Los Gatos Real Estate Market
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
San 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:
Average days on market of listed homes (houses) by pricing tier:
Inventory levels for the last 3 years for houses for sale in San Jose:
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
Buying a home in Silicon Valley is seldom easy, but right now, it’s nearly impossible with Santa Clara County’s critically low housing inventory. With rising interest rates getting folks off the fence and strong job growth in the San Jose area, there are many more home buyers than home sellers. While this isn’t unusual, the severity of the problem certainly is extreme. How bad is it? Here’s a visual cue dating from January 2003 to December 2016 which indicates that last month’s inventory of single family homes for sale in Santa Clara County is the lowest we’ve had since January 2003 (that’s how far back MLSListings.com shows them). Perhaps much longer.
It’s all about supply and demand. Look at the shortage of supply! Below is an alternate presentation of the same information but as a spread sheet format. I like this better because you can skim all of any particular month, such as December, and see how the most recent one compares to the same month in prior years. December 2016 had just 515 houses and duet homes on the market. The year before it was 834, which is historically low, but not nearly as dire as the current numbers. Santa Clara County’s critically low housing inventory is at historic lows!
This is precisely why it is so hard to buy a home in San Jose, Los Gatos, Campbell, Saratoga, or anywhere in Silicon Valley today. Has it improved since the inventory was measured by the MLS? No, it hasn’t. It was 452 as of January 1st and 450 today, on the 3rd!! This is sort of like “inventory limbo” – how low can you go?
How does this impact you?
Many long time residents may recall that we have had a shortage for a few years here. In January 2012, I wrote about it here: Why is it so hard to buy Silicon Valley real estate right now? Compared to the recession that had just ended, inventory was low – I can look back now and think “wow, we had no right to complain! We had a lot more inventory then as we do now!” What also happened is that with the restricted inventory, home prices rose. A lot.
If you are a renter and want to be a home buyer, you now have two things going against you: rising interest rates and rising home prices (due to strong demand and critically low supply of homes to buy). If you wait a year, there’s a good chance that you will lose quite a lot of buying power as interest rates continue to go up and home prices do, too. Please check out my article on rates: How will rising interest rates impact your home buying power? Super low inventories tend to cause rapid price appreciation, and if you aren’t careful you could be priced out of the market (either because of home prices or because of those rising interest rates).
Take heart, home buyers, often the supply of homes for sale does go lower in January before rising again in either late January or early February. So buyers, hang on!
If you are a seller, this is great news for you as it’s very likely that your equity will be increasing with the tight inventory. Buyer demand is good and interest rates are still very tolerable. Don’t wait until interest rates rise to the point where it impacts home prices due to affordability. At some point, we will hit that tipping point, and that’s when the all cash buyers really win.
Recently I have been in quite a few multiple offer situations with my Silicon Valley home buyers (ranging to as many as 15 contracts on a Los Gatos house). Understandably, home buyers do not want to pay more than a home “is worth”. With several buyers all vying for the same property, though, the price is driven up. That’s a seller’s dream and a buyer’s nightmare. Is it possible to pay fair market value, and not more, with multiple offers?
What is fair market value?
With a little research, you may find a few slightly different definitions of fair market value. Most, though, include these elements:
In other words, fair market value is usually achieved when the buyer and seller have a normal sale, with normal time frames, normal contingencies, normal relationships to one another. Most of the time, this is the result of one offer on the house after a week or two on the open market.
If a seller or buyer is desperate to sell or buy, you probably won’t see fair market value. Similarly, if a parent sells the family home to a son or daughter, there’s a good chance it will never be a matter of exposing it to the pool of buyers, and the price is likely to be soft. Off market sales may be on the low side, though recently we’re seeing buyers in those circumstances paying more just to secure the property. A buyer who writes an offer subject to the sale of her or his home will be at a negotiating disadvantage, but a seller may accept that bid if the home has been on the market awhile, there is no other competition, and if the sale price is higher than it otherwise would be. (They’ll accept more risk for a higher sale price.)
With multiple offers, usually there is undue pressure on the buyer to compete with better terms (few or no contingencies, faster than normal sale, buyer picking up more of the seller’s costs) and better pricing. Nearly always, bidding wars will result in a sale price that is more than fair market value. Frequently there’s a “band of pricing” which is above the list price. Most home buyers will fall into that range, and when a home has been listed a little on the low side, this band may represent fair market value. This can be far exceeded if one super motivated person, an outlier, spikes the price.
In summary, residential real estate sales that take place with multiple offers will usually be with terms that strongly favor the seller and with a price that is above fair market value. It is not usually possible to pay fair market value with multiple offers – most of the time, the property will sell for more than fair market value.
Silicon Valley buyer and seller advice
Fiscally conservative home buyers in Silicon Valley will find this a very frustrating and discouraging situation as they write offers for “fair” prices and find them too low each time – and to see prices rising! When that happens, the more offers they write and the longer they take to buy, the more expensive it becomes to purchase anything at all. Today we have the double whammy of rising interest rates, too. My best advice is to find a property in a good location with fixable defects (such as an ugly kitchen, not a location problem, which you cannot change) which has been on the market more than 3 weeks. In that case you will probably have no other competition and can pay what is fair market value rather than an inflated price to due multiple bids.
Conservative home sellers are sometimes afraid to slightly underprice their property to attract multiple offers. That is understandable, so I would suggest never putting a price on the home that you wouldn’t actually accept. There are many things you can do to get your home to sell fast (within 2 weeks) and which will attract a few buyers. Those aren’t so risky but they do involve some work. If your property looks like “the best deal”, you can be sure that the home buying public will notice. Just don’t undermine yourself by being present at showings, making it too hard for buyers to see your property, or not making the home attractive and risk free to home buyers. I have written many articles on how to attract buyers who will pay top dollar – you can google “pope-handy home seller tips” or start with this piece: How to make people line up and beg to buy your home.
For more reading:
On this site: All comps are not equal
On popehandy.com: How much is your home really worth? (Discussion on fair market value vs appraisal value in addition to other factors)
Santa Clara County is experiencing critically low inventory of homes for sale and it’s at the level of a true inventory crisis. It’s not unusual to see listings decrease in December, but this is more than the normal dip of properties on the market in Silicon Valley. It’s worse.
This afternoon I ran the statistics on MLSListings, and here’s what I see for available listings of single family homes in Santa Clara County (the greater San Jose area):
Usually the data is taken from the last day of the month, and obviously doing this on the 7th may skew it a little for this month (or maybe not: perhaps it will be lower still!). But check out the year over year figures – what do you see as typical for November or December going back as far as 2002?
Buyers are jumping on the best properties. I’m finding multiple offers on a wide variety of houses and in all kinds of price ranges and locations, including Morgan Hill, which is often much more sluggish than parts north. (This is not the story of every house on the market, of course. Many are badly photographed, overpriced, hard to see, not clean, or have other issues which make them undesirable to Silicon Valley home buyers. When real estate has an attractive price, is clean and shows well, is nicely marketed, staged, accessible, etc., it will get a crowd of interested buyers. Or at least one!)
Interest rates and the inventory crisis
No doubt, interest rates are a huge factor in the low inventory crisis, as they impact buying power.
If a home buyer could afford a monthly payment of $4000, here’s what happens with different interest rates (assuming a 30 year fixed mortgage):
$4000 at last winter’s rate of 3.5% = loan amount of $1,002,127
$4000 payment at today’s rate of 4.125% = loan amount of $928,506
$4000 payment at a rate of 5% (within a few years?) = loan amount of $838,267
Rising interest rates may stunt price appreciation somewhat, but you cannot count on it – it does not always happen. Or there may be a pressure downward on pricing, but perhaps not proportional (not enough help for the stretched home buyer).
Scarcity and multiple offers
Houses priced aggressively (lower than what the sellers and listing agent think it’s truly worth) to attract multiple offers are getting huge results and overbids. Not every property is selling fast, but on average, homes are going for more than 100% of list price in this area. With multiple offer situations, buyers who succeed in winning are those with larger down payments (more than 20%), few or no contingencies, a high price, and of course offer an As Is sale.
If you are a home buyer trying to compete in this challenging real estate market, please take a look at this summary article and the six related posts:
If you are a home owner thinking of selling, now is a great time! The lower the inventory the better your odds are of selling. If you tried selling your property without success this year, please read this article on why some houses or condos don’t sell:
http://sanjoserealestatelosgatoshomes.com/why-didnt-my-san-jose-home-sell/. Another article on that same topic is on my popehandy.com site: Things which will make a home buyer RUN from purchasing your home
And back to the first question about inventory: when will it rise? As you study the chart, above, you’ll notice that inventory normally rises in spring and peaks in the summer most years. So, buyers, continue looking and hang on. There will be some new offerings in the new year, and by March we should see a significant uptick. If not, look out – prices will go up even faster. So if you find a home you love now, don’t wait.
The cooling Silicon Valley real estate market is less of a question and more of an acknowledged fact (we wondered about it in June, we are sure now). If so, how can you tell? We need to begin by talking about “the market”.
First, Silicon Valley doesn’t have ONE market. The real estate market in Palo Alto or Cupertino is going to be very different from the realty market in Los Gatos, or the various parts of San Jose, such as Almaden, Willow Glen, Cambrian, or Blossom Valley. Ditto that with price points. It’s a very different “market” for entry level houses than for luxury homes.
But if we’re going to speak in broad, sweeping terms about cooling trends, what do we SEE? What do we HEAR? What’s happening with offers and open houses? These are the ways we measure the real estate climate. Often we in the industry hear the anecdotal evidence long before it’s reported in the paper. If we hear one Realtor friend after the next report quiet open houses, or few or no offers, we know there’s a climate change afoot.
I will tell you that I am hearing these things, which hint to a softer market for home buyers:
- Houses taking longer to sell in much of Silicon Valley / Santa Clara County
- Homes selling with fewer offers than 6 or 12 months ago
- Contingencies for loan, appraisal and inspection becoming more common
- More price reductions being necessary for than a few months ago
- Fewer ALL CASH offers
- Sale price to list price coming down a little
All of these suggest a mellowing of the housing market. Do the numbers line up?
The cooling Silicon Valley real estate market: seasonal fluctuations…
Historically, we do know that the busiest time for home sales is usually February – April. Some years it’s shorter or longer. (One particularly bad year, we had exactly 3 good weeks for selling in March and nothing more.) But what do the numbers tell us?
If we view the sale price to list price ratio, we expect there to be “seasonal fluctuations”. We don’t expect a hot seller’s market in December. Therefore, what’s often most helpful is comparing the same statistics year over year. Let’s do that. The image below provides the sale price to list price ratio for houses sold in Santa Clara County from Jan 1 2012 through Aug 24, 2016 (the day I grabbed this data). This was taken from the MLSListings.com site for agents (the private MLS).
I love this kind of presentation because it’s so easy to see both month over month and year over year statistics. Take a look at August (so far) for this year compared to the prior months in 2016. At 101.5% that seems like a fantastic ratio (they would go nuts for this in most of the U.S.). Now compare it to the prior months this year and you can see it’s been coming down since March. OK, now consider prior years…it’s mostly a very similar pattern. That tells us that “spring is hotter”. We already knew that, but seeing it for most of the last few years pretty much drives the point home.
But let’s compare August 2016 to August 2012- Aug 2015. That’s a better “apples to apples” comparison. And here it’s very clear that the real estate market in Silicon Valley really IS COOLER than it was in prior years for the same month. Any doubts? Check the same info for July – yes, all hotter until you get to July 2012. Now June – same as for July. May? Yes, again, hotter for that month in 2013, 2014, and 2015 but not 2012. In retrospect, we now know that 2012 was the year the market ratcheted up for a big, long run.
Before anyone begins screaming that the sky is falling, let me stop and remind you that we are talking about a sale price to list price ratio for the entire county that is at more than 101%. This is not a buyer’s market – at least not as a county. There are hotter and cooler pockets, yes, for sure.
What we are experiencing is a return to normalcy, a flattening out, less appreciation. We are not seeing price drops at this time.
And you know what? We’ve been expecting it.
You cannot sustain double digit appreciation forever.
The reality of the cooling Silicon Valley real estate market has implications for home buyers and home sellers:
Buyers, GET OFF THE FENCE. Interest rates are good. Buying conditions are reasonable again. Yes, inventory is low, but if you know what you want, you should be able to find it in 2-3 months tops. If you can’t, then you are not being realistic with what you think you can buy for your budget.
Sellers, it’s time to be more aggressive on pricing and adjust your expectations. Yes, your neighbor got 15 offers in February, but it’s not February any more. If you get 1-3 offers, that means you did a great job of staging, pricing, and getting your home marketed. Position your home to sell, and then get it done.
Where will we be in 6 or 9 months? I don’t know. It could be better or worse after the election. My advise is to get on with your life and not try to time it too carefully, because things can happen which none of us could anticipate. If you want or need to buy or sell, make it happen.There will always be political things going on, world events taking place. There is never a perfect time to buy or sell – but there is the time you want to do it. Go ahead.
And please let me know how I can help.
Silicon Valley home prices are sky high. The average price of homes selling in Santa Clara County is about 1.25 million. Cambrian offers good schools, a reasonable commute to places like Apple in Cupertino, and a nice location near Los Gatos and Campbell with lower real estate prices. For that reason, it’s become a magnet for smart home buyers over the last 20 years. If you have the budget for an average Santa Clara County home, how far would it go in Cambrian? Here’s the data, pulled this week from MLSListings, to answer that question.
Homes in 95118 tend to be younger and bigger than those in 95124, but the 95124 area is generally preferred as the schools are usually better (Union or Cambrian Elementary Districts and Campbell Union High School District vs San Jose Unified schools, though some of these are quite good, too) and 95124 is closer to Campbell and Los Gatos. However, if someone is commuting to downtown San Jose, 95118 would be more convenient. The most expensive homes tend to be in 95124 with CUHSD. One caveat to this data is the very last result, which represents just two home sales and therefore may not be a reliable data point.
See what’s selling in Cambrian now on the map below:
$1,189,000 : 2413 De Soto DR, SAN JOSE3 beds, 2 full baths
$1,097,000 : 1568 Chambers DR, SAN JOSE4 beds, 3 full baths
$1,098,000 : 14414 Esther DR, SAN JOSE2 beds, 1 full bath
$1,085,000 : Wyrick AVE, SAN JOSE3 beds, 2 full baths
$1,399,000 : 1475 Parsons AVE, CAMPBELL4 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
$1,198,888 : 4068 Petulla CT, SAN JOSE4 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
$1,000,000 : 2397 Loment CT, SAN JOSE3 beds, 2 full baths
$1,049,000 : 2050 Casa Mia DR, SAN JOSE0 beds, 0 baths
$1,099,000 : 2325 Rupert DR, SAN JOSE4 beds, 2 full baths
$1,099,000 : 1595 Shaw DR, SAN JOSE4 beds, 2 full baths
$1,098,888 : 1715 Zinnia LN, SAN JOSE3 beds, 2 full baths
$1,199,956 : 15245 Dickens AVE, SAN JOSE3 beds, 2 full baths
$1,279,000 : 2259 Blossom Valley DR, SAN JOSE3 beds, 2 full baths
$1,449,000 : 15230 Winton WAY, SAN JOSE4 beds, 3 full baths
$1,199,999 : 4928 Bel Canto DR, SAN JOSE3 beds, 2 full baths
$1,099,000 : 5598 Le Fevre DR, SAN JOSE3 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
$1,150,000 : 1516 Calle De Stuarda, SAN JOSE4 beds, 3 full baths
$1,088,000 : 5085 Carm AVE, SAN JOSE3 beds, 2 full baths
$1,199,000 : 5659 Begonia DR, SAN JOSE4 beds, 2 full baths
$1,188,000 : 1671 Jacob AVE, SAN JOSE3 beds, 2 full baths
See all Real estate in the Cambrian community.
(all data current as of 2/21/2017)
Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.
Cambrian Park, or more broadly, Cambrian, is a west San Jose neighborhood or district and is one of the more affordable, high-value areas in Silicon Valley. The schools are good, the crime is low, and the commute is not too bad. For people relocating to Santa Clara County, this is a place to know about since quality education and affordability are often high priorities! Most Silicon Valley home buyers would say that Cambrian Park real estate offers a very good value.
What’s the compromise for the more reasonable prices of homes for sale? Well, Cambrian doesn’t have an interesting, upscale downtown area like Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga, or Willow Glen.
But it does have tons of shopping & restaurants and even a Farmer’s Market. It also enjoys a top notch hospital (Good Samaritan) and plenty of parks as well as a fantastic rec center with a large park adjacent to it, the Camden Community Center, which has tons of programs (including an after school program for youth), classes, and a fabulous pool. (My family and I lived in Cambrian in the “Cambrian Gardens” neighborhood for 10 years and loved it – our kids made great use of the community center too.)
Altogether, there are about 75,000 to 80,000 residents in Cambrian, spread throughout the three zip codes of 95124, 95118 and a little tiny bit of 95008.
If there is a “central Cambrian Park”, it would have to be near the original Cambrian Park Shopping Center, which was the first actual mall in San Jose! That area is sometimes known as Cambrian Village. People sometimes use the three names interchangeably: Cambrian, Cambrian Park, Cambrian Village.:
Where is Cambrian Park? Map of approximate Cambrian Boundaries:
View Cambrian Area of San Jose in a larger map
Are you wondering what the Brexit vote will do to US home prices? Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors’ chief economist, believes it could be a good thing short term as investors strive for quality assets that have a return greater than US treasuries, and lower mortgage rates as a result of the flight to US treasuries.
As a Los Gatos Realtor, I hear many consumers and real estate agents state that they believe that U.S. real estate and the U.S. economy are viewed as the most stable in the world. If that is the case, then people from all over will want to invest in homes and land here rather than elsewhere.
Whether you are buying or selling a home in Silicon Valley, the real estate market data is super important to your sense of realty values. This is one area where it”s expensive to get it wrong when pricing a home to sell or deciding on a price for a bid to buy.
How can you get it right?
For a comparable or competitle market analysis:
In general, real estate professionals try to narrow the data to similar properties when doing a market analysis:
- don’t compare apartment style condos with PUD townhouses or single family homes
- don’t compare properties from different zip codes, school districts, or with more than 20% difference in home size
- ideally, DO pick properties within 1 mile, within 10% – 15% plus or minus the size of the home and the land
- ideally, try to get homes similar in age or condition
- make sure the comps are current – 90 days is best, but if you have to go back 11 months or so, make sure that you adjust for the market changes since then
- if at all possible, compare similar type homes: golf properties with golf properties, view homes with view homes, equestrian estates with equestrian estates
- also if possible, use the same zip code as sometimes this also has an impact
General market trends relevant to the property in question
To get a sense of the market generally (rather than just the comps for one particular piece of land or house), it is somewhat the same in terms of criteria, but not so specific. I’ll often use just a few criteria to see how the “overall” market is doing – often the approximate price point, school district, and zip code will do the trick.
For example, if I’m looking in east Los Gatos (Union School District / Campbell Union High School District) for a house worth appx $1,750,000, I might check market data such as the absorption rate or the days on market for homes matching just this criteria:
- Los Gatos / 95032
- High School District 473 (Campbell Union HSD)
- list price OR sale price for solds the last 90 days $1,500,000 – $2,000,000
- Perhaps similar square footage plus or minus 10-20%
This is a small enough segment of the market that I’ll have a pretty good sense of what’s happening there pretty quickly.