I recently received a query from a new Marin resident. He is renting in Southern Marin. The question went something like this:"While I am from the metropolitan East Coast and used to high home prices, I was simply unprepared for the sticker shock of homes in Southern Marin. Why should I even consider a home purchase in Marin? These prices are outrageous."
I am posting my reply: There is a very simple reason Marin is so unique and thus so expensive.
With very strict zoning and environmental laws, Marin is a Mecca of natural beauty and healthy living yet close to one of the most exciting major metropolises in the world. In a nutshell: Marin is utterly unique.
How did it get to this point? It almost didn't.
In 1968-71, the County Supervisors in response to plans for a major freeway that would have completely destroyed the character of our county, fought for and created a new County Plan that called for three separate cooridors of development: Urban density along the 101, suburban a few miles in and the rest was zoned agricultural and/or Wild. (This occurred just a few years after the creation of the Point Reyes National Seashore.) Thus, 65% of Marin County was dedicated and protected as open space. That meant that growth became limited and virtually "No growth" has occured in 30+ years.The other Bay counties,San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Contra Costa do not come close to having this kind of open space or zoned protected space.
Marin Agricultural Land Trust further assists in this process by assisting ranchers in holding their land rather than selling. Go to: http://www.malt.org/ for details.
Thus you can add (supply and ) DEMAND to the equation: There is a fixed amount of homes available in our county; the county borders with San Francisco county in the hottest region for technological innovation IN THE WORLD. (China has not surpassed the Bay Area in innovation yet)
Unemployment is much lower here. In Marin it is even lower (5.2%).
Now add VALUE: The water and the air are also protected here in Marin because the zoning greatly limits Industry.
While the 101 may look crowded, the county is definitely not.
Just go to Santa Clara county and you will get a sense of what could
have occured here thirty to forty years ago. As the world becomes more
polluted and crowded, land and homes in Marin will only become more
Residents often say that they moved here because of the great public schools. By saving money on private schools, they justify their larger mortgages. The schools are top notch but that is more a RESULT of the equation of DEMAND PLUS VALUE rather than a cause of it.
Statistics held since 1965 show that, town by town, in our county, prices slowly rise (with a marked zig and zag between 1999 (up) and 2007 (down)).
Once again, home prices are on the up tick. I hope that they do not rise too fast. It does no one any good. but, at least this time around, the banks are doing a better job of "gate keeping".
So, yes, prices are high here. Really high. Is it worth it? Combine access to one of the most exciting metropolises worldwide with exceptional beauty and clean living and you get a superb quality of life. Expensive? You bet ya. Worth it? Absolutely.
For more information on how our beautiful county stayed so green, please read the Pacific Sun article dated: March 15-23, 2013 entitied: "Upfront 2: Roads to Nowhere". It chronicles a pivotal time in Marin history when our fair county almost became another high density suburban sprawl-land reminiscent of San Jose.