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Home Buying in Palo Alto : Real Estate Advice

  • All331
  • Local Info27
  • Home Buying162
  • Home Selling20
  • Market Conditions42

Activity 180
Wed Sep 8, 2010
Mack McCoy answered:
I don't think it communicates our value especially well . . .

For one thing, most of us don't just "show houses," we educate our buyers as to the quality of the finish work, the siting, neighborhood conditions, whether the location warrants upgrading, whether there is other potential or compromises with the home . . . to me, it's the difference between being a tourist with or without a guide. Oh, we missed the Eiffel Tower? How did that happen! Wish somebody would have told us!! ... more
0 votes 8 answers Share Flag
Mon Aug 30, 2010
Brian LeBars answered:
Carl says it best on question #6.

Keep in mind appraisers will call out some issues if significant, i.e. sloping floors etc. This can also become a loan issue. Something to keep in mind.

Best of luck.
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0 votes 9 answers Share Flag
Thu Aug 12, 2010
Grace Hanamoto answered:
Hello Karen and thanks for your post.

Unfortunately, I've run into a similar situation with one of my last buyers who used Chase. Their loan took almost 45 days to fund, and I'm hearing from other mortgage brokers that this is not an uncommon situation with both Chase and Bank of America right now. I'm not sure why, and perhaps your loan officer will have better idea regarding timing, but I do understand your situation.

My suggestion is to sit down with your loan officer and get him/her or their supervisor to make phone calls to find out why the loan has been delayed, and what the underwriters need to complete your deal. Unfortunately, the volume of loans and the timing of funding often affects the lending process, but there is no reason that the bank should not be able to give you an update. For me, as the buyer's agent, I ended up calling the bank almost hourly to find out what the problem was, and, in the end, I do believe that they funded the loan slightly (like 3 days) faster than 45 days because I was such a hideous pain-in-the-butt in constantly calling and needling the loan department--they wanted me gone!! LOL!

So give your lender a call and ask for an update. If it's necessary, I do have a mortgage broker who can get a loan in about 15 days--that' just about enough time to meet the deadline of the lenders in your short sale without the risk of losing the home.

Good luck!!

Grace Morioka, SRES
Area Pro Realty
San Jose, CA
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0 votes 1 answer Share Flag
Tue Jul 27, 2010
Daniel Del Real answered:
I agree with you. The market is similar to the Central Valley market prices have bottomed as of early last year due to the lack of inventory, rates and buyer incentives. Last month we actually had the medium price of homes "drop”. Inventory is starting to increase as buyers are slowing down. This is an area where we will be for sometime. I feel we will be hitting our previous bottom again and will a few times within the next few years. Its hard to gauge when we are at what feels like the mercy of the banks and their flood gate gods…. All I can say is for our market we will be treading water for a few years.

Daniel Del Real,C RS
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0 votes 15 answers Share Flag
Tue Jul 13, 2010
Joseph Chen - (650) 776-1997 answered:
Hello Palo Buyer,

I am a local agent. I currently live in Mountain View.

I am working with an architect right now that offers high quality custom contemporary green / energy efficient homes. using steel and concrete for as low as $200 per sqft.

My loan agent and I can help you pay for some of your closing costs if you choose to work with us in finding a property to rebuild.

Please feel free to call me if you have any questions.

Joseph Chen
Keller William Realty
Palo Alto
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0 votes 4 answers Share Flag
Sun Jun 6, 2010
Vbp answered:
I personally think that Wolf's calculation is correct. Cost per square foot to contractor could even be lower. Contractors costs charged to homeowners already included all the soft costs plus profits and contingencies.. What surprised me is the lack of Knowledge the so-called professionals who commented on Wolf's calculations.

Definitely another local speculation, which doesn't mean it's another bubble. Economist magazine is talking about double dip recession in this current issue.
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0 votes 18 answers Share Flag
Tue May 18, 2010
Holder Real Estate Team answered:
I agree with Optimizedprime.

The only reason I could see higher interest rates hurting a home buyer is that it will be tougher to qualify for a loan. So, even if prices drop dramatically, you might be able to get the loan today but not 6 months from now (hypothetical). Also, if the price of homes drops significantly slower than the rise in interest rates (which is a likely scenario for a period of time) it will actually be more expensive to pay your mortgage (the cost of ownership) when rates rise compared to the low ones we have now (also hypothetical).

It is this scenario that agents here are thinking about when they say it would be better to buy when rates are still low. Of course, optimizedprime's points are incredibly valid and all scenarios should be taken into account when making your decision to buy/sell.

If interest rates get high enough they could (not a prediction) cause a shift in the market to an early 80s market scenario where 18-25% interest rates were the lowest available from the banks and many sellers choose to offer seller financing (taking back a note on the property).

Other than that, most PA buyers have to high an income to qualify for the tax credit. It is uncertain how the credit indirectly affects home buyers and sellers in the area - if there are any measurable indirect micro or macro economic effects at play.
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0 votes 11 answers Share Flag
Sat May 15, 2010
Optimizedprime answered:
In case you haven't been reading the papers, real estate is about as good a long-term investment as .com stocks were back in 2000. Some areas have corrected WAY down and "might" have a chance of holding value, but a lot of places like Palo Alto are still impossibly high and since all markets are connected in the long-run, there's no place for prices to go but down in not-yet-corrected areas.

So if your condo would have sold for $800k in 1996, then there's a good chance it won't go down in value. If you can rent it out for $4000/month*, it might be okay plus or minus ten percent in the long run.

Was the 1996 price $250k? Is the max rent you might get $2500? If either these are true your investment is sitting in a cliff and could fall from the sky at any minute.


* Figure "$5000/month per $million of purchase price" as a good rule-of-thumb for corrected price-to-rent ratio.
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0 votes 8 answers Share Flag
Mon Apr 19, 2010
Holder Real Estate Team answered:
Hi there.

Off-Market listings are usually what are called "pocket listings" - not formally listed homes but there is a handshake agreement between an agent and the owner at a certain price - and those that are going to be put on the market soon. Very few are listings that are actually formally listed and the seller elects to completely sell the home out of the public eye.

There are several reasons why someone might choose to sell their home off-market. Mostly, this is done for high-end luxury homes over $10 Million. It can draw a lot of unwanted public attention and unqualified buyers. Keeping a home off the market can allow the listing agent to more easily filter unqualified buyers out of the mix and only allow serious buyers into the home. To do this, they have to let select agents who routinely deal in such high-end price ranges in on the secret.

This will limit the amount of exposure the home gets and possibly alienate some possible buyers. It is the risk the home owners must be willing to take to keep their privacy. You can usually find these homes in Gentry, San Francisco Mag, Haute Living, San Jose Mag, Du Pont Registry, etc.

There are few sales in any market like this per year, but when the do sell the county has to record the assessed taxes. Take the tax amount, divide by .01-.0125 and you have a rough estimate of the purchase price. Voila, Zillow's zestimate.
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0 votes 4 answers Share Flag
Sat Apr 10, 2010
John Juarez answered:

You should include the Mission San Jose High School attendance area of the Fremont Unified School District in Fremont in your search parameters.

Check the performance of the elementary schools, middle school and high school in Fremont’s Mission San Jose High School attendance area and you will find that those schools compare favorably with any in the State of California.

In addition, your real estate dollar will buy you more house/townhouse/condo than on the Peninsula or Santa Clara County. What a deal! More house four your money in an area with top performing schools.

I would love to have personal conversation with you to discuss the attributes of buying in Fremont.

John Juarez, REALTOR®
The Medford Real Estate Team
Windermere Welcome Home
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0 votes 7 answers Share Flag
Tue Mar 30, 2010
Holder Real Estate Team answered:
First off, the list price of any home has no bearing (usually) on its actual value. It is simply what the seller hopes to get - that's it. Current value is determined by looking at recent comparable sales.

Marco brings up a very valid point in regards to historical valuations and "Ketchup Economics". Because the real estate market moves so much slower than other markets, like the stock market, the year on year data only gets you so far when you look at trends and real value. You really only get an idea of what others out there currently are willing to pay.

I do worry about looking at the housing market now versus the historical trend as the sole basis of whether homes are under or over valued. The reason is that such a conclusion rests on a few assumptions (i.e. population has stayed the same, the amount of available homes has stayed the same, average incomes has stayed the same, etc.). If Marco has all that pegged, then there's no need to worry - and I want to meet him for coffee.

Either you believe in owning a home as a personal residence over a long period of time in Palo Alto or you don't. Buying a personal residence in many ways is a luxury item - not necessarily the best economic investment but an investment in stability, community, and your family's future (future generations more appropriately). If you plan on owning a home as an investment (rental property), then either the numbers work or they don't...and chances are they don't in Palo Alto.
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0 votes 10 answers Share Flag
Tue Mar 30, 2010
Holder Real Estate Team answered:
Hi Suzanna.

Generally, yes. There tends to be a inverse effect on the relation between the size of the home and the price per square foot - especially at the extremes like the small home you're talking about. Jonp gives a good viewpoint on the matter, although a little confusing.

In my experience, a lot of agents will agree to list the home above market value (although they clue the sellers in that it is above market value) and then use the buyers offers as ammunition to get the price down a get it sold. It is really a bait and switch and very unethical - but it happens a lot.

There are other circumstances where the agent does advise the sellers on comparative market value, but relents when the sellers insist on a higher price (to still get the listing) - and the realize 90 days down the line they missed the boat. That happens too.

Whatever it is, list price is NEVER market value. Market Value is determined when the buyer makes an offer and the seller accepts. Use your intuition, your research and your negotiating skills to make a solid offer for a fair price. If they don't accept move on or re-approach them in 2 weeks.
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0 votes 6 answers Share Flag
Mon Mar 29, 2010
Dunman answered:
I like Altaire Walk and I think it will have a higher resale value in 5 years because of the community, the convenience of the JCC and the floor plan and materials used.
0 votes 4 answers Share Flag
Mon Mar 29, 2010
Erica Glessing answered:
Just a fun extra note, the Palo Alto Elks Lodge on El Camino Real will be opening its doors in about a year or less. It will have a fabulous pool and gym. If you've considered becoming an Elk, you could volunteer a few hours a year to help the community , and belong to an old PA organization. The dues right now are pretty low.

Just in case you want to get a place where you don't have to have a pool and HOA dues to reflect the higher insurance! The building is going up near E. Charleston/El Camino.

Erica Nelson
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0 votes 13 answers Share Flag
Mon Mar 29, 2010
Marcy Moyer answered:
In the past this pending with release status has been used almost exclusively for transactions where the buyer's offer was contingent on the sale of their property. However, in today's market it is often used during a short sale when the sale is contingent on the approval of the price and terms by the lender or lenders who hold the mortgages.
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0 votes 5 answers Share Flag
Mon Mar 8, 2010
Newseller1 answered:
Thank you. I have gone through all the responses, and I note that my question has been fully answered by several.

I appreciate the insight shared.
0 votes 14 answers Share Flag
Fri Feb 26, 2010
Gilbert Richards answered:
There are definitely a lot of options to choose from. Make sure you get connected to a good property search system (and realtor) that can break down your search by area (including school district).

I recommend the Home Scouting Report because it's password protected access to the MLS without your information being sold or accessed by third party advertisers.

Dave Tapper with Cashin Company in Burlingame knows that program extremely well and is very good with helping buyers in the education phase of their homebuying experience.
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0 votes 12 answers Share Flag
Sun Jan 31, 2010
Erica Glessing answered:
I grew up in Palo Alto and I can't think of a better time to buy in comparison to the past few years. Here's a list I pulled, without street addresses, to give you a flavor of what is available. Some may have actually gone pending, it's a few days old.

You should be prepared to offer $1.5 on a $1.1 or $1.2 if it is beautiful and meets your needs -- or $1.5 on a $1.8 if it has been hanging out on the market for some time.

I also love Los Altos for its downtown and flavor, but I like Palo Alto schools a lot better especially at the high school level. Gunn High ranks in the top .01 of 1 percent of high schools nationally. I know without kids yet you're not thinking that way, but seriously, 15 years can go by in a blink!

If you can swing it, I highly recommend a single family home since 1-you seem to be able to afford it and 2-there will not be an HOA fee and 3-it will do better over the long term, typically, because you can have complete control of updates, landscaping, and other factors where let's say you can add a bed/bath combo down the line.

Let me know if you need any help! I grew up in downtown Palo Alto, and my husband grew up near Gunn in Baron Park (our family is still living there!).

Erica Nelson

MAGNOLIA DR $1,999,998 4 3|1 2,710 SqFt 8,000+ SqFt to .25 Acre 6 Palo Alto 1

COULOMBE DR $1,998,000 4 4|0 2,770 SqFt 6,500+ to 8,000 SqFt 1 Palo Alto 1

WEBSTER ST $1,950,000 2 2|1 2,433 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 16 Palo Alto 1

PAGE MILL RD $1,875,000 5 5|0 3,600 SqFt 5+ to 10 Acres 25 Palo Alto 1

GUINDA ST $1,850,000 3 1|1 1,500 SqFt 8,000+ SqFt to .25 Acre 120 Palo Alto 1

LELAND AV $1,750,000 4 3|0 2,542 SqFt 6,500+ to 8,000 SqFt 3 Palo Alto 1

OREGON AV $1,749,000 4 3|1 2,609 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 16 Palo Alto 1

WHITCLEM DR $1,699,000 4 3|0 2,272 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 1 Palo Alto

HOLLY OAK DR $1,675,000 4 2|0 2,234 SqFt 6,500+ to 8,000 SqFt 51 Palo Alto

SILVA AV $1,599,000 4 3|0 2,848 SqFt 8,000+ SqFt to .25 Acre 1 Palo Alto

PARK BL $1,575,000 4 3|0 2,200 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 1 Palo Alto

SUTTER AV $1,550,000 4 2|1 2,414 SqFt 6,500+ to 8,000 SqFt 56 Palo Alto

FERNANDO AV $1,549,000 4 3|1 2,347 SqFt 6,500+ to 8,000 SqFt 5 Palo Alto

ALMA ST $1,485,000 2 2|1 1,782 SqFt 8,000+ SqFt to .25 Acre 85 Palo Alto

WILKIE WY $1,425,000 5 3|0 2,131 SqFt 1 to 4,500 SqFt 1 Palo Alto

PRATT LN $1,419,000 4 3|1 2,408 SqFt 1 to 4,500 SqFt Palo Alto

ROSS RD $1,398,000 3 2|0 1,750 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 55 Palo Alto

W MEADOW DR $1,389,000 5 3|0 2,131 SqFt 1 to 4,500 SqFt 1 Palo Alto

W MEADOW DR $1,388,000 4 2|1 1,902 SqFt 1 to 4,500 SqFt 1 Palo Alto

W MEADOW DR $1,375,000 4 2|1 1,902 SqFt 1 to 4,500 SqFt 1 Palo Alto

WILKIE WY $1,375,000 5 3|0 2,131 SqFt 1 to 4,500 SqFt 1 Palo Alto

LOS ROBLES AV $1,350,000 3 3|0 1,734 SqFt 6,500+ to 8,000 SqFt 52 Palo Alto

CORK OAK WY $1,350,000 4 2|0 1,859 SqFt 6,500+ to 8,000 SqFt 53 Palo Alto

LOS ROBLES AV $1,300,000 2 1|0 1,233 SqFt 8,000+ SqFt to .25 Acre 90 Palo Alto

GREER RD $1,299,000 3 2|0 1,357 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 60 Palo Alto

THOMAS DR $1,295,000 4 2|0 1,713 SqFt 6,500+ to 8,000 SqFt 53 Palo Alto

BRYANT ST $1,290,000 2 1|0 1,082 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 91 Palo Alto

W MEADOW DR $1,288,000 4 2|1 1,902 SqFt 1 to 4,500 SqFt 1 Palo Alto

FALLEN LEAF ST $1,274,950 5 4|0 2,340 SqFt 1 to 4,500 SqFt 1 Palo Alto

S CALIFORNIA AV $1,250,000 5 3|0 2,371 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 88 Palo Alto

STARR KING CI $1,199,000 4 2|0 1,679 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 56 Palo Alto

LOMA VERDE AV $1,199,000 3 2|0 1,511 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 59 Palo Alto

RYAN CT $1,149,000 3 3|0 1,931 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 19 Palo Alto

PARK BL $1,149,000 3 2|0 1,550 SqFt 6,500+ to 8,000 SqFt 86 Palo Alto

RAMONA ST $1,049,000 3 1|0 1,027 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 60 Palo Alto

OREGON AV $999,000 2 2|0 1,310 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 63 Palo Alto

WILTON AV $998,000 3 2|0 1,814 SqFt 6,500+ to 8,000 SqFt 56 Palo Alto

MIDDLEFIELD RD $895,000 2 1|0 0 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 84 Palo Alto

CHANNING AV $825,000 1 1|0 810 SqFt 1 to 4,500 SqFt 86 Palo Alto

AMHERST ST $799,000 1 1|0 684 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 76 Palo Alto

PARK BL $750,000 2 2|0 877 SqFt 4,500+ to 6,500 SqFt 63 Palo Alto
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0 votes 3 answers Share Flag
Wed Jan 27, 2010
Bill Mccord answered:
The mere fact that you old agent made such a request justifies your decision to look for a more professional partner in your home search. There are plenty of us out here, so check out those who work in your area and see if their answers to other questions indicate a better grasp of the clients needs, rather than how to protect a commission.
Good luck,
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0 votes 23 answers Share Flag
Fri Jan 15, 2010
94301er answered:
Nice to see the community working to delete the unsightly posts here. If someone is constantly abrasive it inhibits a free exchange of ideas, and this is even bad for the abrasive one because they tend to be most in need of being informed. ... more
1 vote 37 answers Share Flag
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