If you are house hunting in the Cambrian area of San Jose, you are probably aware that home prices and the real estate climate generally differ based on a number of things, but the most important factor of all is the schools. While it is helpful to view the Cambrian real estate market as a whole, it’s more accurate to look at a smaller segment of that realty market and study it by school district.
One data point we use to analyse the market is the absorption rate, or months of inventory. The question is this: if no new inventory came on the market, how long would it take for the current supply of houses for sale take to sell, if sales continue at the same rate? For this we look at the currently available list of homes for sale (some people including pending with contingency in place, but nearly all of these do close, so I omit them) and also those of the same criteria which have sold and closed escrow in the last 30 days. The same study could be done on a weekly basis rather than monthly, but with such small numbers of inventory, that would likely not be so reliable. I ran these numbers from MLSListings.com this morning?
Cambrian as a whole has 1.07 months of inventory – that’s pretty good if you are a seller, and a bit scary if you are a buyer. A closer look, though, and you see quite a huge difference between either the Cambrian or Union School District, which both have a very brisk .83 months of inventory, versus the homes in the San Jose Unified School District area, which are moving at 3 months of inventory – a great market for most of the U.S., but sluggish compared to the other areas.
For a home owner wanting to sell in the SJ Unfied section of Cambrian, this is critically important information to understand so that you don’t overestimate the enthusiasm for your house. It is going to be more important for you to price aggressively, stage well, market thoroughly than in the other areas, which may be more self-selling due to the very high quality of the public schools.
For a home buyer wanting to purchase in any of these areas, knowledge is power! You might be able to get away with contingencies in your offers in the San Jose Unified neighborhoods as you may be the only offer in some cases, but that may not get you into your next home in the more competitive areas where many people are just trying to get their children into excellent schools and you’ve got multiple offers and overbids in that superheated market. (We Realtors do not love seeing our buyers get into contract with few or no contingencies, by the way. We prefer where there’s a little more balance. This imbalanced situation is a classic case of supply and demand: too much demand, not much supply.)
Finally, it should be noted that schools are a major driver all of Silicon Valley. I have similar studies, using high school districts, for Saratoga (on this site) and Los Gatos (on the Live in Los Gatos blog), if you’d like to check those out also. Because those areas have a really big spread in pricing, the absorption rates have been considered by price point too.
If a strong public high school is at the top of your priority list, you may find yourself looking at Los Gatos, Cambrian (area of San Jose), and Almaden (also in San Jose) – scenic areas along the southwest side of Silicon Valley, all of them featuring good to excellent high schools. I would caution against only judging an area, or a school, by its scores, though – often the culture at the campus, the offerings, and many other things can vary from one school to the next. Nothing beats visiting in person and talking with students, parents, faculty and staff.
2013 Growth API Scores
Disclaimers aside, scores do matter as an important part of the overall package. How do the high schools in these areas stack up? API scores are no longer used, so the numbers below are from the 2013 Growth API scores, the most current year available.
Ranked in order of API score:
Leland High – 889 (Almaden, southern area)
Los Gatos High – 883 (Los Gatos, central + small area in Almaden)
Leigh High – 833 (Los Gatos, east & Cambrian plus little of Almaden)
Pioneer High – 822 (Almaden, northern area & Cambrian)
Branham High – 810 (Cambrian & Blossom Valley)
Westmont High – 796 (Los Gatos, western area plus parts of Campbell and Saratoga)
What is the cost of homes in these areas?
To narrow it, let’s consider the same set of criteria: houses sold in the last 180 days within 1 mile of each high school named, with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 1500 – 2000 SF. (I’m leaving lot sizes out because it’s already a very small pool of homes.) To make it super simple, I’ll just include the price per SF and the average sale price of these houses.
Ranked in order of affordability – average sale price:
Pioneer High – 822 API – average price per sf $549.17 average sale price $919,057 (9 houses)
Branham High – 810 API – average price per sf $588.92 average sale price $969,295 (17 houses)
Leland High – 889 API – average price per sf $616.04 average sale price $1,071,250 (4 houses)
Leigh High – 833 API – average price per sf $686.00 average sale price $1,144,100 (20 houses)
Westmont High – 796 API – average price per sf $844.00 average sale price $1,329,500 (8 houses)
Los Gatos High – 883 API – average price per sf $917.95 average sale price $1,593,556 (9 houses)
Clearly, the market dictates that there are more than high school scores impacting home values (but you already knew that!).
Homes in the Leland High School area are a very good value, if you can find one (there were only 4, so too easy to have an impossibly small pool of choices).
Market drivers – beyond school scores
Downtown Los Gatos is charming and historic (with loads of beautiful older homes and buildings), it enjoys a vibrant night life and restaurant scene. It’s interesting! It’s “walkable”! People want to live in a part of Silicon Valley that isn’t just suburban sprawl – hence downtown LG has the biggest draw of all these areas. It’s not too far from Highway 85 (think Apple) but it’s not boring, like most of San Jose can be. Many are willing to pay much more to be part of Los Gatos and Los Gatos High School. A nice townhouse in LG, or a house in Cambrian? That may be the choice.
Commute times to places like Apple matter a lot, so homes on the west end of Los Gatos, in Campbell and parts of Saratoga in the Westmont HS area see a very high average sale price, even though the API score was less than 800. Schools matter but they aren’t the only thing that matter. Many home owners believe that the most important part of the education is the parents’ involvement (at home and at school). Many also have their kids at a private high school. Continue reading
How did 2015 end as compared to 2014 for the Silicon Valley real estate market? It was perhaps not as much appreciation as some may have perceived – and I may be alone, but I think that’s a good thing as realty trends and statistics go. I’ll explain below.
The Annual Silicon Valley RE Report is in for Santa Clara County (links at the bottom for San Mateo County and Santa Cruz County). Here you can view the year over year statistics and market trends for the San Jose area.
Santa Clara County home sales and prices –
As you can see, home sales (solid area) remain fairly low. There’s plenty of demand, just not much inventory for it, hence the pretty much steady rise in pricing overall in Santa Clara County. This is one of the stronger areas in the nation. (When prices are up, consuemers tend to think that Realtors are always making tons of money. But notice the number of sales! Many agents are writing offers and not getting them accepted – so are having a tough time just as their buyers are having a tough time with multiple bids.)
Santa Clara County – prices up over 2014 by 6-8% appx
- Median home prices increased by 7.9% year-over-year to $917,000 from $849,975.
- The average home sales price rose by 6.4% year-over-year to $1,157,360 from $1,088,090.
- Personal note: appreciation in this range is fairly sustainable, as compared to the appreciation in 2014, which was closer to 20%. Double digit appreciation is usually a little worrisome since it often is not sustainable. My sense is that this is healthier, and probably less susceptible to a “correction” than when prices rise more than 10% per year. Hence, I think it’s GOOD NEWS that the average appreciation is in single digits.
Santa Clara County by city within the county
Looking for a beautifully remodeled, young-feeling home with fantastic curb appeal, an open floorplan, a stunning kitchen, and a gorgeous back yard? How about one that features a guest cottage, pool and spa and has energy efficient elements throughout? Would you love to have a neighborhood park on a quiet street just steps from your front door? It’s available now and you can view it this weekend! 13841 Ravenwood Drive in Saratoga will be open tomorrow, Saturday Jan 23, 2016, from 1:30 to 4pm and Sunday, Jan 24, 2016, also from 1:30 to 4pm. Please stop by!
This lovely property has been meticulously expanded, remodeled, and improved down to the smallest details. The stucco on the exterior of the house was redone in 2011 to match the addition, which has permits and finals. The beautiful pool is a salt water pool with solar heating. The house enjoys solar electricity and an endless hot water tank, newer insulation, and water efficient toilets. The interior features hardwood floors, coffered ceilings, recessed lights, and crown moulding and baseboard throughout. Both full baths were remodeled and include floor to ceiling tile.
The front door was custom made and the remarkable entry enjoys a limestone tile floor, tall ceilings with a barrell vault, and at the entry to the living areas you’ll see the open living spaces: living, dining, family rooms and the kitchen’s breakfast bar.
- Total living space appx 2349 (per plans), including cottage
- Lot size appx 10,259 (per appraisal)
- Built in 1955. Permitted & finalled expansion of kitchen and entry, addition of new bedroom, upgrades to both full baths completed in 2011
Welcome home! Your first view into this gracious home is of the striking front door, composed of wood, translucent glass and wrought iron. Step inside to the formal entry with its barrel-vaulted ceiling and classic limestone flooring, which is echoed in the laundry and bathrooms, as well. Walk through the foyer to the living areas, with a vista the pool and back yard beyond.
Fantastic KITCHEN expansion includes:
- Slab granite countertops
- Marble tile backsplash
- Custom cabinetry
- Stainless steel appliances, including
- Five Star professional grade gas cooktop and Cavaliere range hood
- KitchenAid fridge with water and ice dispenser
- KitchenAid dishwasher
- Kraus stainless steel farmhouse sink
- Hardwood floors
- Large skylight and two windows
- Recessed lighting and high, coffered ceiling
- Breakfast bar
- Hot water filter
The adjoining LIVING and DINING areas feature coffered ceilings with recessed lighting and hardwood floors. The living room has a skylight, custom display shelves and cabinets, and a large sliding glass door which leads to the stunning back yard. The dining room features a custom made, stained glass window by noted local artist Thomas Kincade. Continue reading
Frequently seller clients ask me how many things they ought to be removing in order to maximize their sales price. It varies, but as a rule of thumb, most people should remove about half to two thirds of whatever is visible on counter tops, book shelves, dressers, etc.
The look you want is as if someone is barely living there. Keep that in mind.
Of course, you also want to depersonalize. If Silicon Valley home buyers visit your property and see your sports trophies (or your kids’), your college diploma, your religious decor, photos from your wedding and so on, they will find it irresistible. Instead of looking at the house that is for sale, they look at your personal items – which aren’t! They’ll try to figure out who you are instead of whether your current home should be their next one.
By clearing out a lot of your accessories and excess furniture, but leaving enough in to show how a room can be used, you’ll enable your potential home buyer to “mentally move in”. Removing distractions can help your house or condo to sell itself. This can be tough when you’re still living there, but if you can decide that now it’s a place you’re selling. Home will be where you go next, so let go of this current residence as home and you’ll have an easier time with the depersonalizing of your residence.
Often this is the most important step in staging a home for sale: making the space needed for buyers to mentally play out how they would use the space for themselves.
Interested in selling your home? I’d love to hear from you!
To read more about prepping your home for the market, check out a few of the related posts in the links below:
One of the most frustrating experiences for Silicon Valley home buyers is to spend time and energy looking at homes that they simply cannot afford. It happens all the time. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not always easy. In fact, take a look at a couple of my posts (or at least their titles) and you can see the dilemma up front:
What’s a consumer to do?
YES, you should look at the comps. NO you should not only look at the comps!
Here are a few questions to consider:
- How’s the market heat? Are the open houses packed? Are many homes getting multiple offers?
- What’s the list price to sales price ratio for homes in that area?
- Is there too much or not enough inventory of available homes?
- How many offers will there be? Multiples change everything!
If homes are often selling for over list price, it would be silly to assume that a property that’s only been on the market for a few days will sell for very much under list price. That’s even more true of the open house is packed!
In today’s hot sellers market, homes are not uncommonly listed below the expected sales price. Knowing the true market value is more important than the asking price.
Finding the sales price to list price ratio is easy – you can check it for various areas in Santa Clara County by visiting my Real Estate Report. Right now, here are the ratios in the San Jose area:
All of Santa Clara County 102.4%
All of San Jose 102.1%
Los Gatos 99.1%
You get the idea. Coming in at or under list price in this kind of climate will not make you, the buyer, look serious or knowledgeable if the listing is new and the property is in good shape. The same would be true in a calmer market if an offer came in at 95% or less.
Finally, understand the basics of “supply and demand”. If inventory is high, you can get away with writing a low offer and possibly seeing it work. But if inventory is chronically low, as it has been the past year, this won’t go over so well. The number of anticipated offers will tell you what you need to know here!
A good real estate agent will assist you in understanding the probable market value for any home you’re thinking about buying. Although it’s an art as much as a science, it’s possible to get at least the right ballpark if you can measure all of these variables correctly.
Looking to buy in the current market? Check out some of my other articles through the links below.
Is buying a home in late fall or winter a good idea, or is it better to wait until spring? (Hint: there’s no right or wrong answer)
And stay informed on the markets by following my Market Reports, many updated monthly.
How’s the Cupertino real estate market?
The real estate market in Silicon Valley can sometimes be a little quirky, so I like to approach this question from a few angles. In this article I’ll make use of my charts from Altos Research, which uses listing data (not solds) and is automatically updated every week and also monthly reports from my REReport subscription. Also I’ll periodically update it with info from the MLS that I have crunched myself or anecdotal stories from those of us “in the trenches”. The article is a bit long but I think much more comprehensive giving the multiple methods of answering the question of how the Cupertino real estate market is faring.
Cupertino median list price of houses by price quartile
Often the real estate market in any given city is very different between the most expensive homes and the most affordable ones. While many Cupertino home buyers are looking for a short commute, great public schools or strong resale value, some seek a luxury property with a view in the Cupertino hills (either off of Montevina Road by Ridge Vineyards or in other lower foothills).
The last few months have had some ups and downs in pricing, but most segments of the Cupertino real estate market have seen an uptick since the fall. The luxury market in Cupertino had a typical spring “peak” and is calming now, like much of the market. Going strong, though, are the bottom half of the pricing tiers. What if we look back more than a year? Combining the quartiles, it seems that there’s been more up than down, but right now we are in a overall appreciating time.