Festival Of Lights Parade This Sunday

Posted on November 28, 2013 by  
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Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade

Kick of the holiday season with the Annual Festival of Lights Parade, scheduled 6 pm this Sunday in downtown Los Altos.

Originating in 1978, the Festival of Lights Parade Association, a non-profit organization, is made up solely of community volunteers.

Annual fundraising events, such as the ’50’s Family Dance Party “Rock Back the Clock”, held at Rancho Shopping Center in September, the sale of glow-stick necklaces on Parade night, and donations from businesses and the citizens of Los Altos, help cover the cost of staging this exciting event.

Watch the Parade as it winds through downtown, starting on State Street, up Main, across First and down Whitney. Colorful floats and costumed storybook characters, illuminated with thousands of tiny lights, join marching bands to welcome the arrival of Santa Claus’ sleigh and reindeer.

This year’s Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade will offer a new entry among its lineup. “Penguin Palooza,” two years in the making, features penguins in colorful winter clothing enjoying a party with ice skating, fishing and roasting marshmallows. The new float was created on the bed of “It’s a Small World,” one of the parade’s oldest floats.

The parade’s 60 entries, including high school bands and choruses, costumed characters and 24 illuminated floats, all lead up to the grand finale – an appearance by Santa and his reindeer.  For more information, including parade routes and guidelines, visit losaltosparade.com.

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Lots To Be Thankful For In Housing This Year

Posted on November 26, 2013 by  
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A flurry of mixed housing news hit the airways this week. We’ll look at the highlights, add some context and insight and come up with our own conclusions.

First, pending sales continued their monthly decline in October, falling for a fifth consecutive month, according to the latest data set from the National Association of Realtors. Pending sales are important to watch because they track homes that are under contract and are predictive of where the market is heading in coming months when those transactions close.

NAR GraphSome are concerned because the decline has happened so quickly. In June, pending home sales were up 11% from year-ago levels. And by October, pending sales were down 1.6% from year-ago levels.

What happened?

For one, we’ve entered the season that’s typically a bit slower for the housing market each year. And coming off one of the hottest summers the market has seen since the downturn may be causing the decline to seem more dramatic.

Also, the reality of limited inventory continues to plague some markets. Rising interest rates and climbing home prices are also pricing some buyers out, which is likely slowing a few markets down.

Should we be worried?

We don’t expect the slowdown to greatly impact the continued momentum we expect to see in 2014. Part of our reasoning here has to do with a bit of great news that came out on the housing market this week: declining foreclosures.

Foreclosure pre-sale inventory at the national level has fallen to its lowest point since 2008, according to new data from Lender Processing Services. The inventory represents 2.54% of all mortgages homes in LPS’ October data, a 3.23% drop from the previous month and a nearly 30% drop from the previous year.

Pre-sale foreclosure inventory means the number of loans that are in some stage of foreclosure. This aspect of the housing market has been a key part of the big story for several years now. It appears that this nightmare is quickly becoming part of the past.

What does it all mean?

Again, we’re at that time of year when things do start to slow down and prognosticators start sending out messages about where we’re headed next year. Our philosophy is that it’s best to look at as much data as you can before drawing conclusions – and it’s best to always keep your local market in context.

We think we’re headed for another strong year for housing next year. And while it may start a little slower than last, all the requisite parts are in place for markets to improve or even thrive, depending on where you are located.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

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Los Altos – A Safe City

Posted on November 21, 2013 by  
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Los AltosSafety is the bedrock of any given community. “Safe neighborhoods” frequently tops the list of values sought after by potential homeowners, businesses understand the economic value of crime-free streets and accordingly, public safety consumes a large portion of municipal budgets.

SafeWise recently examined data from the most recent FBI Crime in the U.S. Report and combined it with their own thorough research to produce a comprehensive list of the 50 safest cities in California, with 20,000 residents or more.

“The resident of Los Altos must feel safe knowing their city is the third safest and that the most recent FBI Crime Report notes less than 10 incidents of aggravated assault were reported to authorities in 2011. Safe streets and a median age of just 34 also make Los Altos a desirable destination for transplants with children.

Los Altos’ Tiny Tots play-based preschool program, youth theater and variety of camps make working and living in Los Altos stress free. Fueled by life-long learning and health and wellness, the petite city of just 6.4 square miles boasts nearly 20 park and recreation areas. Rest assured, every member of your family is sure to find stimulating, healthy entertainment in Los Altos.

Creative types should know there is a thriving art world in Los Altos. In fact, 29 art sculptures are scattered throughout the tight-knit community, infusing it with creativity and imagination.”

For more information on the full report, click here.

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Listing Your Home Over the Holidays

Posted on November 20, 2013 by  
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Estrellita-FrontThe holiday season can bring many stresses of its own without adding a home sale to the list. This can keep many sellers on the sidelines or send them pulling their houses off the market until the new year rings in.

But contrary to what you may think, this time of year can actually be a fantastic sweet spot for sellers. Holiday buyers are serious and motivated. Consumer confidence is higher than at any other time of year. And relocating families tend to have more time and reason to shop for a new home over the holidays.

Perhaps the biggest compelling reason the holidays are a good time to list your home is the simple fact that there are fewer homes on the market at this time of year, which means less competition.

In addition, limited inventory has driven up prices in many markets through the year. According to NAR’s latest monthly statistics, the median price for existing homes was up 11.7% from the same month a year ago and it was the 10th consecutive month of double-digit year-over-year growth.

Mortgage rates also play a factor in holiday home sales. We’ve been seeing a rise in rates, with Freddie Mac reporting its latest average on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was at 4.35%, up from 4.16% the previous week. Consecutive weekly climbs in interest rates tend to motivate buyers even more.

We know this first hand, and that’s why we’ve created a special holiday program to help sellers navigate listing their home over the holidays without sacrificing their sanity or precious time with family.

Our Holiday Marketing Program is designed with seller privacy in mind. There are no for-sale signs in your yard, no lock boxes on your door, no open houses and no advertising identifying your home.

Instead, we’re offering to market your home to our sphere of serious buyers and show your home only by appointment. No fuss. No inconveniences. But you’ll be able take advantage of opportunities you’d otherwise miss by waiting until the new year.

And on January 1, 2014, if your home has not sold, it will automatically convert to our exclusive home marketing program. You won’t have to start from scratch.

We created this program because in our experience we know that there are a lot of opportunities for sellers over the holidays, but we understand why a homeowner would not want to deal with the stress of listing their home during this time.

If you’re interested in learning more, call Carol at 650-823-1434 for more information.

Happy Holidays!

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Two Homes On One Lot

Posted on November 18, 2013 by  
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273 Tyrella Ave, Mountain View CA 94043
Listed at $1,088,800 / Sold at $1,225,000
1st Unit: 3 Bed / 2 Baths / 1160 sqft living space
2nd Unit: 2 Bed / 2 Baths / 800 sqft living space
Total Lot Size: 7,200 sqft +/-
Multi Family Residential Income (2-4 Units)
Represented: Seller & Buyer

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Pendleton Opens On Main Street

Posted on November 13, 2013 by  
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Pendleton - Los AltosDowntown Los Altos is now home to a national clothing manufacturer’s newest retail location.

Pendleton Woolen Mills opened its doors Nov. 5 at 231 Main St., the former home of Lussori, offering residents a colorful array of men’s and women’s wool clothing.

The Portland, Ore.-based company, with roots dating from 1863, arrived in Los Altos after ending a five-year stint as a retailer in Menlo Park, which followed 10 years at Town & Country Village in Palo Alto.

“So far, its reception has been warm and fuzzy. It’s been very positive,” said store manager Daniel Guiteras, who noted that the store quietly opened its doors before its official opening celebration Friday. “We’ve received a warm welcome from the many merchants here, as well as our customers living inside and outside of the area.”

Guiteras said that before the store even opened, they had several people walk by, look through the windows and give a thumbs-up.

“We’ve also had a lot of people just come by, curious as to what Pendleton is – so it’s been really good,” he said.

Guiteras described Los Altos as an ideal fit for Pendleton, which created product lines for several department and specialty stores before establishing its own retail division in the 1980s. Specifically, he pointed to the city’s demographics as proof that the company anticipates success for its Main Street location.

“The feel of Main Street is very similar to Pendleton itself. It just feels like Pendleton,” he said, adding that the company’s fabrics are still woven in Washington and Oregon. “This is us – this looks like us.”

Guiteras feels fortunate to open the store alongside 16-year Pendleton employee Fatima Freitas, noting specifically her popularity among longtime customers.

“She has an incredible following,” he said of Freitas. “Some people will only shop with Fatima.”

Guiteras added that he’s wasted no time trying to immerse the store into the local scene. Pendleton Woolen Mills participated in the recent First Friday and Holiday Stroll events and plans to stay open late for the Festival of Lights Parade.

Guiteras is pleased that the local search for a new Pendleton location is finally over.

“We were looking for the right location for some time,” he said, “and I think we’ve found it.”

For more information, visit pendleton-usa.com.

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Teen Provides Seniors With Helpful Tool

Posted on November 7, 2013 by  
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SENIORS_Rennywithsenio_fmtA local teenager is aiming to provide seniors with a helpful tool during medical emergencies – a Universal Serial Bus (USB) stick.

Los Altos resident Warren “Renny” Glasner, 17, has the goal of providing 200 local seniors with free USB sticks that contain the owner’s relevant medical information, such as primary-care physician, emergency contacts and any medical restrictions or conditions. Glasner’s kickoff event is scheduled 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 16 and 17 at the Los Altos Hills Parks and Recreation Committee Center, located adjacent to town hall. Participating seniors will be outfitted on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies lasts.

Glasner stated that by using information from the USB sticks, medical emergency responders could save critical time in the event of an incident involving an elderly resident. The task of supplying local seniors with the sticks, he added, is his Eagle Scout project.

“This would make it easier to establish contact with a physician or family members,” Glasner said. “As a responder or ER doctor, you’ll be able to determine what precautions to take based on the information on the USB stick. Most Eagle Scout projects include installing a park bench or building a shed, so part of my motivation was to do something new and different.”

Glasner selected the project after learning about a similar venture at Moldaw Residences, a Palo Alto senior living community. Originally, he planned to make emergency preparedness kits for seniors – until sticker shock forced him to change course.

“They ended up being pretty costly to assemble,” said Glasner, a junior at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto. “With a $1,000 budget, for instance, we would have been able to help only about 10 people.”

Glasner said others have received his project positively, specifically noting the encouragement from members of the Senior Commission.  He is planning additional local events to complete his project, with future dates to be set soon.

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