Floating Home Market Update

This is one of the homes that sold in 2017  |  post by Steve Sekhon |  photo by Peter Lyons

The Secret is Out

With the near completion of the multiple-year (decade?) Waldo Point Harbor redevelopment of the sea wall, parking lots, entry buildings and now the park along Bridgeway, many residents feel that the outward-facing image of the floating homes community is beginning to match the beauty and attractiveness that we residents see and benefit from every day as we walk our docks, look out our windows and breathe the fresh marine air.

What is the story with the floating home market in 2017 and how does it compare with the overall Marin County real estate market? That’s an excellent question, I’m glad you asked!

While averages tell only a limited story, the devil, as they say, is in the details. Aside from square footage and age, floating home prices fluctuate dramatically according to location, berth depth, views and je ne sais quoi. That last item is the inexplicable factor that makes a particular home only so-so to one person and absolutely irresistible to someone else. Analyzing sales on a price per square foot basis has limitations, but it does provide a useful and widely-used metric to begin any valuation and it also helps to see what’s happening in the overall market. Let’s dive in…

Fourteen floating homes sold in 2012 compared with a whopping 29 sold in 2013. Looking back, it seems shocking that the average sales price of homes sold in 2012 was $414,000. Compare that with the market in 2017 in which the average price of floating homes sold was $830,000. That’s an increase of more than 100%.

The increase in median home price in all of Marin County for the same period was just over 62%. A slightly more pertinent fact that clearly demonstrates the steady increase of floating homes prices in the last 5 years is the climb of price per square foot: from a bargain basement of $415 in 2012 to $788/SF on 2017. On the high side, several boats have sold for more than $1,000/SF and two are for sale now above this point. This year the average price per square foot was 13.3% higher than in 2016. In comparison, home prices in all of California increased just 7.1% in the past year. Economists are predicting home values to increase about 2.5% next year.

The average number of days it took for a floating home to sell decreased to 76 days in 2017, the shortest in the last 6 years. There are plenty of buyers searching for the right floating home and yet the supply remains limited. In 2017, only 12 floating home transactions have been reported on the MLS.

What does this mean?

Floating homes are in demand, the prices are rising, they sell quicker than ever before and we can probably anticipate further price appreciation in the future. After all, where else do you have immediate access to the water, proximity to 101, the ability to be in San Francisco in ten minutes, very little traffic and, of course, the most amazing community on the planet?

Year Days on Mkt Sales Price SOLD $/SF # Sold
2012 106  $414,000  $415 14
2013 149  $547,562  $461 29
2014 88  $589,818  $577 11
2015 93  $708,263  $647 19
2016 79  $662,312  $695 16
2017 76  $830,000  $788 12

*Figures Reported from BAREIS MLS

Author Steve Sekhon is a resident of Issaquah Dock, a licensed real estate broker with Compass Real Estate and a floating home evangelist. He can be reached at: steve.sekhon@compass.com or (415) 480-4562.