Palo Alto: Bidding Wars


I was chatting with a Palo Alto realtor at a party, and she said that 91% of her office’s properties had multiple offers on them during the week of May 14th. That was up from 75% the prior week. And a few weeks prior, one of their office’s $900K listings on Ross Road had 47 offers submitted, and it sold for more than $300,000 over the asking price.

Looking at the graph of above, you can see that the Palo Alto “Days on the Market” (7-day average) hit a two-year low during the spring. This is great news if you’re a seller, and depressing news if you’re a buyer.

It’s a common strategy for Palo Alto realtors to intentionally under-price certain houses to create a frenzied bidding war that drives the selling price into the stratosphere. And while house prices in many areas of the Bay Area seem to be softening, the Palo Alto median price continues to go up and up.

Sure, this is a fantastic town to live in, but I’m getting this deja vu feeling about the Palo Alto real estate market; I remember a similar frenzy right before the bubble burst in 1990. And given that this market has traditionally slowed down midsummer, it might be worth it for buyers to take a wait-and-see in the coming weeks.