Recent  Real Estate News In Bay Area

Sunnyvale hangs on to city-owned land, will not make property surplus

By Alia Wilson   Posted:   11/20/2014 12:21:30 PM


Neighbors hoping to sell their homes on Charles Street and Mathilda Avenue are going to have to

wait now that the city will not be making the adjacent properties surplus.


The owners of four parcels located in the middle of six city-owned parcels were hoping the city

would subsequently sell the aging homes, so they could sell their parcels to Toll Brothers, which

wants to build a mixed-use development on that block.


The Sunnyvale City Council voted Nov. 11 not to make surplus the residential properties and

vacant lots on the block bordered by Mathilda, Iowa, and McKinley avenues and Charles Street.


Instead, council members voiced interest in aggregating more parcels on what is known as Block

15 in the Downtown Specific Plan to sell a more contiguous piece of land.


The decision came four weeks after the council tabled the discussion. The council also held a closed session on Nov. 11 to discuss the potential purchase of properties located at 396 and 402 Charles St. and 397 and 403 Mathilda Ave.


When the city makes land surplus to sell, the property is first offered to public entities such as affordable-housing agencies and school districts within the property's jurisdiction. If no buyer emerges, then the city can put in a request for bids that could come from public or private agencies.


It is also city policy that proceeds from the sale of surplus property be used to acquire open space land.


Over several years, the city purchased these properties with the goal of assembling land to kick-start the redevelopment of the low-density commercial and residential uses to higher-density, multi-family/commercial mixed use, per the Downtown Specific Plan for the area.


The six city-owned parcels are composed of three single-family homes located on Charles Street and one duplex and two vacant parcels fronting Mathilda Avenue.


An active real estate market is what spurred the discussion about declaring the properties as surplus. According to city staff, the combined value of the six properties in Block 15 is estimated at $3.5 million.

"I think that we should take a position that we should be an aggregator and then proceed in closed session negotiations with Toll Brothers," Councilman Glenn Hendricks moved.


Mayor Jim Griffith seconded, as Toll Brothers is the entity that has the current rights to purchase the property.


Councilman Dave Whittum asked whether the motion should state the other party in the closed session, and it was subsequently changed to state a closed session with "the appropriate party."

The final vote was 5-2, with Councilman Pat Meyering and Vice Mayor Jim Davis dissenting.

Meyering suggested holding a public hearing about whether Sunnyvale should be an aggregator, but it failed.

San Jose council to discuss Airbnb ordinance

By Leeta-Rose Ballester   Posted:   11/20/2014 12:26:03 PM


As more San Jose homes are opening doors for short-term rentals to travelers through websites like Airbnb, city officials are seeking to create an ordinance that would lay down some ground rules.


The city does not have provisions in its municipal code to allow short-term residential rentals of 30 days or fewer, but Salvador Alvarez, executive analyst in the office of economic development, said there are positives to these sorts of rentals.


"We believe that this shared economy is a way for people to make extra income," he said. "It gives [visitors] a chance to live local. It's one of the draws that people like."


However, he said, there is a need to regulate the online house sharing business and create "fairness with other business models."


The Airbnb website is displayed on a laptop on April 21, 2014 in San Anselmo, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


The proposal would create a 90-day-per year limit so that landlords wouldn't create exclusively short-term rental properties, thus displacing long-term residents from possible homes.


Short-term rentals are a type of occupancy that could be subject to a 10 percent transient occupancy tax, like a motel or hotel. There is no proposal to require short-term lessors or hosts to obtain separate permitting, though.


With most hotels at capacity when there are larger events in town, Alvarez said that rentals like those on Airbnb are a welcomed way to accommodate lots of visitors.


"Like for the Super Bowl, we're going to need flexibility," he said.


City officials estimate there are some 400 San Jose homes listed on Airbnb, though a search yields nearly 1,000 homes or rooms available throughout all of San Jose.


Alvarez said it breaks down to about 60 percent renting a room, 30 percent renting the whole house and 10 percent renting out a shared space in a room.


He said there have been fewer than 10 complaints related to Airbnb rentals in San Jose so far. Numerous other issues have arisen in other parts of the country, though, such as guests who won't leave or who damage the property.


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Bay Area home sales below average, price growth slows

By Pete Carey   Posted:   11/13/2014 10:47:24 AM PST1 Comment


Single-family home sales across the nine-county Bay Area remained below a 26-year average in October while prices plateaued, according to a report released Thursday by CoreLogic DataQuick.


Contra Costa County was an exception, returning to its quarter-century average and scoring a 14 percent gain in sales from the previous year and a 16.5 percent gain in the median price.


Alameda County sales were up 7.3 percent, while San Mateo and Santa Clara counties saw slight drops.


Although all four counties saw gains in the median sale price of a single-family home from a year ago, prices have plateaued for the past four months, according to the Irvine-based real estate information company.


"This isn't a market that's on fire anymore," said Andrew LePage of CoreLogic DataQuick. "It's still a market with demand outstripping supply in some cases, but for this year, price appreciation has occurred."


October's median price for single family homes across the nine-county Bay Area was still 10 percent higher than last October, CoreLogic DataQuick reported. Sales were about 8 percent below the historical average.


For single-family homes, Alameda's median sale price was $621,000, up from $568,000 a year ago; Contra Costa County's was $460,000, up from $395,000 last year; San Mateo County's $968,000 was up from $880,000 a year earlier, and Santa Clara County's was $800,000, up from $713,000 in October of last year.


Real estate agents said they're seeing the market soften as the holiday season nears.


"It's been steadily cooling since the summer," said Redfin agent Mia Simon, who covers a pricey part of Silicon Valley, from Redwood City to Los Altos. "Homes that were getting 15 to 20 offers in the spring are getting three to five, and some aren't getting any offers at all."

In the East Bay, some agents are seeing fewer offers and less interest on the part of buyers.


"We get less offers and less interest," said Abby Wentworth of Redfin, who covers the East Bay communities that front the bay. "I feel that's because buyers are fatigued. They're pretty sick and tired of being heartbroken. It's been a very hard market for buyers to be in."

Although there's more to chose from, some buyers are deciding to keep renting or stay in the place they already own, she said.


LePage said that increased inventory has moderated price increases, but that if demand builds again in 2015, rising prices could follow. That would compound the already big problem of affordability for many buyers.


About 20 percent of buyers paid cash, indicated by no mortgage recorded for the sale, the company said.


The typical monthly mortgage payment in the Bay Area was $2,307 in October.