San Francisco, CA

Pandemic home value spike: Bel Marin Keys sees massive home value rise

Built in the Bay
(Andrew Francolini / ROLEX via Cruising Yacht Club of Australia / Getty Images).

(MARIN COUNTY, Calif.) The pandemic has changed the Bay Area's real estate market. Younger professionals who have put office work in the past are looking for more space and more time outdoors. Couples with younger children are looking for a more suburban pace and more room to spread out.

This has reshaped home values in communities that have often gone overlooked, like Bel Marin Keys outside Novato. Construction on the quiet, slightly older, waterfront community began in the late 1950s but it wasn't until the late 60s and early 70s that residents really began filing in.

According to a property value analysis by Zillow, the small community, nestled between Highway 101 and State Route 37 along the wetlands, has seen the biggest growth in property value across the Bay Area over the pandemic. From Dec. 2019 to Dec. 2021, average home values in the area went from roughly $1 million to $1.5 million, marking a 50% uptick.

Former city dwellers flocking to suburbs during the pandemic are looking for outdoor spaces and an affordable place to settle down. Bel Marin Keys represents both for some home buyers.

Andrea Kraemer, 48, is a Bel Marin Keys resident of 13 years and a realtor with Coldwell Banker.

“I was one of many people who didn’t know that the community existed,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We came on a random Sunday and saw an open house, looked at the property and put in an offer that night.”

She noted that the general lack of inventory and sudden rise in popularity of the area has driven home prices up in recent months. According to Kraemer, the two main groups looking to buy in the area are families with young children and couples who work from home.

Sylvia Barry, a longtime Novato realtor, told the Chronicle that prior to the pandemic, San Francisco couples looking to expand would often peruse the area but more recently, South Bay couples were flocking to the waterfront community.

“When you have a bigger buyer pool, it brings the price up,” she said. “People want to have more room.

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