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The Holidays: Should You Pull Your Home Off The Market?

Should you pull your Silicon Valley home off the market? A different way to do home Sales During the HolidaysAre  you thinking it’s time to pull your home off the market?

  • many sellers in late fall decide to withdraw unsold properties from the active real estate market
  • winter can be a good time to sell as the competition shrinks, and some homes look wonderful in their holiday finery
  • rather than pull your home off the market, you might consider keeping it on, but marketing it differently
  • we’ll suggest some strategies for holiday home marketing below

If you’ve been trying to sell your home in Silicon Valley but haven’t received an offer yet, don’t despair!  With our mild winters, you really can sell real estate any time of year, especially now, when inventory is so low.

When most sellers exit the market after Halloween, we typically see a higher absorption rate as serious buyers will be buying from the available inventory. That means your odds of success are higher!

Should you pull your home off the market? We think not, but don’t keep trying to sell it the same way!
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Thanksgiving Interfaith Service in Saratoga

The Thanksgiving Interfaith Service in Saratoga often takes place on Thanksgiving morning. There’s also an annual service in Los Gatos, and that one is anywhere from 2 – 7 days in advance of the holiday.

Both of these welcome everyone to join them in gratitude and prayer. Also in both of these areas, the venue rotates from one house of worship to another each year. In Los Gatos, the interfaith prayer event took place a week before Thanksgiving (you can read about the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service in Los Gatos here).

It was harder to find information online for the similar service in Saratoga this year. I just found this small blurb on the Saratoga Federated Church website:

Saratoga’s Thanksgiving Interfaith Service – November 24, 2022

Thursday, November 24 at 10:00 am at LDS Church at 19100 Allendale Avenue, Saratoga.

And this from the Congregation Beth-David site:

INTERFAITH THANKSGIVING SERVICE IN SARATOGA (OFFSITE/ZOOM)

Thursday, November 24, 10:00 – 11:00 am.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
19100 Allendale Avenue, Saratoga
Join with others for an uplifting service of thanksgiving and community. Rabbi Roller will be delivering the sermon. For those preferring to attend the service on Zoom, please follow this link: https://zoom.us/j/3211896714?pwd=MDB5elUxZlpBNTljOVU2bTVObTl3dz09

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Below is an OLD graphic from 2018 – helpful mainly because it shows which faith communities have been involved in the past.

 

2018 Thanksgiving Interfaith Service in Los Gatos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Online home valuation programs and why they are usually inaccurate

The online home valuation websites are in high demand for spot checking a price. They are fast, easy, and free. 
Online home valuation graphic: same House Different ValuationsEveryone wants an easy answer, but often the easy answers aren’t all that accurate.

Online home valuation confusion

Sometimes our clients present us with “THE VALUE” of property per one of these free online home valuation websites sites and in some cases, they challenge us to disprove it (Zillow says it, or some other site, so it must be right, goes the thinking).  If they want to buy a house which is listed for more than the auto-comped value, it may cause some emotional anguish.  And if they want to buy one which is listed for less, they may feel a little giddy – unless multiple offers are looming.

The same is true with home sellers.  They agonize when Zillow, Trulia or some other big name site places a worth on their property which is less than what they feel it should be.

Often the best way to respond is to show many of the online valuations and not just the one the client is focused on (often that’s either Zillow or Redfin, but some are attached so some other site’s numbers.

What might surprise a lot of people is the huge discrepancy in values given.

Sample auto comp values online

A good exercise is picking a home that you know fairly well and then seeing what the online home valuation tools say for each one. I picked a home that I know and ran the address through several websites that provide automatic pricing info. Here are the results, from low to high:

Not included in online home valuation study:
Eppraisal $2,072,000 (too high)

Included in the online home valuation study:
Chase $1,721,800
Collateral Analytics (via Realtor.com)  $1,671,000
Redfin $1,644,906
CoreLogic (via Realtor.com) $1,631,300
NAR RPR $1,617,440 (subscription only for Realtors)
Zillow $1,580,300
Quantarium (via Realtor.com) $1,566,759
Bank of America $1,504,391

(Please note: the Trulia home value estimator is the same as Zillow’s Zestimate because Zillow owns Trulia.)

From top to bottom, the amount varies by $217,409! That’s a 14% gap between top and bottom. Had we included Eppraisal, it would have been even crazier.

How can the online home valuations disagree so much?

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Silicon Valley real estate market predictions

Photo of Mary Pope-Handy, crystal ball, Mary's logo and the words "Mary's Predictions" - Silicon Valley real estate market predictionsSilicon Valley real estate market predictions – it’s time for an update!

Summary:

  • Today we look at the question of What would have happened with our prices if we hadn’t had the pandemic?
  • It’s a mixed market, but if interest rates don’t continue their steep climb, my Silicon Valley real estate market predictions are that home prices would be fairly flat for the remainder of the year. Any given area could rise or fall a little, but I would not expect a huge change, as we are under the “high” projection based on the years of 2013 until right before the pandemic began.
  • We are seeing the market pick up as of mid August. Perhaps home buyers feel that sale prices have come down as far as they will?

We began this current year with wildly appreciating home prices. We believed or knew that if interest rates rose more than 1 point it could be a game changer. We didn’t foresee Russia invading Ukraine, the stock market taking a nosedive, or interest rates climbing so high, so fast.

Combined, they have shaved the top off of home prices in Santa Clara County and across the country. Our appreciation was steeper than most places. Will value adjustments be just as steep?

The super surge in home prices were part of the Covid package deal. I have been wondering something:

What would our Silicon Valley home prices be like today if we hadn’t had the coronavirus pandemic?

There are different ways of trying to assess this, but I decided to plot the trajectory from February 2013 (when our housing market recovery began in earnest) to Feb 1 2020 when our lives were turned upside down by Covid-19. Microsoft Excel has a forecast program and that’s what I used to create the chart below. I ran the projections through the end of this year and found the results to be interesting. What kind of real estate market predictions can we see if there hadn’t been Covid over these last 2.5 years?

The excel Silicon Valley real estate market predictions – high, medium, and low values:

 

SCC Market projections without Covid - Silicon Valley real estate market predictions data

 

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Buying a townhome

Buying a townhome - consider the grounds! Photo of townhomes in west San Jose - Cabernet Vineyards Circle, San Jose CA 95117 Front of home & walkwayBuying a townhome in the next year? Here are some pointers to help you get up to speed more quickly.

There are a number of things to ask about and learn to make sure that you are happy with the end result of your townhouse or townhome purchase. There’s tremendous variation in townhomes across Silicon Valley, how well the property is managed, how well the finances are managed, how happy the residents are, and so on.

I’ll put my tips into 3 categories: (1) before you go, (2) things to consider while there, and (3) research if you are serious about a particular property.

  1. Before you go – there may be things that will take the property off of your short list, such as the property condition, HOA finances or rules. There may be natural or environmental hazards that cause you to skip it. Usually these can be learned before you ever visit the property, and they can save you a lot of time.
  2. Things to note or consider while there – some tips on what to perceive while in and near the property.
  3. Deeper research if you are serious about buying a townhome or townhouse

Buying a townhome: a little pre-visit recon

Your real estate agent may help you with this – I do with my buyers and we can sometimes eliminate non-starters with a little research. Most people interested in buying a townhome or condo will check these out upfront:

  • Maps: Take a look at Google maps and see what can be learned from Google street view and the satellite image, if possible. Street view may provide info on how crowded a complex is and if there’s a parking problem if the townhomes are directly on public streets.
    • Sometimes there are undesirable buildings or structures right next to the complex you’re planning to visit which may be visible from either the satellite or street view. The negatives usually don’t make their way into the MLS photos, so look at these other views to get a more complete sense of the area. Recently I saw a power sub-station directly next to a unit my client wanted to see. We did visit it anyway, but many home buyers would have skipped it. You can often identify high voltage power lines from the maps, too.
    • The Google Satellite View will alert you to undesirable neighbors. Recently we saw a unit that backed up to something odd looking – turned out to be a gas station.
  • Odors: If you are buying a townhome in South County or in an area where farming takes place, be sure to zoom out on the map view to see if the property might be impacted by farm smells. In Gilroy, San Martin, and Morgan Hill, mushroom farms can be smelly if you are downwind. And…garlic happens. In Milpitas and North Valley, there are a number of odors, particularly as you get closer to the bay.
  • Natural and environmental hazards: you can find out upfront if the property is in a 100 year floodplain, liquefaction zone, near gas transmission lines or near a Superfund site. There are links to maps for almost every kind of hazard out there.  For example, the Cal OES My Cal Hazards Awareness site can provide info on liquefaction, flood, quake, and fire zones.
  • Disclosures: you may be able to get them upfront and skim for the local hazards, expensive repairs needed, etc. Most of the time we can provide these before you see the home. Keep in mind that no condo, townhouse, or house is perfect, and most do need thousands of dollars in repairs, replacements, and upgrades. A good rule of thumb is to budget 1% for a condominium or townhouse.

In person visit – when you visit the townhome

Again, your Realtor should help you to see what’s amiss or what’s a big plus as you go through the grounds and the home. No home is ever perfect (not even new construction), but it’s imperative that buying a townhome you have as full knowledge as possible about it upfront.

Once in awhile, a buyer will not get the value of this input. The majority of buyers, though, appreciate it if their buyer’s agent makes sure they see things upfront, while there together. (more…)

Soft story construction

Soft story construction may be a concern for anyone living in earthquake country. After the Loma Prieta and Northridge temblors, some apartments, condos, and another buildings got pancaked due to lack of structural strength on the first floor. What is it?

What is soft story construction?

This type of building is when the ground floor is largely pane glass windows, garage doors, carports, or other large openings. Rather than being mostly a wall, it’s largely openings in the wall.

Soft story construction is not limited to homes. It can also relate to office buildings or store fronts on the first floor with large windows or doors rather than solid walls and more floors above it. Think of an automobile showroom as an example.

The danger arises from the lack of sheer wall in case of a quake. The all glass windows on the first floor, or big carports or garages, are simply not as strong as a wall, and may give way in the case of shaking. For that reason, many are bolstered or reinforced. I wrote about it earlier this week in my Move Move2SiliconValley blog, please read more there: Is your home safe in an earthquake?

 

Soft story construction - condominium units

Soft story construction – condominium units

The less obvious housing includes houses with living space over a garage. It’s very common. And it can be retrofitted by strengthening the sides of the garage door opening.

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The San Jose Real Estate Market Analysis

San Jose Real Estate MarketThe San Jose real estate market remains in transition. While it is still a clear seller’s market, things are much cooler than what they were earlier this year. Demand may have shrunk, but so has inventory, so we’re not seeing dramatic cooling.

First, some quick data from my RE Report via the bullets and chart below. There appears to be a small amount of undercounting or overcounting between the RE Report and MLS Listings, but the information is still good for tracking trends.

  • The October 2022 sale price to list price ratio for San Jose single family homes dipped to 99.7% of asking (-0.6% from last month), and remains below last year for the fifth month in a row.
  • Monthly home prices are up a sliver from a year ago after falling below last year in August for the first time since 2019
    • The median sale price remains $1,450,000 – astonishingly consistent with the month before and with last year!
    • The average sale price was $1,582,630 (+1.7% from the month before, and +2.4% from last year)
  • The days on market held relatively stable at an average of just under a month at 27 days, almost twice as long as last year.

War, inflation, stock market, recession concerns – and real estate

Many of our home buyers are financially powered by tech stocks, stock options, and RSUs. When the stock market tanks, some buyers will rush to put their cash into real estate (the quip we often hear is that “real estate does not go to zero” and “at least you can live in it”.

For some, the rising interest rates combined with the lower stock values have been a double whammy on affordability in a market still seeing sky high prices. If the most amply capable buyers don’t want to sell their holdings at a 10% or more discount from what they were, that will impact how much they are willing to pay.

We are finally seeing signs of cooling in the market with homes recieving fewer offers than they may have at the peak of the market, and prices are coming down. That said, much of the entry-level market is still raging hot. The best homes, when appropriately priced and marketed, are still recieving multiple offers and selling well above asking.

However one thing is keeping the market hot: limited inventory. Nationwide, inventory has begun to drop again and overall we remain in a housing supply shortage (each market will vary, of course). So how far off are we from “normal” inventory levels? Let’s have a look at historic active listings in San Jose. (If the chart is too small, click to see in full size.)

San Jose Historic Active Inventory 2022-11-15

At the start of the chart, 2010, the market was still reeling from the 2008 recession, but by 2017 we were seeing a strong sellers market with record low inventory. While listings are certainly up from 2021’s rock-bottom lows, it’s still limited and well below that of more balanced market years like 2013 and 2014.

Will the shortage of homes lead to wild market action like earlier this year? Unlikely. With everything else that’s changed such as the interest rates rising. But will it continue to cool or will it heat up again in autumn? We’ll have to wait and see.

The data below in the “trends” chart is from our Real Estate Report for the City of San Jose.

San Jose Real Estate Market Trends at a Glance (RE Report)

Trends At a Glance Oct 2022 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $1,450,000 (0.0%) $1,450,000 $1,450,000 (0.0%)
Average Price $1,582,630 (+1.7%) $1,556,090 $1,544,870 (+2.4%)
No. of Sales 329 (-12.0%) 374 519 (-36.6%)
Pending 516 (-11.2%) 581 624 (-17.3%)
Active 357 (-19.0%) 441 249 (+43.4%)
Sale vs. List Price 99.7% (-0.6%) 100.4% 108.5% (-8.1%)
Days on Market 27 (-3.9%) 28 15 (+88.0%)
Days of Inventory 33 (-4.8%) 34 14 (+126.2%)

 

Please keep reading below for more data and market analysis.

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