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Home Buying in San Mateo County : Real Estate Advice

  • All61
  • Local Info4
  • Home Buying22
  • Home Selling2
  • Market Conditions4

Activity 394
Thu May 9, 2013
Richard Williamson answered:
Wed Apr 17, 2013
Steven Ornellas answered:
Hi Keith,

All properties, whether distressed or not, are going into contract with little delay during this STRONG Seller's Market. So, you should keep ALL of your options OPEN.

Many Buyers start a property search only focusing on distressed property due to a belief they are cheaper and less difficult to buy than non-distressed property which is simply is not the case.

Basically, there are four types of "distressed/foreclosure" property. Here's a quick relative risk/difficulty scale for distressed property (1 being the most risky):

1) Trustee Sale-
You personally go to the County court house and bid on a home you probably have never seen the inside of, nor will have the opportunity to fully investigate. Seasoned investors need only apply. Cash/Cashiers check only, no financing. You may be interested in these two videos; “Foreclosure Auction Guide”

2) Auction Company Sale-
A little better, at least you have a seat in a packed room where the auctioneer’s primary job is to get the highest offer from a much larger group than #1 above has. You are buying “AS-IS”. Do you have the ability to gauge cost of repairs you might see? This option is best for those who can walk a home and calculate refurbishment costs on the fly IF an investigative period has been allowed. If you are “gung ho” about an auction of this sort perhaps you should go through the steps to vet the property yourself and consider attending an event to see “how the sausage is made” and how comfortable you would be if you went this route.

3) REO-
When a property does not sell via #1 or #2 above you eventually see it come on market via a Realtor® MLS. You will still needs the skills to evaluate property condition and the good news is your Realtor® will be helping you to do so along with professional property inspectors you hire. The downside of an REO is the Bank typically only sells "AS IS" (meaning, the Bank will not typically make repairs even if you identify an issue) and the Seller's property disclosures are limited to what is statutorily required by law.

Before moving on to 4, 1 thru 3 above have a higher probability for issues with Title, referred to as "Title Defect" or "Cloud on Title", which means you would not have clean/clear ownership - not a comforting thought.

Some examples of situations affecting Title are:
-Outstanding mortgages/liens
-Restrictive covenants
-Outstanding future interests of others in the property
-Easements on the property
-Variations in the names of grantors and grantees
-Variations in the chain of title
-Outstanding dower interests.
-Adverse possession claims
-Structural encroachments
-Existing violations of equitable servitudes or covenants
-Zoning restriction violations

Here’s another video from the auction trenches: "Wells Fargo auctions off house they don't own" and here’s an interesting situation I have run into:

"REOs: How Buyers Can Avoid Hidden Unsecured Property Tax Liens"

4) Short Sale-
While there is nothing chronologically short about this option (plan on 60-90+ days before a Lender approval) it nonetheless is the closest relative to the non-distressed sale (where the Seller is selling “AS IS”/no Seller credits or repairs). The only real risk with these transactions is the underwhelming boredom and the overwhelming mystery of why it takes so long to obtain Lender Approval(s)!

If you enjoy the “thrill of the deal” proceed with options 1 thru 2. If you like to know what you are getting for your money stick with 3 or 4 and non-distressed property.
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Wed Apr 17, 2013
Ron Thomas answered:
Probably around $250 per square foot:
If you need a better answer than that; you should contact a CONTRACTOR, not a Realtor!
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Thu Mar 19, 2015
Robert Applegate answered:
Menlo and Burlingame are the two most expensive areas in your search criteria.
You will get more for your money in any City between the two you mention.
Each one is different, so you should look at what they have to offer and decide which one you think best fits your life style. School district does matter because it drives value and thus appreciation.
From an investment perspective I would say that you should get similar appreciation if you stick with the right neighborhoods.
All the best,
Robert Applegate
Coldwell Banker
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Thu Apr 25, 2013
Cindy Davis answered:
Sounds like you're making a statement as opposed to asking a question. House are increasing in price...

For a little perspective, we are only 50% of the way back to the prices of 2004-2006. And, today's buyers are FAR MORE Qualified than they were during the last boom.

We're definitely on an upward movement...whether it's good or bad remains to be seen.
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Thu Apr 18, 2013
Ron Thomas answered:
Well, the recession lasted, how long, 3-4 years; and some say we are still in it.
The Economy is a roller coaster ride; has been for two hundered years. It goes Up, and it goes down.

The advantage of Real Estate is that over the long term, it goes up. There has not been a seven year term when R.E. was down.
And, yes, no one CONTROLS the prices of Real Estate.
Remember, they aren't making any more of it!
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Wed Apr 24, 2013
Robin Spalding Vaccaro answered:
Hi David -

What Flavio said is true.

I look at a lot of tax records when I'm listing and selling. It's amazing how many homeowners in the past 6 years have been in default. Most have been able to re-instate the loan by bring the payments current.

In the current market, an owner in default may actually be able to sell their home quickly. They may even receive multiple offers if the property is in good condition, has a good location or other desirable factors. I've seen short sales, where the property is worth less than the amount of the mortgage, get multiple offers way over asking and true market value and by the closing date, it's no longer a short sale and can close in normal time frame without lender approval.

Anything's possible in this market. What's true to day may not be tomorrow.

Good luck.
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Tue Jul 2, 2013
Jeff and Sue Kockos answered:
It is very hot! Great location and price for the area! I will even rebate you 1% if you need a realtor to represent you. Feel free to contact me with any questions. 650.430.8587
I am available to show you the Meadows whenever you have time!.
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Mon Apr 8, 2013
The Medford Team answered:
It’s like a world gone mad: hundreds of buyers lining up to get homes they can finally afford, but no matter what they do, they can’t seem to get one. Not just a San Francisco problem, it’s across the entire Bay Area. The result? Disappointment, frustration, even anger. Directed at whom?


It goes without saying that Realtors aren’t the root of the issue. Cash only for listings? We're only the messengers - we're not making up the rules. We’re not the reason that the Bay Area is experiencing an inventory crisis, nor are we responsible for soaring prices. Just like we’re not responsible for record low interested rates. Larger forces are at work. We are, however, the most visible targets in sight and, ipso facto, the ones getting the heat. So much so that many buyers, having written numerous offers with one Realtor, are switching to another and another and another just to see if the next has some market secret the first, second or third didn’t have.

It’s time for everyone to take a deep breath and remember how we ended up here. The market reversed in February, 2012 and has been a seller’s market ever since. Foreclosure listings have dwindled to a trickle (there is NO foreclosure shadow inventory in the Bay Area). A majority of normal sellers have decided to sit tight. Many distressed homeowners, previously under water and candidates for short sales, are now back in the black. Others have decided to capitalize on low interest rates to invest in their current digs and remodel rather than relocate.

Consequently, inventory is down 25% from 2013. Additionally, cash buyers are out in throngs, causing a Bay Area wide jump in cash transactions from 31% last year to well over 40% in Q1, 2013. And they are not just investors - many families are pooling cash resources to help other family members buy a home they will personally live in.

Sellers, sensing blood in the water, are demanding offers be written with no appraisal contingency since it’s obvious they won’t appraise at offered prices. In the midst of this, some buyers still believe they can offer under asking because they don’t “feel” any given property is worth as much as others are willing to pay. Realtors, trying to advise buyers what they need to do to get a home, become the bad guys because buyers don’t like what they are hearing. Thus they switch to another Realtor, hoping that somehow something magical will happen.

In your specific case, it's not the listing agent who decides whose offer gets accepted. If they say the listing is "cash only," it's usually because of condition or title issues and it's the bank and asset manager insisting on cash, not the realtor. If they say "cash only", don't bother writing an offer on it with a loan - they will ignore it because you didn't follow the rules.

9 offers? Some have made over 20 before they get an offer accepted. Like it or not, the market has changed, and if you want a home, you are going to have to figure out the current rules of engagement ... and play to win.
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Fri Apr 5, 2013
Sue Vaterlaus answered:
Another agent called me today who has a 1 bdr in Belmont for rent for %1550. Sorry I know nothng about the places you mentioned.
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Sun Sep 21, 2014
Check the first time home buying programs on San Mateo County Department of Housing website

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Sun Mar 31, 2013
Jeri Richardson-Daines answered:
Great question! Woodside Plaza is a great neighborhood in Redwood City. Typically you will get more for your money than neighboring cities. I live in Woodside Plaza (and am a local Realtor) and I can tell you that it has a great feel to it and is a great fit for all types of clients (including but not limited to families, young coupes, singles, retirees who are looking to downsize, etc.) Our median prices have been steadily climbing so resale values are very strong. I highly recommend that you consider the plaza as its a great neighborhood for all! ... more
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Thu Apr 2, 2015
Antonio Prado answered:
Hello GnomeGardeners,

This is an old post, but if you need any help let me know. Sometimes houses will not make to MLS by owners request, and agents will e-mail each other about it. I can advise you should anything come up assuming you still have a need.

Antonio Prado
Better Homes and Gardens
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Tue Mar 19, 2013
David Tapper answered:
It does get foggy, but nothing like the Skyline area. I was driving over in that area on Thursday and it was real foggy near Bart, but it wasn't too bad when I got to Brunswick across from the park.


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Sun Mar 17, 2013
Michael Cheng answered:
What would you sue for? If your EMD is at the escrow company, you just need to get the listing agent to have the seller sign off.

And, if you do file an lawsuit against the seller, you would risk having to pay for the seller's legal fees if you lose the case. In that case, we're probably looking at a bill for $50-100K. ... more
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Sun Feb 24, 2013
My NC Homes Team answered:
They can try but they are going to have issues. You should speak to an attorney and have your agent send a written notice to the listing agent that unless the Seller releases your Deposit you will be filing a lien on the property. ... more
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Sun Feb 17, 2013
Jeff and Sue Kockos answered:
Don't waste your time at the bank go for sellers financing.
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Sun Feb 17, 2013
Victoria Ferrando answered:
Looks intriguing and will help alleviate our inventory shortage we're currently experiencing. We'll be learning moe in a couple of weeks.

Vicki, Intero
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Fri Feb 22, 2013
Anjali Jain Ellis answered:
It is always advisable to look neyond just an online listing. Driving through the neighborhoods is always a good idea. And soliciting the help of a local realtor who is familiar with the area can be very helpful to look beyond the surface.

It is a tight real estate market right now, houses, especially in that price point are selling fast. But with a little flexibility and imagination you might be be able to create a home in the area,

If you want to discuss further. do not hesitate to call me. I would love to help!

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Tue Jun 18, 2013
Michael Chalhoub answered:
i have 2 fourplexes, 2 triplexes and a 10 unit for sale, not on mls. call me at 650.465.9036 to discuss
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