Todd & Lisa Sheppard
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BRE # 01154225

BRE # 01314350


Sonoma County Cancels Real Estate Deal to Build More Housing

November 17th, 2018   by lisasheppard

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors unanimously decided to scrap a plan to sell the former Sutter Hospital Campus in Santa Rosa to a developer that was planning to build 867 housing units on the site.

The vote last month puts an end to a developer’s vision to build a mix of housing on the 82 acre-property in Santa Rosa. After last year’s wildfires which destroyed thousands of homes, Sonoma County has been faced with increasing demand and low supply and availability of affordable housing.

The board chose not to appeal a July ruling from a Superior Court judge who said the county incorrectly decided the sale agreement with the developer was exempt from state environmental review requirements.

Supervisors instead directed county staff members to go back to the drawing board by offering most of the property for sale again. State law requires that the County offer the property for sale to government agencies and qualified non-profits first. Supervisors will give those groups the option to purchase the site, which is comprised of 13 separate parcels, either in its entirety or in smaller pieces.


Sonoma County Lost a Decade of New Housing During Financial Crisis

October 1st, 2018   by lisasheppard

When the financial crisis of 2008 hit, American’s financial system “was shaken to its core” as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.  Millions of homeowners lost their homes and jobs, small business owners were forced to close, dreams of higher education were destroyed and the divide between the rich and poor widened significantly.

The effects on Sonoma County were profound.  Over 15,000 homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure and those properties were snapped up by investors at recession level prices.  The loss of middle-income jobs, homeowners that were forced to rent, underfunded pensions and owners that were overextended with credit all felt the impact of the financial crisis.

During this 10-year timeframe, housing wasn’t getting built because developers could not secure financing or take the risk and homeowners couldn’t get home loans due to tightened credit standards.  Prior to the receission, builders were adding approximately 1,585 homes per year in Sonoma County.  Had the recession not hit, that pace would have continued and Sonoma County would have had an additional 10,400 homes.  With construction coming to an almost halt, builders only average about 280 homes a year.

In 2014, Sonoma County developers and bankers finally saw a turnaround and the housing market came alive again, with local developers starting to build again in 2018.  With banks still cautious about lending, local developers have had to find financing through private investors.

Couple this shortage and housing loss with the October wildfires, which destroyed over 5,300 homes in Sonoma County.  Developers are working hard to rebuild for homeowners that lost homes and to design new communities, but with the significant loss of homes over the years and increasing demand, developers will be challenged to rebuild Sonoma County in ways that meet consumer demand and affordability.

Sonoma County Median Home Price Sets New Record

August 10th, 2018   by lisasheppard

The median price of a home in Sonoma County recently increased to $705,000, up from the previous record of $689,00.  This is great news for existing homeowners as many have seen the value of their home appreciate steadily over the last few years.  However, it poses challenges for those looking to break into the housing market.

Over the last nine years, home prices have increased by 131%, from a low of $305,000 in 2009 to $600,000 in June 2016 and now to $705,000 in June 2018.

As more fire victims rebuild and more new housing construction projects become available, there is hope that the housing market will stabilize and prices will level out.

Continued Sales Growth for Sonoma County’s Million Dollar Homes

June 1st, 2018   by lisasheppard

See the source image

While the demand for homes and shrinking inventory continues, the demand for million dollar homes in Sonoma County is seeing an increase and are continuing to generate the biggest growth in residential sales.

In the first 3 months of this year, sales of homes priced at $1 million or more increased by over 38% from last year and have quadrupled in the last 5 years.  The wildfires pushed many stranded homebuyers to seek replacement properties in the million plus market and put many more home buyers in the buyer pool.  Add to that the home appreciation in prices, placing more homes in the million dollar range, and that many Bay Area buyers are looking to Sonoma County as the Bay Area becomes increasingly less affordable.

During the first quarter of 2018, million plus homes comprised one in five sales.  Five years ago, that figure was one in 20.  In years past, million-plus dollar homes would take many months to sell; some buyers are now seeing their homes sell within a few weeks.

The rebuilding process for those trying to rebuild homes after the wildfires has been full of challenges, especially for certain neighborhoods. The future of housing in Fountaingrove is so uncertain with the community having to replace its water system.  Homeowners that were looking to rebuild now face the possibility of joining the buyer pool.  Other homeowners have opted to purchase rather than rebuild.

Many fire survivors are in a position to offer strong bids when competing for homes because of insurance settlements, further driving sales and home appreciation.

The shortage of available homes and high pricing throughout the Bay Area will continue to keep the Sonoma County real estate market strong for most of 2018.

Sonona County Median Home Price Sets Another Record

March 28th, 2018   by lisasheppard

The median home price in Sonoma County increased to $689,000 in February, an increase of 2% from January and 14% from a year ago.  This median price sets a new record high for Sonoma County homes, where inventory shortages have been exacerbated by the October wild fires.

In order to secure homes, buyers should expect to bid at least 5% above asking price.  Driving up the price were buyers that were scrambling to secure homes after the destruction of over 5,300 homes in the county. Since November,  new listings increased by 26% and sales by 14%. Winter sales, normally subdued, were robust this winter with over 261 homes purchased in February alone.

County home sales typically increase in the Spring, which means an increase in bidding wars to secure a home.  Many buyers are placing all-cash offers in an effort to win a bidding war.  With fire victims receiving insurance cash payouts or back in the market to purchase after having rented, this means that buyer demand will again likely exceed supply, possibly driving up prices even further.

While home prices are becoming out of reach for many Sonoma County natives, buyers from the Bay Area and other counties where home prices are highest still consider Sonoma County an affordable place to live.

How will the Sonoma County Fires Affect the Housing Market?

November 2nd, 2017   by lisasheppard

October’s wildfires left behind much destruction, with many victims now faced with the process of rebuilding.  Prior to the wildfires, home prices were already steadily increasing and inventory shortages had been the norm for quite some time.  It is difficult to estimate how long the rebuilding process will take, as some homeowners will rebuild and others may opt to sell their land to investors.

California is no stranger to destructive wildfires and communities rebuilding and coming back strong.  Recall the devastating Oakland Hills fire that occurred in October of 1991 and damaged more than 2,900 structures. Prior to the fires, the affected homes were older 2 & 3 bedroom homes estimated at $300,000 in the early 90s. Many homeowners that rebuilt constructed homes that were larger, and home values jumped to $700,000 in the mid-90s.  Despite the wildfire, Oakland Hills to this day remains a very desirable place to live.

Prior to the wildfires in Sonoma County, the median price jumped to $587,000 in September.  Because the North Bay offers more affordable housing in comparison to the Bay Area and Marin counties, home buyers often flock to this area due to affordability and quality of life.  This has led to the ongoing challenge of low inventory, and steady increases in median home prices. Demand has continued to exceed supply, with new construction still not adding enough homes.  At the current pace of new construction, it would take at least 2-1/2 years to replace homes destroyed by the fires.

Heightened demand for homes will continue to impact pricing and inventory, and will likely lead to another temporary spike in home prices.  The question is whether displaced families will be able to afford these price increases.

The long-term impact of the fires remains to be seen, as well as how long it will take Sonoma County to return to a sense of normalcy.  Sonoma County residents and businesses have shown incredible resiliency and a strong desire to rebuild affected communities.  While Sonoma County may take some time to rebound and rebuild, we are confident it will remain a highly desirable place to live.


U.S. Foreclosure Rate Falls to 10-Year Low

September 20th, 2017   by lisasheppard

The current real estate market in the U.S., with home shortages, price appreciation and a thriving job market, have pushed down the number of foreclosures and mortgage delinquencies.  California and the Bay Area are reporting lower numbers than the national average.

CoreLogic’s recent Loan Performance Insight Report, which tracks the health of the mortgage market through June 2017, has the national foreclosure rate at an all-time low of 0.7%, the lowest in 10 years.  The number of borrowers delinquent on their mortgages by 30 days or more dropped to 4.5%.  The drop is being attributed to an increase in home pricing, up 6% since June 2016 and the addition of 2.2 million jobs over the last year.

California’s foreclosure rate was 0.3% as of June down from 0.4% a year earlier.  The number of 30+ day delinquencies also dropped to 2.8%.

The Santa Rosa, San Francisco and Napa areas had slightly lower foreclosure rates than the state average, all at 0.2%, while San Jose fell in line with the state average of 0.4%.

Home price appreciation and a thriving job market have pushed down foreclosures and mortgage delinquencies across the country, with California and the Bay Area posting lower numbers than the national average.

Mortgage delinquency rates are expected to decrease further over the next year due to continued job growth and projected home price appreciation of 5%.

Sonoma County Median Home Price Hits New Record

September 5th, 2017   by lisasheppard
July saw a dip in the number of home sales from June (from 512 homes in June to 406 in July). The dip in home sales didn’t affect home appreciation, which managed to climb 3% from June to July.  Brokers are blaming the home appreciation to persistent low inventory which has been plaguing Sonoma County for the last 4 years.  Lower-priced homes tend to garner multiple offers which typically results in the home selling over asking price.
Buyers, in an effort to compete and secure a home in this tight market, are seeking out agents who have clients that are looking to list their home, but have not yet put the home on the market.  Many of these buyers are willing to pay 10% or more over asking price for these homes.
Sellers, unfortunately, have become reluctant to sell their home because of the challenge of finding a suitable replacement home.  With a tight rental market also in place, sellers are increasingly resistant to listing their home knowing they will likely be faced with trying to find affordable temporary housing.
While the number of new builds in the County has increased during the last 18 months, the number of units under construction will still fall short of demand.
With the current market factors in place, it appears home prices will continue to go up!

Walk-through: Timeless Design Defines Wine Country Compound

August 16th, 2017   by lisasheppard

The San Francisco Chronicle showcases a local property twice a week which captures their attention for its architecture, history or character.  Yesterday, one of our listings was featured.

We are proud to represent the sellers of this beautiful compound estate in Sebastopol, sitting on 15+/- acres. This proudly sits right in the triple AVA area known as the golden triangle (Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Green Valley AVAs).  Rich in history, this property was once owned by the famed Sebastopol Gravenstein apple farming Barlow family and was a thriving apple orchard. It features a custom, fully appointed 5,000+/- square foot main residence with 3+ bedrooms, an office, and 3-1/2 bathrooms, designed by internationally renowned designer Heinz Janders. There is a legal 2 bedroom/1 full bath second residence. In addition, there is an in-ground pool, lovely pool house, out-door kitchen with custom pizza oven, fruit trees and large garden area. 

This is truly a one-of-a-kind, magical property.  Enjoy the walk-through featured in this article, or visit the property website,, for more information, photos and a virtual tour.

Sales of Million-Dollar Homes Surge in Sonoma County

July 14th, 2017   by lisasheppard

Sales of million dollar homes in Sonoma County saw a jump last month, with listings and sales increasing while sales have decreased slightly in the rest of the market.  The surge in sales of million dollar homes has been fueled by Bay Area buyers that made money in Silicon Valley, but are looking for paradise in the country.

Facebook, Google, Apple and other tech companies have created thousands of new millionaires.  Because the Bay Area’s median price condo sells for $1.2 million, these buyers are now looking outside of the big urban areas to reside.  While Sonoma County has experienced increasing demand and higher median prices, it is still considered one of the most affordable places to live in the Bay Area.

The top areas for million dollar home sales are Santa Rosa, Sonoma Valley, Healdsburg, Sebastopol and Petaluma.  Sonoma County was recently named among U.S. metro areas where the number of million dollar home listings has skyrocketed.

Sonoma County has seen a significant boost in home sales after the national housing crisis that began in 2007.  However, while home prices have increased, home sales have declined in the last 3-4 years due to lack of available homes.

While homes have become unaffordable for most living in the county, those that reside outside of the county find the homes attractively priced.  These buyers are often looking for second or third homes away from the hustle and bustle of the city, with a country feel and a warm, sunny climate.  Those of us that live in Sonoma County already know it is the best place on Earth.  Now others are discovering that as well!