Todd & Lisa Sheppard
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BRE # 01154225

BRE # 01314350


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

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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!

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.