Realty site makes 2017 predictions

The 2017 housing market will experience moderate growth in the nation’s housing market but slower gains compared to the last two years, according to forecasts in the “2017 Housing Review” at, the official site of the National Association of Realtors.

Realtors predicted that home prices would increase 3.9 percent and existing home sales would rise 1.9 percent, to 5.46 million homes. Interest rates are expected to reach 4.5 percent, new home sales to grow 10 percent and new home starts to increase 3 percent.

Private visioning adviser talks 'great bones' of downtown

Town Crier file photo
A family walks down Main Street in downtown Los Altos on Halloween. A consultant gave presentations recently on how to get more people to walk around downtown, and not just during holidays.

A retail consultant gave a series of presentations in Los Altos last week on ways to “create everybody’s favorite place” in downtown. Robin Abrams of Los Altos Forward invited Stephen Lawton, a Lafayette-based adviser for Main Street Property Services Inc., to make an assessment of downtown.

“There are great bones here,” Lawton said of the mid-century downtown and its decades-old trees. “There is potential, but it needs upgrades. There are lots of signs of decline and neglect.”

County will permit partial tax payments

Santa Clara County residents struggling to pay their property taxes will soon get a bit of relief. On a motion by Supervisor Joe Simitian, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved a plan for accepting partial payments on property-tax bills.

“As things stand now, if a person is having a rough patch and sends a property-tax payment less than the total amount owed, we send that payment back – and then threaten them with a 10 percent penalty on the whole amount if they don’t pay up,” Simitian said. “It seems to me that we ought to be encouraging taxpayers who are trying to do the right thing, even as they’re struggling financially.”

There's nothing smart about 'smart beta' for investors

I’m not a big fan of marketing terms created for the sole purpose of making products sound better than they are. And when investment or insurance companies do this for financial products, it really gets me going.

One term that’s getting a lot of mileage right now is “smart beta,” commonly applied to certain exchange-traded mutual funds (ETFs). When a client asked me what it means, I realized that it was time for someone to set the record straight. There’s nothing especially “smart” about smart beta funds. ETFs purporting to use them are no better or worse than those that don’t.

Art with a (re)purpose

Courtesy of Tami Vazquez
Restoration Illumination founder Tami Vazquez works on a French sign. The Los Altos resident repurposes old items into wall signs and furniture.

When Tami Vazquez’s second son was born, the Los Altos resident knew she wanted to spend more time at home with Mateo and older son Ricardo than her corporate job would allow.

“I went to work right away after my first (son) was born, and I felt like I was missing out on too much – all the milestones like, ‘He crawled today! He did his first smile!’” Vazquez said.

State St. restaurant hit with lawsuit

Asher Kohn/Town Crier
A man who has sued nine other stores this year is pursuing litigation against Charley Noodle & Grill for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

An Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit against Charley Noodle & Grill is seen by its owner as a strike against all small businesses in Los Altos.

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