Marin County Absorption Rates (Market Barometer)

Marin County, California, sits just north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, straddling Highway 101, and boasts some of the most valuable real estate in the Bay Area. Homes in Marin (cities and towns include: Mill Valley, Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael and Novato) have, by and large, maintained their value even over the past 2 years.

The following is a brief rundown of the absorption rates and trends (based on last month’s numbers) in Marin County, as of April 1, 2007:

Current Absorption Rates (single family homes):

City/Town Month’s Inventory Up or Down?
Sausalito 4.3 Down 1.3
Mill Valley 2 Down 1.4
Tiburon 2.4 Down 1.2
Belvedere 3.6 Down 1.8
Corte Madera 1 No Change
Larkspur 2.4 Down .6
Greenbrae .8 Down .2
Kentfield 2.1 Down 2.1
Ross 4.6 Up .3
San Anselmo 3.3 Up 1.2
San Rafael 2.2 No Change
Novato 3.1 Down .4

As the chart reflects, absorption rates are down in most Marin towns. In fact, Greenbrae’s .8 month’s inventory is extraordinarily low in light of all the negative press our local real estate market has endured over the past year or two (Corte Madera’s 1 month inventory is also striking). Even in Kentfield, where the average home costs nearly $4.5 million, a mere 2.1 month’s inventory exists. This is a clear sign of a strengthening market. These low absorption rates exist in an environment of increasing inventory (Marin currently has 549 active listings, up by about 90 from a month ago).

Generally speaking, when the absorption rate is under 3 months, we consider the market one that favors the sellers. When the absorption rate is between 3 to 6 months, you have a more balanced market. Once you get above 6 months, however, prices tend to make meaningful strides downward.

*Note: If your town’s absorption rate is not sampled above, or if you would like information on condominiums, please call me at (415) 350-9440 or go to If you would like to discuss how the absorption rate reflects the overall state of the market in general, or in your neighborhood, give me a call.