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.

Home of the Week: Richly detailed Spanish estate in South Pasadena

Built in 1934, this warm and sumptuous residence at 250 Hillside Road has been sensitively updated and enhanced to preserve its historic style and wealth of original details.

At the end of a sweeping brick drive, a gated courtyard with fountain awaits. A tile-framed wrought iron entry door opens to a regal living room with 20-foot beamed wood ceilings, custom iron chandeliers, and a jewel-like 19th Century round stained glass window.

Nearby, a 32-paned window bathes the room in soft, natural light. Through an arched doorway lies an office with skylit beamed ceiling, double French doors, and a colorful tiled stairway leading to a secluded upper level bedroom suite.

The spacious eat-in kitchen, floored in gleaming hardwood, has been fully redone with custom cabinetry, marble countertops, farmhouse sink and large center island.

A butler’s pantry connects it to a large dining room with a wide, arched window framing the luxuriant yard. A tall, tapered fireplace completes this inviting setting.

The nearby family room has a beamed ceiling, another large fireplace and a windowed library area. French doors both here and the kitchen open to a covered patio with multiple entertaining areas, a barbecue kitchen and a fire pit.

This entertainer’s dream overlooks a shimmering pool and spa and a large, grassy yard. In addition to the bedroom suite above the family room, four more bedrooms are set in another wing. In the master retreat, sequestered behind an arched stained glass door, a gently vaulted bedroom ceiling creates a sense of airiness and volume.

French doors open to a Juliet balcony overlooking the pool and grounds. A dazzlingly elegant master bath with tub, separate spa-style shower and vanity adjoins a large, luxurious walk-in closet.

Set in a highly sought-after area, surrounded by trees, steeped in a magnificent architectural heritage and served by award-winning schools, this is a singular home to treasure and share. Listed by Ted Clark and Heather Lillard at $3,900,000.

Home of the Week: View-swept Sausalito townhome

An exhilarating panorama of the ever-changing San Francisco Bay defines this spacious and luxurious modern townhome at 331 Sausalito Boulevard.

The drama begins in the expansive living/dining space, where soaring ceilings and picture windows frame breathtaking views over Old Town Sausalito and across the Bay from Angel Island to the East Bay.

This light, refined setting is enhanced by new wider-plank white oak floors, designer lighting and a glowing gas fireplace. Up a short flight of stairs, a bright, open room looks out across the living room to the vista, making it ideal for a den/family retreat or more formal dining room.

French doors open to a large private deck with extraordinary views. The bright kitchen with breakfast area is home to quality stainless appliances including a Sub Zero refrigerator and a new Bertazzoni 36″ gourmet gas-burning stovetop.

Two large downstairs bedroom suites are highlighted by a master retreat with views from both bedroom and bath.

There are three closets, an additional storage space and a separate vanity area. The second suite has an exterior entry plus sliding doors that open to a private view deck.

An elevator accesses the street and both levels of the home, which is situated in a great private location at the end of an enclave of just four townhomes. There are two covered parking spaces plus additional guest parking.

Close to Bridgeway Avenue, Old Town Sausalito and the Golden Gate Bridge, this Bay view beauty is listed by Susan Van Liere at $1,695,000.

How did the spur of IPOs impact Bay Area housing markets?


Executive Summary:

  • Higher-end sales (above $3 million) surged in the second quarter to last year’s historical peaks.
  • Home prices remained flat in the second quarter, except in San Francisco and San Mateo.
  • For-sale inventory growth slowed considerably, especially in San Francisco. Inventory remains at 50 percent of the last housing boom.
  • Tax reform is likely putting a damper on the market by dragging down sales priced between $1 million and $2 million.

It was a significant quarter, at least when comes to the IPO activity in the Bay Area. According to Pitchbook, total venture-backed exit value for the first half of 2019 reached $188.5 billion, exceeding every full-year total on record. San Francisco companies ranked in the top four out of five IPOs in exit value including Uber, Slack, Pinterest, and Zoom Video Communications, but also a few others.

But, what did that mean for the Bay Area housing markets in the second quarter? Below is a list of the top four trends that are worth noting for the quarter.

1. Higher-end sales surged. While the total number of homes sold in the second quarter trended below last year by about 5 percent, higher-priced sales, above $3 million, surged again bringing second quarter sales in line with last year’s historical peak. Figure 1 illustrates the 4-year trend of sales of homes priced above $3 million. There were in total about 672 sales between April and May compared to 675 sales last year. Note, though, that sales over $3 million declined about 25 percent in the first quarter before rebounding in the second quarter.

Unlike last year when higher-end sales were popular in Santa Clara and to some extent Sonoma and Contra Costa, this year buyers were more interested in higher-priced homes in Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Napa. Figure 2 illustrates changes in home sales by price range compared to the second quarter last year.

Out of all homes sold over $3 million, the majority are still in Santa Clara, followed by San Mateo and San Francisco. But Alameda saw a 39 percent jump over last year, followed by a 25 percent jump in Napa, 17 percent in San Mateo and 14 percent in San Francisco. Note that higher-end sales in Alameda still only account for 6 percent of total sales over $3 million.

Figure 1 – 3-month moving average of sales over $3 million

Source: Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, July 7, 2019

Figure 2 – Quarterly year-over-year change in home sales by price range

Source: Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, July 7, 2019

2. Home prices remained flat in the second quarter, except in San Francisco and San Mateo. As noted in previous analyses, home prices in the Bay Area reached a cyclical high last May when the median price topped at $1 million. Since, the prices followed seasonal declines reaching the lowest point in January and have increased since. Figure 3 illustrates Bay Area median home price trend over the last 3 years, pointing to seasonal highs around May-June and troughs in January. Second quarter 2019 is highlighted in red illustrating flattening of home prices in recent months.

Further, Table 1 summarizes current median prices, June year-over-year changes, and year-to-date changes by region. Year-to-date account is most interesting in that it suggests generally flat prices across the Bay Area, except in Santa Clara and Sonoma where prices retracted. Those two regions saw unsustainable growth in prices at the beginning of last year. San Francisco and San Mateo, while flat year-to-date have seen some price acceleration in June with both posting a 4 percent increase year-over-year. Prices in the two areas have again reached historical highs.

Changes in Table 1 also closely reflect the forecast that was presented at the Pacific Union Real Estate Economic Forecast 2020, illustrated in Figure 4. The forecast called for home prices reaching a “Table Top” in 2019-2020 — when prices reach peaks and remain relatively flat with some slight declines in a few areas. As Figure 4 shows, “Table Top” is much different than the “Mountain Peak” that was experienced during the last housing cycle in 2004 to 2007 when home prices rapidly declined as much as 60 percent following the peak. The reasons prices are expected to remain flat this time around is largely due to exceptionally solid mortgage loan underwriting and a significant share of all-cash purchases, coupled with almost negligible new construction growth. Thus, while it’s inevitable to evoke the 2004-2007 period when thinking about home prices going forward, keep in mind that the last housing cycle was considerably different, driven by demand and supply of low-quality loans and a loosely regulated mortgage system, and excess new construction that was absorbed by speculative buying and highly indebted households. Much has changed since. Today’s mortgage system is well capitalized and follows strict Dodd-Frank reform, new construction is roughly 50 percent below the 2004 period and homeowners have a total of about $5.8 trillion in available home equity, the highest volume ever recorded and 16 percent above the last home price peak in 2006. Further, venture-capital activity remains steadily anchored to the Bay Area region, which will continue fueling local economy going forward.

Figure 3 – Bay Area 8-county median home price trend

Source: Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, July 7, 2019

Table 1

Source: Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, July 7, 2019

Figure 4 – John Burns Home Value Index Forecast

Source: Pacific Union International Real Estate Economic Forecast, San Francisco Bay Area to 2020

3. For-sale inventory growth slowed considerably. While overall inventory is about 11 percent ahead of last year, inventory growth and addition of new listings has slowed, suggesting that acute lack of homes for sale continues to hang over Bay Area housing markets. Figure 5 illustrates availability of homes for sale in the Bay Area’s eight-county region going back to 2005. Since 2012, when much of the for-sale inventory was absorbed, inventory levels dropped to about 50 percent of the levels seen between 2005 and 2010. Continued lack of inventory further supports our forecast of flattened home prices over the next couple of years.

Figure 5 Bay Area homes for sale, monthly

Source: Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, July 7, 2019

4. Lastly, tax reform is likely putting a damper on the market by dragging down sales priced between $1 million and $2 million. While the quarter ended with 5 percent fewer sales than last year, or 876 fewer sales, 84 percent of the decline, or 738 units, was due to fewer homes sold priced between $1 million and $2 million. Table 2 summarizes quarterly year-over-year change by price range.

In contrast, sales of units priced below $1 million, similarly to sales over $3 million, remained flat from last year, with gains in Alameda, Santa Clara, and Wine Country offsetting losses in San Francisco and the Peninsula mainly due to no inventory in the lowest price range.

As discussed at the Pacific Union Real Estate Economic Forecast 2020, tax reform which capped state and local deductions to $10,000, and reduced the mortgage interest deduction of a loan up to $750,000 from the previous $1 million cap, significantly increased the cost of owning a home in California. And in the Bay Area, where homes priced between $1 million and $2 million are not considered luxury homes, households that relied on the deductions to be able to afford a home are having a hard time reconciling the purchase.

Table 2

Source: Source: Terradatum, Inc. from data provided by local MLSes, July 7, 2019

Going forward, home buyers could be facing an easier time. Mortgage interest rates have eased from their winter highs and may continue to trend lower depending on forthcoming actions of the Federal Reserve. Nevertheless, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the U.S. weekly average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was at3.75 percent this week, already the lowest since January 2018 (Figure 6).

Figure 6 – U.S. weekly average 30-year fixed mortgage rate

Source: Primary Mortgage Market Survey, Freddie Mac

Home of the Week: View-wrapped Mill Valley domain

Moments from both the city and Muir Woods at 916 Valley View Lane, this expansively welcoming home has been polished to enhance its warmly elegant appeal. The sweeping indoor/outdoor flow is highlighted by windows that frame the panoramic vistas of the hills and city at every turn.

is a setting made for everything from private family time to large gatherings. Beyond
a grand and welcoming foyer with attached powder room, the living room is
defined by a glorious row of large view windows. A new surround and reclaimed
wood mantle enhance the gas/log fireplace. The space opens to an expansive turfed
deck with a custom glass railing that disappears into the views. This room and the
dining room, flowing together thanks to a wide walkthrough, feature dramatic vaulted,
beamed and skylit ceilings of richly rustic wood. Art accent lights are ready
for collector treasures. New or refinished hardwood floors glow throughout.

a great room with seating and casual dining areas opens to a leafy deck. The
sleek, newly remodeled kitchen is designed to handle everything from a fast lunch
to a large-scale gathering. Upgrades include new appliances, counters, island,
custom cabinets, lighting and fireplace; a skylight adds to the inviting natural

have been beautifully updated with new floors, custom showers and cabinets, stone
counters, tile, fixtures, hardware and lighting. The master suite, with dual
walk-in closets, private view balcony and skylit bath with radiant heat floor,
is on the same level as three other bedrooms. One, which could easily be an
office or a bedroom, has a private entrance and kitchenette with counter
seating. On the lower level, a new Jack and Jill bedroom suite has a full bath
with sliding mirrored pocket doors. A fifth bedroom with en suite bath and
second washer/dryer is located on its own level, the ideal location for guests
or an au pair.

The outdoor environment is enchanting, from the enclosed downstairs porch with new bay window to the hot tub, nestled among mature oak trees overlooking the view.

The oak-shaded grounds, fragrant with lavender, mint and sage, are highlighted by daisies, lilies and vegetable beds.

Blending privacy and convenience, this private retreat is minutes from everything, rustic trails and sunswept beaches to downtown San Francisco. It’s listed by Chelsea Lindman at $2,995,000.