Would-be home buyers can count on frustration this spring as they confront the reality of today's market: Inventory of homes for sale is at a historic low.
Chris Iverson, a sales associate with Dreyfus/Sotheby's International Realty in Menlo Park, likes to use the Moscow analogy when advising his buyer clients: Picture a long line of Muscovites out in the cold waiting to buy one moldy loaf of bread.
"It's the only loaf there is, kind of like buyers here. People are buying homes that need a lot of work, are on busy streets, kind of 'the bad houses' are selling now because people just want a house."
And he takes it a step further: "If (they're) in the entry-level market, under $3 million in Palo Alto, they're looking for a place to put their stuff. Finishes, features (they) should be looking for at that price point, they're not.
"That's the dynamics of the market," he said.
And it doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon, given that big employers Apple, Facebook, Google -- are continuing to hire, the geography isn't changing, post-Proposition 13 tax laws aren't being revoked and capital-gains taxes are looming.
To top it off, he said, "Palo Alto is a destination city. People don't sit there thinking, 'When I make it big, I'll move to Milpitas.' That depresses natural turnover of moving up, moving out."