Town Square

you thought the Chinese were driving up Palo Alto home prices?

Original post made by resident on Oct 11, 2013

Palo Alto Online recently ran questionable stories claiming that Chinese home buyers were driving up Palo Alto home prices. I am still very dubious about that theory.

The Mercury-News presents a much more plausible story: Silicon Valley nerds are paying double retail value for Palo Alto properties. Don't tell me that is not throwing the market way out of whack. One nerd alone paid $40 million for 5 properties. Mercury-News: Web Link


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2013 at 1:48 pm

It appears that Zuckerberg might be a supporter of Measure D.

He does not want his neighborhood bought up by a developer who markets their developments as being his neighbors.

Whatever his motivation, he is certainly causing a stir in the Bay Area media.

Posted by Ask a realtor, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Actually, the bubble is being caused by both problems, but there have been more Chinese nationals buying and not living in PA houses than wealthy geeks who buy all the housing around their mansion to have privacy.

The mainland Chinese are causing an artificial housing shortage by not living in or renting out the properties they buy. [Portion removed.] There are some properties the Chinese have bought that have had no maintenance for a couple of years--this will lower surrounding property values in their respective neighborhoods. Even some of the Chinese national buyers who live in their homes do not seem to know that part of home ownership means maintenance of house and yard--and it shows. There is such a neighbor next door to us now. When another neighbor tried to sell her home earlier this year, people who looked at the property commented that the homeowner's house and yard were a detractions--so etching you will never hear about a techie nerd's home.

Posted by PAPoliticsasusual, a resident of another community
on Oct 11, 2013 at 5:41 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 11, 2013 at 8:53 pm

One wonders how ask a realtor knows which properties the Chinese own and f they are indeed Chinese and if that are not Taiwanese. One also wonder how ask a realtor knows which properties that are not maintained are owned by the Chinese. And I guess ask a realtor knows for a fact that it is only homes that are owned by the Chinese that ate not maintained. I guess all this comes from having a mythical Chinese homeowner as a neighbor.
It is amusing how these threads end up as a forum for bashing the Chinese by resident xenophobes

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2013 at 9:06 pm

What is more interesting is that nobody thinks it worth commenting on that Zuckerberg has been buying up his neighborhood to prevent development using his name as a marketing tool.

Is this an ethical move on his part and do we need to start a different thread to talk about his actions?

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 11, 2013 at 9:18 pm

But zuckerberg is a white American. It is only the Chinese that are a problem-- ask a realtor told us so.

Posted by Not just nerds, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2013 at 9:29 pm

If you want to know whether Chinese people are buying up real estate, just read the list of names in the newspaper every week, of people who bought homes. The preponderance for a very very long time is Chinese names. Also Indian and other Asian names.
Look around you at the supermarket or on the street. This isn't rocket science.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 11, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Not just nerds-- do you have a problem with Chinese buying real estate in palo alto? One does has to wonder how much is actually on the market for purpose. Do you spend your time looking around in the supermarket or on the street to see if the are Chinese, Asians and Indians around? Is that a problem for you?

Posted by Chinese last name, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 11, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Not just nerds, I have a Chinese last name, and I bought my house in Palo Alto a few years ago. [Portion removed.]

Posted by OPar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:15 pm

I don't see what's unethical about Mark Zuckerberg buying up houses so that a developer doesn't build a megahome next to his. As long as Zuckerberg's paying fair market value how is it unethical?

As for who's buying the houses--I'd say both nerds and Asian immigrants are in the mix--not the least because they may be one and the same people. (duh!) Yes, there are the surnames of homebuyers and, also, the info on school demographics. Also, several months ago, I received a flyer from a local Realtor boasting that she had 75 percent Asian buyers who paid cash.

That said, I haven't noticed a huge empty house syndrome, nor have I noticed a bunch of unkempt homes. I do know several Chinese families that live in their houses--just like everybody else--well, okay, they seem somewhat more likely to have grandparents living with them. (And, also, there are a fair number of 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation Americans with Chinese surnames. C'mon people. Ever read the history of this state?)

Yes, there has been press about wealthy Chinese buying real estate overseas as security against what is predicted to be a big bust in Chinese real estate. It's hardly specific to Palo Alto and, I would guess, given the relatively small number of properties here and the limited turnover, the effect will be somewhat self-limiting. There are other places where it's easier to buy--one's not competing against IPO millionaires--we'll get a new batch of those once Twitter goes public.

Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2013 at 11:25 am

I think that it would be fair to say that Chinese are among those driving up property cost in Palo Alto, along with moguls like Zuckerberg, because they often pay in cash and seem to be winning any bidding war for a property, and every Palo Alto property for sale is now subjected to a fierce bidding war. All ethnicities and nationalities are welcome to Palo Alto, but we should be aware that many newcomers have residences with multi generations living in the purchased houses. There is a house on my block containing four generations, old grandparents, parents, their married children and their children. This household has about 7 cars, five of which are parked on the street, and perhaps 11-12 children and adults. Households like this are causing a significant increase in Palo Alto's population density, and it seems to be an issue no one wants to discuss.

Posted by Socorro, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Ken De Leon had an article in the Daily Post recently that stated that half of all houses sold from Menlo to Los Altos were purchased by Chinese national investors who did. to intend to live in them, just buy them and wait for them to appreciate. Of course this would worsen a housing shortage, when they could have been bought as a primary residence by anyone else, or at least rented out as income.

Don't know about PA, but my hubby just came home from a business trip to Boston where the mayor there described houses bought by Chinese nationals sight unseen, which have no fallen to a state of disrepair, and have been broken into an vandalized. [Portion removed.]

Posted by Jan Ankylosing, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2013 at 2:39 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 12, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Boscoli--- are there any ordinances ( either local or state) that govern how many people may live in a residence? If not, then it is none of our business how many people live in a house.

Posted by Socorro, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Not an Issue: there are no such ordinances I. Palo Alto, tho there are in San Jose ( often ignored). There are six people in our little house, sometimes seven, and the city and utilities dept are fully aware of it.

Posted by Socorro, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2013 at 4:22 pm

BTW: I don't think the problem is with the Chinese in particular, but with the idea of offshore owners. When we lived in Scotland, people there HATED English owners of houses in the Highlands who bought for investment purposes and never lived in or visited the properties. They also hated what they called "London Landlords", who bought Scottish homes and the. Rented them out to Scots who could not afford to buy. They charged exorbitant rents and yet never visited or maintained those properties, angering the Scots. I have heard through friends there that they are no working on legislation to make this illegal, as it is in Belgium.

Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2013 at 4:54 pm

@Not an issued: I didn't claim that there was an ordinance limiting the number of people living in a Palo Alto house. My point is that Palo Alto has much more population density than it should have. If we want it to become another Hong Kong or Abu Dabhi than we should listen to you and say that it's none of our business. If we want to preserve even a little bit of the the town's unique character and keep it from becoming an ultra urban, highly polluted, highly dense, traffic congested typical tacky American city than we should perhaps think of how many people should be allowed to live in one house and what level of population density is unacceptable. I believe that we crossed that line a very long time ago and that it's time to reverse course.