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Fair Oaks, the Bastard Stepchild of Menlo Park? Not so Fast There!

March 20th, 2007 · No Comments

On today’s broker tour list were a few properties in Fair Oaks, sometimes considered the bastard stepchild of Menlo Park.  Fair Oaks residents naturally bristle at the description, brought about by the harsh reality of being a) unincorporated and, more importantly b) in a poor school district.  Menlo Park-ians (and their southward Palo Alto-an neighbors) are nothing if not school-obsessed.  Throw in streets that might politely be called “rustic”, generally small lots, and starter homes, and the image is complete.

You generally know what to expect when you see a Fair Oaks home:  a small, but generally cute and nicely done up place.  Nothing exciting, but certainly nothing shabby either.

As a sign of the neighborhood’s attempt to catch up with the rest of the city, I present two properties that were on tour today.

Picture of 657 10th Ave Menlo Park CA, a home for sale in the Fair Oaks neighborhoodFirst up was 657 10th Avenue, a Natalie Comartin (Coldwell Banker) listing.  Priced at just a whisker under $1.2M, the home looks respectable from the outside…but upon entering you have to stop and take a breath.  “Am I still in Fair Oaks?  Did I take a wrong turn and somehow end up in a small Atherton home?”  Its columned entrance leads in to an elegant tall ceiling, painted a bold but pleasing red, with shining-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life hardwood floors.  Even more striking is the high-ceilinged living room, with a fireplace and a skylight that gives the room a proper sun-drenching.  With 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2320 sq ft, and a lot size just over 6700 sq ft, this same home in Menlo Park proper would set you back an extra $250K — at least — money that would buy years of private education.
Picture of 657 10th Ave Menlo Park CA, a home for sale in the Fair Oaks neighborhoodPicture of 657 10th Ave Menlo Park CA, a home for sale in the Fair Oaks neighborhood
Pictures of another home for sale: 433 8th Ave, Menlo Park CANext up was Vincent Armando’s listing 433 8th Ave, a 3/2 with 1770 sq ft and a 5300 sq ft lot — standard in Fair Oaks.  The home was on the market last year during the doldrums and didn’t sell; the owner should have better luck this time.  Though quite modest from the outside, the inside was again a different story, with hardwood floors that may well have been done by the same craftsman as 657 10th.  Most surprising was the small pool in the back yard — a rarity in Fair Oaks — which unfortunately left not much of a back yard.

Pictures of another home for sale: 433 8th Ave, Menlo Park CA433-8th-ave-menlo-park-ca-picture-3-custom.jpgPictures of another home for sale: 433 8th Ave, Menlo Park CA

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Tags: Consumer · Fair Oaks · Home reviews · Menlo Park · Property reviews · Real estate

Today’s Menlo Park Real Estate Tour: The Travails of a Gluten-Intolerant Realtor

March 13th, 2007 · 2 Comments

Alas, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not consider gluten-intolerance a protected condition, and thus I went hungry during today’s Menlo Park real estate tour, in which many homes offered tempting delicacies to lure us in.
Real estate inventory in Menlo Park California is tightReal estate inventory in Menlo Park California is tight but improvingThough the dearth of housing inventory remains an issue (see the 90-day rolling average chart to the left), the numbers have been increasing lately (per the 7-day rolling average chart on the right), and this was reflected in today’s tour which featured a surprising number of properties in the Willows.

1033 Ringwood, Menlo Park, CA -- home for sale1033 Ringwood, Menlo Park, CA -- home for saleBut before stopping by the Willows I went to the Flood Park neighborhood sandwiched between Bay Rd and Highway 101 to see Corey Sijbrant’s listing at 1033 Ringwood, Menlo Park. Weighing in at $1,049,000, with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 1600 square feet, it’s been nicely done up and the master bedroom boasts a loft area, a touch I’ve always liked.

Moving on to the Willows, I started at 927 Arnold, a Tasha Standridge (Keller Williams)Property for sale at 927 Arnold Way, Menlo Park CA listing. This home is a classic “Timing is everything story.” On the market during last year’s doldrums, it just didn’t sell. Tasha wisely took it off the market, made some improvements, and now it shows even better than before and will doubtless sell within the week. With two stories, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and about 1750 sq ft, this home is listed for only $990,000. A home that large in the Willows for under a million dollars? What gives? Simple — it’s unfortunately only a stone’s throw from Willow Rd and from highway 101. The sound barrier wall deflects a lot of the noise, but there’s still enough noise to make the property’s yard a poor choice for a yoga meditation session. Check it out this weekend during the Saturday and Sunday open house.
212 Chester in the Willows neighborhood of Menlo Park CA212 Chester in the Willows neighborhood of Menlo Park CANext was this week’s winner of the “great spread” award: 212 Chester St from mother-and-daughter team Gloria and Caitlin Darke (Alain Pinel). I had to content myself with the healthy stuff there — celery sticks and carrots — and pass on the undoubtedly delicious, but tragically gluten-ridden, breaded chicken. Oh yes, the home itself…Priced at a whisker under $1.3M, the home has been significantly redone, boasts a large lot over 7300 sq ft, and has nearly 2000 sq ft of living space. See it for yourself during this weekend’s open house on both Saturday and Sunday.

3 Cleland Place, Menlo Park -- another Willows listings for sale, this one by Coldwell Banker agent Karen Izzo3 Cleland Place, Menlo Park -- another Willows listings for sale, this one by Coldwell Banker agent Karen IzzoNext up was Karen Izzo’s (Coldwell Banker) listing at 3 Cleland Place. Also open this Saturday and Sunday, this $1,200,000 “Charming Willows Bungalow” has a surprisingly large back yard — complete with a nostalgia-inducing tree swing — and 1410 square feet of living space, including 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. Her Realtor treats included some much-needed coffee and some undoubtedly also delicious, but sadly be-glutenized muffins. I had to pass.

336 Concord Drive in the Willows, a Menlo Park neighborhood. This home is offered for sale by none other than Miles McCormick of Keller WilliamsFrom there the next on my list was local Keller Williams superstar Miles McCormick’s listing at 336 Concord Drive. Miles was in the business and web-savvy early enough that he snagged the domain name “HomesOfThePeninsula.com”. At $786/sq ft, this 1520 square foot property will set you back just under $1.2M, and you’ll get not only a spectacular Willows location — with proximity to downtown Palo Alto — but also a very nicely done up 3 bedroom, 2 bath home. Again, delicious treats. Again, not for the gluten-intolerant Realtor. Oh yes, this home is also open on both Saturday and Sunday.

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Tags: Alain Pinel Realtors · Coldwell Banker · Consumer · Flood Park · Home reviews · Keller Williams · Local information · Menlo Park · Miles McCormick · Open houses · Real estate · Willows

Lingering Appeal

March 12th, 2007 · 1 Comment

Friday tour in Palo Alto wasn’t necessarily a big tour numbers wise (seems sellers aren’t moving or they’re still waiting to put their houses on the market) but it was a tour in which I felt like I wanted to linger.

293-bryant-street-pic-2.jpgFirst I wanted to linger at 293 Bryant Street ($839,000), a sophisticated 2Bedrm/2.5Bth Townhouse I knew was perfect for my traveling client. Freshly painted with an open floor plan – perfect for both everyday living and entertaining – this unit has an updated gourmet kitchen, fireplace and patio lined with mature trees and a beautiful camellia. It definitely felt like the Townhouse for “jet set lifestyle.” Check it out now, cuz it will be gone by Wednesday!

hopkins.jpgThen my touring companion and I moved on to 1319 Hopkins Avenue ($1,695,000) ($1,195,000 — ed; apologies to Ken DeLeon, the listing agent), a property situated down a long driveway and set next to a charming two story unit with two one bedrooms. I remember when this property went on tour last fall. It felt like an artist’s enclave to me. “Who,” I thought, “wouldn’t want to live here.” The home, over 1300 sf, has 2 bedrooms and 2 full updated bathrooms. The dining area overlooks the courtyard as does the gourmet kitchen with two windows that open out onto a bar perfect for spring, summer and fall yard parties. With hardwood floors throughout, the elegant living room has a fireplace for cozy gatherings. This house feels like a place where creative types and intellectuals might gather for wine tastings and dinners with delectable delights. Sadly we had to press on.

webster-2.jpgBut gladly we arrived at a stunning Villa situated on 2061 Webster Street ($4,295,000). Pack my bags, I’m movin in. The colors… the flow of the floor plan. Oh my God! Standing in the entry way I slowing turned 360 degrees, imaging how the architect had imagined lines folding into lines.webster.jpg From the attention to detail from the curve of the staircase to the view from the tub in the master bedroom to the au pairs bedroom window in the basement, which looked out onto a square courtyard. No need to travel if you lived in this house.

santa-rita-2.jpgOnward! We arrived at 514 Santa Rita Avenue ($2,295,000) – a meticulously maintained English Tudor home where care has been taken to preserve its original character. Memories… this house is all about creating memories and one’s own fairytales. I could barely make myself leave the upstairs with its three charming bedrooms and 2 baths. The front bedroom’s windows were opened out onto the front lawn and as I stood there, I imaged myself as the teenager of the house being courted by some handsome Romeo… And the bathroom with its tub – long enough for someone of my 5’11 stature to luxuriate in while looking up and out through the window framed by a tree and the rooftop next door, which at night might be covered with starlight.

barron.jpgAlthough not our final visit, the tour ended for me at 776 Barron Avenue ($1,495,000). Make an offer quick. Gone by Wednesday as well I’m sure. This 4 bedroom 2 bath home has wonderful interior and exterior lines for instant curb appeal. While there, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to stand in the remodeled gourmet kitchen, which opened into the family room and looked out through French doors to the pool and yard. Or should I stand in the master bedroom, which felt like I was away on vacation in France somewhere. Double French doors open out onto a secluded courtyard and I imagined myself sipping my Sunday morning coffee of Graffeo and ambling through the New York Times in a comfy bathrobe and slippers.

Since Friday’s tour I’ve pondered: what makes one want to linger – to remain or stay (as it is stated in the dictionary) on in a place, as if from reluctance to leave? I think it’s in part because homes have their own souls and essence. After all, they were made by people for people and it’s wonderful to walk into a home where I can feel the thought that has gone into creating good and peaceful energy. And to see the care that has been taken with the angles, color and design. You know when someone has loved their home; taken great care while they have dwelled there. And you can feel when an owner has made every effort to present their home in a way that will attract the next person who wants to take up residence. So here’s the thing with lingering; when putting your house on the market, don’t forget to consider Lingering Appeal.

Note: Images courtesy of mlslistings.com

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Tags: Home reviews · Ken DeLeon · Local information · Palo Alto · Property reviews · Real estate

Bamboo is the New Granite (Extended Remix Version) — A Contemporary Townhome in Downtown Palo Alto

January 22nd, 2007 · 8 Comments

Michael Hall and I had a lot of fun putting together our first property video review, and now that we’ve worked the kinks out, we thought we’d give it another spin, with more detail. Wellcomemat allows you to create “chapters” within the video so you can jump from one place to another. Very neat!

Interestingly, the first post sparked an email conversation with some folks about countertops: Is bamboo really the new granite?

One emailer had this to say:

Don’t believe everything you hear! It discolors easily, needs to be sealed annually, and can chip/crack. Composite stone is the new granite. :)

Somebody else said:

I hear concrete is the new kitchen counter granite. Next it will be back to those laminate ones…I don’t even remember what it’s called!

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Tags: 94301 · Home reviews · Palo Alto · Real estate · Wellcomemat.com

“Bamboo is the New Granite” — A Contemporary Townhome in Downtown Palo Alto

January 19th, 2007 · 12 Comments

Good friend and colleague Michael Hall, with the permission of his client, graciously allowedliving-room-wince.JPG me to use his new listing as a guinea pig for a series of video articles I intend to start doing about interesting local properties. For many properties, a good set of MLS pictures and a standard virtual tour give a good idea of what the property is about, but there are some that merit better treatment, and Michael’s listing at 498 Fulton, Palo Alto, is definitely one of them.

While Palo Alto has an endearing snobbishness all its own, some folks moving to this area from San Francisco or New York shudder at the thought of being in the ‘burbs. This place, however, would fit in well in many an upscale San Francisco or new York neighborhood, and as an added bonus, it’s only a block or two from the hubbub of Palo Alto’s University Avenue.

Listed at $1,650,000 and weighing in at just under 2000 square feet, with threekitchen-wince.JPG bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms, the interior is sparse, sleak, and stylish, with curved walls, high ceilings, bright lights, and a spacious kitchen.

Ah yes, the kitchen…that brings me to the whole bamboo thing. While granite is still the biggest rage in kitchen decor, bamboo is definitely making inroads into high-end kitchens.

Take it away, Michael!

(Video hosted by Wellcomemat.com)

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Tags: Home reviews · Real estate · Wellcomemat.com