Altered Criteria

Path across labyrinth

One thing that always happens in hot markets is a buyers criteria gets reduced. In a slow market a buyer can afford to be picky and bad locations, plenty of needed improvements or schools that don’t have API scores over 900 can eliminate a property from someone’s choices. Not now though! I mention the API score thing because, in my experience, the better the school the more desirable the home. In fact, I’d say that the quality of the schools has really become the Holy Grail when it comes to where people want to live. One of the things that is REALLY shocking me in this particular market is how the escalation of prices has significantly eroded even these dearly held notions.

The truth is that if you’re qualified up to $1,000,000 and you want to buy a house in an area with API scores over 850 you’re pretty much screwed in the area between Millbrae and Redwood City. As I’ve written about before…it won’t be long until that’s the case with townhouses in Foster City as well. This is actually amazing and what’s happening is that folks are deciding that buying in San Mateo (for example) is better for their situations than buying in Fremont or South San Jose where schools are better. In the last several months 7 houses have sold in San Mateo Village over $1,000,000. I clearly remember when a house on Pasadena Street there listed for $305,000 and I thought the sellers were crazy. A million dollars for The Village? Amazing! The API for the school there, George Hall, is 823. I also heard about another house in San Mateo on the west side with the school’s API of 831 just sold $500,000 over asking at $2,200,000.

Last year I had a listing in South San Francisco that got 2 offers and sold for $15,000 over asking. The market in Foster City was super hot then too. The reason for the slowness there? The school’s API is 800. Last week I listed a townhouse up there in an area where the school’s API is 818…I have 11 disclosure packets out on it today and I’m looking at offers on Monday. 9 of the 11 disclosures are from agents in San Mateo and Burlingame. Their buyers would prefer the Mid Peninsula but they have to compromise. My suspicion is that what they’re deciding is to buy in these areas but have their kids attend a private school. Either that or decide to move to Fremont or Blossom Valley and commute to San Francisco (or San Mateo or wherever).

What a choice these prices are putting on people! Buy here and get something much smaller than you need or want…if you can buy at all, or eliminate most of your criteria including good public schools to save yourself a 2 hour commute. The storm that I thought was coming is really a lot worse than I thought.

Comments

  1. Interesting article. Brings up 2 thoughts for me:
    San Mateo has a number of magnet schools, so even if you live near one of the lower-performing schools you can try for a spot at a magnet (e.g., College Park, North Shoreview, Parkside).
    Also, I’ve been wondering whether the demographics of our area will change over if, for instance, families who are priced out of Foster City and the more affluent parts of San Mateo will start buying more in North Central or Shoreview. There are a lot of cute homes in those communities and, other than the water treatment plant (and closeness to 101, but just for a couple of blocks), nothing really horrible about the locations.

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