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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Competing with cash offers in the real estate market

It is no secret that even as the local housing market is doing much better these days, it is tough out there for the typical homebuyer – and even tougher for first-time homebuyers.

Because interest rates are still low and inventory is tight, homebuyers are continually losing out to all-cash buyers and investors.

“We are seeing our inventory rise, but not enough to accommodate the demand for homes,” said Carolyn Miller, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors. “Mortgage interest rates are edging upward, and many homebuyers feel they are being squeezed out at a time when they still see a window of opportunity.”

Miller, who has practiced real estate for more than 30 years, has seen more than her share of challenges in the market for all types of buyers and sellers. She said first-time buyers typically face more financial challenges and are less familiar with the complexity of a transaction compared to repeat buyers.

“These homebuyers get so frustrated that they either drop out of the market or make a wrong decision,” she said. “As realtors, it is our job to manage their expectations, help them understand the complexities and financial aspects of a home purchase and prepare them to move quickly in a market where there is a severe shortage of inventory.”

Miller noted that the following strategies may help homebuyers compete in this market.

• Get preapproved. Secure a preapproval letter from a mortgage lender. It is not enough to get prequalified. Getting preapproved is more in-depth than getting prequalified. The process includes an analysis of your credit report and an extensive financial background check. Your lender will be able to tell you the specific mortgage amount for which you are approved and the interest rate you would be charged. You might even be able to lock in a specific rate. Preapproved buyers have an edge with a seller over those who are not preapproved because they have a commitment in writing from their lender. This lets the seller know that they are serious and can afford to purchase the home.

• Check the disclosure documents. When you find a property you like, review and understand the disclosures the listing agent prepares and provides. If you don’t understand something, ask questions and have your agent find the answers. Some realtors schedule inspections when they obtain the listing and use those reports as working documents to prepare the house. There may be differences between what the house is now and what it was then.

• Prepare a clean offer with the help of your realtor. Rather than worrying about the little things, be concerned about the big ones. Be genuine and honest when you make the offer. Remember that obtaining a loan is normal. After all, it’s all cash to the seller at close of escrow, and cash offers don’t always close quickly.

• Write a letter. Write a letter to the sellers telling them why you like the home, why you can see yourselves living there, etc. Owners usually love their homes and want you to feel the same way. Express your heartfelt feelings. Cash buyers may not always want the home for their residence, and that can make a difference to a seller.

• Have your agent present your offer personally. If at all possible, have your agent present your offer in person to the listing agent and seller. Real estate is a very intimate business, and an agent personally presenting a client’s offer can make all the difference.

“Remember that it’s not always all about cash. If you have all your ducks in a row, your offer will be fine,” Miller said.

The Silicon Valley Association of Realtors provided information for this article. For more information, email Rose Meily at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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