Redwood Shores Housing Market Update - November 2007

There's an opportunity here for my clients looking for a good elementary school district.  For single-family homes, the news is almost exactly the same as last year.  There were six sales in 2006 and five this year in Redwood Shores.  Small statistical sample. The median number has dropped 7.8% year-over-year in October from $1,192,000 to $1,100,000; the average stayed almost the same going from $1,145,500 to $1,145,000, with eight new listings in both periods and an inventory of 14 and 13 in those respective years.  The news, though, is in townhomes and condominiums.

In Redwood Shores, there were only three were closed in October 2007 (compared to 15 the year before) with inventory levels similar to 2005 and 2006.  The percent of list received went from just above asking to 93.36% this year.

It's sometimes difficult to be the first wave to adjust to a different landscape and changing market conditions, no matter how much data is available.  In this case, the initial valuation of these three townhomes was unrealistic, so the percent of list received is lower than it might have been if information about the shifting landscape were already digested.

There are good elementary schools in Redwood Shores.  Sandpiper Elementary, part of the Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District, improved upon its elite test scores last year with a 17 point increase to 923.  When I last called Sandpiper just after the start of the school year, they were on the border of being over-subscribed, but were still able to take new students.

Obviously, it's important to confirm availability before making a purchasing decision.  The Belmont-Redwood Shores district has two other schools over 900 API to choose from if there's a wait list at Sandpiper (Central Elementary and Fox Elementary), and the others two come in at 875 (Cipriani Elementary) and 823 (Nesbit Elementary).

Median Home 2007 - $1,100,000

The Median Home for October 2007 in Redwood Shores is 615 Island Pl., which was actually a bank-owned property.  Its hallmark is a palacial master bathroom, which is the size of a bedroom in many older homes.  The main living area is also spacious as well, with high ceilings that extend over the second level.  The home comes in at 2310 square feet (on a 6053 square foot lot) with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.  This single-family home is part of a gated-community with an HOA fee of $230.

Compared With Last Year - $1,192,500

The first Median Home last year was 702 Nature Ln.  Located on a corner lot, this 2421 square foot home splits the main living level with the master bedroom and two other bedrooms upstairs but one bedroom and one of the three full bathrooms downstairs.  This home was listed as having a "motivated seller", and (originally listed at $1,288,000) it was reduced to $1,265,800 before eventually selling for $1,210,000.  The association fee for this home was $135.

1029 Rockport Ave., last year's other Median Home, also has 4 bedrooms --- two of which are master suites --- along with one-and-a-half more bathrooms in the home.  It's slightly smaller than Nature, at about 2200 square feet, but also sold for less: $1,175,000.   Rockport sold for 1.9% below list, but like Nature, it sits on the water.  Some may prefer Rockport's covered arbor, which allows more outside light than a patio that is covered by a second-floor accessible deck.

Market Snapshot - November 9, 2007 

As of today, there are 29 townhomes and condos and 12 single-family homes on the market in Redwood Shores.  Nine of the townhomes and condos, but none of the single-family homes, have had a published reduction.  If you take out the two new homes listed today, the Active CDOM number is 44 days (37 with them included).  The Active CDOM number for townhomes is 55 days.

One of these townhomes is an interesting illustration of over-improvement.  The home was upgraded from soup-to-nuts: kitchens to bathrooms to floors and paint.  And all with top-of-the-line materials.  It was pretty clear that no expense was spared and it was decorated to the taste of the current owner.  The challenge is that now the property is priced well over the comparables in the area because the seller expects the value of neighboring properties plus the upgrades and a premium for including them.

There is nothing inherently wrong with upgrading to increase the value of a home, but that strategy works particular complexes or neighborhoods can support the number the seller is asking for.  (I used the analogy of "lobster on the McDonald's value menu" in my book.  Would you pay $13 for anything at McDonald's?)

This complex is a very nice neighborhood but it's difficult to justify a price $200,000 (21%) more expensive than a comparable sale one month ago when many of the upgrades are "six-of-one and half-a-dozen of the other" (i.e. pricey, but low value-add) choices.

The fact is that the list is higher than any number any property has sold for in that complex.  The market is sending a clear message.  This home has been on the market for almost three months (without a reduction) and it risks joining the five other townhomes that have been on the market for 100 days or longer.

How Much Home Can I Get in Redwood Shores?

This is an overview of representative properties in Redwood Shores which closed in October 2007.

$585,800 - 457 Cork Harbour Cir. #F 2br/2ba; 1136 sqft; HOA $405 2 master suites

$604,500 - 405 Cork Harbour #D 2br/2ba; 1136 sqft; HOA $405 Granite counters; new laminate floors

$620,000 - 1112 Camerota Way 2br/2ba; 1125 sqft; 11 years old; HOA $200 Corner unit

$925,000 - 582 Osprey Dr. 3br/2.5ba; 1550 sqft on 3234 sqft lot Corner lot; separate family room

$1,100,000 - 615 Island Pl. (Median Home) 3br/2.5ba; 2310 sqft on 6053 sqft lot; HOA $230 Gated community

$1,150,000 - 22 Lido Ci. 4br/2.5ba; 2490 sqft on 4000 sqft lot; 29 years old; HOA $72 Newly remodeled kitchen

$1,450,000 - 810 Sun Blossom Ln. 4br/3ba; 2710 sqft on 3998 sqft lot; HOA $108 Newly remodeled kitchen; custom paint