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Home Buying in Los Altos : Real Estate Advice

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

Activity 42
Wed Jan 18, 2017
Looking to Buy asked:
We're looking to purchase property in Los Altos or Palo Alto to expand or rebuild. What are some of the things we need to look for in the property? What are the cost differences between…
0 votes 0 Answers Share Flag
Mon Sep 26, 2016
Sam.onate answered:
Grace Morioka do you know of a lender that does these type of loans?
0 votes 10 answers Share Flag
Mon Jan 25, 2016
Karen and Paul Catania answered:
With at least 1 tub for the kids you are ok. 99% of us prefer showers but I have had a few clients walk out of a house for sale because there was not a master tub. That's is a bummer but still a very small percentage. Personally I'd prefer a bigger shower than a small one with a tub. Your never going to make everyone happy so as long as your plans aren't to crazy, build what you want and what works for you. ... more
0 votes 3 answers Share Flag
Tue Aug 5, 2014
Claudia Muller answered:
Lots of answers here...but you get what you pay for:

Let me ask you a question. If Google could hire another person to do your same job for 1/2 (or less) than your current salary, etc. What would your response be?

The agent does waaaay more than just find you a home and write the offer.
They have to manage the transaction.
They have to watch for any red flags that may indicate you should be wary of the property, etc.
They take on huge liability.
Their income goes toward insurance, marketing, MLS service, continuting education, advanced education, etc.

Personally, agents do not make enough for what they do.
... more
0 votes 8 answers Share Flag
Tue Aug 5, 2014
Claudia Muller answered:
Tony: Not knowing the specifics of this person's situation, it does sound as if refinacing and pulling cash from the equity built in the property did a BIG way!!
0 votes 4 answers Share Flag
Thu Jun 5, 2014
Bob Gerughty answered:
Lot is land locked. An access road needs to be built, and utilities need to be brought in from the street. Must take into account these expenses if considering this lot. Also, the lot is near Highway 280 and have some freeway noise. Form your own judgement knowing that these factors exist. ... more
0 votes 1 answer Share Flag
Thu Jun 5, 2014
Douglass Mcneil answered:
OK thanks. I wouldn't have thought the discount to be as you big as you reference (5-20%), but I haven't done the analysis.
0 votes 5 answers Share Flag
Thu Feb 13, 2014
Alexander Greer answered:
It is just neutral. There are many different types of neighborhoods and people like different things. SO, people who like that that neighborhood will be fine with that kind of stuff. Email me if you have any further questions.

Alex Greer
Loan Officer
NMLS #1056079
... more
0 votes 5 answers Share Flag
Sun Feb 9, 2014
Juliana Lee answered:
If your home is in a flood zone your addition is getting close to the percentage which requires the whole house to be brought up to current requirements to avoid/minimize flood damage. You may also be required to make energy efficiency changes which usually aren't too costly but may limit the number and size of windows you can add. Your addition and remodeling may trigger additional work which will also increase the assessed valuation. In general the Santa Clara County Assessor is usually realistic about the increased value to your home and bases your tax increase on that value. My experience with cities has been that they might try to justify the highest possible value for the work, resulting in higher permit fees and a chance of higher property taxes. I would select an architect based on the quality and effectiveness of his work rather than the tax consequences. I've seen architects propose changes which provide little value. John Barton based in Fremont did an excellent job designing my home. You might find my statistics showing the increased values from knocking down and building a new Los Altos home useful and interesting ...
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
... more
0 votes 6 answers Share Flag
Thu Dec 5, 2013
pilajunk answered:
API scores does not necessarily only mean a school is good at "teaching", but it also has parents living in that neighborhood who care about academic education (API scores don't measure anything else). It probably also indicates the school caters to more involved parents who will not hesitate to step in and pay/donate to the school for any shortcomings rather than send their kids off to private.
My personal experience on this is that I lived in a neighborhood in San Jose which was zoned to a good high school (Evergreen Valley high , API: 865), great middle school (Chaboya, API: 943) and an "up and coming" elementary school (Laurelwood, API: 886). My home value did not grow nearly as fast as the areas that had a good elementary school (JFS, API:961) and middle school but a so-so high school (Silver Creek HS, API: 782). Reason? Most people buying homes had young children and bet on idea that they will be a position to buy into a better high school (public or private in a decade).

I also absolutely agree that high school API is the average of all the feeder schools, so there is bound to be some drop when a high school caters to a few areas which may have some socially disadvantaged kids (absentee parents, non english speakers etc). That does not mean the school itself is lacking on any level and it could be good for kids to have a diverse peer group. Also there are so many other things to consider in a high school such as AP classes, AP participation, class overcrowding, drug activity etc. Lets face it - EVERY school has some drug activity (incl. Paly, Gunn, Mission, LHS, Harker etc) - the lower end has pot, the higher end have pill parties with a whole range in between - but how pervasive it is in Jr.'s school, does Jr. pick good friends etc.?

To sum up - unless Jr. is ready for high school in the next couple of years, elementary school quality will likely get higher consideration. I am guessing more people buy homes when their kids are young simply because because of what happened to us. I suppose the agents in this forum can enlighten us better on this.
... more
0 votes 8 answers Share Flag
Wed Nov 27, 2013
Bryan Sweeley answered:
Craigslist is the definite go-to site for rentals. Zillow and Trulia have some too, however not as current. Today's rental market is moving really fast. Property Managers expect to rent a place within a week or two of putting it on Craigslist.

First pass - scan the listings to get an idea about prices. Then set a maximum price that you can live with. Then make a second pass to see where you fit by price. Now that you see what you get, is a Townhome acceptable?

Palo Alto and Los Altos will be the most expensive due to their schools. Mountain View and Sunnyvale next, then Santa Clara and Campbell.

Good luck.
... more
0 votes 5 answers Share Flag
Fri Nov 22, 2013
Suzanne Bakhtiari answered:
Hi Maria,

For the past two years the inventory has been very low in Los ALtos. There is a high demand for properties in this area and not enough inventory which leads to a multiple offer situation.

In this market if you decide to buy your future home, you should be emotionally ready to lose a property
that you really like to another buyer whom may have a more attractive offer than yours.
Your agent can guide you how to win in a multiple offer situation. Also patients is the key. You will defiantly be able to find and buy a home that you really like.

The best time to purchase a home is from November to end of January. The inventory is low but less buyers. After the super bowl weekend usually there is more inventory. :-)

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions. It would be my pleasure to help you find your
dream home.


Suzanne Bakhtiari
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
161 South San Antonio RD
Los Altos, CA 94022
Cell: 650-279-8907
... more
0 votes 16 answers Share Flag
Thu Nov 21, 2013
Grace Morioka answered:
Hi Dan:

Frankly, unless you have the money and time (both the time needed to plan, obtain permits, and construct AND the time needed to sell in a less densely populated market) to renovate the home, it doesn't really make sense to increase the home's square footage before sales. In fact, my personal opinion is that at a price of $5 million, buyers would prefer to find a "fixer upper" at half the price with the possibility or renovating a home to suit their personal style later.

In fact, most of my high-end buyers (those looking for homes priced over $2.5M) have such specific desires and such a specific list of "must haves" for their homes that most would prefer a good "lot" with building possibilities versus a home renovated for the current owner's needs. Unless you are a developer, interior designer or someone with a great sense of current housing trends, you risk the possibility of building or renovating in a manner that fails to recoup the investment.

So my suggestion is to keep the home for as long as you want it, then list it "as is" with the knowledge that the new buyer will, in all likelihood, be making changes to the property after the close of escrow. In the meantime, you save yourself the time, expense and risk of renovations to your home.

Good luck!
Grace Morioka
Allison James Estates & Homes
Tel (408) 426-1616

Buyer Rebates up to 50 percent of Commission, Low, Low Cost Listings to Sellers
... more
0 votes 13 answers Share Flag
Thu Oct 17, 2013
Susan Sweeley answered:
The home listed for $1,478,000 on April 10th. Sold for $1,450,000 on May 14th.

Yes the market was really moving fast then with multiple offers after one weekend on the market. This home took a little longer due to it facing onto a fairly busy street. Cute home. ... more
0 votes 7 answers Share Flag
Tue Oct 15, 2013
Tony answered:
This house (10549 Creston Dr.) finally was sold for $1,245,000 (

Now compare the above house with its almost similar next door neighboring house (10481 Creston Dr.), which was sold for $1,620,000 (

Even though the house at 10549 Creston Dr. was a short sale, the price was being manipulated badly, yet banks approved? There is some thing strange going on! Which price is the correct price? House prices can be manipulated by people involved in the transactions, can't they?
... more
0 votes 12 answers Share Flag
Fri Aug 16, 2013
Juliana Lee answered:
Inspectors who do a lot of work for a particular real estate agent will often respond very quickly to requests made by that agent. It is one of the factors to consider when you choose your real estate agent.

I don't know of any inspectors who advertise they can do an inspection without scheduling it. You might be able to work out a deal with an inspector by paying him some money up front to respond to you as quickly as possible.

Zip code 94022 home values at
Zip code 94022 just sold home information at

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
... more
0 votes 4 answers Share Flag
Sat Jun 22, 2013
Tony answered:
Home prices in Los Altos have been ridiculous in the past 6-12 months. There has to be more factors besides the low inventory explanation. Before we talk about low inventory, what would be a normal inventory for a small city as Los Altos? Homes in Los Altos sold, but people are not moving in yet, leaving those empty homes with owners though as I see things around here. It would be good to know who bought those homes (investors, REITs, foreigners, high tech workers cashing in with stocks, etc) in Los Altos as all cash, no bank contingency, no physical inspection contingency, etc, what so ever. They sold home over the weekend of open house, then decisions were made on the following Wed evenings. These buyers are definitely blindly to buy home without thorough review. How can they? They just don't have enough time to review. Floor plans for homes in Los Altos are crazy. Some just added without permits, others added with permits, but never reported to the city for fear of increase in property taxes. People buy homes in Los Altos for land and location, period. The houses aren't that much to be looking at. In fact, they are pathetic looking for some of them that were sold for million(s) of dollars.

In the next year or so, the rate of increase in home prices in Los Atlos would taper off. There is no way it keeps going at this rate. There are a lot of artificial financial factors in the US and global that influence the real estate market right now. All you need to look at is how are the residential REITs performances to signal its market ahead.
... more
1 vote 7 answers Share Flag
Sun Jun 16, 2013
Matt Skrabo answered:
Hi there,

Los Altos has become a very hot market this year Spring, hitting numbers that put it right under Palo Alto. Home buyers like the flat land, the larger lots and great school district that Los Altos has to offer. You get more for your money in Los Altos than Palo Alto, however, homes are still selling 10% (+) over list price with an annual appreciation of 16% (+). Also what is making Los Altos so popular is there beautiful and clean downtown. One of the Google founders has acquired a lot of commercial real estate to make it affordable for small business owners and tenants to open up unique and community friendly businesses and retail shops, like the new baby friendly restaurant, Bumble.

I think it's a great time to buy in Los Altos with preparing yourself to go against multiple offer situations, with the possibility of paying 10-20% over list price.

Please, feel free to reach out anytime for assistance.

Best regards,
Matt Skrabo
... more
0 votes 7 answers Share Flag
Wed May 29, 2013
Tony answered:
Most people here have already concluded that it will be noisy to live with the backyards against Foothill Expressway, but there are ways to seal off the noise so it is more quiet inside the house, not a problem at all. Moreover, depending on your level of noise tolerance dictates your decision to buy or not. I would like to add one important thing in the discussion. If you now find the house has a specific location issue or defect, when it is time for you to sell, other potential buyers will have a similar problem as yours right now. As a result, your house (a significant amount of invested money) will appreciate at a much much lower rate than other homes at a more "normal" locations. You can see this clearly by comparing the purchased prices and sold prices of homes in the last 3 months that were near high way 280, 85, Foothill, Miramonte, Grant Rd, or large electrical transformers, etc. ... more
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