Sunday, July 29, 2007

Median Price for Homes Sets New Record in June (San Mateo County)

The median price for single-family, re-sale homes rose 4.8% in June from the month before to a new all-time high. It was just $500 shy of $1,000,000. The average price also set a new record, soaring 10.1% from May. Home sales rose 5.8%, month-over-month, but were off 7.3% compared to June 2006. Year-to-date, home sales are off only 5.8%, the best in the Bay Area.

The median price for Condos dropped 2.8% to $605,000, still good enough for an annual gain of 10%. The average price fell 3.7% to $623,918, and was up 5.4% year-over-year. Condo sales rose 29.2% from May, but were off 8.7% year-over-year.

Inventory continued to grow, with single-family homes up 1.2% from May and up 5.3% year-over-year. Condo inventory was up 5.4% month-over-month, and up 2% compared to last May. The sales price to list price ratio fell 1.5 points to 98.5% for homes. The ratio for condos lost 1.4 points to 99.1%. Days of inventory fell five days to 96 for single-family homes. For condos, days of inventory dropped 27 days to 121 for condos.

For buyers, if your credit is a little bit dinged, spend some time improving it. Otherwise, the upper end of the market favors sellers while the lower end favors buyers. For sellers, if you are in the lower end of the market buyers are few and far between. Put your home in mint condition and price it right. If you are in the upper end of the market, it still pays to make your home as presentable as possible, and if you'are in a desirable neighborhood, you will get multiple offers.

The real estate market is very hard to generalize. It is a market made up of many micro markets.

Monday, July 2, 2007

What is Inspiration?

When beginning the process of building design, one first must come up with a concept. A concept can be anything. A piece of furniture, a faucet, a certain way in which spaces must relate, a pool, a prevailing wind, or an optimum view. The concept is the driving force that dictates, to a certain extent, how the building will look and function. It can be seen (sometimes clearly but often not) in every detail and every space as it permeates through the general design of the structure.

Some ask, "why bother?" As designers, we respond that the concept is the soul of the building: its reason for existence. Whether or not it is evident to everyone who uses the building is not important. When we look at a Picasso we see beauty but do not necessarily understand every line, every abstraction, every choice of color. In a building a concept may be understood in a similar manner. We may see that the focus of all the windows is a view of a mountain, or that the house harnesses the summer wind to cool a veranda. But we may not initially understand more subtle choices until we spend an hour or a decade in the building. The concept provides for a level of depth that creates a more interesting structure. Like the Picasso, we may see layers of thought made into physical form. The concept allows the building to communicate with the person, revealing those layers to those who wish to uncover them.

The concept is an important part of design. As designers, we use the concept as a tool and as an organizational principle. As inhabitants, the concept exists in every room, every wall, waiting for us to discover its purpose and thereby further our understanding of the building and ultimately, ourselves.