Diablo Valley & Lamorinda Real Estate August 2019 Report

Sales & Values by City, Price Segment & Lot Size; Market Seasonality; Luxury Home Sales; Market Dynamics by City; Foreign Homebuyers.

The May Case-Shiller Home Price Index was released in late July for the 5-county SF metro area. This chart illustrates the difference in appreciation rates between the Bay Area (higher price markets) and the entire country. Case-Shiller does not use median sales prices but its own algorithm to calculate appreciation. January 2000 home price = 100; 250 = a home price 150% above that of Jan. 2000.

Number of Sales & Median Sales Prices

Needless to say, there are many factors behind home sales and values in different communities. Home size is one of them, and median sales prices are not apples to apples comparisons: For example, in the small community of Diablo, the median home square footage is over 4000, while in Walnut Creek, it is under 2100 square feet. Lot size also plays a big role in our markets, which is illustrated a little further down in this report.

Number of Listings & Median ASKING Prices

If the median ASKING price (below) in a community is well above the median SALES price (above), it is usually indicative of some disconnect between seller and buyer expectations regarding fair market value, and/or the supply of higher-priced listings simply outweighs demand for such homes in that city.

Sales by Price Segment

Sales, Prices & Home Sizes by Lot Size

In San Francisco, houses selling for $8 million and houses selling for $800,000 can both be found on lots under 1/8 of an acre. In our market (and also in the wine country), lot size is a major factor in home size and price.

Market Seasonality

Listings and sales ebb and flow dramatically by season. In Diablo Valley and Lamorinda, the peak of activity – as measured by the number of listings going into contract – typically occurs in late spring. The relatively short autumn market – Labor Day to early November – is the last major selling season of the year before activity plunges in mid-November for the winter holiday period.

Luxury Home Sales

Market Statistics & Indicators by City

A few things should be kept in mind regarding the next 3 charts: Firstly, in or within communities of similar quality, a smaller home will typically sell for a higher dollar per square foot value. As an example, the median size of a home in Lafayette is about 28% smaller than in Alamo. Secondly, it is not unusual for higher price markets to have softer buyer-demand dynamics than more affordable areas, though this is not always the case. And thirdly, Q2 is commonly the strongest market of the year, and its statistics reflect that heat.

Foreign National Home Buying Tumbles

According to a new report by the National Association of Realtors – based on a survey of its members – the purchase of U.S. homes by foreign nationals plunged in the 12 months through March 2019. California, and the Bay Area in particular, have been top destinations for international homebuyers in recent years.

Stock Market Hits New High

The last 12 months have been an extremely dramatic time for financial markets as illustrated below. The confidence or fear generated by its swings has been a considerable factor in real estate markets. A parallel dynamic has occurred with the swings in interest rates.

Market Indicators by Price Segment

In recent years, within counties around the Bay Area, the heat of buyer demand has often been as strongly correlated with price segment as by the location of the home in a specific city or town.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Playa Vista’s The Collection

Playa Vista’s The Collection, in the heart of Silicon Beach, close to selling out

Most of The Collection’s 66 multi-level single-family
residences have sold with move-in ready homes ready for purchase and final
homes being built

Playa Vista, the connected urban
community on the Westside of Los Angeles, is nearing successful culmination in
the heart of Silicon Beach. The 66 homes in The Collection, Playa Vista’s multi-level
single-family residences, are nearly sold out, while only one home remains for
sale in the luxury residence development of Jewel. Meanwhile, The Campus at Playa Vista is nearing buildout of its
approximately 3 million square feet of creative space and Runway, a retail and lifestyle
development, has announced new tenants and a dynamic pedestrian-focused
redesign.

12636 Millennium Drive , represented by Jennifer Petsu. Photo Credit: Salty Shutters

“We’re now seeing the fruition of Playa Vista as the highly successful
heart of Silicon Beach,” said Alison Girard, Director of Marketing at Brookfield Residential, Playa Vista’s community
developer. “We’re approaching the final new homes available within walkable
neighborhoods, adjacent to an international technology hub. With an advanced
parks system, and shopping and entertainment all part of comprehensive
community amenities, Playa Vista is approaching peak Silicon Beach.” 

12636 Millennium Drive , represented by Jennifer Petsu. Photo Credit: Salty Shutters

Girard also said the coastal community’s 10-minute drive to LAX
has helped attract a sub-set of bi-coastal buyers: “These include entrepreneurs
and executives based here in Playa Vista or in the growing creative-office
districts in Culver City and West L.A.”

12650 Sunrise Place represented by Jennifer Petsu. Photo Credit: Salty Shutters

Jennifer Petsu, a Playa Vista agent with Compass, has sold many of the homes at The Collection and currently represents three available listings in the luxe development. Highlights of these residences (approx. 2,624 – 3,666 sq. ft.) include private elevators, airy floorplans, gourmet kitchens and dramatically spacious decks for entertaining.

5927 Westlawn Avenue, represented by Jennifer Petsu. Photo Credit: Salty Shutters

More on
Playa Vista

Playa
Vista, situated between Marina del Rey and the Westchester Bluffs on the
Westside of Los Angeles, is one of the most innovative and connected urban
communities in the United States. Located on property once occupied by Howard
Hughes’ aircraft plant, runway and hangars, Playa Vista today is a thriving and
evolving mixed-use community of homes, creative offices, retail, parks and open
space as well as home to special events. More than 15,000 people now live and
work in Playa Vista, with the inclusion of The Campus at Playa Vista, featuring
creative office buildings, historic structures and innovative new parks. Playa
Vista is a Brookfield Residential community.

To learn more about The Collection at Playa Vista contact Compass agent Jennifer Petsu.

Home of the Week: Mill Valley retreat wrapped in leafy ambiance

Sequestered among the trees minutes above downtown Mill Valley, this serene private retreat is surrounded by green forest views and sweeping vistas of the canyon.

Set at 12 Manzanita Place in Middle Ridge, one of Mill Valley’s most sought-after neighborhoods, wrapped in a leafy, secluded ambiance. Its light-filled living spaces receive all-day sun in the area’s temperate, less foggy banana belt.

The celebration of nature continues in the entry, where a stunning floor-to-ceiling wall of stained glass trees competes with the real trees beyond the multi-paneled window nearby.

Both the living room space with its beamed cathedral ceiling and the family room area with its cozy stone fireplace are wrapped in multiple windows that frame the greenery outside.

The wall of windows stretches all the way to the adjoining open dining room and the airy eat-in kitchen, defined by a large prep island.

Upstairs, a Juliette balcony overlooks the living room. The master retreat is lit by a group of corner windows and a glowing fireplace. Its easy, elegant bath features dual sinks and a long, glass-enclosed spa-style shower with bench.

All three other suites enjoy natural light from windows that welcome the green views in. One suite – an ideal choice for a children’s room – has a charming dormer ceiling and skylight.

A broad deck along the rear of the home ends in a freeform rock-edged pool and spa set against a backdrop of forest views.

Hidden minutes above downtown Mill Valley, this green haven is listed by Katrina Kehl at $2,595,000.

A+D Recommended: Architectural Tours

The Compass Architectural Division serves the specific needs of buyers and sellers of architectural homes, defined as residences designed by living or deceased architects listed on the original building permit, or by noted architectural designers.

Through its recognized lecture and salon series, the division offers opportunities for agents and clients to strengthen relationships with up-and-coming architects and to stay informed of the ever-changing landscape of historic neighborhoods, regulations, and legislative issues.

Here are a few upcoming events L.A. architecture enthusiasts are sure to have on their calendars.


Twilight and Afternoon Tours of Neutra’s Lovell Health House on Sundays, August 4 and August 11. Twilight Tour: August 11, 7pm $75/person – book here. Afternoon Tour(s): $50/person: book 8/4 here + 8/11 here

The Lovell Health House, Richard Neutra’s icon of Modernist design, has been closed for many years and it has recently been opened. Never before opened to tours at night, the owners of the Lovell Health House have graciously arranged for a twilight tour of their home exclusively for us. We will enjoy a private docent led-tour highlighting the history of the house and its place within Modernist architecture while we enjoy the setting sun viewed from the windows of the house overlooking Los Angeles. 


You’ve never seen the Sheats-Goldstein House like this. Rarely open in the evening, we have a special opportunity to sip a glass of wine and enjoy some appetizers around the pool as dusk descends into evening and twilight sprinkles starlight into the living room. Includes a rare visit to James Turrell “Above Horizon” at the Sheats-Goldstein Residence (“The Skyspace”).  Two Evening Openings: Friday, August 2, 7pm to 9pm and Saturday, August 10, 6:45pm to 8:45pm. Please email: EleanorSchrader@roadrunner.com for reservation and payment information.


The Bullocks Wilshire tour is a 1.5 hour tour with docent and Goodwill Ambassador, Eric Evavold. His enthusiasm and extensive knowledge brings the past of Bullocks’ Wilshire to life like never before. One of the best tours I’ve ever been on!!! Eric has newly curated the display cases in the Perfume Hall with objects that have been in storage for many, many years. He will take us into a plethora of luxurious rooms that are not open on any other tour.

*Your $75 tour price includes a membership to the Friends of Bullocks Wilshire ($50), which will put you on their priority list for the upcoming events of Bullocks Wilshire’s 90th Anniversary occurring this year.


Eleanor Schrader will be continuing her art history lecture series at Santa Monica College on Saturday, November 2 and Saturday, November 9. She will discuss how art was affected by the dramatic social and political changes surrounding the two World Wars and how artistic movements simultaneously echoed and influenced those changes.

Home of the Week: Escape to Rustic Canyon

There are cabins in the woods. And then there’s this utterly romantic creekside retreat hidden among the trees at 689 Brooktree Road.

Set in the heart of Rustic Canyon, it’s moments from urban Santa Monica but a world away, lushly wooded with coast live oaks, California sycamores, Eucalyptus and ornamental trees.

This canyon is known for its unique geography, one that creates a significantly cooler and moister microclimate compared to most areas of LA.

Inside the shingled home, high ceilings, wide plank floors, an abundance of natural light and endless sylvan views create a magical ambience.

At every turn, the inviting floor plan opens to a large deck that blends seamlessly into the trees and nearby creek. French doors in the flowing living and dining areas open to this fragrant, leafy setting, while high walls of tall windows frame the treetops above.

Double doors in the living room lead to the heated natural stone pool just outside. The updated open plan kitchen features a planked and beamed ceiling, Viking appliances, butcher block countertops, a long granite island and open shelving.

On the upper floor, the large master suite features a walk-in closet and tranquil bathroom with soaking tub and separate shower.

On the same level, a large, skylit loft is flanked on both sides by large windows that showcase the green views. In the lower level bedroom suite, floored in Jerusalem stone, sliding barn doors open to the front of the home. Moments away from Rustic Canyon Recreation Center, Pacific Palisades, the beach and Santa Monica, this is a secluded escape to delight in and share. It’s listed by Melanie Sommers at $3,699,000.