The Odds

Against All Odds

“What are the odds?” That’s the fundamental question that buyers in this 2010 marketplace need to be asking themselves. Oh, there’s other important questions too, like “Can we afford it?”, “Do we have enough down payment?” and “Where do we want to live?”. When those immediate questions get answered the next one seems to be “Is it possible?”…to which the answer seems to frequently be, “Let’s try it!”

What do I mean by this, you ask? So far this year I’ve repeatedly run across a scenario like this:

A buyer who’s qualified for a purchase of $375,000 expresses to me that he wants a single family house in San Mateo, Belmont, or San Carlos. I explain that, with VERY few exceptions there really are not single family houses to be had in those towns in that price range. I suggest looking in Redwood City, San Bruno, Pacifica as well as other communities north or south of us. I also suggest condos as an alternative. Nope, is the reply…only these towns will do and only houses. See what I mean? The critical question is, what are the odds? There have in fact been houses like this come up in these towns since the first of the year and they all sold with overbids that pushed their value well over $375,000.

Here’s another one: Some buyers want to make an offer on a house listed for $1,150,000 and even though they’re aware that there are going to be 3 other offers on the home they want to offer $100,000 under the asking price. What are the odds that they’ll get it? I think a million to 1.

Just for the record, here’s a few more:

* Buyer wants minimum 3 bedroom, 2 bath, non fixer upper townhouse in Foster City for a maximum $625,000

* Buyer wants to write an offer in a multiple offer environment contingent upon the sale of their condo.

* Buyer wants a Foster City waterfront single family home under $950,000

* Buyer wants the seller on the condo he’s buying to paint their existing kitchen cabinets for him prior to close of escrow.

* Buyers want to live in a minimum 4 bedroom waterfront house in Whaler’s but can only afford $1,100,000 even though the lowest comp there in the last 5 years is $1,185,000.

To the question, “Are these things possible?” the answer would probably be yes…technically.  It’s also worth mentioning that even a blind squirrel will occasionally find a nut! The better question for buyers to ask is “What are the odds of us accomplishing this goal?”

We all see ourselves as the skinny guy on the right in that cartoon above, but what are the odds of that ever happening?


  1. Glenn McEnroe says:

    Well it might be possible by way of bank owned property in foreclosure? But I guess you have to be on the inside track to find those.

  2. Jim Minkey says:

    Let’s say, just for the sake of arguement, that an REO happens on the townhouse at $625,000 or the waterfront at $950,000 or less. That scenario just happened on Celestial in Shell Cove listed at $649,000. It got 6 offers and went over asking. A waterfront on Sailfish “accidentally” came on at $999,000. (agent error) It got 12 offers and went WAY, WAY over asking. Again…what are the odds of getting these places at their asking price or below? Nil. It doesn’t matter if it is an REO. Of course, you could get it before it’s listed on the market…but what are the odds of that?

  3. So Jim,

    When can we expect to see some more choices show up in the 850K -950K range in Foster city!!

    did i sense a bit of frustration on your part in the post above??

  4. Jim Minkey says:

    Nice! Funny too!

    Frustration? Me? I’m a realtor in this area, after all.

    Yes, you will see more inventgory in tha price range….but they’ll most likely be getting multiple offers. 🙂

  5. Frustration is actually with would-be buyers!!. What Jim is trying to say here is don’t dream on. Be realistic. I agree totally. If you dont want to spend or dont have enough funds to buy in foster city, either look elsewhere or buy what you can afford. Folks, trust me, I went through this cycle. Real estate is funny in bay area and dont read all the national news w.r.t bay area. especially foster city. good neighborhoods always sell higher because we all need them.

  6. I am a prospective buyer and trust me there is plenty of frustration. Not that i dont have the money to spend, its that there are no choices really!!

    Anyway, does anyone know what’s going on with 1372 Marlin. it has been on the market for a while with price coming down!

  7. Jim Minkey says:

    Marlin has been on awhile and it’s a bit stale. It needs some work and It’s been sort of difficult to show and usually that means a longer shelf life. I think it’s looking like a bargain…for what that’s worth.

  8. Loved this post, Jim. Once again you are a truth teller and I look forward to your “reality checks”!

    Happy St Patrick’s Day- now go have an Irish beer!

  9. Townhouse under 625…there have been three that I can think of recently

    1 on Canis Ln.
    1 on Erickson Ln.
    1 on Celestial Ln (the bank owned one)

    Dont Bulls*** your potential buyers Jim, its hard to do in the information age

  10. Jim Minkey says:

    Thanks for lobbing that softball right out there over the plate Dan.

    Note that I said “2010” marketplace. 851 Canis (sold for $600,000) sold in December of 2009. 889 Erickson (sold for $549,000) sold in March of 2009. They’re about as relevant as the townhouses that sold in 1985. The poor seller (and agent) at 851 Canis has got to be kicking himself. If they would have waited until January they would have had a ton of offers. Erickson? In March of last year? You’re kidding me…

    Also, note that I wrote non-fixer upper townhouse. That excludes 650 Celestial…which is a train wreck.

    For what it’s worth…let’s watch what happens to 815 Peary. It’s sort of an original condition 3 bedroom at $620,000. Maybe it goes for that? It needs work but it’s a great location.

    Are there others, yes! Meridian Bay could probably be had for $625ish…but how do you feel about $547.00 a month HOA dues? Plus, it’s a condo not a townhouse.

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