Tidy Up!

At this time of Covid-19, while stuck at home and getting tired of binge watching Netflix and hoping someone will text you, consider what this downtime can mean in terms of your peace of mind and care for you and your home.

Wouldn’t it be great to live in the house of your dreams? Whether selling or just wanting a home that looks like those you dream about (counters with minimal belongings on them, beautiful open spaces), taking the time to get rid of items no longer of use to you can be a huge advantage both for the sale of your home as well as for your psyche. Does the clutter and belongings of years living in your house make you afraid of the work it will take to get your house in order? Studies show that getting rid of all the extra items can make us feel more calm and happy.

Netflix has captured our wish for living in an orderly and less chaotic way with their new series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”. For those of you who did not pick up her bestseller, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, this show is the best way to see how she works with her clients to get them from a chaotic household to one which makes them happy to be in. Marie comes in to see the stress of too much stuff and how that can impact the family by causing stress between family members. After introducing herself and finding out the family’s idea of what they hope to attain, she then introduces herself and meditates with the home. Afterwards she starts to show how to pare down to what brings joy so that each family member can tackle the job of selection. Each episode tackles a new organizational issue that many of us face and she helps to teach each family easy ways to maintain the peace of a more streamlined household. She is not a minimalist, but someone who believes your home and belongings should bring you joy.

For each episode, she starts with clothing. Each family member piles ALL of their clothes on one bed. With each item, they hold it and determine if it still brings them joy. If your ripped sweats bring you joy as you like to wear them when feeling like you need some down time, then keep them along with the clothes you actually enjoy wearing out of the house. She also shows how to most effectively organize and store your clothes. You can either watch the show or search her out on YouTube to watch her folding videos, like I did.

Below are some takeaways from the first four episodes.

Episode 1: Family with Toddlers — Marie shows them how to eradicate the items that do not bring joy so they can live in more harmony in their household.

• Even little ones can get in the action. Teaching children to help with their laundry is one example. Folding becomes a family event rather than a chore and helps this family of 4 take this chore and make it family time.

Episode 2: Empty Nesters.
Their home had become a storage unit filled with sentimental family items & hobbies after raising a family.

•Ask these questions of yourself: does each sentimental item bring you joy and can you see it being something that should come into your future? Or does it just bog you down?

• With each item, enjoy the memory associated with it, but keep in mind your vision of your final home. This can help you to weed out those items that have served their usefulness to you.

• Similar items should be stored together so you know what you have and can easily find them.

Episode 3 – The Downsizers
Family of 4 moves from a 4 bedroom home to a 2 bedroom apartment when they relocate for work.

• When organizing, each person should be responsible for their own items and what truly is important to them. Once they determine this, then they need to keep it organized.

• Involve family in projects – many hands makes light work and it instills the values and life skills of organization and cleanliness.

• Giving your kids the knowledge that too much doesn’t make you happier, that in fact it does the opposite.

Episode 4 — Sparking Joy After a Loss
A widow who still has all of her husband’s belongings and yet knows she needs to let go to move forward with her life.

• Visualize your future life and home. Just as coaches use this exercise for athletes to visual their success, this will help when dealing with items that are very difficult to let go.

• Start with easier items first, your own personal wardrobe is the item Marie Kondo advises as it usually is the easiest for people to make decisions.

• Going through the difficult items will end up moving you from sadness to catharsis.

If you are planning on selling your home soon, here are lessons for a seller:

• Visualize what you are hoping in the sale of your home

• Start detaching from the house. Acknowledge that you have emotions about the house and they are valid, but that you are ready to move on

• Look at the sale from buyer’s viewpoint and depersonalize the house so they can envision living there

And always remember one important lesson to help ease letting go, thank each item for how it came into your life and the times it shared with you. This will allow you to move on and get to your goal of your vision of the perfect home whether it is the home you are currently own or the next one.

BNI 1st Advantage Welcomes Kevin Kearney

Kevin Kearney being inducted by Mark Cooper for BNI 1st Advantage August 8, 2019

I am so excited to be part of a BNI group! I have run my own business networking groups and this is the best. I have been referring to BNI members of other groups for many years now.

Happy 4th of July!

Hi everyone,
Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays.  It marks the beginning of summer with a big bang!  I hope this finds you and your family well.


2015 San Francisco Year in Review


2015 was a banner year for San Francisco real estate. The City-wide median sale price grew sixteen percent to $1,150,000 for the year. The median Days on Market (DOM) figure remained relatively unchanged at 19 days, versus 23 in 2014. The most expensive sale for the year (2701 Broadway) rang in at $31MM, versus 2014’s highest sale of $14MM (2040 Jackson). Yearly sales volume came to $7.15B, a five percent increase versus the previous year.

A strengthening national economy, steadfast tech sector growth and limited new construction are contributors to 2015’s stellar performance. Furthermore, average mortgage rates actually decreased eight percent for the year, coming in at 3.85 percent. Currently, there are about 200 properties listed on the MLS, equating to a 1/2 Month Supply of Inventory (MSI).



+ 19% year-over-year

Single Family
+ 13% year-over-year


2015 Year in Review!


It’s so like us Realtors to analyze the past year and try to predict the future. But, bear with us…it is what we do; we actually do try to make some sense of all the data and information we receive. And, although no one has a crystal ball, we can certainly learn from the past and site trends that might help us figure out the future. Before I get into a deeper analysis, let me break it down simply:

  • Inventory = low
  • Prices = high
  • Days on market = few
  • Economy = continues to chug along with intermittent good and bad news
  • Interest rates = slowly rising
  • Global buyers = for some properties, not all
  • Bidding wars = yes
  • Overpriced properties sitting on market = yes
  • Overpriced properties eventually getting sold at a reduced price = yes
  • Opportunities for 2016 = limitless!

It’s no secret the Marin Market (and most markets in the Bay Area) have been affected by low supply and heavy demand. But, in the real estate world, this has come to be our mantra…same old, same old. When have we not had low inventory and high demand in Marin – it’s almost a way of life. The fact is that Marin remains more affordable than San Francisco and most of the Peninsula, and it seems buyers are taking note, adding to the 60% of buyers who generally come from the local market. Long thought untouchable, SF buyers are realizing they can get more for their money here, better schools and the opportunity to live in paradise. While they may not be able to find fancy new construction, or even the perfect house, the bounty of Marin property is available to those with patience and vision.

Single Family Houses Sold in 2014 vs 2015

Marin is a hodgepodge of housing styles in varying levels of need for upgrades and improvements. I’ve always contended that most everyone “settles” in Marin to some extent. No matter at what price point, your dream home is always in the next higher price bracket. But, if you can understand that just getting into the Marin market is a feat unto itself, you’ll save yourself a lot of angst. Marinites tend to make their home – in whatever condition – their castle. Every shack can have double-paned windows, designer finishes, a Bosch dishwasher and crown molding… you just need to have the vision. However, if you’re like most buyers who require a turn-key property (I mean, who wouldn’t want to have everything done for you before you move in?), expect to pay top dollar and lose a few bidding wars.

Marin agents sold more than $3.7 billion dollars of residential real estate in Marin County throughout 2015. That, for a total of 2963 properties, fewer than in 2014, but at a higher price tag. 2254 of those homes were single family, and 705 condominiums. The median price in Marin County rose 8% to $947,000 from $875,000. Most of the activity happened in the first half of the year, tapering off July through December.

2015 was a year of acceptance. Acceptance of the idea that the economy will continue to go up and down, but that we must still go on with our day-to-day lives. Perhaps we don’t need to get so caught up in the short blips and look at the market from a more long-term perspective. It was a year of realizing it may be time to move on, time to upgrade to the larger house that provides some more room, or time to downsize to a living situation that is more manageable. Basically, 2015 was a time for homeowners and prospective home owners to say, “What am I waiting for?!”

This acceptance and acknowledgement has made it easier for people to consider getting their house ready for sale in 2016, or easier to bite the bullet and just buy a house, and not wait for the market to drop…because it might not drop. And, worse, it may continue to rise. But again, why wait, because it will probably do both. I’ll be blunt: if you sell high, you’re likely going to buy high. If you sell low, you’ll buy low. If you’re cashing out, you cash out. But, if you’re looking for a short-term profit, it’s definitely a gamble.

So, just deciding to buy or sell is not the end of your worries. A lot goes into buying these days: research, finding an effective agent who understands what it is you want/need, and being prepared to spring into action as soon as you see something you like. Conversely, sellers need to be realistic about price. Yes it’s a good market, but that doesn’t mean your house is worth $200,000 more than the market comps. Buyers are savvy; they look at the same comps that Realtors look at to determine price, and won’t pay more than a home is worth.

When you get to the point of securing a home to purchase, or securing a buyer for your home, there’s still more negotiating. 2015 could be called “the year of the deal.” Once in contract, buyers and sellers continued negotiations. Anecdotally, at least a third of our transactions involved some kind of seller concessions or “fixes” before the buyers would agree to move forward. The attitude of today’s buyer is, “Yes, we’ll pay a premium for your property, but it better be in good shape or we’re walking.”

The condominium market in Marin (which accounted for 24% of sales this past year) acted very similarly to the single family home market, but with more sales: 705 in 2015 vs 687 in 2014, with the median condo price in 2014 $495,000 vs $560,000 in 2015 (so a 13% increase). Condominiums are a growing segment of the Marin market as most new developments are trying to maximize housing options and provide greater options for affordable housing in Marin.

According to the Marin County Community Development Departments October 2015 presentation, “Preserving Housing Affordability” delivered to the Marin Association:

  • Our housing stock in Marin is just over 111,000 units countywide
  • About 30,0000 of those are in the form of apartments and multi-units
  • Approximately 2,000 are mobile homes
  • 83% of our housing is single family (about 7,000 units)
  • 96% of the housing is deemed market-rate housing
  • Sadly, 19 percent of households are low income and paying more than 50% of their income on housing. This includes approximately 20,000 persons that they listed as “disabled.”

Marin’s housing issues are not going away, and developers are looking for ways to provide more affordable units to house Marin’s growing service population, particularly as we look at the increase in commercial activity in the County.

There was nearly 12% increase in pricing for A-class commercial office space – an unusual amount of activity. In August Kaiser Foundation health purchased a 148,000 square foot office building in San Rafael. Several other office buildings in San Rafael and Novato were sold this past year. Rising rents in San Francisco has pushed companies to seek more friendly commercial rents in the North & East Bays. The vacancy rate is just 15.5%, down from 20% during the recession. There is good job growth in Marin, and confidence in the market. Rumors are circulating regarding Google in Fireman’s Fun (still unsubstantiated, but widely speculated) and the Facebook water ferry is in full operation, as well as other tech shuttle buses that are making the commute much easier for Marin residents. A strengthening national economy, steadfast growth in the tech sector and limited new construction are contributors to 2015 booming real estate performance.

Economy and interest rates:  Average mortgage rates actually decreased eight percent for the year, coming in at 3.85 percent, but we expect this to rise as indicated (but not directly affected) by the Feds’ raising of interest rates in December, for the first time since 2006. But since mortgage rates had been at a historic low, this rise should still be manageable for buyers, and rises in longer-term rates in 2016 are expected to be modest.

If you want more info on the rates, click on the image below to see the video:

Fun Facts:

  • The most expensive home sold in 2015 was for $47.5 million in Belvedere
  • The least expensive home was sold at auction for $252,843 (condo: $107,000)
  • There are currently 13 homes above $5 million in Marin on the market
  • 43 homes in the $2 million to $5 million range
  • 37 homes under $1,000,000

The year ahead will be an exciting one. It’s an election year. It’s a leap year. We have the Olympics in Rio and it’s the year of the monkey! The big news in real estate for 2016 according to the National Association of Realtors is that prices will mostly stabilize, rising slightly but not by the dramatic amounts we’ve seen in the recent past – maybe 4% or so nationally (about 6% for the state). Inventory will remain tight, so align yourself with a good real estate agent who will work to overcome that small market detail.

Note to Marin Agents: This is where I usually insert a paragraph for agents that provides a call to action and/or a wrap-up about why that particular agent would be a great choice as the end-reader’s Realtor. These reports are written each month for Vanguard agents specifically to send to their sphere of influence. They are meant to be conversational in tone and easy to understand – not too statistic heavy as we believe that most of our readers are looking for more of an analysis and straight-talk on what’s going on in the Marin real estate market. They don’t want to have to do the analysis themselves. Putting it in easy-to-read language helps them follow along with what’s truly going on in the Marin real estate marketplace. All agents are given a custom masthead and can tweak the verbiage however they like, or just use as is. Just one more tool we provide, in addition to a free RealScout account, free DocuSign account, free photography and the use of our in-house marketing department for custom marketing and branding materials, to name a few.  If you are looking to increase your business and are willing to break out of your comfort zone to do it, I invite you to call or email me for an appointment today. We are active participants in this real estate market, and do not wait for things to happen. We make them happen!


Real Estate Resources

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Vanguard Properties

770 Tamalpais Drive
Suite 306

Corte Madera, CA 94925


Holiday Gratitude!

Happy Thanksgiving! Below are several ways to express gratitude today and every day. Adopt an attitude of gratitude now in order to reap the benefits down the road. Forward this on to family and friends and don’t forget to tell them how much you appreciate them.

Kevin & Stacy

Oh, by the way®… if you know of someone who would appreciate the level of service we provide, please call us with their name and business number. we’ll be happy to follow up and take great care of them.


Marin Q3 Newsletter | Kearney Hart Group


Like clockwork, the market gets hot in Spring and Fall and slows in the summer and around the holidays.  But is the market truly soft in those “off peak times?” Aren’t people still looking for houses? And, don’t houses still get sold? Yes, and plenty of them. Our statistics show that a total of 633 houses (and an additional 184 condos) traded hands in Marin this past quarter (July through September) as compared with 623 homes (and 199 condos) in the same period of 2014. In comparison, this quarter was just as hot as last year’s third quarter market!

Q3 Median Sold Price by Area

This Quarter’s lowest Single Family Home sale was an auction property in San Rafael for $252,843 – less than the land value. The luxury markets of Belvedere and Stinson beach saw huge median price gains this quarter, helped by the highest SFH sale at 440 Golden Gate Ave in Belvedere for $47,500,000. The towns of Corte Madera, Sausalito, and San Anselmo also saw minor increases in the price of homes sold this past quarter. Mill Valley and Novato remained at the top (as compared with third quarter of last year) with plenty of inventory switching hands, while San Rafael increased in amount of homes sold substantially compared with last year’s third quarter.

Q3 unit sales by area

What do we say about the fourth quarter? More of the same. No matter how “soft” a selling season may seem, there will always be a demand for homes in Marin, at every time of the year!

Marin will most likely always have an inventory shortage. We’re just not building enough homes to keep up with the growing demand. But, our annual bump after Labor Day did something interesting this year: it paralyzed the buyers. What to do with all these choices? Why not wait for the perfect home? Because of this lack of urgency, many homes actually sat for longer – can you believe some more than two weeks before an offer? With the new influx of homes, buyers felt they were back in charge. They could take their time and only bid on the homes that were perfect for them!

Is there a perfect home in Marin? I’ve always contended that no matter at what price range, there will be some type of sacrifice. When you have the ideal view, you’re missing the flat yard. When you are just a short walk to town, you may not have the square footage you like. A quintessential Marin craftsman home may look incredibly cute, but the plumbing is shot. Those who grasp that it’s not a perfect housing county (and we actually love it for that) will start seeing the beauty in today’s current inventory. The best thing about buying a home in Marin, is that you get to live in Marin!

Prices may stabilize (and perhaps even drop a bit), but certainly not while interest rates are still at record lows with the economy showing sporadic signs of strength. The Fed held off raising rates when it had the chance in September. The dismal jobs report in October may have also stopped the FED from raising rates until December 2015. Even if the FED raises short-term rates, long-term rates should remain low because of market factors, including: slower growth in China, weakness in Europe in spite of quantitative easing there, and lower consumer confidence in the US. Almost everyone agrees, however, that rates will rise next year.

September 2015 year over year sales show very similar numbers to September 2014. There was a -2% change in supply with 233 homes sold this year compared to 238 in 2014, and a 0.6% increase in the sales price of this year compared to last year.

Q3 price-volume

There seems to be a window of opportunity right now. With 235 homes on the market in September, an average 57 “Days on Market,” and low interest rates, all signs point to a healthy Q4. Any perceived slowness may be attributed to a false sense of the market falling. Mark my words though, the market will heat up again. However, some sellers are panicking and thinking that this slowdown may last so they are eager to accept an offer. Hence, a real window of buying opportunity, but one that probably won’t last long. Inventory that was plentiful after Labor Day is slowly dwindling. Properties are getting snatched up and there is less and less from which buyers can choose. The laws of supply and demand are pointing to another strong selling season in the last months of 2015! Sellers, this absolutely is a great time to list your properties!

Deciding whether to rent or buy is another consideration for buyers. The longer you plan to stay in a home, the more purchasing it makes good financial sense. In some Bay Area markets the cost of a mortgage, insurance, and property taxes can actually be lower or similar to rental prices. Remember too, that mortgage interest and property taxes are tax-deductible.

Of course there is the down payment to consider. While many lenders want to see 20% down, there are a number of programs available that allow: 10% down with a first and second mortgage, only 3.5% down through FHA, and equity sharing programs that give borrowers 50% of the down payment in exchange for sharing appreciation at the time of resale.

Future appreciation significantly sweetens the attractiveness of owning verses renting. Although historically real estate appreciates 3% per year, the Bay Area has seen much higher rates of appreciation in the last few years. While there is no guarantee that property prices will appreciate at the same rate, long-term ownership will generally help soften the impact of the market’s volatility.

Q3 condos price-volume

The Marin Luxury market ($3 million and above) had 40 SFH sold this quarter with a median price of $3,680,000. The highest priced home was the aforementioned Belvedere house for $47,500,000. The hottest areas for luxury homes this quarter were Belvedere and Tiburon, compared to Tiburon and Kentfield last year. During the third quarter last year, 41 SFH luxury homes were sold with a median price of $3,850,000, and the most expensive sold at $12,250,000.

Advice for Sellers: Try, try, try not to list your home for more than it may be worth in the market. Review the comps in your area with your agent and be realistic about the value, possibly even underpricing it against the closest matching comparable property. Believe me, if it’s worth more, the market will take it there! If your property has been on the market for a while, you must either be very patient and wait for that perfect buyer, or consider a price reduction. Consult with your agent about a strategy to move forward, and be open to making some changes based on feedback you’ve received to date. You do want to sell your home, don’t you?

Advice for Buyers: Don’t hesitate. There’s a window of opportunity in the market right now and we just don’t know that it’s going to get any better. Sure, you can wait around for prices to drop and the market to bottom out, but I’m not betting on it. Historically, Marin homes have always held their value.  While there may be blips of price drops, they always seem to rise again. So, if you’re looking for a family home and plan to stay in your house for more than 5-7 years, chances are you’re going to be just fine.  If you’re looking for an investment and a quick flip, timing may or may not be in your favor, depending on whether you’re in a dip or a spike. Like any short-term investment, there’s always a lot more risk involved.

Advice for those sitting on the sidelines: What are you waiting for? Call me today and let’s get you into escrow!

what is escrow

And don’t worry, I will gladly explain what escrow is all about!