Halloween Time In Los Altos – Enjoy

Posted on October 28, 2009 by  
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Santa Rita's ScarecrowThroughout the year, many of our elementary schools have a variety of fundraisers. While Los Altos has a wonderful educational environment, in which the students flourish, the local Parent Teacher Associations (PTA’s) help to raise additional money to supplement the existing programs. Some of the most popular fundraisers include walk-a-thons and evening events with silent auctions.

I am always surprised by the creativity, and new ideas, that arise at the individual schools. Clearly, this is beyond our mothers baking cakes for a raffle. Auction items include weekends in Tahoe and Napa Valley, a yoga party for kids, tickets to the most popular concerts, and of course, an assortment of parent parties (e.g. gourmet dinners). In addition to the parent organizers, students also get involved with planning activities designed to welcome the whole community.

This Friday, a local elementary school in north Los Altos, Santa Rita, is hosting the 49th annual Witches Delight. It should be better than ever. The carnival rides are back for the second year and will include the Dizzy Dragons, Frog Hopper, Kite Swings and new Wild Raft ride. Other attractions include games for all ages, cake walk, obstacle course, cookie decorating, costume contest and more. If you stay late, you have the chance to enjoy dinner provided by the amazing “Santa Rita BBQers”.

Window painting in downtown Los AltosAdditionally, if you have the chance, we recommend that you take a stroll throughout the downtown village triangle. You will have the chance to take-in all of the hand painted windows with their various Halloween themes. It’s wonderful. Each year, just a few weeks prior to Halloween, the City of Los Altos sponsors a window painting contest. The contest, also in its 49th year, is open to all 4th – 8th Grade Students in the Los Altos area.

So, come on down, come on over, or come on up … and enjoy another slice of what makes Los Altos such a great place to live and raise a family.


Los Altos Real Estate – Trending Up

Posted on October 20, 2009 by  
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Trending UpJust like the teams heading to the World Series, the Los Altos market is in full swing.  In September alone, there were 38% more homes sold this year, than last.  Currently, there are only 86 homes on the market today.  With over 10,700 homes in the community, inventory is at its lowest point since February.  Locally, only a handful of buyers appear to be sitting on the fence.  Buyers are clearly snapping up well priced homes just days after they hit the market. More importantly, we are seeing a continued trend of homes selling with multiple offers.

In June, I wrote that … “we have a good equilibrium occurring, without a clear advantage for either buyers and or sellers in the current overall environment.”  This is no longer the case for Los Altos.  Sellers, who are realistic in their pricing, find themselves in the driver’s seat, selecting the best offer from a number of buyers.

However, in an adjacent community, buyers have the advantage.  At the current pace of homes actually selling in the next community over, it would take 9 months to sell every home on the market.  Compare that to Los Altos, where it would only take 3 months to work through the current inventory. My, how times have changed.  Just this past April, it would have taken both communities a full year to clear their inventory.  While both communities have a great deal in common, the Los Altos market has attracted an ever increasing number of buyers wanting to move into town.

For SaleContrast Los Altos with the roller coaster year real estate has had on a national level.  From the doom and gloom of our national news organizations, you would have thought the entire Country had realized a 50% decrease in home values.  Clearly, while there were significant impacts across the land, the bottom did not drop out of the Los Altos market.

Of course, it is always important to examine the microclimates of real estate before buying or selling.  Even on a regional basis, there are traditionally hazardous areas to avoid.  In California, the Central Valley, the LA basin, and many of the outlying suburban areas realized a significant decrease. Just as reported in the national media.  However, in northern California, more specifically the San Francisco Bay Area, there were communities which had only nominal impacts.  Los Altos was one of them.

Going forward, as the economy continues its rebound and nearby companies begin to once again build upon their current workforce (e.g. Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt recently announced “We’re hiring again.”), we should see a return to a consistent near-term upward trajectory on housing prices for Los Altos.  Our market has fortunately avoided many of the structural challenges facing other communities across the nation.

Run to successIn reviewing our local housing trends and real estate market indicators, it appears we are picking up speed as we head towards December.  Strap in, it is bound to be an interesting ride as we swing into 2010.


The Best Places To Raise A Family

Posted on October 17, 2009 by  
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Top 10Los Altos was once again ranked among the top 10 places to raise a family. You may recall that back in 2005, the Wall Street Journal ranked Los Altos as the best place to raise a family on the West Coast. At the time, the Journal ranking was quite an honor for our community, while this current study highlights our continuity.

While rankings come out from time to time, we have chosen to highlight those that speak to raising a family here in Los Altos. Here is why …

The mission statement for the City of Los Altos reads as follows:

“The mission of our city staff, council, commissions, committees and volunteers is to foster and maintain the City of Los Altos as a great place to live and to raise a family.”

While there are bullet points associated with the mission statement, the main statement represents its overarching objective. The focus is simple, keep Los Altos great. The desired outcome is to maintain the quality of life here in town.

It is always nice to have independent assessments affirm the value of Los Altos. Recently, Rob, a blogger on the east coast, wrote the following:

Children PlayingHome buyers, who are parents, are always on the look out for the perfect place to raise their children. Places that have excellent schools are often preferred, and in many cases, is a major factor in deciding where to buy a home. While school quality is important, there other many other factors that buyers consider when selecting a residential neighborhood.

Andrew Schiller, a geographer and founder of Location Inc., conducted a study that ranked the top 10 family-friendly metro areas in USA. The rankings were derived using six criteria that included: the availability of good schools, low crime rate, high home ownership rates, high numbers of residents with college degrees, and the percentage of families with children and single-family homes.

When a community has high ownership rates, it reflects an investment in the location by the residents, which is a positive aspect. A high number of college-educated residents in a community increases the likelihood of greater community involvement in the schools, which contributes to school quality. Home buyers with children value communities that already have a lot of children. The social network for both the children and parents are great in such communities.

In the study, Schiller made out two lists, one that considered home prices and one that did not. The research was conducted twice for each metro area, once without considering cost, and the second time considering reasonably priced areas. This way, the study was expected to reflect the top 10 choices and the best value communities in the top 10 U.S. metropolitan areas for raising children.

When home values were not a factor, the top locales for families with children in the top 10 largest U.S. metropolitan areas were:

1.In the Boston metro area: Sudbury, Massachusetts.
2.In the New York metro area: Manhasset, New York
3.In the Philadelphia area: Richboro, Pennsylvania
4.In the Washington area: Potomac, Maryland
5.In the Detroit area: Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
6.In the Chicago area: Lake Forest, Illinois
7.In the Dallas-Ft. Worth area: Highland Park, Texas
8.In the Houston area: Sugar Land, Texas
9.In the San Francisco Bay area: Los Altos, California
10.In the Los Angeles area: Moorpark, California

Village Park - Los AltosSo, there you have it … another independent ranking affirming why Los Altos is such a great community. Whether you are considering moving into Los Altos, or simply across town, we would be happy to help you find the home that is just right for you.

Call us today at 650-823-1434, or simply take a few moments to set up a quick home search, here. We look forward to working with you.


Something bigger than ourselves

outreached-handsAs I mentioned earlier, from time to time I will post something written by others I respect.  This week, I am sharing  a post written by Gino Blefari, Intero CEO, about the Intero Foundation. 

One of the wonderful aspects of Los Altos, is that there are so many people who like to help others.  Whether it is giving of their time, money, or both … the caring and compassion found in the community is a part of what makes it so great.  Carol & I moved to Los Altos because of the sense of community it exudes.  We remain here because of the people we have come to cherish. 

I am Fortunate to serve on the Intero Foundation Board of Directors with Gino.  His message below is about being a part of something bigger than ourselves. 

Enjoy … 

intero-foundationToday I want to share something that we do here at Intero that I am especially proud of. And, when you think about it, this really is about you too.I’m talking about the Intero Foundation.  Let me explain.

When we founded Intero just seven years ago, we set out to create a company that was different. That difference would be based on our values. One of those values is commitment – defined as; a pledge to do something, a state of being bound intellectually to a course of action.

As Realtors we earn our living by serving our community. So it was fundamental when creating Intero to figure out a way to give back to the community. We express this commitment now through the Intero Foundation.

To date, the Intero Foundation has donated $1,367,365 to local charities. These organizations range in size and mission, but all work to positively Intero Foundationimpact the growth and well being of children by enhancing their education and personal development.

Just last week, we announced our most recent list of beneficiaries, we were able to give out over $100,000 in one week divided amongst these organizations which work to make our children – and our communities – stronger: Dream Power Horsemanship, Rape Trauma Services, Family Connections, My New Red Shoes, Jacob’s Heart, Bill Wilson Center (SSJFY), Small Steps Foundation, Community Solutions, and the Learning & Loving Education Center.

Each of us at Intero is proud to support these organizations.

So why does this matter to you? Well, there is an obvious connection: We are helping to make the place you call home (or are hoping to call home) better. And that matters.

Our CompassionBut we are also expressing something about ourselves that might interest you: That we are a big organization, but not too big to remember that we are part of something still larger; that we take seriously our role as an organization rooted in a place; that we believe we must give in order to receive.

If you share these beliefs, if it matters to you what your real estate company does in the wider world, then we have created something for all of us.


Fall Festival in Downtown Los Altos

Posted on October 5, 2009 by  
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Strolling among the arts & craftsHow fun it was to celebrate the Fall, and our unique community. Once again the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Fall Festival over the first weekend in October. The festival featured approximately 160 arts and crafts booths, specialties from local restaurants, a classic car show, musical entertainment and local wineries and micro breweries.

A favorite for young and old alike was the popular Children’s Alley with its annual scarecrow contest, a choo-choo train, Bounce houses and a variety of entertainment and activities geared towards the kids. A number of prizes were awarded for the scarecrow, including Best of Show.

For the bigger kids, the classic car show had some wonderfully restored vehicles. A special car, one which I was able to present the Mayor’s Award, was the first hard top convertible designed for the public. It was gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. What an engineering feat it must have been in its time.

All in all, the food was great. The music was fun to dance to. Everyone had fun. Essentially, it was yet another great event in Los Altos.

Children's AlleyPlaytime for kidsGames for kidsArts & CraftsFall FestivalArts & CraftsClassic Car1957 Hard TopClassic Car