Sad to leave this area

Asked by serena.cheal, Belmont, CA Tue Dec 10, 2013

We moved here from Seattle a year ago after we both got job offers to help set up fitness studios and coach employees. We were then offered extensions and good job offers, so we started looking at property to buy as the rental market was terrible. Older apartements were larger but really looked their age and had been poorly maintained. Newer apartments were very small and very cheaply/poorly constructed,(my husband used to be in construction). We thought about buying and got approved for a $900k mortgage. We looked around between San Mateo and Mountain view. Again we were shocked at the age and condition of a lot of homes that were on the market. The newer townhomes were even worse. We looked at San mateo where there were two new construction projects, one being Bay meadow. they were cramped, no views, thin walls and very small and an unbelievable price. We spent 7 - 8 months looking and went to numerous open homes but kept leaving disapointed. Sad to leave new friends here

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David Gowans, Agent, San Carlos, CA
Tue Dec 10, 2013
I find this post puzzling. Are you looking for help, or leaving?

I'm a Realtor in CA.... Ironically, I just moved up to the Seattle area myself. House up here are much more solid than down there, for sure. That part of CA has totally different construction standards.

I'm currently in a 3000 sqft home that is framed with a minimum of 2x6's, and it costs me a little over half what I paid for a 1200sqft home in San Mateo, and I have well over twice the space, and a MUCH better view. Yes, if your a buyer, that place is tough.

Anyway, if you're still looking, check out Humboldt Square in San Mateo. It's right on the corner of 3rd Ave and Humboldt (S. Humboldt?). Anyway, they are townhomes. I sold one of those about a year ago. It was an end unit, about 1400 sqft; 3 stories; 2 car garage at the bottom; living room with diningroom, kitchen and sitting room on the half and 2nd floor; two master suites upstairs.

Despite being on busy streets, these units were VERY quiet inside. In my opinion, construction was very good; firewalls between units, good insultation, etc. I stop paying attaention when I came up here, but prices are likely rising slowly there, but a place might be had for around $650k or so. Oh, they do have an HOA, and a pretty small and well managed one, as I remember. If think the fees for that unit where somewhere around $350/mo, if I remember right.

Anyway, that's one possibility. If none are on the market, just ask the residents if they want to sell. All they can say is "No."

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Oh, and those Humboldt Square units are about 14 years old, and in great shape:)
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Juliana Lee, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Tue Dec 10, 2013
With the constant hazard of earthquakes but no concern to support the weight of snow and ice on the roof the "cheap" construction of local houses matches what is needed quite well. I've often heard people from low earthquake risk areas but having cold winters remark how "cheap" local houses are. The reality is that building a brick house that will stand up to an earthquake is expensive. Brick walls stop sound but windows don't. Californian's love windows. Premium construction may offer little beyond aesthetics.

The wild west wasn't that long ago. The depression was even more recent. The building boom following World War II addressed a specific demand for low cost housing. Local houses have been built to match the needs of the typical home buyer when the house was built. Needs and desires have changed quickly and dramatically over time.

Local homes are expensive because acquiring the land to build it on is expensive. The competition for space is intense. Locally more land has been created by filling in the SF Bay. There are still efforts to turn mud flats into building sites but there is opposition and little success. The only things likely to make the land less expensive are either massive economic or climate changes.

San Mateo home values can be viewed at
Recent San Mateo home sales can be viewed at

Good luck Serena with your new home where ever it is.

Juliana Lee
Top 2 agent nationwide at Keller Williams Realty, the nations largest
Cell 650.857.1000

Over 20 years experience
Over 1,000 homes sold in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County
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Brandon Denm…, Agent, Pacifica, CA
Tue Dec 10, 2013
Hi there. Not sure if you thought about Pacifica, but you do get more for your money and it is just 15 minutes to sf and 29 minutes to San Mateo. If you would like to see what is out there in Pacifica on the market right now get in touch and I can send them your way.
Brandon Denman - Realtor
Pacific Coast Real Estate
BRE # 01379663
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