Todd & Lisa Sheppard
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BRE # 01154225

BRE # 01314350


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!

Sonoma County Home Sales Median Price Hits New Record High

May 9th, 2017   by lisasheppard

Last summer, Sonoma County housing market reached a median sales price high of $600,000.  However, the all-time high record was just broken this March when the median sales price hit $639,000 due to strong demand and tight inventory.  This new median price is double the median price 5 years ago, and represents a 14% increase from a year earlier.

This was the first time in 12 years that the County set a new record, and exceeded the previous record of $619,000 set in August 2005.

While this may have sellers celebrating, it puts buyers in sellers market which translates to multiple offers over asking price due to the low number of available and affordable homes.

In addition, there has been a significant increase in the number of luxury home sales.  Homes selling for over $1 million or more increased 41% compared to the same time last year. The number of homes selling for less than $600,000 decreased by 24%.

Tight inventory and increasing home values have many buyers wondering when/if prices will level out.

First-Time Buyer Boosted by Wage Growth & Thriving Economy

April 11th, 2017   by lisasheppard

According to the National Association of Realtors 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, first time buyers now account for 35% of home buying activity for 2016, up 32% from 2015.  Millenials made up the bulk of first-time buyers at 66%, and have consistently represented the largest share of first-time buyers for the last 4 years.

This increase in first-time buyer activity comes as a result of higher incomes and a thriving economy.  The biggest challenge for millennials continues to be student loan debt and rising home prices.

Even with the increase in first-time buyer activity, college-educated young adults are still having difficulty purchasing homes due to rising rents and lower salaries, which is driving them to take on housemates or move back in with their parents.  This trend is one of the reasons for the dip in home ownership, which is at its lowest rate in almost 50 years.

Sonoma County Ranked 19th Among “Hot” Housting Markets

March 8th, 2017   by lisasheppard ranked Sonoma County 19th among housing markets where affordable homes get snapped up quickly.

In February, the average days on the market remained at 67 days, compared to the now top-ranked Vallejo-Fairfield area with 33 days.  A year ago, Sonoma County ranked 8th with a median 48 days on the market.

Sonoma County has consistently ranked high and help the top ranking in 2015.  While homes sales have fallen a bit over the last few years, the ranking is more than likely due to the persistent low inventory issue that has been plaguing the County for the last year.

Thus far, 2017 is shaping up to be a seller’s market and recent survey shows that buyers are more willing to get off the fence and purchase this year, making for ideal conditions.

It comes as no surprise that California dominates the list, with 12 of the top 20 markets.  Rounding out the list is San Francisco/Oakland (2nd); San Jose/Sunnyvale (5th); San Diego (6th); Sacramento/Roseville (7th); Stockton/Lodi (8th); Yuba City (10th); Modesto (11th); Oxnard/Ventura (14th); Fresno (15th) & Los Angeles/Long Beach (20th).

Year in Review: Sonoma County Homebuyers, Renters Strained as Housing Costs Soar

January 2nd, 2017   by lisasheppard

An interesting look at the challenges faced by potential homeowners during the last several years in Sonoma County, as well as a look at the future of the housing market.  Sonoma County has been plagued with high demand and low inventory.  At the same time, many home owners have been priced out of the market due to ever-increasing home values.  It is anticipated that the County will get some relief in the form of lower rents and additional new home construction this year.

To read more, Click Here.

Sonoma County Home Sales Down 10%

November 18th, 2016   by lisasheppard

Single-family homes have decreased by 10% in October from the same period last year in Sonoma County’s with the continuing inventory shortage, especially among houses priced $500,000 or less.

A total of 389 single-family homes sold in October, which also represents a 10% decrease from September. With this inventory shortage of homes in the affordable price range, there is a strong chance that the number of homes sold in 2016 will be less than what sold in 2015.  New listings during summer months, which tends to be peak inventory time, declined to levels not seen since the recession in 2009.

A new housing project near Sonoma State University, which will add 175 new single-family homes, will not make that much of a difference. Many buyers are finding that they have to “settle” for a home just because it fits in their price range and there are not many homes to choose from in the $500,000 or less range.  Inventory has been an ongoing issue for Sonoma County and is not expected to change in the near future.  Potential sellers are less inclined to sell their homes because they’re unsure they’ll be able to find a suitable replacement home.  First-time buyers are the ones feeling the effects of the tight inventory conditions.

Condominiums, which used to be a viable option, are not faring much better.  Condo sales are only up 4% through 2016.  Home prices have rebounded from the recession in 2009, when the median price sank to $305,000.  The current median price in Sonoma County is $595,000.  With tight inventory conditions expected to continue, it is likely that the median price will continue to go up each year.  However, buyers are pushing back and are unwilling to pay inflated prices in the marketplace.  Several months ago, a seller would easily get immediate offers, most over asking price.  In today’s market, there is an uptick in buyer activity, but sales are not as strong and homes are not getting multiple, above-asking price offers.

Distressed property sales have declined 20.1% in Sonoma County, with non-distressed property sales up 2%.

As has been the case for some time now, the problem is due to a lack of inventory, as buyer demand remains high.  When prospective buyers do not have many properties to choose from, interest is lost as the buyer is unable to find anything, thus perpetuating the cycle until more inventory becomes available.