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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 8-31-13.

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The Fall Market is Here.

Bring on the Fall market in San Carlos!  The stats below capture the essence of the first week of a typical Fall market in San Carlos — LOTS of sales.  As I’ve stated before numerous times on the site, the kickoff of the Fall market coincides with the return to school for the majority of kids.   In years past, that used to be after Labor Day weekend, but every year it seems like that date keeps creeping forward (especially if you get a student’s opinion on that.)   Last week was the first week that pretty much all kids were back to school.  And the buying numbers reflected it.

13 homes were went into contract, making it one of the busier buying weeks so far this year.   But only 5 new listings hit the market, so the brief “glut” of inventory that we had is evaporating rapidly.   At the time of this post, we are back down to 22 homes for sale in the entire city.   And that number will likely drop this week before it rises again.

Here are the numbers from last week:

By The Numbers.

Below is a high-level snapshot of the market performance for single-family residences in San Carlos. This data is for the week ending 8-31-2013:

San Carlos Housing Data 8-31-13 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week:
3 7
Average Sold Price
$1,221,963 $1,100,143
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold)
$638 $808
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 112% 112%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 17 11
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 29 18
Inventory of Active Listings:
22 31
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,466,586 $1,421,575
Average DOM of Active Listings: 31 29
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $639 $630
Active-Pending Ratio:
0.76 : 1 1.7 : 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 8-24-13.

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Affordable Options.

There are lots of interesting gems to be found in the numbers below which reflect last week’s real estate activity in San Carlos.  The first one to touch on is affordability.  There was a nice push of new listings again last week, which is keeping the inventory of new homes over the 30 mark.   But what was particularly interesting about last week was the affordability factor.  Of the 11 homes to debut on the market, 64% of them were under the $1M mark.  This will give first time buyers a level of choice that they haven’t had all year.

The other interesting number is the active/pending ratio.  This number has been mired at ridiculously low levels all year, well under the 1 mark.   But this past week, it surged to the highest point this year at 1.7.   This ratio is a good measure of buying vs listing activity, and looking at the numbers below for last week it shouldn’t be a surprise to see this number surge — 11 new listings compared to only 3 homes going into contract.   1.7 is not an abnormally high number, but it’s an indication that the pace of selling activity is slowing somewhat in San Carlos.

The third number that jumps out is $1,202.   That’s the price per square foot that the house on 1324 Oakhurst Avenue fetched when it closed escrow this week.  Shocking?  Not when you consider that the home sits on a nearly 10,000 sq foot flat lot on a fantastic San Carlos street.   This just drives home the point I made in this post about lot values in San Carlos — sometimes the dirt drives the value of the sale, and the structure is just an afterthought.  This sale was a perfect example of that scenario.

Here are the numbers from last week:

By The Numbers.

Below is a high-level snapshot of the market performance for single-family residences in San Carlos. This data is for the week ending 8-24-2013:

San Carlos Housing Data 8-24-13 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week:
7 5
Average Sold Price
$1,100,143 $1,278,857
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold)
$808 $709
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 112% 108%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 11 12
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 18 21
Inventory of Active Listings:
31 25
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,421,575 $1,543,754
Average DOM of Active Listings: 29 35
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $630 $651
Active-Pending Ratio:
1.7 : 1 1.2 : 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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How Much Can You Build on a Lot in San Carlos?

Lot Coverage

Size Matters.

This is a natural segue from our discussion yesterday on expanding a 3-bedroom home into a 4-bedroom in San Carlos.  As a homeowner or prospective buyer in San Carlos, one of the first questions that you have to answer when it comes to expansion is can you even do it?  Finances notwithstanding, will your property be able to accommodate the expansion that’s required to add that coveted 4th bedroom?

How much you’re able to build on a lot in San Carlos is probably the most common question that gets asked by buyers and homeowners — and unfortunately it’s one of the most misunderstood topics.  That’s because there are a whole slew of factors that go into calculating how much a given lot can be built on.   The purpose of this post is to give you a very general guideline on how much you can build on a lot, and more importantly, who you can contact when you have questions about this.

All About Lot Coverage.

Here’s a very handy general guideline that was created by the City of San Carlos Building Department.  If you take nothing else from this post, take this:  RS-3 and RS-6 Zoning Summary

One of the most important metrics on this summary is Lot Coverage.  Think of Lot Coverage as a bird’s eye view of the lot, looking at coverage of structures (including garage, but not landscaping, driveways or any structure under 18” in height).   In other words, the footprint from above.  From the spreadsheet, the maximum lot coverage allowed is 40% for a flat lot, and slightly less for sloped lots.   However, in some instances the City will allow lot coverage up to an absolute max of 50%, especially for smaller lots.  But the more you push beyond 40%, the more your design will be scrutinized by the City.

The other key metric to pay attention to is Floor Area Threshold.  This is defined as the amount of square footage taken up by the the living space and garage.  Again, the cap is set at 40% of the lot size, but there are provisions for owners to build a minimum of 3,000 square feet on virtually any lot.   This exception allows larger homes to be built on some of the smaller lots that you find in the lower part of White Oaks and Oak Park.

These two guidelines must both be satisfied to determine how much you can actually build on a given lot.   Here’s a typical example of what you might encounter in the flats:   On a 5,000 square foot lot, you can actually build a 3,000 square foot home (including the garage).  But the maximum allowable footprint would be 2,500 square feet (5,000 sq feet x 50%).   The remaining 500 square feet would have to be on the second floor, or as a basement.  Again, this exception is subject to staff approval by the City.

It’s important to reiterate that this post is simply a general guideline to what you’re able to build on a piece of property in San Carlos.  If you have specific questions, or need further clarification on the attached worksheet, contact Gavin Moynahan in the San Carlos Building Department at 650-802-4267, or click here to send him an email.  (Special thanks to Gavin for the background info for this post).

Stay Local.

Finally, if you’re planning an addition or a major remodel, or your seeking out a property to accommodate this, I cannot stress enough that you should team up with a designer or architect who knows San Carlos and understands how their Building and Planning Departments operate.   That’s literally the difference between a project that goes off without a hitch, and one that gets red-lined 9 ways from Sunday.   We went through this exact process about 13 years ago, and were lucky enough to work with an architect with a proven track record in San Carlos.  It makes a difference.
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog 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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That Elusive 4-Bedroom Home in San Carlos.

4BR

The Sweet Spot.

If you’ve lived in San Carlos, or are currently shopping for a home here, you probably suspect that there are a lot of 3-bedroom homes that make up the housing stock in the city.  And your suspicion would be correct — the 3-bedroom floor-plan comprises the largest percentage of homes sales every year in San Carlos.   So far in 2013, 3-bedroom homes have represented a full 50% of all homes sold in the city; in all of 2012, they accounted for 45%.

But many homeowners are finding that the coziness of the typical 3-bedroom San Carlos home is just a bit too confining.  Whether it’s because of a growing family, or the need for a home office, or simply a spare room to house frequent guests, they know that having that 4th bedroom would solve many of those space problems.

For some lucky homeowners, they have a large enough lot and an accommodating floor-plan such that adding that magical 4th bedroom is relatively straightforward.  But for many others, moving out of their tiny 3BR home is their only option.   And ignoring for a moment the complexities of selling one house and buying another at the same time, where are you going to find a 4-bedroom house in San Carlos?   When’s the last time you saw one for sale?

They may not be as elusive as you think.  You just may not be looking in the right place.

Head to the Hills.

As rare is it may seem to see a 4-bedroom house for sale in San Carlos, you may be surprised to find out they have accounted for 27% of all home sales so far this year, which is almost identical to the percentage in all of 2012.   That’s not an insignificant number by itself.    But if you’re looking to stay in the “flats” of San Carlos (aka, White Oaks, Howard Park, or Clearfield Park), then you’re not going as much luck finding one.   Only 18 four-bedroom homes have sold in theses area so far this year.  That’s just 31% of all of the 4-bedroom homes that have sold so far this year in San Carlos, and 8.5% of the total San Carlos market.   It’s not quite like finding a needle in the haystack, but there certainly is not an abundance of choice.

San Carlos Home Sales: 2013

So where all of the 4BR homes selling?   In the hills.   The remaining three sections in San Carlos (Alder Manor, Beverly Terrace, and Cordes) accounted for the other 69% of 4BR home sales in 2013.     This should not be a total surprise if you understand how San Carlos was developed.   The homes west of the Alameda were developed a decade or two later than those in the flats.   Lot sizes on the west side were generally subdivided larger than those in the flatlands, so developers were able to design and build larger homes for the growing California family.

The bottom line is that if you love your White Oaks or Howard Park neighborhood but you’re outgrowing your space,  you’ll either need to to find a way to add on to your existing structure…. or head west — to the hills.
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog 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: 8-17-13.

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Building Inventory.

There’s a palpable sense that the Fall real estate market is right around the corner.   Most kids head back to school this coming week, and almost as if on cue, the listings are starting to appear.  Just since Thursday alone, eight new issues debuted on the market in San Carlos, and hopefully that trend will continue this coming week.  That last burst alone pushed the inventory back up to 25, after dropping below the perilous 20 mark yet again, and kept the active/pending ratio above the 1.0 mark — a place it has rarely been all year.

Some big news on the blog this week — if you happen to read the San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review series every week on your smart phone or tablet, then you already know that the format was “less-than-optimal” when you click on any of the address links in the report.  Well, that problem has now been solved.  Starting this week, the website that houses all of the listing data is now optimized for mobile devices, and automatically re-formats when it senses that you are viewing the post from a mobile device.   So give it a try — click on any of the addresses in the report below from your mobile device.  I think you’ll love the new look!

Here are the numbers from last week:

By The Numbers.

Below is a high-level snapshot of the market performance for single-family residences in San Carlos. This data is for the week ending 8-17-2013:

San Carlos Housing Data 8-17-13 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week:
5 10
Average Sold Price
$1,278,857 $1,370,300
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold)
$709 $657
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 108% 100%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 12 14
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 21 20
Inventory of Active Listings:
25 24
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,543,754 $1,541,156
Average DOM of Active Listings: 35 37
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $651 $624
Active-Pending Ratio:
1.2 : 1 1.2 : 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog 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: 8-10-13.

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San Carlos Real Estate Summary.

This past week, I posted an article about how home prices are booming in the Clearfield Park section of San Carlos, and how one home recently broke the $900,000 mark for the first time in this region.  Well, that record was short lived as 1008 Springfield Drive closed this week for $1,022,000 — easily setting a new record for the region.

New listings were slow this week, as one might expect for mid-August.  Things should start to pick up in the next few weeks as the beginning of the Fall market approaches.

Here are the numbers from last week:

By The Numbers.

Below is a high-level snapshot of the market performance for single-family residences in San Carlos. This data is for the week ending 8-10-2013:

San Carlos Housing Data 8-10-13 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week:
10 5
Average Sold Price
$1,370,300 $1,260,000
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold)
$657 $750
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 100% 115%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 14 11
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 20 27
Inventory of Active Listings:
24 27
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,541,156 $1,560,585
Average DOM of Active Listings: 37 36
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $624 $617
Active-Pending Ratio:
1.2 : 1 1.0 : 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog 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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Greater East Side San Carlos Enjoys Huge Boost in Home Prices.

Clearfield Park Map

Movin’ on Up.

Much of the attention and spotlight in this year’s breakout real estate market has been focused on the housing performance in well known San Carlos neighborhoods such as White Oaks and Howard Park.   But one particular neighborhood in San Carlos that is better known for its affordability is quietly having a banner year itself:  The Greater East Side of San Carlos — also known in real estate circles as Clearfield Park.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows San Carlos that this oft-forgotten neighborhood should be reaping the benefits of the booming real estate market.   After all, this cluster of homes that peacefully co-exists with the industrial sector of San Carlos is zoned for the very same San Carlos schools, and is actually closer to downtown than most other neighborhoods in San Carlos.   Still, this sector has always led the City in terms of affordable home prices, even though the turnover rate is almost nonexistent — there have been only 9 homes to sell in this neighborhood since the beginning of the year.

But what a year 2013 is shaping up to be for Clearfield Park.  The nine homes that sold this year fetched an average of 108% of the asking price, or an average of about $52,000 over list.   But what got everyone talking was the home at 1023 Inverness Drive, which recently sold for $917,000 — the first time a single-family residence in Clearfield Park broke the $900,000 mark in any of the recorded sales in the MLS.

Things are definitely looking up on the east side.

By the Numbers.

Here are a few graphs which show just how much things have climbed in this neighborhood.   The first compares the average sales price in Clearfield Park to date this year, versus the past 5 years:

Clearfield Park: Average Home Sales Price

Clearfield Park: Average Home Sales Price

What this graph shows is that the growth rate in pricing compared to last year in this neighborhood (32%) easily surpassed the that of the other 5 San Carlos zones (18%).   This is also the highest average price on record for any year recorded in the MLS.

When the pricing is normalized to the size of the home (aka, Price Per Square Foot), the results are similar as you can see below.  The average price per square foot in Clearfield Park so far this year shot entirely past the $600 range, and now sits at $753.   That’s quite a jump in one year.

Clearfield Park:  Average Price per Square Foot 2013

Clearfield Park: Average Price per Square Foot 2013

Granted, the sample size of this analysis is fairly small statistically speaking, but these graphs are still a good indication that the eastern portion of San Carlos is able to participate in the great housing party of 2013.
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog 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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Thinking of Putting Your San Carlos Home on the Market This Fall?

forsale-sold

Then You Should be Getting it Ready.. NOW.

There are two distinct real estate market during the course of the year in San Carlos.  The Spring market, which everyone is accustomed to, runs from roughly March through June, and is easily the biggest market period of the year for home sales.   For many years, people have just become conditioned to buying and selling real estate during the Spring months.

But there is another very robust, albeit smaller, secondary real estate market that takes place in San Carlos too.   After the summer lull in the market that usually accompanies July and August, the Fall market kicks into full gear and runs right up to the Thanksgiving holiday before it essentially shuts down for the remainder of the year.   The start of the Fall market generally coincides with when the kids go back to school — which used to be after Labor Day weekend.     But now most kids (except for those in the UC System) are back at it by the third week of August.    That means the fall market now starts in the weeks leading up to Labor Day weekend.

And in case you haven’t looked at your calendar recently, that’s only a few weeks away.

Preparation vs Market Timing.

One of the questions that often comes up when someone is thinking about selling is how much they should do to prepare the home for sale.   Should they just do a quick cleanup and refresh, or spend some time and $$ remodeling the bathrooms and kitchen to perhaps garner a higher price?    Taking aside the return-on-investment strategy for the time being, one has to look at what the timing of these improvements mean to your go-to-market strategy.   In other words, if you want to get your home on the market this fall, will you be able to get these improvements done in time?

Generally speaking, the earlier you put your home on the market in the fall, the better you’re going to do.  Buyers who are actively looking in this period have very likely been looking all year, and are anxious to get their home purchase locked up before the holiday season sets in.   Sellers who understand this pent-up anxiety are wise to get their homes on the market in late-August or early September.   Conversely, the closer you get to the holidays to listing your home, the more buyers will be dropping out of the market to focus on the holidays, so you might not get the audience you were hoping for.

So, home sellers have to weigh the schedule impact of their desired improvements — will it push them too far toward the end of the year and miss the fall market?  Will it mean selling the home in 2014 instead of 2013?   Does getting an extra few thousand dollars in return on improvements make it worth a delay of several months?  Only the sellers can answer those questions.

But for those who DO plan to sell their home this fall, they really should be getting it ready to go right now.

Need Help?

Do you need help understanding how to get your house ready for sale?  Trying to understand what you should (or shouldn’t) invest in your home to sell it?   I’m more than happy to help you wade through it.   Just drop me a line.
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog 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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