An UnLikely Outcome.
Last year around this time, talk in the real estate circles was dominated by a mythical topic known as “the Facebook Effect”. In essence, the Facebook Effect was an expectation that at any minute a busload of newly minted millionaires sporting Facebook t-shirts would magically appear in our neighborhoods and snap up all of the available listings (paying cash, of course), thus driving home prices to even more unaffordable levels. At this time last year the company had been public for only about 4 months, and the lock-up period for many of the employees was due to expire soon, so everyone was holding their breath waiting for this momentous occasion.
Well, as we now know, this gravity-altering event never happened. Not only did Facebook’s stock price drop significantly after the IPO, but we also learned a valuable lesson about the living preferences of wealthy, 20-somethings: As “happening” as we think San Carlos is with its great schools and trendy downtown, it can’t hold a candle to the entertainment and cultural richness that San Francisco provides. And the executive ranks of Facebook can generally afford the most upscale neighborhoods in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, or Atherton — and probably didn’t need the IPO money to do so in the first place.
So the Facebook Effect never really materialized here in San Carlos. At least not yet. But there is another technology giant whose spectacular growth is indeed having a profound impact on the local real estate market: Google.
A Search for Home.
It has been well documented how Google’s presence over the past decade has completely changed the commercial AND residential real estate landscape in places like Mountain View, Los Altos, and Palo Alto — communities that are close to their headquarters. But because of their steady growth since the end of the recession, their impact is being felt over a much larger radius encompassing not only the obvious trendy picks such as San Francisco, but also smaller communities like San Carlos.
The last three home buyers that I have placed are all Google employees. They didn’t refer one another to me, because they’ve never met. So statistically, that tells me that there are many Google employees that are in the market to purchase homes; a sentiment that is shared by other Realtors that I have spoken with. One of these buyers told me an amazing story that illustrates just how fast this company is growing: He started as a new Google employee in their Kirkland facility only 3 years ago. Today, he is already above the 50th percentile in seniority in the entire company. In other words, in only 3 years they have hired more employees after he was hired than they did before (after you factor out attrition). Now that’s amazing growth.
Need more proof? You need only watch the ever-growing number of white Google buses as they maneuver the Bay Area highways shuttling their employees to and from work every day to know that this company is growing by leaps and bounds. Google’s network of buses alone rivals the size of most municipal transit networks in the Bay Area.
There is an old saying in the real estate business that everyone knows someone who is a Realtor, whether it’s a friend, relative, or neighbor. I know all too well how true this is. But in this growing tech economy, the same can almost be said about Google — soon, everyone will know someone that works at this great company. And they are having a tremendous impact on our local real estate market.
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