Friday, August 31, 2012

Holiday Weekend Update

Three things:

--Catch Carolyn Said's insightful piece in the Chron today.   In addition to the nuanced insights in her story, I'd add one that came up in our recent successful sale of 225 Hillside:  We had several very serious buyers right off the bat, at the original price.  But each family had bought their current house in their 30s at the top of the market, and then made requisite improvements.  They had plenty of equity and income--buying the house was not the issue.  They were now in their mid-40s and ready to buy the "big" house.  But leaving $500-$700,000 (x% of a big # is a big #) on the table when they sold their old home was an issue. 

--If you're thinking about a move to something in the $650,000 range, take a peek at my colleague Carla Buffington's listing on  Colton in Montclair.  Perfect for boomers--a level-in mid-century classic with the master and a second bedroom or office on the main level, the Golden Gate view you've always secretly wanted, and a nicely renovated private space for guests with a full bath outside and down below.  Close to Sibley so great for dog-owners; in a quiet and park-like area of Montclair yet 2 minutes from latte, groceries and casual carpool.  Definitely displays that classic mid-century space efficiency ("a place for everything and everything in its place"), but what a great price! Open Sunday afternoon.

--The Camp Augusta fundraiser is coming up in a couple of weeks (9/15)--this year the focus is replacing the kitchen.  (Read Randy's cogent case for your donation at that link--man, he's a great camp director!) The Voorhis family is kicking in $150,000 (wow!) if we match it.  So many of our kids got their cherished camp experiences up at Lake Vera.  Take a moment, read Randy's short piece and go ahead and push that donate button.  And if you'd like to attend the event at the Claremont, contact my colleague Julie Gardner, a board member, at  Bid for a long weekend at our Inverness house--it's on the auction list.  In fact, if you win, I'll extend the stay for a whole week!

Enjoy the long holiday weekend!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Sunset Home--I'm BLU

I headed up to the Sunset Idea Home in Healdsburg last Friday with work calming down and some free time creeping into the schedule.  We're lucky to have Sunset magazine down in the South Bay--the Idea Homes are all within easy range.  Is it the depressed housing market or was it just a missed opportunity?

The house is a 3500 sf BLU home on a nice half acre lot with great valley views from the second floor.  If you aren't a Dwell reader, the East Coast's BLU homes bought out Michelle Kaufmann's West Coast upscale modular home designs in '09.  One good insight:  The mid-century-ish floating stairs in the house met code with a half inch metal rod inserted in the open-air gap.  (In our market, many homebuyers with young children have second thoughts about homes with these stairs.)

In any event, I wasn't impressed by the construction details in this home (you'd think the contractor would be working hard not to cut corners when much of the Northern California housing leaders will be cycling through the house in the next few weeks).  Lots of exposed nail heads in exterior trim, warping Hardie board (fiber cement) siding, and so on.  (We housing professionals can be a bit obsessive on details--when I used to run the country's rural housing program, our Vermont state director told me to always focus on the fascia boards--if the paint were peeling, you'd question the attention to maintenance.)

But bigger for me, there seemed to be few ideas in the Idea House--other than the Big Idea that modular homes have come into their own.  The plumbing fixtures, surfaces, lighting and garage build-out were all great, but nothing you can't see in a three-year old copy of House Beautiful.  The Idea House was the first place I saw Lutron Maestro dimmers and switches, motion sensitive switches, "smart" windows that darken for privacy (say in a bathroom), and NanaWalls.  The Nest thermostat was last year's big idea as readers of this blog know, but the BLU house forewent coolness for boring Honeywell.  What's that about?

With the housing supply business on hold and marketing budgets super-tight, I understand.  But let's hope that lots of entrepreneurs have spent the past five years developing lots of cool new technologies for the home, and that firms will be rolling them out in the coming few years!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Multi-format Market Data--Now!

PacUnion has developed videos to outline in an easy-to-digest way recent market trends in many of our neighborhoods.  See this link for a sample treatment for Montclair--the video link is at the lower right of the frame (no flash however).