Monday, March 31, 2008

Inventory update

Inventory in Los Altos is at 60 single-family homes which is low for this time of year. There have been a significant number of homes listed under $2M (older homes) and a handful of homes listed at $2.8-3.5M that are new.

This is up only slightly from last week (55 homes).

Friday, March 28, 2008

An update from Randall Hull

We had a presention at the local realtors broker meeting from Randall Hull of the Los Altos Planning Commission. He had a chance to outline some of the recent changes in the downtown building codes (previously discussed here) as well as the new building going up at the corner of Main Street and San Antonio.

This new 2-story building is envisioned to have retail (preferably a "hot spot" where people can "see and be seen") on the ground floor and office space upstairs. The commission hopes that the developer will break ground this spring.

Randall also pointed out that the city council will vote to remove a restriction on the lot at First and Main (along Foothill) that could only be used as a hotel. Once that restriction is removed, the property could be any of several "mixed use" options.

The post office downtown does not currently have a "home" to relocate to once they begin reconstruction. Options are still be explored but at this point it may be down to operating out of trailers. I'll keep you posted on that.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Multiple offers are still the rule, not the exception

For those who doubt that this area is still very much in demand, let's review a few recent transactions:

Spencer Court: 16 offers
Berry Ave: 3 offeres
Stanley Drive: 2 offers

just to name a few...

The point is, Los Altos does not have the same issues the rest of the country or the general area have with price erosion and drops in demand. Homes are still selling quickly, most in the first 2 weeks they're on the market. Those that don't sell right away are typically sold reasonably close to their asking price or at a price consistent with the dollars-per-square-foot for their neighborhood.

The key to getting a home is to be prepared. You have to know what you want, what you're willing to pay, which neighborhood(s) you want to be in, and if you'll have a contingency (selling an existing home). If you have a home to sell, do so FIRST! Get your home ready and put it on the market before making an offer on another home. That way, you have less risk of losing the deal.

Here's why this is important. If you make an offer on a home and the sellers accept it, you're in contract. However, until you release the contingency (sell your existing home) the new home will show as "Pending Release" in the MLS. That means that the sellers can take other offers and if they get an offer they like, they can tell you that you have 3 days to release your contingency or forfeit your offer. If that happens and your existing home isn't in contract with someone else, you most likely will have to forfeit your offer and lose the new home.

This is less of an issue if you're downgrading from a more expensive home to a less expensive home or selling a home in a high-demand area (Los Altos, Palo Alto, etc). No matter what, you should be prepared.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Buzz from the open houses and tour

There are several new homes in the $2.5M to $3.5M range that have come on in the last week particularly the two homes on Riverside Drive. These are both new homes just recently completed. What I'm seeing in the market are several homes in good locations with good floor plans, good lot sizes, and large enough for a big family. Most homes that are coming on are selling relatively quickly with 2-4 offers, mostly cash or all cash, and no contingencies.

The foot traffic at open houses in the area has been strong. I've spoken with several agents who see 30-40 people through their open houses in recent weeks on each day. Contrary to the media, the market is strong in Los Altos because we have very little inventory (only 37 SFR homes in Los Altos as of today).

Will It Finally Sell?
One home that has been on the market a while is on Estate Drive. This home has received four previous offers that have fallen out of contract. Hopefully this time, the fifth, will be the real deal.

Unfortunately, I have to report that my run for the Los Altos Planning Commission was unsuccessful. The position went to Mike Abram. I wasn't surprised but a bit disappointed. That said, there's always next time.

Downtown Real Estate
Yves de Lorme is not moving down the street to the former Los Altos Camera location. Their corporate headquarters decided that such a move, in the current economic climate, was unwarranted.

Easter In Los Altos and Other Downtown Stuff
As many of you know, we have two big Easter events in Los Altos. The egg hunt by the Chamber of Commerce and the egg hunt and craft event by the Los Altos Village Association (LAVA). New this year will be the addition of a ride to LAVA event, sponsored by local businesses.

The final line-up of movies has been selected for this years Movie Night series downtown. The collection includes a lot of recent box-office blockbusters and Disney/Pixar flicks from 2007. If you haven't been to Movie Night, you should. The downtown area really comes alive.