Market Conditions in Sonoma>Question Details

Fl,  in Alameda, CA

Sonoma versus Napa?

Asked by Fl, Alameda, CA Tue Jan 6, 2009

I'm from the San Francisco area and am considering buying in either Napa or Sonoma (up to $280,000). I NEED to rent it out for 5 or 6 yrs, and then use it as my second home. I'd like to know which of the two has lower rental vacancies today? If you know both Sonoma and Napa, which one would you choose regarding the rental market and future use as a vacation home? Thanks!

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I lived and worked in Napa for many years, and now I live and work in Santa Rosa. Napa is a great because it has the charm of a small town, attracts visitors from around the world for it's wine and gourmet dining, yet it is situated within 20 minutes of the town of Sonoma. The market there tends to be stable, though prices have come down a bit. You may get more house for your dollars invested if you consider Santa Rosa and neighboring communities. Santa Rosa is only 45 minutes from Napa and about half that to the town of Sonoma. Sonoma County also has world renowned wineries and restaurants, but the biggest plus to me is we are closer to the coast. As far as lower rental vacancies - it's a toss up. Invest in a good location and you'll attract a good renter. Consider consulting with a property management company for rental statistics and help finding you a qualified renter. Check out my blog here on Trulia or my website for more information.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 21, 2012
FI, would you consider a condominium? There are some great options near the Plaza in Sonoma. This is an interesting challenge since you will use it as a second home in 5 or 6 years. Are you clear on your needs and wish list for the property?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 17, 2012
Actually, FI, even the rental markets are soft right now. What the property you describe would rent for would depend upon location and condition. But I would say that it would certainly be under $2K per month.

I have a client with a very nice duplex near the Plaza and I can send you information on that if you are interested.

You can also go to the following link to get detailed information:…

I will be updating for the month of February by Monday, so check back or give me your email address and I will update you.

Here you can see how Sonoma performs historically:…

And, here, more details of recent sales (again, will be updated over the weekend):…
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 5, 2009
On the whole Sonoma is quite safe, but there are streets or small areas that I would not choose to live in. It is not as simple as saying that the east side is safe and the west side is not, because that's not true. There are pockets or neighborhoods in all of Sonoma that are good and not so good. The best thing for you to do is come to Sonoma and have someone drive you around to show you what you could buy and in which area. Then you can decide for yourself whether it looks desirable. I would recommend having a local Sonoma Valley Realtor be the one to take you because out of town Realtors won't know the different areas of Sonoma very well. For instance, my street in Sonoma is very nice and the street behind okay, but a couple of streets over is not so great. I hope this helped.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 9, 2009
I'm partial to Sonoma, that's where I live. $280 can be done, it'll be an REO and need work most likely. There aren't very many of those and they are usually multiple offer situations, so financing in place is a must. I think compared to Napa's lower end, we look much better on this side of the hill, and we are closer to SF & the ocean. Our community is smaller and very friendly. We pride ourselves on being more down to earth over here.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 9, 2009
Which are nicer/safe neighborhoods in Sonoma? And which are bad neighborhoods? I'm not familiar with Sonoma and would really like to know.
Is the Boyes Springs area safe? How much would a 3BR/2Ba/1 car gar, 1400 sq ft SFR rent for? Is it easy to find renters these days?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 9, 2009
I agree with Jane. Unless you are willing to put some work into the property, you will likely be happier with the property and the neighborhood if you can come up a bit in price.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 29, 2009
Hi there,
I am not sure that you are going to be happy with a vacation home that you can purchase for $280K in Sonoma. If you could increase your price to the mid-high $300K's, you might be able to find a much more suitable property that would demand good rent and be a decent place to vacation to on weekends.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 8, 2009
What a great question! I was just going over this topic with two buyers this week, one in the price range you are discussing. We have been looking at distressed properties up to 300K in both Napa and Sonoma and my clients decided to purchase in Sonoma because they found the best value for their money there, and more of a "wine country" feel at that price range. There were some cute houses in Napa but the neighborhoods under 300K were a bit more congested or the houses were in rougher condition. Both communities have a lot to offer. Downtown Napa has a lot of energy and a vibrant restaurant scene. Sonoma is a little smaller but has a lot going on. In each case, what is so great about the wine country are the large number of quaint communities you can visit within 10-20 minutes of your home base. In Sonoma or Santa Rosa you have Glen Ellen, Kenwood, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Graton and Occidental. In Napa, Yountville, Rutherford, Calistoga and St. Helena are nearby. And of course the counties are adjacent to each other for mini-getaways. I am extremely familiar with the inventory in both areas if you would like to chat, feel free.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 7, 2009
Good morning
At the price range you are looking to buy in, I feel that you would be able to get more value for a home in Sonoma than in Napa. Rentals in Somoma are booming these days and rents are at a high, so from an investment standpoint buying your income property now great. As far as your needs for a future vacation home, you have to ask yourself what your wants and needs are for the future. I think that there is no better place to live than in Sonoma - lots of great shopping, restaurants, arts, culture and a close drive out to the coast for some great ocean air. Good luck with your decision and please let me know if I can help in any way!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 7, 2009
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