Cambrian Park (SJ)

Cambrian Park

The Oster neighborhood, centered around Oster Elementary School in San Jose’s Cambrian district, is situated on the north side of highway 85 and just west of Camden Avenue, part of the 95124 zip code. It’s one of the more affordable areas within the highly regarded Union School District, which is not to say that real estate prices are inexpensive there! They are just slightly softer than those around Carlton, Alta Vista, and Guadalupe, generally.

Oster Elemenary in Cambrian attendance map

The Oster neighborhood is a nicely maintained pocket within Silicon Valley’s “west valley” (which follows Highway 85).

Oster Elementary School area street

Most streets, and most properties, are well maintained in the Oster neighborhood.  Some of this area used to be unincorporated (and you can tell that by the lack of sidewalks and curbs, and sometimes also gutters). Where houses have 4 digits (say 4921 xyz street), it’s usually incorporated into the City of San Jose. And where the street address has 5 numbers, such as 14534, it is or was originally unincorporated.  The unincorporated area usually have larger lots, and some of them were originally on septic and may still have a septic tank buried in the back yard, even if now they are hooked up to the public sewer.

Oster Area Ranch Style Home

What are homes like in the Oster neighborhood?

Houses are, of course, many decades old. Some, in the older original Cambrian Park area on the west side of the school’s attendance area, may have been built as early as the 1940s, but most of the area was constructed in the 1950s and 1960s. Overall, the best land in Santa Clara County was built out years ago. It is therefore often true that the best land or location will come with an older structure.

Most houses are 1 or 2 stories, no basements, with attached 2 car garages. Most houses are the typical 3 – 4 bedroom, 2 – 3 bath ranch style tract home that is seen throughout most of Silicon Valley. Home size ordinarily runs between 1,000 SF and 2,000 SF, though they range from about 850 SF to well over 3,000 SF. Lot sizes are frequently between 6,000 SF and 8,000 SF, but the older section of Cambrian Park may boast 10,000 SF lots or greater.

Oster neighborhood house

How is the Oster part of Cambrian?

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Convenient to Good Samaritan Hospital, Carlton Elementary School and freeway access to highways 17 and 85, the beautiful “King Street” neighborhood in San Jose’s Cambrian Park district seems to be close to everything. But a drive through the tree-lined streets with tidy homes seems like a relaxing step into the welcoming neighborhoods of yesteryear rather than the hustle and bustle of today’s Silicon Valley.

Typical "King Street" House

As with the nearby Alta Vista neighborhood, homes here show a pride of ownership not found everywhere. Holidays include beautiful displays of lights that invite neighbors out to tour after dark. Many home owners wrap the trunk of the trees between the sidewalk and street with blankets of white lights, making for a stunning look down the road.

The “King Streets” enjoy an uncommon appeal that makes homes here perennially desirable to home buyers. The popularity of the area is due partly to the convenience factor (easy to get to a great elementary school with high API scores, easy to get to the freeways, Los Gatos and Good Sam) and the beauty or neighborhood charm factor. It is a winning combination for this west valley community! Many who wish to live in Los Gatos choose this part of San Jose because it’s on the border, so it is not uncommon for the King Streets to be a first home and the move up one is in Los Gatos.


View “The King Streets” in a larger map
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Often I have clients who are interested in purchasing a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home in a good school district in Silicon Valley, particularly in the South Bay and West Valley areas. Tonight I did a study on the MLS of homes that have sold and closed escrow in the last 4 months with these characteristics:

  • single family home (house)
  • 4 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms
  • 1800 to 2200 square feet of living space
  • 6000 to 10,000 sf lot

Disclaimers aside, here are the numbers for select West Valley Communities in the West/South Bay area with good schools. The first number is the average sales price per square foot, the second number is the average sales price:

And a look at the chart from all back in 2015…

And all the way back in 2011. What’s changed? A lot! The order has shifted some, showing where demand has increased or decreased. Most noticeably, the prices are significantly lower in 2011 than they are now. The 2015 chart shows prices somewhere in-between the 2011 and 2017 levels. Palo Alto and Los Altos remain consistently in the top two positions.

The home prices tend to run with the school district API scores.  You can check the 2013, three year average, API scores in Santa Clara County for both the districts and the individual schools online here.         Continue reading

The Almaden Winery neighborhood, just off Blossom Hill Road in San Jose, has a rich and interesting past, dating back to the mid 1850s when the site was first planted with grape vines.  It was the first winery in Almaden Valley and one of the oldest in the state of California.  (It survived the prohibition period by getting licensed to make sacramental wine and by bottling grape juice.)

In this post I’ll share some photos of the neighborhood with you, explain about the three different builders/developers and show you where to find each one.

With a bit more than 300 houses, the Almaden Winery area is quite popular, with its homes selling quickly.   The community centers around a lovely park, and additionally there’s a newer library adjacent to it – the Vineland Branch of the San Jose public library system.
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Cambrian Park Plaza signCambrian 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

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VizcayaOne of the prettiest townhome communities in Santa Clara County is Vizcaya, which features a Mediterranean style of architecture in a community that is extremely tidy and well maintained. Driving in, it feels like you’ve just arrived at a resort.

Where is Vizcaya?

The Vizacaya neighborhood is in San Jose just off S Bascom and Curtner Avenues, but is close to the Campbell border and confusingly, has a Campbell mailing address. The community’s streets are Vizcaya Circle, Vizcays Way, and Pescara Court. The location is very convenient, with easy access to shopping, bus lines, and major traffic routes.

What are the homes like at Vizcaya?

Built between 1990 and 1996, these 92 townhomes are younger feeling and tend to have fairly open floor plans and plenty of large windows. The home sizes range between 2396 SF and 2656 SF, but many are so nicely designed that they tend to feel like single family homes.  Lot sizes average around 4,100 SF (pretty big for a townhouse). The parcels range in size from  2480 SF to over 10,000 SF but most are 3000 – 5000 SF.

The homes in the Vizcaya community are condominiums with a townhouse architectural style. (Some townhouses are held in PUD ownership. In some locations, such as Almaden and Los Gatos, there are houses which are condos – or held in condo ownership.) There’s a small pool and spa at the center of the complex for residents to enjoy. The day I took the photos shown in the slideshow, below, painting was ongoing next to the pool, so it isn’t shown.

  • Vizcaya in Campbell

What does it cost to buy a townhome in Vizcaya?

These upscale properties don’t come on the market too often, but if you are lucky enough to find one available to buy, chances are that it will cost a million dollars or a more (as of this writing in October 2016).

Like many Cambrian neighborhoods, the Westchester Manor subdivision in the Alta Vista area includes well kept homes and yards, tree lined streets, and wonderful public schools. This neighborhood, though, is unique in that residents can amble to the elementary or middle school without crossing major streets. And the same can be said of getting to the local grocery store, Safeway, coffee shop, and other stores. For home buyers seeking walkability or easy access, this is a place to check out! But it’s not just about that. From here it’s an easy jump to both Highway 85 off Union Avenue or a run to Vasona Lake County Park and downtown Los Gatos via Blossom Hill Road. On top of all that, add the very close proximity of the hills and you get the feeling that you’re not quite in the middle of a city at all.

Westchester Manor Street View Home in Westchester Manor subdivision in the Cambrian Park area of San Jose Westchester Manor corner house Westchester Manor 2 story homes The close proximity of the hills is an appreciated view One of the many single story houses in this Alta Vista neighborhood Most houses have mature trees in front An updated two story house The entire subdivision features inviting sidewalks

 

Where is Westchester Manor?

Westchester Manor subdivision in the Alta Vista neighborhood of CambrianThe Alta Vista neighborhood is part San Jose / Cambrian, and part Los Gatos (see a map of the boundaries of the city / town at this newer article of mine: http://liveinlosgatosblog.com/alta-vista-neighborhood/).  It’s bordered by Los Gatos-Almaden Road to the north, Union to the east, and Blossom Hill to the south. Within that area, Westchester Manor is entirely in San Jose and sits on the northest end of the neighborhood, next to Union Middle School.

This neighborhood has a very high owner occupancy rate – 88% from the numbers I pulled from Realist (a report available to members of the MLS) today.  It’s a low-turnover, stable neighborhood. People move in, and they stay!

What are the homes like in Westchester Manor?

This is a predominantly “ranch style” neighborhood with mostly single story houses, but still quite a few two story ones, in an area with sidewalks, curbs, and gutters. Most houses have 3-4 bedrooms and at least 2 full bathrooms.

There are 3 tracts named within this subdivision. They don’t have exciting labels but instead are called tracts 1481, 1903, and 1997. There are 30-35 lots in each one and 106 in all.

There’s variation in age, but not much. Of the 106 homes which are identified as part of Westchester Manor – and there are a few on Coronet that aren’t – perhaps 75% were built between 1957 and 1959 and some in tract 1997 (including and near Grey Court) were built as late as 1965 (I found one house built in 1956 also). Most of them have been at least somewhat updated and others fully remodeled.

Home sizes range with the smallest homes at 1283SF, 1293 SF, 1308SF, and 1327 SF. The biggest houses are 3656SF, 3607Sf, 3171SF, and 3072SF. The median sized square footage (half are more, half less) is 1750 SF. Continue reading

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 months of inventory by elementary school district as of 2-5-2016

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.

Check out what’s happening in the Cambrian market in the map below.

  1. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,396 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,738 sqft
  2. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,453 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,998 sqft
  3. 2 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 810 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,078 sqft
  4. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,155 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,998 sqft
  5. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,286 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,181 sqft
  6. 5 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 3,896 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,667 sqft
  7. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,912 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,998 sqft
  8. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 3,166 sq ft
    Lot size: 9,374 sqft
  9. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,258 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,401 sqft
  10. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,496 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,599 sqft

See all Real estate in the Cambrian community.
(all data current as of 9/21/2017)

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

Cambrian, Almaden, and Los GatosIf 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

San Benito Way home in Los GatosDowntown 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

San Jose is the largest city in Santa Clara County (or Silicon Valley) with about one million residents. The districts or areas within San Jose vary tremendously in many ways, including their respective real estate markets.

Today we’ll have a comparative look at the median list prices in the housing market in three areas & zip codes of San Jose: Almaden Valley (95120), Cambrian Park (95124) and Willow Glen (95125).  First, how these three areas line up against each other and against San Jose as a whole in terms of the median list prices of homes for sale in the last year.

Please note: the charts below are “live” html and the commentary is appropriate as of today, Nov. 23, 2015  The charts will continue to change and be updated,though, so it’s possible that a year from now the commentary may seem disjointed.  Now you’ll know why!

First, a glance at Almaden, Willow Glen, Cambrian and San Jose genererally.

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

Almaden prces took a little dip in mid to late summer, and so did Willow Glen 95125.  Cambrian 95124, though, has been very strong (as I can attest from working with buyers and sellers there recently). San Jose as a whole is close to flat.

 

San Jose as a whole, by price quartile is next. It is pretty level generally at this time.

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

 

Next, let’s focus on the Almaden Valley area of town by price quartile also:

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

As we might expect, the least volatile pricing is in the most affordable homes.

Next, Cambrian Park…
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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
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