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Los Altos : Real Estate Advice

  • All63
  • Local Info5
  • Home Buying29
  • Home Selling3
  • Market Conditions3

Activity 81
Fri Apr 12, 2013
Vinicius Brasil answered:
I have one available on 1614 Hollingsworth Drive in Mountain View.
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Tue Apr 9, 2013
Cindy Davis answered:
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Thu Dec 13, 2012
Philip Cabral answered:
The assessor's office re-evaluate individual property taxes on an annual basis and there can be reductions based on tax incentive laws passed on any given year but the general rule of thumb is 1.25% of the purchase price of the home. ... more
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Mon Nov 5, 2012
Grace Hanamoto answered:
Hi Joe and thanks for your post.

I do agree with the others that, right now, we're seeing as much value retention in the condominium market as we are in some single family homes, and, even more so, in areas where--like Los Altos, the location on the peninsula coupled with the outstanding schools, make the homes even more desirable to present and future home buyers.

I also agree with Dave B. that Peninsula Real's location along well traveled and sometimes quite noisy El Camino Real does make the community less desirable than in other parts of the town. The properties are new, but I'm always leary of podium condominiums. I've not yet seen one that doesn't, in the first five years of its existence, have major water leaking problems, issues with shared plumbing, garage maintenance issues related to security doors, security breaches, leaks in the garage and planters, and eventual issues with the seams between the post-tension slabs. As Allyson noted, one of the biggest resident complaints in this type of housing is the lack of parking and the lack of storage for larger items such as bicycles, sports equipment and personal stuff.

All of this often translates into skyrocketing assessments for the residents, as maintenance issues and costs increase over time--sometimes quite steeply early in the life of the HOA.

Although it may seem trivial, high assessments can make the building and the home harder to sell. With post tension slab buildings often having assessments that are as much as two times higher than surrounding communities that have separate or enclosed garages. Unless the buyer is truly capitivated by the building's amenities and floor plans, these types of condominiums often become a second choice to those buildings that are more "townhome" in design with a traditional garage and building footprint.

As the others mentioned, you should bring your agent with you and you should carefully evaluate this property against the surrounding homes that may be located slightly further away from the busy street, and with garages to see how you feel about the value and overall long term desirability of this investment.

Good luck!
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Sun Nov 4, 2012
Hob9 answered:
Anyone should be able to do this themselves with even a grammer school education and a tape measure from Home Depot.
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Sun Nov 4, 2012
Hob9 answered:
You narrow the number of interested buyers significantly. For that reason, it could result in a 10%reduction in value relative to other similar properties having a 2 car garage. Ifthe neighborhood is almost all single car garages, you can probably use for a reasonable estimate. ... more
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Tue Oct 30, 2012
Bay_area_ll answered:
Mon Oct 15, 2012
Marie Souza Team answered:
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Sun Jul 29, 2012
Bryan Robertson answered:
Submit a request to my website with your email address and I'll send you a report with all the sales in Los Altos since March.
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Thu May 17, 2012
Christina Chu answered:
If the agent is advertising the Sold property like its available for sale than that's totally unethical and misleading to the public.
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Tue Mar 13, 2012
John Bender answered:
LOL. Debra, this question was posted almost 3 years ago. I think the agents that posted an definitive "yes" probably are no longer in the business.
0 votes 20 answers Share Flag
Tue Mar 13, 2012
Debra Ahn answered:

If you have paid the first installment of taxes, due no later than December 10, but have not paid the 2nd installement due no later than April 10 and you close escrow before April 10, you should be fine not paying for the preoperty taxes separately as long as there are enough proceeds from the sale to pay the property taxes. However, even if you were to pay the taxes, it will be prorated and credited back to you at close of escrow so it will balance out either way. ... more
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Sun May 22, 2011
Tina Lam answered:
Some of my ideas
1) Put a rental wanted post on Craig's List
2) Check out any homes that have put on the market for sale for long time and don't sell. Approach the listing agents. Sometimes if the homes don't sell, the home owners will consider renting them out.
3) Walk around the neighborhood and check out if there is any moving truck.
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Sat Jan 15, 2011
Tony answered:
I live in the Creston neighborhood. The pros are that you are close to everything. You'll get on and off 280, 85, 87, 880, 237, 101, etc very quickly. It is a nice neighborhood. You are near the market at Homestead and Foothill Exp, San Antonio Trail. Schools for the kids are also good as already mentioned by others. For the cons, depending on where in Creston you will leave, the traffic noise maybe a major problem. The noise primarily comes from 280, and Foothill Exp. Also, Los Altos is a town without major developments. The downtown is almost shut down after 6 pm. There are tiny parks here and there, but no community swimming pool and weakly funded library. it is too private family-oriented community with occasional out door live music/arts/wine festivals, animal parade, Halloween parade, Christmas celebration. Most of these activities take place at day time (morning or afternoon), except Christmas parade will be at night. Everything in Los Altos seems to cost a bit more, including gas, food and services. It is probably due to high real estate rental prices. But it is a nice, safe, relaxing place. What bothers me about this Los Altos is that every single detached family home here costs at least $1 million, however, social amenities are very few. It just doesn't look like million dollars neighborhood. I guess that the large lot size of each house determines the real estate home prices here, and home owners here don't like new social projects/developments. ... more
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Fri Jan 7, 2011
Bryan Robertson answered:
Hi Gary,

You'll need to call the county assessors office to ask them to adjust the assessed value of the home to include the new guest house. If you have lots that aren't included in the APN you want you'll have to merge the lots together so that they all have one APN. That's not hard to do and I can help outline the process to you. I've done subdivisions and accretion (merging) is simply the reverse process.

As for valuation, an acre in the Country Club area is worth about $1.8 million right now. Your overall valuation would be based on the value of your home plus that land value. If you'd like a more accurate assessment, send me an email or call and I'll be happy to help - no obligation.

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Thu Dec 16, 2010
Bryan Robertson answered:
Most of the time an "off market listing" is a home in a price range most people can't afford. In Los Altos, the off-market listings I'm aware of are at the high-end priced $4 million and above.

You will find some sellers who prefer to have a "exclusive" listing with an agent for a short time. Those listings can be anything from $1-4 million and will usually be priced a little high. These listings are often a way to test the market. The listing agent will market locally to get a sense of interest. If the interest level is high enough, the property may go on the MLS to generate more interest and overbids. If the interest level is low, it's usually an indication of overpricing and a price reduction can be made before putting in on the MLS. Keeping it off the MLS means being able to hide pricing mistakes.

While you can work with an agent who has access to many off-market listings, you should still do the appropriate analysis on the price of the home to make sure you're making a reasonable offer. The only difference between off-market and on-market should be the hassle factor for the seller. It shouldn't be a chance to overcharge a buyer. There have been sales in all the price ranges in Los Altos this year so it shouldn't be hard to price something off-market.

As for legality, yes, it's legal. A valid listing agreement in place with an authorization to exclude from the MLS is all it takes.
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Thu Dec 16, 2010
Bryan Robertson answered:
In short, 24 hours for syndicated data (straight from the MLS) and immediately for manually entered listings. Agents can post listings themselves which often results in duplicate listings.

Your most accurate source of listing data is or MLS Listings which is the local listing service for Silicon Valley.
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Tue Nov 30, 2010
Bryan Robertson answered:
Having done many major remodels myself, I'll give you the short answers.

Cost Per SqFt
New construction: $250/s.f.
Remodeling: $300 s.f.
Both figures assume a quality level typical of nice homes in Los Altos of similar quality to Satake Estates. The key is obtaining the best balance of material and service costs which involves knowing where to source them and get good contractors to do the work.

Time To Completion
I've done full home remodels with over-the-counter permits in 5 weeks. That includes remodeling kitchens, bathrooms, floors, windows, doors, etc. but nothing structural. I know contractors who flip homes in Los Altos who can do it in 30 days. It is always assumed that quality is delivered in these efforts as anything less won't fly with Los Altos buyers.

Cost Recovery
You'll get a better value by having the work done. Buy a fixer and put the money into it and you'll have something you could sell for a profit. This is especially true in Los Altos.
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Thu Aug 26, 2010
Bryan Robertson answered:
I'm a little late to this party but have to chime in with an answer. Los Altos has NOT declined this year and is trending up slightly as I predicted at the beginning of the year. In Q2 2010 the median home price was flat at $1.5M versus Q2 2009. The average price was actually up in same period 2.2%. We're well into Q3 and prices are still trending flat to up. Inventory is down significantly and will likely remain low.

These are solid figures based on MLS data. I debunked the report that the New York Times published as mostly false using actual data from county records and the MLS. While Corelogic might seem to know what they're doing, the projections don't align to real data.

I make projections based on past trends and historical patterns. That said, I think we'll see Los Altos show an average price increase of 3% for the year. Since Los Altos was one of the last places to get hit (Saratoga was sooner and hit much harder), we've been one of the first to recover.

There are a lot of great deals in Los Altos. While the rapid growth has gone away, buying a home here will remain a good long-term investment.
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Sun Jul 11, 2010
Stu Carson answered:
While you could rely on a Realtor to make the determination, that is a risky proposition for both of you. And while the answer is essentially able to be found in the planning departments zoning regulations, and will very likely involve the a combination of the following factors
- Overall lot size
- % of lot which is back yard (remains beyond the primary residence's foot print)
- % of the remaining lot which is already covered by structure, garage, shed, pool, etc...
- set backs possible
So in a sense, with a big enough lot it can be a fairly quick & simple answer, but with smaller lots the many variables can make for a complex decision. So as a Realtor, it's not a wise idea to give financial or tax advise, anymore than I would want to give someone medical advice.

If I were buying a home or had a client that was, wanting the clear understanding it could have a Granny Unit added, I would want to talk with and expert. By the way these experts (architects typically) are typically knowledgeable about not only the applicable zoning codes, but more importantly having a track record the people in the town or county planning dept that handle such determinations.

So the real key is finding the right architect who know lots of the key players in the town or county department, hopefully from a judge. I'd be happy to provide the name of the architecture I prefer to use.
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