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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 4-19-14.

The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review is the only comprehensive weekly summary of the San Carlos real estate market, and it’s published every Monday on the White Oaks Blog.

Chuck’s Sales

If you hope to succeed in this ultra-competitive real estate market, it’s absolutely imperative that you enlist the help of an experienced Realtor who thoroughly understands the intricacies of the local real estate market.   The stakes are simply too high to entrust the single biggest decision of your life to …

Overbidding Hits a Fever Pitch in San Carlos

Home buyers in San Carlos are bidding more aggressively than ever on homes. The month of February 2014 set an all time record for the percentage above the list price for home sales in San Carlos.

Map of San Carlos Regions

The Realtor Zones. When it comes to residential real estate, the City of San Carlos is divided up into 6 different real estate “zones”: Alder Manor (Area 350), Beverly Terrace (351), El Sereno Corte (352), Howard Park (353), Clearfield Park (354), and Cordes (355). When a home is for sale …

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San Carlos 2013 Real Estate: Mid-Year Check-In.

Special Report

Much of the Same.

If you read the First Quarter 2013 Report for San Carlos on this site, then you’ll recall that we graphically demonstrated how single family home prices were on a steep rise — while the number of homes for sale and the time it took for homes to sell were definitely going the other direction.   Well if you read nothing else in this post, that’s exactly the theme that has carried forward for the first half of 2013 in San Carlos.  Red-hot demand coupled with limited inventory has pushed home prices in San Carlos into uncharted waters.

But there are a few things about this local market that may surprise you…

Prices Going Up.

The fact that home prices are on the rise in San Carlos shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone by now.  If you follow the Week in Review posts on this site on a regular basis, then you’ve probably become numb to the eye-popping prices that homes have been fetching in San Carlos this year.   3-bedroom homes for $1.4M…. homes fetching $300,000 over the asking price….it’s almost shocking if a home doesn’t get multiple offers or doesn’t blow away it’s list price anymore.

So how far have prices risen?   Let’s take a look at the following charts:

San Carlos: 1H-2013 Average Sales Price

San Carlos: 1H-2013 Average Sales Price

Through the first half of 2013, the average home price in San Carlos jumped 15% over the same metric for all of 2012, and a whopping 32% when compared to 2011.   A 32% gain in less than two years!   That’s simply mind-boggling.   The story is very similar when you look at the median sales prices below: >>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 7-13-13.

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San Carlos Real Estate Summary.

The San Carlos real estate market just keeps trucking through these normally quiet summer months.   With the 4th of July week behind us, buyers were back in big numbers as they picked off 6 of the active listings.  This kept the inventory level below 20 homes for sale, where it has been for most of this year.  Interest rates continue to be the primary topic with buyers, sellers, and agents — but for now it doesn’t seem to have a tremendous damper on the market.  Open houses in Belmont and San Carlos seemed to be very well attended yesterday, which is a testament as to how many buyers are still out looking for that perfect home.

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 7-13-2013:

San Carlos Housing Data 7-13-13 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week:
9 4
Average Sold Price
$1,216,667 $1,305,000
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold)
$729 $772
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 110% 109%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 10 7
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 34 38
Inventory of Active Listings:
18 16
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,433,161 $1,449,087
Average DOM of Active Listings: 35 36
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $605 $599
Active-Pending Ratio:
0.53 : 1 0.42 : 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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Rising Home Prices Catch the Attention of the Tax Assessor.

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Upside.

The rapid rise in home prices in San Carlos has been a blessing for homeowners, especially those who have decided to sell their home this year.  As has been well documented on this site, sellers are having an absolute banner year in 2013 as they’ve taken advantage of sparse inventory and insatiable demand for homes in San Carlos.   But even for those who are staying put and not selling, the recent surge in home values has been a blessing as well.

For some homeowners, the rise in home value means that they now have enough equity in their home to refinance their mortgage to take advantage of these unprecedented low interest rates.  This is especially important for those homeowners who had less than 20% equity in their property, and were paying costly private mortgage insurance (PMI) as part of their loan payment.   The sudden surge in equity unshackles them from costly monthly PMI payments — this alone puts several hundred dollars back in their pocket every month.

Higher home values even helps those who plan to remodel their home in the near future, since many of those projects will be funded by home equity lines of credit.  And the higher the equity, the more money homeowners can borrow.

But like with everything else in life, nothing comes for free.    And this case is no different.

Letters in the Mail.

If you think that home buyers and seller are the only ones paying attention to the escalating home prices, think again.  As quite a few San Carlos homeowners have found out the past couple of weeks, the San Mateo County Tax Assessor is also paying very close attention to escalating home prices in San Carlos and elsewhere in San Mateo County, and they want in on the action.  A number of residents informed me that they have received notice from the Assessor has significantly increased the assessed value of their home, and of course, their property taxes will be increased accordingly.    One resident informed me that their assessed value was increased by 24% in just one year.

This action shouldn’t be a total surprise to anyone.  It was only a few years ago that the Assessor’s office proactively lowered the assessed value of over 40,000 in homes in San Mateo County after the credit crash and recession that began 2008.   They made it very clear then that they would reserve the right to reset values back up to pre-recession levels when the market deemed it was time.  It looks like now is indeed that time for some homeowners.

What You Can Do.

Just as it was after the crash, if you feel that the assessed value of your home is too high, you can contest the figure that the County has assigned to your home by simply going to their website and completing a Decline in Value Request Form.   If you’re going to claim that your home is worth less than the County has assigned, you’d better do your homework and have valid comparable sales in hand.  Remember, they have access to the same data that you do, so it’s really all about how well prepared you are with your comps.

Your Realtor should be able to provide you with those comparable sales, or you can just shoot me an email and I’d be happy to do it for you, as I have already done for numerous homeowners.
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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: 7-6-13.

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San Carlos Real Estate Summary.

As expected, it was a quiet week in the world of San Carlos real estate, at least when you compare it to the frenzy we’ve witnessed in the recent weeks.  The shortened week meant fewer listings and closed sales, but it did not keep those buyers who stayed in town from rolling up their sleeves and competing for some of the recent listings.  Six different homes went pending during the week, with several of them garnering multiple offers — and once again, they also fetched some eye-popping prices (which you’ll see on this site as soon as they close.)

Now that one of the bigger summer vacation weeks is over, look for things to return to their normally hectic pace.   Inventory has once again dropped to the mid-teens, so there’s not much for buyers to choose from until more listings become available.  This imbalance should keep the market on its toes throughout the entire summer.

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 7-6-2013:

San Carlos Housing Data 7-6-13 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week:
4 5
Average Sold Price
$1,305,000 $1,216,600
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold)
$772 $701
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 109% 115%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 7 16
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 38 36
Inventory of Active Listings:
16 20
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,449,087 $1,442,892
Average DOM of Active Listings: 36 27
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $599 $618
Active-Pending Ratio:
0.42 : 1 0.55 : 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
_____________________________________________________________________________

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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Artificial Turf Appears to be Off the Table at Crestview Park.

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Turf Wars, Part II

On the heels of the decade-long battle to renovate the Highlands Park playing surface with artificial turf, there has been another face-off brewing between the pro and anti-turf camps in San Carlos on how another popular park should be renovated:  Crestview Park.     The City of San Carlos had originally proposed replacing the aging pitch at Crestview Park with an artificial surface similar to the one that’s now in place at Highlands Park.   Because of park’s limitations in size and shape, it would only be lined for soccer use (similar to how it’s being utilized today).

Much as it did with the Highlands Park decision, the City of San Carlos took a close look at the long-term cost tradeoffs between turf and natural grass.  The installation cost for turf is much higher than grass, but that cost is recouped over time because turf requires very little maintenance.  Grass fields are cheaper and easier to install, but require the normal constant maintenance — watering, fertilizing, mowing — that any lawn would.    The City is also took into account the increased playability of artificial turf, which would allow more games to be played than on a natural surface, which needs to be closed periodically for rehabilitation.

Organized Opposition.

And just like with the Highlands Park conversion, there was a very well organized and vocal opposition to the proposal to replace the grass at Crestview Park with turf.  Save San Carlos Parks is a grass roots community group that is strongly opposed to artificial turf at Crestview.    They successfully raised the attention of the issue to community members, emailed City Council members, and attended the various Park and Rec meetings to voice their opposition.    Their presence was far greater and more organized than any pro-turf contingency at these meetings.

Even many in the local soccer community, who stand to gain the most by gaining more field hours, are in favor of keeping the surface natural at Crestview.  They point to the recent joint venture between the City of San Carlos and San Carlos AYSO where the pitch at Heather School was redone with natural grass as a model of how it can be done.

Park and Rec Recommendation.

In this coming Monday night’s City Council meeting (July 8th), the Council will be presented with the Park and Rec’s recommendation to remove artificial turf as an option for Crestview Park, which has to be viewed as a huge victory for the Save San Carlos Parks contingency.  But in the spirit of leaving nothing to chance, the group is still recommending on their website that supporters attend the Monday meeting and drive the point home with the City Council during the public commentary section of the meeting.

Here’s the recommendation in its entirety, from the public agenda:  Crestview Park.
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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 6-29-13.

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San Carlos Real Estate Summary.

The upcoming week should be relatively quiet, with the 4th of July falling on a Thursday this year.  Many will take advantage of this to stretch the 4-day weekend into a full week and head out of town.  But even that will probably not have an adverse affect on the unstoppable real estate machine here in San Carlos.  Several homes will be taking offers later this week, and those buyers that choose to remain in town will still have a number of new listings to see.  It will be business as usual for many!

Wherever this week takes you, have a happy and safe 4th of July holiday!

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 6-29-2013:

San Carlos Housing Data 6-29-13 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week:
5 12
Average Sold Price
$1,216,600 $1,218,445
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold)
$701 $675
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 115% 114%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 16 13
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 36 33
Inventory of Active Listings:
20 18
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,442,892 $1,503,667
Average DOM of Active Listings: 27 29
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $618 $602
Active-Pending Ratio:
0.55 : 1 0.55 : 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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San Carlos Home Mortgage Rates are Creeping Upward.

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On the Rise.

What was easily the most talked about topic this past week in real estate circles was the home mortgage interest rates — specifically, the fact that they’re on the rise.   We’re not talking about a little temporary blip of 1/8 or 1/4 of a point.   This latest rise has been a steady climb of the base rates over the past two weeks.   A spot check of the 30-year fixed jumbo loan (loan values from $625,500 – $2,000,000) shows an average jump of nearly 0.5 point.   This is a very relevant datapoint since this loan is rapidly becoming the one of choice in a market of $1M+ homes.

That increase not sound like much, but when you consider that rates were recently in the high 3% range, that represents an increase of about 13% in just two weeks.   And it was such noticeable uptick that it prompted an article in the San Jose Mercury News, which is well worth reading.

All About the Bonds.

What got us our rock-bottom low interest rates in the first place is the very reason that they’re on the rise right now:  Bonds.  Back when the market plummeted in 2008 (gee, that wasn’t so long ago!!), the Federal Reserve embarked upon an aggressive bond buying spree in an effort to stabilize the bond market and keep long-term interest rates low.  This policy has been in place since the crash, but it was never intended to be a permanent action by the Fed.   There was never a question of if the Fed was going to extract itself from the bond buy-back market, only when.

Those who watch this market far more closely that I do are speculating that indeed that time may be upon us in the coming months.   Recent comments that have been swirling around the Federal Reserve seem to indicate that national economy may finally be at the point where it makes sense to “loosen the training wheels”, if you will, and let the economy stand more on its own.   If the Federal Reserves takes an official stance that it will reduce it’s buy-back rate, then bond rates will almost certainly rise — and will take home mortgage rates along with it.

Effect on the Local Market?

What effect will an increase in interest rates have on the San Carlos real estate market?  There’s no easy answer to that question, because everyone will be impacted differently.   As a general rule of thumb, as rates increase, buying power decreases.   But the degree of this effect is highly dependent on how much money is being borrowed.  The buying power for someone who is leveraging as much of the bank’s money as possible is going to be impacted far more significantly than a buyer who has a 50% down payment.   For a buyer who is borrowing 75% on a $2,000,000 purchase, the recent 0.5 point increase alone knocked out about $200,000 of their buying power.  That’s pretty significant.

But as we’ve seen so far this year, buyers in the San Carlos market have brought unprecedented amounts of cash to the table for their home purchases, so it’s hard to speculate how much of a damper this will be for those buyers.

The other factor to consider is demand.  No matter what happens, there are still far more home buyers than there are available homes to buy.  Even if an uptick in rates serves to shake the fringe buyers back into renting, we will still be in a seller’s market until that balance is achieved.   Even as late as last week, there was no indication that multiple offers are going away any time soon.

If there is a positive effect to the rate increase, it will be a stabilizing effect in home prices.  That is obviously not what home sellers want to hear, but in the broad scope of the health of the economy it’s probably just what the doctor ordered.   San Carlos home prices have been on an absolute tear since mid-2012, which has prompted many to bring back the “B” word when discussing the housing market — Bubble.  Home owners have seen their home values appreciate as much as 30% or more during that short time, so there should be no tears shed if the values start to level off a bit.   And it’s in everyone’s best interest to avoid a bubble market — it was only 6 short years ago when the last bubble left many homeowners without a chair to sit on when the music suddenly stopped.

September 1: A Big Day.

The next scheduled Federal Reserve meeting is scheduled for around September 1.  In that meeting, many anticipate the Fed will discuss and ultimately take an official position on their bond buy-back strategy.   Much of the uptick in rates that we’re seeing lately is actually in anticipation of the decisions that will be made in this meeting.  And the recent actions tell me that institutions are hedging that Fed will definitely start to slowly wean itself from the home mortgage business.

Stay tuned..
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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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Summertime Blues for the Housing Market in San Carlos?

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Siesta Time?

School’s out, and we’re now finishing our first “official” full week of summer.  That means that vacations are starting, kids are in camp, or they’re simply home 24/7 driving you crazy.  Whatever the distraction may be,  we are heading into a period of the year where the real estate market normally begins to lose some steam from the annual Spring push.  The focus tends to steer away from home buying and selling and consequenty, July and August are two of the slower months for new listings and pending sales in all of the local communities in the Bay Area.

Once Labor Day weekend rolls around,  the vacations are over,  the kids are back in school, and buyers once again get focused on finding a home in the few short months before the holidays set in.  This results in an uptick in the market between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

Here’s a chart of the San Carlos real estate market from just last year which demonstrates exactly what I’m talking about:

San Carlos: 2012 New Listings and Pending Sales.

San Carlos: 2012 New Listings and Pending Sales.

 

Regardless of the historical year that you pick, the basic shape of this chart looks about the same.  The peaks and valleys may be a bit more dramatic, but one trend holds true just about every year:  The real estate market in San Carlos generally takes a snooze in July and August.

Here’s why it’s probably not going to happen this year:

Not This Year.

The very same elements that have made 2013 a watershed year in real estate will keep the market humming through the summer months, but with a slight twist.  Here they are again:

  1. High Demand.  Even as late as last week, homes were still fetching multiple offers and selling in the first week — regardless of the price range.   Whether it’s a fixer-upper like 131 Alberta Avenue at $879,000 or a $2,098,000 beautifully renovated home at 108 Wildwood Avenue,  most homes in San Carlos are still being hotly contested, which signifies that we have yet to quench the buyer’s demand for housing in San Carlos.
  2. Low Inventory.   Despite the recent surges in new listings in San Carlos, today we’re sitting on 19 active listings in the entire city.  We’re normally carrying 2.5 times that amount as we enter the summer months.   The inventory has only breached the 30-mark once this year, and that was only for a couple of days.   By far the biggest factor that could keep the market in the doldrums this summer is if sellers opt to wait for the fall to list their homes.
  3. Interest Rates.   Low interest rates were the fuel of the upswing in the market over the past 12 months.   Despite the boom in employment and wealth in the Bay Area, rates have remained at astonishingly low levels throughout this entire year.  But here’s the twist — buyers and sellers who have been warily watching the mortgage market over the past few weeks have seen a succession of increases in home mortgage rates, signifying that the end of nearly-free money may be coming.   And that has ratcheted up the urgency with buyers looking to lock in and close their deal at the lowest possible rates before things head north.

Time to List?

In a normal year, a home seller would normally follow the sage advice of their agent and hold off on listing their home in July or August, and wait to catch the upswing in the market that always ensues after Labor Day weekend.  But this year the real estate market in San Carlos is completely oblivious to the calendar, and sellers who put their sign in the ground over the summer months should still be handsomely rewarded.

If all three elements outlined above remain in place, the real estate market in San Carlos will literally plow right through the summer months.
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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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Chuck Gillooley
Realtor, San Carlos Resident

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