At this month’s Palo Alto District tour meeting, Palo Alto brokers said the market environment has greatly improved from a year ago. While inventory is still low, it has been slowly rising.

Keller Williams managing broker Bob Stelzer indicated demand is coming back strong, and there has been a significant rise in listings since April. His data showed Menlo Park with 52 current active listings compared with 26 in April; Palo Alto 51, compared with 29 in April; and Los Altos 45 compared with 24 in April. High-end property sales increased substantially in the first half of this year in comparison to the same time last year.

Sellers are becoming realistic, according to the brokers. Many sellers caught up in the hype of Facebook’s IPO and thinking they would strike gold by waiting for prices to skyrocket, now realize the phenomenon did not create the “super market” they thought it would. These sellers are now ready to sell.

Broker Tim Foy of Midtown Realty, however, believes inventory is low because people are still looking for stability. Despite the uptick, he expects low inventory for a while. “It won’t change overnight. It’s a market reality,” commented Foy.

According to Alain Pinel Realtors broker Bob Gerlach, it’s not the Facebook IPO phenomenon that is driving the market, but rather, it’s interest from Chinese and other foreign buyers. He said majority of transactions through his office are with Chinese cash buyers. Foreign interest in property in the area has created a “dramatic effect” in the market, said Gerlach.

Gerlach indicated an obstacle to the market rebound is a pocket of sellers who can’t sell because they don’t have better places to go. Buyers these days are more selective. “It is a discretionary market,” he noted.

The brokers said listing agents need to make their sellers aware that despite the high demand, not all houses are “entitled” to top market prices because today’s buyers are more informative. There is more discretion now regarding “housing with a blemish,” added Foy.

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