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Marin County Real Estate Community Profile: Mill Valley

Nov 8, 2007
Mill Valley California has a certain cachet. Over the years it has been home to the rich, the famous, and the infamous. In the '60s the hippies loved it and, in recent years, the hip love it. Laid back, but sophisticated with a modern edge, Mill Valley remains a hot spot in the real estate market, despite the overall decline in many parts of California.

What makes Mill Valley real estate so desirable to modern homebuyers? Obviously the proximity to San Francisco is a big draw for Mill Valley and, indeed, all of Marin County. Less than 15 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge, Mill Valley is about a 30 minute commute to San Francisco, which is perfect for those who work in the city but want to a quieter pace for their family life. The public schools are excellent, and there is a wealth of outdoor activities for the active family.

Another big attraction to Mill Valley is the mild Mediterranean climate. In the winter temperatures are pleasant and rainfall is abundant - which provides Mill Valley with its beautiful forested areas. In the summertime, temperatures range between 75 and 90 degrees and there is little, if any, rainfall. What's not to love about that?

If the natural attributes of Mill Valley aren't enough, buyers looking for Mill Valley real estate will find some amazing architecture. In addition to condos and traditional style homes, Mill Valley is rich with mid-century modern design. The Strawberry Point area has a very exclusive neighborhood developed by Joseph Eichler in the 1960's. These homes, designed by Claude Oakland, are a bit larger than most Eichlers and many feature great views of the San Francisco Bay. You'll also find homes designed by greats such as Lee Stuart Darrow and Jon Bolles in the Strawberry Point area of Mill Valley.

For the patient homebuyer, Mill Valley homes designed by well-known architects occasionally come up on the market. Soriano, Paffard Keatinge Clay, Daniel Lieberman, Rex Rathbun, and Francis Joseph McCarthy are all modern pioneers who contributed to the richness of Mill Valley architecture in the booming age of modernism that began in the 1940's and lasted well into the 1960's. More contemporary architectural firms such as Kappe+Du, Endresware, Ohashi Design Studio, and Sheahan & Quandt are also represented in Mill Valley real estate. These custom homes are not large, but they are smart and well designed. The homes do not come cheap, but they can be considered an investment in a work of art in addition to a home.

Nothing is inexpensive in Mill Valley, but everything is relative. For those who dream of owning a home in Mill Valley but find the designer homes to be a bit too pricey there are other options. In the hills surrounding the town, small cabin style homes sometimes come up for sale. Many of these places have lovely views, a rural feel, and some even have studios. Another relatively cost-effective alternative would be to purchase a tear down and put a prefab in. These days prefabs, also called modular homes, are becoming increasingly popular. They come in many different designs - including modern, are generally not as expensive as building a house "from scratch", and take less time to construct.

For now the Mill Valley real estate market remains solid and, with such an eclectic background, there truly is something for everyone. Mill Valley has a lot going for it: great location, lovely climate, excellent schools, and interesting architecture. For $750,000 you can get your foot in the door - from there, the sky is the limit!
About the Author
Renee Adelmann specializes in Mill Valley real estate . Visit her website to learn more about Marin County CA and search the Marin MLS.
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