Expert Tips on Sonoma Neighborhoods and More

Published on October 23, 2017

– 5 min read

The city of Sonoma and its surrounding areas have a lot to offer residents, including world-class wineries and a lively small-town atmosphere—so it’s no wonder home prices in the region are setting new records.

Population: 11,054
Avg. Temperature: High 72.7°F Low 45.3°F
What it’s known for: Sonoma County is known for it’s wine – the most common varietals are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Sonoma has a big food scene with many gourmet restaurants, while maintaining a quaint, small town ambiance at the same time.

We connected with three local real estate experts to get the skinny on living in Sonoma—check out their advice on Sonoma County cities and neighborhoods, and what to know when buying real estate in this desirable area.

Meet our Sonoma real estate experts:

Tina Shone, Sotheby’s International Realty
Angela Maroevich, Coldwell Banker
Scott Raaka, W Real Estate
Sheila Deignan, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

Sonoma neighborhoods: Why it’s a unique real estate market

“The area is small and comprised of three towns: Sonoma, Glen Ellen and Kenwood. Each area has a unique feel and offers either ‘in-town’ homes, income/commercial property, or country property (acreage). People can get a wine-country view or own property with vines or other fruiting trees, such as olives. There are several microclimates throughout the valley, too.” Tina Shone

“There are many hidden gem neighborhoods in Sonoma, whether it’s a small street only a few blocks from the center of town or a neighborhood in the hills with a view all the way to the city. Sonoma is unique in that you can have a country property with plenty of room, or live right in town just blocks from everything.” Scott Raaka

“The busy season for listing and buying tends to be spring to early summer, and fall (after Labor Day through October). Houses that are within walking distance to town tend to have premium prices. The east side of town is also more desirable.” Angela Maroevich

Sonoma neighborhoods: First-time home buyer must-knows

“Our recommendation to first-time buyers it to let us take you on a tour, so you can learn the ins-and-outs of the plaza, roads and the valley. We’ll show you different neighborhoods, schools, shopping areas, movie theaters, etc. and describe events unique to the individual areas—like the Glen Ellen Village Fair and Heart of the Valley Tasting. We think this helps buyers get oriented and can help them connect with other areas to consider. When buyers know the area better, they’ll be more educated and confident in their decision.” Tina Shone

“Because Sonoma Valley has such a diverse environment, I advise working with local agents to give you the inside scoop on neighborhood profiles and community resources. Buying a home is always a potentially stressful activity. Be sure to take the time to connect to an agent who is experienced, and takes the time to understand your ultimate goals as well as your current needs. I provide a printed flow chart to map out the process for both selling and buying transaction activities. No one likes unexpected surprises so I always advise doing inspections with local, knowledgeable inspectors. We do this together.” Sheila Deignan

Sonoma neighborhoods: Hidden gems

“Lovall Valley has a country feeling. Many properties have an estate vibe on east side of Sonoma within biking distance to the historic shopping and dining hub. The Burndale/ Carneros area is a great halfway point in the country near Napa and Sonoma with larger parcels. West Arnold, near the base of Sonoma Mountain ridge, is an alternate country area to the east side, with a mix of mid-to-upper tier residences and vineyards. Lastly, Diamond A features a resurgence of new energy and updates. Up in the gently rolling hills, many properties have sweeping views of Sonoma Valley—it feels a world away while only minutes to the town center.” Sheila Deignan

Sonoma neighborhoods: More affordable options

“Check out the Agua Caliente area off Highway 12. Single-family starter homes average in the mid-to-high $600,000s, and prices are continuing to rise. For families who can’t afford this, consider buying a condo first and working your way up. It’s better to get into the market now vs. waiting, because mortgage interest rates are so low!” Angela Maroevich

Sonoma neighborhoods: What residents love

“Residents love being able to go to the historic Sonoma plaza where there are great restaurants, tasting rooms and shops. Also, on Tuesday nights, there is a farmers’ market on the plaza where people can picnic, drink wine and listen to live music.” Scott Raaka

“Most residents love the mild climate of Sonoma, the downtown square with the park and outdoor theatre, local art and wine festivals, restaurants, and the many family activities Sonoma offers.” Angela Maroevich

“Current residents love the weather, sense of community, small-town feel, and proximity to all of the Bay Area.” Tina Shone

“People love many things about Sonoma, including the friendly small-town charm, proximity to San Francisco, wineries with connection to the land and tasting rooms, arts, food from great places and farmers’ markets with local sourcing, plus year-round and seasonal creeks that feature a growing salmon and river otter population. Residents also value the vibrant mix of hobby and serious vineyard opportunities, investment and retirement properties, fine dining and causal eateries, biking and hiking. Sonoma Valley has become a world-class destination.” Sheila Deignan

What are your favorite things about Sonoma living? Send your tips to hello@clara.com. Ready to shop for a Sonoma home? Apply for pre-approval now completely online. Our licensed Loan Specialists are here to chat if you have any questions.

Steven Fung
Steven Fung is a licensed Loan Specialist at Clara with over 17 years of experience. When he doesn’t have his mortgage hat on, he enjoys repairing old cars and working on home improvement projects.
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