Month 2: Organizing the office

I know, it looks like I’ve been hibernating for a week.  Actually, I need to take 2 weeks off from the blog for 2 reasons.  One is that we have been preparing for a long trip, and 2 is because this month of the Organized Work Life is one of the most challenging for me — organizing my office. 

I’m really looking forward to making a lot of progress in this area since I know my office needs an overhaul.  I’m also sure that I am in for a big step in improved efficiency once my office space is optimized.

So give me a week, let me catch my breath, and I’ll be back to post another life changing improvement for an organized work life.

-mark

Week 4: Start the morning right, it keeps your day calm

I think I’m already somewhat ahead of the class on
this week’s organization point.  This week, Regina is asking us to
start the day with a series of new habits designed to reduce the chaos
of the morning. 

One of the first things I learned when I moved into
sales was an expression from our VP that has stuck with me — “As the
first quarter goes, so goes the year.”  I’ve found that if I get off to
a slow start to the year, or month, or week, the rest of the year,
month or week is spent playing ‘catchup’.  Basically, it’s hard to
recover from a slow start!  So now we’re applying this principle to
starting the day.

I have it somewhat easier than most people as we
don’t have any kids so the morning time is not nearly as chaotic as I
know some people must be.  Many years ago, when I moved back to
California from Taiwan, I began the habit of getting up early to watch
the stock market open at 6:30am so that is now an embedded habit for
me.  I don’t even use an alarm clock.

One key takeaway to calm the morning rush is planning
the night before like setting the breakfast table, or putting coffee in
the machine so you just need to push a button.  Regina has a whole
bunch of neat ideas that may help you with this point if your mornings
get away from you with kids, spouse, pets, etc.

Here are my commitments to an organized morning moving forward:

1) Eat a real breakfast — shop for a whole week’s worth of real food so it isn’t a scramble to prepare each day
2) Set 15 minutes to exercise — I’m going to get started with some
morning yoga and stretching (… I said start, it will get more serious
over time)
3) Go to bed a half hour earlier so I can still wake up feeling rested
4) Do NOT check email
5) Do NOT check voice messages

-mark

Local sales data for Santa Clara County — March 2009

The entry-level market (homes priced under $500k) is red-hot right now.  I have stories where 3281 Tracy Dr in Santa Clara priced at $419k had 40 offers with the highest being all cash near $500k; or 3581 Forest Ave in Santa Clara priced at $400k had 20 offers; or 2853 Kring Ave in Willow Glen, a bank-owned home listed at $471k that will close near $600k — a over 25% overbid!  This price point of Bay Area housing is absolutely on fire right now with first time buyers and investors taking advantage of market conditions.

However, the higher priced markets are still stagnant.  Sellers in Los Altos, Saratoga, and Los Gatos will start “getting it” soon and I believe we will begin to see significant price reductions.

Each chart here shows the percent CHANGE over the prior year in both the Average Sales Price and the Median Sales Price for single homes only, not condos — enjoy!

Chart Analysis:

Almaden Valley seems to be stabilizing but this chart is deceiving.  I know from the numbers that Almaden prices are down in comparison to last year.  I think the trend will continue into the months to come.
Almaden_Mar

* * * * *

Blossom Valley has found it’s bottom.  Buyers are finding great deals and many homes around $400k are getting multiple offers.  I heard one loan agent say that hungry buyers are treating Blossom Valley like the foreclosure buffet!
BlmVly_Mar

* * * * *

Willow Glen is seeing a lot of sales activity around and under the $600k point and not much activity above the $1M mark.  This is causing the numbers for the price trend to drop as you see.  Average prices will probably stabilize around $650k for Willow Glen so it’s a great time to get into this nice area of San Jose! 
WGlen_Mar

* * * * *

Downtown San Jose is another area that has found a bottom.  There are still some incredible values downtown, in the Burbank area, and in the Rosegarden where first time buyers or investors will find the 50% discounts off their 2005 high level prices — very hard to believe!
DwntwnSJ_Mar

* * * * *

Cambrian is beginning to stabilize and there are some great values in Cambrian houses right now.  The average sale price is just under $550k and I suspect it could stay around the low $500k range, but that’s a nice price for the Cambrian school system!
Cambrian_Mar

* * * * *

Campbell is presenting a great buying opportunity right now.  Average prices are still in the $650k range so anything that comes on the market around $550k is going quickly.  Look for those deals to continue for a short time but if you want Campbell in the $500s you need to make a move this summer.
Campbell_Mar

* * * * *

Los Gatos cannot avoid the pricing slowdown for much longer (which is what I said last month) — and here is the proof.  Even with 15 sales for March, we are seeing the same price correction in Los Gatos as we have in Palo Alto.  Median sales price in Los Gatos under $1M?!  Who would have believed that a year ago? 
LosGatos_Mar

* * * * *

Saratoga prices are starting to crack under the pressure.  Saratoga now has 173 Active listings right now and only 25 Pending.  Frustrated sellers who still want to get moved may be adjusting their prices down and I believe more is in store for Saratoga like we are seeing in Los Gatos.
Saratoga_Mar

* * * * *

Santa Clara as we saw last month seems to be stabilizing nicely.  There are multiple offers on most new listings around $400k and buyers are being aggressive to pick up some good deals!  If you are looking to get into Santa Clara there may not be a better time so I would recommend acting soon.
StaClara_Mar

* * * * *

Sunnyvale prices are still looking for a bottom but as I have said in previous posts, the Lakewood Village areas North of 101 are selling quickly in the $300s.  As those are recorded this chart is being pulled down.
Sunnyvale_Mar

* * * * *

Cupertino is beginning to stabilize as aggressive buyers are recognizing the price discounts.  I’m not expecting a wave of foreclosures in Cupertino, but if people who committed to big mortgages are being caught in the job-loss wave then we may look to see an increase in short-sales.
Cupertino_Mar

* * * * *

Los Altos prices are under huge pressure and will continue for a while as long as jumbo loans are hard to resell
in the secondary market.  Inventory is growing and 15% price reductions on active listings are becoming common.
LosAltos_Mar

* * * * *

Mountain View prices continue to amaze me!  Prices are not dropping and the Pending vs Active ratio is still above 25% which means it is just a very stable market.
MtnView_Mar

 * * * * *

Palo Alto homes under $1.5M are flat and stabilizing but homes above $2M are surely dropping as this trend line shows.  Any new listings coming on the market under $1M are being snapped up very quickly.  I still feel that the “on sale” season for Palo Alto may be just starting so if you are thinking to get into Palo Alto, 2009 may be the best time you have to negotiate your way into a great home.
PaloAlto_Mar

* * * * *

As Realtors, we are in the market every day representing Buyers and Sellers throughout the are as above.  Everyone has a reason why they are making the move (buying or selling) at this very moment.

We bring you this information to help you make an intelligent decision about your next move.  Timing the market is impossible and unwise because you may ultimately not be able to meet goal.  Your motivation for buying or selling should outweigh your concerns of market timing.  The market is always here, people are buying and selling every day, people are getting financing every day — the real question is ‘when are you ready to make a move?’

-mark

Week 3: Calendaring

We’ve now hit the place in the first month where I
need to organize my schedule.  I’ve struggled with this one for some
time now and it’s frustrating for me because I used to work at Palm —
the king of organizers!

Actually, I think it’s the increase in technology
that has gotten me so disorganized.  Every piece of software has a
calendaring mechanism — Mac has one, iPhone has one, Yahoo has one,
Gmail has one, and my client management system has one.  They don’t
talk to each other and so you could be left with events being scheduled
all over the place and never synchronized.  I also have a huge
month-by-month dry-erase calendar on my wall I use for my overview. 
This is where I’m starting from.

Here’s my “get organized” commitment:  I will use my
Mac iCal application to control events and schedule.  I will
synchronize with my phone daily.  Another tip I learned from a business
mentor (this may be covered in the future of this book) is to 1) Start
by mapping the whole year — vacations, holidays, trips, birthdays and
anniversary, etc; 2) Plan the month — what social and personal events
have to be blocked off or commitments need to be met; 3) Organize the
week — block off time for the must-do business activities; and 4)
Prioritize the day — to make sure I am focusing on the most important
activities that have the most impact to my business and my life.

It’s a start!

-mark