September 2, 2008
Long-time readers know that I do my newspaper reading online via the New York Times. In a throwback to a quieter time, I do subscribe to the San Jose Mercury News on Sundays as we like to peruse the articles and share witty banter about the headlines over morning coffee. In an interesting twist, I also receive the paper on other random days of the week . . . but I digress.
When I picked up the paper on Labor Day (Second Sunday?), the headline “Home Sales Raising Hopes” bravely attempted to be seen over the front and center HURRICANE HITS GOP main headline. What’s this I thought, positive news about the housing market from the Merc? Really?
I have grown weary and wary of the Merc and its drumbeat of foreclosure of the week, gloom and doom, and reinforcing that real estate is local, and my market in Palo Alto varies just a bit from south San Jose. If you don’t believe me, visit Altos Research and compare the chart for median home price over the last couple of years in these two cities. The results may surprise you . . .
The Merc got my hopes up with an intro and a couple of quotes from brokers saying they were expecting an upturn in sales in the Fall after activity was so low in the summer, and there is usually an upturn in the fall. There is some back and forth, and the article pretty much shot down the “fall uptick” conventional wisdom. Again, Altos to the rescue showing inventory and sales actually DO pick up in Palo Alto fairly consistently every fall before slowing down over the holidays.
To see the article on its entirety, click here to visit the Mercury online. For charts and stats galore, visit the Market Reports page on my website, now in Single Family and Condo!
Thanks for reading . . .
Tags: 2008 real estate market, home prices, Local information, palo alto home prices, palo alto market, San Jose Mercury
January 2, 2008
For my 2008 inaugural post, I thought I’d take a half-serious, half-whimsical look into my crystal ball and talk about what we can expect to see over the next 12 months.
- There will be a net outflow of agents out of the business, bringing Santa Clara county’s ratio of agents to annual transactions down to 3:1.
- Foreign investors will continue to snap up condos in the name-brand markets like San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, and New York. $1.5M for a nice condo seems cheap if you’re buying in Euros or Sterling.
- CAR’s standard purchase contract will mushroom from 10 pages to 15 pages and in addition to the “Endangered California Red-Legged Frog Disclosure” contracts will now also include the “Errant Golf Ball Disclosure” and the “Don’t Eat Asbestos Disclosure.”
- Google’s stock will drop to $300. Facebook will step in and buy Google. Newly minted Facebook millionaires will wander the streets of Woodside and Atherton, looking for a $4M home.
- The San Jose Mercury news real estate editors will learn the difference between “median” and “mean”.
- The San Jose Mercury news real estate editors will learn the difference between “Palo Alto” and “Kansas City.”
- Countrywide will magnanimously forgive one year’s worth of interest to all homeowners in danger of losing their homes.
- Sellers in tough markets will spontaneously offer their listing agents a 10% commission.
- In an effort to attract more buyers, some sellers will resort to selling $1 lottery tickets to open house visitors; the winning ticket gets the keys to the home.
- In danger of losing a major revenue stream, California’s Department of Real Estate will ease licensing regulations, removing the previous (unreasonable) stipulation that required applicants to prove they were alive.
Tags: Real estate, San Jose Mercury
May 22, 2007
When I saw the above article in yesterday’s Mercury News, I nearly spit a perfectly good latte all over the paper.
The schools in Palo Alto are a major driver of real estate values in the city and are consistently marketed and believed to be the best public schools in the area.
The local real estate community feels so strongly about this that they have an annual drive for donations to Partners in Education, to solicit donations for Palo Alto schools. In return for their generosity, local real estate agents who donate get their picture in the paper as a thank you for being donors and supporting Palo Alto schools. In recent years there has been quite a competition between the various real estate companies in Palo Alto for who donates the most money, which is kind of losing sight of the point of things, but I digress . . .
Interestingly, in Newsweek’s 2006 rankings, we saw a disparity in the rankings between Palo Alto High School and Gunn High School, with Paly coming in below Los Altos High and Cupertino’s Monta Vista.
Last year, Gunn High School in Palo Alto ranked 79, and Palo Alto High School ranked 361. But this year, prompted by concern at both high schools, the Palo Alto district refused to send in Newsweek’s required forms.
This also lends fuel to my personal fire that as increasingly affluent and educated people are moving into cities like Mountain View, they are injecting more money into the schools, while also demanding more of the administration. I prognosticate that we will begin to see increasing parity between Palo Alto public schools and those of the surrounding communities. If this happens, the upward price pressure resulting from a demand for homes in Palo Alto in excess of Supply could be lessened, leading to a stagnation of home prices or even sales.
Heresy! You say.
We will see. In the meantime I welcome your comments and tirades. I don’t pretend to be an expert on education or even to play one on TV.
You can see the rankings for local schools on the SJ Mercury website here.
Thanks for reading.
Tags: 94301, 94303, 94306, Home selling, Mountain View, Palo Alto, palo-alto-real-estate, Real estate, real-estate-prices, San Jose Mercury
May 17, 2007
I wanted to have a compelling title for a little experiment I recently did with my listing at 206 Palmita Place in Downtown Mountain View. It’s a newer construction home and I thought the location and price would appeal to couples or small families. Based on that demographic, I assumed more people would be searching for homes online, so I built a custom website for the house, and posted links to it on a number of real estate websites in addition to the ones like mlslistings.com that link to data on the MLS.
I then did some informal polling at the various open houses, asking visitors where they found out about the open house, leaving it as an open ended question. I also tracked hits to the website and looked at who the referring domains were. I found the results interesting and surprising.
Where did they come from?
Over the course of 4 days of open houses (Thurs and Fri evenings, Sat and Sun afternoons) we had 135 groups of visitors through. Of these, only 2 said they came based on the ad in the MV Voice, 1 from the Palo Alto Weekly and 1 from the SJ Merc. Another 11 groups had seen the open house directional signs (I blanketed the neighborhood) or the For Sale sign in the yard as they were passing by. That’s 14 out of 135 groups, or about 11%. The other 89% of visitors either found the listing online or were referred by their agents.
I also tracked where hits to the website came from. There were over 2200 hits to the website, and initially 70% of those came from Movoto which is an online real estate information / referral site. After the first two days, mlslistings.com caught up, and after the first week was the source of about 70% of the hits. The house went under contract after a week, so I stopped tracking then.
While I admit that I am biased, I have had a theory for a while that newspaper ads for listings, especially in Palo Alto and surrounding communities, are more for advertising the agent and getting him or her more clients than getting potential Buyers into your home.
The National Association of Realtors estimates that 74% of home buyers begin their search for a home online, and the estimate for Silicon Valley is 92%. I’m still running an ad for my new listing in Redwood City, but it is only 1/4 page and that is because the sellers believe that potential buyers read the paper. I am also flooding the internet with placements and links, and I’m trying an experiment by posting the home on Zillow as well. It’s another experiment, and I’m partially doing it to get under Kevin’s skin as Zillow is a hot-button for him.
I’m tracking the marketing response on the Redwood City house as well, and I’ll do a post on the results from that when it goes under contract. In the meantime, I welcome your comments and hope for a bit of banter on online vs. print marketing.
Thanks for reading.
Tags: 94041, Advertising, Alternative business models, bay-area-real-estate, Business of real estate, California Association of Realtors, Demographics, Fun with Zillow, Home buying, Home selling, Keller Williams, Movoto, Online-real-estate-advertising, Real estate, Real-estate-advertising, Redwood City, San Jose Mercury, Technology, Zillow
April 9, 2007
I've been waiting for the right opportunity to really push the envelope of online real estate marketing, and, well, it's here!
I'm working on a listing in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood that fits perfectly into this new online marketing world: it's slick, chic, and contemporary, will likely attract a younger and web-savvy crowd of buyers, and the sellers simply love the idea of creating a buzz online.
We're passing on the normal full-color ads in traditional local media like the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, and we'll be spending that money online instead. To hedge our bets, we will be placing open house display ads in print media.
I'll be collaborating with several real estate online marketing companies to promote this property. They'll be showing me — and, by extension, my readers — how to get the full benefit of their products. I intend to chronicle our adventures here and invite you to follow along. If you have some ideas, feel free to join in!
I'll announce the first collaborator tomorrow.
In the meantime, as part of our adventures, let's see how high this site currently ranks for the search, "San Francisco Potrero Hill Real Estate" — I suspect it won't be that good, since I've never written about Potrero Hill before!
Sure enough, on Google, Yahoo, and MSN, I'm nowhere to be found, not even in the top 100.
Tags: Advertising, Buyer and seller tips, Disclosures, For sellers, Google, Media, MSN, Newspapers, Online advertising, Potrero Hill, Preparing a home, Real estate, San Francisco, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury, Yahoo
There’s always a story in the numbers…creating FUD from that story is the media’s job; making sense from it is mine
October 25, 2006
If there’s one thing I learned from my tenure in consulting (apart from the names of the cabin crew on the mid-Sunday afternoon American Airlines flight from SFO to JFK…) it’s that the numbers always tell a story.
Statistically-challenged reporters (is there another kind?) look at this and concoct two dramatic headlines, depending on whether you look before or after July 2006: “Prices drop dramatically!” or “Prices increase dramatically!”
Both headlines are, technically, true — in the same sense that your favorite team’s one-game loss could be a “losing streak” and a one-game win could be a “winning streak.”
What’s behind these numbers?
Quite simple: The variation in prices this year in Palo Alto is due nearly entirely to the difference in home size. Put another way, home prices fell between January and July because smaller homes were selling, and home prices rose between July and October because larger homes were selling. Boring facts like that don’t sell newspapers, however, which is why you’d never get an explanation like that in the San Jose Mercury News.
Check this out: