Your Holiday Event Guide for the Bay Area!

If you are like us during the holidays, we attempt to take the little ones to all the fun events around the Bay Area during the month of December. We’ve composed a list of some of the best so you can get out and enjoy the season! If you think there are any other events that should make this list, let us know!

South Bay

Christmas in the Park

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Running now until January 7, this yearly event draws thousands of visitors every year and features holiday lights displays, musical perfermances, free visits with Santa, carnival rides and even an ice skating rink! Entrance is free and rides and skating are paid.Located in the Plaza de Cesar Chavez, Downtown San Jose. www.christmasinthepark.com

Fantasy of Lights 

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Take the drive to Los Gatos to check out the annual fantasy of Lights event which features a 1.5 mile drive around Vasona Park with huge holiday light displays – some even set to music! Open December 5 – 30 (closed December 25). $20 per vehicle must be purchased in advance.Located at 333 Blossom Hill road, Los Gatos, CA 95030 https://www.sccgov.org/sites/parks/fol/Pages/AnnualFoL.aspx

Winterfest 

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For the love of all things Winter, head to Great America in Santa Clara for ice skating, rides, a visit to Santa’s workshop, nightly tree-lighting, themed character performances and light displays. Takes place weekends in December. Located at 4701 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara www.cagreatamerica.com

San Francisco & The Peninsula 

Union Square 

TreeLightingMacysHorz-425.jpgCheck out the beautiful lit Macy’s tree in the heart of union square while you sip hot chocolate  and visit the decked out stores! Be sure to sit with Santa while you are there and enjoy some ice skating. Don’t forget to head into the Westin St. Francis to view their festive Sugar Castles.Located at Union Square, San Francisco www.visitunionsquaresf.com

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair 

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MirroringVictorian London, this holiday fair features music, theater, characters and charming shops overflowing with hand-made holiday treasures. Even roasted chestnuts and festive themed holiday food. Runs December 16 and 17th.Located at Cow Palace Exhibition Halls – 2500 Geneva Avenue, Daly City www.dickensfair.com

A Charlie Brown Christmas – LIVE 

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Your favorite characters dance and sing to bring A Charlie Brown Christmas to life! Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the whole peanuts gang will be there while the San Francisco Symphony performs Vince Guaraldi’s timeless music. Come early and enjoy a family-friendly reception featuring a host of activities to keep kids entertained. Runs December 21 – 24. Located at Davies Symphony Hall – 201 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco. www.sfsymphony.org

EastBay
Fairy Winterland 

NW-EP-Main4.jpgChildren fairyland transforms into a holiday wonderland with holiday stories, crafts, lights displays, a nightly parade and a celebration of all cultures – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Diwali and Chinese New Year. Runs December 15 – 23 Located at 699 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland www.failryland.org

Zoo Lights at the Oakland Zoo 
EVNHeader-ZLights17.jpgCheck out some holiday light displays, light shows, candy cane ride theme area and a nighttime train through the zoo all while checking out some of the animals at night! Runs December 1-31 (closed December 24/25) Located at 97777 Golf Links Road, Oakland www.oaklandzoo.org

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Nicole Emanuel Real Estate

Coldwell Banker

(408) 410-2060

nicole.emanuel@cbnorcal.com

http://www.realestatebynicole.com

BRE# 01899594

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Home Inspections – Specialists You May Want to Check Out

While most folks settle for a home inspection, pest (termite) inspection and possibly a roof inspection, there are a myriad of specialists you can hire to investigate just about anything home-related when you are purchasing a home. The California Association of Realtors put together this short list of the most popular, but some common inspections we see  also include:

Pool & Spa – If the home has a pool and spa, its a must to get it inspected. This is often an overlooked item and failing pool pumps and heaters can be very expensive.

Arborist – Does the home have a huge tree in the front yard? Is one of the trees looking overgrown? Sometimes, it makes sense to call an arborist to make sure the trees on the property are healthy and not in danger of falling limbs or needing to be uprooted (all of which can be rather costly).

Contractors – Are you considering doing some renovating to a home after purchase? Its smart to have a contractor walk the home before you purchase to ensure you can do all the items you want. Sometimes structural modifications might not work or will be very expensive due to the placement of load-bearing walls and foundations so its something you might want to know up front if you are planning on adding on to a home or re-arranging.

Specialist-Wanted-hi-res

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Nicole Emanuel Real Estate

Coldwell Banker

(408) 410-2060

nicole.emanuel@cbnorcal.com

http://www.realestatebynicole.com

Market Update: Bay Area Real Estate is Heating Up

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What a difference a few weeks make in the Bay Area housing market! Our office is laden with tales of multiple offer situations and frustrated buyers struggling to find homes to purchase. To me this means only one thing, Bay Area residential real estate is once again hot and values are on the rise – a great time for you to get in the market as a buyer before there is even more competition and a perfect time for anyone contemplating selling to take advantage of low single family inventory.  Take a look at this weeks Market Watch, where Rick Turley, President of Coldwell Banker’s Northern California division discusses the current state of the local market and the disparity between the San Francisco Bay Area markets and many other parts of the country. I’ve included excerpts from his blog below.

LOL: We’re having a wild house party- but too many sellers missing out on all the fun!

By: Rick Turley

 It seems like every day I see national headlines decrying the “struggling” housing market and questioning when things will finally turn around. And then I get to work and read the reports from our Bay Area offices showing sales jumping and multiple offers for many if not most homes in a number of areas, and I wonder if we’re on the same planet.

The disconnect between the Bay Area housing market and what’s being reported on a national basis is getting stranger every day. In other parts of the country, agents and government officials are trying to figure out creative ways to rid their markets of a huge backlog of housing while buyers show little interest in jumping in to help. Then there’s the Bay Area, where the housing market is just the opposite.

Take, for example, a few of the reports this week from our managers and agents on the frontlines:

  • From our Southern Marin manager: “Multiple offers continue to be the name of the game, but the difference from the past markets is we are now seeing multiple offers in all price ranges, not just REOs and Short Sales.”
  •  One $1 million-plus Mill Valley home in Strawberry garnered 11 offers last week, and another priced at $1.35 million had six offers.  Both are rumored to be in contract for almost $300,000 over list price.
  • “Buyers are getting frustrated over not getting the property in multiple offer situations, even when going substantially over the list price.”
  • From our Los Altos manager: “We are selling more than we are listing in most price ranges.  We had a healthy increase in the high end this past week with a $12 million and $7 million sale, several sales above $3 million and a dozen over $2 million.”
  • “Inventories are at historic lows and the market continues to heat up!”
  • From our Walnut Creek manager: “We’re seeing multiple offers on most every listing that comes on the market.   A condo in Walnut Creek received seven all cash offers!”

The same stories are being echoed in all parts of the Bay, from San Francisco and the Peninsula to San Jose to the East Bay, and not just the more expensive markets. Buyers are pounding the pavement, cash in hand and looking for good properties to buy – now, if not sooner. “It’s nuts out there,” said our Cupertino manager. “A third of our sales resulting in multiple offers.”

Given the surging demand for housing you’d think sellers would be rushing to their local brokerage office to list their home, right? Guess again. The inventory of homes for sale is the lowest it has been in years, maybe even a decade, according to long-time industry observers. The result is that buyers are fighting it out for the few homes on the market listed by savvy sellers.

So what’s keeping the other sellers away when homes are going for great prices once again? Two things, both of which could come back to bite sellers who try to time the market:

  1. A misunderstanding of the state of the housing market.

Perhaps they are reading the national headlines and still believe the market is in the doldrums, prices are still going down, and they don’t want to sell at bargain-basement prices. If so, they’re missing an incredible opportunity. We’re having a honest-to-goodness house party with lots of anxious buyers. But somehow, sellers never got their Evite.

  1. They’re waiting for the Facebook IPO.

The thinking goes that once Facebook goes public, hundreds of employees will receive lucrative stock options which – eventually – they will be able to cash after the lockup period and then rush out to bid up prices for local homes.  Wow, talking about betting on the come.

I’m not questioning the “Facebook effect” on the Silicon Valley housing market. Far from it, I think it certainly will have some impact on pricing at some point in some communities in the heart of the valley. But this strikes me as something like trying to time the stock market. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been able to get that right. And I don’t think many others have as well.

The fact is that the real estate market has always come down to two simple factors: the law of supply and demand, and consumer confidence. Right now, both of those are telling me it’s a sellers’ market in the Bay Area. Consumers are feeling pretty darn confident as the economy picks up steam and the stock market presses higher. And the scales of supply and demand are tipping heavily in favor of sellers.

Smart, strategic sellers get that, and they’re making their moves now – not six months or a year from now. They’re the ones receiving multiple offers over their asking price because there just isn’t a lot of competition for buyers’ attention. They’re out there now, well before everyone else joins the party, tipping the scales back in favor of buyers once again.

Below is a market-by-market report from our local offices:

Silicon Valley – “It’s nuts out there,” our Cupertino manager said. Both sales activity and inventory are increasing and a third of sales are resulting in multiple offers. Our Los Altos manager reports that the single-family home segment of the market continues to surge and he’s seeing multiple offers in double digits and overbids of 10-15% on well-priced homes in good school districts in Los Altos, Mountain View and Cupertino areas.  Some activity is driven from the “Facebook buzz” and some from the stock market uptick. Financing is still a problem for many and some buyers make cash offers to out compete the others and then try to get a loan during the escrow period.  Interesting times ahead as we have lost inventory in Santa Clara County each week this year beginning the second week of January. We are seeing an uptick in multiple offers at all levels of the market in the Los Gatos area. In San Jose, our Almaden office manager says overpriced listings are not selling.  However, you cannot underprice a home.  It will and does get bid up – typically much higher than if you came out asking that price.  Sellers who feel the market is healthier are confusing that it is time to raise prices.  That’s not working.  Overall inventory is lowest we’ve seen in a decade. Similarly, our San Jose Main manager says inventory continues to decline. Open houses are extremely active. Low interest rates and increased consumer confidence is driving the market. Multiple offers are common in all price ranges. Sales activity is also up in Willow Glen.

SF Peninsula — Our Burlingame manager says agents are “crazy busy” and honing their multiple offer skills as it seems that every home in every price point has multiple buyers making offers. We are back to the non-contingent 1-3% per offer over asking type of market, last seen in 2004-2006. One Burlingame listing had 7 offers. The winning offer was $200k over asking. One other listing had 9 offers, and $179k over asking only got a backup position.  The challenge now is taking the buyers who are rightfully afraid of overpaying for a property through the process enough times and suffering enough disappointment that they begin to understand what it will take to be successful in an offer. In Half Moon Bay, our local office is seeing a lot of buyers from the over the hill coming to the coast with serious interest due to the low inventory and multiple offers situations on the Peninsula. Our Menlo Park manager says she’s seeing some “pretty vicious competition” for prime housing there.  If buyers do not have 50% down, it is VERY difficult to buy a house.  The local market still needs a lot more inventory. Buyers want to buy now. Our Palo Alto manager says they’re still suffering from extremely low inventory – probably a seven year low.  There are approximately 20 listings for 425 agents in Palo Alto.  Quite a few off-market sales are occurring – adding to an inflamed market. There was some good action in the Woodside office, including a couple of big sales – $8 million and $13 million. In San Carlos almost all sales are multiple offers due to extremely low inventory.