Our Town not a Stable Value?

March 7, 2011

Home prices have been dropping all over and so it is not a shock to read another report about it. What WAS a shock to us was that Woodside was named in a recent Bloomberg Business Week article as the COWmunity with the sharpest drop in home values in their sample of the 50 richest small towns!

The article based its data on the website Zillow.com’s research, and focused on America’s 50 most expensive (based on median home values) small towns (population under 10,000). Obviously, in small towns, a single sale can have skew the statistics. Thirteen of those cow-munities are in California with 3 in the Bay area; Los Altos Hills ranked number 4; Belvedeer in Marin County number 6 and Woodside number 10. Home values decreased in 33 of the 50 towns. Sagaponack, N.Y., the most expensive town on the list, saw home values drop 14.5% from 2009 to 2010. Our neighbor Los Altos Hills had its home values drop 13.6%.

Woodside was the big loser. Home values dropped by an astonishing 15.7% last year! That’s more than three times the national average. Nationally, homes are down 5.1%. San Mateo County as a whole was down “just” 4.5% this past year. Obviously, there is a massive nationwide “readjustment” in home values. Interestingly, however, 17 of the 50 on the list experienced a rise in home values. The big winner was King’s Point, N.Y., which saw its housing prices rise an average of 13.5%.

This massive drop in home values in our Town is having an effect. Drops in home values impact Town revenues. The COWncil raised budget concerns at its recent COWncil meeting. A reputation as a big loser can cause prospective home buyers to shy away from buying here, causing a further slide in property values.

Some are predicting that the slide in home values nationwide is coming to an end. A recent study by Zillow predicted that this year will see the bottom of the market. Though, as we all know. predictions that the worst are over have been made before.

Meanwhile, even if the housing market as a whole stops bleeding, our Town’s situation needs to be assessed. Obviously there must be some reason that Woodside has won the booby prize in the race to the bottom of home values. Whether it is due to our Town’s notoriously difficult planning process or some other factor, we think the COWncil needs to take a serious look at the causes and see what, if anything, can be done to encourage home prices to rebound soon.

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