A Vision for Downtown Los Altos

Posted on November 14, 2009 by  
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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.

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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.

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2009 Housing Trends for Los Altos & nearby cities

Posted on June 8, 2009 by  
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As we examine the most recent statistics regarding year-over-year trends, the market is beginning to strike a decent balance, at least for May 2009. There are opportunities still out there for buyers, and yet properties are selling at a good clip for the sellers that are not unrealistic about pricing. In short, we have a good equilibrium occurring, without a clear advantage for either buyers and or sellers in the current overall environment.

Below, we have included four charts that highlight: 1) Recent Inventory; 2) Pending Sales; 3) Closed Transactions for May; and finally, 4) A comparison of year-to-date, through May 2009, of homes that have closed escrow.

As of May 2009, overall Closings were up 25% and Sales were up 70% for the west side of Santa Clara County compared to May of 2008. After a slow start to the New Year, Los Altos continues to see a ramping up of homes going into contract; however, we remain roughly 50% behind our 2008 YTD volume. The good news is that we have sufficient inventory of available homes, as we head into the summer months.

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