Sonoma County continues to be a favorite destination of smart buyers willing to pay a premium price for the wine country lifestyle. Many are successful and financially prudent Bay Area residents looking for second homes that will turn into their primary residence when they retire. Other highly-qualified buyers are looking for an additional residence or vineyard to add to their real estate portfolio for long term appreciation. Whatever their motivation, luxury can mean many things. For some, selecting the highest quality building materials is essential. Others might care less about finishes, but define luxury as a perfect location with wonderful privacy. Subjective reasons like this are important factors that drive buying decisions, but for our purposes, selling price is a convenient and objective marker for luxury. For 2022, we used $4,000,000 as the bar separating luxury homes from the rest.
Sonoma was the hottest spot for luxury property selling for over four million dollars. The town of Sonoma area accounted for 18 sales in that price range last year. Buyers appreciate Sonoma for the reasonable commute to San Francisco, the charming square, exceptional vineyards, and fascinating history. The map of luxury sales clearly demonstrates the attraction of Sonoma’s east side.
Healdsburg was also a strong contender for Sonoma County luxury property transactions with 11 properties selling for more than four million dollars. Healdsburg’s attractions to all market segments include great restaurants, a world renowned town plaza, three of the wine country’s premier appellations, and a host of local merchants dedicated to serving the public. What’s apparent from the Healdsburg luxury sales map is that country property dominated the luxury market with relatively few sales inside the city limits. Luxury, to Healdsburg buyers, appears to include acreage and vines.
An important factor to keep in mind as you look at Sonoma luxury listings on the properties linked below is that in this context luxury refers to selling price, not home quality. In many of the listings, the house may be an insignificant part of the overall value of the property, particularly on the large acreage and vineyard parcels. In addition, with the older housing stock typical of Sonoma and Healdsburg, even well built homes that were considered to be outstanding in their early years may have fallen on hard times due to deferred maintenance or simply failure to upgrade.
The most elusive property on the Sonoma County market today is a luxury contemporary home. There aren’t very many of them around to begin with, let alone as active listings. There were five homes constructed in 2022 that qualified as luxury. Three from 2021. None from 2020, and just one from 2019.
The shortage of wonderful, contemporary luxury homes may soon lead to an increased demand for buildable parcels as buyers decide the best way to get a great home is to build their own.