• Silicon Valley Rents Just Keep A-Risin’


    How high can Silicon Valley rents go? That’s the billion dollar question for residents and real estate pros alike during the region’s current tech boom, which is generating reams of housing reports that attempt to portray just how expensive it is to live here.  The latest report from Texas-based apartment research company Axiometrics pegged average rents in the San Jose metro area at $2,500 per month as of June, based on a survey of “tens of thousands” of rental properties nationwide.

    That figure is higher than the latest $2,321 Santa Clara County average rent estimate from RealFacts, but the implications are clear: Area rents are still rising fast. Rapid growth in white-collar tech jobs — coupled with closely related growth in professional services fields and lower-paying service sector jobs — has intensified competition for housing at all income levels.  The rental housing market is especially hard-pressed, with dual demand from well-paid tech talent seeking low-maintenance rentals and low- or middle-income residents priced out of home ownership.

  • Chinese Cash Drives Up Silicon Valley

    chinese cash

    More and more, home buyers are bringing a once-rare tactic to the negotiation — all-cash offers. And, in the San Francisco Bay Area, a lot of those buyers are coming from China.

    We’re seeing three different phenomena. One is asset diversification, people trying to move money out of China. Second would be the focus on education for their families.  And thirdly would be lifestyle, because this is a beautiful place to live. In certain areas of Silicon Valley — Palo Alto, Menlo Park and the city of San Francisco — it’s added a demographic of buyers who generally, take a long-term view. They’re not sellers in the next five to seven years. The end result is that it is driving housing prices up.

    Is this a bubble that could burst and drive prices down again?

    Unlikely — the dynamics of the San Francisco Bay Area are very, very solid. Our job market is solid. This is not a bubble, since prices in the San Francisco Bay Area are going to meet the world stage. Price per square foot of London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing and New York are probably thirty to forty percent higher than they are in the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • Why Staging is SO Important

    Living room 1


    First impressions are everything, especially when selling you home.  As a seller, one of your primary considerations should be “staging” your house, meaning furnishing, decorating, outdoor clean-ups and ultimately arranging homes in such a way to attract increased buyer interest.

    A recent national survey indicated that staged homes sold on average in 13.8 days, while non-staged homes sold in 30.9 days.  Because your home is competing with other nearby comparable listings, staging your home is important for getting the best price when you sell. Here are some outdoor staging tips to optimize your curb appeal, give you a competitive edge verses other homes for sale in your area, and sell your home quickly.

    • Ensure your flowerbeds are turned, weed free, and properly edged. All hedges should be evenly trimmed and the lawn regularly maintained. It is a clear indication that you are a conscientious homeowner and that you value your home’s appearance. If you’re not into gardening, paying for a quick landscaping job might be well worth the investment.
    • Check to make sure all outdoor lighting is in good working order. Consider leaving them on slightly longer than normal to encourage potential ‘drive-by’ viewings from interested buyers during the evening hours.
    • Ensure your front entryway is presentable. A great exterior accent piece is a freshly painted front door, which, when combined with a few seasonal potted plants, will create a more welcoming entranceway for prospective buyers.
    • Polish the front doorknob or handle and replace a dented or tarnished mailbox. Make sure your home address numbers can be easily seen from the street to facilitate potential viewings.
    • Check if your aluminum siding or brickwork needs washing or your gutters need cleaning. If dead leaves are spilling over from your eaves troughs, buyers tend to get a negative impression.
    • If you have a wood deck, make sure the stain or paint looks fresh. Good-looking patio furniture will contribute to the look of the backyard. If yours looks slightly run down, consider purchasing a new set – something you can take with you when you move.
    • Clean up yard clutter and put away the kids’ outdoor toys to help enhance the size of your yard
  • Making a Small Home Look Bigger and Show Great

    small house  Small homes can offer very unique advantages.  They can cost less, be cozy and cute, and limit the amount of maintenance that is required. These can be a big plus in an economy where people are tight for money and tight on time.   However, a small home loses its appeal if it is cluttered.  Cramped living is usually never on any buyer’s wish list.  Fortunately, there are a several tips to help you make your small home look bigger and still offer the conveniences of a small house, such as:

    Mirrors. Using mirrors in rooms helps to reflect light – both indoor and outdoor types – and give the illusion that the room is larger. It is a great way to trick the eye and make it seem like there is more home. Mirrors bounce light into the area, helping to brighten up the room.

    Go lean and sleek. When it comes to furniture, the best options for small spaces are lean and sleek designs. Bulky furniture such as sofas with big heavy, oversized pillows and skirts will make the area look smaller and more confined. You can find furniture that is sleek in design and still very comfortable. It will give the room a light, refreshing feel.

    Take it high. If you place your curtain rods closer to the ceiling rather than just above the window frame you will give an optical illusion of a higher ceiling in the room. Also do not use drapes that are flowing out into the room because they will eat up too much of the floor space. Keep it simple.

    Built-in furniture is key. Using built-in furniture such as bookcases and entertainment centers can help save space. Keep in mind that they will become permanent fixtures that you are not going to take with you when you move. So, make sure the space is suitable for the built-ins.  Do not overcrowd a narrow area. Give consideration to how the built-in furniture would function to improve the open space while also thinking about if it would be considered universal to most people – would others find a purpose for it?

    Reduce Clutter. Ultimately, one of the key factors to making a small home look bigger and appealing to your buyers is to downsize on the stuff you stick inside it. Many times people who have smaller spaces try to keep everything they had from the many previous places (some larger) that they have lived in.  This strategy will eventually make any home look small. If it is not in use, not necessary, and not of sentimental value, maybe it is time to let it go in order to let your small home shine in a big way.

    These tips combined with the knowledge of your real estate professional will ensure that your home will show well and as a result will maximize exposure to potential buyers.

  • Kitchen Remodeling Decisions You Won’t Regret: Part 3

    The next two items, Subway Tiles and Ergonomics:

    subway tile


    #5: Subway Tile for the Backsplash

    Subway tile goes back to the early 1900s, when it was used to line New York’s first subway tunnels. Classic subway tiles are white, 3-by-6-inch rectangles — a look that became popular in American kitchens and baths, and has stuck around ever since. Now it’s an iconic part of the American design vernacular, destined never to go out of style.

    In the kitchen, ceramic tile excels as a backsplash, where it guards against moisture, is a snap to clean, lasts forever, and always looks classy.

    Sure, a backsplash can be an opportunity for a blast of color and pattern, but neutrals will always be current and blend with any look. Plus, a subway tile backsplash and a marble countertop make a dashing couple that will stand the test of time.

    To make it even more enduring, keep it achromatic and camouflage dirt with gray or beige grout.

    #6 : Ergonomic Design

    Adaptability and universal design features mean easy living at any age. A recent survey on kitchens from the American Institute of Architects points to the growing popularity of smart ergonomic design, a sign that kitchen adaptability will stay in vogue.

    Smart ergonomics simply mean convenience — for young or old, party people or homebodies — a key factor when remodeling a kitchen that will function well, retain its value, and always feel right.

    No matter you or your buyer’s current or future needs, everyone wins with these approaches:

    • Create different countertop heights. Standard height is 36 inches, but you can raise or lower sections of cabinets by altering the height of the base. Add color-match shim strips to the bases of countertops that don’t include sinks or appliances. You (or a new owner) can easily remove them or add to them to adjust the height.
    • Swap a standard range for a wall oven and a cooktop. Ranges have fixed heights. There’s no getting around the fact you have to bend to access the oven. But a wall oven conveniently installs about waist-high.
    • Add pull-out shelves to base cabinets. Lower cabinets with doors mean having to twist like a pretzel to see what’s inside. Pull-out shelves put everything at your fingertips.
  • Kitchen Remodeling Decisions You Won’t Regret: Part 2

    The next two items in our list – cabinets and countertops!

    shaker cabinets

    #3 – Shaker Style for Cabinets 

    Thank heaven for the Shakers. While they were busy reducing life to its essentials, they made cabinets with clean, simple lines that will forever be in style.

    Shaker cabinets are an enduring legacy of American style and, like wood flooring, have the knack for looking good in any setting. Their simple frame-and-panel design helps reduce the amount of busyness in a kitchen, making it a soothing, friendly place to be.

    “In a kitchen with a timeless look, you want the cabinets to be part of the backdrop,” says Alan Zielinski, a former president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. “You don’t want to be overpowered. You’re looking for plain, simple, clean lines.”

    Those plain, simple, clean lines are a perfect fit for transitional style — a beautiful combo of traditional and contemporary styles. In fact, the National Kitchen and Bath Association says that after creeping up on traditional for years, transitional is now the most popular kitchen style.

    As our families grow more diverse, transitional style will only get more popular. It lets us personalize and blend cultural influences — Latin, Asian, Mideastern — into our homes; it’s the perfect balance of old and new, just like Shaker-style cabinets.

    #4: Carrara Marble for Countertops

    carrera marble

    Carrara marble is a timeless classic that’s been used in homes for thousands of years. (Michelangelo’s “David” was carved from Carrara.) It’ll look as good in the next millennium as it does now.

    Here’s why:

    • Carrara’s lacy graining and subtle white colors look terrific in a white kitchen (or any kitchen, for that matter).
    • It has a whiteness you won’t find in other natural stones.
    • It’s readily available, making it less expensive than other high-end choices, such as quartz.
    • It’ll last for generations.


    If you Google it, you’ll find a lot of debate about it (and marble in general) because it stains easily. But if you want something truly timeless, Carrara is the answer. And with today’s sealants, the problem of staining is almost moot if you reseal once or twice a year.

    Next time: Subway Tile & Ergonomics

  • Twitter IPO vs. Silicon Valley Real Estate

    The real estate landscape is shifting — and we have Twitter to thank for it.

    In other words, it’s not going to get any easier for home buyers in the near future.  With Twitter’s recent IPO, according to a recent article in the Merc, there are 1,600 new millionaires here in Silicon Valley.

    Like, overnight.

    Here’s the highlights:

    • If you’re thinking of buying a home in the Bay Area, better move quick: More than 1,600 new millionaires are walking around today thanks to Twitter’s initial public offering of stock.  That estimate, from financial analysis firm PrivCo, is just one of the ways Thursday’s Wall Street welcome for the San Francisco microblogging service has shifted the local landscape.
    • Twitter — which sold 80.5 million shares at $26, only to see them shoot as high as $50 once public trading began — will impact local housing prices much as Facebook’s IPO did last year.
    • This place is so supply-constrained that when you have these large influxes of liquidity, it causes upspikes in price
    • It’s like concentric circles beginning in Palo Alto. So many of these companies are doing well that next year you’re going to see the East Bay and San Jose start approaching 2007-peak pricing


  • Kitchen Remodeling Decisions You Won’t Regret: Part 1


    Afraid your kitchen remodeling choices will look so 2013-ish in a few years?

    I’ve seen a lot of kitchen remodel trends over the years, so I know it’s easy to get swept along with what’s in vogue, only to get bummed out by your faddish design choices a few years later. Thank you — and damn you — Pinterest.

    But chances are you’re only going to remodel your current kitchen once. After all, the annual Cost vs. Value Report from Remodeling magazine pegs the average price of a major kitchen remodel at about $54,000. With that much on the line, you want to make all the right moves. If you do, you could recoup nearly 70% of your investment if you sell.

    So to future-proof you from angst, I’ll provide you with the seven definitive kitchen features that will retain their beauty, marketability, and value — all while giving you lasting enjoyment.

    #1: White is the Dominant Color 

    Bottom line: White is the most marketable color. You’ll always find it atop the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s annual survey of most popular kitchen colors. It simply doesn’t go out of style.

    White’s mojo:

    • Throughout history, it’s been associated with happiness, purity (think Snow White), and new beginnings.
    • It’s a bright color that reflects light and makes even small kitchens feel larger.
    • It’s a neatnik’s dream — dirt has no place to hide.


    Even better, it’s uber-tolerant of both your budget and taste: A standard color for any manufacturer, you’ll find white cabinets, tile, counters, faucets, sinks, and appliances at any price point.

    And with a white backdrop, you can be as conservative or expressive as you want. After all, it’s about your enjoyment, not just dollars and cents. For example:

    • Add your personal touch with colored glass knobs and pulls.
    • Show off antique Fiesta ware on open shelves or in upper cabinets with glass fronts.
    • Paint walls the color du jour — even off-white!


    Heck, with a white palette, you can change your mind about paint color on a whim. Those all-white basics will make any hue you choose look fresh and contemporary.

    #2: Hardwood for Flooring

    It’s been our foot fetish for years. That’s especially true ever since hardwood flooring was mass-produced during the Industrial Revolution, making beautiful flooring readily available at a reasonable cost.

    Today, more than half of home buyers who purchased a home without hardwood floors say they would have paid an extra $2,080 for them, according to the 2013 Home Features Survey from the National Association of Realtors®. And among buyers of any age, upwards of 80% say hardwood floors are “somewhat” or “very important.”

    Why? The love of wood is in our genes. Our nesting instincts know that hardwood has warmth, personality, and makes our homes cozy and inviting. That’s why this clever chameleon pairs well with any kitchen style — from casual cottage and sleek contemporary to the most chi-chi Park Avenue traditional.


    More reasons why wood flooring is the goof-proof option:

    • Perfect for open floor plans. It flows beautifully from the kitchen into adjoining rooms.
    • It’s tough. Hardwoods such as oak, ash, and maple will shrug off your kitchen’s high-traffic punishment for years. Solid hardwood flooring can be refinished 10 to 12 times during it’s typical 100-year lifespan.
    • It’s eco-friendly. Hardwood is considered a green building material when it’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and comes from sustainably managed forests.

    Next time: Cabinets & Countertops

  • New Podcast – Q4 Market Update with Carole Rodoni


    Want to know what REALLY is the scoop behind this crazy market we’re having here in Silicon Valley? Want to know how global issues are affecting our real estate market?

    I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Carole Rodoni, the expert on all economic and market dynamic issues around real estate, both here in Silicon Valley, and throughout the US. Take a listen, she’s always got such great info.


  • Redwood City Real Estate Update – On Video!

    In this first installment, our broker Jim Meader and I discuss the latest happenings in Redwood City real estate.


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