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Home Prices at Hamilton Surge

  • Marin Independent Journal
  • December 13, 1999
  • Donna Domino

Homeowners and investors are snapping up new homes at Hamilton Field - and prices have skyrocketed more than $100,000 in a little over a year.

When three and four bedroom, single-family homes in the Bayside area of the former military base were first offered in July 1998, prices started at $299,000. The same house now cost $421,000, according to area real estate brokers.

"In one phase we sold 30 homes in two minutes - on voice mail," recalled Greystone Homes agent Sheila Donald. "It's incredible."

To date, 455 new homes have been sold, including 112 townhouses. A total of 800 homes will be built in Hamilton's six neighborhoods during the first two phases of construction.

One investor who bought a home last January in the top-priced South Gate area with plans of using it for income property decided to sell it when he was offered $50,000 more than he paid for it six weeks earlier.

Joe Ravetti, who wanted to move his family from South San Francisco where he owns an office supply business, had been told he would have to wait six months while the Hamilton home he wanted was being built.

Then Ravetti noticed the four-bedroom home for rent, at $2,800 a month, was exactly the kind he wanted, so made an offer.

Even though the investor made a quick profit, Ravetti says he still got a good deal and estimates the home has already gone up another $50,000 in value since March.

"We wanted to stay on the Peninsula but $500,000 buys you crap," Ravetti explained. " We definitely got a lot more for our money, especially for Marin County."

Construction on two new developments will begin in January. Homes in the Meadows area will start at $400,000 while hilltop homes in the Chapel Hill section will run $900,000.

Hamilton's appeal is a combination of its unique sense of community and the scarcity of Marin's housing stock, says O'Brien Group agent Grant Bennion.

"These homes have sold well because it's a terrific concept, and there's such a shortage of new homes in Marin," Bennion said. "Demand has been very, very strong."

Describing Hamilton as "the nicest neighborhood," Donald observed, "people walk or bike in the evening " things they couldn't do in San Francisco " where they had to drive to a park so they could walk their dog. Kids play in the street; moms aren't as fearful."

Another strong selling point is that Hamilton's homes are brand new, Donald notes.

"People often have to spend up to $50,000 to make a home look halfway decent," Donald explained. "That's a big thing, especially for first-time buyers.

"There's nothing nicer than walking into a new home with no one else's mistakes you have to fix."

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