The $850,000 to $1,000,000 range in Howard Park, Oak Park & White Oaks is, without question, the hottest target for buyers moving into San Carlos. Please click here for a full color map of Howard Park, Oak Park and White Oaks.
Thank San Francisco
It’s not a coincidence that these three areas have had the highest resale value in San Carlos over the past few years. Why have these three connecting areas become so popular? Look north. In just the last three years we have noticed a tremendous increase in the number of young couples and families moving from San Francisco to San Carlos. In fact, I would venture to say that 50% of my buyers moving into San Carlos over the last few years have all come from San Francisco. More specifically, the San Francisco crowd is rarely interested in anything but these three areas, and here’s why:
(1) Start with the schools. Most people leave the city because they want to avoid the city-wide lottery, do not want private school and are looking for outstanding public schools. San Carlos schools have rapidly gained a reputation similar to Burlingame schools, and San Carlos housing is noticeably more affordable than Burlingame. The White Oaks name packs a punch, mostly based on its school performance. Most buyers are later surprised to learn that all of the San Carlos schools achieve similar or even slightly better scores on the yearly APIs.
(2) The secret is out on San Carlos. It now has a “reputation” that runs through the younger families in San Francisco….and luckily for current property owners, that reputation is a favorable one.
(3) It’s walkable. Howard Park, Oak Park and White Oaks are all walkable to Burton Park and downtown. This is a trait which makes many areas of San Francisco appealing for many families looking to walk, rather than drive around town.
(4) While it’s not quite there yet, Laurel Street is gaining tremendous favor with the younger crowd. For the most part, San Carlos has been able to keep Laurel Street out of the hands of most giant corporations (Starbucks seems to be the exception, and I am confident it was granted an exception in order to stop rioting within the city). Anyway, the point is that the majority of the stores on Laurel Street are independent ventures, which is another recognizable theme from San Francisco.
It’s an unfortunate stigma that many buyers from San Francisco attach to themselves when they have made the decision to move out of San Francisco to “the burbs”. I completely get it. My wife and I were the same way 10 years ago after living in San Francisco for five years. Even though I grew up in San Carlos and fully knew what we were getting into, there was a feeling of “selling out” to the burbs. The vast majority of buyers temper this feeling with the understanding that they are doing it for their children to have better academic and community opportunities. It has also been my experience that many San Francisco buyers quickly adapt to San Carlos and end up feeling very pleased with their choice. The Howard Park, Oak Park and White Oaks areas seem to give San Francisco buyers a vague resemblance to their daily lives in the city and are viewed as a good “test” to see if they can make the transition. I would compare the first showings with many San Francisco buyers to someone dipping their toes into a pool to test the temperature before jumping in.
The Price Range
Unless a two bedroom home is a possibility for the buyer, most three bedroom/two bath homes are going to fall in the $850,000-$1,000,000 price range in the Howard Park, Oak Park and White Oaks areas. As ridiculous as it sounds, for most families moving into San Carlos this is the entry level. The problem is that these properties are far and few between. The reason? There is nothing really attractive for the current owners of these homes to move up to. The result will be a bit of a logjam in this entry level market for most buyers in Spring 2011.