Luxury Real Estate – Inventories Shrinking?

October 30, 2009 Real Estate News No Comments
Luxury Real Estate – Inventories Shrinking?

“THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS…” Or so the famous saying goes. And when it comes to really understanding the various reports and events unfolding in the economy, it’s important to take a look at the details – not just the headlines. Here’s what you need to know.

On the inflation front, the Producer Price Index, which measures wholesale inflation, unexpectedly fell due to a drop in energy prices. While that seems like good news on the surface, keep in mind that next month’s number could climb higher again, as oil and natural gas have both been on a tear higher lately.

In housing news, Housing Starts and Building Permits both came in a bit below expectations, but this may be a sign that builders are exercising some caution – particularly in the face of the $8,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers that is presently set to expire on November 30th. Existing Home Sales came in better than expected – and a whopping 45% of those homes were sold to first time homebuyers – rushing to move in on that credit. Recent studies have shown that many who qualify for this tax credit aren’t even aware of it…so please let me know if you or someone you know needs more information – the clock is ticking!

Additionally, the level of existing homes inventory shrunk to a 7.8 month supply, down from a recent high of 10.1 months in April.

Chart: Existing Home Sales (Supply in Months)

Inventory shrinking...

In other news, 3rd quarter earnings season continues, where companies report their status as of the end of September. While many companies are beating expectations, it’s important to realize that many of those companies achieved better earnings by cost cutting and layoffs, not from increased sales. This is a big disconnect between Wall Street and “Main Street”. Stocks are rocketing higher based on these “positive” reports, but the cost cutting and job cutting measures can only go so far…you can’t simultaneously grow the ranks of unemployment – and then grow your business, hoping for increased sales to those same people who are without jobs.

Last week’s Jobless Claims numbers seem to confirm this as Initial Jobless Claims rose more than expected. In addition, the number of individuals continuing to receive unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level since March, but this is likely the result of people’s unemployment benefits expiring, without them having been able to find jobs.

Also worth noting is the news that ratings agency Moody’s lead analyst, Steven Hess, said that the US needs to cut its deficit or it could lose its “AAA” rating in the next 3 to 4 years, which we have maintained since 1917! Think of all we’ve been through – two World Wars, the Depression, three Wall Street collapses and major terrorist attacks…yet our credit quality has maintained that AAA rating, allowing us to issue debt at the most favorable rates. Hess went on to say that if the US doesn’t “get the deficit down in the next 3-4 years to a sustainable level, then the rating will be in jeopardy.” And just like on a mortgage when the credit rating gets reduced, interest rates move higher. This will definitely be something we’ll keep an eye on in the months ahead.

After all the week’s action, Bonds and home loan rates ended the week slightly worse than where they began.

Palo Alto Mansion

October 30, 2009 Real Estate News No Comments
Palo Alto Mansion

Today was a day looking at some homes for sale in Palo Alto, California.  I was pleasantly surprised by some great homes that I found today, some classic mansions and some with unbelievable views.  Palo Alto is known for it’s oak tree lined quaint streets with mansions stacked up side by side.  Some are classic old mansions and some are new and totally renovated and have a contemporary feel.  One mansion today was a classic style that had upgrades, but at the same time you could feel the history of the house.  Situated on a little over half acre, the grounds are lush with a pool, rose gardens and lots of large trees and beautiful grass areas.

The house seems to go on forever as room after room is discovered on a walkthru of the upstairs.  Bedroom leads to another bedroom or workout room and you get the feeling you could easily get lost from the rest of the people in the house by finding a room off a room to hang out in.  Even for a large family, I can’t see this house ever feeling crowded. Palo Alto Luxury real estate is alive and well.

The living room, family room, dining room and “piano room” all have large picture windows that view out to the picturesque backyard giving a feeling of living in your own private world.

Why Do I Need A Realtor When Buying A Home?

Alain Pinel RealtyA Realtor is a valuable resource for the issues that invariably come up during a home purchase. Buying a home can be exciting as well as challenging, but with my help it can be a rewarding experience and result in a move-in day filled with happiness. Here are some tips to help with the process:

  1. Obtain a Comparative Market Analysis
    A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) helps you accurately determine a potential home’s value. I’ll prepare a CMA for the home you’re considering so you can determine a fair offer for the home.
  2. Start the Financing Process
    Get pre-approved to show the seller that you’re serious and give you bargaining power during negotiations.  We have an in house lender in conjunction with Wells Fargo or we have other outside options as well.  Getting you the best rate for the best price is always the bottom line goal.
  3. Narrow Your Search
    Go online and compare neighborhoods and home prices. You can also compare schools at
  4. Document Assistance
    Writing and presenting your purchase offer and managing the paperwork are a necessary part of the home-buying process. My role is vital during this segment of the purchase in order to keep the transaction moving and on track.
  5. Evaluate and Negotiate Offers and Counteroffers
    My negotiating skills are your best ally in a competitive market. I can help you get the best purchase price for your new home.
  6. Get Objective Advice
    My impartial viewpoint and advice on housing options and alternatives throughout the process is essential. In addition, my knowledge of the overall real estate market is a benefit that cannot be underestimated.
  7. Set-Up a Home Inspection
    A home inspection can determine if there are any problems or repairs that need to be taken care of before you complete your purchase.
  8. Negotiate Disputes
    I will negotiate, mediate and provide conflict resolution to help you and the seller come to a mutually beneficial outcome.
  9. Prepare for Contingencies
    Contractual contingencies are terms that must be met before an agreement can be binding. I will be instrumental in negotiating with the sellers to resolve contingencies before they cause undue delay.

So, make sure to call me or set up an appointment for any questions, my job is to help you thru a process that will be the largest purchase you ever make.

Palo Alto With An Incredible View!

October 21, 2009 Real Estate News Comments Off on Palo Alto With An Incredible View!

View From The HillsI saw an area of Palo Alto that doesn’t have a lot of homes for sale, so finding one in this area is quite a thrill.  Palo Alto is known for a suburbia type of a setting, but this area is further out from the town and located up in the hills.  Up Alpine road and amongst the rolling hills where bike riders line the roads on weekends lies this great opportunity for the right buyer.  Privacy and seclusion are mainstay’s of this area.  This home for sale in the hills is an average home, but it’s the view and location that makes it worth the 4 million or so price tag.  To me, the house could be considered a tear down as it looks like it was built in the 60’s and not really renovated since then.  But, having 3 acres with a home on the top of the hills and a 360 degree view is impossible to find.

You can see the SF bay from one side of the house and the hills and wineries from the other side of the house.  Houses or neighbors are all down below you and hard to find any close enough to even hear them if they were to stand in their yard and yell to you.  If you can afford the millions to buy it,  then spending additional money to build your dreamhouse is well worth the money.  This property has the potential for an investor to really build a special property that would be sure to sell to a big name celebrity or political leader. If this Palo Alto Luxury home for sale could be right for an investor you know, please shoot me an email and I can send you some more information.

Kim Kardashian, Buy Your Way Into Her Bedroom!

October 20, 2009 Celebrity Homes No Comments

KKardashian_PICSKim Kardashian has listed her  S. Clark Drive, Los Angeles, CA condo on the market for $1,099,000. It’s a 1,750 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms condo that is uber chic.  It’s design fuses with ultimate luxury to provide you with one of the most sought after units to hit the market. The 1,750 SF condo has no expense spared. One of the trendiest buildings in West Hollywood, this unit boasts a massive walk in closet in the luxurious master suite. This crown jewel is centrally located and just steps away from the high end boutiques and cafes of Robertson.

Miss Kardashian, an entrepreneurial gal who has somehow managed to turn her interesting boo-tay and a tawdry sex tape into a “career,” is the daughter of O.J. Simpson attorney Robert Kardashian (now deceased) and momanager Kris who is currently married to Olympic decathlete turned airplane salesman Bruce Jenner. Along with the rest of the Brady Bunch style Jenner/Kardashian clan, Miss Kardashian appears on the reality program Keeping Up With The Kardashians. She also models for a few clothing lines, released a work out tape, recently launched a shoe shopping service called ShoeDazzle, was photographed in her birthday suit for the pages of Playboy and in the fall of 2008 she was voted off in an early round of Dancing With The Stars. It’s not exactly the resume of a bonafied Tinseltown talent, but it’s none the less made her rich enough to scoot about town in a $200,000 customized Bentley Continental.

Listing information indicates the 1,750 square foot unit is located in one “the trendiest buildings int West Hollywood.” Listen chickens, trendy is as trendy does and, like beauty, trendy is in the eye of the beholder. A certain set of Angelenos will likely consider the building well located being just blocks from Beverly Hills, the Beverly Center, Kitson and The Ivy.

The long living room has honey colored wood floors, recessed lighting, a brown sofa with a slew of tiger striped throw pillows and a regrettably gigantic wooden wall panel with some Eastern religious figure’s face in bas-relief. The dining room has a tray ceiling slathered with gold leaf and a glass and mirror dining room table paired with an Asian style armoire and chairs. The kitchen has a lot of workable counter space, high grade stainless steel appliances and plenty of Shaker style cabinetry for food and other kitchen things.

The guest room has been outfitted with a white, tufted fabric headboard, white linens, a crystal chandelier, a giant mirror leaning up against the wall and a white Louis-ish bergèreish armchair. Miss Kardashian’s ultra feminine, champagne colored bedroom is all tufted things and mirrors. There is a tufted headboard, a tufted bench at the foot of the bed, there are mirrors on the back wall, mirrored chests beside the bed and a gigantic, glitzy mirrored armoire.  Listing information indicates the master bedroom has a “massive walk in closet” and in addition to all her many toiletries, lotions, potions and perfumes, Miss Kardashian’s all beige master bathroom offers double sinks, a lot of mirrors–natch–a soaking tub surrounded by enough candles to light up Los Angeles, and separate shower. Just another celebrity home for sale that we might wonder how she became a celebrity.  How she got the money to buy a million dollar home is easier to figure, I just hope she holds her money in case celebrity runs out.

Whoopi Goldberg Buys In Jersey

October 11, 2009 Celebrity Homes No Comments

Whoopi Goldberg bought a home in Oak Bend Road, West Orange, NJ for a reported $2,800,000.  It’s a 9,486 square foot house with 8 bedrooms, 6 full and 2 half bathrooms.  It is a  Colonial Mansion that sits in the heart of world famous Llewellyn Park. Home of the Edisons, Chubbs, Colgates, etc.  Whoopi’s home sits in lush gardens with carriage house, servant’s house, and greenhouse.

The property was built in 1927 and sits on a 2.34 parcel in the leafy, gated community of Llewellyn Park. Llewellyn Park, located just 14 miles west of lower Manhattan, was established by a Mister Llewellyn in the 1850s and bills itself as the first planned community in the United States. The 425-acre community offers residents a 24 hour guarded gate, bucolic streets lined with period gas lamps, and a 50 acre landscaped park called The Ramble that meanders through the community.

Whoopi joins a long lists of former notable residents including members of the Colgate family (soap and toothpaste), the Merck family (pharmaceuticals), and the Chubb family (safes) as well as Thomas Edison (electricity) whose estate Glenmont is a National Historic Site, and former minister turned abolitionist James Miller McKim whose Llewellyn Park house contained secret rooms used to hide escaped slaves traveling on the Underground Railroad.

Listing information indicates that beyond the curving circular driveway and the columned portico, the historic home counts 23 rooms including a grand entrance hall, a paneled living room with a black, veined marble fireplace surround, a banquet hall sized dining room, a family room lined with a series of tall, arched windows and an newly renovated eat in kitchen with a large work island, cream colored faux-antiqued cabinetry, granite counter tops and all the over-sized stainless steel appliances one can and should expect in a house of this weight and cost.

Having once lived in a spectacular house in blue-blooded Tuxedo Park, NY, Whoopi is certainly no stranger to upscale gated communities in suburban New York City. Property records also show that the Whoopi, whose real name is the Caryn Johnson also owns a house in Pacific Palisades, CA and she may or may not still own and 8,000 acre spread in Vermont, a small house (or duplex) in Berkeley, CA and some kind of property in Cornwall, CT

Whoopi loves her real estate and her talk show and comedy appearances still require her to travel from east to west coast.  If you can have nice homes on both coasts, why not.  It’s all funny money to her.

Nicholas Cage Celebrity Mansion

October 7, 2009 Celebrity Homes No Comments
Nicholas Cage Celebrity Mansion

Actor Nicolas Cage has chopped the asking price of his celebrity estate of approximately 11,000+ square feet – once owned by Dean Martin. He first put it on the market for $35M in 2007, then cut the price to a bargain hunting $17.5M, and now it’s reported that he’s lowered the minimum asking bid to $9.95M.

Is this a deal or what?  You decide for yourself by looking thru the photos of his home.

Atherton Broker Tour

October 6, 2009 Real Estate News No Comments
Atherton Broker Tour

I just came back from previewing a couple of homes for sale in Atherton that will be going on the market next week.  Some of them were great deals, as I mentioned on my twitter feed, while others were overpriced in my opinion.  I’m not going to mention the overpriced homes on broker tour as I’m not here to give you any false salesmanship, I’ll leave that up to the others.  One of the homes I really liked is expensive, but a great value compared to others that are similar or higher priced.

This one has a tennis court, pool, pool house and a great design that allows the main rooms in the house to all look out towards the magnificent backyard.  It has been remodeled recently and everything from the kitchen to all the bedrooms are like new.  My guess is that this home could sell quickly, despite the hefty price of over six million dollars. A great buy for the right buyer. This isn’t on the market yet, but give me a call or schedule an appointment on my website if you want to know more and possibly schedule a tour.

Atherton Estate from Tennis Court towards house

Atherton Estate from Tennis Court towards house

Atherton Mansion looking towards pool and tennis court

Atherton Mansion looking towards pool and tennis court

Open House Weekend

October 5, 2009 Real Estate News No Comments
Fixer Upper

Fixer Upper

I spent the weekend looking around in Atherton, specifically the Lindenwood area trying to find a good open house.  Wasn’t any to find this weekend and there isn’t a lot of homes for sale in there right now.  There was a couple to look at, but I would consider them fixer uppers as opposed to a typical Atherton great home.  If you want to find other areas for open houses, don’t forget to check my website on APR.  Just put in the area you want to check out and let me do the work for you.

Start Your Home Search




City or ZipCode:
Min Price:
Max Price:
Sq Feet:

Palo Alto Luxury Real Estate

October 2, 2009 Real Estate News No Comments
Closet in Palo Alto home

Closet in Palo Alto home

Today on the broker tour in Palo Alto, I saw many homes that are new to the market.  Only one stuck with me as being a great looking home that a high end buyer could immediately move into and feel comfortable.  I also put a picture up on my facebook page, you should check it out.

There was also an intersting fixer uper on University Drive.  Large mansion style home that needs a lot of work, but has a great entry and staircase.  Lots of potential for the homebuyer who wants to fix things up.

The other houses were kind of average.  They will probably sell as there are lots of buyers out there looking for luxury real estate right now and good deals.

For up to the minute info on my tours, follow me on Twitter at LuxuryREInsider.

My Contact Information

Gary Kurtz
BRE# 01710776

Kathy Kurtz
BRE# 01876966

HOM Sotheby's International Realty
1200 Newport Center Drive, # 100
Newport Beach, CA 92660

949.565.5201 (cell)
949.478.7769 (office)
650.796.5507 (Silicon Valley #)

Contact me now with any questions:

Kurtz Real Estate Group

Follow Me On Twitter

Live, up to the minute tweets during broker tour and other live real estate events, plus news and information.

Searching For A Home?

Search All Listings Here

If you are in the market for a home anywhere in Southern or Northern California? Search our MLS Listings to find your dream home.

Then when you are ready to get more information or schedule a tour of your favorite homes, call me and I'll take care of the rest.

Real Estate Insider Video Show

Alain Pinel Realtors Silicon Valley

April 3, 2013

Alain Pinel Realtors Silicon Valley

We at Alain Pinel Realtors have been releasing high quality videos that give buyers a feel for different areas. Today, we released the Silicon Valley video. Take a look. If you are looking for luxury real estate all along the Peninsula and Silicon Valley in areas such as Los Altos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Palo Alto, […]

Palo Alto Real Estate Update

February 3, 2012

Palo Alto Real Estate Update

The numbers are strong for real estate in Palo Alto with this month’s sales figures.  Watch the video to see all key sales numbers for the month of January 2012 compared to January 2011.

Menlo Park Monthly Real Estate Sales Figures for October 2011

November 5, 2011

Menlo Park Monthly Real Estate Sales Figures for October 2011

The average sales price of a home in Menlo Park fell 7.8% for the month of October 2011 compared to October 2010.  The total number of sales for both periods were similar, which is good news, but the home prices were a little lower than expected.  The surprise number is that the average price per […]

Timely News

Pools and Waterfalls of the Wealthy

August 6, 2015

Pools and Waterfalls of the Wealthy

We all love to see how the wealthy spend their money.  Jets, fast cars, homes….but how about their pools and waterfalls?  This is even more fun to see as there is a big water shortage here in California, so it’s an even bigger status symbol than before as only the very wealthy can afford the […]

Off Market Listing in Pelican Hill – $12,500, 000

August 1, 2015

Off Market Listing in Pelican Hill – $12,500, 000

There is a new off market listing in Pelican Hill area of Newport Beach that is sure to get your mouth watering.  The home is 9200 square feet on a 22k sf lot with incredible views.  We have more photos and information, but the asking price is $12,500,000.  If you are a buyer and interested […]

Southern California vs Silicon Valley in battle for tech supremacy

July 27, 2015

Southern California vs Silicon Valley in battle for tech supremacy

Having worked in Silcon Valley for years and also being a native Southern Californian has me with my heart in two places.  So, when I see comparisons of SoCal vs Norcal and especially in the tech world, I get excited to see more movement down to Southern California as tech/startup world is very exciting. This […]

Prices Still Rising In Orange County

June 30, 2015

Prices Still Rising In Orange County

Prices continue to show gains for the areas of Newport Beach, Corona Del Mar, Newport Coast and Laguna Beach.  Most areas have surpassed their peak prices that occurred in around 2007.  Will prices continue to rise?  It seems the high end luxury homes have slowed a bit but the inventory still is at low levels. […]

Why So Many Chinese Buyers in Palo Alto and Along the Peninsula?

May 22, 2014

Why So Many Chinese Buyers in Palo Alto and Along the Peninsula?

Everybody reads about the large supply of Chinese buyers who are buying homes here along the Peninsula.  There are many agents, one prominent one who we all know and now has a plane to fly his Chinese buyers around, who target the Chinese buyers very heavily.  Buy, why are there so many Chinese buyers and […]