Home&Real Estate Home Front
BROKEN STUFF? ... The next Repair Cafe Palo Alto, where one can bring anything from small appliances to ripped jeans, will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 21, at the Museum of American Heritage, 351 Homer Ave., Palo Alto. Information: www.RepairCafe-PaloAlto.org GARDEN TREES ... Susan Hamilton and Katherine Naegele will talk about “Trees in the Garden” at the next meeting of the Garden Club of Los Altos at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23. Focus will be on selecting and maintaining trees for life. The group meets at the Los Altos Lutheran Church, 460 S. El Monte Ave., Los Altos. Guests pay $5. Information: www.gardencluboflosaltos.org
GAMBLE GARDEN SHOWCASES SIX GARDENS ON ITS ANNUAL SPRING TOUR
nazzy gardens come in all shapes and sizes, formal and informal. To locate this year’s six stand-out gardens, Laurie Callaway, who’s chairing the Gamble Garden spring tour on April 26 and 27, along with Barbara Brown, knocked on close to 100 doors. One gem among her findings is a very adult, formal garden in the Southgate neighborhood in Palo Alto. The owners had lived there for more than 20 years; now the children were grown, a two-story house replaced the onestory neighbor and water-wasting lawns were definitely on the outs.
OPEN HOME GUIDE 62
Also online at PaloAltoOnline.com
What they asked Lisa Brown and Dorrit Kingsbury of Brown and Kingsbury Design, Menlo Park, to do was to incorporate fountains and urns, boxwood hedges and low walls to create defined garden rooms on their 7,500square-foot corner lot. Today, instead of a gentle slope leading to the front door, one walks up three steps onto a brick pathway. The entry is framed by a pair of large urns; that pattern is repeated throughout the garden, mostly in pairs, but sometimes in threes. Some are filled with white roses (continued on page 43)
PLANT SALE ... Along with the annual Spring Tour, Gamble Garden will hold its annual plant sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27, at 1431 Waverley St., Palo Alto. The sale includes garden-related gifts, plants and advice from horticultural resources. Information: 650-3291356 or www.gamblegarden.org GROWING HERBS ... Food and garden writer and educator Jody Main will teach a class on “Growing an Herb Garden” from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, at Common Ground, 559 College Ave., Palo Alto. Main will bring samples of culinary, medicinal, botanical and tea herbs from her garden and talk about container gardening with herbs. Everyone will take home cuttings. Cost is $31. Information: 650-493-6072 or www.commongroundinpaloalto.org RHODIE SALE ... The De Anza chapter of the American Rhododendron Society will hold its annual plant sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, in front of the Citibank building at 130 Main St., Los Altos. Information: www.deanza-ars.com/ GOOD BUGS ... UC Master Gardeners will offer a free class called “Don’t Smash That Bug! Recognizing Beneficial Insects in Your Vegetable Garden” from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, at the Mountain View Library Community Room, 585 Franklin St., Mountain View. The class will deal with encouraging good bugs in your garden. UC Master Gardeners will also offer a free talk on “Composting and the Soil Food Web” from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30, at the Los Altos Library, 13 S. San Antonio Road, Los Altos. That class deals with creating the best soil for local gardens. Information: Master Gardeners at 408-282-3105, between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday or http://mastergardeners.org DESIGN TRENDS ... A free workshop on “Remodeling vs. New Construction” will be held at the Harrell Remodeling Design Center, 1954 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, April
A garden room was created in the front of the house, above, with rows of sculpted boxwood balls, a pair of urns (with more boxwoods) and a bench. White delphiniums, right, are among the many white blooms in the garden.
alley allée TO
by Carol Blitzer | photographs by Katie Brigham
(continued on page 46)
ÜÜÜ°*>Ì"i°VÊUÊ*>ÊÌÊ7iiÞÊUÊ«ÀÊ£]ÊÓä£ÎÊU Page 41
Home & Real Estate
The new allée behind the house is decorated with a painted mural, brick path with dwarf mondo grass planted in spirals and a row of fountains against the back wall.
Garden tour (continued from page 41)
that will eventually climb above the front windows. A low wall wraps around the front and side, with vinca minor planted in front and rotunda folia along the side. The plants extend above the low wall; from the outside, the shrubs provide privacy; from the inside, one can see greenery above the fence. Inside that fence, the front yard no longer slopes, but consists of two “rooms.” To the left is one of just a few small grassy areas, lined with white blooms: delphiniums, camellias and low-growing begonias, along with a large urn filled with white hydrangeas. To the right, one follows brick stepping-stones to a bench, with shaped boxwoods (either round balls or pointy obelisks) that function as a living sculpture garden. That aspect of the garden appealed to the owner “because when flowers aren’t in bloom I wanted it to look good,” she said. “And (the owners) can have fun with seasonal plantings,” Kingsbury, who served as the principal designer, added. Continuing up the brick path one encounters caged doves (named Snowy and Marshmallow) on a raised brick pedestal, surrounded by more shaped boxwood. The front wall now encloses the white birch trees that were formerly part of the front yard. Along the side of the house is an outdoor kitchen, which was expand-
ed and refinished, and now includes a pizza oven. The mahogany side gate is new, mirroring the style of the front door. A highlight of the renovated garden is the replacement of the back veggie garden with three stone fountains against the back fence, surrounded by thuja — an alley becoming an allée, according to Kingsbury. What Callaway calls a “shrub on a stick” — English laurel standard — now lines the back fence, offering more privacy from the tall neighboring house. “It’s a nice plant because one can maintain it, both in height and width,” she added. Today a patterned brick path extends behind the house, with dwarf mondo grass growing in a swirling pattern in the cut bricks. Against the house, an espaliered Honeycrisp apple was added, and at the end, a mural was painted by the owner’s sister. Maintenance of the garden is pretty straightforward, Kingsbury said, with most plants on a dripirrigation system and just small amounts of lawn. To retain the distinctively sculptured shapes of the boxwoods, a team comes in two or three times a year, spending about a day and a half. For each garden on the tour, a list of noteworthy plants, garden tips and “Do Not Miss” items is included. Other gardens on the “Down the Garden Path” tour include: s -EDITERRANEAN 3PLENDOR .OTE the hand-made tiles, a tree house with a pulley system, cypress metal artwork by a local artist and trans-
formation from a child-oriented play area to an attractive entertaining space (Toni Heren Garden Design, Tim Reimer Landscape); s -ODERN )NSPIRATION ! RECENTLY remodeled home with an artistic, functional and emotionally appealing garden. Note the green, orange, gray and black ornamental grasses, black bark mulch and black granite fountain (Maia Highsmith and Gabriel Lopez, Special Gardens, and Heidi Schwenk, homeowner and industrial architect); s %NGLISH 'ARDEN %XTRAORDINare: Inspired by the formality of English gardeners, the homeowners used a heritage oak as a focal point for a grand garden that was still kid-friendly. Note the miniature cottage, cobblestone that once paved the streets of San Francisco and a water trough in the play area (Cocos Landscaping, Emery Rogers and Associates Landscape Architect and Jackie Gray, Merrivale Design); s $O )T 9OURSELF %DIBLES 0ARAdise: A bare space was transformed into an orchard underplanted with daffodils in the front yard, and rebar trellises and architecturally designed chicken coop in back (Jonathan Stoumen, architect); s 0ALO !LTO 'RANDE $AME 4HIS garden was designed to enhance the California Tudor architecture, with eye-catching colors and textures, space for a dog and child’s play. Note the sculptural stone balls, hammered copper gate, living fences and sculpture (Adam and Megan McAboy, Notable Gardens). In addition to the six gardens, Gamble Garden itself is the site of The side brick patio, top, continues the formal theme, with boxwood a plant sale and marketplace with hedges and urns, ending in a large stone fountain. Two doves, Snowy and plant-related gift items. Pre-ordered Marshmallow, live in a decorative cage among the sculpted boxwoods. box lunches prepared by Cafe© Primavera are available. N Associate Editor Carol Blitzer can be emailed at cblitzer@ paweekly.com.
READ MORE ONLINE
www.PaloAltoOnline.com For more Home and Real Estate news, visit www.paloaltoonline.com/real_estate.
What: “Down the Garden Path,” Gamble Garden Spring Tour When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, April 26, and Saturday, April 27 Where: Six gardens in Palo Alto, including a marketplace, plant sale and lunch at Gamble Garden, 1431 Waverley St., Palo Alto Cost: Nonmembers $35, members $30 in advance; $40 for all on days of tour; lunch tickets are $15 (must be ordered by April 22)
ÜÜÜ°*>Ì"i°VÊUÊ*>ÊÌÊ7iiÞÊUÊ«ÀÊ£]ÊÓä£ÎÊU Page 43
Home & Real Estate HOME SALES Home sales are provided by California REsource, a real estate information company that obtains the information from the County Recorder’s Office. Information is recorded from deeds after the close of escrow and published within four to eight weeks.
Atherton 11 Almendral Ave. Beaver Trust to A. Tehrani for $1,405,000 on 3/15/13 ; previous sale 6/98, $699,000
East Palo Alto 2510 Baylor St. Jeffrey Pang & Company to M. Soto for $445,000 on 3/15/13; previous sale 4/12, $210,000 1108 Maple Lane D. Working to D. Benbennick for $625,000 on 3/14/13; previous sale 2/07, $884,500 2367 Poplar Ave. B. Turner to T. & L. Bow for $390,000 on 3/5/13; previous sale 9/12, $170,000 1159 Sage St. R. & E. Nielsen to D. Matje for $416,000 on 3/6/13; previous sale 4/09, $222,500
Los Altos 906 Damian Way J. & S. Herlihy to S. & M. Kumar for $1,700,000 on 3/22/13; previous sale 4/02, $1,250,000 150 W. Edith Ave. #26 Brown Trust to P. Young for $780,000 on 3/15/13; previous sale 4/98, $360,000 1517 Ernestine Lane G. Ebaugh to A. & I. Dalal for $1,150,000 on 3/19/13 420 Harrington Court R. Elmore to A. & R. Kapoor for $2,150,000 on 3/22/13; previous sale 1/92, $555,000 909 Highlands Circle Reynolds Trust to C. Chung for $1,735,000 on 3/20/13 30 Maynard Way G. & S. Ayres to Wang-Yu Trust for $2,675,000
on 3/18/13; previous sale 3/99, $1,475,000 258 Merritt Road M. & M. Vanneman to Matula-Lewis Trust for $2,300,000 on 3/14/13; previous sale 11/98, $1,200,000 211 Mountain View Ave. L. Sun to A. & V. Sangani for $2,310,000 on 3/20/13; previous sale 11/04, $1,815,000 1276 Nightingale Court P. Zowghi to R. Ganesh for $1,980,000 on 3/19/13 ; previous sale 11/02, $1,200,000 10990 Terry WayDebevoise Trust to M. & S. Chappell for $1,800,000 on 3/14/13 516 University Ave. Heffernan Trust to Ewert Trust for $3,100,000 on 3/14/13; previous sale 4/10, $2,400,000
Menlo Park 372 6th Ave. Lee Trust to E. & S. Spidell for $305,000 on 3/14/13 416 7th Ave. S. Locatell to J. Vogel for $376,500 on 3/14/13 395 Hedge Road T. Villard to K. & L. Chien for $850,000 on 3/7/13 1204 Henderson Ave. Working Dirt to S. Reller for $390,000 on 3/8/13 181 Santa Margarita Ave. Sequoia Realty Services Group to R. Thiessen for $1,440,000 on 3/7/13 2351 Sharon Oaks Drive Mccaffrey Trust to D. Hughes for $939,000 on 3/6/13; previous sale 5/78, $183,000 1100 Sharon Park Drive #5 J. Cheng to A. Yap for $590,000 on 3/14/13; previous sale 2/04, $449,000
Mountain View 125 Concord Circle Lee Trust to K. Seo for $1,167,000 on 3/22/13 ; previous sale 4/02, $580,000 1311 Cuernavaca Circulo West Trust to J. & H. Nolan for $1,250,000 on 3/19/13; previous sale 12/03, $887,500 668 Ehrhorn Ave.K. & J. Borges to K. & J. Harris for $1,910,000 on 3/26/13; previous sale 11/06,
$715,000 86 Eldora Drive C. & J. Chambliss to J. & S. Wilkowski for $1,065,000 on 3/15/13; previous sale 3/97, $377,000 94 Flynn Ave. #B Lippi Trust to Kenny Trust for $482,000 on 3/14/13 ; previous sale 8/06, $461,000 171 Gladys Ave. J. Yip to S. Huang for $762,000 on 3/20/13; previous sale 4/10, $589,000 2725 Katrina Way J. & L. Schiltz to M. & M. Elliott for $1,620,000 on 3/22/13; previous sale 9/96, $575,000 686 Lola Lane B. & D. Hatakeda to J. Yeh for $1,325,000 on 3/20/13 500 W. Middlefield Road #118 K. Weedon to M. Andre for $561,000 on 3/20/13; previous sale 9/04, $390,000 2532 W. Middlefield RoadK. Leonard to H. Zhu for $573,000 on 3/25/13; previous sale 4/03, $359,000 12510 W. Middlefield Road M. Cheng to K. Ning for $540,000 on 3/18/13; previous sale 1/05, $427,000 1934 Miramonte Ave. Gibbons Trust to R. Carceroni for $1,550,000 on 3/14/13; previous sale 12/05, $1,129,000 1915 Mt. Vernon Court #11 H. Wang to Y. Li for $369,000 on 3/21/13; previous sale 12/90, $151,500 1790 Pilgrim Ave. Meridian Financial Services to M. Mostrel for $1,410,000 on 3/14/13 221 N. Rengstorff Ave. #19 Palmer Trust to M. Yu for $700,000 on 3/19/13; previous sale 1/06, $585,500 780 San Pablo Drive G. & E. Ebaugh to R. Spillane for $730,000 on 3/19/13 97 Sherland Ave. #AMathews to Chang Trust for $460,000 on 3/22/13; previous sale 6/06, $430,000 2255 Showers Drive #131 Lev-
SALES AT A GLANCE Atherton
Total sales reported: 1 Lowest sales price: $1,405,000 Highest sales price: $1,405,000
Total sales reported: 21 Lowest sales price: $369,000 Highest sales price: $1,910,000
East Palo Alto
Total sales reported: 4 Lowest sales price: $390,000 Highest sales price: $625,000
Total sales reported: 12 Lowest sales price: $800,000 Highest sales price: $3,300,000
Total sales reported: 11 Lowest sales price: $780,000 Highest sales price: $3,100,000
Total sales reported: 23 Lowest sales price: $385,500 Highest sales price: $1,450,000
Total sales reported: 7 Lowest sales price: $305,000 Highest sales price: $1,440,000
Total sales reported: 3 Lowest sales price: $2,675,000 Highest sales price: $5,625,000 Source: California REsource
inger Trust to D. & S. Parris for $610,000 on 3/14/13; previous sale 12/98, $290,000 418 Sierra Ave. T. Lau to R. Swierk for $1,111,000 on 3/14/13; previous sale 10/09, $775,000 178 Stockwell Drive S. Doshi to Patel Trust for $819,000 on 3/14/13; previous sale 4/06, $677,000 264 N. Whisman Road #19 R. Fiz to W. & D. Hom for $481,000 on 3/22/13; previous sale 9/99, $219,500
Palo Alto 101 Alma St. S. Banihashemi to Cheever Trust for $895,000 on 3/14/13 871 Altaire WalkP. & A. Clarke to C. & T. Hong for $900,000 on 3/20/13; previous sale 5/11, $700,000 155 S. California Ave. #G102
Debenedictis Trust to L. & L. Belardinelli for $800,000 on 3/22/13; previous sale 7/03, $460,000 770 Chimalus Drive Lee Trust to N. & T. Khosravy for $2,190,000 on 3/26/13; previous sale 1/07, $1,800,000 386 Everett Ave. A. Veater to Dipasquale Trust for $920,000 on 3/20/13; previous sale 4/07, $650,000 1046 Harker Ave.Melcher-Ruwart Trust to Iyer Trust for $3,300,000 on 3/26/13 736 Homer Ave. G. Farvid to M. Baker for $859,000 on 3/21/13; previous sale 10/07, $731,000 725 Loma Verde Ave. #A Mcclintock Trust to M. Kokkengada for $961,000 on 3/15/13; previous sale 9/96, $315,000 21 Roosevelt CircleS. & L. Wang to Chiu Trust for $1,450,000 on 3/15/13; previous sale 9/11,
$1,206,000 1113 Trinity LaneL. Chen to K. Poon for $1,020,000 on 3/26/13 750 University Ave. Ganjian Trust to Y. Yan for $800,000 on 3/19/13; previous sale 1/09, $651,000 4030 Wilkie Way J. Shi to X. Dong for $1,550,000 on 3/21/13; previous sale 3/07, $1,250,000
Redwood City 222 Alameda de las Pulgas S. Adams to Q. Vo for $700,000 on 3/14/13 1737 Brewster Ave. G. Rathakrishnan to B. Gleason for $935,000 on 3/6/13; previous sale 3/10, $845,000 1 Cadiz Circle Wang Trust to D. Reyes for $952,000 on 3/8/13; previous sale 6/78, $103,000 75 Finger Ave. S. Thorne to M. Pecorella for $952,500 on 3/5/13 825 Fulton St. J. Jiang to J. Ching
Palo Alto isn’t our branch office … it’s our home! Servicing Palo Alto for over 50 Years!
3 bd, 2 ba, 1,364 sq ft. 6,756 lot size
3 bd, 2 ba, 1,733 Sq ft, 6,510 lot size
3 bd, 1 ba, 1,014 sq ft, 7,731 lot size
3349 Cowper St.
2777 Kipling St.
762 Garland Dr.
Meet Our Agents!
Midtown Realty, Inc. 2775 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto, CA 94306 Tim Foy
Phone: (650) 321-1596 Fax: (650) 328-1809
Home & Real Estate
Real Estate Matters Sustainability: Earth Day revisited by Iris Harrell
recent Palo Alto Weekly article referred to the first “Earth Day” in the early ’70s when environmentalists drew attention to a big problem that many people at the time were thinking was just a bit of water and air pollution to clean up, and maybe some behavioral changes with throwing garbage out of car windows. “Don’t mess with Texas” clean-up campaigns captured our imagination. Now in 2013, when we consider the meaning and importance of Earth Day, we realize that the issues have “morphed into gigantic, systemic, global, interconnected problems that are also deeply interconnected with our economic system,” as Bruce Hodge said in a Jan. 18 Palo Alto Weekly cover story, “Goodbye, carbon.” Our old economic habits of mindlessly using up nonrenewable natural resources are wreaking havoc on our climate and our health. Drilling
for $558,000 on 3/8/13; previous sale 12/81, $26,000 1125 Grand St. Lucero Limited to F. Lucero for $830,000 on 3/7/13; previous sale 4/02, $590,000 540 Jackson Ave. K. & J. Frederick to H. Arnold for $737,000 on 3/13/13 ; previous sale 12/02, $461,500 1012 Jones Court Working Dirt to W. Ballestrazze for $600,000 on 3/12/13; previous sale 1/05, $760,000 626 MacArthur Ave. A. Salinas
for gas and oil has upended communities and contaminated our waters, fish and fowl, and yet we keep going down this path without giving any significant investment to alternative energy development. Our unsustainable desire for existing energy sources prevent us from looking at the hard truth of an unstable future that we are inadvertently creating for future generations. Hurricanes almost half the size of this country and mega storms are becoming the norm due to climate-change impacts from our economic endeavors for nonrenewable energy sources. My question is: How can we make capitalism a sustainable eco-
to C. MacIntosh for $385,500 on 3/7/13; previous sale 3/05, $570,000 619 Manzanita St. J. & L. Gonzalez to M. Coutinho for $632,000 on 3/5/13; previous sale 4/10, $510,000 806 Portwalk Place R. Chan to S. Anand for $783,000 on 3/8/13 1340 Recreation WayLawren Trust to P. & M. Vida for $988,000 on 3/8/13 852 Seminole Way Trahan Trust to J. & M. Kersey for $1,450,000on
nomic model and engine without destroying the planet we are all dependent on? What does sustainable really mean? Here are a few relevant definitions from recent research: 1. The capacity to endure, as in a sustainable business model 2. A method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged, as in environmental sustainability 3. Creating and maintaining the conditions under which humans AND nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and FUTURE generations. Why do we need to contemplate what sustainable means? In some ways we are acting like college kids at a big fraternity party — not mature enough, wise enough or disciplined enough to realize the high price of the “morning after.” We have inadvertently created unintended negative social, environmental and economic consequences of rapid population growth, economic growth and finite consumption of our natural resources. In the past, I felt helpless and so discouraged that I wanted to just close my eyes and not look at the
3/5/13; previous sale 9/09, $975,000 25 Spinnaker Place Iverson Trust to C. Sharma for $787,000 on 3/15/13; previous sale 12/81, $26,000 632 True Wind Way #609 One Marina Homes to T. Brahmbhatt for $656,000 on 3/7/13 632 True Wind Way #611 One Marina Homes to M. Tsai for $564,000 on 3/6/13 634 True Wind Way #801 One Marina Homes to T. Lai for
Residential real estate expertise for the mid-peninsula.
upcoming consequences. How can I as one person possibly make a difference? Then I remembered that all change comes from one baby step at a time. In looking back on the evolutionary “greening” of myself, I’m proud to say that I have come a long way. Change requires commitment and my habits have become second nature now. Living more than three decades with a partner who comes from an avid family of conservationists, we both have adopted a new sustainable lifestyle of recycling, composting and monitoring food purchase to minimize leftovers. I actively work with staunch environmentalists who have encouraged me and our company to go “green” more than a decade ago. Our team of 40 employee owners strive to design and build remodeling projects with as little waste as possible — from taking our demolition to Zanker Recycling because they recycle a higher percentage of the debris to monitoring how many plastic water bottles we purchase for our staff and clients and using filtered tap water as our primary source. On the capitalism and corporation front, I have tried to spread capitalism to my employees, by making them co-owners over time.
$654,500 on 3/7/13 634 True Wind Way #802 One Marina Homes to B. Nguyen for $652,500 on 3/8/13 634 True Wind Way #805 One Marina Homes to K. Bagis for $623,500 on 3/8/13 634 True Wind Way #808 One Marina Homes to F. Kristyati for $563,000 on 3/7/13
I strongly believe that by making a corporation employee-owned they will not only be more productive, but they will think more consistently about long-term design solutions. If we design with long-lasting products and installation methods and create a “timeless” look to the design with adaptable functionality (universal design that meets ADA requirements), less rework and reinvestment will be required in the future by the next owner or even the same owner. All of this pondering is really to share that the road to sustainability and our future security is a puzzle that each of us has pieces of and that we are responsible for. I have a long way to go in my own development of sustainable life and work habits, but each day I get up with renewed vigor to place another puzzle piece into the big picture of sustainability. Don’t let the size of this problem keep you from taking those daily baby steps. We are all counting on you. And I know you are counting on me. N Iris Harrell is CEO and president of Harrell Remodeling, Inc. in Mountain View (www.harrell-remodeling.com). She can be reached at 650-230-2900 or email@example.com.
634 True Wind Way #812 One Marina Homes to I. Orlovsky for $519,000 on 3/6/13 634 True Wind Way #815 One Marina Homes to P. Sanghavi for $601,500 on 3/8/13 435 Windfield Lane S. & A. Smith to W. Sheng for $1,050,000 on 3/8/13; previous sale 8/04, $930,000
Woodside 140 Farm Road M. Eisenberg to Mather Trust for $5,625,000 on 3/8/13; previous sale 5/07, $7,215,000 125 Lynn Way M. Vahdatpour to S. & M. James for $3,200,000 on 3/513 3710 Tripp Road Harvard Investments to P. Chapuis for $2,675,000
Michael Repka Before you select a real estate agent, meet with Michael Repka to discuss how his real estate law and tax background beneﬁts Ken DeLeon’s clients.
Broker Associate Alain Pinel President’s Club DRE #00994196
Managing Broker DeLeon Realty JD - Rutgers School of Law L.L.M (Taxation) NYU School of Law
(650) 488.7325 DRE# 01854880 | CA BAR# 255996
Trusted Real estate Professional Kathleen Wilson 650.543.1094 firstname.lastname@example.org ÜÜÜ°*>Ì"i°VÊUÊ*>ÊÌÊ7iiÞÊUÊ«ÀÊ£]ÊÓä£ÎÊU Page 45
Home & Real Estate
(continued from page 41) 27. A light meal will be served. Information: http://harrell-remodeling.com or 650-230-2900 KUDOS FOR TOP SALES ... Omar Kinaan of RE/MAX Distinctive Properties, Menlo Park, was ranked 57th out of close to 60,000 RE/MAX Associates nationwide for 2012, it was announced in a press release. In addition, Penelope Huang, a brokerowner, and Joe Carcione III were commended at the 40th annual RE/ MAX convention held in Las Vegas last month. BUCKS FOR HABITAT ... Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage raised $95,570 for Habitat for Humanity in Northern California in its 2012 campaign, according to a press release. The Palo Alto downtown office raised $3,480, which will assist Habitat build homes in 2013. In addition to raising money through selling raffle tickets, volunteers from the local offices donated thousands of hours to help construct Habitat homes over the past 13 years. N Send notices of news and events related to real estate, interior design, home improvement and gardening to Home Front, Palo Alto Weekly, P.O. Box 1610, Palo Alto, CA 94302, or email email@example.com. Deadline is one week before publication.
Real Estate Matters The good and bad of Zillow by Wendy McPherson
hen Zillow came online a few years ago, it was an instant challenge to realestate appraisers and professionals and gave a great deal of perceived knowledge to the public. It was much like the medical sites that came online where you could check out the headache and accompanying bloody nose you had last night and search out the fact that you now have an Ebola virus. People would start out conversations with their real-estate agents: “Well, Zillow says my house is worth XXX.” These values are placed on houses by Zillow with the use of algorithms. I believe that is a four-syllable word for formulas. I also believe these values are based, in part, on the square footage of the house and the square footage of the lot, although many more components go into it. The elephant in the room with Zillow, of course, is that no human being from Zillow has ever been in the house to see if that 325-square-foot kitchen’s main feature is dry rot
or it has just been remodeled by Ralph Lauren. Or if the house has a serious f lo or-pla n problem such as having to go through one bedroom to get to another bedroom. Or... Well, you get the picture. The absolute best model for the use of Zillow is a Fresno housing tract built in 1985 by a large nationwide home builder (like Kaufman and Broad) where there is complete consistency in the product and where the financial demographics indicate that most of those 218 Fresno homes may have not varied too much from their original construction. The fact is that Zillow is far more precise where the homes are homogenous as opposed to heterogeneous. Palo Alto and Menlo Park and the close surrounding areas do not meet this homogenous criteria. The houses were not all
built at the same time, nor by the same builder and the money engine that is Silicon Valley has afforded homeowners the ability to do just about anything they want to their homes. (Did you know that one homeowner in the hills above Palo Alto has an ice rink?) This is from Zillow’s own website: “The Zestimate home valuation is Zillow’s estimated market value, computed using a proprietary formula. It is not an appraisal. It is a starting point in determining a home’s value. The Zestimate is calculated from public and user submitted data: your real estate agent or appraiser physically inspects the home and takes special features, location, and market conditions into account. We encourage buyers, sellers and homeowners to supplement Zillow’s information by doing other research such as: s 'ETTING A #OMPARATIVE -ARKET !NALYSIS #-! FROM A REAL ESTATE agent s 'ETTING AN APPRAISAL FROM A professional appraiser s 6ISITING THE HOUSE WHENEVER possible).” Zillow has now been around for about seven years and it has become an excellent tool in many ways for both buyers and sellers. They have sophisticated statistical tools, charts, graphs, pictures, helpful links, loan information — it is a virtual smorgasbord of real
estate information. Once you log onto Zillow, you can quickly become a real-estate voyeur. What did your neighbor’s house really sell for? Did they actually get $3.4 million when you know their roof has been leaking on and off for six years and their garage floods every time there is a heavy rain? Another thing to do is research your own neighborhood for price information and then compare it to the current Zestimate. As soon as you see a house come on the market, check out their Zestimate and then compare it to what it eventually sells for. A few recent examples in the West Menlo Park area: One house just closed at $2,400,000. The Zestimate on that same house is $2,017,493 (16 percent off). Another house just closed escrow at $2,800,000 and the Zestimate on that house is $2,342,055 (16 percent off). Yet a third has been listed for more than 100 days for $3,695,000 and the Zestimate is $4,147,000. Regardless of big data manipulation and algorithms, it is still the buyers that make the market. Zillow is a great starting point, then listen to the people who are in dayto-day touch with the buyers. N Wendy McPherson manages about 145 agents for Coldwell Banker in two Menlo Park offices, plus Woodside and Portola Valley. She can be reached at WMcPherson@cbnorcal.com.