Real Estate

Are 'ghost homes' becoming a problem?

Neighbors are concerned about empty houses on their block

by Joshua Alvarez

The house in Palo Alto's Crescent Park neighborhood is large and beautiful, its lawn is regularly manicured and, peering through its large windows from the sidewalk, it looks meticulously clean inside. Problem is, nobody lives there.

The house is an example of what is popularly referred to as a "ghost home," a property owned by a nonresident (sometimes noncitizen) who has no plans on ever moving in.

"I try not to think about it," said the 26-year Palo Alto resident who lives next door to the ghost home. "I watch the house as if it were a neighbor so I pick up paper, and if the recycle bin is left out I'll be sure to move it back. It costs so much money to live in Palo Alto, it's kind of unfathomable that you'd just buy it and never come in," she said.

A 15-year homeowner across the street talked about the Chinese homebuyers he's heard about: "We would love to actually see them and their kids. We like neighbors. It's a waste with the housing shortage. It's a crazy use of a house."

Indeed, Palo Alto has attracted growing numbers of Chinese nationals over the past four years, according to Ken DeLeon, a real estate agent who connects Chinese buyers to properties in the Bay Area.

"California is their favorite market and within that is Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. Many of them already have friends or colleagues living and working around here. There's an established Chinese community with Mandarin schools ... for their children to attend. There are Chinese grocery stores with the food that they want and plenty of Mandarin speakers. So psychologically it's something that they feel comfortable with," he said.

Some Chinese have purchased homes and sent their wives and kids to live in them to establish residency and enroll the kids into excellent American schools. Some, however, purchase property solely for the investment value and have no intention of ever setting foot inside.

"Sometimes they'll purchase the home just as a security play, just to move some assets out of China. They feel very comfortable with the Silicon Valley investment environment," said DeLeon.

For some residents, living near ghost homes is a source of annoyance and disappointment.

"It's not troubling, but it's not what we had hoped for," said a two-year resident who lives a few houses down from a ghost home. "We would prefer neighbors looking out for neighbors and families and children out on the block. It's wonderful to have neighbors who can look out for each other and say hello, goodbye and goodnight. On the flip side, it's made the value of the neighborhood go up," she said.

The trend has troubled some potential sellers. Daniel Kwang has lived in Palo Alto since the 1970s and is considering selling his deceased mother's home. "I'm not going to sell my house to some overseas investor. If I'm going to sell to anyone it's going to be someone who has a family and will be part of the neighborhood. Think it would be a waste given the housing market," he said.

In some cases, ghost homes have proven to be a safety concern for those nearby.

"My home and the ghost house next door were robbed on a Sunday a few years back," said the 26-year Crescent Park resident. "I hope no one is watching. At the time it happened I think it was mostly based off the economy and people not leaving their doors locked. But you wonder if anyone will go inside and vandalize it. It is a safety concern."

Some residents are wholly indifferent to ghost homes or believe the resentment is misplaced.

"We're more concerned about the monster home getting built next door," said Phil Salsbury. He lives across from an empty house, but the owners are actually planning on moving in and have introduced themselves.

Another resident does not really blame the buyers. "I just think it's part of the progress of the city. A lot of times people are buying them so they can get in for the schools. Housing inventory is really low," she said.

DeLeon says he urges his clients to at least rent out their homes, but there is a trend that the more expensive the home is, the less likely the buyers will place it on the rental market.

"Generally, if my Chinese clients buy a mid-level home ($2-3 million) they are comfortable renting out. But as you go up in price point or with new construction, they are more leery about renting it out. There is a higher propensity to keep the home in a pristine condition. An empty home is a shame, and, I think, inefficient. If someone can afford $10,000 a month of rent it's probably someone who is very responsible and can take care of the home. It would be ideal to have all the home space fully utilized."

Freelance writer Joshua Alvarez can be emailed at joshua.alvarez1189@gmail.com.

Comments

18 people like this
Posted by Willows resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 11:39 am

There's a brand new house on the corner of Woodland & Laurel (Menlo Park). Sold for well over the asking price of $3.2M (or so I understand). Nicely maintained by gardeners who come once a week. Absolutely no sign of anyone living there or intending to live there. I guess when the time comes for me to sell my house, I'll be glad for this insanity, but right now, I think it's obscene.


32 people like this
Posted by bank
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 27, 2015 at 12:39 pm

I guess it's prettier and more profitable that putting the money in a bank. Nice to have our real estate seen as a safe investment rather than a home for a family that wants to contribute to the community in ways other than property taxes.


18 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 27, 2015 at 12:40 pm

I feel bad about the "ghost houses" since they could hold a family with children attending our great local elementary school.
I feel the same way about short-term furnished rentals paid for by major local corporations to people who also don't have kids in the local schools.
There is a HUGE demand for housing of all varieties right now, we hear about it all the time from friends, acquaintances, colleagues in the valley. I have extra sympathy for anyone seeking a high quality education for their kids.
Yet very nice houses near good schools sit empty (or used for corporate rentals w/o kids)
I defend property rights, yet I am sorry about this situation.


5 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 27, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Well, at least they don't contribute to traffic or on-street parking, except for the periodic maintenance. Might generate $150K per year as an AirBnB.


2 people like this
Posted by Another willows resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 12:43 pm

@Willows resident - I talked to my realtor about that house. Apparently, the new owner owns a company somewhere and is planning to move in soon. Not a foreign buyer. Still, whether foreign buyer or no, it's a pretty crazy price for a house.


23 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 27, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

I'm not sure it is a good idea to post pictures or locations of unoccupied homes. Even if they may be empty, it invites burglary.


17 people like this
Posted by Art
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 12:51 pm

There are 'Ghost' buildings in the Stanford Research Park - buildings built, maintained and landscaped but empty. The complex at 3201 - 3251 Hillview has been empty for more than 10 years!


9 people like this
Posted by Sandy
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 12:58 pm

> There are 'Ghost' buildings in the Stanford Research Park - buildings built, maintained and landscaped but empty. The complex at 3201 - 3251 Hillview has been empty for more than 10 years!

Yes, I would love to hear the story behind those two buildings. The VA is using the parking lot now, but they've been empty since they were built and are empty shells. At one point the CEO of our company approached an agent about renting the space and building out the interior. But, the price and terms were so outrageous that she couldn't even negotiate with the owner.


16 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:59 pm

These ghost homes are very common in third world countries.


34 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 27, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This is a HUGE problem for firefighters! They are trained to rescue any occupants of a burning building. If the home is unoccupied they are risking their lives for NOTHING.

Ghost Homes should be required to register with the Fire Department so that no attempt is made to rescue nonexistent occupants.


5 people like this
Posted by Who are they
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 27, 2015 at 6:17 pm

The problem is that there are people with so many millions that they don't know what to do with, that they invest in real estate with no interest in occupying the property.
Like investing in farm produce.
The names of the owners can be found, can't they? where?


42 people like this
Posted by Send It Before
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 27, 2015 at 6:18 pm

Remember when the housing market bottomed out in the late eighties and early nineties? There were plenty of ghost homes then, which had been purchased by Japanese speculators for inflated sums. They had been purchased as investments to be sold at a later date, but when that later date came, the bubble had burst and these houses were sold at great loss to the Japanese speculators.

My guess is that this is another bubble waiting to burst.


30 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2015 at 12:07 am

These homes are bought and paid for private property . It is nobodies business if they are occupied or unoccupied . Sounds like another non-issue for Palo Alto residents to complain about .
[Portion removed.]


41 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2015 at 12:53 am

[Portion removed.]

Kudos to Daniel Kwang who is looking for sellers who will engage in our community. I wish all sellers would consider who they are selling their houses to.


16 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 28, 2015 at 1:12 am

>> "I wish all sellers would consider who they are selling their houses to."

The Fair Housing Act made that illegal.


54 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2015 at 2:20 am

I know of at least three homes in Old Palo Alto that have been empty since they were sold to foreign buyers. They are what the poster calls "ghost homes".

Many Australians, British, and Canadians have been asking their governments to restrict home sales to nationals since there has not been enough housing stock for their own citizens.
They want to change the existing laws which are allowing foreign buyers to launder money in Western residential estate markets.

I understand that Westerners are not allowed to fully own properties in China, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. Chinese Singaporeans are really angry about the siege of PRC home buyers. This has been a hot topic in Singapore, Australia, and UK for some time now.


19 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 28, 2015 at 10:30 am

The ghost house owners paid insanely high prices for the houses, and hence high property taxes. They don't use much of the civil services funded by the taxes they paid.

So they are net economic contributor to our economy. At least financially this is quite positive for the city and state.


17 people like this
Posted by SuperD
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 28, 2015 at 1:01 pm

I guess these owners of 'ghost homes' have not read their homeowners insurance policies. If they had, they would realize that after 60 days of vacancy, the homeowners policy automatically takes away a number of important insurance coverages if the house is empty. If the insurer finds out the house is vacant, they will cancel coverage quickly. IF you can find an insurance market who will insure the vacant home, the premium will be multiples more expensive than a regular homeowners policy.


5 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2015 at 2:12 pm

SuperD, interesting angle, but I doubt anyone who's paying 5-10 million cash for a home which they're not even going to live in is that concerned with insurance premiums.


39 people like this
Posted by charlie
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 28, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Friends rent one of these. The landlord does no repairs, because that is what they are used to in China. He asked for the blinds to be cleaned. No dice. lawns mowed. no dice.

And then it seems that it was paid for by a suitcase of cash - which breaks the Chinese own laws about money laundering.

What can we do about this? Nothing it seems. The nicest places on earth are being bought out by this tsuanami of capital flight leaving China. These people are desperate to leave. And you can blame them. China is toxic air, corrupt officials. no rule of law, and education which is rife with cheating.

Now if these kids would grow up American all will be ok, but the sheer scale of the capital flight from China means that these people bring their values with them. And they are not californian liberal values about honesty at school, a prize being a prize for good work not plagiarism, and community building.

And then if you dare to say these facts you are labelled a racist!


61 people like this
Posted by Annie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 28, 2015 at 4:55 pm

I think the realtors who pander to these buyers should be ashamed. This is nothing but a cash cow for them and they accept none of the responsibility for destroying the sense of community that Palo Alto neighborhoods had when we moved here.


58 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 28, 2015 at 5:34 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Palo Alto houses are used by foreign investors as just that, an investment. They are also used by foreign oligarchs and shady figures to launder money. A house on my streets that sold for 5 million dollar has been standing empty for nearly two years after its purchase by a foreigner. The most disturbing aspect of this phenomenon is that Palo Alto is rapidly losing its character and is becoming nothing more than an investment and money laundering vehicle.

This is not unique to Palo Alto, as prime real estate around the USA is now owned by mostly Chinese, Russian and Gulf states oligarchs. It brings up a fundamental question:if foreigners own a significant percentage of a sovereign nation's real estate, is the country still sovereign? Should capitalism be allowed to facilitate foreigners to own more and more American real estate. When so many people are desperate for housing, is it moral to allow foreigners to buy up, eventually, and at an ever accelerate pace, most of the nation's prime real estate?


8 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 28, 2015 at 7:51 pm

So if they paid cash then they don't have the situation of virtually all of the rest of us - they aren't required by a mortgage to hold homeowner's insurance. That's why the houses can sit empty.


15 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2015 at 7:53 pm

@ musical

I do not think the fair housing act when enacted visioned this issue.


2 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2015 at 7:56 pm

Sorry, I meant to type.. Envisioned.


36 people like this
Posted by Borders
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2015 at 7:57 pm

The question has been asked several times: when the Chinese government prosecutes the individuals who they feel stole money from their central banks, will they foreclose on the houses these individuals bought with the money they borrowed ( and failed to repay)? Will that make those houses bought with money these people absconded with then be little colonies of China?

And how will China prosecute these people? Extradition? Will the US government cooperate with that? Or will Chinese operatives "kidnap" these "criminals"? How will they be punished? Prison? Hanging?

This is truly scary-- all of it. Far worse than when the Japanese " owned" Sunnyvale in the 80's.


13 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2015 at 8:07 pm

@ Mauricio

Wow! you hit that right on the nail! You are absolutely right!


9 people like this
Posted by Ben
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 28, 2015 at 8:07 pm

Since when is a "large and beautiful [home], its lawn is regularly manicured and, peering through its large windows from the sidewalk, it looks meticulously clean inside." a problem?


5 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2015 at 8:18 pm

@Ben

They're a problem because its just one more household contributing to traffic, taking up parking, using water... oh wait, I guess people really will complain about anything.


4 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Apr 28, 2015 at 8:23 pm

@Neighbor

The Fair Housing act explicitly states you can't discriminate based on national origin, so you're dead wrong. And seeing as Palo Alto has a particularly nasty history of housing discrimination its probably not a smart idea to go barking up that tree.


9 people like this
Posted by AlexDeLarge
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 28, 2015 at 8:37 pm

Well, at least nobody has suggested moving the BV residents into these "Ghost Homes"...


42 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2015 at 10:05 pm

In a Sunday Times article from Australia (March 15, 2015) there is a story about how the Australian Parliament is cracking down on many non-nationals who are purchasing high priced residential properties over concerns of national security, and driving home prices so high that Australian citizens are unable to afford any homes for themselves.

"Canberra has thrown the book at the billionaire saying non-resident foreign investors are not allowed to buy or invest in residential property.Australia is citing its national interest in forcing the Chinese billionaire to exit a dodgy deal. Australians are meanwhile, complaining that foreign investors, especially Chinese, are pricing them out of the homes market. Sydney house prices increased by more than 13 per cent in February. Many Chinese are believed to be dancing around the rules in buying homes.

Children of Chinese communists are among buyers of plush homes. The Australian Financial Review reports that Zeng Wei, son of China’s former vice-president Zeng Qinghong (until 2008) has spent A$32.4m on a luxury property called Craig-y-Mor also in Sydney. Reports from Australia say that it is for the first time in seven years that a foreign investor involved in residential property has been cornered.

Chinese billionaire Hui Ka-yan who founded Hong Kong-listed Evergrande Real Estate Holdings has been ordered by Australia’s Treasurer Joe Hockey to sell within 90 days, a luxurious Sydney harbour-side mansion acquired through various shelf companies and without notifying the Foreign Investment Review Board. Evergrande had said it had been unaware of the rules."

Hockey announced the past week in parliament that the 39 million Australian dollars (Rs 3.99 billion) mansion had been illegally acquired. Hui must offload the lavish Villa del Mare located in an exclusive suburb, or it would be repossessed by the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions. ”If it’s sold at a profit, the owner gets to keep the profit,” the Australian Associated Press cited Hockey as saying. “If it’s sold at a loss, it sounds as the though the owner has the capacity to absorb some of it.”

"Hockey also has said Australia welcomes “all foreign investment that is not contrary to our national interest.”Last week Australia also tightened rules on non-nationals buying property. Non-Australians are required to pay A$5,000 for a property below A$1 million. The Chinese tycoon’s transaction last year involving the blue ribbon address listed for sale by realtors Christie’s International and L J Hooker Double Bay, has uncovered a chain of shelf companies, one of which is the buyer, Golden Fast Foods. It is not a noodles and dim sum restaurant, or a food products trader. The others are registered in Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands, reports from Australia reveal."

"A report in Australia’s The Daily Telegraph discloses that Golden Fast Foods is owned by Egality Investments (Australia) Pty Ltd. This, in turn, is owned by Jiaying Holdings in Hong Kong. At the end of the chain lies Evergrande Holdings, which describes itself as “a large-scale integrated residential property developer in China”. Billionaire Hui is its chairman. He is also known as Xu Jiayin."

"The Australian Treasurer said Golden Fast Foods “is a foreign-owned company which failed to notify FIRB of its ­intended purchase.” He made it clear that “Non-resident foreign nationals cannot buy established dwellings as homes or investments.”

Read the entire article here.

Web Link


18 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2015 at 11:56 pm

@ Robert

The issue that I was pertaining to is the issue of money laundering, not of foreign born nationals buying property. Please do not make this into a race issue.


20 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2015 at 11:56 pm

@ Charlie / Annie / EPA Neighbor and Borders
Right on!


16 people like this
Posted by Vicky
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 29, 2015 at 3:05 am

It's interesting to see Ken Delion quoted. I was wondering what happened to him. He used to be a high profile guy and then he kind of disappeared. Now he's talking about empty houses.


Like this comment
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2015 at 4:33 am

[Post removed.]


25 people like this
Posted by A real home
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2015 at 5:53 am

About 10 years ago we narrowed our choice of towns down to two, Palo Alto and a neighboring town. The main difference and reason we chose not to buy in PA was because of its lack of a neighborhood feel. Empty homes, neighbors that barely look at each other let alone know each others names. At the time we were motivated by the school system in PA, but obviously we were mistaken then and we are well over that now.
I grew up in this area and have always had a fond spot for the memory of what PA was, but it just isn't that PA anymore and I'm not sure it will improve anytime soon. Looking back on the past 10 years, needless to say, we feel we made the right choice for our family.


20 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2015 at 7:14 am

To Robert from Another Community who posts -
"The Fair Housing act explicitly states you can't discriminate based on national origin, so you're dead wrong. And seeing as Palo Alto has a particularly nasty history of housing discrimination its probably not a smart idea to go barking up that tree."

A poster above mentioned that the Fair Housing Act was not intended to be interpreted in this way, and I tend to agree. It will likely undergo revision soon.

At least I can be selective of the agent I choose to market my home.
Better yet, I can sell it myself and specify NO AGENTS - to whoever I want.


Posted by non-issue to whine about
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

on Apr 29, 2015 at 7:28 am


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53 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 29, 2015 at 7:41 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Chinese investors buying up Palo Alto properties for cash and outbidding everybody, are by far the main reason for the astronomical appreciation of Palo Alto properties. This phenomenon has had a profound economic and societal impact on Palo Alto. No young person who grew up in Palo Alto can even dream now of owning a home here, unless they are fortunate enough to be among the first employees of start-ups like Google or Facebook. It made even renting in palo Alto out of reach for most young people. This means that with few exceptions, we have either multi million dollar homes standing empty, or mostly one ethnic group moving in, to the detriment of diversity. Do we have a right as a society to tackle this phenomenon? It was wrong and immoral in the past to prevent certain minorities, Asians in particular from buying homes in Palo Alto, but now we have the same situation in reverse.


24 people like this
Posted by Marx be rollin'
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 29, 2015 at 8:00 am

This is one result of unbridled, unchecked market capitalism. Property rights and the almighty dollar trump all. (On the other hand, at least it's not Trump moving in, at least as far as we know.)


17 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 29, 2015 at 9:41 am

My street has representatives from many countries - every one can live in PA but you need to have established credentials regarding education that get you included at Stanford Medical Center, Google, other major industries in the valley.

If you look at all of the tech companies web pages they indicate they have offices in many countries - and all of those people circulate through their home offices at some point. We see everyone here who are working and living. Not all are home owners since they will not be relocated here permanently - many want to learn more than go back to their countries.

You have to have something to offer a company to be hired - some credentials that have value. That is what we are suppose to be teaching our children - there are no free rides - you need to complete school and learn how to be productive. We are not sitting around here waiting for the government to hand out money - we need to produce a product and earn it.

Side note - all of the foreign people on the block speak excellent English, including the children. The rest of the world out there is educating their people.


34 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2015 at 10:37 am

China has many Ghost cities.
There are many places to live in China with too many empty places.
Some places are renting for $65 a month.

What is happening is a land grab for Western land (US, Canadian, UK, and Australia are the favorites), and it's driving up prices all over the world; not just Palo Alto.


Like this comment
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2015 at 12:12 pm

@Musical...Hahaha!! Good point! And an AirBnB would be a safe way to rent.


29 people like this
Posted by Resident 2
a resident of University South
on Apr 29, 2015 at 7:01 pm

Resident 1: You are so right: all but the US and four countries in Africa educate their population through college, I cluding graduate degrees. China and India pay for qualified students to obtain advanced degrees in American schools--and they pay SO much that the schools give them priority over homegrown American kids who may be better qualified and did not have parental help to cheat their way to the top.

Cheaters are taking over our higher education, our homes, our jobs


26 people like this
Posted by Leigh
a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2015 at 2:50 pm

As an early 2000's graduate of Palo Alto High School, I can say without a doubt that I don't know any of my peers, born and raised in Palo Alto, who will ever be able to afford a home in Palo Alto. People paying exorbitant prices for homes they won't even live in are just helping to price us all out of the market. The demographics of Palo Alto are rapidly shifting.

I think it's very sad that none of us will ever be able to settle in our hometown. I wish there was something that could be done about this.


7 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2015 at 6:44 pm

@Leigh

You sound very entitled to be concerned about that. Why don't you just move to another much more affordable city in the area?


38 people like this
Posted by 23 year PA resident
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 21, 2015 at 8:23 pm

My husband and I were hoping my daughter and her family could move back to this area so that we could help with childcare and they could help us if we became unable to manage on our own. We live in a modest Eichler in the Midtown area which we bought 23 years ago. They tried to find a house to buy or a place to rent in the surrounding area so that they would be near us, but since they moved here last fall both home and rental prices have gone up exponentially. I wouldn't have believed what the real estate market was like if I hadn't gone looking with her. Houses going for hundreds of thousands over the list price with many, many all cash offers, in most surrounding areas, including EPA, Redwood City and Mountain View. How can anyone, even with a decent tech industry salary, compete with that? Rental costs are sky-high as well. They are moving back to Washington state next month.

I hope those who deride this as an "entitlement" problem and blithely suggest moving somewhere out of the area never have to face the situation of suddenly having to find housing.


27 people like this
Posted by Rachel
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 21, 2015 at 9:21 pm

As an upper middle class family we have been unable to find reasonably priced housing in Palo Alto and its neighboring cities. We have watched perfectly good Eichler houses (which were originally built for the middle class) torn down and replaced with oversized high-end houses. We have been asked by landlords (who do not live in the bay area) to provide deposits 4x the cost of the monthly rent because they could.


42 people like this
Posted by Duveneck Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 21, 2015 at 9:27 pm

Thanks, Ken Deleon, for screwing up the neighborhood. Would be nice for families who actually live here to buy a house, but no, let's market the homes to overseas folks who can pay all cash and never live here.


Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2015 at 10:29 pm

@23 year PA resident

I was just expressing the same sentiment that gets thrown at anyone they feel is too "techie" brings up the cost of housing, but as Duveneck Parent demonstrated, these concerns can be valid, so long as they come from a place of xenophobia.


2 people like this
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2015 at 1:19 am

Sparty is a registered user.

Empty housing. Sounds like what you get with rent control


17 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 22, 2015 at 8:19 am

@ Rachel, we know what you mean and it's a shame. A good example was the controversy surrounding the teardown or an eichler, and new construction of a large home prominently opposite the Eichler Swim Club on Louis. Many felt the proposed new project would be outsized - and guess what, it IS now that construction is well underway. Go see for yourself about not being compatible with the neighborhood. This new building totally looms.


8 people like this
Posted by Skeptical
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 22, 2015 at 8:57 pm

This just seems like a red herring. Does anyone honestly believe that Palo Alto housing would be affordable if there were no 'outside investors'? Don't be so naive. New tech companies are doing plenty to make Palo Alto unaffordable without any help. It might not be nice but it is the way it is.


5 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on May 22, 2015 at 10:09 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2015 at 10:14 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


3 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2015 at 10:18 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 23, 2015 at 3:29 am

Is "suitcase full of cash" literal? Or some metaphor? I'm skeptical.
Yes, $2M in hundreds would fit in a suitcase, weighing about 45 pounds.
I've never seen that in real life, and I'd probably keep my distance.


21 people like this
Posted by It is True
a resident of Professorville
on May 23, 2015 at 8:41 am

Musical--it IS true. They do not use a cashier's check from a bank because at the time of purchase, they usually do not have a bank account. My realtor has seen this happen, my banker has also witnessed it, A relative who is a homebuilder has also witnessed this first-hand-- and it was an attaché case full of thousand-dollar bills.

[Portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on May 23, 2015 at 2:23 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on May 23, 2015 at 10:21 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by SH*T
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 23, 2015 at 10:30 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 23, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Regarding "thousand-dollar bills" somebody is pulling someone's leg.


8 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 31, 2015 at 11:54 pm

This problem is not unique to Silicon Valley.
I just spoke with relatives who live in Redmond, Washington.
They told many neighborhoods in Redmond, Bellevue, and Kirkland have been negatively effected by these "ghost" homes - homes which were purchased by overseas buyers and left empty.
These homes were considered modest starter homes for young tech workers, who have student loans to repay, and starting their own families. The prices have now increased so much, and the housing stock so low, that many of these young employees are having to commute long ways from their places of work, while these "ghost" homes sit empty and abandoned.

My sister-in-law told me that these older neighborhoods now lack the cohesiveness that once made them nice to live in a decade ago, because so many homes on each street are just sitting empty and not maintained

At least the "ghost" homes in our neighborhood are still being kept up.


17 people like this
Posted by China Watcher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 1, 2015 at 5:43 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Mr Chan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2015 at 11:50 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Another
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 27, 2015 at 7:34 am

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Peggy Bunker
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 28, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Peggy Bunker is a registered user.

Hello everyone: I'm a reporter with NBC Bay Area. We're covering this story, about ghost houses and international buyers, and the neighborhood-wide impact this trend is having on Palo Alto -specifically for those native to the area. We've interviewed several realtors, some who are quite pleased with the trend, but now we need to hear from the neighbors and how this is impacting them. We are under deadline and would like to conduct interviews this week (Thursday 10/29 or 10/31) or late in the day Nov. 3rd. Please feel free to call my work cell, (408) 726-3165, or email me at peggy.bunker@nbcuni.com. And while it's preferable to interview people on camera, we can also shoot our interviews anonymously. Thank you! Peggy


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