Cindy Liebsch

Peninsula Real Estate News

Off Market Properties in Atherton, Menlo Park and Woodside CA

There are many properties that are now for sale “off market” (which means not put on the public Multiple Listing Services, and not made public knowledge) in Atherton, Menlo Park, Woodside, Portola Valley and Los Altos.  Sellers are not willing to be subjected to the normal hassles of every day showings of their properties to buyers that may not be financially qualified, buyers who may see it on the web and are just curious, they prefer confidentiality and low key local knowledge of the sale, and/or they don’t want to bother with buyers that will want to significantly negotiate price.  The price is established using comparable properties and advice from other local, experienced agent’s opionions.  The logic is the price is quietly advertised to our network of real estate agents only, and if you offer at that price or around that price, they will sell.  

We sell properties off market through a quiet, well networked group here on the peninsula.  Many agents don’t keep updated on what is available “off market” – especially those agents in small boutique brokerages.  Surprisingly, there are a large number of properties that are sold off market and of course, MLS data and data you get from normal news outlets are not aware of the sales.  MLS data never includes the sale of off market properties so it is always low and incorrect when generalizing about specific areas.

I especially like an off market home on Polhemus Avenue in Atherton, a property near the Circus Club in Atherton, a special home in Portola Valley, and a couple of properties with a lot of gorgeous acreage in Woodside.

Call me if you are interested in purchasing property off market in the price range of $7 million and up.

Inventory & Median Price for Properties in Atherton & Menlo Park, CA

Prices for single family homes in Atherton and Menlo Park, California appear to be leveling off as of today – July 21, 2010.  Notice that inventory appears to be increasing.  It is rare to see spectacular properties available for sale now.  I have found some nice ones that are off market, and some that are over priced ready for a lower offer than asking. 

Check out his link for real time data:

via Inventory, Median Price for Single Family Properties in ATHERTON, CAMENLO PARK, CA.

Should You Remodel or Buy A New House?

I have recently met several couples at open homes in Menlo Park and Atherton who are trying to determine if they should remodel their existing home or scrap the idea and just buy a new(er) property.  The link below provides facts and perspectives to consider when you are faced with the same decision.

Many Menlo Park and Atherton homes need some sort of remodeling or updating.  I know from personal experience – remodeling is not for the impatient nor for those that have difficulty making design and/or product decisions.  It is very difficult to live through a remodel while you are in the house (trust me on this).  Either the dust, noise or contractors will make you crazy, regret your decision, or make you wish you were on an extended vacation somewhere serene.  Remodeling almost always goes over budget and over the time you expected it to be completed.  Buying a new(er) home is a fixed cost, so you know what to expect, and closing on a property definitely has a fixed time frame. 

If you are considering buying a home in Menlo Park or remodeling an estate in Atherton or Woodside or Portola Valley, I hope you find the link helpful and inspiring.

Is The Housing Market Starting To Bloom?

Rick Turley, President of Coldwell Banker San Francisco Bay Area, shares the latest news on what he sees going on in our local real estate markets.  Read his summary, then scroll down to where the “market-by-market” reports are.  Those reports are submitted by local brokerage office Managers with the daily “in the trenches” experiences.  Specifically, Menlo Park real estate is mentioned although Atherton real estate is not.   Both cities are very busy with a lot of showings and a fair amount of pending sales to close escrow.  I will publish another post with those sales numbers soon.

This news report below is current and it is real.  Spring is in the air….now is a great time to be selling!!  Better hurry if you are considering buying!  Read on….



Spring Is In The Air: Is The Housing Market Starting To Bloom?


There are encouraging signs that the Bay Area’s housing market is finally awakening from its long winter slumber. Spring is traditionally when sales perk up as homeowners try to sell in time for a summer move, and buyers get serious about finding that perfect home. But this year we’re seeing strong indications of an early spring selling season, which could bode well for a housing market recovery.

 Many of our markets are seeing increasing sales activity compared to a year ago, with open escrows that will turn into closed sales one to two months down the road. Open houses, in many cases, are attracting armies of buyers, many willing to pay cash for homes if necessary. One third of the offers in Menlo Park have been all cash, for example. Multiple offers are becoming the rule, rather than the exception.  There have been 14 to 23 offers on Palo Alto properties priced from $1 million to $1.5 million. There are still more buyers than sellers in most areas, which has created a seller’s market in a number of cities. That’s something you just won’t see in the media.

What’s causing the renewed interest in the local market?

  • One impetus undoubtedly is the upcoming deadline for the attractive federal tax credit for first-time and repeat buyers. Buyers must be in escrow by April 30 and close by June 30 to earn the credit, which ranges from $6,500 to $8,000.
  • Another reason is the fear that as the Fed begins pulling out of the mortgage backed securities market, mortgage rates will begin to rise from their historically low levels. It’s highly unlikely we’ll see 5 percent fixed-rate mortgages for much longer.
  • The stock market plays a huge role in our Bay Area housing market, especially in Silicon Valley and in our luxury Previews market. The NASDAQ is nearly double what it was exactly a year ago when the financial markets appeared to be in freefall, creating tremendous wealth for our Previews buyers. 
  • Finally, with money earning just a fraction of a percent in one-year CDs and bonds at historically low yields, more investors are once again looking at real estate as a good investment vehicle to diversify their asset mix and take advantage of an under-valued investment class.

Here’s a market-by-market report from our local offices:

North BayIn Marin County, low inventory is still the biggest obstacle although the spring market seems to be blooming.  In Southern Marin, for example, activity is robust with buyers coming out in mass for Sunday Open Houses.  Unit sales and median sales price for January and February 2010 are up substantially in all Southern Marin markets. Greenbrae reports that lack of inventory is resulting in more inquiries on currently listed properties + withdrawn/expired listings. There are lots of buyers ready to write offers on the right properties – at all ranges from entry level condos in San Rafael/Novato @ $200K to multi million dollar properties in Ross, Kentfield, Tiburon + Belvedere.  In Northern Marin, the majority of home listings entering the market this week and last have not been distressed.  All price points are covered.  Inventory is still low, but many buyers are out attending open houses.  Further north, in Sebastopol, most sales under $500k are multiple offers. Listings in the west county are slow to come onto the market and when they do if they are properly priced they sell quickly. Petaluma is also witnessing homes in under 500K range attracting a frenzy of multiple offers. And Santa Rosa reports that the spring market is slowly coming to life. Listings are up a bit and one agent reported 45 groups through an open house priced over a million.

 East BayBerkeley is starting to see a gradual increase in inventory, while sales activity remains steady with about 20% resulting in multiple offers. Meanwhile, Fremont reports that activity is picking up on the buyer and listing side due to the expiration of the first-time home buyer’s credit in April. In Livermore, home sales are increasing even as inventory remains low. The Livermore real estate market in 2010 remains very healthy.  The active inventory decreased in the past two weeks and the total pending sales in Livermore increased.  Multiple offers are still the name of the game. 

The Oakland-Piedmont office reports more listings are coming on the market, however the best homes are still in great demand. Oakland has an absorption rate of less than 3 months in the prime part of the market.  Both sales and inventory are on the rise in Orinda with open homes robustly attended and several homes are selling at list price or above.

Monterey County— Sales activity is picking up on the Monterey Peninsula, including the higher-priced Previews luxury market in Carmel and Pebble Beach. Still buyers are looking for good values and not willing to overpay on a property no matter how much they like it.  Lots of negotiating taking place on older homes needing repairs also. Inventory remains low in the REO areas, so that’s where we are seeing most of the multiple offers.

Peninsula— Some new listings are finally coming on the market in Menlo Park. Buyers are out there but still slow to decide and very skittish.  PRICE IS EVERYTHING. One third of the sales in February were all cash! Meanwhile in Palo Alto, multiple offers are commonplace as buyers compete for good listings. There have been 14 to 23 offers on properties priced from $1M to $1.5M if the home is priced correctly. Similarly, there is very little inventory in the Redwood City-San Carlos market, but good open house attendance for those people who have listed their home. The market remains steady in Woodside, while things are starting to pick up in San Mateo.

 San Francisco— The Lakeside office reports that sales are climbing, probably because most of the sales are under a million – a segment very much in demand.  The $2 million + market has been heating up, according to the Market Street office. Agents say listings in that price range are routinely getting multiple offers.  Part of the reason for the jump in activity, agents believe, is that many buyers that were out looking at this time last year decided to rent for a year and those leases are coming up now prompting the clients to start their searches again.  The inventory shortage remains critical, according to the Lombard office. They also report that some buyers reluctant to jump back into multiple offers and going way over. Fixer-uppers drawing lots of activity.  The Noriega office says February was very active with lots of pending sales.

Silicon Valley– The Cupertino office reports that listings are increasing and there is lots of activity and open homes. The office’s weekend receptionist said that this was the busiest Sunday she has ever seen. About half of the sales are multiple offers as inventory still remains relatively low.  Similarly, Los Gatos continues to see low inventory, which is challenging for agents.  Meanwhile, in San Jose, the Almaden office reports that both inventory and activity is on the rise with nearly all sales resulting in multiple offers. Our local manager reports that you can’t under-price a property – it will sell for more than if you price it at a higher number.  Buyers are still motivated by price.  The San Jose Main office says activity in the lower price range (600k or less) continues to be strong with multiple offers on most properties.  In Willow Glen, buyers are struggling with rejection as many listings result in multiple offers and, of course, only one winner.  Most of the listings are selling at or higher than list price. Our Saratoga office reports the market seems to be developing as expected for this time of year with the upper end is still lagging

South County– The sales and listing activity in South County defies conventionality. This past month a home listed for more than $2.6 million just closed escrow, another listed for $1.6 million was just sold (for cash). Entry level homes continue to sell very quickly – often with multiple offers.  It seems that the middle range properties (those listed between $700,000 and $800,000) linger on the market. A new home sub-division in Morgan Hill just began offering homes listed in the low $600,000 range. The first phase is almost sold out. The market is most challenging for “move-up” buyers but very attractive to sellers of lower priced properties.  One would call the South County market a “seller’s” market (dependent upon the price range).

One last thought: The financial and real estate markets are often intertwined in the Bay Area, and both are driven by consumer confidence. While our economic recovery is still quite fragile and unemployment is still high, there are growing signs things are indeed getting better. Friday’s better-than-expected jobs report out of the Labor Department was one more macro economic indication that we’re moving in the right direction, along with improved corporate earnings. The stock market is continuing its upward movement, which can only help our region’s consumer confidence.

Will the housing market be next to join the party? Only time will tell.

 Have a great week!


 Rick Turley

President, San Francisco Bay Area

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

tel 415.437.4505 

It Is A Seller’s Market In The Bay Area

Rick Turley the President of Coldwell Banker – San Franciso Area, gives us his insights into the Bay Area real estate market.  Since he has many real estate agents updating him on a daily basis, he has a real pulse on exactly what is happening on the real estate streets – so to speak.  Read his update below.  Following that information is a break down by area office and their reports.  Interesting to note that on the peninsula – which includes Atherton real estate, Menlo Park properties, Woodside real estate, Portola Valley, Los Altos, Palo Alto north to Burlingame – there is more activity and some multiple offers.  You just need the right direction from the right real estate agent, and you could be reaping the benefits of the “Seller’s Market.”

A Seller’s Market?    By Rick Turley

 Hard to believe, but many homes drawing multiple offers again as listing shortages continue


My how things have changed in just one year! A year ago at this time, many homes were languishing on the market as buyers stayed on the sidelines, worrying about their jobs, the sharp decline in their 401k accounts, and whether housing prices would ever rise again. Today, many of those buyers have swallowed their fears and are out in force once again, spurred by an improving economy, a solid recovery in the financial markets, and federal home buyer tax credits that will expire this spring.

 While no one claims the housing market is out of the woods yet, an unusual dynamic is occurring in many communities around the Bay Area:  Despite the choppy housing market, there is an army of confident, well-qualified buyers out searching for homes, but many sellers are now sitting on the sidelines! One listing in San Francisco’s Outer Mission neighborhood priced in the mid-$500,000 drew more than 100 groups during a two hour open house during the past holiday weekend.

 Inventory shortages continue to be the challenge in many areas.  In Santa Clara County and the East Bay, for example, the number of homes for sale is standing at half of what it was a year ago! This has resulted in as many as half of the listings on the market attracting multiple offers as buyers fight it out for the best properties.

 This conundrum has resulted in prices rising even as sales are falling.  DataQuick, the La Jolla-based research firm, reported that the median sale price of homes and condos in the Bay Area shot up almost 17 percent year over year in January while sales dipped 4 percent. The biggest jump in the median price was 18.3 percent in San Mateo, but all counties (except Napa) saw strong increases.  (see chart below) The upper end of the market is particularly sensitive to this trend, as illustrated by Santa Clara County, which saw sales of million-dollar homes half of what they were a year ago even as prices rose 4 percent, according to Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s luxury market report.

               Sales Volume      Median Price
All homes Jan-09 Jan-10 %Chng Jan-09 Jan-10 %Chng
Alameda         994 936 -5.8% $300,000 $341,000 13.7%
Contra Costa    1,333 1,078 -19.1% $220,000 $257,250 16.9%
Marin           122 153 25.4% $525,000 $535,000 1.9%
Napa            78 87 11.5% $370,000 $350,000 -5.4%
Santa Clara     1,037 1,137 9.6% $400,000 $451,000 12.8%
San Francisco   229 311 35.8% $562,000 $629,000 11.9%
San Mateo       273 355 30.0% $489,500 $579,000 18.3%
Solano          560 462 -17.5% $192,500 $201,000 4.4%
Sonoma          424 334 -21.2% $299,750 $325,000 8.4%
Bay Area        5,050 4,853 -3.9% $300,000 $350,000 16.7%

Source: MDA DataQuick Information Systems,

Inventory levels are slowly rising in some communities, and the balance between buyers and sellers could shift in the weeks and months ahead. But right now it’s a good time to be a seller if you price your home for today’s market.

Here’s a market-by-market breakdown from our local offices:

North Bay – With a shortage of inventory, multiple offers are still the norm in Petaluma. Most agents are working with 4-6 qualified buyers ready to go. A lot of offers are written with fierce competition, and lots of activity in the $500,000 price range. Northern Marin reports lots of multiple offers on short sales, while the Santa Rosa market is seeing a growing number of sales. While there is almost no inventory now, there is a small flurry of new listings coming on the market. Lack of inventory continues to be a problem in Sebastopol with listings under $500,000 instantly getting multiple offers. In Southern Marin, sales have increased greatly so far this year versus same period a year ago with Tiburon and Belvedere experiencing almost three times the number of sales.

 East Bay—Inventory still low but slowly building in many cities. Berkeley reports the market is still slow and prices are far below several years ago. A local appraiser told Realtors that the $2 million plus market is so slow that appraisers are going back much further than three or six months to find comps. In Castro Valley listings abound.  There are homes for sale in all neighborhoods, which is resulting in fewer multiple offers. The Danville market still needs listings to sell and to hold open.  Homes in some price ranges are selling so fast that Realtors are not getting much open house time to meet new buyers! Livermore reports the upper end of the market improved greatly in January with three pending sales above a million. Overall, there’s a healthy market in the Tri-Valley area of Livermore, Pleasanton, and Dublin.  All three cities have experienced an increase in listings and pending sales in 2010 with multiple offers common. In Pleasanton, inventory shortages continue, with multiple offers on homes under $500,000 common.  Buyers are eager to get into a home due to tax credit. Oakland-Piedmont: Lots of action this month keeping agents busy.  Both Orinda and Walnut Creek are seeing listings and activity on the rise.

 Monterey County— The market is steady on the Monterey Peninsula, where locals and visitors alike enjoyed a great three-day President’s Day weekend and the AT&T Pro Am golf tournament.  Realtors were busy with inquiries and showing properties, though mostly sales from events like this come later.  Nevertheless, the Peninsula did see a number of sales, including a multi-million dollar property.  Inventory is plentiful in the higher-priced areas of Carmel and Pebble Beach, but scarce in the lower-priced areas of Seaside and Marina, where we are waiting for another wave of REOs to hit the market. 

PeninsulaBurlingame reports less inventory than last year and more buyer interest, including those paying all cash. Market seems to change day by day, but overall there are more sales and more multiple offers. In Half Moon Bay, agents say sales are slow although the number of listings are picking up.  It’s taking much more time and paperwork just in getting offers accepted, with many counters. Things are holding steady in Menlo Park, with the market showing signs of coming out of the winter hibernation. Inventory is slowly increasing in Palo Alto including higher end properties, in the $2 million to $4 million and some above $5 million.  Buyers and sellers are more optimistic that things are turning around. San Mateo is seeing strong activity in the post-Super Bowl market while Woodside and Portola Valley markets are quiet. There are buyers looking for homes, but the number of homes for sale is just too low.

San FranciscoLakeside reports most of the activity is for properties under $1.2 million. A lot of energy is in the first time home buyer market as we approach the deadline for the federal tax credit. Inventory is still low for the Lombard office. Buyers are often surprised that they’re in multiple offer situations in this market. The Market Street office reports that agents are seeing a lot of well qualified buyers coming to their listings, many with a lot of cash. Multiple offers are still the order of the day, especially in the first time homebuyer’s price points. Properties that are in desirable locations are going into contract after the first open house. The Noriega office has seen a lot more activity in the last two weeks.  There seems to be a renewed sense of urgency for buyers as the tax credit deadline gets closer.  One listing in the Outer Mission priced in the mid-$500,000 drew more than 100 groups during a two hour open house during the past holiday weekend. The Van Ness office is noticing lighter inventory of available homes, and had a handful of sales ratified over $2 million.

 Santa Cruz County:  There are many multiple offers on homes under $700,000 and REO properties and short sales. REOs and short sales continue to have a very strong influence in sales, pricing, and overall market activity.  There seems to be a lot of anxious buyers waiting on the sidelines for the right property to appear.  Buyers seem to acknowledge with some positive economic news that it is an optimum time to purchase – maybe the most optimal time ever.  Inventory still continues to be an issue, although as we move toward spring and warmer weather we are seeing more homes coming on the market. 

 Silicon Valley:  Cupertino continues to see a severe shortage of homes for sale, with lots of multiple offers as buyers compete for good listings. In Los Altos, open house attendance is picking up as is overall activity, but the higher end market – above $2 million – is still slow. Similarly, things are slowly improving in the Los Gatos market with inventory and sales increasing. In San Jose’s Almaden and Willow Glen neighborhoods, inventory is gradually increasing although still far too low for buyer interest. Inventory in San Jose is half of what it was a year ago in all local markets, but sales are up between 30 and 70% depending on neighborhood.  The Saratoga market started very slowly the first few weeks of January, but Realtors have seen a definite increase in activity. 

 South County:  In the South County it has become the “Tale of Two Cities.”  As potential buyers show interest in this area, they can select from either Morgan Hill or Gilroy.  In both cities, inventory is down, but Gilroy listings tend to be short sales or REO properties.  Morgan Hill has far less inventory, but non-short and REO sales are now the norm.   Agents are challenged when showing properties and well priced properties receive multiple offers.

 In a quick update on our Previews properties – There continues to be gradual improvement in the luxury end of the market in many areas. For example, in the last couple of weeks the Santa Cruz area offices report multiple offers on listings for $2.4 million, $2.1 million, and $1.2 million.  A $7 million dollar property that literally sits on the ocean is now $4.9 million and getting lots of activity and could sell shortly.  

 Overall, a few dips of the Dow under 10,000 don’t seem to stick,  and the result is an improvement in consumer confidence.

Until next time – Have a great week!

Rick Turley

President, San Francisco Bay Area

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

tel 415.437.4505