Quarterly 2014 Real Estate Report


October and November were exceptionally strong months for real estate activity in Pacific Union’s Silicon Valley region. Sales dropped off markedly after the last week of November due in part to the Holiday season. So December was as slow as the previous months were busy. Inventory remained flat throughout the quarter, down 30% from last year. While the average sales price continued rising by 20 – 27% over last year. Many homes attracted multiple offers from buyers, but not at the levels seen in previous quarters. Overall, buyers started to regain some control on the market, holding back on bidding for overpriced homes.Silicon_Valley_Q4 Not so for the start of 2015 however. Not only do we have new buyers coming into the marketplace but all the buyers who did not buy in 2014 are still looking.  Recently a home in Menlo Park that was on the market for $1,295,000 had 33 offers.

With home prices in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and nearby communities starting at $2 million and $3 million, we saw a migration of buyers — first-time buyers in particular — to more affordable areas such as Redwood City and San Carlos, where improving schools and more vibrant down towns have helped increase their desirability.

Looking Forward: With hope we expect business of real estate to pick up again in January in the form of rising inventory levels.  With low interest rates, the Bay Area’s strong economic growth and jobs report as well as the New Year it might be a win win for both buyers and sellers alike. If there is an interest rate hike later in the year buyer demand could drop off regulating the supply and demand side of the equation in a more favorable light.


Bay Area Job Growth

The Bay Area demonstrated impressive job gains over the past year that far outpaced the national growth rate, another sign that intense demand for local real estate is almost certain to continue in 2015.green_up_arrow

According to a new report from the Palo Alto-based Center For Continuing Study of the California Economy, employment increased by 4.0 percent in San Jose and 3.8 percent in San Francisco between December 2013 and December 2014. Nationally, job growth registered 2.1 percent during that same time period.

The report says that the nine-county Bay Area added 11,000 jobs from November to December, accounting for nearly half of the state’s monthly totals. CCSCE notes that the Bay Area remains California’s leader in terms of job growth, driven by hiring surges in the booming high-tech sector.

Our regional economy ended 2014 on a particularly strong note, with jobless claims dropping from the preceding month in all nine Bay Area counties, according to recent data from the California Employment Development Department. Six local counties now boast unemployment rates of 5 percent or less, the level that many economists believes represents full employment.

Marin County unemployment claims dropped to 3.4 percent on a nonseasonally adjusted basis in December – the lowest in California. San Mateo County had the state’s second lowest unemployment rate at 3.5 percent, followed by San Francisco County at 3.8 percent.

Jobless claims declined to 4.5 percent in Santa Clara County, dropping below 5 percent for the first time since April 2008, according to historical data from the EDD. Unemployment fell to 4.7 percent in Sonoma County and 5.0 percent in Alameda County. Contra Costa and Napa counties are also hovering right around full-employment status, both with jobless rates of 5.1 percent.

California’s unemployment rate also dropped from November to December, to close out the year at 7.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, the lowest since June 2008 and down from a peak of 12.4 percent in several months of 2010.

Kitchen Counter Tops ~

While researching counter tops for a clients’ outdoor kitchen I thought it would be a great time to summarize the types of counters that are readily available for today’s kitchens. A variety of textures,  costs and appearances can change the look and feel of the heart of your home.
Soapstone. The first photo of the contemporary kitchen features the sleekness of soapstone. It’s durability has made this material a top choice for hundreds of years.  It’s density makes it stain and bacteria resistant and is not discolored by heat. Cleans simply with soap and water. Develops a dark patina and can scratch or chip over over time.  While many people love the charm the counter top assumes over time, others prefer to sand the soapstone to keep it looking new. Average cost $75 -$95 a foot.

 Concrete is one of the greenest, most environmentally friendly materials on Earth. They are available in a variety of colors and can be textured as well.  Average cost $65 – $135 a foot.







Chic Chicken Coops Revisited~

Versailles has gone to the chickens! Palais de Poulets.

Le Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s Versailles retreart redesigned in this multilevel chicken suite. Featured at Neiman Marcus this coop includes a nesting area, a chandelier, a “living room,” and a library to house your chicken and gardening books. Much cheaper than the original at $100,000! Included in the cost is a $3,000 donation to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Courtesy of Neiman Marcus.

Who doesn’t love re-purposed barn siding…….

An old cupola finds new life as a chicken coop on the stunning grounds of an Ohio farmhouse.

Modern & Contemporary but still practical for your hens!

Architect Mitchell Snyder built this modern-style coop, a four-foot cube with reclaimed cedar siding and a green roof on top, where native Oregon sedums grow. Custom pricing.

Cape Cod Cluckers….Cackling away!

Photo stylist Heather Bullard’s amazing Cape Cod-inspired chicken coop. She and her husband built it themselves using stock building materials and hardware from Home Depot. Get the architectural plans to build your own for $39.

Avant-Garde…..Chez Poulet!

One of the most architectural-minded hen houses … this so-called Breed Retreat was created by Dutch designer Frederik Roije.

Hen and Hobbit Haven!

Once a decrepit shed….transformed into a charming chicken hideaway…how quaint!

Raised Herb Garden & Hen House!

This $1,500 red cedar chicken coop from Williams-Sonoma performs double-duty by allowing you to grow herbs and vegetables in a raised garden attached to your hens’ dwelling—a drainage system keeps water from falling into the run below.

Bill Wright for Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaw

Excerpted from CountryLiving.com

Oh my…don’t be discouraged but here are the facts!

Prospective homebuyers in the San Francisco region need to earn nearly three times as much as those in the rest of the country in order to afford a property, reflecting the rapid price appreciation our local markets have enjoyed over the past few years.

In a study, HSH.com crunched third-quarter numbers for 27 major U.S. metro areas and found that buyers in the San Francisco region need to earn a minimum of $145,361 per year to afford the $744,400 median-price home, the highest of any city included in the report. Nationwide, the average homebuyer could afford the median-price home on an annual salary of about $51,000.

While local buyers will certainly need at least one healthy income — or better yet, two — to afford a home, the study says that the San Francisco area actually saw the largest quarter-over-quarter decline in required salary, partially due to a 3 percent home price decrease in that same time period.

Sluggish construction activity is likely causing the price differential between to new and existing homes to widen, says a blog post from the National Association of Realtors.

In November, the median price for a newly constructed U.S. home was $280,900, 36 percent more than an existing home. NAR says that, historically, new homes have commanded 15 to 20 percent more than their older counterparts.

Part of the reason for the growing divide is the fact that construction activity is still 35 percent below normal levels. Although single-family housing starts have risen in four of the past five years and are projected to increase to 820,000 in 2015, NAR warns that the uptick may not be enough to keep home prices from rising further.

Quick Soup Recipe for 2015!

Indian Chickpea Soup Recipe Ideas - Healthy & Easy Recipes

Well now that all the Holiday decorations and debris are put neatly back in their places for the next 11 months and the crew has weathered their first full day back to work. A nice warm, quick cooking soup sounds just perfect for this chilly night.  This is a great go to recipe for our family. If you need it a little heartier you can brown some ground turkey or pork while you brown the onions and you’ll have a complete meal!


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 red onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli
  • 1 tbsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric seeds
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 cups or one box of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bag of fresh spinach ( you can use frozen but the fresh is brighter in color)
  • Indian bread or Tortillas


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should be a dark golden color and very soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the curry powder, chilli, mustard seeds and turmeric, and stir for 1-2 minutes, or until the spices release their flavor. Add the coconut milk, the stock and the chickpeas and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat a little and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season to taste and serve with warm Indian bread or Tortillas.