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LATEST BLOG

Los Altos Real Estate Is Hot

The past six months of data, as provided by MLSlistings.com, suggest that Los Altos real estate is red hot. Check out the numbers (rounded off, as approximations) below.

* Average home selling price: $2,000,000
* Sale-price-to-list-price ratio: 103%
* Closed sales: 160
* Average days to sell: 35
* Expired listings: 18
* Price-per-square-foot ratio: $800

The second number means that on average, single-family dwellings in Los Altos during the past six months have sold at a price point three percent above the listing (asking) price. The second-to-last number means that while 160 listed homes sold, only 18 listings during the same period expired, without selling. That was due in part to the fact that it only takes on average 35 days for a listing to sell (meaning go into escrow with an accepted offer).

As of this writing, there are only nine single-family homes in Los Altos showing as active listings in the MLS system.

The bottom line for homeowners in Los Altos is that if it makes sense for you to sell, this is an excellent time to do so. Historically low interest rates means that buyers can afford more home than they ever could before. As interest rates rise, the pool of potential buyers in any given price range will diminish. Less potential competition for a home means a potentially lower selling price.

If you're planning to sell a home in Los Altos or vicinity and would like to maximize your bottom-line earnings, you owe it to yourself to consider the option of listing your house with the area's only true full-service discount brokerage. A Los Altos homeseller whose house sells at the average price of $2,000,000 will save anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000 (if we also represent the buyers) on real estate commissions, when he or she lists with Pacific Century Realty. That's a lot of money!


EARLIER BLOG

Shame on You, Tony Robbins!

What Do Donna Karen, Bill Clinton & the Dalai Lama All Have in Common?

I just finished watching one of the most alluring and impressive infomercials I have ever seen. It was an infomercial for what is apparently the latest Tony Robbins product, his "Ultimate Edge" program, mostly a collection of CDs and related booklets.

The infomercial centers around an "interview" with Tony Robbins, at his beautiful island mansion estate in the tropical paradise of Fiji. The interview is conducted by actor Tom Selleck and is interspersed with testimonials and photos featuring an impressive array of celebrities, including "legendary fashion designer" Donna Karan, former President Bill Clinton and even, yes, his Holiness the Dalai Lama (in the form of a photo with Tony Robbins's hand placed inappropriately on the Dalai Lama's neck).

Now, I don't consider myself a Tony Robbins detractor. I have bought some of his tapes in the past and I think that he has some good ideas. In terms of his physique alone, one cannot deny that he is an impressive individual.

But there is something very disturbing about this infomercial: a very clever and blatant deception around which the whole thing turns.

At the beginning of the "interview," Selleck asks Robbins to explain the cynicism in the world today. Robbins answers in effect by saying that this cynicism is the result of people having been lied to so often. The obvious implication is that Robbins is different, that he does not lie.

Fast forward to the end of the presentation, where the product is pitched. The "Ultimate Edge" program appears to be actually three different programs packaged into one. Each of the three programs includes anywhere from 6 to 10 CDs, each in its own jacket or case. And the only number that is flashed up on the screen is $14.95. "Risk Free Trial Offer, only $14.95! (plus shipping and handling). And when you call, ask the operator how you can also get a free iPod."

I couldn't believe my eyes. All that for $14.95, plus shipping and handling? That really does sound like a great deal, even if the shipping and handling is on the high side. My eyes searched the screen for any mention of additional payments but couldn't see anything to that effect, not even any fine print.

My wife had something to say to me at that point, about a completely different matter, but I was mesmerized by the informercial. "Wait a minute," I said. "This is amazing. I have to keep watching this." But that's how the presentation ended. Just $14.95, plus shipping and handling.

So I went to the website, UltimateEdge.com. Same thing on the home page: "Risk Free Trial Offer, $14.95." The only fine print was beside the $14.95: "plus S&H." And you also get $300 in free bonuses, "when you order today," including a free coaching session, with someone trained by Robbins, "a $100 value."

So I clicked on the "Order Now" button. First you see the $14.95, with an enumeration of three different programs, all the cases lined up, and all the different bonuses. Eventually, you are told that you will also be billed an additional $14.99 for shipping and handling. Buried deep in the descriptive paragraph of small print is the critical information: If you do not return the materials within 30 days, your credit card will be billed three additional payments of $99.95!

Is there anything wrong with Tony Robbins charging $330 for his new program? No, of course, not in itself. Is there information of value in his materials? Almost certainly there is.

The problem is the deception: Getting people to let down their guard by complaining about all the lying that has led to widespread cynicism and implying that Robbins is different. He is not going to lie or deceive. He is the real deal. How else can you explain his being touted by Bill Clinton – whose written praise for Robbins is flashed on screen - and photographed with his arm around the Dalai Lama?

Ultimately, the infomercial and its pitch end up as just another big lie. Most people are not going to see the fine print that mentions the additional $300 in charges that will be made to their cards. And those of us who have faced the frustration of dealing with companies that charge our card when they are not supposed to know that this kind of thing happens all the time. You return the product and you are still charged. It takes so much of your time to keep getting the charge reversed that you are tempted to just give up, because the value of your time eventually exceeds the effort required. And, after all, if Robbins is going to deceive you about the $14.95, how likely do you think it is that his company is going to be honorable about not charging you the additional $300 if you decide to return the merchandise?

What does this have to do with buying and selling houses in the San Francisco Bay Area? A lot. Because this is an example of how frequent deception at all levels makes everyone’s life more difficult, regardless of what they are doing. The natural assumption is that you are lying, even if you are not. Everyone has their guard up, thanks to people like Tony Robbins. Communication is complicated and made more difficult. Everything takes more time to accomplish than it otherwise would have to and, in the end, everyone suffers.

Couldn’t Tony Robbins still make a lot of money, without the deception? One would tend to think so. That is probably the ultimate irony.

If this were simply a case of "just" another lie, that's all it would be: just another lie. One of many that cheapen the currency of human discourse. But it's more than a lie. It's a highly sophisticated deception, based on a cleverly disingenous and blatantly hypocritical critique of the very kind of trickery that is being perpetuated. The infomercial exploits images of paradise, the children of Fiji and the Dalai Lama, to achieve its end. This makes it cross the line, from bad to evil.

Maybe the infomercial company, Guthy-Renker, is largely responsible for the deception. Yeah but, after all, it is still Robbins’s production. The deception could not be happening without Robbins’s permission, so it’s only fair that he be assigned responsibility. Tony is a smart guy. He knows very well what’s going on.

Shame on you, Tony Robbins! You really should know better.




LATEST NEWS


If you own a home in Los Altos or you plan to buy a house in Los Altos or even if you plan to sell a home in Los Altos, you will be pleased to know that the city's new police chief is highly regarded in all quarters.

San Jose Assistant Police Chief Charles 'Tuck' Younis, 51, the popular and experienced second-in-command at San Jose's 1,400-officer department, has become the chief in Los Altos.

Los Altos has been looking for a permanent chief since Bob Lacey retired after serving in the job for less than two years.

"We are really fortunate," Los Altos City Manager Douglas Schmitz has been quoted as saying. "[Younis] has a terrific personality and years of experience. He is just a star."

For his part, Younis has said that he is excited about the opportunity in Los Altos because the city is small enough for him to develop personal relationships with a larger percentage of people inside and outside the department.

Los Altos City Manager Doug Schmitz said he picked Younis after he was interviewed by several panels, which included some residents.

The interim police chief described Younis as down-to-earth. "He's not ego-driven," Taylor has been quoted as saying. "He's experienced everything in law enforcement. Working for San Jose is like steering an ocean liner. Los Altos is like a speedboat."

The appointment of such a highly regarded chief of police will inevitably be beneficial with regard to the value of a house in Los Altos and appreciation of real estate in Los Altos, California. Regardless of whether you plan to buy a home in Los Altos or sell a house in Los Altos, this development is good news for you. Remember that you heard it from your full-service Los Altos discount realtor, Pacific Century Realty!

For information about homes for sale in Los Altos, California, to buy a home in Los Altos, California, to list a home for sale in Los Altos, California or if you'd like any other assistance in your home search in Los Altos, California, be sure to visit Pacific Century Realty, the area's only true full-service discount realtor, or call Pacific Century at 1(888)4PC-RLTY (1-888-472-7589).