In October of last year there were 48 home sales. This October there were 53, four of which were foreclosures.
Strangely, the sales are happening in a very shaky market, says broker Nick French.
"Talk about uncertainty," French said. "There's job market uncertainty, economic uncertainty, stock market uncertainty."
But it's times like these that are the best time to buy, he says, when fewer people are looking. He added that he's been buying up property himself. Others apparently have been, too.
French likes to quote the character Ricky Roma in the movie "Glengarry Glen Ross": "I subscribe to the law of contrary public opinion. ... If everyone thinks one thing, then I say, bet the other way."
The public's opinion may be reflected in Mountain View's median home prices for October: $971,858 for single family homes and $646,803 for condos, compared to $1,037,654 for single family homes and $561,604 for condos during the same month last year.
The significant price drop is because there are fewer buyers, partly because it's harder to get a loan. French said he was surprised recently when the prospective buyers of a $1.5 million house couldn't qualify for a loan even with a 40 percent down payment.
Homes in good neighborhoods worth over $700,000 are maintaining their value quite well, French said, as people in that income bracket can still buy homes. Some buyers have lots of cash from dumping their tech stock options as the market crashed. And interest rates on loans are at all-time lows for those who qualify.
Historically, Mountain View housing prices don't go down very much in a down market, French says. Many buyers have been able to justify the investment.
At the corner of Calderon and Dana streets, the new "Wild Orchid" development is evidence the housing market is still alive and kicking. After going on sale in May, 30 of the 39 town homes sold for over $900,000. Sales didn't even slow in October.
"This is the best-selling new home community in Santa Clara County," said John Millino, community manager for Wild Orchid.
That's no small statement, considering there are at least three other new home developments also selling in Mountain View. On Miramonte Avenue, Classic Communities recently released the first phase of a 58-home project, and 14 were sold in the first two weeks. On Colony Street, a 108-unit Regis Homes development sold five homes in October alone.
The market is apparently good enough to revive one housing development that's been dead for a year and half.
On the corner of Moorpark and Evelyn Avenue, Shea Homes laid the foundations for 151 townhouses in early 2007 before the project came to a halt, leaving a vacant lot for a year and half, to the chagrin of some City Council members. Now the developer is resuming construction in the middle of a downturned economy, puzzling some housing market-watchers.
The council was recently told by Shea Homes' representative Matt Henry that "this is one of our best communities."
"In our office we had over 20 open communities in a downturned market," Henry said, alluding to the fact that Shea's main office would not release money for the project until other homes were sold.
Council member Laura Macias wanted to know if there would be a penalty for Shea Homes since the lot was left vacant for so long. City officials said there would not be.
"There is actually a substantial penalty in the form of interest carried," said council member Matt Pear, one that would bankrupt most private developers. "Interest carryover is a killer."