A Great Time To Buy Or Sell

Posted on November 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog · Tagged: , , ,

To Sell or To BuyMost look at the Holiday’s as a slow time in the Real Estate market.  Historically, that’s been correct.  Our minds turn to family and friends, and the many celebrations of the season.  However, 2009 is a different market, and now is actually a great time to be in a position to either buy or sell a home.

For sellers, with housing inventory so low, and limited properties coming on the market, your home has the chance to stand out. If you are looking to sell in the next few months, there are three factors that favor quick action: 1) Inventory is at its lowest point of the year; 2) Buyers actively looking, during this time of the year, are seriously interested in purchasing a well-priced home; and 3) Rates are at historic lows, which allows buyers to buy a higher priced home (when rates go up, affordability goes down).

As a seller, if you are looking to potentially sell your home in early spring, feel free to contact us for a list of items you can begin working on, to ready your home for market.  Having time to prepare your home, if necessary, allows you to manage the process over months, rather than weeks. We will walk you through our recommendations, and even manage the entire process for you, if you prefer.

How to prepareFor buyers who are actively investigating housing options during this time of the year, you are in a great position to secure a great home for a good price. As we mentioned above, rates are at historic lows. Interest rates began dropping last November, when the Federal Reserve began spending $1.25 trillion to buy up mortgage-backed securities in an effort to lower rates, loosen credit availability and bolster the long-suffering housing market.

This week, average rates for 30-year fixed mortgages had fallen to 4.78, matching a record low set last spring. However, per the conversations we are having with lending institutions, rates will likely increase, probably within the next 12 months to 6.0 or 6.5 percent.

Now is the time to act. Delaying may cost you the opportunity to buy the home of your dreams. There are still ~ 80 homes on the market in Los Altos. Some of those homes have been for sale for a while, and have seen their list price adjusted downward. Others homes have lasted only a few days, or weeks, on the market as they were snapped up quickly as a result of being priced and positioned for today’s market.

As spring rolls around, there will be additional inventory coming on the market. However, you will be competing with a larger pool of buyers for those homes. Over the past few months, we have seen a continued trend of multiple offers for well-priced homes. We fully anticipate that this will be the case next year.

Keys to successWith a strong real estate team in place, a seller or buyer could have a tactical advantage, if they utilize the right tools for today’s market. Carol & I would be happy to sit down with you and share our strategy which is designed to position you for success. If you are looking to move into Los Altos, or simply across town, we are confident that we can help you. Simply contact us today at 650-823-1434 for an appointment.


Los Altos Continues To Thrive

Posted on November 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog · Tagged: , , , , ,

Sales are upIt has been another great month in the Los Altos Real Estate market. Last month I commented that in September alone, there were 38% more homes sold this year, than last. Well, the trend continues. In October, Los Altos realized a 39% increase of more homes sold this year, than last.

Of course, one could postulate that the economic uncertainty created a slow market in the fall of 2008. However, it is important to note that there was a decrease of only 14%, year-over-year, in total homes sold in Los Altos, from October 2007 to October 2008. Basically, the local market remained viable, albeit somewhat unsettled.

Today, there are still roughly 85 homes available to buy in all of Los Altos. But remember, there are over 10,700 total homes in the city. So, available inventory remains tight.

Separately, an interesting dynamic is occurring in this tight market: the length of time a home is staying on the market unsold. The average days of all homes currently on market for sale in Los Altos is just over 150 days. That’s 5+ months.

What’s creating this disparity? The key drivers really come down to four factors: 1) realistic pricing of the property; 2) positioning/visibility of the home in today’s market; 3) seller motivation; and 4) effective utilization of available marketing tools to reach today’s buyer.

As a case in point, our current listing at 269 Langton Avenue sold in just 14 days. That’s in stark contrast to the average days on market for those other homes in Los Altos. We put together an effective plan, executed on that plan in partnership with the homeowner, and developed an outreach campaign to attract the maximum number of agents and interested buyers.

Helping you with your homeFor Langton, we had over 300 Real Estate Agents stop by the home on Broker Tour, just two Friday’s ago. This was one of the highest turnouts achieved for the tour that day. Buyer traffic through the property was consistent from the time we hit the market. Just over 200 potential buyers visited the property through open house. Additionally, an average of 2 private showings occurred each day once the home was available.

So, the market is strong, but inventory is low. There are a number of buyers looking to move into Los Altos, but they are strategically examining the available options. With a strong real estate team in place, a seller or buyer could have a tactical advantage, if they utilize the right tools for today’s market.

If you are looking to move into Los Altos, or simply move across town, we are confident that we can help you. Call us today at 650-823-1434. We would love the opportunity to earn your business.


A Vision for Downtown Los Altos

Posted on November 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog · Tagged: , , , ,

main-streetIt’s quaint. It’s has something for everyone. More importantly, it is treasured by the whole community. From the restaurants, to the retail stores, to the many personal services available, there are a number of wonderful experiences to be had.

So how do you improve upon a treasured asset?  By being careful, inclusive, and strategic.

There were a variety of community outreach meetings, between July and September, which resulted in a diversity of participants providing consistent comments about the need to allow the Downtown to become more vibrant and active with a mix of uses. There was an expressed desire for higher buildings of three or four stories, and more density of use. Below is a summary of the points made, which provides a pulse of the community’s desired improvements:

• Include more residential development in Downtown
• Keep the strength of the retail and restaurant mix
• Provide other amenities, especially open space and plazas
• Address activities for adults and families in the evenings
• Allow increased building height in downtown
• Generally increase Downtown vitality
• Expect that the Downtown Los Altos customer would be family-oriented, and
• Create a vision for the entire Downtown to guide the future decisions

The idea of creating and confirming a Downtown vision in the context of current economic, environmental and development realities is a useful foundation for planning processes, specific feasibility studies, and future proposals. The repeated comments favoring growth and increased height and density in Downtown were a marked departure from public comments in meetings over the last two decades, where residents have specifically asked that the Downtown remain unchanged and that building height not be increased.

This change in attitude and direction which was consistent throughout the outreach meetings indicates that the interests of Los Altos residents may have shifted, and growth and increased vitality are valued where they may not have been in the past. In an effort to confirm whether this shift in thinking is widely held and this livelier Downtown experience is broadly supported, the City will conduct Downtown visioning workshops beginning in January.

A Vision for DowntownThe visioning workshops will focus particularly on the experience people want to have Downtown and whether that includes increased density, and increased building height that would support vitality and an economically healthy Downtown. Clearly, the workshops are not being set up to develop specific detailed plans, but to determine the community’s interest in Downtown’s growth and evolution based on the vitality and the experience our community wants for the future.

I will post the dates for the upcoming community forums, just in case you are interested in hearing the voice of the community directly. If you are not able to attend in person, I will follow-up this blog posting with a summary of the community’s Vision for Downtown.

If you are looking to move into Los Altos, feel free to contact us for a private tour of some of the best real estate in the Bay Area. Whether you are thinking about moving into Downtown Los Altos, or simply across town, we are confident that we can help you find that perfect home just for you.


Open House: Sat & Sun, 1:30-4:30 pm

Posted on November 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog · Tagged: , , ,

A team you can trustWe will be holding an open house this Saturday and Sunday, November 14th and 15th, from 1:30 – 4:30 pm for the wonderful North Los Altos property.

Come see this wonderful home built for entertaining and living.

Call the Casas Team for a private showing at 650-823-1434. You will absolutely love this quiet, tree-lined street location.


32nd Annual Festival of Lights Parade

Posted on November 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog · Tagged: , ,

Since 1977, the Festival of Lights Parade has brought “A Child’s Holiday Fantasy” to life for the entire Los Altos community. Originally a small gathering of a few costumed storybook characters and a jolly Santa Claus, the parade has grown over the years to a dazzling display of lighted floats, local High School marching bands, and glowing costumed characters – although Santa with his sleigh and reindeer remains the star of the show!

 Today, 20,000 people of all ages gather the first Sunday after Thanksgiving to watch the Parade, one of the most popular Los Altos events of the year. It is a wonderful tradition for Los Altos.

Carol & I have have not missed a parade yet.  Even before we had kids, we enjoyed the parade as a symbolic slice of Americana.  Since then, both of our children have had a chance to be in the parade … one on a Fire Truck, and the other in a matching band.  In 2005, we were lucky enough to ride in the parade as a family.  This year, we are once again fortunate be able to ride, as a family, along the parade route in a convertible. It has been wonderful to have watched the parade for so many years, and to now share those memories with our clients and their familes.

Please note that there is a new start time for the parade.  It is set to begin at 6:00pm on Sunday, November 30. So, mark your calendars.  It is both a wonderful community tradition, and a great way to start the Holiday Season.  We hope to see you at there!