO) properties on the market, the trend is driving prices for short sales and REO properties downwards; attracting bargain hunters while higher end properties move slower and more cautiously.   

Coupled with the new programs since the announcement of the new Jumbo Loan limits, the consumers are out shopping again and will not wait when the right property comes along.  Instead of two loan threasholds, conforming (up to $417,000) and Jumbo (over $417,000); there are now three brackets – Conforming (up to $417,000), Super Conforming (between $417,000 and $729,250) and Jumbo ($729,250 and up).  The consumers are certainly taking advantage of that! 

For the lower end properties, some borrowers are checking into certain low income financing plan as well as the revived FHA loans (Check out FHA loans in another post). 

Many first time home buyers and people relocating from out of state or other california housing markets are quite excited about the prospect of finally being able to own a home in Marin county.  

Keep a close eye on the market. Make sure you get all your ducks in a row and jump in when a great deal comes along! you informed!   

category

 

Total Units/ In Escrow

 

% Active

 

% Pending

% +/- since 4/30

All SFD’s and CID’s

 

459/112

 

76%

 

24%

+3%

SFD’s

 

326/70

 

79%

 

21%

+3%

CID’s

 

133/42

 

68.5&

 

31.5%

+4.5%

$0 -$500K SFD

 

48/23

 

52%

 

48%

+24%

$500,001-$600K

 

41/10

 

76%

 

24%

-3%

$600,001 – $700K

 

43/9

 

79%

 

21%

-3%

$700,001 – $800K

 

51/12

 

76.5%

 

23.5%

+3.5%

$800,001 – $999,999

 

56/6

 

89%

 

11%

+6%

$1M – $1.25M

 

39/5

 

87%

 

13%

-7%

$1.25M – $1.5M

 

13/1

 

96%

 

4%

-12%

$1.5M+

 

25/4

 

84%

 

16%

+12%

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

Novato Market Review as of April 30, 2008

 Novato Market Review as of April 30, 2008

Changes since March 19, 2008.  Available units changed from 376 to 436 (16% increase), in escrow changed from 82 to90 (10% increase), so we have a loss of 5% in percent in escrow. 

The biggest gain in In-Escrow is in the your bread and butter single family home price ranged from $600K to $800K and not surprisingly, the $1M to $1.25M range where the rich but not super rich are looking for homes.  The fixers and very small homes (1,000 sf or slightly more) see a drop in houses under contract. 

Will be an intersting summer.  I will keep an eye on all homes and keep you informed!   

category

 

Total Units/ In Escrow

 

% Active

 

% Pending

% +/- since 3/19

All SFD’s and CID’s

 

436/90

 

79%

 

21%

1%-

SFD’s

 

306/55

 

82%

 

18%

0.5%-

CID’s

 

130/35

 

73&

 

27%

2%-

$0 -$500K SFD

 

34/8

 

76%

 

24%

12%-

$500,001-$600K

 

44/12

 

73%

 

27%

12%-

$600,001 – $700K

 

41/10

 

76%

 

24%

15%+

$700,001 – $800K

 

44/9

 

80%

 

20%

4%+

$800,001 – $999,999

 

55/3

 

95%

 

5%

8%

$1M – $1.25M

 

39/8

 

80%

 

20%

9%+

$1.25M – $1.5M

 

25/4

 

84%

 

16%

7%-

$1.5M+

 

24/1

 

96%

 

4%

1%-

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

A New Property Search – Bay Area MLS IDX Feed – Just for You!

As I continue to search for better ways to serve you, I have added a new Bay Area MLS Search/Property Organizer Service where you can search for proerties at your leisure, create and save different searches for easy access, and save favorite properties in your own login.

You will also be able to receive email alerts for properties that meet your criteria.

The Best Part is it is FREE!

If you would like to see any property or can not find a specific type of property, please do give me a call or email me so I can help.

Go to my website www.SylviaSellsMarin.com for more details.  I love to hear your feedback on this!

Novato Real Estate Market Overview, Week of March 19, 2008

It’s been almost two months since I last posted the market statistics for the Novato Real Estate Market (part of Marin County).  There is a noticeable improvement on the market – Other than a couple of price ranges, most of the others increased sales pending percentage anywhere form 10% to 20% increase in sales for various price range even as the inventory has grown.  

My office reported an active March, a lot of buyers out there looking for ‘bargains’ in Marin county, and Novato is where  you will find it!

We are Optimistic!

Want to know the market statistics or go out and see a house or tow?  Just give me a call!

category

 

Total Units/In Escrow

 

% Active

 

% Pending

All SFD’s and CID’s

 

376/82

 

78%

 

22%

SFD’s

 

264/49

 

81.5%

 

18.5%

CID’s

 

112/22

 

71&

 

29%

$0 -$500K SFD

 

33/12

 

64%

 

36%

$500,001-$600K

 

39/6

 

85%

 

15%

$600,001 – $700K

 

33/3

 

91%

 

9%

$700,001 – $800K

 

42/10

 

76%

 

24%

$800,001 – $999,999

 

45/6

 

87%

 

13%

$1M – $1.25M

 

27/3

 

89%

 

11%

$1.25M – $1.5M

 

22/5

 

77%

 

23%

$1.5M+

 

21/1

 

95%

 

05%

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