Peery Park Specific Plan

On September 20, 2016, Sunnyvale’s City Council adopted The Peery Park Specific Plan with a vote of 6-0. The plan outlines the development of 180 properties that make up the approximately 446 acre area known as Peery Park.
Peery Park is comprised mostly of industrial area and office buildings, housing large companies such as Apple, HP, LinkedIn, and Synopsys. The area is roughly bordered by Highway 101 to the north, the city of Mountain View to the west, the railroad to the south, and Mathilda to the east.
The plan governs the type of land use in the area and includes some areas that have been rezoned. There are plans to implement significant visual enhancements and improved transportation functionality down Mathilda and Mary Ave as well as other streets in the area. These enhancements include reconfigured parking and bike lanes down certain streets, as well as tree-lined landscapes down the median. It also includes possible plans to extend Mary Avenue further north, giving it a connection to Moffett Park.
Another interesting part of the plan is the $400,000 that has been allocated to a two year provisional shuttle program. The program is free for passengers and is planned to start service in late 2017. The shuttle will travel the perimeter of Peery Park, through downtown Sunnyvale, and down the El Camino.
Part of the plan that did not make it passed the vote was the proposed pedestrian and bicycle pathway connecting the neighborhoods at Ferndale and Duane to Mathilda, close to public transit stops. This would have caused the existing sound wall to be opened and would have potentially lead to people parking in residential areas and then walking to work.
Check back in the future for more in depth articles on the Peery Park Plan!

Sunnyvale Town Center & Redwood Square Plaza

Last month on October 19th, STC Venture broke ground and resumed construction in downtown Sunnyvale. The town center construction project was put on hold back in 2009 when Sand Hill Property Co. and RREEF defaulted on a 108.8 million dollar loan. The property was then bought by Wells Fargo at auction in 2011. Following that a law suit against the bank was filed by Sand Hill further stalling the continuation of the project until 2015. The suit was ruled in favor of Wells Fargo finally allowing them the sell the property.

Currently the project continues to reflect the original plan from 2007. Everything that is already built will stay with the exception of the steel frame work in the Redwood Square Plaza. The plan is to demolish the structure and add temporary parking along with reopening the plaza next year. New plans for that block will be submitted for review as well.

A theater is currently planned on the corner of McKinley and Sunnyvale Ave. on the Target side of McKinley. It will sit on the second story above retail space and backs up to the already existing parking garage. The theater plan includes multiple screens with up to 2,950 seats. The plans don’t specify how many screens there will be but my guess is around 12.

Across the street from the theater, the purposed plan is to build two stories of retail space totaling 29,500 square feet that backs up to a five story parking garage where the current parking lot sits. They also plan to add one level of retail space on the opposing side of the parking lot, facing Washington Ave.

Five levels of residential units are planned for the area along the side of the parking structure that is bordered by Iowa Ave. and Taaffe St. And two levels of retail space is planned for the vacant area at the corner of Mathilda and McKinley. Also included in the plan is to extend Murphy St. through the new development to McKinley Ave.

What’s Happening to Mary Ave

So I’m sure you have seen the construction going on down Mary Ave. And I’m sure most people have googled what the plan is, but if you haven’t hopefully this article will shed some light on the plan for the upcoming months.

The city of Sunnyvale has been planning to add bike lanes down Mary for some time now, a quick search of the internet will show articles dating all the way back to 2009. It’s been a topic of much debate on the usefulness of reducing the number of traffic lanes on some parts of Mary to make bike lanes possible. I won’t get into my opinion on the topic. Frankly I’m pretty indifferent my commute tends to be opposite of traffic so it’ll have little effect on my life. It will however make the option of biking to my destination a little more safe feeling.

The plan breaks Mary Ave down into four sections, with the total effected area stretching from Fremont Ave. to Maude Ave. The first section which may or may not be finished by the time you read this article is from Fremont Ave. to El Camino, the plan is to remove one lane of traffic from each direction and add a center-left lane down the middle. This will make room for bike lanes and preserve parking on this stretch of Mary.

The second section from El Camino to Evelyn Ave will be done a little different. Parking will be removed from the West side of the street and all traffic lanes preserved. The lanes will be shifted over to make room for bike lanes down both sides of the street.

The third part of this street modification and rehabilitation project is from Evelyn to Central Expressway. Again all lanes will remain but they along with the median will be narrowed to allow room for the bike lanes.

The last section to be modified is from Central to Maude. As you know there are currently 3 lanes in either direction. They plan to remove one lane from each side to add a buffer zone and a bike lane.

The hopes of this project is to encourage people to commute to work on bike more often and alleviate some of the motorized traffic congestion down Mary Ave. during commute hours.

Sunnyvale Real Estate Update – beginning of September

I know this is just a bunch of boring numbers, I will be doing a video update on youtube shortly after I post this so if reading is too boring but you do want to know about the market stats here in Sunnyvale keep an eye out for that video. I’ll link it here when its up and you can find it on youtube if you search Sunnyvale Real Estate update.

So its a new month and time for a new Sunnyvale real estate market update. In August homes on average are selling 4.4% above asking price. Indicating that we are still firmly in a seller’s market. Average days on market is trending upward since the summer months which is pretty normal for this time of year. August average is 20 days up from the 17 days in July and the 13 days for the 4 month preceding that. As a seller though as long as homes are selling above asking their is nothing to worry about, I mean whats an extra week on the market gonna hurt?

Average sale price across the board (single family, town houses, condos) in Sunnyvale in August was $1,201,675 which is holding right in line with all of 2016. Of course there is a little fluctuation from month to month. Inventory in Sunnyvale didn’t increase in August like it did the prior two months. There was 72 new listed homes and 71 sold listings.

Why didn’t my home sell?

So your listing expired? Now what?

You have some questions and they need to be answered. There are usually three main reasons why your house didn’t sell and its usually a combination of them. There is a buyer for every house, if your house didn’t sell its one of the following that didn’t work: the house, the agent, or the price. Let’s look at them all in a little more detail.

So your home usually isn’t the problem, this is normally tied in with the asking price being wrong. The reason the house gets its own paragraph is if isn’t show in the best light it wont get what its worth. Now to explain that further, an outdated house or a house that isn’t staged properly won’t typically get sell for maximum value. Of course you’ll have to lay out some money up front to “freshen” up the house but the higher selling price it will bring is well worth the effort. Staging is another area that will help the house sell for what its worth. Presenting a home and living in it tend to look very different. The goal of staging is to help the buyer see the house for its true potential and visualized themselves living there.

Now the price is a very important factory in sell the house obviously. People tend to think there is some sort of magic when selling a home that will get a selling price of more than what the house is worth. There is no magic! There are tricks to getting a higher price but they do not involve listing the house for more than its worth. People also tend to forget you don’t have to accept an offer even if it is exactly at your asking price. You can counter offer with a higher price.

Lastly the agent you chose could be the problem. Not all agents are created equal, which is a good thing. It allows you to shop around and find the agent for the job. There are a few reasons you list with an agent instead of trying to sell the house yourself but the one we want to talk about in this article is marketing. The agents job is to advertise the home to as many potential buyers as possible. Some things to remember when selecting an agent is cheaper is not always better. Marketing costs money and that money comes from the agents last commission check. There is a reason they can list your house for less, its because they do less to market your house. Thats not to say all agents that insist on a full commission will market your home properly, but there is a better chance, its up to you, the seller, to judge whether they will be capable of doing the job.

So if your house didn’t sell its most likely a combination of the above. Everyones selling situation is unique, and I hope this information will help you to better set a price and pick an agent in the future. And if you’re in the south bay and need someone to come list your home I’d love to interview for the job. You can find more about me and my services on my personal website at bradpickensrealty.com Even if you don’t live in the south bay, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in contact with me!

Townhouse vs Condo and HOA info

When you’re in the market for a home you will surely run across the different classifications of homes. And I’m sure you will have questions about the differences and the pros and cons of each. Hopefully this article will shed some light on the differences and you can make a decision on which is best for you.

We don’t have to talk too much about what a detached single family home is, its pretty self explanatory. There are some things to remember about them, while they are the most private type of dwelling in a city environment you have the most responsibilities and highest up keep costs. In a detached home all of the maintenance expenses are yours. From the small end, for example, you have a leaking pipe or a plugged sewer line you have to pay the bill. To the big end of things, like your house is sinking and going to crack in half the expense is all yours.

On the opposite end of the housing spectrum is a Condominium, which has the least amount of cost outside of your association fees. In a condo all you own is the inside of your unit, so paint on the interior walls and ceiling, the carpet/hardwood/tile, and the air space inside. Which is great because you don’t have to worry about landscaping or maintenance problems in the plumbing or anything that doesn’t involve the inside of your unit, saving you money and the hassle of dealing with contractors or maintenance people.

A Planned Unit Development is something right in the middle, you own the land and the unit that sits on it. You still with have your home owners association fees which cover different things based on the rules in whats called the C,C,andR’s. Some HOA’s (home owners associations) cover exterior walls and paint and landscaping and others only cover the community pool and street maintenance and street light electricity. HOA’s are tricky things to interpret, and some are better than others. They are a big part of the buying decision and should be discussed with your agent before deciding on making an offer.

I get asked a lot what the difference between a town home and a condo is, the best way to answer that question is with an explanation of what a town house is. A town house is an architectural style not a housing classification. This means a condo can be a town house and a planned unit development can also be a town house. It has become a popular generic term to describe non-detached homes which causes all the confusion.

I hope this helped  removed some confusion from the subject. I’ll eventually write more articles that go into further details on each kind. If you have any further questions in the mean time, feel free to contact me, I would be happy to help.

How Do Interest Rates Impact Buying Power?

Currently interest rates are at an all time low, and the market seems to be slowing down a little. In Sunnyvale it is still a sellers market by numbers, the average home for sale last month sold for 6.3% over asking price but that doesn’t mean that its not a good time to start shopping and I’ll let the numbers tell you why.

If you’re shopping for a house, you might be trying to decide whether to buy now or wait and hope the prices start coming down. My advice is buy now. Let’s use an average priced house in Sunnyvale for example, $1,400,000 (about what you would pay over the current average asking price of $1,376,000). We’re going to see how interest rates will effect your purchasing power, you have 20% to use as a down payment $280,000.

Let’s say you buy now at 3.2% your payment is going to be around $4,843 a month, $58,116 for the year. Now let’s say, worst case, you decided to wait hoping prices would fall and they didn’t but interest rates jumped to 5% with every thing else the same your payment are now $6,012, $72,144 for the year. Thats a $1,200 a month or $14,000 a year jump, that’s enough to possibly put that home out of your price range.

To add insult to injury over the life of the loan you’ve almost doubled the interest you have paid. at 3% you would pay around $576,000 in interest over 30 years. At 5% you’ve jumped to $1,044,465!

You might be thinking though, “What if prices do fall then I would have screwed myself” And I want to say not necessarily. Let’s say you did wait and prices came down $200,000 and interest still went up to 5%. Your payment would be around $5,153 a month and life time interest would be about $895,254. So now you’re still $300 more a month than buying now and still over $200,000 more in interest over the life of the loan. On top of that you have now paid rent longer Which is money you’ll never get back.

So you tell me which is better, higher purchase price with low interest or low purchase price with higher interest (which in the example is still pretty low)? Lets say you do plan on waiting thinking that you can buy low and refinance when interest drops again. Then you would have to look at how long will you be paying a higher payment, when would interest rates drop to as low as they are now and what could you invest that extra money in if you bought now that would compound your savings monthly?

Just want to add a little disclaimer to this article, all of the facts and figures are estimates and do not include things like taxes, private mortgage insurance, or HOA dues. With that said you can do your own research about interest rates and monthly payments with any mortgage calculator online.

1.4 payment graph

Real Estate Market Seems Slow

I was recently helping another agent in the office with his open house, his sellers still lived in the house and wanted to make sure there was always someone in the living room to keep an eye on their belongings. While I was there a gentleman came in and looked around and then started badgering the listing agent about making an offer well below asking price. He stated that the market had flattened out and was going to go down and suggested the agent inform his sellers that they were way over priced, they needed to be realistic, and should consider offers of much less. I’m talking about $300,000 under asking price and this house was the best priced house in the area. He eventually talked himself out of making an offer and left.

I wasn’t my place to say anything since it wasn’t my listing and the agent I was helping had more experience and years in the business than me. But it got me thinking about the market which has slowed a little recently, I had to ask myself why is that? Clients that I talk to ask me the same question so I figured out the reasons that make the most sense to me.

I think there are a couple reasons, none of which do I think indicate a problem or a large downward trend in the local market. The market is still strong, interest rates are at record lows still which makes buying a home more affordable. There is still a large influx of people coming to the area for jobs at all the tech companies. And rents are still ridiculously high. So why is it that homes are sitting on the market longer and not selling for way over asking price like they were 6 month to a year ago?

First off, I think when home prices are at record highs and home owners are watching homes sell the day they hit the market with multiple offers over asking price they get a little excited. This leads to people selling and moving out of the area for an early retirement or a job in a cheaper area that pays a comparable salary. This increases the inventory and gives buyers more options.

Secondly, most people with kids don’t want to deal with the hassles of moving while getting their kids ready to go back to school. This removes a huge chunk of buyers from the market. And another big part of the market are people that move here for work from out of the area, and now is the prime time for vacations further reducing the amount of buyer in the market. Following all of that are a string of big holidays and only serious buyers are going to be shopping for a home during that time keeping the market slow until the start of next year.

The combination of these two things I think is the major cause of the soften market we’ve been seeing. No one has a magic crystal ball but I think the market will pick back up at the beginning of next year when the excitement of the red hot market has gone down and people are back from vacation, the holidays are over, and kids are settled in school.

I do think its a great time for buyers though, there’s less competition and you have the most buying power right now due to the super low interest rates. Even a small bump in interest greatly reduces your buying power, so the moral of the story is don’t be like the guy from the beginning of this article he’ll end up with less buying power and end up paying more for the property he does buy when he realizes low balling doesn’t work.

First Time Buyer – Finding The Right House

So you’re new to shopping for a house. Hopefully you’ve read my other posts on first time home buying. You can read them here and here. We’re going to assume you already got pre-approved for your loan and know what price range you’re looking in. You can either find an agent or a house next, I would suggest an agent first. Reason being is a good realtor often will be able to find or know of some off market properties. By this I mean a home owner isn’t interested in actively searching for a buyer but if one came along and offered the right price they would sell.

Now you’ll probably want to stick to properties that are on the market first because the sellers are more motivated and are more willing to negotiate. The off market homes are a back up incase nothing else fits your needs.

Sorry for that two paragraph side note, I got distracted. Back to the topic of this article, picking the right house for you. There are some things you want to keep in mind when purchasing your first house. You can always sell it later and move into something bigger or more suited for your future needs. So instead of renting until you can buy the home you ultimately want and cant afford right now you should buy something.

The great thing about buying a starter home is, unlike renting, your mortgage payments will build you equity which you can later use when you buy your dream home. There’s two ways to go about this, you can sell the first home and use your equity to help buy the new one. Or if you’ve lived in the first home long enough and have a higher tolerance for risk you can pull the equity out of your first home, rent it out and buy the home you want. That something you should not decide on by yourself and your unique situation should be taken into consideration, I would talk over your option with your realtor when the time comes.

There are a couple of things you want to think about when you do go out and look though and they’re probably pretty obvious but this article is about buying your first home so I’ll say them anyway. You want to figure out how many bedroom and bathrooms you realistically need, do you really need to have 3 or 4 bedrooms if its just you and your significant other? Also you want to consider the area is it safe, close to work, what kind of people live/ are moving to the area? Do you think it will positively or negatively affect home values 5 years from now?