Cindy Liebsch

Peninsula Real Estate News

Refined Living Without Defined Walls

Michael Boodro, Editor in Chief of Elle Decor, shares the latest trend in home design. The photos are inspiring! This can be done in homes in Menlo Park, Atherton, Palo Alto, Los Altos or Woodside properties.  Enjoy the photos and words of advice from a pro.

What Does “Rise of the Creative Class” Mean for Bay Area Real Estate?

Rick Turley, local President of Coldwell Banker shares his insight on a new perspective to consider.  What will the future hold for real estate in Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto and further north and south?

The rise of the “Creative Class” and what it means for Bay Area real estate

 By: Rick Turley, President, San Francisco Bay Area, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage


 I recently picked up a fascinating book by Richard Florida, the best-selling author and world-renowned expert on urban studies. In his book, The Rise of the Creative Class, Professor Florida argues that a region’s economic health and vibrancy will increasingly depend on how well it attracts and retains what he calls “the creative class” – a fast-growing, highly educated and well-paid segment of the workforce.

 Florida describes the creative class as “a profound new force in the economy and life of America.” Members of the creative class do a wide variety of work in a wide variety of industries, from technology to entertainment, journalism to finance, high-end manufacturing to the arts. “They do not consciously think of themselves as a class. Yet they share a common ethos that values creativity, individuality, difference, and merit,” he writes.

 What attracts the creative class to an area? In an article for The Washington Monthly, Florida writes that “creative centers provide a solid mix of high-tech industry, plentiful outdoor amenities, and an older urban center whose rebirth has been fueled in part by a combination of creativity and innovative technology, as well as lifestyle amenities.

 “More and more businesses understand that ethos and are making the adaptations necessary to attract and retain creative class employees –everything from relaxed dress codes, flexible schedules, and new work rules in the office to hiring recruiters who throw Frisbees. Most civic leaders, however, have failed to understand that what is true for corporations is also true for cities and regions: Places that succeed in attracting and retaining creative class people prosper; those that fail don’t.”

 How do you build a truly creative community – one that can survive and prosper in this emerging age? “The key can no longer be found in the usual strategies,” Florida writes. “Recruiting more companies won’t do it; neither will trying to become the next Silicon Valley. While it certainly remains important to have a solid business climate, having an effective people climate is even more essential. By this I mean a general strategy aimed at attracting and retaining people – especially, but not limited to, creative people. This entails remaining open to diversity and actively working to cultivate it, and investing in the lifestyle amenities that people really want and use often, as opposed to using financial incentives to attract companies, build professional sports stadiums, or develop retail complexes.”

It struck me as I was reading The Rise of the Creative Class that where the creative class decides to migrate can go a long way to determining the long-term health of a region’s housing market every bit as much as it determines the health of the economy. So how does the San Francisco Bay Area fare? Extremely well. In fact, when Florida decided to rank large urban areas in the U.S., the Bay Area came out as No. 1. (see the chart below from The Washington Monthly). In his article, Florida says that “the San Francisco Bay Area has everything from posh inner-city neighborhoods to ultra-hip districts like SoMa (South of Market) and lifestyle enclaves like Marin County as well as the Silicon Valley.”

 Those of us who live here know that we pay a price to do so. Our housing market is certainly one of the more expensive ones in the country. But we’re willing to pay a premium because this region has so much to offer, from a vibrant and growing economy to world-class restaurants, arts and entertainment, from wonderful weather and beautiful scenery to seemingly endless outdoor activities. Just as important, I believe, is the Bay Area’s overall quality of life, our rich culture of diversity and creativity. It’s why we will continue to be a premier destination for the “creative class” – the entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow.  It’s also why our housing market should remain strong and growing for years to come. 

Large Cities Creativity RankingsRankings of 49 metro areas reporting populations over 1 million in the 2000 CensusTop Ten Cities
City Creativity
1. San Francisco 1057 34.8 5 1 2 1
2. Austin 1028 36.4 4 11 3 16
3. San Diego 1015 32.1 15 12 7 3
3. Boston 1015 38.0 3 2 6 22
5. Seattle 1008 32.7 9 3 12 8
6. Chapel Hill 996 38.2 2 14 4 28
7. Houston 980 32.5 10 16 16 10
8. Washington 964 38.4 1 5 30 12
9. New York 962 32.3 12 13 24 14
10. Dallas 960 30.2 23 6 17 9
10. Minneapolis 960 33.9 7 21 5 29

Atherton CA Makes Forbes 2010 Most Expensive Zip Code List

Atherton, California home prices have not plummeted like the rest of the U.S. annual Most Expensive Zip Code list is always interesting to read where housing prices have risen, sunk or remained steady (yes, high).  Every one always thought Beverly Hills – 90210 – was the priciest…not this year…

Atherton, California ranked number 2 this year…silicon valley contributes to this in a variety of ways.  We expect more companies to go public and when they do, Atherton, California may just well make the number one spot on the list.

10 Reasons To Buy A Home Now

The Wall Street Journal Article of September 16, 2010 by Brett Arends is a great read.  It is applicable for estates in Atherton for sale or properties in Menlo Park, Woodside or Portola Valley for sale.  The link is followed by the full article.  The American dream….Home sweet home….

10 Reasons To Buy A Home

By:  Brett Arends – September 16, 2010     Wall Street Journal

Enough with the doom and gloom about homeownership.

Sure, maybe there’s more pain to come in the housing market. But when Time magazine starts running covers that declare “Owning a home may no longer make economic sense,” it’s time to say: Enough is enough. This is what “capitulation” looks like. Everyone has given up.

[roiA0915]The Sept. 6 cover of Time magazine: This is what capitulation looks like.

After all, at the peak of the bubble five years ago, Time had a different take. “Home Sweet Home,” declared its cover then, as it celebrated the boom and asked: “Will your house make you rich?”

But it’s not enough just to be contrarian. So here are 10 reasons why it’s good to buy a home.

1. You can get a good deal. Especially if you play hardball. This is a buyer’s market. Most of the other buyers have now vanished, as the tax credits on purchases have just expired. We’re four to five years into the biggest housing bust in modern history. And prices have come down a long way– about 30% from their peak, according to Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Index, which tracks home prices in 20 big cities. Yes, it’s mixed. New York is only down 20%. Arizona has halved. Will prices fall further? Sure, they could. You’ll never catch the bottom. It doesn’t really matter so much in the long haul.

Where is fair value? Fund manager Jeremy Grantham at GMO, who predicted the bust with remarkable accuracy, said two years ago that home prices needed to fall another 17% to reach fair value in relation to household incomes. Case-Shiller since then: Down 18%.

Brett Arends discusses why he thinks now is a particularly good time to buy a home.

2. Mortgages are cheap. You can get a 30-year loan for around 4.3%. What’s not to like? These are the lowest rates on record. As recently as two years ago they were about 6.3%. That drop slashes your monthly repayment by a fifth. If inflation picks up, you won’t see these mortgage rates again in your lifetime. And if we get deflation, and rates fall further, you can refi.

3. You’ll save on taxes. You can deduct the mortgage interest from your income taxes. You can deduct your real estate taxes. And you’ll get a tax break on capital gains–if any–when you sell. Sure, you’ll need to do your math. You’ll only get the income tax break if you itemize your deductions, and many people may be better off taking the standard deduction instead. The breaks are more valuable the more you earn, and the bigger your mortgage. But many people will find that these tax breaks mean owning costs them less, often a lot less, than renting.

[roiB0915]The June 13, 2005 cover of Time.

4. It’ll be yours. You can have the kitchen and bathrooms you want. You can move the walls, build an extension–zoning permitted–or paint everything bright orange. Few landlords are so indulgent; for renters, these types of changes are often impossible. You’ll feel better about your own place if you own it than if you rent. Many years ago, when I was working for a political campaign in England, I toured a working-class northern town. Mrs. Thatcher had just begun selling off public housing to the tenants. “You can tell the ones that have been bought,” said my local guide. “They’ve painted the front door. It’s the first thing people do when they buy.” It was a small sign that said something big.

5. You’ll get a better home. In many parts of the country it can be really hard to find a good rental. All the best places are sold as condos. Money talks. Once again, this is a case by case issue: In Miami right now there are so many vacant luxury condos that owners will rent them out for a fraction of the cost of owning. But few places are so favored. Generally speaking, if you want the best home in the best neighborhood, you’re better off buying.

. You’ll get a better home. In many parts of the country it can be really hard to find a good rental. All the best places are sold as condos. Money talks. Once again, this is a case by case issue: In Miami right now there are so many vacant luxury condos that owners will rent them out for a fraction of the cost of owning. But few places are so favored. Generally speaking, if you want the best home in the best neighborhood, you’re better off buying.

6. It offers some inflation protection. No, it’s not perfect. But studies by Professor Karl “Chip” Case (of Case-Shiller), and others, suggest that over the long-term housing has tended to beat inflation by a couple of percentage points a year. That’s valuable inflation insurance, especially if you’re young and raising a family and thinking about the next 30 or 40 years. In the recent past, inflation-protected government bonds, or TIPS, offered an easier form of inflation insurance. But yields there have plummeted of late. That also makes homeownership look a little better by contrast.


Associated PressA house for sale in Shelby, Ohio.



7. It’s risk capital. No, your home isn’t the stock market and you shouldn’t view it as the way to get rich. But if the economy does surprise us all and start booming, sooner or later real estate prices will head up again, too. One lesson from the last few years is that stocks are incredibly hard for most normal people to own in large quantities–for practical as well as psychological reasons. Equity in a home is another way of linking part of your portfolio to the long-term growth of the economy–if it happens–and still managing to sleep at night.

8. It’s forced savings. If you can rent an apartment for $2,000 month instead of buying one for $2,400 a month, renting may make sense. But will you save that $400 for your future? A lot of people won’t. Most, I dare say. Once again, you have to do your math, but the part of your mortgage payment that goes to principal repayment isn’t a cost. You’re just paying yourself by building equity. As a forced monthly saving, it’s a good discipline.

9. There is a lot to choose from. There is a glut of homes in most of the country. The National Association of Realtors puts the current inventory at around 4 million homes. That’s below last year’s peak, but well above typical levels, and enough for about a year’s worth of sales. More keeping coming onto the market, too, as the banks slowly unload their inventory of unsold properties. That means great choice, as well as great prices.

10. Sooner or later, the market will clear. Demand and supply will meet. The population is forecast to grow by more than 100 million people over the next 40 years. That means maybe 40 million new households looking for homes. Meanwhile, this housing glut will work itself out. Many of the homes will be bought. But many more will simply be destroyed–either deliberately, or by inaction. This is already happening. Even two years ago, when I toured the housing slump in western Florida, I saw bankrupt condo developments that were fast becoming derelict. And, finally, a lot of the “glut” simply won’t matter: It’s concentrated in a few areas, like Florida and Nevada. Unless you live there, the glut won’t have any long-term impact on housing supply in your town.

Atherton Real Estate Transactions August 2010

Real estate transactions and sales in Atherton, CA during the month of August 2010.  The August 2010 Atherton homes sold reported below were listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and does not include off market listings.

Street Address List Price Sale Price Beds Baths Bldg. Sq. Ft. Lot Size Sq, Ft. DOM* COE** List Date
337 WALSH RD $10,850,000 $9,400,000 6 7|2 11,205 46,550 159 8/30/10 3/22/10
41 LOWERY DR $8,800,000 $8,800,000 6 4|3 12,042 53,143 129 8/24/10 4/2/10
71 RALSTON RD $5,995,000 $5,500,000 4 3|1 5,071 80,000 115 8/17/10 4/16/10
1 ODELL PL $3,950,000 $3,650,000 5 5|1 5,888 33,976 113 8/26/10 7/7/10
25 NORTHGATE ST $799,000 $800,000 2 1|0 930 6,750 8 8/31/10 7/29/10

*DOM=Days on the market for sale

**COE=Close of Escrow aka the day the new buyers take ownership

Note:  41 Lowery Drive’s actual sold price was requested to be withheld.  Information may be procured at County Records by special request.