The Top 10 San Carlos Real Estate FAQs

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I have assembled a list of the most frequently asked questions for the 2009 San Carlos real estate market.  Please see the questions and answers below:

10.  Has the San Carlos housing market hit bottom?

ANSWER>>> Perhaps.  Historically, San Mateo County has been one of the last counties to be hit by a national housing downturn.  That seems to have proven true for this latest downturn as well.  The first half of 2008 was quite solid for San Carlos, while most other markets were in the thick of a major downturn.  The good news is that San Mateo County is usually one of the first to recover from a national housing downturn. Whether we have hit bottom and are ready to start leveling off remains to be seen.  Nobody is really in a position to accurately forecast this answer.  However, we should have a much clearer answer by the end of June.

9.  How would you characterize the playing field between buyers and sellers in this market?

ANSWER>>>It’s all about price.  That’s really the bottom line.  Sellers who are pricing their homes below the current floor are selling them immediately. The other homes which are selling are only selling after some serious negotiation.  Buyers have a lot of ammo.  They have time, low interest rates and the general malaise of the economy working in their favor when it comes to negotiating a final sales price. Most sellers in today’s market have built in some negotiating room into their initial list price and are fully expecting to negotiate all aspects of a prospective offer.

8.   Has Howard Park moved ahead of White Oaks in terms of Buyers’ preference?

ANSWER>>> Given the recent surge in applications to White Oaks elementary, it would be very difficult to say that Howard Park has moved ahead of White Oaks in terms of buyers’ preference.  However, I would say that the two Areas are clearly competing on the same level.  White Oaks has long enjoyed the reputation of being San Carlos’ top neighborhood.  Howard Park began to seriously challenge that spot a few years back.  As the north end of Laurel began its transformation, Howard Park became more attractive.  Larger lot sizes and streets known as heavy hitters for resale did not hurt either.  Carmelita, Knoll, Elizabeth, Morse, and many others anchored a comeback for Howard Park.  For more on this subject click here.

7.   Is the lack of San Carlos schools for the Alder Manor Area really a turnoff for most buyers?

ANSWER>>>  Depends.  If the prospective buyer does not have kids, kids are in private school, or views Clifford School as an acceptable choice….not really.  It becomes an issue strictly related to resale at that point.   That being said, one of the reasons that San Carlos has been able to hold its value better than some other peninsula cities is because of its award winning schools.  Undoubtedly, it is a main attraction for buyers.  Lack of San Carlos schools will clearly shrink the buyer pool.  For more information on your Area of San Carlos, click here.

6.    Will Measure B pass?

ANSWER>>> Measure B is a parcel tax benefiting the San Carlos School District.  It was within a few votes of passing the in November.  The new ballot measure for April should be equally close.  Proponents of Measure B appear to be more organized and vocal this time around.  You can read more about Measure B by clicking here.

5.   Will part of White Oaks be redistricted for its assigned elementary school?

ANSWER>>>  This is a relatively new idea floating through San Carlos, although it has picked up steam over the last week.  I have not heard the SCSD comment on this item and therefore will assume there is very little truth to the idea until I hear it come from them directly.  Two SCSD Board Members run very informative blogs.  Mark Olbert’s blog can be found by clicking here. Seth Rosenblatt’s blog can be found by clicking here.

4.  What are some of the tools buyers in San Carlos now have at their disposal which they may not have had in more recent years?

ANSWER>>>  The flattened market is allowing buyers a variety of tools to negotiate a purchase….many of which would have been unthinkable just a year ago.  For instance, a buyer may now be able have a contingency in his or her offer for the sale of the current residence.  For more of a discussion on this topic, click here.  Another tool that buyers may be able to utilize in San Carlos is the possibility of seller financing.  The good news about being on a constant upswing for the last 11 years is that many homeowners in San Carlos have gained substantial equity in their home.  While it’s most likely not their first option, some may be willing to help with the down payment through a negotiated seller second mortgage.

3.   Will San Carlos ever get its high school back?

ANSWER>>> Shortly after San Carlos High School was torn down it was branded with the name “The Big Mistake”….and with good reason. Bringing back San Carlos High School is a real stretch.  Lack of space and funds makes this idea more fantasy than reality.  When we first posed the question on the San Carlos Blog, the topic drew and incredible amount of community input.  That post still holds the record with 30 comments.  You can read it by clicking here.

2.   Move or Remodel in 2009?

ANSWER>>> My guess is that 95% of San Carlos families struggle through this very topic.  My advice is that if you love your street, your neighbors and have a solid relationship with your significant other, a remodel may be right for you.  For more on this topic, please click here.

1.    What is the most important item in the overall development of San Carlos over the next few years?

ANSWER>>> The development of east San Carlos is the key.  Many believe that the proper development of the east side could lead to increased revenue for the city as well as play a major role in attracting new businesses, thus setting up an infusion of cash into downtown businesses.  For more information from the City of San Carlos on east San Carlos development click here.

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