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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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Is Belmont Hotter than San Carlos?

Thermo

We’re Not Talking About the Weather.

The answer to that title question is “yes“, Belmont is definitely hotter than San Carlos — according to a study that was commissioned by the real estate brokerage Coldwell Banker and published in CBS Market Watch recently.   But that’s not all.  Belmont is not just hotter than San Carlos — it has been designated the hottest suburb in the entire state of California in this study.   Holy Twin Pines!

I can almost hear the cheers echoing from canyons of Belmont, and the guffawing that is emanating from the streets of White Oaks and the grand vistas of Beverly Terrace.  Belmont is hotter than San Carlos?    Absolutely, contends Belmont.  One Belmont resident once told me that Belmont is “San Carlos without the sidewalks and the attitudes.”   To which another San Carlos resident countered “Belmont is where you go to live when you can’t afford San Carlos.”    Ouch!   Everyone just calm down….

But rather than turn this into a modern-day version of the Hatfield’s vs the McCoy’s,  let’s try to figure out how Coldwell Banker came to this conclusion?  Unfortunately, I don’t have access to their “exhaustive” study, but we can take a few minutes and compare some of the relevant home sales metrics that may have been used in this analysis.

Price Appreciation.

There’s no doubt about it — whether you’re looking for a home in either San Carlos or Belmont, you’re keenly aware of how much prices have skyrocketed in the past 5 years.  This is especially true in just the past 12 months.  But how do they both compare in this arena?   Let’s take a look:

Belmont:  Average Home Sales Price

BELMONT: Average Home Sales Price

San Carlos Average Home Sales Price

SAN CARLOS:  Average Home Sales Price

From the graphs above, the average sales price of a single family residence in Belmont increased by 17.6% since just last year, and a whopping 32% since the bottom of the housing market in 2009.  That is indeed significant growth.   But over that same span, the San Carlos housing market increased by 18.2% and 36.6%, respectively.    Hmmm…

Other Metrics?

Let’s take a look below at some other common sales metrics that may have been used in this study.  Note that all of these pertain to single-family residences only, unless otherwise noted.

Key Housing Metric
Belmont San Carlos
Median Price: 2012->2013
+17.3% +21.0%
Median Price: 2009->2013
+28.5% +37.5%
Average Days to Sell:  2013
19 17
Closed Sales YTD 2013
176 201
Sales Price/List Price Ratio: 2013
109.5% 108.7%
Total Sales Volume (SFR + Condo) 2013
$207.6M $298.2M

(source: Multiple Listing Service)

What Does It All Mean?

There are several conclusions that you can draw from this immensely informative post.   First, I am pleased to inform you that after comparing the data above with scientific study conducted by Coldwell Banker, that I am thoroughly more confused than I was when I started.    But that’s OK, because it points out that “hotter” is very much a subjective measurement — it can’t be deduced from the third derivative of home sales in the 4th quartile during a full moon.

Belmont has two Safeways — San Carlos has none.  San Carlos has two CVS Pharmacies — Belmont has none.   San Carlos has 3 Starbucks to Belmont’s two.   Belmont has its own police and fire department.  San Carlos has….. well, you get the idea.   The point is, people like Belmont for their own reasons, while others like San Carlos for theirs.  Why does there have to be a #1 with everything?    Can’t we all just get along?

The other thing this study tells me is that any discussion about a “hottest suburb” in the Bay Area that does not include Palo Alto (the land where cash is king, and sanity has long left the building) is highly suspect from the start.  Seriously….

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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 9-28-13.

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The Premium for Dirt.

If you’re looking to buy a home in San Carlos and you get queasy at the thought that prices are escalating out of your budget, then perhaps you should skip reading this week’s review.   This week’s closed sales featured more eye-popping final prices than I’ve seen in a single week in San Carlos in a long time.    But all kidding aside, for some of the bigger sales there is a rational explanation — for others, there’s simply not.

269 Kelton Avenue and 294 Devonshire Boulevard were the two sales that fetched the highest amount (both % and $$) over their asking price.  But both of these homes are perfect examples of two points I made recently in the post “The Price of Dirt in San Carlos” — First, the homes themselves had virtually no influence on the final sale prices — the value was driven solely by the dirt on which they stand.  And second, it illustrates the fact that there’s still a HUGE premium for flat, buildable land in San Carlos.   The economy is once again strong enough were homeowners are willing to make that significant investment to build their “15-20 year” home.

The other home sale that topped the charts was 3363 Melendy Drive, which fetched a whopping $301,000 over the asking price.   But the reality of this sale is that this home simply sold where its value was — it’s a very clean 3,400 square foot home with some incredible views, and even the higher sales price only equates to $485/square foot, compared to the average of $777/square foot that the rest of the homes fetched this week.

The rest of the big winners this week?  Chalk it up to high demand and market exuberance.  And here are those 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 9-28-2013:

San Carlos Housing Data 9-28-13 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week:
12 6
Average Sold Price
$1,239,022 $1,131,667
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold)
$777 $688
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 118% 99%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 13 18
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 26 29
Inventory of Active Listings:
18 22
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,679,217 $1,714,770
Average DOM of Active Listings: 46 37
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $552 $547
Active-Pending Ratio:
0.69 : 1 0.76 : 1

>>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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What’s the Plan for Adding More School Capacity in San Carlos?

September 25, 2013 San Carlos Schools 3 Comments
SCSD Door

 The 2013 Master Plan.

The title of this post also happens to be one of the most often asked questions that I get from new buyers today in San Carlos.   This comes as absolutely no surprise, since the reputation of the School District here still ranks among the top reasons that home buyers want to make San Carlos their new address.   In recent years, the insatiable demand by families with school age children to buy homes that reside within school boundaries has pushed the District enrollment to its limits.  The physical capacity of the schools simply can no longer accommodate all of the students that will be attending in the coming years.

Most buyers do know that a $72M bond measure was passed by voters to fund the expansion and improvement of the District, but many don’t know how the School District is going to change as a result of this.   There were, after all, several options that were discussed.   So hopefully this post will answer most of the common questions, and provide you a resource if you need more information.

The Build Out.

Back in March of this year, the Board of Trustees of the San Carlos School District settled on one of the various options that were on the table about how to increase capacity to handle the future enrollment requirements.   That plan is outlined in great detail below in the 2013 Master Facilities Plan, but here are the key points:

  • All four elementary schools will be reduced from the existing K-4 configuration to K-3, which will allow for more K-3 classes at each location.
  • There will be two “bridge” facilities built at the existing Central and Tierra Linda Middle School locations, which will accommodate 4th and 5th grades and handle about 400 students each.  They are tentatively known as the Arroyo and Dartmouth Schools, respectively.
  • 6-8 grades will remain in their existing locations.
  • Numerous upgrades and improvements will be made to all of the existing school facilities.
  • Full implementation will take about 3-4 years.   The Arroyo bridge school will likely be ready a full year before Dartmouth.

If you’re interested in more details of the plan, including projected costs, here’s a link with lots of information:  The San Carlos School Facilities Master Plan – 2013.  It’s an interesting read, and does a great job of highlighting the exciting changes that will be happening in the coming years to all of the schools in San Carlos.
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The San Carlos Real Estate Week in Review: 9-21-13.

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Chugging Along

Last week we tabled the question as to whether the real estate market may be starting to slow a bit from the break-neck pace that we’ve seen all year.  Certainly, last week’s numbers were less than stellar in comparison to the rest of the year’s seemingly unstoppable numbers.  But we also noted that one week’s worth of data does not constitute a trend.

The most recent week’s data rebounded nicely on almost all fronts.   The most telling statistic was that 8 homes went into contract, which shows that buyers are still out there in big numbers.   Another good statistic was that 7 new listings hit the market, which indicates that sellers have no trepidation about bring their home on the market in the Fall.   This will serve to keep the market chugging along.

The one indicator that was down this past week  was the sales price/list price ratio.   This has been running at about 110% on average for most of the year.  This past week, homes that closed escrow in San Carlos fetched 99% of the asking price on average.     It’s hard to say whether this is just a function of more realistic asking prices, or if the sales figures are starting to level off, but it’s worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks.

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 9-21-2013:

San Carlos Housing Data 9-21-13 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week:
6 6
Average Sold Price
$1,131,667 $1,173,000
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold)
$688 $729
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 99% 103%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 18 21
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 29 30
Inventory of Active Listings:
22 23
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,714,770 $1,445,210
Average DOM of Active Listings: 37 37
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $547 $605
Active-Pending Ratio:
0.76 : 1 0.77 : 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: 9-14-13.

calendar2

Slowing Down?

One of the ways that you can use to gauge the heat of the real estate market is to look at the number of pending sales.  One might think that it would be to look at the sold homes, but the homes that are listed as “sold” below actually went pending 3-4 weeks ago, and just closed escrow this past week.   The number of pending sales gives you an idea of how many people are writing offers on homes, and by that measure it was a slow week in San Carlos.   Only 3 single-family residences went into contract, and not a single condo or townhome took an offer.

Is this a trend?  One week’s data does not make a trend — it just means it was a slow week.  But I am hearing the sentiment more and more often from buyers and agents that the market seems to be cooling down.  I’m not totally convinced of that yet — perhaps a few more weeks of consistent data like this will change my mind.

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 9-14-2013:

San Carlos Housing Data 9-14-13 Prior Week
Closed Sales for the Week:
5 3
Average Sold Price
$1,173,000 $1,115,000
Average $/Sq Foot (Sold)
$729 $759
Sold Price vs Orig List (%) 103% 112%
Average DOM of Closed Sales 21 12
No. of Homes Pending Sale: 30 32
Inventory of Active Listings:
23 22
Average Price of Active Listings: $1,445,210 $1,458,990
Average DOM of Active Listings: 37 31
Average $/Sq Foot (List) $605 $601
Active-Pending Ratio:
0.77 : 1 0.69 : 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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Forget the Facebook Effect. Google is Rocking this Housing Market.

September 12, 2013 San Carlos Real Estate 4 Comments
goo

An UnLikely Outcome.

Last year around this time, talk in the real estate circles was dominated by a mythical topic known as “the Facebook Effect”.  In essence, the Facebook Effect was an expectation that at any minute a busload of newly minted millionaires sporting Facebook t-shirts would magically appear in our neighborhoods and snap up all of the available listings (paying cash, of course), thus driving home prices to even more unaffordable levels.   At this time last year the company had been public for only about 4 months, and the lock-up period for many of the employees was due to expire soon, so everyone was holding their breath waiting for this momentous occasion.

Well, as we now know, this gravity-altering event never happened.   Not only did Facebook’s stock price drop significantly after the IPO, but we also learned a valuable lesson about the living preferences of wealthy, 20-somethings:   As “happening” as we think San Carlos is with its great schools and trendy downtown, it can’t hold a candle to the entertainment and cultural richness that San Francisco provides.   And the executive ranks of Facebook can generally afford the most upscale neighborhoods in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, or Atherton — and probably didn’t need the IPO money to do so in the first place.

So the Facebook Effect never really materialized here in San Carlos.  At least not yet.  But there is another technology giant whose spectacular growth is indeed having a profound impact on the local real estate market: Google.

A Search for Home.

It has been well documented how Google’s presence over the past decade has completely changed the commercial AND residential real estate landscape in places like Mountain View,  Los Altos, and Palo Alto — communities that are close to their headquarters.   But because of their steady growth since the end of the recession, their impact is being felt over a much larger radius encompassing not only the obvious trendy picks such as San Francisco, but also smaller communities like San Carlos.

The last three home buyers that I have placed are all Google employees.  They didn’t refer one another to me, because they’ve never met.   So statistically, that tells me that there are many Google employees that are in the market to purchase homes; a sentiment that is shared by other Realtors that I have spoken with.   One of these buyers told me an amazing story that illustrates just how fast this company is growing:  He started as a new Google employee in their Kirkland facility only 3 years ago.  Today,  he is already above the 50th percentile in seniority in the entire company.  In other words, in only 3 years they have hired more employees after he was hired than they did before (after you factor out attrition).   Now that’s amazing growth.

Need more proof? You need only watch the ever-growing number of  white Google buses as they maneuver the Bay Area highways shuttling their employees to and from work every day to know that this company is growing by leaps and bounds.  Google’s network of buses alone rivals the size of most municipal transit networks in the Bay Area.

Look Around.

There is an old saying in the real estate business that everyone knows someone who is a Realtor, whether it’s a friend, relative, or neighbor.   I know all too well how true this is.   But in this growing tech economy, the same can almost be said about Google — soon, everyone will know someone that works at this great company.  And they are having a tremendous impact on our local real estate market.
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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 Holly Street – 101 Interchange Project Update.

September 11, 2013 Downtown San Carlos No Comments
101

September 17.

As you are probably aware, plans have been underway to revamp the Highway 101 interchange at Holly Street.  The older-style cloverleaf interchange that has been in place at Holly Street has shown its flaws in recent years as the traffic volume has increased there — and it only looks to get worse when the new PAMF hospital opens.  It gets a little hairy trying to merge onto 101 in the same lane that other are exiting.  This outdated design has been replaced at interchanges all along 101 in recent years with more modern and efficient solutions, and it appears Holly Street is on tap for a similar make-over.

An update to the Holly St US 101 Interchange Project will be presented for the first time to the public since finalizing the Project Study Report with Caltrans. The presentation will be during the Traffic and Circulation Commission meeting on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @ 7pm in the City Hall Council Chamber (600 Elm St). The presentation will include progress on the environmental and traffic studies to date, pedestrian over crossing project alternatives, and a discussion on the Holly St corridor west of the interchange. Please plan on attending for an update on this exciting project.

Here’s a map of the area in question:

Holly Street-Highway 101 Interchange

Holly Street-Highway 101 Interchange

Background:

Improvements to the Holly Street Interchange with US 101 are required in order to accommodate increased traffic generated by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s San Carlos Center (PAMF) and other anticipated land development.  The PAMF traffic report identified a need for interchange improvements to handle traffic growth. The scope of the project includes reconfiguring the interchange to accommodate increased traffic as well as provide complete streets improvements to enhance pedestrian and bicyclist access through the interchange. Currently the project is currently working through the Caltrans Project Approval/Environmental Document Phase.
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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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Condo/Townhome Prices Surge in San Carlos

September 10, 2013 San Carlos Real Estate No Comments
Condo Sale

Full Recovery?

Much time has been spent on this site documenting the incredible rise of single family home prices in San Carlos so far in 2013.  In the Mid-Year Check In back in July, we documented how the average price of a single-family home rocketed upward by 15% from the previous year, and the gain in median pricing was even higher.

But what has been happening with the condo and townhouse market in San Carlos?   Back when the real estate market tanked in 2008, this segment took an especially harsh beating.  The precipitous drop in condo and townhouse values resulted in a much higher rate of short sales and foreclosures in the subsequent years than what we saw with single family residences.   Large complexes such as Brittan Heights were especially hard hit, as values fell by 20% or more.  For a period of time after ’08, it seemed like every other unit that hit the market was either a short sale or a bank-owned property.

Well, as you can see from the charts below, the gold rush of 2013 has been very good to the condo and townhouse market in San Carlos too.    It’s pretty safe to deduce, just like we did with single family residences, that this segment of the market has fully recovered from depths of the recession.

This chart shows the average sales price for all condos and townhomes in San Carlos over the past 5 years.   Not only has this metric rocketed upward by 32% from just last year, it’s evident that sales prices have more than fully recovered from the post-recession slide of those years after 2008.

Average Sales Price: San Carlos Condos and Townhomes.

Average Sales Price: San Carlos Condos and Townhomes.

Taking a look at the median sales price performance over the past 5 years shows a similar result: >>> 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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