The Sonoma County Real Estate Market in 2015

Despite anxiety about interest rates, stock markets, housing affordability and over-valued, high-tech unicorns, 2015 was another year of home price appreciation in Sonoma. Even with rising prices, Sonoma’s real estate market is much more affordable that those in Marin and San Francisco. And, of course, there are many other reasons why people want to live here.

Sonoma County Home Values

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Chart: Sonoma Home Prices by Quarter

We’ve also recently updated our popular home price maps of Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco and the greater Bay Area: Sonoma Home Prices by City & Town& Bay Area Home Price Maps

2015 Sonoma County Market Details

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Sonoma County has a real estate market about twice the size of Marin County. Much of this has to do with the fact that Marin’s new-home construction slowed way down after 1980, as anti-growth policies came into effect, while Sonoma’s went into high gear.

Sonoma Home Sales of $1,000,000+

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Chart: Wine Country Luxury Home Sales by City

Sonoma has seen dramatic growth in its high-end home segment since the market recovery began in 2012.

Sonoma Market Dynamics Statistics

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These 2 charts illustrate the big role seasonality plays in the Sonoma market. Starting in January, and accelerating in February, March and April, new listings typically start pouring onto the market and buyers start jumping back in looking for homes to buy. The market usually stays quite active through mid-summer – second-home buyers playing a significant role – and then declines through the rest of the year to hit its low point in December.

Sonoma County Distressed Home Sales

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Sonoma was hammered by foreclosures, bank-owned home sales and short sales after the 2008 market crash – mostly caused by predatory lending, the refinancing frenzy, and the general collapse of loan underwriting standards in the previous 4 – 5 years. Happily, with the recovery in home prices, distressed home sales have been rapidly dwindling since 2012, and are now on the verge of disappearing as a significant market segment.

Interest Rates

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After being bludgeoned in 2015 by thousands of articles, predictions and warnings regarding mortgage interest rates, here is a look at how much they actually changed over the course of the year. With the Fed starting to make some moves, presumably mortgage rates will rise in 2016, but expectations have been confounded far too often over the past 6 years to be sure. Significant increases would certainly affect the affordability equation for homebuyers.