We are 11 months into 2015, and with the year winding down and the holidays upon us, the market is understandably a bit slow.  One sure sign of a slowing market is the fact that sellers are accepting contingent offers again.  Remember those?  That’s when you find the home of your dreams, make an offer, but you have to sell your existing house first.  It’s a great concept since the alternative involves some tricky timing or an interim move.

In the hot hot hot market of 2004 and 2005, sellers were enjoying offers with no contingencies (“we will take the house as-is, no inspections, no loan contingency, no appraisal contingency”) so a house-to-sell contingency didn’t have a chance.  But back then, we still had the crazy loan market, where buying a house without selling your house was possible; the lenders just made it work somehow (something that would seem careless and irresponsible later, but at the time it simplified life for the move-up buyers).  And then came the slow years, and in 2009 and 2010, contingent offers were abundant.

This strikes me as ironic.  When a seller can’t sell their house easily, they are willing to take a contingent offer–relying on yet another house to sell in a tough market.  But when the contingent sale would be a slam/dunk, the seller is not likely to consider it.  Of course, that’s often because the seller has better, cleaner offers to consider.  I had a listing in September (61 Bolla Ave in Alamo) that received six offers.  One was contingent and was immediately placed in the “other” pile.  My sellers simply did not want to deal with the complication if they didn’t need to.

But most of the homes on the market today are not receiving multiple offers, and a buyer can certainly write a contingent offer with some confidence that it will be considered.  In fact, one agent told me yesterday that she has a continent sale currently pending that has four contingent sales behind it.  That’s a lot of dominos, but it’s going smoothly and all the homes in the transaction chain have removed all contingencies.

Today, as I captured the inventory numbers, I glanced at the current contingent sales and found 15 of them.  Price ranges from $500,000 to $2.6 million, five of them are in Danville/Blackhawk, three are in San Ramon, two in Pleasanton, and one each in Lafayette, Alamo, Pleasant Hill, Dublin, and Diablo.

Inventory numbers for today (and a few pulse points over the year):

11/29/15 10/4/15 7/5/15 4/5/12 1/4/15
ALAMO 50 64 57 53 23
DANVILLE 69 124 103 74 48
BLACKHAWK 42 44 39 39 21
SAN RAMON 65 104 112 55 33
DUBLIN 40 73 58 42 36
PLEASANTON 56 94 110 68 33
WALNUT CREEK 62 103 88 69 30
LAFAYETTE 17 30 47 29 12
ORINDA 21 37 40 19 11
PLEASANT HILL 25 34 45 31 20
CLAYTON 16 22 17 19 11
ANTIOCH 124 162 172 111 163
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It seems that buyers have been crying for more inventory all year.  Today in Alamo, there are 52 homes on MLS and of those:

  • 47 have been on the market for 30 days or longer
  • 28 have been on the market for 90 days or longer (10 of these more than 200 days)
  • 17 are priced between $2.5 and $11 million
  • 15 are priced under $1.5 million

So, if you are an average shopper in Alamo, looking for a home priced between $1.5 and $2.5 (the sweet spot in Alamo), then you are limited to 21 listings, only one of those is new in the last two weeks, and only three have fewer than 30 days on market.

Which brings me to my point: I have a listing that isn’t on the MLS but is available for sale, and it’s an awesome house.  Best curb appeal in Alamo!  Here are the details:

front of house

1594 Alamo Way – $2,149,000 – view more photos: www.1594AlamoWay.com

  • 5 Bedrooms plus bonus room, 3.5 bathrooms
  • 3674 square feet, .43 acre lot, 3 car garage
  • Built in 2001 with high quality construction details
  • Radiant heat throughout
  • Irrigation well with 500 gallon tank

This spectacular home is located in desirable Westside Alamo at the end of a cul-de-sac. The curb appeal is lovely, with elegant stonework beautifying the home, a steep roofline and gables, and paver driveway.

The ~1/2 acre lot is pancake flat, and features a solar heated pool and spa built in 2010 and outdoor kitchen with grill, refrigerator and side burner installed 2011. The lot was fully landscaped in 2010 and includes raised bed vegetable garden and producing fruit trees.

The floorplan of the home is wonderfully practical with three bedrooms and two baths (including the master suite) on the main level. Upstairs are two additional bedrooms plus a large bonus room, loft area, and bathroom.

The kitchen, with high-end stainless appliances and large center island, is open to the family room which has an inviting gas fireplace and soaring ceiling. The formal living room has a lighted coffered ceiling and a gas starter for the wood-burning fireplace.

Built in 2001 with quality construction including energy efficient Structural Insulated Panel (SIP), Anderson sliders and Milgard windows, and radiant heat floors throughout the home, resulting in very low energy bills. Additionally, the property has a well for irrigation, with a 500-gallon underground tank.

Close to town: walk to shops and restaurants and enjoy nearby Iron Horse Trail.

This was an off-market sale when my clients bought in 2009; we had been looking at everything on the market when I learned of this “coming soon” property.  My clients prefer to have another “off market” transaction – so please call me if you’d like to schedule a showing.  You won’t be disappointed — it’s a great house!

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Tuesdays are Broker’s Tour day for Lafayette, Orinda, and Moraga, so I have just returned from viewing some homes on tour.  Not many — things are slowing down for the holidays.  One home in Lafayette took my breath away.  It’s in Reliez Valley on a 2.14 acre lot with a vineyard and SPECTACULAR views.  The home is 6400 square feet with a fantastic floorplan: all bedrooms are en-suite and the master is spaced away from the secondary bedrooms.  The home has wonderful light and so many fabulous windows — all bringing your attention to the amazing views.  This listing belongs to a wonderful agent in my office; please visit her website here to see the floorplan, the movie, and more photos: www.3358Johnson.com.

Inventory has been low in LaMorinda all year.  Lafayette and Orinda opened the year with 12 and 11 active lisitngs respectively, hit highs of 54 and 44 in July, and today have 23 and 30 (and Moraga with only 7).

I have a couple of sets of buyers for Lafayette and Orinda, across different price ranges, but one of them fell for a cute house in the Glorietta neighborhood last week.  Priced at $899,000 with only 1600 sq feet and in original condition, but in a fantastic location and on a large (.4 acre) lot, this house was clearly going to get a lot of attention.  My clients did not write an offer once I explained to them what I expected in terms of the competition — but the reality exceeded my expectations: the lisitng agent told me he distributed 70 disclosure packages and received 27 offers.  16 of those offers were “all cash.”  We will have to stay tuned to see the final sales price, but I am guessing north of $1.2.

I am working with several sellers that are planning to list their homes in the new year, but most are reluctant to sell now.  If it’s a hardship to have your home on the market over the holidays (and for many of us it would be, that’s family time), then it’s a great idea to wait.  But otherwise — the competition is slim and the buyers are serious!

johnson rd pic

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It’s Homecoming for both Danville high schools this weekend, with the dances tonight and the football games last night. Monte Vista’s football team played undefeated Foothill High and lost 35-27 and San Ramon Valley HS played Livermore HS with a 49-28 victory.

When people are relocating to Alamo and Danville from other parts of the country, they often ask me, “which high school is better?” Sounds like a simple question, but they never get a short answer.  In Alamo, the freeway is the dividing line for the two high schools so the kids leaving Stone Valley Middle are split between Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley.  For years, the 8th graders would apply in a pack to transfer to one school or the other, keeping the friend group together. Both schools are very highly rated in every aspect, so you would see a group all going to San Ramon Valley and another group heading to Monte Vista.  But then one year, San Ramon Valley was impacted and turned down all the requests.  Since then, the transfers still occur but no longer with the same confidence.

Other middle schools don’t have the same issue: all of Charlotte Wood rolls into San Ramon Valley, all of Los Cerros rolls into Monte Vista. San Ramon Valley and Monte Vista have a strong rivalry, but they also have a great friendship.  Before a tennis match, for example, you’ll see half the girls greeting each other with hugs before they start to play.

So – I always explain that while you “can’t go wrong either way,” the one thing that SRVHS has that Monte Vista can’t duplicate is the charming Homecoming Parade.

Yesterday at 2:30 or so, the SRVHS Homecoming Parade marched through downtown Danville.  Each class has an elaborate float, always fabulously constructed with a clever theme, and all the sports teams are in the parade. It’s like stepping back in time: Beaver Cleaver’s high school would have had such a parade. The parade does a small circle through downtown Danville, and the restaurants like Pete’s Brass Rail and Norm’s Place are crowded with green and gold patrons.  I enjoyed the parade from Revel, which is normally not open until 4pm, but opened early for the event.

I always invite my friends with kids at Monte Vista because everyone enjoys a good parade (and with cocktails at Revel on offer, how can you go wrong?).  It is seriously the 2nd cutest day of the year in Darling Downtown Danville.  Nothing can top our festive 4th of July, but this comes close.

band class float class float2 kids in parade

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Ask a handful of realtors in the area, and most will agree that the market has slowed. It’s a feeling, a sluggishness in the air. But why? Interest rates are low, and lenders are promising that “they will be going up, it’s just a question of how soon.”  That should be a strong motivating factor for buyers.  And there are homes to choose from: inventory is more plentiful now than it was in the beginning of the year.

Speaking of inventory, here’s a snapshot of the current active listings across local towns:

inventory lg

I too, can feel a sense of slowing in our market, but it isn’t statistically obvious. I took a look at the data, year-to-date, and compared to Q1 through Q3 in the past two years. I also examined Q3 vs Q2 this year to see if there was a dramatic falling off.  Here’s what I saw (please refer to the chart below): the market came back to life with a fervor in 2013 and we saw homes selling with only 9 days on the market in Danville (and 12 in Alamo).  The days on market in the chart below represent the median average, and you must consider that in a truly hot market, the DOM will be a little longer for the most desirable properties because an offer date is set, and the home will be on the market for 7 to 10 days to give it the exposure before letting the offers roll in.  A property with 10 days on the market may have received multiple offers in a bidding war situation, whereas a property with zero or 1 day on market accepted an early offer, often a pre-emptive.  Bottom line, the column “DOM” does not represent any pertinent change since the numbers are similar enough.

By the way — for those agents fretting that the market is “slow,” they may want to think back to 2009, when the median DOM for the same three quarters was 78.  Hel-LO.  How soon we forget what sluggish feels like.

But I digress — back to my chart below, we can see that in both Alamo and Danville, prices have gone up steadily since 2013.  That is evident in both the median sales price and the median price per sq foot.  This year’s median ppsf is represented by one of my listings: www.61Bolla.com, a 2700 sq ft home that sold for $508/sf or $1,450,000 (with 6 offers).  This home sold in September, so it falls in the recent Q3 statistics.  Ironically, it was as I was putting together a multiple offer spreadsheet for my sellers that I first heard someone mention the slowing market.

YTD Q3 2015 DATA lg

Six buyers for one home that push the price more than $50,000 over asking is hardly describing a sluggish market.  This house was priced right and staged beautifully, so it may have had a better experience on the market than most homes, but the fact remains that five eager buyers were still looking once this home went pending.

In Alamo, you can see the volume of home sales is down significantly so far this year–but that’s not the case in Danville.  And in both towns, prices have climbed year over year.  It’s all good news: for sellers, prices are strong and most homes are moving in relatively few days on market.  For buyers, the low rates allow more buying power, and inventory has not yet dropped off for the holidays so there are plenty of homes to choose from.  There is certainly no obvious reason for a sluggish market — both buyers and sellers can (and should) enjoy the great opportunity the current market is providing.


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384 Castle Crest Rd – Hilltop Retreat in Alamo

Posted by laurenholloway under Uncategorized

Absolutely stunning new listing in Alamo, open this evening for a wine & cheese open house from 5pm to 8pm: 384 Castle Crest Rd. If you can’t come in person, please visit the website where you can view the photos, see the movie, and examine the floorplan: www.384CastleCrest.com.

The house will be open on Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 as well.  Priced at $2,469,000, here’s a bit about it:twilight rear sm    photo

Spectacular newer home (completed in 2009) set among majestic heritage oaks with dramatic views in every direction. Stunning finishes with meticulous attention to detail. Beautiful curb appeal with paver driveway and walkway leading to an elegant custom-designed front door. Hardwood floors and Marvin windows throughout. Elevator access to all levels of the home plus pool and patio.

The kitchen features cherry cabinets, high-end stainless appliances, and gorgeous granite countertops. It has a breakfast nook for kitchen dining, and a large center island with secondary sink and breakfast bar seating. Stunning views are enjoyed from the large bay window over the sink, and from the set of generous windows in the nook.

The luxurious master suite has two walk-in closets, fireplace, radiant heat flooring in the bathroom, and a special “hydro-thermo massage tub”.

The bonus room is fully equipped with mini-fridge, sink, dishwasher, full bath, as well as an “ultra smart” 80-inch TV and surround sound. The views are amazing from this room, but the blinds lower to create the right ambiance for a theater room.

The backyard is a wonderful place to enjoy the tranquility and the views. The upper patio is porcelain, installed with special care (not connected to the house). The lower deck surrounds the pool and is made of Brazilian hardwood. Beyond the pool, there is a lighted sport court: ½ court basketball, netted to serve as batting cage.

Secluded and tranquil location, yet only minutes to BART and everything downtown Walnut Creek has to offer.

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61 Bolla Ave, Alamo – New Listing

Posted by laurenholloway under Uncategorized

This beautiful single story home sits on a huge pancake flat 1/2 acre parcel, and has been completely remodeled throughout. The main house features gleaming hardwood floors and plantation shutters throughout. The formal living room has an elegant wood-burning fireplace. The kitchen features Viking and Thermador appliances, and is open to the family room with access to the backyard.

Complete with beautifully remodeled bathroom and kitchenette, the bonus room could be in-law quarters, a guest house, a pool house, or simply a 4th bedroom. The kitchenette has a sink and mini refrigerator, and the space has gleaming hardwood floors throughout.

61 Bolla Ave, Alamo (16 of 40)

The half acre lot seems even larger because it is completely flat and usable. The front yard is thoughtfully landscaped with drought- resistant plants, and the backyard is a blank slate ready for your imagination.

OPEN HOUSE Saturday August 15th and Sunday August 16th from 1:00 – 4:00.  Offered for $1,398,000

Please visit www.61Bolla.com to see the movie, floorplan, and more photos

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It’s been another good year for our real estate market with low inventory and high demand. Alamo opened 2015 with only 23 homes on the market; Walnut Creek just 30; Danville 48. With normal seasonal fluctuations, we hit highs for the year in May (Alamo – 72, Walnut Creek – 104, and Danville – 118).

Today’s inventory numbers reflect the typical seasonal pattern as they begin to decline.  I expect the inventory numbers will continue to grow smaller toward a low at the end of the year.  Here are the current numbers across all towns:


So how does 2015 compare to 2014?  In Alamo in 2014, 111 homes were sold with an average of 14 days on market and a median sales price of $1,375,000.  This year in Alamo: 105 homes were sold with an average of 13 days on market and a median sales price of $1,511,000.  Prices have ticked up: last year’s average price per sq foot was $459 and this year $497.

In Danville (including Blackhawk): 445 homes were sold in the first half of the year in 2014 compared to 486 this year.  Again, price per sq foot increased: from $413 in 2014 to $447 in 2015, although the median sales price dropped from $1,100,000 in 2014 to $1,033,000 in 2015.  Both years have an average of only 9 days on the market.

So far, another good year for our Alamo & Danville real estate market.


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Alamo Real Estate Update

Posted by laurenholloway under Uncategorized

Alamo is not only a wonderful place to live and raise a family, but it’s also a great investment opportunity.  Location, location, location as they say.  As I compare homes for sale in Alamo with the surrounding towns, I see great value in Alamo real estate.

We opened the year with only 23 homes on the market, but the inventory climbed steadily, reaching a high of 72 last week.  Today we have settled back to 65.

Considering that these inventory numbers represent a vast price range (from a low of $734,000 to a high of $42 million), this is very low inventory for buyers.  If a buyer is looking between a million and $1.5, there are only 11 homes on the market.  Or only 15 homes to choose from for shoppers looking between $1.5 and $2 million.

Looking at the Alamo market and comparing this year so far with last year, it is interesting to see that more homes sold last year – but this year has a higher price point and fewer days on market.

YTD this year: 57 homes sold with a median list price of $1,435,000 and median sales price of $1,410,000.  Of those 57 sales, 40 (70%) sold at list price or above.  The average days on market was 25 (and the median DOM was only 11).

Over the same time frame last year: 78 homes sold with a median list price of $1,367,500 and a median sold price of $1,364,250.  38 of these homes (39%) sold for at or over the list price, and the average days on market was 37 (or 14 for the median DOM).

Statistics indicate that this year is a better market than last year—which is saying a lot since 2014 was a hot market.  Both years have been strong!  Sellers should feel confident that it’s a good time to sell; but buyers can feel good about purchasing a home in an area that is currently under-valued compared to the rest of the Bay Area – time will tell, but I think the Alamo market is a wonderful investment opportunity.

Current inventory information follows:

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Open House Today – 2203 Granite Drive in Alamo

Posted by laurenholloway under Uncategorized

Please visit the website: www.2203GraniteDrive.com to see the movie, 3D animation of the floorplan, and more photos.  A stunning remodeled home on a large lot with four large bedrooms (all en-suite) and a four-car garage.  Open today from 1-4.

Circular driveway

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