Friday, August 30, 2013

Japanese Garden in San Mateo

I am sure that you have seen the Japanese Garden in the Golden Gate Park. But have you seen the Japanese Garden in San Mateo? I would give a 50/50 bet that you have not been there even if you live in San Mateo! So, it is your chance. The Labor Day weekend is upon us and your options are limited because of the Bay Bridge closing and the Rim Fire blocking of the Hwy 120 to Yosemite. OK, so you will not do much hiking in the San Mateo Japanese Garden, but if you don’t mind a leisurely stroll in beautiful surroundings before or after your Holiday lunch or just meditating or resting, it might be worthwhile to spend some time there. The garden was designed by Nagao Sakurai - Chief Gardener at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. It is open from 10:00 AM to 4 PM on weekdays and from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Saturdays and Sundays.


Per article in SF Gate of March 3rd, 2011:

“Don't miss these tea garden attractions: Walk up the rock and concrete steps to the azumaya, a delicate gazebo. Here you can view a map that lists all the plants in the garden. The wooden chashitsu, or teahouse, offers a bench where you can relax and view the pond and gardens.”


The pond is marvelous anyway you look at it.


“The shinden, a small shrine behind a bamboo fence, was given to San Mateo by its Japanese sister city, Toyonaka, to celebrate the garden's 25th anniversary in 1991. Most hidden of all is a diminutive five-level granite pagoda, which you come upon near a waterfall. It's a perfect place to sit on the large boulders and meditate” – SF Gate, March 3rd, 2011.

And if you are into Japanese gardens, please check the ones in Hayward and Saratoga as well (check See California for more information on Japanese Gardens in the Bay Area).

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Is The House Market On The Peninsula Cooling Off?

If you followed my earlier posts regarding brisk home sales on the Peninsula in the earlier part of the year including Burlingame, San Mateo and Menlo Park you might wonder if the market has continued its upward trend since the interest rates increased by 1% during in June. In short, the rates have stabilized since. The number of investors and the number of homes being listed by sellers reduced. The consensus among professionals is that good listings (read: new, remodeled or at least well prepared for sale homes) are still selling well, however, those with just paint slapped on the walls and clattered with seller belongings definitely see the drop in demand. And how about prices? Again, the general impression is that price increases we observed since the end of last year tempered of. But is this true?

To verify these observations I asked friends from Local Vector to provide us with several graphs illustrating changes that took place since the beginning of June in three cities in San Mateo County I was writing earlier this year about - Burlingame, San Mateo and Menlo Park. The first graph presents the number of homes sold each month from the beginning of the year in these cities.

Fig. 1 Number of homes sold in Burlingame, San Mateo and Menlo Park since the beginning of the year (Courtesy of Local Vector)

As you can see, the amount of transactions has dipped in San Mateo and Menlo Park in June and the trend continued in July. Only 24 homes were sold in Burlingame in July (down from 31 in June), confirming the cooling of the market there as well.

But the market continues to be brisk. Homes continue to sell fast as one can see at the graph in Fig. 2 illustrating the number of the Days On the Market (DOM) for these three cities.

Fig 2. Average Days on the Market from the beginning of the year (Courtesy of Local Vector)

While the number of transactions is much smaller, the DOM continues to be very short for all three locations. Fig 3 displays the number of listings sold at above Listed Price (asking price).

Fig. 3. Listings sold above the Listing Price (Courtesy of Local Vector)

The number of homes sold above the Listing Price decreased in Burlingame and Menlo Park, but continues to increase in San Mateo. The last graph shown in Fig 4 presents the changes in the price per square foot.

Fig. 4. Sale Price Per square Foot (Courtesy of Local Vector)

While prices in Menlo Park and San Mateo seem to be leveling of, prices in Burlingame continue their steep increase.

To summarize, what we observe is certainly not a downturn. Homes are selling fast, but the number of transactions dropped.  A smaller number of investors keeps potential seller away from selling again and this in turns keeps demand almost as high as before.