A funny thing happened this weekend…

January 20, 2009


I threw a party and EVERYONE came?

Well, not exactly…  But I did host an open house this weekend, and it sure seemed like everyone was there.   As I have done numerous times over the past few months, I held open John Shroyer's listing at 928 Walnut Street in San Carlos.  This past weekend, I decided to do a “Walnut Street Marathon,” if you will, and I held the home open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

928 Walnut

Was it busy?  Unbelievably so.  I printed up extra fliers on Saturday, but I still ran out of them on Sunday.  Twice.  (Thank goodness I toted my little Canon iP90 portable printer along for the ride.)

What's the big deal? 

It's what is so ordinary about this that makes this so extraordinary.  Aside from the fact that it's a really nice house in a good location, there was NOTHING extraordinary about this weekend.   Yeah, the weather was nice but it was also a holiday weekend…people should have been anywhere else but shopping for homes.  And this isn't a new listing — far from it.  It first hit the market over 90 days ago, and the most recent price reduction was two months ago.

“Who are these people?”


…as Seinfeld always used to ask.  Just curious neighbors?  Nope.  They've all been through…several times.  Tire kickers?  Maybe a few.  No, what made this extraordinary was the number of BUYERS who came through.  Real buyers.  With real money, and real interest in buying a home.  Maybe 928 Walnut wasn't a fit for all, but they're looking to buy a home somewhere in San Carlos.  That's the big deal.

Competence Breeds Confidence.


I stuck my neck out a few weeks ago on my podcast and stated that the biggest obstacle to the real estate market in San Carlos is lack of confidence, NOT lack of credit.  I state in this podcast that the typical buyer looking for a home in San Carlos is well qualified and well funded.  The reason they haven't been buying lately isn't because they can't — it's because they choose not to.  They're not confident in the economy, nor do they believe that prices have dropped as far as they will go.

So what's the deal?   Is it just a coincidence that history is being made RIGHT NOW as our 44th President is being sworn in to office?    Are these the defibrillator paddles that will shock the economy back on track?  I don't know, but I can't think of any other plausible reason to explain the enthusiasm I witnessed this past weekend.  I don't think it's my imagination…I believe we're heading to a bigger and better place.  I was pleased to see all the kids going to Central Middle School today decked out in Red, White, and Blue.  I can't remember an election and an inauguration that so captivated every age group in our society.

So enjoy witnessing history today.  I know I sure will.

Posted in:


  1. Chris on January 20, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    I guess the stock market doesn’t agree with your optimism about the inauguration of our new president.


    People may be looking at open houses with the thought of not what they might buy now, but what they might buy in the future if the real estate market declines another 20%

  2. Chuck on January 20, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Hey Chris,

    Thanks for your comment. You may very well be correct, and I’m certainly not about to claim that everyone is going to jump back into the market immediately. There are those who will wait until summer before they do, because they believe the market will starve some prices to even better deals, perhaps the 20% drop that you mentioned.

    However, the significant uptick in qualified buyers making serious overtures and writing offers is a HUGE step up from what has been happening the past 3 months in San Carlos. There will be deals going down this month, and that’s a good sign. What happens after this burst of euphoria is what everyone is waiting to see.

    Thanks again for writing in!


  3. Michael on January 23, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    True, I noticed 42 Club Drive is pending (albeit after some significant price reductions). 18 Club sold for 1.2M (nice house, poor location); I am guessing 42 will sell around or above 1.3M (current asking price 1.349M). A bargain with 4090 sf, but you have Carlmont HS in your back yard plus you are on a busy street. The kitchen is clean, but original, so the buyer probably needed the sf more than the newest finishes. With homes selling in this price range, I think we are holding our own in San Carlos and the spring should show some bright sales.

  4. Michael on January 25, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I noticed in today’s Chronicle that San Carlos shares with Woodside the distinction of the only two of all peninsula cities having a price INCREASE year December over December! Woodside had 2.7% and San Carlos had 4.1%…I have hope!

  5. Ron on January 26, 2009 at 3:13 am

    Want to see more of this? It’s easy, there are in fact many buyers out there, all that is needed is for sellers to reduce prices (yes even more). Median income in San Carlos is around 100K, price/income should be 3 to 4 no more than that, so let’s see our median price at 400K and then then the market will be back to pre-bubble normal.

    You will see me and a lot of other people at these open houses when the cost of buying a house is at least the same as renting in San Carlos. Right now it’s about 30 to 40% cheaper to rent here than buy, even with the tax incentives (and yes, a lot of the nice houses on sale today are also available to rent)

    Lower house prices are good for *everyone*, including sellers (who will be able to buy their new house for less, which offsets whatever loss they have selling their current house and will pay lower property taxes). Lower prices are just not good for flippers/speculators, I say we’re better off without them.

  6. SC resident on January 29, 2009 at 4:18 am

    100K might be the median income in San Carlos, but I would be surprised if it is the median income of people who are planning to buy in San Carlos. I would think it would be closer to 150K or more. Maybe Chuck has some insight into this number.

  7. Chuck on January 29, 2009 at 4:39 am

    According to this article in CNN Money, the median income in San Carlos is about $129,000.


    I believe the median income of those trying to buy in is significantly higher (although I have no stats to back it up.) With the median home price hovering around $900k, you’d need at least that much just to cover the mortgage, let alone all of the other living expenses..

  8. Chuck on January 30, 2009 at 11:13 pm


    We’ll have to wait on 42 Club. It’s back on the market again as of this afternoon. Bummer…


  9. Michael on January 31, 2009 at 5:35 am

    and $57,000 cheaper now.

Leave a Comment