San Mateo Market Report – 1.27.09 – Condos & Townhouses

San Mateo, the second largest city in the county, had 103 Condos and Townhouses for sale last week, and believe it or not, this is a reduction from previous weeks.  The Median Price was $450,000.  The Average Price was $552,510 with the least expensive unit priced at $238,000 (a steal of a price for a condo) and the most expensive was $2,050,000 topping anything for sale in single family homes last week. It’s taking longer and longer to sell what is referred to as a Class-2 property (Condo, townhouse, TIC), which is now 134 days.  Almost half of all listings have seen price reductions and we are seeing quite a few Short Sales and Bank Owned REO’s as well.  We are sitting in a Cold! Buyer’s Market and have been there for a while.

The median sized condo in San Mateo has 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms is around 1100 square feet and is about 27 years old.

Unlike the single family homes Quartiles, these don’t necessarily fall into different zip codes. There are condos and townhouses in every zip code in San Mateo.  The Higher end condos, often the newest or in the some of the nicest areas are larger, were built only to be condos and not converted from apartments, and appear to be selling a little faster than the other Quartiles.

I am asked whether the market has hit bottom yet and you can get an idea of a market by looking at the Median Prices over time.  We are looking at a 2 year picture here, from the peak of the market in early spring 2007 until last week.  Prices have hit bottom.  They are back to 2002 levels and  with some of the amazing loan packages finally coming out, you can buy some great properties for yourself, your family or for investment with a POSITIVE CASH FLOW.

Our research comes from Altos Research and they have developed a way to track the supply and demand of real estate including market conditions.  This Index spells out the balance between a Seller’s Market and a Buyer’s Market.  The use the index of 30 to bridge the gap and we have been in a Buyer’s Market in San Mateo for condos for a very long time.  Right now it stands at 17, for a Cold! Buyer’s Market.


This zip code is shared by Foster City but the small part of San Mateo that has properties within it are almost entirely what we call Class 2 – Condos and Townhouses.

These condos are east of 101 in Mariner’s Island, Edgewater Isle and Harbor Town.  They are mostly around  29 years old, in very nicely kept complexes with nice amenities.  The townhouses there are deeded condo as the unit does not own the land it is sitting on.   The Median Price is $559,995, and the  Average Price is $563,526. These are mostly 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, usually have fireplaces, and some even have water views.  It’s taking over 100 days to sell most of them, which is an increase from previous weeks.  Nothing sold last week and there were 15 listings.  Altos Research places this Zip Code as a Cold!Buyer’s Market at 10, making this the worst performing area in San Mateo.

The 94404 zip hit bottom early last year and has been juggling around the middle $500,000’s for a couple of months.  The peak of the market in this zip was around March of 2007.

The picture of the supply and demand of the 94404 zip for Condos is pretty amazing and indicates that there are many more condos for sale in this zip code then there are buyers right now.  What an opportunity for Investors!


This zip is primarily the southern part of San Mateo, with some condos in Los Prados – where the least expensive units sit (these were converted from apartments in the 1980’s).  West of 101, there are a bunch of newer units near Bay Meadows, near City Hall, and many up in the hills and in the Highlands.  The Median Price last week was $366,500.  The Average Price was $384,259 and the least expensive was $250,000 and most expensive $639,000.  It’s taking longer to sell condos in this zip and there were 20 for sale last week and only 2 were either sold, canceled, withdrawn or had expired listing agreements.

When you look at the chart for the Median Price of condos in 94403 like every where else, prices have gone down. There was an up tic last week, perhaps due to the sale of the two condos?

The two charts that will give you a real picture of a real estate market are the Median Price and the Market Action Index.  The Market Action Index has held consistent around 20 for about 18 months.  Some week it’s up a little, the next week it’s down a little but this Zip Code is steady at 18 right now.  There are several months of inventory here to select from and not too many Short Sales or Bank Owned REO’s, yet.


This zip, 94402, falls into the higher priced part of town so it’s expected that the Median Price will be higher and it was $758,500 last week.  Average price was lower, which is unusal for sure, at $754,140.  The least expensive unit in 94402 was $349,000 and most expensive was $950,000.  The majority of condos in this zip are in the Baywood area right near the Library on 3rd Avenue, 4th Avenue and 5th Avenue.  And south toward Highway 92 skirting El Camino Real.  Townhouses are tucked into side streets.  We have seen several new developments here, too.  Median size for these condos is 3 bedrooms and 2 baths.  They’re larger at a median near 1700 square feet.  Many of the complexes in 94402 attract Empty Nester’s, downsizing from Hillsborough homes.  This zip attracts the most interest in the City of San Mateo.

Looking at the chart for the Median Price for 94402 you get the impression the bottom fell out of the market last January, 2008, with such a dramatic drop.  Some of the reasons were there had been a new high end development that sold out late 2007 and everything else coming on the market was priced dramatically lower.  It sure makes for an exciting chart,though, but as you can see 2008 was pretty steady price wise until 4th Quarter and prices rose.  It really only takes a couple of listings and sales above the median to make such a difference, too.  When the inventory is only 18 units for sale, and only 2 sold last week, you can see why this happens.

This is why you need to look at both the Market Action Index and the Median price to get a true picture of the 94402 condo market.  Right now, this zip code stands as a Cool Buyer’s Market at 20. We havent’ seen a Cool Market in a long time!  The average length of time condos are listed is dropping, the median price is dropping and people are out there buying.


What makes things so interesting when writing about this market by zip code is when I get to the 94401 zip.  When it comes to houses, it’s in the tank, but when I come to Condo’s, it’s not quite drowning.  This area covers downtown San Mateo where several senior condo developments sit, one very high end condo sits and lots of townhouses and Woodlake sits.  There is a huge cross section of property in the 94401 zip.  The Median price last week was $434,500 and it was rising.  The Average Price was $543,919.  The least expensive condo was $238,000 and the most expensive was $2,050,000.  There are currently 50 lisitings and only 2 were either sold, or otherwise removed from the market.  The Median age for a condo on this side of town is 25 years old and it’s likely to be 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, making it on the smaller side at around 1000 square feet.  That’s median size.  The $2 million dollar place is huge with views and is only a couple of years old. Almost half of all the Class 2 listings in San Mateo were found in the 94401 zip code.

Median Price is on a downward trend, but bottom was hit around the first of the year and we’re bounching upward now.  But we need to look further to get a better picture of the market for 94401.

Here’s the rest of the story.  The Market Action Index for Class 2 Condos and Townhouses in 94401 is at 14.  It’s not the lowest in the city but it’s low and considered a Cold! Buyer’s Market.  This area has great investment property and if you’re looking to invest here’s the place.  There are loads of condos to look at and select from.  This zip also has seen many Short Sales and Bank Owned REO’s as previous buyers, timing the market at it’s high, bought with no money down and loans that would reset within 2 or 3 years.

That’s the story for San Mateo.  If you’d like to see a full report please email us or call at 650-696-2820.

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