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Remodeling Boom Hits San Carlos.

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Cash is King Again.

Money is coursing through the veins of Silicon Valley once again, and the only group that’s more happy about this fact than the Ferrari and Tesla dealers are the designers, architects and builders of homes.  Another remodeling boom is in full swing in virtually every city on the Peninsula, and San Carlos is no exception.  And it couldn’t have come soon enough for those professionals in that trade, who were severely impacted by the prolonged recession that we just emerged from.

You probably can’t drive more than a few blocks on any street in San Carlos before you’ll encounter a fenced-in property that is undergoing some sort of significant alteration.   There’s nothing unique about this phenomenon — it happens like clockwork every time the economy takes a sharp upturn like we’re experiencing now.  I’ve lived here long enough to see several of these boom cycles take place, and the city certainly looks different afterwards.

Photo Sep 11, 11 19 43 AM

The Perfect Storm.

Whenever there’s a surge in the economy like we’re seeing now, the key elements that are required to fuel a building boom fall neatly into place.   First, a strong employment market means that homeowners feel more confident in their employment status, and consequently feel less trepidation about taking on a such a significant investment in their home.   Second, a hot job market means that salaries are increasing correspondingly, and when you combine these salary increases with a stock market that has been on an absolute tear over the past 24 months, many homeowners now have the bank accounts that are flush to fund such projects.

And let’s not forget about all of those IPO’s…

The lack of available land for new development makes these market conditions prime for flippers, too.     The constrained housing market has caused prices to rise so much and in such a short amount of time, that flippers are once again making tidy profits on their rehab projects.    And there is no shortage of buyers out there willing to pay top dollar for a move-in condition home in San Carlos, so the market to flip homes is once again vibrant.

Without going through town and asking each and every contractor, it’s difficult to determine what percentage of these rehab projects will remain owner-occupied, and which are going to be flipped as soon as they are done.  But with the absolute lack of “move-up” properties for sale in San Carlos right now, it’s a fair bet to say that many homeowners are resigned to stay put and add-on to their existing home, rather than wait for that elusive 4-5 bedroom home to magically pop up on the market.Photo Feb 11, 12 51 39 PM (1)

The Good and the Bad.

All of this remodeling can be either good or bad, depending on which direction you are approaching it from.   Generally speaking, it’s a good thing when the housing stock in San Carlos gets a refresh.   Many of the homes in this city are anywhere from 50-75 years old, which is a LOT of years to put on a house.   When old homes like these are renovated, it not only obviously increases the value of that particular home, but it also tends to bring up the value of other homes in close proximity.  The nicer the curb appeal of a given block, the higher the value of the neighborhood goes.   That part is obvious.

But with so much demand for “renovation projects” by investors and flippers, it puts even more pressure on entry-level buyers to up the ante to get that first home.    This is especially true in those neighborhoods that have large, flat lots.    Even though a home may be a total fixer, the market today is ultimately driven by the future value of the property, not the present.    In other words, the dirt often becomes the prize, not the house itself.   It’s these types of sales that absolutely shock the market, and defy all of the conventional sales wisdom.

Like it or not, the remodeling boom is back.   And the landscape in San Carlos will like quite different when this one is over.
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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 2-8-14.

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Rain Won’t Put Out the Fire.

The rain that we so desperately needed did not deter house hunters from getting out and seeing homes this past weekend.    The few homes that were open on Saturday and Sunday all seemed to have lots of traffic through them, which shows that buyers truly understand the dynamics of this market.  It’s not going to slow down for the weather.

Before anyone freaks out about the sold data below, it’s important to factor in the sample size of that the data is being pulled.   So even though the average price per square foot jumped to an astronomical $966 this week, and the average home sold for a whopping 18% above the asking price, you have to bear in mind that this data is for only 2 homes.   With such a small sample size, it’s easy for one (or both) sales to skew the numbers, which is clearly what happened this week.    That’s not to say that the market is not strong — but we’re not knocking on $1,000/sq foot as an average in San Carlos.

At least not yet…

Here are the details 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 2-8-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 2-8-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 2 3
Average Sold Price $1,444,000 $1,670,000
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $966 $708
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 118% 97%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 11 95
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 16 12
Inventory of Active Listings: 7 6
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,481,841 $1,170,481
Average DOM of Active Listings: 5 7
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $679 $702
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.44 : 1 0.5 : 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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Another Reason Why There Are No Homes for Sale in San Carlos…

Not for sale

Is Anyone Moving?

When I purchased my home in San Carlos, I was concerned that the house itself was a bit on the small side for the future family that we were planning.   My Realtor at the time told me “Don’t worry, you’ll probably move to a bigger place in 5 years.  Everyone moves on average every 5-7 years”, citing statistics from the National Association of Realtors that have not changed much even to this day.

That was almost 23 years ago, and I’m still at the same San Carlos address.   So much for statistics.

But while my own example certainly bucks the long-standing national average, I got to thinking about my own clients who I have helped buy homes in San Carlos and all along the Peninsula over the past 7 years.   What percentage of them have since moved on from the homes that they purchased?   Certainly it must be significant number, if the national average says that everyone’s gypsy blood starts to boil every 5-7 years.

So I dug into my database, and the results I found were quite surprising.

Staying Put.

What was the percentage of my home buyers over the past 7 years that are still in the same home?  96%.  For homes my clients purchased in San Carlos, that number is 100% – not one has moved since they purchased.    That number simply blew me away.   Do I just attract home-bodies, or is that same phenomenon happening with other agents?    One top-producing agent who has been in the business for 10 years told me he had done the same data analysis recently and 90% of his clients had not moved again during that period.   Another agent in Menlo Park tallied her number at over 80% during a 20-year period.

This seems to suggest that most homeowners on the Peninsula are generally staying put once they find a home to buy, and that’s not good news for home buyers in an area where there is virtually no room for new construction.

So why is the number so high in San Carlos and along the Peninsula?   I have a few theories about that.

  1. The 15-Year Home.   Many home buyers tend to hone in on San Carlos and other Peninsula cities because of their excellent schools.   The size and characteristic of the home often takes a back seat to the location of the home and the proximity to the schools.   Whatever shortcomings there may be in the house (size and condition) can be rectified over time.    These buyers tend to think in 15-year increments — or, roughly enough time to get them through the infant years and a K-12 education.
  2. Upward Non-Mobility.   In a perfect world, a good percentage of these “15-year” buyers would simply prefer to move to a bigger home in San Carlos, as opposed to dealing with the hassle of remodeling their existing home to suit their growing family.   This transitional home-buying in itself would create many more new listings in San Carlos, right?  But as we have discussed numerous times on the site, the vast majority of move-up buyers in San Carlos are at a distinct disadvantage in this ultra-competitive market, because they usually have to sell their existing home to obtain the funds to purchase their move-up home.   Sellers simply won’t consider a lengthy conditional offer when they’re staring at a stack of non-contingent offers.   The net result is that many homeowners in San Carlos are going to stay at the same address, whether it’s their preference or not.
  3. In versus Out.   The livelihood of the Peninsula is heavily dependent on the technology sector.  When the tech market hits an upward swing (like it’s in now), tech companies tend to relocate key employees into the area, not out of it, simply because they’re headquartered here and the Bay Area has always been the R&D epicenter for tech.   The lack of employees relocating out of the area creates another void of potential new listings.
  4. Working Longer.   The days of a person getting a pension at 55 and riding off into the sunset are long over.  People are living longer, and many simply have to keep working.   The train of retirees leaving town simply isn’t happening.

It almost reminds me of that verse in the Eagle’s hit Hotel California “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.”

But until one (or more) of these trends is reversed, you can expect to continue to see uncharacteristically low levels of inventory in San Carlos and surrounding communities for the foreseeable future.
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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: 2-1-14.

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The Super Bowl of Real Estate.

To the relief of home buyers everywhere, the Super Bowl has finally come and gone.  Why?  Because history has taught us that many home sellers will wait until after the Super Bowl to list their home for sale.  This statistic is especially noticeable when a local team is participating in this grand event.  Nobody wants to host a Super Bowl Party in a home that’s listed for sale, right?    Because of this phenomenon, it’s widely accepted that the end of the pro football season marks the kickoff of the Spring real estate season (pun intended).   And buyers everywhere are hoping that this year is no exception to that rule.

For home sales that closed escrow this week, the sales price/list price ratio dropped below 100% for the first time in months.   But don’t let that fool you into thinking that home prices are suddenly leveling off just yet — this week’s data was skewed by one large sale.   Quite to the contrary, multiple offers and aggressive bidding are still the norm in San Carlos, and in surrounding communities.  Most of the 6 homes below that are in the pending sales list garnered multiple offers — one got 10 offers after the first week  on the market — and sold significantly higher than the asking price.    I was involved in a multiple-offer frenzy on a home in Belmont this week that attracted 15 offers.   So don’t let this week’s data lead you to believe that the fire is out under this market.

Here are the details 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 2-1-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 2-1-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 3 4
Average Sold Price $1,670,000 $1,377,500
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $708 $731
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 97% 103%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 95 9
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 12 9
Inventory of Active Listings: 6 8
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,170,481 $1,278,972
Average DOM of Active Listings: 7 27
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $702 $633
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.5 : 1 089 : 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 1-25-14.

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Homes for Sale?

Not much changed this past week as far as the inventory level of homes for sale in San Carlos.  As I predicted last week, the rate that homes are coming on the market is being matched by the rate at which they are going into contract.  Consequently, the inventory is staying flat and stuck in the single digits.  This means that open houses were very busy over the weekend.   If you were out and about in either San Carlos or Belmont, then you know exactly how difficult it was to even find a parking spot to see what few houses were open.

Next weekend marks the end of the professional football season with Super Bowl Sunday, and the “traditional” start of the Spring real estate season.   Believe it or not, many sellers opt to wait until after the Super Bowl to list their homes for sale, especially if a particular team happens to be playing.  (And no, I’m not talking about the Raiders.)   Here’s to hoping that this year will be very traditional in that respect.

Here are the details 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 1-25-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 1-25-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 4 1
Average Sold Price $1,377,500 $1,300,000
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $731 $695
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 103% 100%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 9 21
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 9 10
Inventory of Active Listings: 8 7
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,278,972 $1,379,120
Average DOM of Active Listings: 27 30
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $633 $670
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.89 : 1 0.7 : 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: 1-18-14.

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Homes for Sale?

You know the housing market is pretty sparse when the inventory in a single community doubles within a single week — yet the number of homes for sale is still in the single-digits.   But that is the reality of the San Carlos real estate market right now, and without a significant surge in inventory that number is going to stay low for a while.

Most, if not all,  of the four homes that made their debut this past week (see below) will be gone in the first 7-10 days on the market.  They are priced well, and if the flood of people at the open houses this weekend was any indication, they should have no problem garnering multiple offers.    It will be interesting to see how much this imbalance and pent-up demand will drive the prices skyward on the homes that do go into contract this week.

Here are the details 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 1-18-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 1-18-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 1 6
Average Sold Price $1,300,000 $1,641,833
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $695 $784
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 100% 102%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 21 19
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 10 11
Inventory of Active Listings: 7 3
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,379,120 $1,349,333
Average DOM of Active Listings: 30 60
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $670 $560
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.7 : 1 0.27 : 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: 1-11-14.

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Desperately Seeking Inventory.

The first full week of the new year didn’t bring buyers what they have been desperately looking for – new inventory.  As of this morning, there are only 3 single-family homes for sale in the entire city of San Carlos, which is the lowest level that we’ve started off a new year in recent history.

As we discussed last week in Part III of our seller’s series, the ideal time to sell your home is when you have the combination of maximum demand and the least amount of inventory — which perfectly describes the market conditions in San Carlos right now.   But these prime selling conditions won’t last forever.  There’s no doubt that more listings will be coming up.  It’s just a matter of who is going to get their home on the market first and take advantage of these conditions.

Here are the details 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 1-11-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 1-11-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 6 3
Average Sold Price $1,641,833 $1,575,333
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $784 $809
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 102% 115%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 19 7
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 11 14
Inventory of Active Listings: 3 5
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,349,333 $1,264,568
Average DOM of Active Listings: 60 64
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $560 $595
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.27 : 1 0.38 : 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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3 “Don’t Do’s” if You’re Selling Your San Carlos Home in 2014 – Part III

Now

Part 3 of 3.

Are you selling your San Carlos home in 2014?   If so, congratulations!  You’re going to reap the benefit of two consecutive years of unprecedented home price growth here in the Bay Area.   As we discussed last week in the 2013 Year in Review, home prices have appreciated over 30% on average in San Carlos since 2011, and the economic conditions are still in place for another solid year in the real estate market in 2014.   Interest rates are still low, and there are still far more buyers than there are available homes for sale.

But just because this market still strongly favors sellers, it’s still critically important to adhere to the basic best practices of selling your home.  In this three-part series on the White Oaks Blog, we’ll highlight several common mistakes that sellers should avoid in this frenzied market.   Earlier this week, we discussed not massively under-pricing your home just to attract a boatload of offers

Here’s “don’t do” #3:

#3:  Don’t Wait too Long.

If you were to ask someone when the best time of the year to sell a house is, you’d probably get the answer “In the Spring” about 99% of the time.  Conventional wisdom has pre-programmed us to believe that Spring is best time of the year to put a home on the market, and consequently, more homes are listed and sold during the Spring than during any other time during the year.

But does this truly make Spring the best of the year to sell a home?  Not necessarily.   The best time to sell anything is when you have a combination of a) the greatest number of buyers and b) the least amount of competition.  So while it’s probably true that you’ll have the greatest number of buyers during the heart of the Spring real estate market, you’ll also have the greatest amount of competition — and this year should shape up no differently than any other year.

So when will you find a time when there’s peak interest in your home, and virtually no competition?   Ummm, how about right now?

Yes, surprising as it may seem, right now is probably the best time to put your home on the market this entire year.   Why?  Because you have the best combination of those two factors that we talked about — there are only 4 single family homes for sale in the entire City of San Carlos right now, and even though it’s still early in the year, buyers are out there in droves.   The holidays are over, and most kids are back in school.  So there are no distractions (vacations, holidays) that are keeping buyers away.

So following conventional wisdom and waiting until everyone else lists their home later in the Spring is Mistake #3 that you should avoid if you’re selling your home this year.   I believe there will be a significant wave of inventory hitting the market this Spring as other sellers who have been sitting on the fence look to finally cash out on peaking home prices.  Waiting to list your home until then that just means you’re jumping into the market when everyone else is.

But those who decide to do things a little differently and list their home early this year should be rewarded handsomely.
_____________________________________________________________________________

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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