The Top 5
Navigating the San Carlos real estate market these days is not for the faint of heart. The stakes are high and even the most calm, cool and collected of buyers are struggling. If you are one of those buyers or are thinking of trying your luck in San Carlos, you may want to continue reading.
Someone recently asked me at an open house to give him the top five things that he should be thinking about when buying in San Carlos. As I started to reply he said, “ok that’s one, now give me the next”. Brevity and succinctness were clearly what he was looking for. His question got me thinking. If I had to give buyers a quick list of the most critical issues with San Carlos homes and the home buying process, what would that list look like? I have compiled a list of the top five items I would want any buyer to always be aware of when buying in San Carlos:
(1) Hot Market/Right Location. Yes, the market is ridiculously hot. There is nothing wrong with buying a home in San Carlos when the market is hot. However, there is something greatly wrong with paying a premium for a home in a very hot market when the location is less than ideal. Homes with location challenges are a blemish on the property as a whole. In slower moving markets, that blemish will become far more pronounced and selling the home could prove quite challenging.
(2) Foundation/Drainage. With virtually every offer being non-contingent right now in San Carlos, you need to be hypersensitive to the potential costly home issues in our town. Foundations and drainage are the issues in San Carlos. Having a quality drainage contractor and foundation contractor on your side is absolutely essential. Not to minimize other possible issues in homes, but if it turns out the electrical box needs replacing, that’s $5K. If the foundation or drainage has a serious problem, you could be looking at $100K, or more. These are the two issues that you absolutely cannot make a mistake on. Keep these two facts in mind when considering this issue: (1) San Carlos is largely built on former creek beds, over natural springs and adobe clay; and (2) the majority of the flats of San Carlos was built in the 1940s or earlier. The foundations used at that time do not nearly have the amount of steel in them that they should by today’s standards. Additionally, many of those foundations were not meant to last more than 85 to 100 years. More on this in an upcoming blog post.
(3) Problematic Layouts. Same as #1, above. In a hot market even the homes with the most difficult layouts, sell. Once that market evens out, they can be incredibly difficult to unload. San Carlos is the mecca of weekend-warrior projects and it shows. If you tour homes at all in San Carlos you have undoubtedly walked into homes and scratched your head in utter confusion and tried to figure out what sane-minded seller would have possibly made those types of changes to the home. Ring a bell? Avoid, especially in a hot market.
(4) Flexibility. Know where you are in life. Could you live in the property, if you had to, in order to ride out a spike or downturn in the market? For instance, could you later remodel or add on if your family is going to grow. Also, people always assume they get stuck in homes when the market turns bad. You can also get stuck in a home when the market takes off. In other words, inventory remains low and the move up price is more than you can afford…..sound familiar?
(5) Views/Backyards Sell. If I had to pick a single aspect of San Carlos real estate that I underestimated coming in as a new agent, it would be that homes with views will always sell for more than you think. The irony with this thought is that most buyers in San Carlos are looking for a flat yard and flat yards rarely accompany homes with views. However, for the segment of the buying population that is looking for a view, they will pay a premium to get it. On the flip side, I would tell any of my buyers that if a home were to have a superior size backyard in the flats, buy it. Large backyards are so difficult to come by in San Carlos. Over the next ten years in San Carlos you will see how remodeling backyards will be just as important as the remodel on your house. Making a second living space outside has become a big business. More on this exact issue next week.