Blossom Valley (SJ)

With our 300 sunny days per year in Silicon Valley (at least most years!), golf is a sport enjoyed year round here in the San Jose area.  Living near a golf course, or having a golf course view, is highly desirable as it provides scenic open space as well as convenience for avid golfers.

Silicon Valley Golf Homes, Silicon Valley Golf Properties

There are beautiful courses throughout the South Bay Area and it’s possible to find small condos with views of them at fairly affordable prices (Sunnyvale’s Sunken Gardens area is one of them).  Today, though, I want to provide a list of homes for sale near golf courses in the foothill areas of Silicon Valley.  Many of these will also be luxury homes. So the MLS list of these houses on the market which you can browse includes these areas:

San Jose areas including Evergreen & Silver Creek, Santa Teresa, Blossom Valley and Almaden; Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, Cupertino, and Los Altos.

There are golf courses to be found in other parts of Santa Clara County too (Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and more) – let me know if you are interested in these parts and I can send you a link for searching them for similar residential real estate.

On Tuesday of this week I was showing some nice folks around the San Jose area. As part of our tour, we stopped in at Valley Christian High School (south San Jose – Santa Teresa area). The sky was clear and the views spectacular!  (Disclaimer – in this photo, the sky ended up looking white, so I did tinker with the color.)

From here we were looking at the Santa Teresa Foothills ((lowest, closest hills).  In front of them are the Santa Teresa & Blossom Valley areas of San Jose.  Behind them is Almaden Valley.

Along the coastal range in back, the peak on the far right (with a flat area) is Mt. Umunhum.  To the far left, the higher peaks are where you’ll find Loma Prieta.

A key ingredient in understanding how the Silicon Valley real estate market is faring is the ratio of regular sales to distressed properties on the market (Bank owned or REO listings and short sale listings). Today we’ll study Los Gatos and four areas or districts of San Jose: Almaden Valley, Willow Glen, Cambrian Park, and Blossom Valley.

First, let’s look at the county numbers as a general overview.  In all of Santa Clara County, there are 3537 houses, duet homes, condominiums & townhouses for sale and available (“status 1” for my Realtor readers) on our multiple listing service. Of those, merely 1964 are “regular sales” (56%), 1105 are short sales (31%) and 375 are bank owned homes or REOs (11%).

Now let’s drill down to a few areas: Los Gatos, Almaden Valley, Willow Glen, Cambrian Park and Blossom Valley.  We’ll check out the ratio of regular sales of houses and condos in each of these areas.  How do these compare to the county average of 56%? Have a look:

This is helpful information for both home buyers & home sellers.  Home sellers need to understand the challenges that come with selling in an area with more short sales or REOs, if they are in one of those parts of the valley.  Or vice versa: if there are few distressed properties on the market, this makes it easier to sell (with less downward pressure on pricing).  Buyers need to appreciate that they will have better luck negotiating in areas where many homes are being sold under some pressure.

A quick disclaimer – if we narrowed this study by school district and even neighborhood school, we might find that these “general numbers” are actually quite different at the hyper-local level.  For example, if you visit a post of mine about the Los Gatos real estate market on my Live in Los Gatos blog, you’d find that when we separated out the various school districts, and even price points, the ratio of distressed properties and their absorption rates change very dramatically.  To see those, scroll down until you see the blue and yellow boxes.

The condo market in San Jose and nearby areas has taken a beating throughout our downturn.  Even so, condos in Los Gatos, Almaden and Willow Glen are faring pretty decently.

Now let’s hone in on each of these five areas and the two main housing types to see the ratio in each of regular sales, short sales, and REOs.
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The Williamson Act, also known as the California Land Conservation Act, was passed by our California Legislature in 1965 in order to encourage rural & agricultural lands to remain undeveloped longer. When land owners enter into a contract under the act, they benefit from lower property taxes, which are based on the property’s current use, rather than paying market value based tax rates.  In exchange, the property is to remain undeveloped and continue to function the same way for the duration of that contract.  The contracts run for 10 years and are automatically renewed unless the farmer or rancher cancels it.

Why does the Williamson Act matter?

According to the Committee for Green Foothills, there are 362,000 acres of land in Santa Clara County under the Williamson Act (that article appears to have been written in 2003, so the numbers may have changed a little since then).  Much of it is in the east foothills of east San Jose and the south county areas near Morgan Hill and Gilroy, but there are patches of it in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, Almaden Valley, Blossom Valley and throughout Silicon Valley. The tax breaks make it possible for many farmers and ranchers to stay in business and not feel forced to sell their land for development.  If they were paying “market rate” taxes, it would not be long before most or all of our rural and agricultural uses gave way to housing and other development.

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People often ask me, “how’s the market?”  The answer is, it depends.  It depends on whether it’s a short sale, REO or regular sale, the schools, view, condition, etc. The Silicon Valley real estate market really isn’t “one market“. It’s a bunch of smaller markets woven together. So the answer depends on what you’re looking at.

Today we’ll focus on the sale type and take a broad view of regular sales vs short sales with Silicon Valley houses/duet homes and condos/townhouses.  The data comes from MLSListings.com, our local multiple listing service, of which I am a member.  I crunched the numbers today. I have made every effort to provide accurate info, but can’t guarantee it.

To arrive at the months of inventory, I get the number of active listings (not pending, but available, or “status 1” for my local Realtor readers) and the number of closed listings for the same area/home type which have closed in the last month.  Divide the first number by the second and you get months of inventory or MOI.  Below please find the numbers for Santa Clara County as a whole, San Jose as a whole, and various cities or areas of San Jose.

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How many of the Silicon Valley homes for sale are listed as short sales? How many are bank owned properties? This morning I did some time pulling the numbers out for my readers so that you can see the actual real estate figures.

What’s being counted below are homes for sale, including houses, duet homes, condominiums and townhouses (or townhomes) in the various areas of Santa Clara County listed below.

Area, City or Town Available Short Sale   Bank Owned
Los Gatos 181 7 2
Monte Sereno 35 0 0
Saratoga 117 4 0
Cupertino 95 4 1
Los Gatos Mtns 68 4 6
Santa Clara 157 45 13
Almaden Valley – SJ 103 4 1
Cambrian Park – SJ 134 28 6
Blossom Valley – SJ 198 83 29
Willow Glen – SJ 228 27 14
San Jose (all areas) 1944 574 183
       

As was the case a year or two ago, most of the short sale activity is taking place in the most affordable price ranges. The higher priced areas are not immune, though – but because there are fewer distressed properties to choose from, they get purchased rather quickly, so we’d see a higher percentage of them among the pending sales rather than the available listings.

Today I did a post on this subject focusing specifically on the Los Gatos real estate market in terms of short sales today vs the last couple of years (and the question of whether or not the trend is to rising numbers of short sales available). To learn more, visit the article on my Live in Los Gatos blog.

For bargain hunting buyers of high end properties, then, it’s slim pickings!  In the entry level areas, there’s much more selection but also lots of competition.  Last week I was involved with some buyers in a bidding frenzy in a terribly underpriced Cambrian short sale: it got 43 offers!  (So please remember that the list price may be completely unrelated to the sales price.)

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home in Silicon Valley, it helps to have the assistance of a Realtor with a pulse on the market.  Please contact me for a confidential & no-obligation meeting today!

Fifty years or so ago, San Jose was still a very agricultural area. The Blossom Valley and Santa Teresa neighborhoods enjoyed great open spaces, farmland and orchards. Today that’s nearly all gone. But there is still a large, undeveloped area there at Branham Lane and Snell Avenue (the border area for these two districts of San Jose), not far from the Vistapark neighborhood or the Hayes Mansion area. I wonder what it will become as the valley continues to fill. Hopefully at least some of it will remain open.

Below are a couple of photos taken of this agricultural oasis last weekend, by my husband, Jim, with the mustard in full bloom. It’s a beautiful reminder of Silicon Valley’s past as “the Valley of Heart’s Delight“.

The first view is looking west to north-west:

mustard-at-snell-and-branham-in-san-jose

Same area, but looking a little up and to the left – and you see part of a barn…
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The tide is turning for Silicon Valley real estate: fewer listings are coming onto the market and more homes are being purchased by homebuyers anxious to get into a house before interest rates rise and the $8000 first time homebuyer’s credit expires.

The shift is most visible in areas with the most affordability, but even is more upscale, higher priced areas, it’s still a noticeable change.

Today I’ll share with you a series of graphs, by area, of single family homes in terms of new listings, current inventory, and pending sales (sales under contract).  These were created using our mls system (information deemed reliable but not guaranteed).

Here’s the “key” (since if I put it alongside each image it would not fit without making all of it unreadable):

color key

Description of each graph is ABOVE the image.

Almaden Valley (95120 area of San Jose) this is a more expensive part of Santa Clara County, but the market improvement is very clear. Cool market.

Almaden Valley San Jose pending home sales trends

Blossom Valley (95123 and 95136 zip codes, an area of San Jose) – this is a very affordable part of Silicon Valley and has taken a huge hit on the “price rollback”.  But it’s getting better now – note the rise in sales, low number of new homes coming on the market and overall lessening of inventory. Number of pendings is almost the same as the total inventory. Hot market.

Blossom Valley area of San Jose real estate pending trends

Cambrian Park (95124 & 95118 area of San Jose) – trends among listings, inventory, and sales for single family homes. The trend of less inventory and more sales is quite evident. Warm market overall – very hot under $500,000, cool in higher price ranges. (But hot only if prices are deeply reduced.)

Cambrian Park pending sale and inventory trends

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We may be in a recession with 11% local unemployment, but affordable homes are getting scooped up with multiple offers and in many areas, inventory is shrinking.

Today we’ll look at five areas of San Jose which offer at least some, if not mostly, entry level housing: Blossom Valley, Cambrian Park, Evergreen, Santa Teresa and South San Jose.

Evergreen does have some high-end housing in Silver Creek and elsewhere, but it also provides some very affordable homes for first time home buyers.  Cambrian Park is mostly middle class but it, too, has some McMansions (original Cambrian Park tract with large lots and very old homes that are not infrequently bulldozed) and some homes with views (Vista Loop area, bordering Los Gatos and Almaden Valley).  Blossom Valley has some beautiful properties and many close to thecenics Santa Teresa Foothills.  Overall, though, these homes represent affordable or mid-range houses for sale in Silicon Valley.  When we look at them as a group, it gives a strong sense of what the market is doing generally.

The months of inventory reflect how long it would take the current inventory to be absorbed (or sold off) if no new inventory came on the market and sales continued at the current pace.  Six months is a balanced market.  Fewer represents a seller’s market and more reflects a buyer’s market.  As you can see, April shows a push in all five districts of San Jose into seller’s territory:

2009-five-san-jose-areas-absorption-rate

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If you are thinking of buying a home in Silicon Valley, there are things you want to know upfront so that you make an informed decision. Because the most important factor is “location, location, location”, and because once you buy a home you can’t change it, you’ll need to know some location-specific things, including:

  • where are the earthquake fault lines?
  • where are the geologic hazard zones, such as liquifaction areas?
  • where are the flood plains?
  • where are man-made things that will negatively or positively impact a home’s value? Things such as
    • train lines
    • freeways
    • high voltage power lines
    • school district boundaries
    • zip code boundaries
    • proximity to entertainment venues

When looking at maps, sometimes these items show up and sometimes they don’t. Realtors and other real estate professionals in the San Jose area often use a Barclay’s Locaide to locate the natural hazard areas. Google maps can help uncover some other areas, but sometimes it raises more questions than it answers. (Last year a Realtor who doesn’t know the Belwood of Los Gatos area too well phoned me to ask what the object showing up in the hills of Belgatos Park was – it is just a covered resevoir, but it was not identified on the map and concerned some buyers. Local knowledge is still very helpful.)

Tonight I spent some time zooming in on Google Maps, using the satellite view, and idenified many of the paths of the high voltage power lines running through Los Gatos and nearby areas, such as Saratoga, Cupertino, Almaden Valley, Santa Teresa, and South San Jose.

Below, please find the fruit of that labor. I do not claim to have tracked all of the high voltage power lines in the west valley area of Santa Clara County, but I think I got many – maybe even most – of them. I hope you find the information helpful!


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Translation

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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.
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Special focus on:
San Jose, Los Gatos,
Saratoga, Campbell,
Almaden Valley,
Cambrian Park.
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2009: Sellsius list of top
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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.


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