Your Life is Hectic, Our Life is Real Estate

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Work, School, Schedules, Projects….  Life in Silicon Valley is fast paced and a little crazy at times.  Adding a house move to the mix can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. We’re lifestyle designers, we help busy people reconnect with their families, engage in their community and achieve their financial goals by investing […]

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Intero Prestigio: Luxury Homes

Recently listed as the 6th most expensive place to buy property in the USA, you can imagine that Los Gatos has plenty of luxury properties to offer those looking for that little bit more. At Slater Thomson we will work with you to discover your ideal Bay Area luxury home.  By choosing us you can rest assured […]

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Home Remodel Vlog

Gail & Stephen’s Remodel: June 20th – July 29th Progress Check out the first five installments of a video series that will follow our progress as we remodel our Los Gatos home. Watch all the way from demolition to the finished product reveal! PART 1: JUNE 20th, 2014 PART 2: JUNE 27th, 2014 PART 3: […]

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New Slater Thomson Team Listing

419 North 5th Street, San Jose Downtown San Jose Victorian with endless investment opportunities -Approx. 2,388 Square Ft. with 9,404 Square Ft. Lot -6 Bedrooms, 3.5 Baths -Offered at $780,000 Located on a wide, tree-lined street in the Historic Hensley District of San Jose, this intriguing Victorian home has so much to offer for a savvy investor. Complete […]

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Exciting News for Intero Real Estate

We are excited to announce that last Thursday Intero Real Estate Services officially became part of HomeServices of America, a consolidated subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, a company with unparalleled diversity and financial strength led by Warren Buffett. We must be doing something right if one of the world’s most iconic investors is looking to align […]

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Guide to Sustainable Landscaping

Happy Earth Day from the Slater Thomson Team! Sustainable landscaping is part of a growing national effort in the landscaping industry to create aesthetically pleasing landscapes while improving and conserving the environment and saving resources and money. Learn more about creating a sustainable garden and yard.    

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Factors of Credit Scoring

Wondering how your credit score is calculated? There are several different factors that contribute to your overall score. Follow the link below to learn how your score is calculated and the best ways to earn a high score. The Five Factors of Credit Scoring      

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The end of the summer buying season shows a traditional slowdown in the market but doesn’t detract from the fact that U.S. home prices have risen in October by the most in 6 years.

Record low mortgage rates, rising rents and renewed confidence boosted demand in the once battered housing market.  At the same time, the number of available homes is at the lowest level in 10 years according to the National Association of Realtors.  The resulting combination of low inventory and rising demand pushes up prices.

The Spring market in Santa Clara County took off in early March this year.  It will be interesting to see how it fares in the coming season.

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How’s the housing market? Is your company hiring?

by Gail Thomson on September 12, 2012

in Blog,Buyers,Sellers

Real estate agents are often asked where we think the housing market is headed by people we meet.  By way of response I often reply with a question “How’s your company doing?   Are you hiring?

Here in Silicon Valley we definitely see a direct correlation between the hiring patterns of local companies and the health of the real estate market.    When job reqs disappear so do home buyers and when companies are fighting for new employees, we’re fighting to get offers accepted in a bidding war.   There’s good reason to expect this correlation to continue; the Bay area has limited space and there’s not much room to expand beyond our current boundaries.

When we try to predict the future of our housing market we can look to job growth predictions as a point of reference.   While not an exact science it’s probably the best indicator we have of future housing demand in our area.   According to a recent independent study looking at Bay Area job growth through 2040, by far the largest percentage of job growth in the US is expected in areas that are all key components of the Bay Area economic base.   That’s good news for our local economy as well as our real estate investments.

Obviously many things factor into the creation of a healthy housing market; interest rates, economy, affordability, desirability, election cycles; but if the job growth predictions are accurate it looks like we have sustained demand for housing in our mid to long term future.  Excuse me while I go buy some investment property…. :)

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Los Gatos schools have come out ahead again, with most schools and districts gaining ground from 2010′s already stellar performance.

Scores are based on testing administered to students in grades K-12 in the previous academic year. The excellent API results add yet another reason to the lengthy list that makes Los Gatos such a desirable area.

An API score is something that typical Los Gatos home buyers hold in high regard. With numbers in the 900s Los Gatos continues to excel in this area.

 

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It’s Deja Vu all over again

by Gail Thomson on May 3, 2012

in Blog,Buyers,Sellers

I feel like I should be watching reruns of Lost – Season 1 and listening to Boulevard of Broken Dreams on my playlist (except I didn’t have a playlist back then). It’s like 2005 all over again, with buyers bidding 10 and even 20 percent over asking, zero contingencies and multi-million dollar cash offers all over the place.

Do we have a county wide state of amnesia? Does anyone remember 2006, 2007 or even last month? You know, a time when the buyer was paying a price that the market could easily support because they already had comps to prove it, not one they hoped would just get them the house and they’d worry about paying for it later.

Appraisals in rising marketsBuyers and sellers are inclined to act emotionally where their home is involved. I’ve always held the belief that the agents, lenders and appraisers are the necessary voice of reason, keeping offers in check and making sure buyers are truly “qualified”. How does that play out in today’s world of high demand and low supply, particularly when it comes to appraisals? How does an appraiser bring in a value when all the recent comps have closed significantly lower but there were 5 offers over asking within the first week? Perhaps the question really is SHOULD an appraiser be able to bring in a significantly higher value in that situation? Let me be clear, I think a 2 or 3 % increase is easily justifiable, I’m talking about 10 and 20 % increases here.

According to one appraiser I talked to they use the simple fact that so many people ARE bidding over asking for the property as an indicator of where the market is. Hmm, how do lenders feel about that? After all, buyers are emotional and in my opinion it’s easier to over-bid for a property when you’re in competition, there’s nothing else out there and it’s only another $100 per month on your mortgage payment in order to get into a home now.

If we’re to avoid another crisis like the last one wouldn’t it be more prudent for the appraisers to have some stricter guidelines about how much a “changing market” can affect the appraisal value? If the appraisal comes in at a lower value based on recent sales then a buyer is more than welcome to bring in their own cash to close the deal. If they are neither able nor willing to do that then perhaps they’re not REALLY qualified to buy this house or the supportable market value (as opposed to the anticipated market value) hasn’t quite got there yet. Either way, appraising a house at a value way higher simply because there’s no inventory competing with the house “at this precise time” seems to me to be a sure sign of history repeating itself.

What do you think?

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Locking in Peace of Mind

by Gail Thomson on April 13, 2012

in Blog,Buyers

With historically low loan rates starting to inch up borrowers should consider rate lock agreements in their home purchase and refinance activities. Locking in an interest rate freezes the terms of the loan while it’s being processed; particularly important if an increase in rates would impact your ability to qualify and/or pay for the loan.

Lenders will typically offer a rate lock agreement to borrowers with an existing purchase agreement. Most will offer a free lock for 30 days, others will charge points on the loan, occasionally refundable at close. You may also be able to lock for 45 or 60 days, but again, the lender will likely charge for this.

If you are unsure when your home purchase will close you may want to delay locking. Knowing when and how long to lock in a rate requires a clear picture of the loan process and a good estimate from your lender on how long it will take to approve your loan and complete all associated paperwork.

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Wednesday Wow Factor on Thursday (the beach is a bit flaky for wi-fi as it turns out). No “pause for a minute” moments on tour yesterday so instead I’m showing you our recently completed garage remodel.

When we bought our million dollar tear down (Silicon Valley at its finest!) the garage was a haven for critters and a treasure trove of interesting sketches, diagrams and strange looking mechanical inventions from the 60s. Oh, and then there was the boat, which we donated to a college project.

We finally made it to the garage end of the honey-do list and hired our contractor, Chris, to take it from trash to treasure. He stripped out the years of grime and dust, finished the inside, painted the walls and floor and added new lights.

The real game changer, however, is the new glass garage doors we opted to put in. We have a large one on the front and a second smaller one on the back. Both are mounted with a side-opener which keeps the ceiling less cluttered looking. They are AWESOME in my humble opinion. We now have a clean and bright garage OR a fully finished rec-room for the kids, depending on how we want to use it. Actually we’ll probably use it primarily for our staging furniture but no reason we can’t use that furniture while we’re storing it ;)

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I set out this morning to see how my home town of Los Gatos was faring in the property market compared to the rest of the Bay Area.  I started, as I often do, by running some basic calculations on median list price and median price per square foot to see where we are compared to the peak of late 2006 thru 2007.

As the graphs indicate, Los Gatos overall is currently standing at about 16% below it’s peak.  Prices here have rebounded a little but when you look at the data, they actually didn’t fall that much either (Note: theses are averages and medians, your mileage may vary!).    For homeowners no decline in value is ideal of course, but it’s certainly not the bloodbath other areas have experienced.

As if reading my mind, the Mercury News ran an article this morning reflecting similar stories across the Bay Area.  Affluent areas fell 10-20%, less affluent areas 50-60%.  Affluent areas are rebounding faster (some even back to peak levels), less affluent areas are still engaged in REO and short sale trench warfare.

Los Gatos market activity patterns often trail a few weeks behind some of the cities further up the peninsula.  According to my colleagues there, Palo Alto, Mountain View etc are experiencing multiple offers and rising prices.  It will be interesting to see what happens here in the next few weeks.

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160 Robin Way, Los Gatos, CA 95032

by Gail Thomson on July 7, 2011

in Uncategorized

A Los Gatos Ranch Home with a difference.   Bold updates and innovative remodeling take this home from Nice to Wow! With acclaimed Los Gatos schools and located in a peaceful and popular neighborhood this home has a lot to offer.

Call for more information or to view.

[idx-listing mlsnumber="81129370" showall="true"]

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140 Cleland Ave, Los Gatos, CA 95030

by Gail Thomson on July 7, 2011

in Uncategorized

Located in the heart of Los Gatos, this newly custom built Victorian Farmhouse was designed by renowned architect Chris Spaulding and built with quality Craftsmanship by B&C Homes.

With excellent Los Gatos Schools and a short walk to the beautiful Los Gatos downtown, at its current list price this home really is amazing value.

[idx-listing mlsnumber="81121016" showall="true"]

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Wednesday is real estate broker tour day in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell and Cambrian.  Every week we get to see newly listed homes big and small, new and old, quirky and elegant.   Inevitably I see something that makes  me stop, ponder and exclaim  ”Now that’s a clever idea” or “Oh, this will sell the house!”

Today’s moment came at the new listing at 160 Robin Way , tucked in behind the Marchmont/Englewood neighborhood between Kennedy and Shannon.  This nicely updated ranch home with a modern twist held a couple of surprises.

From a visual perspective the rich brick red commercial doors and windows were a daring choice but it works and they add a modernized Japanese shoji feel.  The bi-sliding doors are a functional plus.  Now why didn’t I think of that?

The real “eureka!” moment came when I walked into what should have been a small master bathroom.  Rather than doing a major addition to add space to this small area, the owners added only a walk-in shower stall addition with glass brick, adding both space and light at minimal cost.  This could work in any home in need of a slightly bigger bathroom without overly impacting the yard space or encroaching on setbacks.

If you want to see this home for yourself, give me a call, I’d be happy to take another look :)

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