Real Estate Insanity

Living in ‘Silicon Valley’ is interesting for many reasons, not the least of which is the zaniness of the housing market. Having grown up here in the 60’s and 70’s, I was oblivious to this phenomenon, thinking that it was normal. That is until I moved to Arizona for more than a decade and returned.

When we returned in 2014, we knew that we were in for a shock. When I moved away in 2003, the condo I bought in 1999 for $249K, sold easily for $350K, an amazing return on my investment. Continue reading →

House Selling Blues

Down in the dump today. I am being relocated from Phoenix back to the San Jose area, and things seemed on track for a smooth transition. Got our house cleaned up, fixed up and ready to sell. A month earlier, houses like ours was low inventory, and in demand.


Put it on the market April 2, and priced it to sell (about $12 – $18 sqft below the comps), and did our thing. Went out of town the first weekend so as to not be disturbed by the viewings. Got 6 or so that weekend, and an offer.

But the offer fell through due to some of the restrictions of the relocation company. Bummer. Back on the market.

And very few showings. We just had a non-holiday weekend without a single call.

I am wondering what the listing kryptonite is? A few blocks a way (short walk) three single story houses went on the market about the same time as ours. All three of them sold within 5 days (to property management companies and investors who will turn them into rentals).

We are still well below the local comps, so I really don’t want to reduce the price. But we may need to do something to get interest back. This sucks.

Notes from House Hunting in San Jose Area

This week I am in San Jose/South Bay to “preview” prior to deciding to relocate. Since I spent the first 38 years of my life here, I don’t need much pre-viewing, so we are hitting likely locations to live.

So far, I have pretty much dismissed the far south bay. Morgan Hill and Gilroy, while they are near and served by Caltrain, are just too damn far. I last lived at the north end of the Coyote valley, and it was OK, but still a long commute, even by light rail.

I did find some great neighborhoods in downtown San Jose. Near the Japantown district are cute bungalows (small houses) that look fun, and some neighborhoods just north of Willow Glen are attractive and affordable. The whole downtown area has cleaned up a lot since I graduated from SJSU. Definitely like it.

The Edenvale/Blossom Hill area is another strong contender. Older neighborhoods, but good feel, and it seemed like “home”. We did find some neighborhoods that genuinely sucked. Of course, when even in a sketchy neighborhood, a modest house costs over $500K, the trend is towards gentrification. Just not soon enough for our tastes.

The Internet makes it cozy to sit at your desk and look for houses. MLS Listings, Zillow and Trulia are all pretty easy to navigate. But until you sit in front of a house, you fail to get a feel. One would think that real estate agents would invest in a decent camera and some classes on how to take a decent picture.

Somethings I noticed on the road:

  • People here still can’t drive. Stupid maneuvers on the freeways, inability to merge on said freeways, crazy “california” stops. I thought Arizona had a lot of lousy drivers. But this takes the cake.
  • The infrastructure is looking old. Really old. Sidewalks are crumbling. Streets are rough. Not as bad as Tucson, but you can tell that some of the neighborhoods I looked in were from the very early 1900’s.
  • One thing Arizona gets right is the laws about how to deal with emergency vehicles. You pull over, both directions, and let them pass. I forgot about the past time here of chasing fire trucks and ambulances to catch their “green lights”. Insane at any speed.
  • Those “Keep clear” markings on the streets. Completely ignored. Traffic is bad enough, and it is difficult enough to merge cleanly, but blocking those areas is just selfish douchebag-ness. You are not helping, and you aren’t going to get there any quicker.
  • BMW must make a “California ONLY” version of their car. I swear in 2.5 days of driving around, I have yet to see a single BMW signal its intent. They must come without turn indicators here.
  • If you are in the right lane, and you want to make a left turn, it is OK in California to just cut across 4 lanes of traffic in 50′. No, really, nobody minds.

I am back at the hotel, and I am tired. Mexican food and Margaritas tonight.