In some curious way, the real estate prices in my little town of Mill Valley (pop. 13,600) have more in common with Manhattan than any other market. Nothing is affordable here. Nothing has been in years, and nobody's really concerned by the news that prices are dropping elsewhere.
Nobody but me, that is. I hope I'm not the bigger fool. I moved here six years ago and, unlike my neighbors who paid nothing for their houses decades ago, I'll be in real trouble if the market turns south. For now, prices in my northern California town continue to buck the trend, by increasing 7.7 percent last year even as they dropped 3 percent nationwide, according to Zillow. My neighbors are confident values will continue to climb, if these recent local listings are any indication:
Listing #20808136: 4br, 3 bath "almost new" 1-level home, asking $2,395,000 (sold for $1,580,000 in July 2007)
Listing #20807490: 4br, 3 bath "top quality remodeled spacious hm," asking $1,875,000 (sold for $1,375,000 in April 2004)
Listing #20807511: 4br, 3 bath, "tastefully remodeled and updated spacious home," asking $2,195,000 (sold for $1,200,000 in March 2006)
The sellers may be right. After all, one condo unit that sold for $379,000 in 2000 went on the market this week, asking $559,000; it already has a buyer.
[Photo credit: Epodunk]