Los Altos Hills

Scenic Silicon ValleyIf you arrived into Silicon Valley via Highway 101, driving south from San Francisco, you might believe that the Santa Clara Valley, the San Jose area and Silicon Valley as a whole has got to seem to be the ugliest place on earth. Although heavily traveled, that is not the “scenic route”.

So, too, if you are looking for a place to live and are groping to find a place that is reasonably priced, fairly safe and not a terrible commute distance. You might not even have “is nice looking” on your wish list. You might not think it’s possible if all you ever see are the ugly concrete tilt-up buildings in north San Jose, Santa Clara, Alviso, or anywhere along the 237 corridor.  That area is an architectural wasteland.

Let me assure you: there are a lot of beautiful places in Silicon Valley where you can rent or buy a home. But how do you find them? It helps a lot to have a local give you a few pointers.  I’ll give you some tips today on finding a scenic place to live.

Hills – An easy way to find a scenic location to make your home is to settle near the hills, especially those in the west valley (the Santa Cruz Mountains or the Coastal Range) as they are green year-round. Communities at the base of the west valley foothills include, in Santa Clara County, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Los Gatos, and the Almaden Valley area of San Jose. All of these areas are adjacent to the hills or mountains and offer far better than average schools (many of them qualify as great – compare costs between these areas). Continue reading

The annual market report is out at popehandy.REReport.com and we can now learn how 2011 compared to 2010.  The median sales price for houses in Santa Clara County was off 5.3% overall.  But from one part of the valley to the next it varied wildly with 6 cities or areas finding themselves in positive territory while others were off by double digits.

Santa Clara Coutny Cities median SP year over year 2011 to 2010In the image to the left, I’ve put into bold the cities where the median sales price of houses which sold and closed escrow in 2011 were ahead of 2010’s pricing.

What is it that makes Gilroy, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Mountain View and Palo Alto “in the black”?

Most of these cities/towns are upscale, west valley communities.  But so are Saratoga, Cupertino, and Monte Sereno.

Gilroy was especially hard-hit with the housing downturn so perhaps in that case, it’s just coming back into more of a balance. (Then again, so was Morgan Hill and it’s still off by 12%.)

The LinkedIn IPO and others in the Palo Alto area drove prices up for some parts of the housing market nearby and it’s likely that this explains the positive growth for Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Los Altos Hills.  That said, it would seem that Los Altos, and perhaps even Sunnyvale would have seen stronger numbers on the same account.  Perhaps school scores are the key driver here.

Los Gatos, Saratoga and Monte Sereno often behave somewhat similarly as they are adjacent to one another and often attract similar home buyers who want good schools, a nice downtown area nearby and scenic beauty with the hills.  The annual numbers show Monte Sereno down 6.7%, Saratoga down 2% but Los Gatos up 6.4%.  With Monte Sereno, there are very few sales each month and each year (only about 4,000 residents), so there can be a wider swing without it necessarily being accurate. Saratoga and Los Gatos each have about 30,000 people who call these areas home, though, so the data is much more helpful.  Saratoga and Los Gatos both have multiple school districts, views, homes with better proximity to “downtown” and more variables – I think we’d have to dig a lot deeper to learn why these two neighboring markets are so diverse.  We might also have to look at multiple years of data to see if Saratoga spiked while LG slumped to explain the difference. Continue reading

AreaVibes.com ranks cities all over the United States and recently came out with the top 100 for California.  Many of our Silicon Valley cities and towns made the grade!

  • Los Altos Hills # 3
  • Monte Sereno #  6
  • Los Altos # 8
  • Saratoga #  9
  • Palo Alto #  10
  • Foster City # 11
  • Cupertino # 26
  • Mountain View # 27
  • Belmont # 29
  • San Carlos # 35
  • Menlo Park # 38
  • Woodside # 46
  • Portola Valley # 50
  • Atherton # 64
  • Los Gatos # 67
  • Sunnyvale # 82
  • Scotts Valley # 89
  • Daly City # 96

They called the Loyola area of Los Altos a city and it was on this list too (# 39 ) but it is only a district, not a city or town. Surprising, then, that they didn’t include Almaden Valley (part of San Jose) or other nice districts as well.

To see the entire list, please visit their website:
http://www.areavibes.com/best-places/california/

 

Right now there are about 4664 active residential real estate listings (homes listed for sale on our local MLS) which are houses, duet homes, townhouses or condominiums in Santa Clara County.  Of those, there are 1255 short sales (27% of the inventory) and 463 bank owned properties, or REOs (9%),  on the market.  So the “distressed properties” segment equals 37% of the Silicon Valley real estate market (or Santa Clara County real estate market).

Some areas are flooded with short sales & bank owned homes. Others are going through this meltdown nearly unscathed. Below please find a sampling of areas in and around San Jose with the percentage of distressed homes for sale (including both short sales and REOs or bank owned properties).  In most areas, there are usually about 3 times as many short sales as bank owned homes, but sometimes it’s a lower percentage, closer to 2.5%.   I pulled the numbers from our MLS tonight – info is deemed correct but of course not guaranteed. 

 
Percent of Distressed Home Listings in Parts of Santa Clara County
Figures represent houses, duet homes, townhouses & condos for sale
South County (Morgan Hill, Gilroy, “area 1” 43%
Santa Teresa (area of San Jose, “area 3”) 44%
Central San Jose (downtown & nearby, “area 9”) 51%
Palo Alto 2%
Saratoga 4%
Los Gatos (town of, zips 95030 & 95032) 12%

Today we’ll look at the ratio & relationship between real estate listings and sales of houses and duet homes in Silicon Valley over the last eighteen months. The goal is to get a sense of the market trends in terms of the overall absorption of homes for sale.  (We’ll give a glance at condo and townhome sales but the focus is on single family homes.) How hard is it to sell a home?  The answer has to do with supply and demand – the number of listings and the number of sales.

In the graphs below, the reddish brown line represents the number of pending sales.  The blue line indicates the number of listings or homes for sale. Put simply, the closer these two lines are together, the hotter the market – that is, the more of a seller’s market it is.  When they are far apart, it’s more cold, more of a buyer’s market.  If the lines cross, it is a wild frenzy (that does happen in one case, as you will see). Below please find the graph for the homes in Santa Clara County overall (all areas).

Santa Clara County listings to sales Jan 2009 to June 2010

 You can see that these two lines pinch together in about December 2009 to January 2010.  Prices had dropped and investors were swooping in! The  market has cooled since then.

Santa Clara County condo & townhome listings to pending sales March 2008 to June 2010

Santa Clara County condo & townhome listings to pending sales Jan 2009 to June 2010

 For condos and townhouses, all of Santa Clara County:Here the two lines  – or the market – were close together for about 3-4 months.  Buyers understood that condominiums in Silicon Valley were bargain priced, and they responded by buying.Now let’s look at various areas around the county.  We’ll take these in Alphabetical order, beginning with Almaden Valley.

Almaden Valley listings to pending sales March 2008 to June 2010

Almaden Valley listings to pending sales Jan 2009 to June 2010

 As you can see, the market improved but never got as “hot” as in the county generally.  This is because it’s a more expensive area, and most of what was selling in winter consisted of entry level housing.
Continue reading

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
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Santa Clara County,
San Mateo County, and
Santa Cruz County.
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Special focus on:
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Saratoga, Campbell,
Almaden Valley,
Cambrian Park.
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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
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