Forgotten, But Not Gone.

March 6, 2012


Some Sell, Some Sit.

It's kind of interesting to see that despite all of the hype of such a perceived red-hot real estate market that we're seeing in San Carlos right now, that not all houses are flying off the market in the first week with multiple offers.     Certainly there have been well documented accounts of homes that received a plethora offers in the first week (919 Woodland Avenue), or those that simply sell off-market without ever seeing the light of the MLS.    But this phenomenon does not appear to be gripping the entire real estate market in San Carlos.

Before the handful of new listings hit the market on Monday, the average days on the market (DOM) for the active homes in San Carlos was a whopping 76 days.   There's a variety of reasons why these homes haven't sold in such a hot market, whether it's location, condition, or price…or some combination of all.  That in itself is not news — every city has its own collection of homes that aren't selling.  But the effect it has on the psyche of the buyers is indeed interesting.

“Damaged Goods.”

Now that DOM information is readily available to consumers on virtually every real estate website, it has had an interesting effect on how some buyers approach the market for the first time.  When choosing which homes they'll target during an open house weekend or with their Realtor on a private tour, they'll often skip the homes that have been on the market for more than 45 days or so..  Why?

Prospective buyers often jump to the conclusion that something must be wrong with a house if it hasn't sold in the first 2 weeks in San Carlos.    Some homes definitely have their challenges as far as condition and location — things that may buyers may not be willing or able to change.   But inevitably, there are always some homes that languish on the market simply because they're priced too high.   Right or wrong, when a house sits on the market for an abnormally long period of time in a strong market, it suffers from what we call the “Damaged Goods Effect.”

And once they drop off everyone's radar screen, they're essentially forgotten.

Circle Back.

If you're just stepping into the real estate market, make sure to see the older listings along with the new ones  — it shouldn't be that difficult since there are only 31 homes for sale in ALL of San Carlos right now.  You may find that sellers are far more willing to negotiate since they've missed that honeymoon period of the first two weeks on the market.  Who knows?  Your diamond may indeed may be in all of that rough.  And you may not have to compete with a bunch of other buyers to get it, either.

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  1. Michael on March 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    With regard to price, I just can’t understand a buyer, let alone their agent, and why they can’t use the DOM to go in with an offer if they want the house. If you can get a client to step into a home that checks a lot of their boxes even if it is overpriced why not just write an offer to gauge the situation? Two of the last 3 houses we bought were on the market for over 2 months. There were price declines along the way, but if a house is on the market, most likely the owner wants to sell it and will listen to an offer. We ended up hitting the sweet spot both times and got a much better home than we thought we could afford, but would never have known had we not jumped in and made a bid.

    It’s true that some sellers are unrealistic, but after several months in a busy market, reality has to set in and only an offer can shake the cobwebs from the sellers clouded perception of what they or their agent thinks their house is worth.

  2. Chuck Gillooley on March 6, 2012 at 5:17 pm


    You’re absolutely correct. The first challenge is to get buyers to take a peek at the old listings in the first place. Like I mentioned in the post, there’s an almost automatic reluctance or bias against the house just because of the DOM count. But the second challenge is getting sellers of some of these homes to come to grips with the reality of the market. There is sometimes the feeling that if they hold their ground, the market will eventually come UP and meet their price — particularly in a market upswing like we’re seeing now. But that rarely happens.

    But you’ll never know until you put pen to paper and write an offer. Just like in your case, you may encounter a seller who has had a change of heart after all.

  3. Fred on March 7, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Chuck –

    What is up with 1439 Cordilleras Ave? Seems like others on the block sold very fast as this one has sat with a ton of open houses.

    Any ideas why there are no takers yet?


  4. Chuck Gillooley on March 7, 2012 at 12:25 am


    Good call. 1439 Cordilleras is the probably THE house I had in mind when I wrote this post. I have absolutely no idea why this hasn’t sold at $839,000. It’s a solid house, good street, and feeds into White Oaks School boundary. I can’t figure this one out…

  5. Michael on March 7, 2012 at 3:31 am

    Maybe it’s the small lot, small dated kitchen and/or pink tile bathroom. Still a good deal for 1600+ sf. Cordilleras is a somewhat busy street too. Still doesn’t explain this one still available and the 4 or 5 others on the same street selling so quickly, however they all sold for less than this one, right?

  6. Lee on March 11, 2012 at 6:44 am

    According to zillow, the current owner payed $899,000 in 2006. I think the story on San Carlos real estate is a lot simpler than you make out – there are a lot of people living in houses that are worth less than they paid. There may be a lot of buyers on the market but if they’re not willing to bid up the prices to a level were these people can break even. The only people selling now are the ones who have to, or who bought long before the boom.

  7. Chuck Gillooley on March 14, 2012 at 11:30 pm


    Thanks for your comment. You may get your wish — the way prices are being bid upward on some of these recent listings, it almost seems as if we’re back in the boom days! But your point is well taken. Quite a few homes were sold in San Carlos between 2005 and 2007, and it would be a safe bet that a decent chunk of those are now under water. But I think there’s more to the shortage of new listings than just the inability of some homeowners to sell.


  8. Michael on March 21, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Well, it’s pending now. Chuck, can you take credit somehow for calling attention to this home?

    Still amazing it’s been listed for 6 months.

  9. Chuck Gillooley on March 21, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Haha… I wish I could take credit for that, but it’s the market — the same market that just sold 2105 San Carlos Avenue after only 13 days on the market!

    Right now, there are only 23 active listings in all of San Carlos. By tomorrow, that may be as low as 21. I can’t remember a time when it was this low.

  10. Michael on March 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    and it looks like only 20 active according to Unless there are any new listings today, it will more than likely fall below that after the weekend.

  11. Sacha on March 27, 2012 at 5:35 am

    Chuck, should we be worried if we really want to get into San Carlos? We are relocating from Southern California and are being scared away by the “hot” market as you have described. We have been experiencing it ourselves in the very short time we have been looking here. Should we look elsewhere if there is such a short supply? Are you expecting more houses on the market as the school year draws to an end?

    And we did take a look at 1439 Cordilleras and maybe shouldn’t have been so hasty to dismiss it! I don’t know why , I just didn’t get a good vibe….

  12. Michael on March 27, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Sacha. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t go for it. It’s anybody’s guess as to what will end up on the market, but keep your mind open and don’t expect that the ideal home will fall into your lap. Best to make a list of wants and also compromises. It will be easier to make a quicker decision that will also be the right decision. Good Luck!

  13. Chuck Gillooley on March 31, 2012 at 3:34 pm


    I don’t think I’d be worried so much a just patient and realistic. The imbalance between buyers and sellers is going to be with us for a few month, perhaps longer. Even if we get a surge of new listings, there’s an abundance of buyers who are ready to snap them up. This happened just a few weeks ago when we had 12 new listings hit the market – the net result? The inventory actually dropped because 15 went into contract! I don’t see this subsiding any time soon. I wouldn’t say don’t keep looking — just know what you’re up against when you do.

    I hope this helps.


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