Palo Alto Housing Inventory Lower Than You Think It Is

February 28, 2013 Real Estate News No Comments
Palo Alto Housing Inventory Lower Than You Think It Is

It’s the end of February, the weather is a bit warmer and all is well in Palo Alto.  All except the housing inventory as the numbers remain unseasonably low.  Broker tour for the city of Palo Alto is on Friday, so that means most agents put their new listings on MLS by early Thursday so their new listing can make it on the Friday broker sheet.  As of today, there are 29 homes for sale in all of Palo Alto, and a total of 8 condo’s.  The average number of sales in a month for Palo Alto is somewhere in the 40’s, depending upon the month.  Knowing that 5 of the 29 have been on the market quite a while and probably not an easy sale, this means that all buyers are after about 24 homes.  But, the real number to look at is to take the inventory of 29 homes and separate them out by price range.  You have 8 homes in the 3 million plus range, 8 in the 2-3 million range, 10 in the 1-2 million dollar range and 3 under a million.

The price range is the true identified of what is out there as most buyers fit into only one of the price ranges.  For example, if you are looking for a home over three million, then you don’t really care to see the homes in the 1-2 range so your inventory is really only the 8 in your range.  So, housing inventory is a very personal number that is always a subset of the big number all the agents talk about.  For most buyers, there are really approximately 8 homes in the Palo Alto housing inventory that they really care about.  This shortage of housing inventory is why prices are going up as I know there are more than 8 buyers out there so it tends to create the situation where a buyer just wants to buy a house and they pick one of the 8 they see as the inventory doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

So, until more people decide to sell, this housing inventory number is much smaller than you think it is.

Selling Your Home: Quick Tips Before You Sell

February 23, 2013 Tips and Information No Comments
Selling Your Home: Quick Tips Before You Sell
Here are 9  important steps that you should take before you put your house on the market–all steps that protect your interests and help you get the most return from your investment.

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Home Loan

I’ve known sellers who signed a contract to sell their house before they knew if they were qualified to buy another. Either their financial circumstances had changed since their last purchase, and they could no longer qualify for a loan, or they weren’t able to sell at a price that allowed them to buy the type of replacement house they wanted. They ended up renting or buying something that was far from ideal.

Before you decide to sell the house, get pre-approved by a lender you trust and research the housing market in the area where you wish to live so that you have a good idea how much it will take to buy a replacement.

2. Check Your Mortgage Payoff

Call your lender to check the payoff for your current home mortgage. You’ll need the figure to complete Step 6.

3. Determine How Much the House Is Worth

Determine your home’s fair market value. Real estate agents will usually help you determine value as a courtesy, but you might take it a step further and order an appraisal.

4. Estimate Your Costs to Sell

  • Real estate commission if you use an agency to sell.
  • Advertising costs, signs, other fees if you plan to sell by owner.
  • Attorney, closing agent and other professional fees.
  • Excise tax for the sale.
  • Prorated costs for your share of annual expenses, such as property taxes, home owner association fees, and fuel tank rentals.
  • Any other fees typically paid by the seller in your area (surveys, inspections, etc.).
  • Real estate agents deal with transactions every day and can give you a very close estimate of seller closing costs.

5. Determine Your Costs to Acquire a New Home

  • Total your costs to acquire a new home: moving expenses, loan costs, down payment, home inspections, title work and policy, paying for a new hazard insurance policy–all expenses related to buying a home. Your lender should give you a disclosure of estimated costs when you apply for pre-approval.

6. Calculate Your Estimated Proceeds

  1. Deduct your mortgage payoff from your home’s fair market value.
  2. Deduct your costs to sell from the remainder to get an estimate of the proceeds you will be paid at closing.

Will your closing proceeds cover your costs to acquire a new home? If not, do you have cash or other funding to make up the difference?

7. Make Necessary Repairs

Make all needed repairs unless you want the house to be regarded as a fixer-upper. I’m not referring to cosmetic updates, but to items in need of repair. Anything that’s obviously broken gives potential buyers a reason to submit a lower offer.

8. Get the House Ready to Show

Most houses need at least a little spiffing up before they are shown to potential buyers. Great curb appeal, fresh paint indoors (and sometimes out), organized closets and cabinets, sparkling clean windows and appliances, and a clutter-free atmosphere are essential if you want the house to appeal to buyers.

9. Get Psyched Up to Let People In

If you’re listing with a real estate agent, she’ll no doubt ask you to leave when the house is shown. Why? Because lurking sellers make buyers nervous–they don’t feel comfortable inspecting the house when they feel they are intruding.

Unless there’s a real reason for it, don’t ask your agent to be present for all showings. That’s the kiss of death for showing activity. Other agents want privacy with their buyers and they don’t usually have time to work around your agent’s schedule.

Close the deal.

Buying A Home: The Key Elements

February 16, 2013 Tips and Information No Comments
Buying A Home: The Key Elements
The homebuying process is one of discovery. Throughout, you will receive crucial information on the condition of the property – from its physical attributes to the condition of its title. Piece by piece, you will learn what you need to know to make an informed purchase. Following is an explanation of the most significant parts of the puzzle.

Transfer Disclosure Statement
The seller of your property is required by law to furnish you with a “Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement,” (TDS), in which the seller will make known to you important disclosures about that property, including any known existing conditions, any hazards or nuisances. For example, if the property drains improperly or if there are cracks in the chimney and the seller knows about it, he or she is required to let you know via the TDS.

In the TDS, the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent are also obligated to inspect the property and to provide results regarding any known existing conditions, any hazards or nuisances. If the TDS is delivered to you after execution of the offer to purchase, you have three days if the form is delivered to you in person or five days if it is delivered to you by mail, to use it to terminate the contract if you are not satisfied with its contents.

Home Inspection Report
Just as important as the TDS is the home inspection report. While the TDS documents the property’s condition, to the knowledge of the seller, a home inspection will provide you with the additional insight of a construction expert.

As a result, I advise anyone buying a home to first have it inspected by a professional home inspector who is:

  • a licensed general contractor
  • a member of a recognized home inspection trade group
  • has professional liability insurance

Your home inspector will provide you with a written report, which will advise you of the physical condition of the property as determined from the inspection of accessible areas. Generally, the cost is approximately $300-$500.The report also will identify areas that could not be inspected and may recommend additional inspections by other experts in areas including roofs, foundations, soils, drainage or pools. Less usual, but also recommended from time to time, are inspections for health-related risks such as radon gas, asbestos or problems with water or waste disposal systems. While additional inspections will cost more money, they definitely are worth it if they uncover an expensive defect in the property.

A general inspector will focus on the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the house, and will make you aware only of repairs that are needed. Generally, an inspector checks (and gives estimated prices for repairs on): the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and ventilation, heating and cooling systems, water source and quality, the foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and roof.

The inspector does not evaluate whether or not you’re getting good value for your money.

Usually, there will be an inspection clause in the contract. Sometimes, the seller will provide a report of a home inspection aid for by the seller. If conditions or defects are disclosed in the report you can:

  • Negotiate for the seller to fix the problems prior to close of escrow,
  • Receive a credit from the seller for an amount to make the repairs; or
  • Cancel the contract if your and the seller cannot agree on the repairs or their costs.

It’s not required that you attend the inspection, but it’s a good idea and I strongly recommend that you do, since generally you will learn a great deal about your property. The inspection also provides a great opportunity to hear an objective opinion on the home you would like to purchase and it is a good time to ask general, maintenance questions of an expert.Pest Control Inspection Report
While you are in escrow, you should have the property inspected by a licensed pest control professional. While termites or other pest infestations are not common, pest control operators also are trained to look for dry rot, usually caused where wood comes into continuous contact with water. Dry rot can be serious and should be fixed immediately. If any condition is discovered in a pest control report, it needs to be corrected and the property re-inspected by a certified pest control inspector, before you close the sale of the home. Pest control reports generally cost around $200-$300.

Smoke Detector and Water Heater
During the escrow process, sellers are required to provide for you evidence that they have equipped the home with smoke detectors, and that water heaters are braced, anchored, or strapped to resist falling in an earthquake.

Open House Tips for Buyers

February 10, 2013 Tips and Information No Comments

open house sign imagesAn open house can be an opportunity for you to get information about homes and the housing market. Open houses are a common real estate practice because they give an agent the opportunity to market the home and to meet prospective buyers.

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • Are you the listing agent for this house? Busy agents sometimes arrange for a colleague or assistant to conduct the open house. Don’t assume the person showing the home is knowledgeable about the house or has met the sellers.
  • How long has the home been on the market? Well-priced homes in good condition generally sell in a short period of time. Unless the local market is weak, you will want to know why a particular home is not selling. Are there hidden defects? Is it overpriced? Are the sellers requiring something that may seem unreasonable as a condition of the sale?
  • Have the sellers received any offers? If the sellers rejected offers that were too low or had contingencies or conditions, you should find out before you experience the same.
  • Is any furniture or fixturing being sold with the house? If you’re thinking of buying the home, there is no better time to ask whether the seller would be interested in including the patio furniture or the dining room chandelier.
  • Are there any special costs attached to the property? Is there a homeowner’s association that has dues or fees? Are there particular tax assessments? Are there any natural hazard issues to be aware of? Are there any hidden costs of owning the home?
  • How does this house compare to others on this street? The local agent may be able to speak about recent sales in the neighborhood as well as some interior ideas seen in other homes.

Los Altos Hills Real Estate Highest Price in Santa Clara County

February 2, 2013 Real Estate News No Comments
Los Altos Hills Real Estate Highest Price in Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County real estate showed gains across the board in numbers very similar to San Mateo County.  The key number to note is that the average price of a home was up in 2012 by 12% to an average of $839,000.  The biggest jump in prices came from the city of Monte Sereno where home prices were up 18% to an average of $2.031,000.  Los Altos Hills took the prize for highest average sale price with a whopping $3,077,000.


Santa Clara County

2011 2012 % Change
Number of Sales 11,094 11,974 8%
Average Price ($000) $747 $839 12%
Average DOM 72 51 -29%
Months of Inventory 0.1 0.0 -100%


Los Altos

2011 2012 % Change
Number of Sales 307 365 19%
Average Price ($000) $1,778 $1,979 11%
Average DOM 39 31 -21%
Months of Inventory 0.1 0.0 -100%

Los Altos Hills

2011 2012 % Change
Number of Sales 100 112 12%
Average Price ($000) $2,694 $3,077 14%
Average DOM 84 81 -4%
Months of Inventory 0.3 0.2 -33%

Los Gatos

2011 2012 % Change
Number of Sales 331 374 13%
Average Price ($000) $1,386 $1,539 11%
Average DOM 77 52 -32%
Months of Inventory 0.2 0.1 -50%

Los Gatos Mountains

2011 2012 % Change
Number of Sales 88 101 15%
Average Price ($000) $664 $766 15%
Average DOM 141 115 -18%
Months of Inventory 0.4 0.2 -50%

Monte Sereno

2011 2012 % Change
Number of Sales 25 32 28%
Average Price ($000) $1,723 $2,031 18%
Average DOM 104 91 -13%
Months of Inventory 0.3 0.1 -67%

Mountain View

2011 2012 % Change
Number of Sales 283 324 14%
Average Price ($000) $1,003 $1,128 13%
Average DOM 38 22 -42%
Months of Inventory 0.1 0.0 -100%


Palo Alto

2011 2012 % Change
Number of Sales 451 475 5%
Average Price ($000) $1,758 $2,019 15%
Average DOM 32 23 -28%
Months of Inventory 0.0 0.0 #DIV/0!



2011 2012 % Change
Number of Sales 274 376 37%
Average Price ($000) $1,650 $1,770 7%
Average DOM 69 66 -4%
Months of Inventory 0.2 0.1 -50%


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

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