The Facebook Effect - How the IPO impacts Palo Alto and Los Altos

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Intero Real Estate CA BRE #01191946

With the impending Facebook IPO, there has been a lot of gossip about what impact it will have on local real estate.  I've written about this before but as time moves on, the markets continue to evolve.  Two of the hottest nearby markets are Palo Alto and Los Altos.  Will people with wealth from the Facebook IPO drive sales and prices higher?

Yes and no.  The Facebook Effect is already starting to be seen in these markets (as well as Menlo Park and others).  The anticipation of higher prices is driving prices up as other buyers snap up homes which prices are within their reach.  This is driving sales (number of homes sold) a bit higher as well.

What is The Facebook Effect?

  • Sellers on the market expect multiple offers and higher prices
  • Some sellers are holding off selling hoping for a future windfall
  • Prices in Palo Alto and Los Altos are up sharply so far this year, before the Facebook IPO happens
  • Buyers are moving quickly on nearly anything on the market in many local towns
  • Some buyers are "settling" now instead of waiting in the belief prices will rise
  • General market euphoria feels like the boom markets of 2000 and 2005

Is The Facebook Effect Good For Real Estate?

Absolutely but it has changed the dynamics of how homes are sold.  One effect I've seen is a rise in off-market sales.  Sellers are willing to sell off the MLS to any buyer who will pay a price close to the open market.  This gives buyers who don't have Facebook money a chance to buy without having to compete with cash-rich buyers.

The other factor is that average and median sales prices are rising at a steady pace with Palo Alto leading the way.  As prices return to their dot-com peaks, the euphoria is likely to abate a little as buyers settle down.  Sellers will still be in control for a long time and hopefully this market sustains itself.

Lastly, new construction is plentiful which is great for local builders who were hit hard by the economic downturn.  There are a lot of speculative builders coming back into the market which should continue well into 2013.


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Kevin Sembrat
Diversified RCS Inc; - Manhattan, NY

Hi Bryan,

Insightful points here! Thanks for posting!


May 10, 2012 12:48 PM #11
Doug Rogers
Bayou Properties - Alexandria, LA
Your Alexandria Louisiana Agent

Should make for an interesting year!

May 10, 2012 01:17 PM #12
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566
Rise in off market sales...please explain that lingo....sell off the you mean FSBO's? The terminology is throwing me early this AM.
May 10, 2012 07:12 PM #13
Jeffrey Funk
eXp Realty - Windermere, FL
Broker Associate | Team Leader

Bryan, It is nice to hear Facebook is having a positive effect on your area! Interesting post, thanks for sharing!

May 10, 2012 08:29 PM #14
Eric Estate
JB Goodwin - Austin, TX

Palo Alto and Menlo Park have been pricey since the early 90's.  I remember a time when it was all orchards and you could get acerage for $20K.

May 10, 2012 09:01 PM #15
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Good post. I do not have a facebook business page . I will think about it.

May 10, 2012 10:09 PM #16
Amanda Christiansen
Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843 - Fort Wayne, IN
Christiansen Group Realty

Very interesting stuff Bryan.  I need to read a little more about it.                                                                                    

May 10, 2012 10:17 PM #17
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Bryan, I can see where this would have an impact in your area. Good for you and happy selling.

May 10, 2012 10:50 PM #18
Richard and Jean Murphy
Harborview Properties - Portland, ME
(207) 712-4796

Pretty sure Facebook is moving their entire operation to Portland, Maine!!

May 10, 2012 10:53 PM #19
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents

Good Morning Bryan, It is definately positive wihen a market is infused with buyers. The one thing i notice is all markets react to supply and demand. I hope it allows your area to prosper. have a great Friday

May 10, 2012 10:54 PM #20
Rob Spinosa
Guaranteed Rate, Marin County, CA - San Anselmo, CA
Vice President of Mortgage Lending, Marin County

In all of the talk of the Facebook IPO, I haven't yet seen the actual numbers of people this might affect.  When looking at it statistically, I'd be curious to know the base population of those who will be in on the IPO and then likely turn and invest that in the housing market.

May 10, 2012 11:03 PM #21
Phil Leng
Retired - Kirkland, WA
Phil Leng - Retired

Hi Bryan,

Who would have guessed that the ipo of a company would affect the entire area?

Hold on - I live on the east side of Seattle. We still feel the Microsoft effect these 30 years later!


May 10, 2012 11:14 PM #22
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

The combination of the FB effect driven by positive consumer news and dwindling inventory - deja vu all over again !

May 11, 2012 12:38 AM #23
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - - Austin, TX
Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator

It sounds like a great market to be in for those sellers able to recoup their value.

May 11, 2012 12:40 AM #24
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

Hi Bryan, to be at the whim of not only the general economy but also because of a stock sale is crazy. Of course, it is not any ole company, only Facebook. I heard that the state of California is already counting its chicks from that sale as well.

May 11, 2012 02:00 AM #25
Christine Smith
Buyers Brokers Only LLC - - Canton, MA
Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA

Bryan....excellent post about the Facebook effect on your local market.  Hopefully it also spreads beyond your market & things continue on the upward swing.

May 11, 2012 02:31 AM #26
Robert Bob Gilbert
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties - Katy, TX
Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert


Anytime you have folks with a unexpected windfall of cash it should be good for the local area real estate market. This situation my friend should be very good for you personally and since you are truly a really good agent this year and next should be tremendous years for your own personal P & L.

May 11, 2012 02:44 AM #27
Bryan Robertson
Intero Real Estate - Los Altos, CA
Broker, Author, Speaker

Thanks for all the great comments everyone!  The estimated number of new buyers is 1000 but they're focused in markets that only get a few hundred listings per year.

The phrase "off market" or "off MLS" refers to sales made without going on the MLS.  Such listings are also called "pocket listings".  More of these deals are happening with cash buyers.

May 11, 2012 02:55 AM #28
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411


We're lucky to be here. 

Many of the heavy-hitters at FaceBook have already purchased out of fear the IPO would cause a price spike.  From what I can tell SF is hotter than SV.  Many start-up internet companies are pulled to SF.

For the opinion: this "off MLS" is B.S. & probably a violation of Agency.  Agents talking out of both sides of their mouths.  Just my opinion.

May 14, 2012 04:55 AM #29
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Silicon Valley is awash with money and has been throughout this recession. Many potential buyers sat on their wallets and watched a declining market. Now those buyers have made a decision – along with many others in the San Francisco Bay Area that it is time to buy. An improving economy and a suspicion that the real estate market has hit bottom have been the stimuli.

The amazing amount of new cash created by Facebook going public will only add to the already strong demand for houses in the San Francisco South Bay.

May 14, 2012 05:54 AM #30
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