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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 9-13-14.

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

Focus = Results. If you hope to succeed in this ultra-competitive real estate market, it’s imperative that you enlist the help of an experienced Realtor who is laser-focused on the local real estate market, and who thoroughly understands the micro-economic nuances of each neighborhood.   The stakes are simply too high …

Coming This Weekend: 1700 Greenwood Avenue, San Carlos

Location, Location, Location… So you’re one of the many San Carlos home buyers that wants a charming home in the flats, right?   One with a great yard that’s perfect for entertaining?  And of course, you want it to be centrally located and close to everything that’s important to you… …

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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Open Forum: Remodeling Headaches in San Carlos?

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Remodeling Boom.

One of the byproducts of a booming stock market and a strong local economy is that San Carlos homeowners now have the confidence and the financial resources to start investing in their properties again.   And they are doing it in droves.   Whether it’s a new kitchen project that was delayed by the recession, or a completely new dream home being crafted from the ground up, we are in the midst of a remodeling boom that we have not seen in nearly a decade.  You almost can’t find a street in San Carlos where there isn’t some evidence of a remodeling project that’s underway — and just as many, or more,  are in the pipeline.

This is obviously great news for architects and contractors, who usually take it on the chin quite hard during down economic cycles, since home improvement projects are the first things that get shelved when money gets tight.   And it’s good for the overall real estate market that the housing stock is being updated and improved in San Carlos.  Many of the homes that you see in San Carlos were originally built in the 1940′s and 50′s, and many are sorely in need of updating.

In those respects, the remodeling boom is all good.

Permit Overload?

Tackling any significant home improvement project is a time-consuming venture — especially when you play by the rules and get the required permits and approvals.  I’ve been through the process already on a major remodel, so I know firsthand how much review needs to be done by the planning and building departments in the city before you get the stamp of approval to proceed.   And the building code and review process has likely gotten even more stringent in the past 14 years since we finished our project.   Like it or not, it’s a necessary step in the process that helps ensure that everything is done properly.

When it’s already a complicated and time consuming process to begin with, and then the workload suddenly increases almost exponentially,  it’s not a stretch to see a logjam coming in the approval process — especially with a City staff that has been decimated over the past decade by endless rounds of reorganizations and budget cuts.    To accommodate the crushing workload, the City has been forced to outsource much of the permit review and approval that it used to handle internally.

Taking into account that it’s not expected to be an easy or quick process, I’ve still heard an inordinate amount of complaints from exasperated homeowners over the past few weeks about getting their projects through City Hall.   Whether it’s simply turnaround time to get everything approved, or the seemingly unreasonable corrections and demands that are being placed on their projects (or both),  there seems to be a certain level of discontent right now in the City of Good Living.

Is this perception founded, or unfounded?

Open Forum:  Share Your Experience.

This post is not intended to throw any one person or department under the proverbial bus.   It’s simply a forum to share your experience on your remodel project — both positive and negative — so that others who are in the pipeline behind you can benefit from your experience and advice.

So, short of having an open microphone to voice your opinion, use the comment section below to share your experience with others.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to comment!
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Green Grass and High Prices in San Carlos.

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The “Other” X-Factor.

The fact that homes are selling for stratospheric amounts in San Carlos should no longer be a shock to anyone who watches the local real estate market.  We are in the midst of one of the most dramatic run-ups in home prices in recent history, so after nearly 6 months of constantly shattering price records, we’ve almost become desensitized to the lofty premiums that homes have been fetching this year.   One week’s insane becomes the next week’s mundane.

In a market where there is an abundance of well-heeled buyers, there are certain homes that one would naturally expect to see the price driven up to uncharted territory.  The homes at 124 Normandy Court ($2.85M), 2235 Carmelita Drive ($2.272M),  437 Hillcrest Road ($2.5M), and 156 Normandy Court ($2.15M) — just to name a few — all had one or more of the “X-Factors” that you would expect buyers to break the bank over.  All of these homes were either brand new construction, recently remodeled, were in a top-10 location, or had one-in-a-million views (or some combination of these.)  In this market, it was kind of expected that buyers would go crazy over these homes.

But there have been many other homes that have sold in San Carlos this year that have fetched equally dramatic prices and premiums over the asking price where there was no immediately obvious X-Factor like the ones above.   You’ve undoubtedly seen a few of these this year where the sales price has left you scratching your head.

So I pulled the data on all homes that have sold in San Carlos so far in 2014, and then ranked them by the highest premium that was paid over the asking price (the absolute dollar amount, not the percentage).   What I found was quite surprising — the homes below occupied nearly 50% of the top 20 slots on this list (click on any of the addresses for the full description and pics.)

Address Sold Price Orig. List
Difference Lot Size (sq ft)
917 Rosewood Avenue $1,728,000 $1,179,000 +$540,000 6,000
209 Rockridge Road $1,825,000 $1,370,000 +$455,000
10,780
1415 Elm Street $1,610,000 $1,175,000 +$435,000
6,375
2089 Eaton Avenue $1,855,000 $1,449,000 +$406,000 12,495
1005 Rosewood Avenue $1,537,000 $1,199,000 +$338,000
6,000
41 Walton Street $1,631,000 $1,298,000 +$333,000
6,700
878 Knoll Drive $1,800,000 $1,549,000 +$251,000 9,720
1924 Belle Avenue $1,630,000 $1,399,000 +$231,000 9,035

If you are familiar with any of these homes, you’ll know that they were not brimming with the structural attributes that helped push the 4 homes at the top of the list to their lofty heights.   Most of the homes in this list were in very original condition;  some had very challenging layouts; one was only a 2BR home.

So how is it that these homes made the list of the highest sought after (and paid) homes in San Carlos?   Just look at the right column.    They have the one X-Factor that many buyers today in San Carlos have put at the top of their list, forsaking all other attributes – usable land.

The New San Carlos Buyer.

I get asked quite often what the profile of the typical buyer is in San Carlos is today.   At the risk of generalizing, the vast majority of buyers who are zeroing in on San Carlos today are young professionals that either have young children, have a child on the way, or they’re practicing for that eventuality.   This is no surprise — these young families yield tremendous buying power, and the schools, the downtown, the mid-peninsula location, and community feel of San Carlos make it a perfect match for what they are looking for.

What’s evident about this group of buyers is that they’ve placed the size, location, and usability of the lot far ahead of any of the attributes of home itself.  How else can you explain that fixer-uppers in White Oaks and Howard Park are fetching nearly $1,000/sq foot?  Or that these buyers are passing on stunningly remodeled homes that they can afford?  It’s the land.   Buyers want a flat, usable back yard where the kids can play, and that they can entertain friends.   The structure itself almost becomes an afterthought.

But this is a logical thought process.   You can always make more house, but you can’t make more land (unless, of course, you’re the CEO of Facebook and you can simply buy out your neighbors.)    That was actually my thought process when I bought my San Carlos home nearly 23 years ago.  I was WAY more focused on the lot characteristics than I was the actual house, and we ended up holding out for a  small house that was situated on an 8,800 square foot flat lot, knowing that we could change house down the road.   And now that the rules have been somewhat relaxed on lot coverage in San Carlos, you don’t need an abnormally large yard to build a nice 4BR home — and still have plenty of land left for the back yard.

Land is Gold.

The bottom line is that if you’ve got a large, flat piece of property in the flats of San Carlos, you’re probably sitting on more value than you think you are.   Many of today’s buyers in San Carlos are simply strong enough to pay a premium for the neighborhood that they want — regardless of the condition of the house — and still have enough left over to build their dream 15-year home.
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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 5-31-14.

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Last week was another one of those weeks that should have given a shot of encouragement to prospective home buyers in San Carlos.  Even though 7 homes went into contract during what was a very busy period, there was actually a greater number of homes that listed during the same time, and that pushed the inventory of homes for sale in San Carlos back up to 22.   That’s still less than half of what one would expect in San Carlos for this point in the Spring selling season, but it’s a welcome relief from the single digit inventory we’ve been forced to endure for much of the year.

What’s also interesting to note is the that the average number of offers that most listings are getting is seeming to drop as we get more inventory.  This is a statistic that is very hard to track, because it’s at the discretion of the listing agent to disclose (or not) this information, and it also strongly depends on the price point of the home.  But from my informal poll of recent San Carlos listings, we’re starting to see more and more homes that are only getting a handful of offers — sometimes only one offer.   I’ve heard quite a few accounts where homes only received two offers.  That’s quite a change from only a few months ago, but it’s a telltale indication that the market is starting to level off just a little bit.

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 5-31-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 5-31-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 2 6
Average Sold Price: $1,177,500 $1,431,667
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $1,011 $761
Average Percentage Over List Price: 98% 109%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 9 11
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 28 23
No. of Active Listings: 22 19
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,496,814 $1,554,615
Average DOM of Active Listings: 16 18
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $702 $717
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.79 : 1 0.83 : 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 Announces Concert in the Park 2014 Schedule.

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Free Friday Fun.

If you’ve been a resident of San Carlos for a while, then you’re probably already a veteran of the long-standing summertime tradition of the free concerts in that are held in Burton Park on Friday evenings.    But if you’re new to this town, this is an event that you’ll want to make part of your San Carlos summer schedule.

Starting on July 11 and running every Friday evening for 6 straight weeks, there will be a different band playing a free concert in the playground area of Burton Park.   This is a great opportunity to hang out and see some of your old San Carlos friends, and also to make new ones.   Bring a blanket, some wine, and your dinner spread (no barbecue, though) and enjoy the wide variety of live music.   But get there early, because it’s usually pretty packed by the time the music starts.

The event is organized every year by the San Carlos Park and Rec Department, and is always free because of the generous sponsorship of local businesses.

Here is the lineup for the 2014 Concert in the Park Series:

Date Band Artist  Music  Sponsor 
July 11th Journey Revisited Journey Tribute Band Recology San Mateo County
Parks and Recreation Foundation of San Carlos
July 18th 7th Street Jazz Band Big Band San Carlos Elms
July 25th Tom Rigney & Flambeau Cajun & Zydeco Palo Alto Medical Foundation
August 1st E-Ticket Oldies Rock n’Roll BOWWOW Meow
Today Sotheby’s International Realty
August 8th Houserockers Rock & Soul Provident Credit Union
August 15th Chris Gardner Band Country Crippen & Flynn Funeral Chapels

 

This summer’s series also marks the first year that concerts will be played on the cool new permanent bandstand that was built as part of the major overhaul that was just completed on Burton Park’s play area:

 

Photo May 30, 10 14 59 AM

 

So mark your calendars, and come hang out with your San Carlos friends this summer.  Good times!
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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: 5-24-14.

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Memorial Day Weekend traditionally marks the “winding down” point of the spring real estate season.  In a normal market, one would expect the market to take a little bit of a break between Memorial Day and mid-August.    But when you consider that Memorial Day fell a little early this year, and the fact that the market that we’re in is anything but normal, it’s anybody’s guess if or when this red-hot real estate market will indeed take a break.

Homeowners who are ready to put their homes on the market in the coming weeks are faced with an interesting quandary;  whether to put their home on the market now, contrary to conventional “seasonal” wisdom, and bank on the fact that this market will continue to stay hot throughout the summer months — or, wait until mid-August when many of the home buyers get back from vacation and return to the hunt.

My belief is the former.  What will be happening a few months down the road is anybody’s guess.  Right now, the market conditions have not changed much — high demand for housing, low interest rates, and low inventory.   For once, the downside risk of putting your home on the market in June or July will be minimized or even eliminated by the current market conditions in San Carlos.

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 5-24-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 5-24-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 6 5
Average Sold Price: $1,431,667 $1,591,400
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $761 $902
Average Percentage Over List Price: 109% 110%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 11 11
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 23 20
No. of Active Listings: 19 23
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,554,615 $1,562,117
Average DOM of Active Listings: 18 13
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $717 $714
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.83 : 1 1.15 : 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: 5-17-14.

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The rush for sellers to get their homes on the market continued again last week in San Carlos, with 10 new listings making their market debut.  This has to be an encouraging sign to home buyers, as for the second consecutive week are sitting with inventory levels in excess of 20 homes, and good choices in all of the price ranges.

Based on informal poll that I took with fellow agents, it seems as if the increased inventory (not only in San Carlos but also in surrounding communities) has served to temper the degree and number of multiple offers that we have grown accustomed to seeing this year.   A number of homes that we figured would garner 5-6 offers only got 2.   This can be attributed to seasonal slowing in the market, buyer fatigue, or simply that there are finally more homes to choose from and the same buyers aren’t just battling over the same places.

Whatever the cause, the market condition for home buyers right now in San Carlos is simply the best that it as been this entire year — more inventory, and fewer offers.  If you’re still in the hunt for a home, stick with it for the next few weeks.  Your perseverance may finally pay off.

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 5-17-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 5-17-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 5 14
Average Sold Price: $1,591,400 $1,378,271
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $902 $768
Average Percentage Over List Price: 110% 115%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 11 10
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 20 18
No. of Active Listings: 23 20
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,562,117 $1,644,844
Average DOM of Active Listings: 13 10
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $714 $756
Active-Pending Ratio: 1.15 : 1 1.1 : 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: 5-10-14.

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As predicted, May is steaming ahead at full speed in the San Carlos real estate market.   Many of the sales that went pending in the final weeks of May closed this past week, and your jaw will probably drop when you look at the premiums that some of these homes fetched in Sold section below.   If you’re serious about buying a home in San Carlos, you’ve got to be prepared to roll your sleeves and get aggressive.

Another interesting datapoint is that the new homes within the high-density housing complex at Mirabel Place in San Carlos are literally selling before they hit the market.   The first two units closed this week, and the next two that came up for sale were already snatched up before they ever saw the market.

Finally, with the late push of new listings, the inventory of homes for sale in San Carlos broke the 20 mark — a high point we have not seen in many months.  Because of this push, there are now more homes for sale than there are pending sale, which is something that has probably not happened this entire year.   Finally, there is perhaps a glimpse of good news for buyers in this extremely tight 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 5-10-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 5-10-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 14 8
Average Sold Price: $1,378,271 $1,589,125
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $768 $863
Average Percentage Over List Price: 115% 113%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 10 28
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 18 27
No. of Active Listings: 20 13
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,644,844 $1,771,914
Average DOM of Active Listings: 10 11
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $756 $704
Active-Pending Ratio: 1.1 : 1 0.48 : 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: 5-3-14.

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The month of May started with a bang, as a whole crop of new listings debuted on Thursday and Friday of last week.  You almost needed a scorecard to keep track of all of the homes that popped up on those two days (by San Carlos standards, anyway.)   But even with that significant push of new inventory, there are still only 13 single family homes for sale in the entire city.

If you thought there was going to be a break in the ferocity of the overbidding on homes in San Carlos, think again.   For the homes that closed escrow this past week, the average amount that was paid over the list price was 13%.  The leader of the pack from a sheer dollar perspective was the home at 124 Normandy Court, which fetched a premium of $552,000 above the asking price – almost as breathtaking as the view from the house.     And from the intelligence I gathered on the pending sales that occurred last week, that trend will certainly continue.  Stay tuned..

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 5-3-2014:

San Carlos Housing Data 5-3-14 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week: 8 11
Average Sold Price: $1,589,125 $1,460,636
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold) $863 $729
Average Percentage Over List Price: 113% 105%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 28 28
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 27 28
No. of Active Listings: 13 11
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,771,914 $1,574,864
Average DOM of Active Listings: 11 17
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $704 $733
Active-Pending Ratio: 0.48 : 1 0.25 : 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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Chuck Gillooley
Realtor, San Carlos Resident

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