Downsizing in San Carlos.

December 11, 2008



It used to be that when the last of the kids shipped off to college and retirement was within reach, homeowners would cash out their equity and move out of town — often to places such as Auburn, Lincoln, El Dorado Hills…or even all the way out of the state.   In those places, the considerable equity that they (hopefully) pulled out of their San Carlos home would net them a brand new home, possibly with some acreage — and they'd still have cash left over to invest.   Not a bad deal…

While that avenue of retirement still continues, there's an increasing trend of homeowners who are looking to downsize their suddenly empty home…but they're looking to stay right here in San Carlos.  And why not?   There are many reasons to stick around — people want to stay close to their children and grandchildren who may have already settled in San Carlos.  The revitalized downtown area of San Carlos has just about anything you'd need within a few blocks.  And with two major shopping malls within a 10-mile radius, you don't have to go far to get what San Carlos can't provide.   Finally, moving to the “sticks” can be much more of an environmental and cultural shock than people realize.

So, what kind of homes are “down-sizers” looking for in San Carlos?

1.  More rooms, but less room.

The most obvious reason for downsizing is that people don't want nor need to maintain a large home any longer.  A 3,000 square foot home seems awfully cavernous for only two of you.  But a moving to a smaller home doesn't mean sacrificing the number of bedrooms.   The ideal range people want seems to be 3-4 bedrooms:  One master bedroom, one (or two) bedrooms for extended guests or returning kids, and the final room for the office/den.  For this reason, it's acceptable for the latter 2-3 bedrooms to be on the smaller side.

2.  Top-shelf construction.

Buying a home that's already in “move-in” condition is a big plus.   Let's face it — who wants to tackle another “pink tile” bathroom project when chances are they've already “been there and done that” with their old house?   Down-sizers and retirees have worked for many years to get to this point in their lives, and they want to reward themselves with the latest and greatest.  Top-shelf kitchens and master bedroom suites are high on the list.

3.   Single-story home, flat lot, and close to downtown.

Although the views are spectacular from the San Carlos hills, many of these homes present challenges for us as we get older.   Climbing multiple flights of stairs, and having to drive up and down Brittan or Melendy on a daily basis suddenly becomes a big price to pay for a great view.   Many would gladly sacrifice the view to be able to walk downtown and not have to pack groceries up the stairs anymore.

Are there options in San Carlos?

Absolutely!   The White Oaks and Howard Park neighborhoods in San Carlos fit the down-sizer's requirements like a glove.  These neighborhoods are generally in the flat section of San Carlos, and each border the downtown shopping section — Howard Park to the north and White Oaks to the south.   The closer you get to downtown, the smaller the lot sizes generally get, which seems to be ok, since most people looking to downsize don't want huge yards to maintain either.    Here are a couple of recent examples that exemplify what I'm talking about:

928 Walnut Street:


This is a completely remodeled 4BR/2BA, 2,000 square foot home that's just a block from Harmony Yogurt and Starbucks.  Stunning new construction by Joe Ravella, currently listed at $1,550,ooo by John Shroyer of RE/MAX Today.   Click here for details –> 928 Walnut Street.

1449 Chestnut Street:


Although this one already sold this past year, it's a great example of the points I highlighted above.   It's a 3BR/2BA, 1,660 square foot home that was listed by Maxine Dumas.  Nicely remodeled, and ideal for downsizing, it sold for $1,320,000.   Click here for more details –>  1449 Chestnut St:

 Is it the right move for you?  

There are other factors to consider when downsizing in San Carlos.  Retiring into a $1.3M (or more) home simply isn't in everyone's budget — and you have the property tax issue to address as well.   Note that if you are downsizing in house value too, you may qualify for a nice property tax break via Proposition 60 and/or Proposition 90.  Another factor is that some people are simply ready for a slower pace of life that has long left the Bay Area.   Ultimately, everyone's situation is unique, and each person has different needs to factor in.

But if you truly want to stay in San Carlos , there are definitely options for you.

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