Sunday, April 09, 2006

Open Houses

I went looking at open houses while I visited a friend in Novato just for the heck of it. The picture below is from there (sorry about the image quality, it was made using my cell phone). There was another group of six 'for sale' signs down the street about a quarter of a mile. And I counted 58 'for sale' signs while driving the entire length of Novato Blvd. Wow!

If you have any such photos that you would like to share, send 'em.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fire sale! Everything must go!

Apr 9, 2006, 11:07:00 PM  
Blogger Athena said...

beautiful! I love it. I went shopping for open houses in Sonoma, but the most signs on any corner totaled three and it was in front of Armstrong Estates.

I actually didn't want to fully blow my cover so I drove right on past if I saw an open house that had not a soul in sight... which meant that I didn't actually get out at anyplace other than Bel Terreno- one of those garagemahal divisions in Sonoma on the east side. Looks like there are two houses sold and occupied- or so the signs say on the front lawn. There are about 9 others not sold, not occupied. I tried to hang around near enough to hear the conversations of the handful of people milling around. On first look,judging by how these folks were dressed- just a little too sharp for Sonoma my hunch was that they weren't from around here. Turns out upon getting closer they were NOT. The film festival was going on this weekend and these apparently were venturers.

I don't know if in fact any of them bought or seriously considered it- but I did hear snippets of conversations. The story being told was of course it is a great time to buy... Sonoma is different. We have folks just like "you" coming in here all the time from outside these parts who want to buy and have the $$ to buy. There will always be a market for the nicer properties because the people with $$ don't want the fixer uppers. When they come to town they snap up properties already meeting their tastes here on the east side. That is why these are a great investment because they are new and won't require the upgrades, rewiring and fix it effort of many of the older homes in this area.

anyway... I drove to about 25 different open houses, and didn't see traffic or cars at any of them other than once in a while on a really crappy street I surmised the lone mercedes or lexus must have belonged to the realtor or whoever was babysitting the open house.

Also... there were no balloons on any of the signs... I looked ALL over town and apparently we just aren't as festive as Hoboken. I'm kind of jealous! ;-D

Apr 10, 2006, 12:01:00 AM  
Blogger moonvalley said...

I hate Bel Terreno. It's exactly what we would never buy. We're fond of old properties. Stuff with some history. Bel Terreno is what we left LA to get away from, and the types who are attracted to it. I get enough of that on business trips to LA. We owned a house in Santa Monica and I would hate to see Sonomas' PLaza turn into Montana Avenue. When we buy, we intend to steer clear of Ledson/Armstrong and Bel Terreno, Montini whatever.
Athena, are your relatives still buying that place at Montini??

Apr 10, 2006, 12:35:00 AM  
Blogger marine_explorer said...

Garagemahal LOL...fitting term.
I've seen those rather large and obvious homes near 5th and Napa and wondered who buys these edifices? Cash-flush retirees or execs commuting to SF? Since Sonoma is "the new Sausalito", it all makes perfect sense.

No doubt, all the beatiful people will move there, spending their leisure time buying art, sipping wine and toasting their fortune to live in the nice section of town. Joking aside, after these people import their lifestyle to Sonoma,what will they do with themselves? Will they live as some secluded social caste buying useless crap at those boutiques, or become healthy contributors to the local culture? I thought about that this weekend, watching the spectacle of the film festival, wondering if this town would become another playground for the wealthy.

Apr 10, 2006, 12:39:00 AM  
Blogger Athena said...

oh I can't stand Bel Terreno either. and it looks so out of place squished in there too.

No- the grandmotherly person is no longer buying the Montini monstrosity... something put the fear of god in her about that suicide loan she was offered. BUT apparently a couple of cousins now want to buy the darn thing. well, they deliberated over which digital camera to buy... almost got divorced fighting about which vehicle to buy and they don't make squat between them... but they are seriously considering going about a million dollars in debt.

Did I mention that they don't make squat between them? Oh well, there may be a bit of satisfaction when I have to nod and smile and look away... they know there is information out there, and they don't want it. whatchagonnado?

Reskeptic- I don't think Sonoma will become a playground for the rich and well dressed. The town is fine to have them visit- but it is like a welcome to Sonoma, now go home, kind of a kiss on the cheek, a pat of the wallet and a kick in the a$$.

We do nothing to make the town more inviting to people from away. Their kind gets bored REAL fast with us. Either you want life in a small town and want to live like you live in a small town that does not cater to your celebrity- or you move elsewhere to be among more people of the same mind. Actually, I would say Marin is more hospitable to those types. When I lived there certainly there were several of the name brand celebrities on my hill...

but the charm of sonoma wears off on those who cannot afford a palatial estate. it is too far from the city and not enough people that reflect how they really want to see themselves... and the Mcmansions don't have the same appeal as they do in marin or even santa monica...there aren't the same numbers of people who care. Plus our mcmansion, garagemahals are all cookie cutter- they really are made for the local who has grown too big for their britches and is a serial refi upgrader... those are the people who I know have bought them. Judging by the numbers NOT sold and the staged lottery actions some have going on... there aren't nearly the number of people lining up to get into a mcmansion in the valley that they like to dream about.

anyway, I am with MV... I prefer the older bungalow places myself.

Apr 10, 2006, 1:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus you people...It's the RAIN that's keeping the buyers away...NOT THE AFFORDABILITY!!!! HA!

Apr 10, 2006, 7:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know. If I was serious about beating the competition to buy a house, a few showers like we experienced over the past few weekends would not keep me away. Big deal. It's not like a snow storm.

Apr 10, 2006, 8:58:00 AM  
Blogger David said...

super nice picture. :-)

Bubble Meter Blog

Apr 10, 2006, 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should have driven up to see how many of those houses are pieces of S.

Apr 10, 2006, 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger moonvalley said...

The rain wouldn't keep me away either. We bought our last house after seeing it only in the dark of night. Maybe because my whole family is up here, but the reason we moved here and will buy here is that we like Sonoma just the way it is. We've lived in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and for a while i the Malibu Colony where Meathead was our next door neighbor on one side. I couldn't wait to get back here. I'm only sorry that we didn't buy here years ago, but we were stuck with the place down there and it wasn't as easy to do business from out of town.
The Film Festival seemed to have nothing to do with the town itself, but rather an exclusive venue tailored mainly for outsiders. We went to one fund raiser for it several months back and it seemed to be exactly what we didn't want to participate in. Besides, we have a heavy work/deadline schedule and the idea of taking time off for the Festival is a busmans' holiday for us.

Apr 10, 2006, 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Athena said...

That't the thing MV... it was a venue for outsiders. Locals don't really care.I went to a play recently in town that my cousin was performing in... and during intermission a couple people approached my aunt and I asking us if we were "From here." LOL.. said yes, born and raised... and she was amazed said she and her husband had been there for 6 years and every time they go to an event or some to do... they never meet any locals... where do the locals hang out? LOL... with each other and we aren't interested in meeting people! LOL ;-D

Apr 10, 2006, 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger moonvalley said...

yes, it's really true what you say Athena. There are a couple of levels in this town. I don't know if we would have moved here, if my family didn't live here already for 20+ years. Even though I was born and raised in San Francisco I have plenty of relatives and old friends here in town. I think that the new people who relocate here, never meet the locals because I don't believe they would be caught dead in most of the places the locals go. Also there is making an attempt to become part of the community, and that involves adapting to what that community was long before one arrived there.
This is Sonoma, basically an agricultural community with a strong tourist base, not Le Petit Trainon, or Marie Antoinette's model farm.

Apr 10, 2006, 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Athena said...

Right... you don't fit the transplant definition either though. SF and Sonoma have a long love affair with each other. My dad was raised in SF and his family went to Sonoma on weekends. That was just how it was done for a couple generations. he finally moved there with his family when he was in high school but he grew up in both places. So did I- I was raised in Sonoma but was also given a parallel experience in SF. My aunt married a man from SF and came home every weekend for 17 years and now has a house in both places.

the transplants are those ones who have no experience, no understanding, and no ability to be part of the community. They come here thinking that the touristy parts of the town run deeper and will provide them with the shishi status they see as part of the life they want to live. LOL... the shishi parts of sonoma are skin deep. It ends when the tourists go home. :-D

Apr 10, 2006, 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Athena said...

ok... on the funnier side of life. Got a new resume today... from a former software engineer who left the industry to become a mortgage broker in 2003. Now he is back and wants a software engineer position again. LOL

Apr 10, 2006, 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I thought about that this weekend, watching the spectacle of the film festival, wondering if this town would become another playground for the wealthy"

Wondering IF Sonoma will become a playground for the wealthy? Talk to anyone who grew up here and they will tell you it already has. On any corner of any day, you will easily find one or more of the following in Sonoma: BMW's, Jaguars, fake noses and boobs, wine snobs, trophy wives, golf loving, poor snubbing, rich people hurtling toward the senior citizen age, soon to be a special addition to the already huge population of retirees who spend most of their days wandering around the downtown shopping centers of Sonoma.

Apr 10, 2006, 1:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Went to 3 open houses over the last few weeks.

House1: Fairfax, 2 bedroom, quaint, small house, 3 lot parcel, views from every window: asking 1.2, in contract for close to asking.

House2: Fairfax, 4 bedroom, 4 bath, large home, double lot, views from evry window, asking 1.7, RE says 2 serious offers in first week.

House3: San Anselmo, 1 bedroom, 1 bath, quaint is hardly the word...well done, but tiny ...asking 500K, no offers that i know of.

Where is the bubble you ask?

It is planned subdivisions.

Apr 10, 2006, 2:31:00 PM  
Blogger Athena said...

Wondering IF Sonoma will become a playground for the wealthy? Talk to anyone who grew up here and they will tell you it already has. On any corner of any day, you will easily find one or more of the following in Sonoma: BMW's, Jaguars, fake noses and boobs, wine snobs, trophy wives, golf loving, poor snubbing, rich people hurtling toward the senior citizen age, soon to be a special addition to the already huge population of retirees who spend most of their days wandering around the downtown shopping centers of Sonoma.

Ok... I agree these things exist... but most of us ignore them and the town doesn't really structure itself around catering to these folks. These folks invite their friends for their entertainment because nobody else gives a damn about them.

Apr 10, 2006, 2:36:00 PM  
Blogger Athena said...

anon... why were they holding open houses for two houses that already had offers?

Apr 10, 2006, 2:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


My apologies for not being clearer... the offers came after the open houses. Sorry if that was not clear.

I think falling houses prices will be felt first and most significantly in planned subdivisons, such as Hamilton, etc.

I have no proof of this...but it owuld make an interesting study, I bet!

Apr 10, 2006, 3:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

athena said...
..."the town doesn't really structure itself around catering to these folks."


Apr 10, 2006, 3:45:00 PM  
Blogger Athena said...

ok... you got me there. the touristy trap nonsense stores do structure themselves around the tourists. ;-D

I was meaning in general the purpose of the community isn't to try to attract transplants. LOL... But I hear you. I have to say, I grew up down the street from the plaza and I can't stand it down there now except on 4th of July. I hate all the changes and how unrecognizable it all is.

Apr 10, 2006, 5:23:00 PM  
Blogger marine_explorer said...

That article is 3 years old...does the slowdown on the square still ring true? Why am I asking this, since we're up there a few times/month to visit family, usually stopping on the square to grab some cheese? While I noticed a lot of hype last weekend, I can't tell if that translates into bustling business on the square. In a more general sense, I have to wonder about the fate of high-end boutique shops if the house ATM runs dry.

For Sonoma, I do hope the local artist galleries are doing well, because that goes back into the community. I care much less about the stores (even galleries) that sell branded stuff trucked in from afar. I've seen far too much of that crap here locally (Marin) or while traveling.

Apr 10, 2006, 7:56:00 PM  
Blogger Athena said...

I think the complaining on the square is an ongoing thing. It is not longer a functional town square like it was back when Food City was there and normal people went to town and town was the square. Now it is all shishi shops that cater and depend on tourists. So why they complain I have no idea... I mean you would think they would know their own vulnerability and understand their store's limited appeal.

about the only thing I go to the square for is a parade, the cheese factory, or to dinner at Mary's or the usual suspects down there.

Apr 10, 2006, 8:11:00 PM  
Blogger moonvalley said...

Athena, Food City is now some sort of Mortgage brokerage, after being a couple of failed restaurants. I actually heard that the property was going to be made into live work spaces. I think it's a sign that they changed their mind about that one.
I buy my cheese at Vella, and we go to the Boulangerie, and the Chocolate Cow for ice cream. When I want to buy kitchen stuff, I go to Robins' Nest. Debbie, the owner is building one of those sweat equity affordable houses . We try and buy locally every chance we get, in fact, even though Whole Foods is coming to town I'm going to stick with Sonoma Market and the Patch.
I hate to see the place go big time high end. Legendary Montana Avenue in Santa Monica used to have gas stations, a hardware yard,coffee shops, etc.
now it's just a bunch of movie people in 800 dollar sweatshirts. The last hardware store/lumberyard in Malibu closed last year. Sonoma deserves better than that.

Apr 10, 2006, 10:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to see the place go big time high end...Sonoma deserves better than that.

Don't worry! As soon as this bubble pops the "boutique" stuff will dry up and Sonoma will go back to its Hooterville roots.

Apr 10, 2006, 11:43:00 PM  
Blogger moonvalley said...

One thing that has puzzled me. When Shoo Shooo Foo Foo a very high end shoe and clothing boutique went under a couple of months ago I thought, well, what took them so long??? Now what's moved in there is an even higher end shoe store selling Jimmy Choo, and Mahnolos. Who in the hell has need of those in Sonoma? I know, tourists..but any tourist from any metropolis visting here can find those shoes where they live. Obviously, they're meant for local consumption. Anybody up for betting how long this one will last?

Apr 11, 2006, 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger tduccini said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Apr 11, 2006, 2:47:00 PM  
Blogger tduccini said...

Do you know how many open houses marin has on average lately? Have those numbers gone up?

Apr 11, 2006, 2:50:00 PM  
Blogger sagg99 said...

I just found out HGTV is building a dream home in Sonoma, possibly the Armstrong Estates. You'll have lots of tv exposure, and tours now.

Apr 16, 2008, 10:05:00 AM  

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