Thursday, February 11, 2010

February Silicon Valley Real Estate Market Highlights

Here are the highlights of January's transactions and market actions for Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Your comments and questions are welcome. If you have an update as to what you are witnessing in your neighborhood, please don't hesitate to share with us. You may leave comments here, or contact me through my website.

> Market steady improvement with seasonal swings -- March 2009 saw the trend change in Santa Clara County -- a trend that continues to date, interrupted only by the seasonal aspects of the holiday season from Mid-November through early January. Closings in Santa Clara County were 593 versus 938 in December 2009, but an increase over 568 in January 2009. Even though median prices continued to decrease from December, seasonal factors outweigh the direction as smaller homes sell this time of year -- fully 7% smaller since last month and 8% smaller in San Mateo County. My analysis of the transactional information reveals:

* The supply of homes available for sale (inventory) has turned upwards after more than a year of continual decline. Part of this is seasonal as sellers are rushing to get their home listed in the early part of the year. Santa Clara County inventory of available single family residences increased 19% from last month and San Mateo County's inventory has increased 12%.

* The sale price to list price ratio continues above 100% and stands at 101.3% in Santa Clara County and stands at 99.3% for San Mateo County.

* The Days of Unsold Inventory (DUI) continues to show improvement with minor fluctuations. Current levels show a vast improvement from year ago levels -- as readers will remember that a lowering of this amount translates into a faster market. For January, Santa Clara County had a DUI of 58 for single family homes, 44 for condos/townhouses and 100 for multi-unit properties. San Mateo County had a DUI reading of 72 for single family homes, 67 for condos/townhouses and 107 for multi-unit properties.

> Super-heated Seller's Markets? -- Still! For Santa Clara County the hottest market areas are East Valley, South San Jose, Milpitas, North Valley, Evergreen (lower priced homes only!) and Cupertino. For San Mateo County, Foster City remains the hottest market followed by the Bay-side communities of Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood City and San Mateo. The characteristics of a seller's market are shorter time on the market, fewer number of homes available for sale, higher probability of multiple offers with many sale prices exceeding list prices and a tendency towards price appreciation.

> Buyer's Markets? -- Yes, there's a couple of them, too. For Santa Clara County, we see buyer's markets in Los Gatos/Monte Sereno and Saratoga, with them both improving. Los Gatos/Monte Sereno exhibits the highest Days of Unsold Inventory in the county at 149 due mostly to low demand and is my current "Best Buy" area in the county, followed by Saratoga and the very high priced areas of Palo Alto and Los Altos Hills. To refresh you, characteristics of a buyer's market are longer time on the market, higher number of homes available for sale, lower probability of multiple offers or even an offer with most sale prices below list price. The tendency is to have price depreciation or stable prices at best case under this market condition.

Where do I get "Seller's" and "Buyer's" market information? This is not an opinion thing but a calculation I make using the number of homes for sale (supply) and the number of sales (demand) in the prior month which results in days of unsold inventory (DUI). Additionally, this is not based on price levels but a supply-demand relationship. Generally, we see that the hottest markets are currently those in the more affordable price areas but Cupertino and the Cupertino Schools area of Sunnyvale which have much higher prices are extremely hot.

> Median prices -- Santa Clara County median price for single family homes now stands at $531,650 versus $450,000 or 18.1% increase from December 2009. The median price for condos/townhouses was $321,000 or 16.7% higher than December 2009. San Mateo County's median reached $640,000, 15.3% higher than the same month a year ago. Notice that with prices I don't use month to month changes but year over year. This eliminates seasonal fluctuations and is something that newspapers and most online pricing sources haven't figured out yet! I advice my clients to NOT use an entire county's median price level to decide on whether to buy or sell but use the trend information in a general manner. To formulate an effective strategy, I use analysis of the supply-demand characteristics of the neighborhood under consideration.

> Sellers Be Sooner Still -- I continue to maintain my recommendation for sellers of higher-priced homes, especially those above $1 million that they should consider selling sooner and having an initially more-aggressive list price as the market usually softens when we get into the winter season. Sellers need to be positioned properly otherwise they risk languishing on the market.

For those considering a purchase of a home in an expensive area like Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos/Monte Sereno, Saratoga, an opportune time for negotiating is upon us! Some motivated sellers are reducing their list prices but as you may know, not all sellers have to sell. Some sellers have "sticky" prices and some sellers have to sell and are highly motivated, thus reducing their list prices more aggressively. Some sellers can't believe their home has fallen in value from what they thought it was worth. As many of my consistent readers and subscribers know, markets are not made between agents.

Thanks for reading my blog. I'm Tom McEvoy, Realtor -- Let me know your comments, questions, observations you may have or any future topics you'd like me to address.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

World Class Chocolates in the Valley of Hearts Delight

You've made dinner reservations at a romantic restaurant (I did at Birk's Restaurant in Santa Clara, CA) and you might have picked up a little something for her at her favorite store, perhaps even some nice long-stems. Of course, there's always sweets for your sweets for Valentine's Day.

Here are some world class chocolatiers from Silicon Valley to Santa Cruz:

Chocolate Dream Box

* 710 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos. 408-356-2626

Pictured are hand-crafted chocolates in beautiful boxes by Chocolate Dream Box

Fleur e Cocoa Patisserie Chocolaterie

39 N. Santa Cruz Avenue, Los Gatos. 408-354-3574

Pictured are selected handmade chocolates from Fleur de Cocoa

Richard Donnelly Chocolates

* 1509 Mission Street, Santa Cruz. 888-685-1871

Saratoga Chocolates

* 14572-B Big Basin Way, Saratoga. 408-872-1431

Chocolatier Desiree

* 165 South Murphy Avenue, #C, Sunnyvale, CA 94086 408-289-1562


* 516 University Avenue, Palo Alto. 650-289-0719

Sugar Butter Flour

* 669 S. Bernardo Avenue, Sunnyvale. 408-732-8597

Pictured is Dark Chocolate Ganache Truffle from Sugar Butter Flour

How About Wine with Chocolate?

Testarossa Vineyards

Testarossa Vineyards (formerly Novitiate Winery) is hosting a wine and chocolate pairing event on Saturday, February 13th and February 14th from 12:00am to 4:00pm. Check their details on their website. Cost is $10.00 per person.

J. Lohr Winery

Saturday, February 13th at 7:30pm

Explore different tastes, textures and aromas of Snake & Butterfly homemade, organic chocolate paired with six different J. Lohr wines. Tickets must be paid for in advance, check details on their website. Cost is $10.00 per person.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lunar New Year Events - 2010

Happy New Year! OK, Happy Lunar New Year! In the Chinese calendar, the longest chronological record in history dating back to 2600 B.C., this year marks the lunar year 4708 -- Year of the Tiger. The first day of the lunar year is February 14, 2010. Wow, same day this year as Valentine's Day.

Famous people born in the Year of the Tiger include: Agatha Christie, Alanis Morissette, Beatrix Potter, Bill Murray, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Enya, H.G. Wells, Hugh Hefner, Jay Leno, Jodie Foster, John Bon Jovi, Kenny Rogers, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lionel Richie, Ludvig Van Beethoven, Marco Polo, Marilyn Monroe, Paula Abdul, Penelope Cruz, Phil Collins, Sheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder, Tom Cruise, Tony Bennett, Wesley Snipes. Guess what? I also was born in the Year of the Tiger!

Here are selected local events celebrating the Lunar New Year in Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties.

Silicon Valley/Santa Clara County:

* Spring Festival Silicon Valley 2010 - Chinese New Year Gala. Featuring San Jose Taiko, Ballet San Jose, Ustad Farida Mahwash. Saturday, February 20th at 7:30pm. San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, San Jose

*Lion Dancing. Enjoy traditional dim sum or dinner at a Year of the Tiger celebration featuring The Young Lion Dancers. 12:30pm, February 21st, Ming's Chinese Cuisine & Bar, 1700 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto.

San Mateo/San Mateo County:

* Chinese New Year Celebration. Features several performances on the Amphitheater Stage and Chinese food. Thursday, February 11th from 12:30pm to 2:00pm, Free. Cañada Community College, Redwood City

San Francisco:

San Francisco's Chinese New Year Parade began in 1860 and was named by the IFEA to be one of the top ten parades in the world! It is also one of the remaining night illuminated parades left in the country. Since 1958 the parade has been organized and directed by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

* 2010 Chinese New Year Festival and Parade, Saturday, February 27th. 5:15-8:00 pm, Market and Second Streets to Kearney and Jackson. Check out "Gum Lung", the 201-foot-long Golden Dragon!

YMCA Chinese New Year Run. This event raises funds for the YMCA's youth and teen programs. This year's proceeds will benefit PEP, the Physical Education Program serving more than 1,100 youth in Chinatown with weekly physical fitness programs. Sunday, February 21st, 7:00am starts at Grant and Clay, San Francisco

A Hundred Years of the Chinese Calendar (1924 to 2024) --

The Chinese Calendar names each year after an animal and legend has it that a person born under a certain animal will display traits of that animal. What sign are you in the Chinese 12-year calendar cycle? Look up in the table below what year you were born and the corresponding animal.

Rat: 1924 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996 2008 2020

Ox: 1925 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997 2009 2021

Tiger: 1926 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998 2010 2022

Rabbit: 1927 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999 2011 2023

Dragon: 1928 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000 2012 2024

Snake: 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001 2013

Horse: 1930 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002 2014

Ram: 1931 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003 2015

Monkey: 1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004 2016

Rooster: 1933 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005 2017

Dog: 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006 2018

Boar: 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007 2019

Gung Hey Fat Choy! Happy Year of the Tiger!

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! Happy Year of the Tiger!