Mary Pope-Handy

Silicon Valley Realtor, selling homes in Los Gatos, Saratoga, San Jose, and nearby since 1993. Prolific blogger with a network of site.

Saratoga Quarry Park

Just east of Hakone Gardens at the edge of downtown Saratoga Village off of Congress Springs Road sits the 64 acre property which is Saratoga Quarry Park.

The site was first used to mine from the hills all the way back in 1856 when it was used to quarry lime for the gold and silver mining industry.

The history of Saratoga Quarry Park

Quarry Park in Saratoga, CA

Saratoga Quarry Park was purchased in 1921 by Santa Clara County to extract rock and gravel for the county roads. In 1967 the county stopped using this site as a quarry. Still county property, public workers began to use the location as a recreational facility, with volunteers building picnic grounds and barbeques, landscaping and hardscaping. County employees held parties and even weddings on the site until the late 1990s.

The City of Saratoga purchased the property in 2011 with the intent to develop a park. The park opened with 0.8 miles of trails and picnic grounds on October 31, 2015. Someday, the city hopes to add trails which would connect the Quarry Park to Hakone Gardens and another to the Skyline to the Sea Trail through the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The old quarry in Saratoga California

Part of Saratoga's old quarry, off Big Basin Way

While quarry ridges have been softened and landscapes to return the mountainside to a more natural habitat and prevent erosion, many remnants from the quarry days remain and are even celebrated. Two marked tunnels, though blocked off for entry, have pathways built for visitors to peek inside and learn about the work that was done there. Some old, large gears are now used as decoration, such as axles from mine carts being used as benches. The largest structure is the Old Loading Structure, the concrete remains of the building still standing by the parking lot entrance. Once used to deposit freight into train cars and then into semis, the building now holds large black and white photographs from when the quarry was active.

 

Vollyball court at the quarry

Many of the special features, such as native gardens, boardwalks, and viewing platforms were Eagle Scout Projects from troop 566, added in 2015.

Continue reading

Blossom Festival - celebrating Saratoga's orchard historyThis weekend, travel back in time to the early- to mid-20th century and celebrate Santa Clara Valley’s heritage with the Saratoga Historical Foundation and the City of Saratoga’s Blossom Festival.

When the hills of Los Gatos, Saratoga, and the surrounding regions were covered with fruit blossoms every year, a Blossom Festival was held with parades, food, games, and theatrical performances. These massive celebrations saw visitors come from miles around to enjoy the beauty of the valley and the festivities.

On March 18th from 10am-4pm, the Saratoga Heritage Orchard and Civic Center area will be host to a new Blossom Festival. The event is free and family friendly. Children may enjoy kids craft and activity tables and a petting zoo. History buffs can rub elbows with costumed characters from Saratoga’s by-gone-days, see vintage vehicles, motors, and tractors, and swing to a live band playing tunes from the 1930s-40s. Foodies might enjoy gourmet food trucks, prune and apricot tasting (the prize crops of the Valley of Heart’s Delight), and docent-led orchard tours. There will also be artists, craftspeople, entertainment, and more!

Join us in the orchard under a snowfall of pink and white flower petals and celebrate the beauty of the changing season at the Saratoga Blossom Festival!

 

Saratoga Heritage Orchard and Civic Center area

13777 Fruitvale Avenue in Saratoga, CA

March 18th from 10am-4pm, free to all!

http://www.saratogahistory.com/blossomfestival/

View from a high rise in downtown San Jose, looking east - Autumn 2011San Jose is the biggest city in Silicon Valley (and considers itself to be the Capital of Silicon Valley), is the tenth largest city in the United States of America with over 1 million in population, and it has a very large footprint – approximately 180 square miles. Because of the size, it isn’t surprising that many distinct neighborhoods exist within the city. In my blog you can find descriptions and outlines of these districts or neighborhoods. You can also find market analysis dedicated to different regions of San Jose. Because the areas are so different, the market in separate sectors of the city can change dramatically from one area to the next. If you are looking for a home in Silicon Valley, it is best to consider San Jose by its neighborhoods rather than as a whole to understand the market. Nonetheless, looking at the big picture can often give you a general taste for the market. Currently, it’s a steady sellers market.

Below you will find the Altos Research Charts, a live feed of data on the markets in San Jose. You will also find the RE Report, charts with statistics comparing sales in the last month and comparing them month-over-month and year-over-year. These are both the usual tools I use to gauge a market. Directly below are links to the market analysis of specific neighborhoods in San Jose. Some of these, where I work the most, are updated monthly, and others are updated every few months.

Altos Charts for San Jose as a Whole – automatically updated each week – single family homes

First, the basic charts for single family homes or houses. FYI, Altos uses LIST prices. The RE Report further down uses SOLD prices (which is part of the reason why I utilize both).

List prices of single family homes / houses by price quartile:

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

Average days on market of listed homes (houses) by pricing tier:

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

Inventory levels for the last 3 years for houses for sale in San Jose:

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

 

Altos Research charts for the condomium and townhouse market in San Jose – automatically updated each week

Condominium and townhouse LIST prices by quartile: Continue reading

Morgan Hill land along the Uvas RiverHow’s the real estate market in Morgan Hill? This article will include data, trends and statistics for both houses and condominiums / townhouses.

For the single family home segment in this “south county” town, prices are mostly consistent year over year and month over month. The sale price to list price ratio has been hovering between 98% and 100% for months. The cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy are usually a bit less in demand than parts of Santa Clara County which are either tech magnets or closer to these big businesses. So while most of the Silicon Valley has a sale price to list price ratio of anywhere from 100% to 110%, it’s generally lower here, making the home buying conditions calmer for weary buyers, though still a sellers market. Below is a chart with basic info, but to see more information, you may click on this link to see the Real Estate Report for Morgan Hill.

Continue reading

Hiring a Realtor? Silicon Valley home sellers are very savvy and go at their real estate transactions carefully. However, some may be tempted to try to line all the criteria up in side by side charts and attempt to make a hiring decion that way. Please beware the temptation of focusing on what is “easily measurable” as most important. Sometimes the most easily measurable factors may not be that important at all. Much of what is truly valuable in a Realtor’s suite of services and skills cannot be easily measured in a side-by-side comparison chart.

Silicon Valley home buyers are sometimes confused about the difference between a home inspection and a home appraisal.  Are they one and the same? Not even close!

magnifierA property or home inspection is done to determine if the major components of a house, townhouse, condo, etc. are all working and in satisfactory condition, and to point out defects and problems so that they may be addressed by the current or future owner.  The property inspector will make a visual inspection of things like the foundation (is it cracked, is it bolted?), are there any issues in the crawlspace (moisture, ponding water, cellulose debris), the attic (is there evidence of vermin? are electrical junctions all in boxes? is there enough insulation?) as well as the furnace, water heater, etc.  The inspector may check to see if the water flow is good in the home and at the water main.   These are all things that the appraiser does not do. (There are other possible inspections, too, besides just the home inspection, such as chimney, roof, HVAC, pool, foundation, etc.)

Typical Cambrian Gardens Floorplan: 3 bed, 2 bath, about 1250 SF (San Jose neighborhood)An appraisal is a formal statement of value by a licensed appraiser.  The appraiser measures the size of the home to establish the square footage.  The appraiser does not check to see if the furnace works! However, if the roof is very old, if the home needs substantial remodeling, that will impact the assigned value.  The appraisal is used by the lender to determine how much the bank should be lending on.  Often, that’s the same amount as the purchase price.  But sometimes not!

What happens if the appraisal is lower than the purchase price of a home?

A buyer with 20% down payment is in contract to purchase a Cambrian house for $1,400,000.   The expectation is that the bank will fund a loan for 80% of purchase price, or $1,120,000.  If the appraiser finds the value to be only $1,350,000, the loan will be 80% of that number – not the purchase price. In that case, the mortgage would be at $1,080,000. Note: most people think that the buyer will be “making up” the full $50,000 shortfall, but that’s not the case.  The amount to make up is $40,000, not $50,000 because it’s the percentage of the gap, not the whole thing.

If you happen to be buying residential real estate “all cash”, you will not be required to have or pay for an appraisal.  You are also never required to have inspections, but unless a seller is providing excellent pre-sale inspections, it would be a huge and possibly costly mistake to skip having them.

Related reading:

Home buying: home inspection (on the popehandy.com site)
Home selling: pre-sale home inspections (also on popehandy.com)

 

 

Sketch of houseIt can be really challenging for people moving to Silicon Valley to get a sense of real estate prices, and perhaps more, to compare housing costs from one town or district to another.

One question I get a lot is this: what does it cost to buy a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house of about 2000 square feet?

So to answer this question, let’s see what houses like this are selling for (4 bed, 2 bath, appx 2000 SF or 185 square meters) and see how the cost looks in one Santa Clara Count y / Silicon Valley area versus another.

Today I compared several areas and cities using this criteria: single family homes of 1800 – 2200 SF, 3-5 bedrooms, 2-3 bathrooms, on lot sizes of 6000 SF to 10,000 SF. Normally I would chart this over the last 2 months, or 60 days, but because of the low inventory causing the sellers market I have expanded the search to the last 4 months, or 120 days, for a better range. As of this writing, Los Altos only had one sale over the last 120 days, so data for that segment spans from 0 to 180 days back, or 6 months, and in that half a year we have merely 3 sold.

Here’s how it shakes out in the “west valley areas” along the Highway 85 corridor, most of which are known to have good to great public schools. What areas are most affordable? One way of analyzing this is the “price per square foot” figure. Whenever I update the chart, I re-arrange the order of the cities from high to low based on the price per square foot, although there’s usually minimal movement.

Below are my results from the same search back in September 18, 2015. By comparisson, you can tell that Santa Clara’s average Price has increased, pushing it above Almaden and Campbell.

How competitive is the market? Have a look at the DOM or “Days on Market” figure. All of these days on market are short, but they range from low to heart-skippingly fast.

In most cases, the priciest and most desirable places have either the best schools or shortest commute location or both (Palo Alto and Cupertino have both). Had I ranked these for school scores, you’d find that Cambrian is fairly high up and a good “bang for the buck” location – though not a super short commute for folks who work in Mountain View (though not so bad for people working in Cupertino).  Almaden, too, offers a good value for the quality of the schools, homes, and neighborhoods, though the commute is longer. None of these is especially close to North San Jose (where a major employer is Cisco).

It should also be noted that in some of the smaller communities with less on the market these numbers may not be as stable as others with more data – for instance, Saratoga only had four homes sold matching this criteria within the 120 days of collected data, and therefore may not be as accurate as others, such as the Blossom Valley area of San Jose with the most data at 35 homes sold. For these smaller communities with less data, it is beneficial to look at them more closely – Saratoga, for instance, has 3 different high school districts which have an impact the real estate prices.  This chart is really just a snapshot to give a general sense of the relative affordability of these markets to one another. Continue reading

Silver Leaf Park in the Santa Teresa area of San Jose - the proximity of parks will impact the Santa Teresa real estate market for that neighborhood

Silver Leaf Park in the Santa Teresa area of San Jose

How’s the market in the scenic Santa Teresa area of San Jose? The part of Silicon Valley is usually a bit “softer” as it’s farther from most work places and the school scores are generally not super strong, either. The Santa Teresa real estate market, like most of Santa Clara County, has been flattening after a multi year surge in values. The average Days on Market are low at a mere 18 days. The sales to list price ratio has risen to 100.8%. This shows that this seller’s market has heated up since last month.

Here’s quick view of the real estate statistic and trends for just the Santa Teresa area’s single family homes (houses / duet homes):

Santa Teresa real estate market stats & trends

You can read the Santa Teresa area real estate market report at this link if you’d like more details and statistical analysis. This particular page goes to the report for houses, but you can navigate home type to see condos/townhomes or any other area in San Jose, Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, or Santa Cruz County.

 Also, please note that zip codes don’t always relate to the districts. Zip code 95138 is a great example of that as part of it is in Santa Teresa and part in Evergreen (pricey and upscale Silver Creek). Pull up the averages for 95138 and you might think all the homes are selling for around $1.4 million. But if you look in the charming but more affordable Silver Leaf area of the same zip code, you’ll find the cost half as much – or less! So too with 95123 (though less dramatic) as about half of that is in Blossom Valley and part in Santa Teresa.
It’s good to do a lot of research, but beware the “easy answers” of price per square foot or average sales price per zip code. Often your best help will come from a highly experienced real estate professional who’s willing to help you to crunch the numbers for the Santa Teresa real estate market (boring grunt work but not actually difficult).
And don’t forget the condo market! This can be even more difficult to pin down because of the small amount of data and the wide variety of values. Here’s a quick look at the current Santa Teresa condo market from the RE Report data:

As you can see in the chart above, the condo portion of the Santa Teresa real estate market is also doing well. It is no longer hotter than the single family housing market, it has shown some cooling with properties taking just 35 days to sell at 101.7% of list price. In today’s condo market many areas are competing with the housing market and are much hotter than usual.

Disclaimers made, here are some Altos Research numbers for the four Santa Teresa zip codes:

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

You’ll note that one of the four zips is super high – this is 95138, which has a number of homes in The Ranch, a subdivision in Evergreen near Silver Creek. The part of 95138 which is in Santa Teresa is considerably more affordable, well under $1 million in the vast majority of cases. So let’s take that one out so we can get a better feel for the true pricing of Santa Teresa homes.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

Here two of the zip codes seem to be on track with each other, but 95123 is going at a different pace. Half of that area is Blossom Valley, which tends to be a stronger market. Regardless, it would seem that overall, the median list price of homes for sale in Santa Teresa has gone from the mid 700 thousands to the mid 800 thousands over the last year. And that’s about what I have seen, anecdotally, too.

Santa Teresa homes for sale

Interested in buying a house, townhouse or condominium in the Santa Teresa area? Below, please check out a list of available properties, listed in order of most recently added to the MLS first. Or better yet, call or email me to discuss working together!

 

  1. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,521 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,009 sqft
  2. 4 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,392 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,621 sqft
  3. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,124 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,011 sqft
  4. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,723 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,011 sqft
  5. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,462 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,490 sqft

See all Real estate in the Santa Teresa community.
(all data current as of 4/25/2017)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

 

Los Gatos High - Silicon Valley home prices by high school districtBelow, please find the charts indicating Silicon Valley home prices by high school district for transactions closed in December 2016 for condos and townhomes first, and later also for single family homes.  The vast majority of Silicon Valley is found within Santa Clara County and San Mateo County, with small portions also in Santa Cruz County and Alameda County.  Alameda County is not part of the local MLS, so unfortunately I don’t have that data to share.  The data presented here is courtesy of my brokerage, Sereno Group.

Silicon Valley home prices by high school district: a few words of caution

If you only glance at the median sale price, you may be confused about the most expensive Silicon Valley places in which to live for the condominium or townhouse buyer.  For instance, in Santa Clara County, the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District has a median sale price of $1,4 85,000.  At first view, this seems to be the most expensive part of the county.  But please note that the average square footage is 1910.  Now look at Palo Alto Unified, with a median sale price of $1,260,000 – but an average square footage of just 1313.    The price per square foot, though, correctly pegs the pain value of home buying in Silicon Valley as PA Unified comes in at a whopping $1,014 per square foot.  (More disclaimers: large homes sell for much less than smaller ones on a price per sf basis, so this is more helpful when the average square footage is similar.)

Also, please note that the high school district boundaries do not neatly follow those of city, town, zip code, or any other boundary. It’s sloppy at best.  Campbell Union High School District covers not only Campbell, but parts of San Jose, Los Gatos, Saratoga, and Monte Sereno.   The Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District encompasses parts of Los Gatos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, the Los Gatos Mountains and even a sliver of the Almaden Valley in San Jose.

Condos and townhomes – prices by high school district

San Mateo County and Santa Clara County home prices by high school distirct

San Mateo County and Santa Clara County home prices by high school distirct

Santa Cruz County has some Silicon Valley jobs and a strong number of residents who work in tech on the other side of “the hill”. Studying these home values, you can imagine why some locals are willing to commute across the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is much more affordable.

Santa Cruz County home prices by high school district

Santa Cruz County home prices by high school district

Next, the same data but for single family  homes .

Single family homes pricing by high school district in San Mateo County and Santa Clara County

Single family homes pricing by high school district in San Mateo County and Santa Clara County

 Santa Cruz County single family home prices by high school district

Santa Cruz County single family home prices by high school district

Interested in buying or selling anywhere in these counties?  Please call or email me today!

 

Related reading:
Cambrian Months of Inventory (by elementary school district)
Saratoga, CA real estate market update (with info by price point and high school district)
Los Gatos real estate market trends by price point and high school district (on the Live in Los Gatos blog)
Learn more about what homes cost in Silicon Valley on the Move2SiliconValley blog

How's The MarketInterested in buying a rental property?  Perhaps you were thinking that a 20% rental property down payment would do the trick to get you started as a real estate investor?  That may work in some places. In most of the U.S., though, you’ll need 30% down to be “cash flow neutral”, meaning that you aren’t losing money each month.  In pricey Silicon Valley, though, often it takes more than a 40% down payment on an investment property just to break even.

Today a friend and past client asked me exactly this question.  The investment property in mind, a townhouse,  would pull in a monthly rent of about $2600 to $2800 when occupied. (Remember, you have to also factor in at least some vacancy rate.)  The list price for this townhouse is about $650,000. (Side note:  with a condo or townhouse,  insurance coverage is probably going to be a lot less costly than with a single family home.  The estimates below are for a townhome.)

Where do you think the cash flow neutral or break even point would be in terms of the down payment?    That question is today’s case study.  Have a look at the various scenarios of  20% down, 30% down,40% down and 50% down:

Investment property down payment needed to be cash flow neutral

If my calculations are correct, you really need to put about 50% down to buy this particular Santa Clara County townhome and have it support itself.

Is that a good deal?  Not really. At least not if your main focus is cash flow.

There are other places in the country where you can put a lot less down and break even or have a positive cash flow.

Of course, cash flow is one motivator.  Another, though, is appreciation.  Depending on your own goals, you may be far more interested in appreciation than cash flow.  If that’s the case,  Silicon Valley may be exactly what  you’re looking for as an investment buyer.  Those places where the down payment can be smaller may not have the same upside potential with appreciation as we have here in the San Jose area, or the San Francisco Bay Area as a whole.

Interested in becoming a real estate investor? Have a good down payment saved?  Please call or email me and we can chat.  If Silicon Valley isn’t the right place for you to make your real estate investment, I can introduce you to wonderful Realtors in other areas where the numbers may be more favorable.

 

See also: Buy a Los Gatos home or real estate investment property

Translation

by Transposh - translation plugin for wordpress
Mary Pope-Handy
Realtor
ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at) PopeHandy.com
License# 01153805


Selling homes in
Silicon Valley:
Santa Clara County,
San Mateo County, and
Santa Cruz County.
:
Special focus on:
San Jose, Los Gatos,
Saratoga, Campbell,
Almaden Valley,
Cambrian Park.
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Use the widget below to browse properties which are for sale, under contract (pending) or sold. Want to view only homes which are available now? Use the "find a home" link on the menu above (next to the "home" button).
Mary’s other sites & blogs
Valley Of Hearts Delight
Santa Clara County Real Estate,
with an interest in history

Move2SiliconValley.com
Silicon Valley relocation info

popehandy.com
Silicon Valley real estate,
focus on home selling

Silicon Valley Real Estate Report
Silicon Valley real estate
market trends & statistics
Mary’s Blog Awards
Top 25 real estate blogs 2016
2016: Personal Income's list of top 25 real estate blogs.


Best Realtor blog award
2016: Coastal Group OC's list of best Realtor blogs


The 2009 Sellsius list of top 12 women real estate bloggers
2009: Sellsius list of top
12 women real estate bloggers


Mary Pope-Handy's Live in Los Gatos blog won the 2007 Project Blogger contest, sponsored by Inman News and Active Rain

2007: Mary Pope-Handy and Frances Flynn Thorsen win the Project Blogger Contest for Mary's Live in Los Gatos blog. The contest was sponsored by
Active Rain and Inman News.


Non blog award


Best real estate agent in Silicon Valley from the San Jose Mercury News poll of readers in 2011
"Best real estate agent
in Silicon Valley"

2011 readers' poll,
San Jose Mercury News

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