828, Both Buyer and Seller in Palo Alto, CA

Why this home has not been sold?

Asked by 828, Palo Alto, CA Sun Jun 28, 2009

854 RORKE WY, Palo Alto, CA 94303.

This home is in good condition. Living size 2099 sf is good. Lot size 7245 sf is also ok. Landscape is pretty. It has been on market for quite a while. Its asking price has been lowered several times. Right now, with 1.39M, 666 USD/sqft, it is still on market.

Any thoughtful analysis for this home? What would be the fair sale price for this home in the current market?

Thanks.

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Answers

11
Claire, , Palo Alto, CA
Tue Jun 30, 2009
Grace,

Thanks. I agree that feng shui issues might be another negative for creeks, but I do think flood risk is regarded as a real thing by most buyers, and not just because of semi-superstitious cultural stuff like feng shui. During the winters, the water levels in the creeks can get dangerously high, and I know my neighbors and I in Midtown get a bit concerned at times. If your backyard is actually ajacent to the creek, you might really get nervous.

If you were living right next to Adobe creek in 2008, you would not have been happy during this time (and buyers of the condos discussed here might want to consider this, as they are right by the places shown in this video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGCEXQPuu-U

And let's not even think about the nightmare that happened in 1998: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KTNaQmeCxY

I know some work has been done on the creeks since 1998, but I don't know if it's been enough to prevent another 1998 scenario from happening again. Anyone out there know?
1 vote
Claire, , Palo Alto, CA
Mon Jun 29, 2009
All the points Grace brings up are insightful....but isn't the #1 reason by far the fact that the house is right next to the creek? Having to worry about the creek overflowing right into your backyard during the rainy season is a humongous negative. It's the same reason 3106 David isn't selling. Both houses deserve a big discount because of their location right next to creeks, and the sellers don't seem to want to admit that.
1 vote
Claire, , Palo Alto, CA
Tue Jun 30, 2009
828, the 2008 video is of the East Meadow Circle area, which is right near 101 where a lot of the new condos and townhomes are being built. If you look at the flood zone maps, the eastern parts of town have the highest flood risk. I think closeness to the bay means that the creeks fill up more quickly in those areas and then have more potential to overflow. The 1998 videos demonstrate that very vividly.

The areas around Gunn and El Camino Real would have relatively low flood risk due to their distance from the bay.

Thanks, Grace, for the interesting historical info.
0 votes
Grace Morioka, Agent, San Jose, CA
Tue Jun 30, 2009
Hello Claire and thanks for posting the information about the videos.

I recall the flooding of 1998 with clarity as that particular year, the area around my home was flooded--although we stayed perfectly dry, and a brand new Barry Swenson development in downtown San Jose was under 6 feet of water thanks the Guadalupe. We've not seen rains or flooding like that since and most of it has been due to improvements installed by the county water district. The flooding was a tough wake-up call, but the County has responded appropriately to the task.

As for 2008, I saw that the flooding was contained in the streets, and that's precisely how the water should drain--believe it or not. Long time ago, the Bayshore Freeway (101) was called the "Bayshore" because it came RIGHT up against the bay. Over time, however, to claim more land, the areas on the east side of the 101 have been filled in to create additional spaces for building and homes. In these areas, the possibility of flooding is far greater due to the nature of the soil and the proximity to a larger source of flooding--the bay, and this was clearly seen in the video.

Although flooding is a problem in many parts of the Bay Area, perhaps the best method to determine flooding would be to check the natural hazard report for this home. Based on the location of the property, the report will provide the last incident of flooding and the, most importantly, the possibliity of further flooding in the area. The only upside to most of the homes in California is that developers have (for more than 50 years) built homes in a manner that elevated the properties to keep the homes above projected flood plains. Provided the succeeding homeowners respected the intended swale and drainage patterns for the property, the water from any creek should flow around the home and not though it.

Again, thanks for the video. It was very interesting to see, and brought back rather interesting memories of sitting in developer's offices mapping action plans to handle the flooding in various locations.

Sincerely,
Grace Morioka
Area Pro Realty
0 votes
828, Both Buyer And Seller, Palo Alto, CA
Tue Jun 30, 2009
Claire,

Thanks for the info. From the videos, I can tell the flooding area for San Francisquito Creek. For the Adobe creek, was the video showing west of El Camino (Gunn High area), or the zone between Alma and El Camino, or the area between the Middelfield and Alma (Mitchell Park), or between 101 and the Middlefield? I cannot tell from the video.

Thanks.
0 votes
Grace Morioka, Agent, San Jose, CA
Mon Jun 29, 2009
Hello Claire and thanks for your email.

While the creek does present a water issue, I think price and amenities for this home, more than location of creek, has been the reason for the greater disincentive to buy. There are many creek tributaries in and around Palo Alto, and most do not necessarily negatively affect the home price nor pose an immediate water threat. Palo Alto and the County of Santa Clara have spent millions in widening creek beds and in providing effective storm run-off in the past decade, so creeks--while problematic--should not present a huge water problem to the home.

I won't, however, belittle the presence of the creek as a factor in this home's not selling, as many cultures that believe in and practice Feng Shui (the art of placement) are careful about the location of the natural elements, including the presence or abundance of too much water. While I don't personally have a problem with water, I will admit that for some cultures, creeks and water may be seen as a negative feature for any property, which is why homes with pools (too much water) have a difficult time selling.

So, Claire, I do agree that the creek has had a negative affect on the sale, but I think, first and foremost, the earlier home price of $1.5 million was the reason for the lengthy number of days on market and the lack of improvements in some of the key areas of the home (such as the kitchen). Thanks for pointing out the creek, though, that was a good call!

Sincerely,
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
0 votes
Grace Morioka, Agent, San Jose, CA
Mon Jun 29, 2009
Hello 828 and thanks for your comments and praise, I certainly do appreciate it.

Area Pro Realty, the company that I work for, started only in December 2009, and our current websites do not allow me to post a CV or resume, but you can find out a lot about me here on Trulia. I typically do not post my picture on any websites--so while I'm frequently answering questions all over the web, there are no pictures of me on any internet site. However, if you are a long time resident of Santa Clara Valley, you've probably seen me or heard my voice. In the 90s, I wrote for the San Jose Mercury News Real Estate section where I answered questions about real estate, and, yes, I think there was a picture printed of me occasionally. I was also often seen on Channel 54 KTEH where I was both in front of and behind the camera and did some of the voice-over work for the station--I did it enough of this that people recognized me in stores and public places, which was unnerving. I have been on local radio and television much in my youth, and now I live a nicely anonymous life of a Realtor and author.

But most of all, 828, I find that my picture does not change who hires me. Most of my clients hire me because they've read my blogs and my answers to questions, and they know that I am smart, experienced and real estate savvy, and, for them, that's really the most important aspect of the Realtor--not how I look.

Again, I certainly appreciate the accolades, and hope that my earlier post provided you with some thoughts for this home. if you should need my assistance, please contact me.

Sincerely,
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
Sunnyvale, CA
0 votes
828, Both Buyer And Seller, Palo Alto, CA
Mon Jun 29, 2009
Grace, thanks for your answer. You appear sharp. By the way, your link only gives an office information, where is your resume, experiences, photo etc like other agents?
0 votes
Grace Morioka, Agent, San Jose, CA
Sun Jun 28, 2009
Hello 828 and thanks for your question.

Chancing, of course, that you are the seller of this home looking for honest opinions, I will have to warn you that I will be blunt and frank regarding my assessment of the home. All in all, it is not a bad home, but I do see room for improvement.

828, you bring up a very good question as to why this lovely home has not yet sold, and I think I may have some components as to why the home remains on market for over 124 days. The first and primary reason, of course, has been the price. At $1.5 million, the home was listed too high for the area and the interior amenities. Although the exterior of the home looks wonderful, and portions of the interior are great the $1.5 and $1.4 million prices could not be supported. At $1.398 million, I see that the home may finally have been priced closer to the market for the area; however, I see that there may still need to be some adjustments in price.

First, there are four other homes in the area listed below the $1.398 million price. Each of the homes has updated or current kitchens--and, unfortunately, this home does not. The white cabinets look dated, and the arrangement of the interior kitchen cabinetry and components need to be rearranged. The floral wallpaper is a huge disincentive to many people because it does mean removing the paper in order to repaint or redecorate.

Lastly, the open beam ceilings are not well liked by many buyers. Most would prefer "sealed" or drywalled ceilings. The exposed beams, while popular in the 70s, look unfinished to many buyers today. If the ceilings were textured drywall rather than the exposed beams, I think there would be more interest in the home.

As for pricing, I would prefer not to speculate on an offering price here on a public forum. The best way to determine a good priice to offer for this home would be talk with a real estate professional who can review the home's condition and compoarables in the area. If you are interested in buying a home in Palo Alto, consider using a Real Estate Facilitator to assist you to save both time and money. For more information about Real Estate Facilitation, see my blog here on Trulia.

Good luck & happy house hunting!

Sincerely,
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Real Estate Facilitator
Area Pro Realty
0 votes
Jonp, , Palo Alto, CA
Sun Jun 28, 2009
828 -

I suspect the initial asking price was too high, and even though the price is good now, it may be that they are chasing the market down. Plus, it is now Summer, a slowing selling season What was the original listing price? Also, isn't that area in flood zone?
0 votes
Glen Mitchell, Agent, Half Moon Bay, CA
Sun Jun 28, 2009
With all the info I have looking at a 1/2 mile radius of recent solds and current active and pending homes, I would have to agree it looks like it is a pretty decent price. It mentions calling agent prior to writing offers and getting disclosure package. That may imply there is an issue or two. Maybe a short sale?? It would be key to get all that info and find out sellers motive before determining what best offer price would be. Let me know if I can help you get more info on the property.

Glen
Broker
415-722-6085
Web Reference:  http://www.maui4rent.com
0 votes
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