Faculty, staff housing sales down for fourth straight year

Jan. 20, 2010, 12:03 a.m.

A look at year-end numbers for Stanford real estate sales shows a more than 50 percent decrease in single-family residence sales from academic years 2005-2006 to 2008-2009 — down to 23 from 48 — while sale prices stayed within the same ranges as previous years.

Faculty Staff Housing (FSH), a division of the Office of the Provost, assists eligible faculty and executive-level staff in acquiring permanent housing in the area, including on University-owned land. Most faculty and staff in on-campus housing are found in neighborhoods surrounding the central campus, such as Santa Ynez Street, Mayfield Avenue or condominiums on Peter Coutts Circle or Pearce Mitchell Place.

In the 2005-2006 academic year, FSH reported 48 sales of single-family residences on campus, including 11 condominiums. By academic year 2008-2009, the total on-campus sales number dropped to 23. As of Jan. 6, 2010, only 10 sales have been made in the current academic year.

Single-family homes during the 2008-2009 academic year sold for between $1.3 and $2.5 million, whereas condominiums ranged from $350,000 to $840,000.

In the wake of the housing bubble bust, housing markets in surrounding cities have become noticeably less active, with sales numbers dropping along with home prices, said locals involved in real estate.

Jan Thomson, Stanford’s FSH manager, explained that the on-campus housing market lags behind the surrounding housing markets, but generally follows outside trends in terms of mortgage rates and other measurements.

Thomson emphasized, however, that the small campus housing market is likely affected by the limited number of residences available.

“The [sale] numbers reflect the supply on campus,” she said. “It’s largely dependent on what’s available, as compared to off-campus housing, which has much more available.”

Thomson noted that declining sales numbers can be partly attributed to the University’s less aggressive recruitment of new faculty because of recent financial restraints. Some rental housing has also been unoccupied, but Thomson hopes to see them occupied in the near future.

Real estate agents who handle sales on campus agreed that availability plays a large role in determining yearly sales numbers.

“Clients will look both on and off campus when trying to buy a home in the area,” said real estate agent Monica Corman of Alain Pinel Realtors. “They often end up off campus, simply because there’s nothing available on campus.”

She noted that faculty and staff who want to reside on campus find “very little inventory” available to them.

The general market also plays a role; Corman noted that “volume and prices are down everywhere.”

Coldwell Banker agent Carole Feldstein, who has sold on campus for more than 20 years, said she “has not noticed any trends” specific to the Stanford housing market.

“Stanford properties follow market tendencies,” she said.

She said that differences between comparable residences on and off campus depend on available inventory.

“It would be misleading to generalize about on-campus housing trends,” Feldstein said.

Looking forward, 39 new faculty- and staff-only residences are in development in the Olmstead Terrace neighborhood near Stanford Avenue, and Olmstead Road sales are expected to begin this spring.

“The newest housing developments will be very interesting,” Corman said. “The developments are nicer and newer, but higher density. I think it will bring a new energy to campus.”

Ellen Huet is currently a senior staff writer at The Daily; she joined the staff in fall 2008 and served one volume as managing news editor in fall and early winter of 2010-2011. Reach her at ehuet at stanford dot edu. Fan mail and sternly worded complaints are equally welcome.

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