Monthly Archives: March 2008

Bad Pictures on MLS — Don’t Let This Happen to You

The moral of this story is: if you’re selling your home, make sure you know what pictures your agent is putting up on the MLS.

 Athol Kay, a realtor in Connecticut, writes a great blog, which I religiously read for the humorous “Bad MLS Photo of the Day”. These are actual photos that appear in MLS’s across the country (no agent is ratted out, but anonymous viewers send these in), and the commentaries associated with the pictures are priceless.

Take a look at his “24 Worst ‘Bad MLS Photos of the Year”.  And don’t let this happen to you. You’ve been warned.


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Pending Sales and New Listing for Mt. Carmel Area

Here’s what’s currently pending in the Mt. Carmel area.  Note the Days on Market (DOM) for each one:

  • 524 Jeter – $989,000 – 3br/1.5ba – 11 DOM
  • 271 Myrtle – $1,565,000 – 4br/2.5 ba – 10 DOM
  • 1701 Whipple – $1,195,000 – 3br/2ba – 26 DOM
  • 505 St. Francis – $925,000 – 3br/2ba – 18 DOM
  • 77 Myrtle – $1,475,000 – 5br/3ba – 18 DOM
  • 224 Hillview – $699,900 – 4br/2ba – 168 DOM – originally priced at $789,900
  • 1817 Hopkins – $979,000 – 3br/2ba – 219 DOM – originally priced at $1,250,000. Had sold in June 2006 for $1.2M, now a short sale

So, apart from a couple anomalies, the average days on market in the Mt. Carmel area is still holding strong.

A new listing appears to be coming on the market, on the corner of Elwood & Brewster.  Appears to be 1438 Brewster, built in 1936.  1,440 sq. ft., 3br/1.25 bath (a .25 bath — that cracks me up — which 1/4 of a normal bathroom is it? A solo sink? A solo toilet? A solo bidet?)

Since it’s not in MLS yet, I figured I’d check that bastion of occasional truth Zillow, which gives it an estimate of $975K.  Looking at the Zillow listing, it appears the owner of the house has optioned Zillow’s “Make Me Move” price and wants $1.2M for their home.  Will they get it? Time, as always, will tell.

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Using Zillow to Compute Your Home’s Value? Read this first…

Ok, so if you’ve ever used Zillow, you know that it’s a fun toy to see how much your neighbor/boss/co-worker/doppelganger’s house is worth.  Is it completely reliable? Let’s just say, it’s a starting point

Case in point. I was curious what Zillow thought the average $ per square foot was in Mt. Carmel.  I first did it by myself, using comps of recent sales in the area, in the last couple quarters — typically how we realtors would arrive at a value in order to assess what a home might be listed at.  Give or take a few bucks, in Mt. Carmel, that amount is currently $611.

Now, looking at Zillow, their estimate is $633.  Not too bad, but I’m not surprised, given that I’ve seen Zillow be completely off base around 10% either way, many times. What’s perplexing is that their algorithm to get their value can sometimes use recently sold houses that have absolutely no business being part of the computation.

Here’s an example: I looked at the Zestimate (Zillow’s branded estimate) of a Mt. Carmel home, and here’s just a sampling of the comps they used:

  • 1924 St. Francis, San Carlos
  • 2415 Eaton, San Carlos
  • 1505 Chestnut, San Carlos
  • 913 Pleasant Hill, Redwood City (in Emerald Hills area)
  • 1868 Lenolt, Redwood City (east of El Camino)

13 out of 50 of the comps they used were in San Carlos. Mt. Carmel isn’t even on the border of San Carlos (like say, Edgewood Park), so to me, it’s not very smart to estimate a home’s value by using these as comps.  

 Yes, Zillow can be an interesting, useful, sometimes voyeuristic tool, but take this example above to set your proper expectations.

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Fast, Cheap Rides and Carnival Food

Everything you could ever want in a school festival.  The annual Mt. Carmel Festival is coming April 25-27 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School (ok, shameless plug). 

If the rides aren’t enough to tempt you, there’s some pretty awesome Mexican food served up, games, bands, and more teeth-free carnies than you can shake a corn dog at.

For more info, click here.

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Current Mt. Carmel Homes for sale – Picks of the Week

Here’s some of the single-family homes currently for sale in the Mt. Carmel neighborhood. Any opinion stated here is purely the opinion of the author 

245 King St. – 2br/1ba – $846,500 – 14 days on market (DOM). Very charming home, and at 1220 sq. ft., a good size for a 2br.

153 Lowell St. – 3br/2ba – $1,050,000 – 27 DOM (67 cumulative DOM) – originally listed by another agent at $200K higher than its current price. Although, with no extra pictures other than the front of the house, and no online virtual tour, I don’t see how any potential buyer can get too excited looking at this online.

443 Birch – 3br/2ba – $989,000 – 39 DOM. Lots of character in this 1927 Craftsman. But, if the house was painted a color other than it’s current Papa Smurf Blue, it probably might have sold by now.

234 Harrison Ave. – 2br/1ba – $625,000 – 40 DOM.  Ok, so it’s a short sale. But there’s NOT ONE picture of this house online.  Over 85% of buyers get their inital home information online — so I guess they’re targeting that 15% of the buyers that DON’T use computers.

232 Outer Circle – 4br/2.5ba – $1,320,000 – 40 DOM. Nice, new construction, great curb appeal complete with white picket fence. But, backyard space is pretty sparse.

1600 Brewster – 4br/2.5ba – $1,450,000 – 60 DOM. A classically elegant looking home. Lots of space, although the flow is not terribly traditional.  Definitely needs some infrastructure updating (electrical, furnace, etc.). $1.45M for a busy street? I’m not convinced, but hey, I’ve been proven wrong before.

94 Grand St. – 3br/3ba – $1,099,000 – 65 DOM.  Ok, so the seller is also the agent. You’ve been on the market 65 days, and you have NO pictures of the house, nor do you have a sign on the front of the house.  I guess the traditional definition of “marketing” and “selling” a house is just old-fashioned and passe’?

181 Lowell St. – 3br/1ba – $799,000 – 141 DOM.  Originally priced at $942K. Also a short sale. Great price for a great street. I’m surprised this one hasn’t sold in all the time it’s been on the market. But, I think some buyers, for whatever reason, don’t want to live next to a church.

547 Iris St. – 3br/2ba – $995,000 – 224 DOM. Originally priced at $1.2M. Could probably use some updating, and even though the price dropped, that 500-block that borders Jefferson Ave. is not always a sure thing to get over $950K for your house.

 That’s it for now….Stay tuned for more reviews next week!

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Recent Sales in Mt. Carmel

In the last 3 months, the following homes in the Mt. Carmel area closed escrow. Following that are some market averages for this area, which is, no surprise, holding pretty strong.  Is there really an “average” in Mt. Carmel, though? Probably not — in this broad mix of a neighborhood, you can maybe get a 2BR/1BA home in the mid $700Ks, or an updated 4-BR home for over $1.5M. And, if you’re in the 0-100 block between Whipple and Hopkins, you can find newly constructed homes in the $2M range.

  • 505 Jeter: List price: $1,049,000 / Sale price: $1,049,000 / 11 days on market (DOM)
  • 824 Harrison Ave: LP: $875,000 / SP: $885,000 / 11 DOM
  • 464 Topaz St: LP: $875,000 / SP: $860,000 / 13 DOM
  • 141 Fulton St: LP: $849,950 / SP: $849,950 / 8 DOM
  • 241 Topaz St: LP: $999,000 / SP: $999,000 / 43 DOM
  • 363 Fulton St: LP: $969,900 / SP: $945,000 / 44 DOM
  • 126 Inner Cir: LP: $1,350,000 / SP: $1,325,000 / 53 DOM

And, on a PURELY average basis, here’s what these stats also yield for the Mt. Carmel area:

Average days on market: 26

Average $ per square foot: $562

Average Sale price as a % of List price: 99.3%

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Welcome to the Mt. Carmel Blog!

Alrighty then, here we are, my second “hyper-local” blog, and on what is one of the more desirable neighborhoods in Redwood City: the friendly, tree-lined and family oriented neighborhood of Mt. Carmel.

I’ve got probably one of the longest running real estate blogs (since 2005) here on the Peninsula, the aptly named “The Gory Details ..of Real Estate”.  But, with so much that’s appealing about Mt. Carmel, I felt the time was right to now provide all kinds of useful information at the neighborhood level — spoken from someone who has lived, works, and sends kids to school here. I’ll do my best to keep my readers — whether they’re owners or potential buyers in Mt. Carmel — abreast of all that’s happening. 
Coming up in future blog posts:
 – recent sales, new and upcoming listings in Mt. Carmel

– what’s YOUR home worth in Mt. Carmel?

– when does Concert in the Park start at Stafford Park?

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