San Carlos Market Report: 3 Keys to Buying When the Market’s Heating Up

San Carlos Housing This Spring: Higher Prices, More Offers 

The San Carlos housing market continues to witness a level of unprecedented growth. The median price is up by 25.8% year over year for Q1 2014. A year ago, a quaint 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in the White Oak neighborhood “flats” could be purchased for about $1.1 million with a few competing offers. That same home today would sell for $1.5 – $1.6 million with 5-10 offers.

There is an interesting housing supply dynamic in San Carlos worth mentioning. The majority of the city offers homes no greater than 1500 square feet in size on smaller lots with less than 6,000 SF. There is not an abundance of larger homes. A year ago, it was unheard of that one of these larger homes would sell for more than $1.6M. Today, it is another story. As more buyers get frustrated with the escalating prices in Menlo Park and Palo Alto, they are bringing their purchasing power to San Carlos. Consequently, the price point for the larger, newly constructed 3,000 square foot, 4 bedroom homes has been pushed north of the $2 million point.

Why is San Carlos the darling of the Peninsula real estate market?   

There are three main drivers:

  • Excellent public school system.  San Carlos schools rank closely in API scores with the cities of Menlo Park and Palo Alto.
  • Downtown is a destination. Downtown Laurel Street is a hopping destination with desirable restaurants, such as Town and the Salt Box, clothing boutiques and cake bakeries. The Thursday night Farmers market draws a big crowd as do the festivals and family events hosted by the City for most major holidays.
  • Small town feel.  Given its small size both in population and geography, San Carlos offers a small town, community feel while still providing the perks of being centrally located within the Silicon Valley such as a short commute to most major companies, ease of access to both major airports and only a 30-minute drive to San Francisco.

How can you successfully buy a home in San Carlos in today’s market?

Here are three keys to getting into San Carlos right now:

  • Be prepared.  The purchase process in San Carlos is very fast. Homes are usually listed on the market on a Thursday with open houses that Saturday and Sunday with offers due the following Tuesday or Wednesday. Have your pre-approval letter squared away well in advance, visit the house and review disclosures as soon as possible to get your questions answered before time runs out. Make sure your agent is in touch with the listing agent from the beginning so you don’t miss out on receiving updates and pertinent information.
  • Know home values.  Track the housing market consistently including following both the list price and sales price per home as well as the price per square foot. Properties are selling well in excess of the list price to the magnitude of several $100,000s, so well-educated buyers are prepared to submit competitive offers that will help them win.
  • Work with an agent who knows the players.  Out-of-area real estate agents do not have the local connections necessary to have a window into what is coming up for sale soon as well the ability to find out what is happening off market.  San Carlos is a small, close knit community for both homeowners and real estate agents. Work with an agent who can get you insider information in real time. 






Photo credit: Flickr / Rebecca Williamson



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