Cambrian Park (SJ)

Cambrian Park

Now is a great time to buy a home in Silicon Valley: interest rates are incredibly low (and clearly will not stay that way forever – they never do!).  Depending on your desired or required price range and area, the market varies in terms of how much of a bargain you can get. Please understand that buyers are not 100% in charge, though, and sellers are not “giving away” their homes.

Recently I saw a buyer request for a Cambrian Park home. The buyer in question wanted a 3 bed, 2 bath home in the 95124 area with the very best schools. So far, so good. The buyer expected to pay between $200,000 and $500,000 for this home – and unfortunately, that is just not terribly realistic. What he or she wants may be close to $550,000 but if the home is on a standard lot (not a patio home) in good shape, and has no issues (no high voltage lines, no busy road, no converted garage), it wil not be less than $500,000, even if it’s a bank owned property.

In Los Gatos, it is very unlikely to get a good 3 or 4 bedroom, 2 bath home “in the schools” for less than $1,350,000 unless there are issues such as deferred maintenance, bad neighbors, weird floorplan, remodeling needed, busy road, backs to something undesireable, etc.   A really fixed up, turnkey home will probably cost close to 1.4 or 1.5  million if it’s “in the schools”.

In Saratoga, it’s unlikely to get that same home for less than $1,400,000.
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Cambrian Park is a very desireable part of San Jose and the greater Silicon Valley due to its great schools, low crime, proximity to Los Gatos and the general “west valley” area of Santa Clara County.  It’s more affordable than the tonier areas right up against the foothills (for the most part, Cambrian is in the flatlands, though one corder is in the hills snuggled between Los Gatos and Almaden Valley). 

This San Jose district is also a fairly good indicator of how the rest of the valley is doing, so even if you aren’t a resident of Cambrian Park or don’t want to own a home there, it’s helpful to keep a pulse on it.

A disclaimer: Cambrian Park has micro markets, just like everywhere else.  The “zone 14” includes three school districts (Union, Cambrian, and San Jose), two zip codes and a fraction of another (95124, 951118 and a sliver of 95008) and the borders are messy with Willow Glen, Campbell and Los Gatos in places.  So this is an overview of the region and may not exactly reflect what’s been happening in your precise neighborhood.

Pricing is usually the single biggest question that homeowners have – they want to know if they have any equity: “what’s my home worth?”  In the Cambrian area of San Jose, prices have been declining for a couple or three years, but that phase seems to be over (the peak of the market was late 2006 to early 2007 and prices in Cambrian have now “rolled back” to about 2000-2002 levels in many areas, but some only to 2003 levels).  The low point seems to have been in January, with prices rising since then. Currently, the median sold price of single family homes in Cambrian is down 24% from two years ago (but it was even more 6 months ago). Of course, the dead of winter is usually the time with the least inventory but the best prices, so it’s possible that what we are seeing is only seasonal. We will get confirmation one way or the other soon because prices usually begin tapering in late summer. If prices continue to rise (which I suspect they will as I am seeing so many multiple offers), this will be an indicator that the Cambrian Park real estate market is indeed recovering.

Single family homes in Cambrian –

Cambrian-Park-median-sold-price-2-yrs-june09

Condos and townhomes in Cambrian – the median sold price is down 45% over the last two years! The worst point was in February this year.

Cambrian-Park-condos-median-sold-price-2-yrs-to-june-091

Supply and demand is what it’s all about – the low prices combined with great FHA backed financing and the $8000 first time homebuyer credit and fueling fence-sitting buyers to jump into the market in San Jose’s more affordable areas such as Blossom Valley and Cambrian Park. 

Below is the supply & demand chart for single family homes in Cambrian (zip codes 95124, 95118 and a tiny bit of 95008, which is primarily Campbell). The number of available homes (listed homes) is down 23% and the number of sold properties is down 20% from two years ago. The worst of it was 12 months ago, though. (Last June to this June: The number of for sale properties is down 37% and the number of sold properties is up 7%.)

Cambrian-Park-real-estate-supply-and-demand-2-years

Fewer homes are selling, but far fewer are listed, too.

Next, supply and demand for condos in the Cambrian Park area of San Jose:

Cambrian-condos-supply-and-demand-2-yrs-to-june-09
The condo market is taking a beating because buyers are opting for more affordable houses rather than condominiums and townhomes.

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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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If you are a first time homebuyer looking to purchase a house in the Cambrian Park area of San Jose, I encourage you to consider moving on this plan sooner rather than laterHome prices have stopped sinking and appear to be moving within a range of about 10%, which can easily be attributed to precise location, condition, or situation of the home sale. Meanwhile, interest rates are inching up, making homes less affordable than they were a few weeks ago.

Some of the bank owned homes in this part of San Jose are priced at fire sale prices.  Because of the affordability, they are getting a lot of attention from buyers, and I’m hearing more stories of multiple offers with the prices getting bid up from the list price.  This is not just happening in Cambrian, but all over San Jose where the prices are amazingly affordable for first-time homebuyers.  The availability of FHA backed financing and the $8,000 tax credit are incentivizing people to buy San Jose real estate priced at under $729,000. Investors are also getting in on the cleanup of low-priced homes and “all cash offers” are not unheard of.

Here are the basic real esate sales statistics (and trends) in Cambrian Park:

Trends At a Glance May-09 Apr-09 Mar-09 Feb-09
Median Price $548,750 $520,000 (+5.5%) $550,000 (-5.5%) $515,000 (+6.8%)
Average Price $576,935 $532,280 (+8.4%) $543,358 (-2.0%) $567,983 (-4.3%)
No. of Sales 54 41 (+31.7%) 33 (+24.2%) 30 (+10.0%)
Pending Properties 85 67 (+26.9%) 69 (-2.9%) 52 (+32.7%)
Active 98 125 (-21.6%) 141 (-11.3%) 168 (-16.1%)
Sale vs. List Price 98.40% 95.9% (+2.6%) 97.8% (-2.0%) 98.2% (-0.4%)
Days on Market 42 74 (-42.8%) 50 (+49.3%) 77 (-35.3%)

The lowest median price in recent months was in February, which of course reflects sales that happened in January.  This may well be a “seasonal fluctuation”. Homes are often cheapest in the dead of winter, and interest rates are often lowest then too, but selection is extremely limited.

For more information on Cambrian Park real estate sales and market trends, please see my online Real Estate Report for Cambrian.  You may view the last five years’ worth of closed data, or see it quarterly or annually. Or plug in your own address or that of a home that interests you in the “property analysis” tab and check out the recent listings, current homes for sale, pendings and solds in the immediate area.

If you are thinking of relocating to Silicon Valley, perhaps you are looking for a great part of Santa Clara County with exceptional schools, community involvement, a fabulous library, beautiful parks, unique shopping and dining.  Saratoga offers all of that and much more.  Today I took a few minutes to photograph the downtown area, which is known as “Saratoga Village” or just “the village” to locals.

This is just a small introduction to one part of town.  I hope you will enjoy it.

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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cambrian-park-plaza-signCambrian Park is a highly desirable district of San Jose. With close proximity to Los Gatos, Campbell, Willow Glen and Blossom Valley, there’s lots to do within Cambrian itself or very nearby.  Cambrian also enjoys good schools, low crime,  two new libraries, two Farmer’s Markets, and a fabulous rec center, the Camden Community Center.

Where is Cambrian Park and how big is it? The 2000 census reported Cambrian Park as having less than 4000 people.  In contemporary useage, though, Cambrian consists of much more than the area known as “Cambrian Village” (which has this small population), and now includes about 75,000 residents in all.  The area includes most of the 95124 zip code plus the 95118 zip code (and a little sliver of 95008).  (To see a very approximate map of Cambrian Park boundaries, click on this link.) The local Realtor association had something to do with this shift in perception as it mapped out boundaries for Cambrian Park, roughly known in the industry as “area 14” that expanded the original area. Historically, though, Cambrian was really a very vast area including much of Campbell and many areas now falling under different district names.  The area is alternately known as Cambrian, Cambrian Park, and Cambrian Village – the latter referring to the area near Union & Camden Avenues.
Related post on Cambrian’s history, areas and map: please also see
Cambrian Park: Good Schools, Low Crime, Close to Los Gatos and Campbell

How do you decide where in Cambrian to live?   Many aspects of home buying will likely come into play, from schools desired and budget available to the ambiance and practical things you desire such as RV parking, an extra large garage, family room, guest suite, ommute issues (proximity to freeways),  etc.

I. School Districts of Cambrian Park

Your decision might be influenced by the school district you want; Cambrian Park has three elementary school districts. All are good – Cambrian Park truly has no bad schools – but some are exceptionally high. Some districts may have more offerings for special needs kids or gifted kids – if you have children and are looking at placing them in the local public schools, do your research before you househunt!

  1. The north side of Cambrian Park (going into Campbell and Willow Glen) has schools belonging to the Cambrian School District (see map).
  2. The east side of Cambrian Park (going toward Blossom Valley) is part of the territory of the San Jose Unified School District.  Schools for all of San Jose are beautifully mapped out by the district – you have to zoom in to see the boundaries around Cambrian but it includes all three local districts so is worth the extra steps!
  3. The southwest side of Cambrian (and east Los Gatos) is within the boundaries of the Union School District, which also has a helpful map of the borders. The map is a pdf you’ll download and it is very detailed.
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How is the residential real estate market doing in the Cambrian Park area of San Jose, CA?  We’ll have a look at the 95124 zip code area and the 95118 zip code area of San Jose, which together comprise at least 95% of the Cambrian Park real estate area of Silicon Valley. (A small sliver belongs to the predominently Campbell area of 95008.) The following charts, from Altos Research, represent list prices (not sold prices).

both-95124-and-95118-houses-and-condos-Cambrian-Park

Although the condos in 95124 (green line) have not fared too badly in the last year, the vast majority of Cambrian Park real estate seems to be hurting. The median list price on these homes has been slipping fairly steadily over the last year – often at least 10% of value. This is the broad overview. Next we will view things on more of a micro level.

Next, we’ll view Cambrian in smaller segments, broken down by both zip code and quartile. First, let’s take a look at the 95124 zip code, starting with the single family home real estate market:
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There’s a lot for those of us in Silicon Valley to be feeling stressed out about lately. Between the stock market’s wild ride and sinking home values in Santa Clara County (and around the country), it’s a little nerve-wracking. These times are especially upsetting if you’re a senior and plan to retire soon. For years, people looked at their homes with the fond sense of “this is my retirement fund” – or at least a good part of it. Some of that value is now gone.

It’s also stressful for those of us who’ve put money into retirement funds or college savings plans and need it soon. Here in California, the 529 College Savings Plan is an “index fund”. That means it’s a combination of stocks, mutual funds, and bonds. In my house, we have one kid who’s a freshman in college and one who’s a senior in high school, and we’re seeing the 529 Plan shrink right when we need it.

The stock market, the financial crisis and the housing market are bigger than all of us. We are on the verge of a recession, if not already in one now. There’s a lot that’s beyond our control. But what CAN we do to maximize the current situation?

I cannot say what to do about the stock market, though my hunch is that when people advise “buy low”, they are talking about today. I can say something about the housing market in the San Jose area, though, because I’ve got experience with it, both professionally and personally. There are opportunities in this market for those who are able to act on them.

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Ths San Jose real estate market conditions vary wildly from one part of this sprawling city to the next. The high-end neighborhoods of Silver Creek, Almaden Valley, as well as parts of the Rosegarden and some hilly locations with views are all very different real estate markets then downtown San Jose, the Santa Teresa area, Burbank, or east San Jose. Even within each district, there are many smaller markets. Today we’ll have a look at the Cambrian Park real estate market.

How’s the real estate market in Cambrian Park?

There are some plusses for Cambrian Park, being up against some well-to-do areas (Los Gatos and Almaden Valley). The area is a middle-class to upper-middle class area and homes are generally well kept and schools range from good to great. All of these help keep values fairly strong in Cambrian.

Even so, prices are down and sales are down, just like the rest of Silicon Valley. However, it’s not as bad here as in many parts of Santa Clara County.

Houses in Cambrian Park have mostly enjoyed a good absorption rate of under 6 months for most of this year. It’s been a little rougher on the Cambrian condo market though. As with the rest of Silicon Valley condos, they just are not selling as well as houses, most likely because single family homes have come down so much in price that they are more affordable.

Overall, it is currently very close to a “balanced market” in Cambrian Park. That means it’s a reasonable time for both buyers and sellers right now.

Cambrian-absorption-rate-class-1-and-2-2008
Next let’s have a look at the data, statistics and trends for the housing market in Cambrian Park. How are realty values holding up?
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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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Santa Clara County,
San Mateo County, and
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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
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