Monday, February 25, 2013

The San Antonio shopping center

What is going on at the San Antonio shopping center?

Several clients have asked me about the new shopping center being built at the crossroads of Palo Alto, Los Altos and Mountain View.  The "Village" has its own web site where one can see the following information in more details (see below). But in a nutshell, there will be:
- a brand new, huge Safeway,
- a luxury appartment complex of 330 units, (not cheap as some people told me),
- and a new building with retail, office and restaurants.

A smaller building at the corner of San Antonio and El Camino will house retail stores.

 More details and opinions can be found on this Town Crier article.  Indeed everyone has an opinion on the impact on 1/ the development of downtown Los Altos, as it tries to attract its own set of customers, and 2/ the Los Altos schools, as this development is part of the Los Altos elementary school district. Others worry about an already dense traffic situation in that part of town and I recall that the connections with existing biking paths were also part of the negociations during the approval process of the complex.
Some links of interest:
Local schools and Los Altos schoold district and school boundaries,
Thanks for reading!
Silicon Valley real estate
Local market: Smart graphs

Note: our next free E-Waste collection and shredding event will be on: Sat. 4/6/13, at our Coldwell Banker office at 161 S. San Antonio Rd, Los Altos. Times: E-Waste 9am to 4 pm. Shredding: 10 am to 2 pm.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2013 Cost vs Value Report

When you are thinking about selling your house, one of the first questions that will come to mind is: "what should I do to increase the value of my home?", which quickly becomes: "if I remodel, how much will I recoup"??

The Cost vs Value report is published every year and a lot of good information can be accessed from this article by Sal Alfano of the Remodeling Magazine of Jan. 2013.

Typically the data is sorted by project (kitchen remodeling, bathroom, etc..) and by region within the US.  (there are 4 regions).  Overall, the first thing that jumps out in the most recent report is that the ratio that one recoups has gone up, because of the recovery of the real estate market.

Results of the report are also summarized on NAR’s consumer website, which provides information on dozens of remodeling projects, from kitchens and baths to siding replacements, including the recouped value of the project based on a national average.

In my experience however, the return of a lot of these remodeling projects is much higher in our area, the Silicon Valley, than one can read in the Cost vs Value report.  I cannot put  an exact value on it of course, since each property is going to be different, but it is my experience that most buyers in the Bay Area are willing to pay a major premium for a property that has been remodeled and is ready to move in. 
Imagine a property worth $600k, that is in need of a new bathroom.  If you'd spend around $10k to remodel a bathroom (hypothetically), that would buy you a fairly nice remodeled bathroom.  The sales price is most probably going to be more than $610k in that example.

I believe that in this area, the Silicon Valley, if you know a contractor that will do a good job, for a reasonable price, and you have the time to stay involved in the project to monitor it, you would be better off with the remodel.  I also believe this is why there are so many purchases here which are investor-driven, and why there are so many multiple offers on "fixer-uppers".

Do you have any experience on this matter?  Let me know!

As always, thanks for reading!,
Francis Rolland

Silicon Valley real estate
Local market: Smart graphs

Note:  our next free E-Waste collection and shredding event will be on:
Sat. 4/6/13, at our Coldwell Banker office at 161 S. San Antonio Rd, Los Altos.
Times:  E-Waste  9am to 4 pm.  Shredding:  10 am to 2 pm.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Gifts for downpayment...

Notice to givers of down payments...  please read on:

Home buyers trying to scrape together enough money to cover the typical 20 percent down payment frequently look to relatives for help. About 1/4 of first-time home buyers were looking for some help from the family for their downpayment (typically 20% of the purchase price). But mortgage lenders closely scrutinize cash gifts, and the check may not count toward a home purchase if the borrower can’t thoroughly document its source and intention.

There are some rules to know and to follow, and it is easy to understand once you think as a bank: if one takes too much of a loan, the risk of not being able to pay it back increases.  So the help with the downpayment cannot be another loan, in one form or another.
This article from the New York Times (by Lisa Prevost, published: December 27, 2012) is most interesting and also gives some pointers as to some of the tax implications.

As always, I advise my clients to talk to the specialist: the lender, and to do so ahead of time because it may take time to structure the transaction properly.  The first stop in buying a property is really and truly the lender, in my opinion.

Thanks for reading,

Francis Rolland
Smart stats