The August 2, 2008 edition of the Wall Street Journal has a front-page article about ghost towns throughout America. The ghost towns are largely a result of unfinished subdivisions. Many of these subdivisions remain a half filled with for sale signs outnumbering occupied properties. Many of the projects have been abandoned by their developers with little hope of being completed in the near future.
The story features a couple who won a rent-free, for five years, with an option to purchase a home at the end of the term for $452,000. I suppose this could turn out to be a great deal for the lucky renters if they don’t mind what can a weed filled yards for the next couple of years. Most of these ghost towns are in areas that had extraordinarily high development of new homes. Conversely, Marin County had very little development in the preceding five years. Most of the development that did occur was in Novato and not surprisingly Novato has experienced the largest reduction in prices in Marin County during the current housing market.
Most of Marin County is designated open-space which prohibits the development of new housing tracts and this remains one reason that Marin County pricing has weathered the current market downturn better than other counties and states. While Marin counties foreclosure rate has increased dramatically it is still significantly below the statewide average. There are very few abandoned properties in Marin County and those that have been abandoned are usually quickly resold by the banks.
If you are looking for one of those funky Western ghost towns I suggest you drive outside of Marin County.