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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 6/27/2016.

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The Scoop.

The first half of 2016 will wrap up this week, and it has been another very interesting start to the real estate year.  But interesting is simply par for the course for the real estate market in San Carlos. While home prices have continued to push to all-time highs, there is clearly a sign that the market is starting to push back on what has seemed like unabated growth for the past 5 years. We will touch on many of these stats in the half-yearly wrap up later this week.

One of the statistics that we will look at is the number of price reductions that have occurred in the local market, which has increased significantly this year compared to 2015. Looking at this past week as an example, two homes had to take significant price reductions to sell, while three others were only able to fetch the asking price. That’s quite a bit different from the normal 7-10% lift over the asking price that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. More to follow on these trends…

Here is a look at last week’s numbers:

The Numbers.

Below is a high-level view of the market performance for single-family residences in San Carlos. This data is for the 7-day period ending Sunday 6/26/2016:

San Carlos Housing Data 6/26/16 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 9 7
Average Sold Price: $1,683,833 $1,949,286
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $841 $956
Average Sold as Percentage Of List Price: 99% 107%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 19 10
Total # of Homes Pending Sale: 32 33
No. of New Listings: 6 8
Total # of Active Listings: 23 24
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,993,249 $1,846,447
Average DOM of Active Listings: 30 30
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $883 $875
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.72 : 1 0.73 : 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 6/20/2016.

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The Scoop.

The inventory of single-family homes in San Carlos continued to hold in the mid-20’s again this past week. There are still quite a few sellers that are looking to get their homes sold before we hit the 4th of July weekend, so I expect that new listing will continue to be brisk this week. Since only 3 homes went into contract last week, it’s conceivable that we could hit 30 homes for sale in San Carlos by the time this weekend rolls around. That will certainly play in the favor of home buyers, who will now have more homes to choose from.

Traditionally, July is one of the slower months in local residential real estate. Many buyers and sellers are on vacation, and sellers who are not in a rush to sell will opt to wait until the Fall when the buyers are back. But we are in a transitional market right now, and some sellers may choose forgo conventional wisdom and list their homes in July or August, since the forecast for the fall market is somewhat uncertain. Buyers who stick around this summer may indeed find the home that has eluded them so far this year.

Here is a look at last week’s numbers:

The Numbers.

Below is a high-level view of the market performance for single-family residences in San Carlos. This data is for the 7-day period ending Sunday 6/19/2016:

San Carlos Housing Data 6/19/16 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 7 9
Average Sold Price: $1,949,286 $1,914,000
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $956 $989
Average Sold as Percentage Of List Price: 107% 114%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 10 9
Total # of Homes Pending Sale: 33 34
No. of New Listings: 8 6
Total # of Active Listings: 24 22
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,846,447 $2,020,529
Average DOM of Active Listings: 30 27
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $875 $860
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.73 : 1 0.65 : 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 6/13/2016.

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The Scoop.

One trend that has been noted in the San Carlos real estate market lately is that it is taking a bit longer for houses to sell than it did at this time last year, or even just a few months ago. The average days on the market (DOM) for homes listed in San Carlos right now sits at almost a month, which was unheard of at any time last year. There are some spectacular homes available in San Carlos right now that are simply sitting, and it’s a prime reason why the inventory of homes for sale in San Carlos is staying up in the 20’s. And if the number of new listings continues to outpace the rate of pending sales, then that number may continue to grow.

Three of the five homes that went pending last week needed two full open house weekends to set the hook for a buyer, so clearly there’s a more deliberate pace to the market right now. We will dive into some of those numbers later this week on the site.

Here is a look at last week’s numbers:

The Numbers.

Below is a high-level view of the market performance for single-family residences in San Carlos. This data is for the 7-day period ending Sunday 6/12/2016:

San Carlos Housing Data 6/12/16 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 9 4
Average Sold Price: $1,914,000 $1,646,250
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $989 $952
Average Sold as Percentage Of List Price: 114% 109%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 9 8
Total # of Homes Pending Sale: 34 37
No. of New Listings: 6 4
Total # of Active Listings: 22 22
Average Price of Active Listings: $2,020,529 $2,000,078
Average DOM of Active Listings: 27 27
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $860 $870
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.65 : 1 0.59 : 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
_____________________________________________________________________________

Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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Is Amazon Coming to San Carlos?

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Drive Through Grocery Pick-Up Planned.

If one of the largest internet shopping sites gets their way, they will be soon setting up a presence in San Carlos. According to this article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Amazon would like to open a drive-up grocery store at 380 Industrial Road, right across from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation hospital, and adjacent to the new Orchard Supply Hardware.

According to the article, Amazon is looking to grow their fledgling grocery business in the Bay Area, and they already have plans to build a similar drive-up grocery outlet in Sunnyvale.

It’s likely that residents of the Greater East Side will be concerned about the additional traffic on Industrial Road that this outlet may generate, and there certainly need to be some public vetting before this project gets the final go-ahead.

More info will be posted on this topic as it becomes available.
_____________________________________________________________________________

Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
Don’t miss a single update!
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San Carlos Residents Speak Out Against Big Homes, Subdivided Lots.

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A Charged Public Hearing.

If the packed house at Monday night’s San Carlos Planning Commission meeting was any indication, then San Carlos residents are ready to turn the clock back — to 2011, that is… or beyond. The Planning Commission hosted a public session to solicit feedback from citizens on the current building standards for both lot coverage and the subdivision of existing larger lots for the purpose of building multiple structures. The Commission and the City Council have been fielding an increasing amount of complaints and other negative feedback about the size and character of homes that are being built in San Carlos neighborhoods, and thus chartered the Commission to start studying the issue.

Lisa Porras, the Principal Planner for the City of San Carlos, started off the meeting with an outstanding recap of how and why the residential building guidelines were changed back in 2011, and what the impact has been on San Carlos since that time (in terms of how many homes have been built, and projects approved.)

The meeting was then turned over to public comment.  There were at least a dozen different citizens that went to the dais and voiced their displeasure about the sheer number of “out of character” homes that are being built in San Carlos neighborhoods.

It’s probably a good thing that burglars were not aware of this meeting, because I don’t think there was a single resident from the 1900 block of Carmelita Drive that wasn’t at the meeting! Who was watching the neighborhood??!!  Indeed, the subdivision that is taking place at 1985 Carmelita Drive, and the recent sale at 1942 Carmelita Drive have residents on this prized block very worried about how the look and feel of their street may change in the future under the current guidelines.

What surprised me about the discussion was not the level of discontent that is being felt by neighbors on Carmelita, Cedar, and Sunset that spoke publicly. If you saw the thread on the popular social media site NextDoor about this very topic, you would know that there are over 180 comments on just that thread alone – ALL in opposition to the current standards.

What did surprise me was that not one person who was in favor of keeping the current guidelines unchanged spoke to that effect. There was one speaker who, through very measured words, did remind residents that San Carlos and the entire Peninsula is changing, and that change is generally inevitable. I have to wonder where the homeowners were who have purchased property in San Carlos over the past 5 or so years, and have plans to build a large home on their lot — especially those who may push over the 40% lot coverage limit.

Why was there not anyone at the mic defending the current building guidelines?

Perhaps people did not know about the meeting, or maybe they were afraid of voicing their opinion in front of a well behaved but very charged up crowd?  But either way, the topic is now very much at the forefront of the Planning Commission and the City Council, and there will be additional meetings and hearings about this topic – some right in front of the City Council.

So if you have strong feelings either way, you had better use the public forum to make your voice heard.  If last night is any indications, there are changes brewing on the horizon in the world of residential real estate construction in San Carlos.
_____________________________________________________________________________

Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
Don’t miss a single update!
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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 6/6/2016.

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The Scoop.

We are in the midst of the annual graduation/wedding/early-vacation lull that hits the San Carlos real estate market every year during the first two weeks of June. It’s just that time of year when there are a ton of activities that are crammed into the first two weeks of the month, and it tends to dilute the focus of home buyers, albeit temporarily. As the last of the schools get out for summer this week, and the UC system holding their graduations later in the week, its likely we will see another week of slower activity. Thankfully, things usually pick back up again over the last two weeks just before we get into the 4th of July weekend, as homeowners push to lock up a home before the slow summer months set in.

Even with the slower activity (only 4 new listings), the buyers managed to take 7 of the existing homes out of circulation, which dropped the inventory down to 22 homes for sale. Home prices remained relatively stable, with the closed sales fetching about 9% above the asking price on average.

Here is a look at last week’s numbers:

The Numbers.

Below is a high-level view of the market performance for single-family residences in San Carlos. This data is for the 7-day period ending Sunday 6/5/2016:

San Carlos Housing Data 6/5/16 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 4 6
Average Sold Price: $1,646,250 $2,018,667
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $952 $907
Average Sold as Percentage Of List Price: 109% 102%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 8 13
Total # of Homes Pending Sale: 37 36
No. of New Listings: 4 9
Total # of Active Listings: 22 24
Average Price of Active Listings: $2,000,078 $1,858,447
Average DOM of Active Listings: 27 21
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $870 $849
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.59 : 1 0.67 : 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
_____________________________________________________________________________

Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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Homes in San Carlos: How Big is Too Big?

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THE Hot Topic in San Carlos.

For the first time in many years, the hottest topic in the local real estate market is probably no longer about the price of homes in San Carlos.  Now, the lightning rod of discussion seems to be focused a the size and density of homes in San Carlos.

Thanks in large part to the resurgent local economy, many homeowners along the Peninsula now have quite a bit more discretionary income to invest in their homes — money that they didn’t have when we were trudging through the years of the Recession. Consequently, it seems as if you can drive down just about any street in San Carlos and see a major remodeling project underway. And it’s the sheer size of some of homes that are being built – perfectly legally, mind you —  that has created a groundswell of opposition that has reverberated all the way to the San Carlos City Council.

History: Lot Coverage.

Back in 2011, the City of San Carlos opted to increase the maximum lot coverage* for most residential zoning from 40% to 50%. I say “most” because the formula for maximum lot coverage is not a simple multiplication factor – it depends on the slope of the lot, and the zoning that is assigned to the parcel. If you’re truly interested in the guidelines regarding lot coverage, building height, and property-line setbacks, look at Section 18 of the San Carlos Municipal Code.)  The decision to increase the maximum threshold was in response to homeowner’s desire to be able to build larger homes in a landscape that is defined by smaller than average lots.

*”Lot coverage includes all structures greater than 18″ in height including decks, covered porches and accessory buildings — it does not include on-grade pavement, trellises open 50% or more to light and air, or portable items such as BBQ’s, umbrellas, or removable canopies.” — City of San Carlos

Unlike the neighboring communities to the south like Redwood City, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto that have been subdivided with larger lot sizes, the average lot sizes in San Carlos are generally on the smaller size, especially in the desirable sections in the flatlands of San Carlos close to downtown. It’s not uncommon to see 4,400 square foot lots throughout many streets in the White Oaks, Oak Park, and Howard Park neighborhoods.

The effect of the larger lot coverage cap was probably not felt in the city right away. This is simply because it takes 1-2 years to go from an idea to a finished product when you’re talking about a significant house remodel, and frankly the economy had not recovered sufficiently to fund such a project for many homeowners.

But in the last several years, the rate of development in residential neighborhoods has increased almost exponentially, and the size of the homes that are being built has some neighbors very concerned.

Increased Density.

Home size is not the only concern for some residents. There are a few select pockets in the flats of San Carlos that enjoy larger than normal lot sizes — some 10,000 or larger. It doesn’t take a PhD in Mathematics to figure out that a developer can make a tidy profit by purchasing a small home on a large lot, then subdivide the lot and build two brand new homes in its place.

The objection to this practice arises when two larger homes get stuffed into a lot where one smaller home once stood — thus creating a marked difference in the density and character of the neighborhood.

When you combine the two elements together — house size and house density — it has rapidly become one of the most talked about issues in all of San Carlos.  And it’s a battleground that can and will pit neighbor versus neighbor.

Planning Commission Meeting – Monday June 6.

These concerns have raised sufficient visibility at the Planning Commission and City Council level that they both will become discussion items at the next San Carlos Planning Commission meeting, which will take place on Monday June 6 in the Council Chambers in City Hall.

From what I have read on the various social media outlets like NextDoor and Facebook, there will be a significant public turnout at this meeting to voice their opinions for and against the current residential building regulations.  The agenda for Mondays meeting can be downloaded by clicking here: San Carlos Planning Meeting: June 6.

What are your thoughts?

Where do you stand on this discussion?  Are the guidelines that are in place conducive to building homes that are out of character for San Carlos? Should the City of San Carlos revise the maximum guidelines back downward to the 2011 standards?

Or, are the regulations fine as they are now?

Voice your opinion in the comment section on this post, and register your vote in the poll at the top of the site.

Regardless of where you stand, this issue has the potential to be the most significant public discussions since the outsourcing of the police and fire department services several years ago. If you want your opinion to be heard either way, Monday night’s meeting may be a good start.

Update:  Here’s a good article on the same topic that was published after this post was written in the San Mateo Daily Journal: Split Large Lots, Big Homes Rile Neighbors.
_____________________________________________________________________________

Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
Don’t miss a single update!
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What is Behind the Inventory Surge in San Carlos?

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A Spike in New Listings.

Does it seem like there have been more homes on the market recently in San Carlos than what you’ve been accustomed to seeing? Do inventory levels seem to be sitting at higher levels than you recall in recent years?

It’s not your imagination. There has been an interesting swing in the San Carlos real estate market over the past 60 days that has had a profound effect on the local real estate market, from inventory levels all the way to the mindset of the buyers who are in the market for these homes.

As I have written about numerous times in the past on this site, the San Carlos residential real estate market has been suffering from a trend of declining listings for the past 3 years straight. If you read this blog on a normal basis, you’re familiar with this chart:

 

SC New Listings through 2015

What this chart shows you is that San Carlos has been in a significant downward trend for single family home listings since all the way back in 2011, when we were emerging from the recession and there were nearly 400 homes listed for sale.  The 256 listings that we saw in San Carlos in 2015 not only represented the lowest number in all history recorded in the MLS, but was also a stunning 34% drop in just 4 short years. It’s one of many reasons why home prices have seen stratospheric growth over the last half decade.

As we headed into 2016, the downward trend continued. For the three months of this, new listings were tracking even lower than the record low that we saw only the year before, which seemed to be an impossibility (see below).

But then something started to noticeably change about 60 days ago.

 

San Carlos New Listings through 5-16

 

This chart shows the new listings by month through the end of may for both 2015 and 2016. At the end of March 2016, we were sitting at a total of 57 new listing year to date — which represented a drop of 16.2% from the record low registered in 2015. By all indications, we were clearly headed for another listing drought.

But in April, things began to change quite rapidly.

If you sensed that there were suddenly a huge uptick in new listings in San Carlos in the last couple of months, you were correct.  Starting in April, we saw a huge and immediate surge in new listings that has continued right through the end of May.

In just the last 60 days, 78 new single family residence listings hit the market in San Carlos, or basically more than one new listing every day.  To put that number into perspective, it’s 37% more than the first 90 days of the year combined. It also drove the rate of new listings from being 16% below the prior year, to 10% higher — all in just two months.

The Market Reaction.

The effect of this sudden surge was noticeable on a number of fronts. The most obvious was inventory levels. A market that could barely sustain inventory levels in the low teens was suddenly sitting at 20 or more listings for weeks on end, with a peak of 29 registered just last week. We are sitting at 23 today. While these figures are more in line with a normal Spring real estate levels, it has been a long time since the local market has had this many homes to digest.

The other noticeable factor has been the change in psyche of the home buyers who are in this market right now. Whether its because there are simply more homes to choose from, or perhaps the belief that a flood of new inventory will be coming, there is a palpable reduction in the sense of urgency with buyers lately.

It’s distinctly measurable in the drop in the number of offers that each sale is getting across the board.  Hot homes that would have fetched 8-10 offers just 6 months ago are getting half as many… or maybe only one. And some homes are simply sitting without offers at all — and these are quality homes that would have had no problem selling just a few months ago.

But it’s also noticeable in comments that I hear from buyers at open houses. They simply don’t feel as “under the gun” as they did last year, and consequently they are circling the market with much more deliberation — perhaps seeing if this trend will continue in their favor.

Behind the Numbers.

The big question that needs to be answered is this — why are there suddenly so many new listings? There is an undeniable sense that some sellers simply believe the market is reaching the top, and those that have had their finger on the trigger for the past two years are pulling it. Over half of the listings I will market this year will be buyers who are moving completely out of the area, not just across town.

Some residents are also fed up with some of the side-effects of a booming local economy; unmanageable traffic, increasing cost of living, and the unavoidable change in the “look and feel” of the San Carlos that they were fond of (more on that last topic later this week), and have decided to pull up root and find a more relaxed pace of life elsewhere.

But whatever the reasons may be, home buyers have been enjoying market conditions for the past two months that they have not seen since the Recession.

Whether that’s a temporary blip or a longer term trend remains to be seen.
_____________________________________________________________________________

Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
Don’t miss a single update!
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Should San Carlos Reduce the Maximum Size Limits for Residential Construction?

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