REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — Swell-looking home you’ve got here. Ever think about selling it? How about to me, right now?This is not what a recession looks like.
That is increasingly the approach the house-hungry are using in Silicon Valley, where the number of homes on the market is so small that would-be buyers are driven to desperation. Their solution: seek out homes that are, in theory at least, not for sale.
Sue Zweig grew up in this working-class community, back when people said it was for the newly wed and the nearly dead. Not long ago, when she was out walking her dog, she began to realize things were different. A woman pulled over, asked about houses for sale in the neighborhood and ended up spending 45 minutes poking around Ms. Zweig’s living room and kitchen.
Her four-bedroom house was not on the market then, and it was not on the market a year or so later when another eager buyer showed up. This time, Ms. Zweig, a nurse, and her husband, Steve Zweig, made a deal for $1.375 million, a seven-figure profit over what they had paid in 1987. They moved out of the house last year.
Buyers in Silicon Valley must be aggressive and innovative as well as well-heeled, especially as housing inventory here hits its lowest point in at least 20 years. In San Mateo County, which includes Redwood City, the number of homes for sale in August was 1,184. That is a drop of 62 percent from a decade ago, even as the population increased more than 70,000.
It is a microcosm of a growing national problem. The number of homes on the market in the United States has fallen on a year-over-year basis for the last 14 months, the National Association of Realtors says. When adjusted for population, the inventory of homes for sale is the lowest it has been since modern records started being kept in 1982.