Palo Alto

Sketch of houseIt can be really challenging for people moving to Silicon Valley to get a sense of real estate prices, and perhaps more, to compare housing costs from one town or district to another.

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

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:

Capture

And a look at the chart from 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 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

This upcoming weekend, Aug 22-23, 2015, 10am to 6pm, is the annual Palo Alto Festival of the Arts along University Avenue, featuring over 300 artists’ booths!  Additionally, there will be 60 chalk artists along Tasso Avenue.

Things to know:
Admission is free.  Please bring your own bags or totes to carry your purchases as Palo Alto now bans vendors providing customers with plastic or paper bags.  Parking may be a challenge (disabled parking available in city lots, others must find street parking), so the use of public transit is very highly encouraged.

Many thanks to the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring this very popular happening!

To get all of the details on this fun Silicon Valley event, check out these websites:

http://paloaltochamber.com/FestivalOfTheArts   (check out the Festival Passport option – good deals!)
http://www.mlaproductions.com/PaloAlto/index.html

  1. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,477 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,751 sqft
  2. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,356 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,407 sqft
  3. 4 beds, 4 full baths
    Home size: 3,036 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,363 sqft
  4. 5 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,656 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,013 sqft
  5. 3 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,890 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,015 sqft
  6. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,569 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,102 sqft
  7. 1 bed, 1 full bath
    Home size: 1,120 sq ft
  8. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,800 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,011 sqft
  9. 2 beds, 1 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 900 sq ft
    Lot size: 2,221 sqft
  10. 2 beds, 1 full bath
    Home size: 888 sq ft
    Lot size: 9,016 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of Palo Alto.
(all data current as of 3/23/2017)

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

What does it cost to buy a home with really good schools in Silicon Valley? Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino and Palo Alto are all areas with highly regarding public schools.  These aren’t the only areas with good schools but they are popular “west valley” areas that people may consider if working for Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook or any number of high tech employers.

Los Gatos and Saratoga both have multiple school districts, running from good to very good or excellent.  The cost of housing tends to follow the popularity of the district, so for those areas I’m showing the breakdown not just for the whole town of Los Gatos but also by the high school district (Los Gatos-Saratoga or Campbell Union High School District).  Same with Saratoga.  (The Monte Sereno real estate market is very similar to Los Gatos, but slightly more expensive. Most of Monte Sereno has Los Gatos schools, but a small number of homes are in the Campbell area.)

Here are the average numbers for single family homes sold in the last 60 days ranging from 1500 – 2500 square feet, on a lot between 5000 and 10,000 SF, with 3-5 bedrooms and 2-3 bathrooms to give a sense of what it would cost to purchase a typical house in these areas.  Please note that right now it’s a strong seller’s market, so many (if not most or all) homes are selling for more than the list price.  DOM stands for days on the market.

Market info April 19 2014

If you are new to Santa Clara County, you may be wondering if this is correct.  The cost to buy a home in these areas is what?

  • Los Gatos: approximately $1,200,000 to $1,675,000 depending on the school district
  • Saratoga: approximately$1,500,000 to about $2,000,000 depending on the schools
  • Cupertino: approx $1,700,000 (some high schools will bring in higher prices and others lower)
  • Palo Alto: approx $2,700,000

Remember, these prices do not mean that the houses being sold are perfect.  Because it is a strong seller’s market, many properties are being sold which need new roofing, extensive pest work, remodeling, perhaps updating of electrical or plumbing systems or more.  Many home buyers will need to spend 1-2% on things like termite fumigation, dry rot or roof repairs, carpets, paint, windows and more, and usually this will be done before they move in.  So whatever the budget is, buffer it a little bit for both money and time to make it turnkey.

For people relocating to Silicon Valley from out of the San Jose or Peninsula area, this real estate market can be daunting.   There are other areas with good schools which are a bit further from most employment areas which can be an alternative, too.  They include the Cambrian 95124 and Almaden 95120 (especially the southern area with Bret Harte Middle School and Leland High School) areas within San Jose.

Finally, in some cases, it may be more affordable to make use of private schools, which are plentiful in the San Francisco Bay area.  In some situations it can be financially more affordable to buy outside of the highly competitive areas with the best schools and utilize the private school system.  Some of the private schools are religious, some secular, and some with a language focus (bilingual in French, German, Chinese, etc.).

Interested in purchasing a home in one of these fantastic communities?  Please call or email me!  408 204-7673  or mary (at) popehandy.com

  1. 2 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,154 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,056 sqft
  2. 1 bed, 1 full bath
    Home size: 1,062 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,698 sqft
  3. 5 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,300 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,492 sqft
  4. 4 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,432 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,141 sqft
  5. 3 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,082 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,320 sqft
  6. 4 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 3,040 sq ft
    Lot size: 13,285 sqft
  7. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,406 sq ft
    Lot size: 19,427 sqft
  8. 4 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 3,655 sq ft
    Lot size: 16,117 sqft
  9. 2 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,540 sq ft
  10. 5 beds, 4 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 3,936 sq ft
    Lot size: 9,757 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of Cupertino.
(all data current as of 3/23/2017)

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

Mid-century modern homes, including those designed by Joseph Eichler, dot the Silicon Valley & South Bay Area real estate landscape.  There are probably more than 5,000 Eichlers in Santa Clara County altogether, plus all the other homes of that genre with the similar modern style, which was influenced by the ranch and prarie styles as well as the dramatic work by Frank Lloyd Wright (open beam ceilings, nearly flat roofs, lots of exposed wood & glass windows stretching from the floor to the ceiling).  Eichlers, especially, put a premium on privacy from the street but open to the outdoors otherwise.

Not every community in Santa Clara County has Eichler homes, but most have the mid-century modern style homes & neighborhoods. These homes vary from tiny, modest cottages of 1100 square feet to large & elegant  houses of nearly 3,000 square feet, featuring big, central atriums or courtyards.  (There are also some co-ops in the valley too.)  The quality varies, as the homes were constructed by several different builders with different home buying budgets in mind.  Real estate prices range from “entry level” to very expensive, depending on the location (city and schools), size of the home & lot, and condition of the property. Most of them are now about 50 years old, though some are a little younger.

Some of the West Side Silicon Valley Communities which feature Eichler and Mid Century Modern Homes

In Los Gatos there are no Eichlers but there are a small handful of single family homes which are mid-century modern on Eastridge Drive (just off Blossom Hill Road and Hillbrook). There are a couple more at the end of Magnuson Terrace (off Magnuson Loop and Los Gatos Blvd).  Additionally, there are some smaller mid-50s homes on El Gato (and adjacent portions of Escobar) off of Los Gatos-Almaden Road. Unfortunately, not all of these homes are “well kept”, though many are.

Monte Sereno is home to 16 Eichler designed houses on Via Sereno beginning at the intersection of Winchester Blvd with Via Sereno.  These houses were built in the late 60s to early 70s.
Continue reading

Offer DeadlinesIt’s a seller’s market in Silicon Valley right now.  Many sellers are getting multiple offers and overbids, especially in Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Menlo Park.  For home owners trying to maximize their sales price, does it make sense to have an “offer deadline”?

Maybe.

If you are pretty confident that you can get multiple offers, the deadline helps in a few ways.

  • it prevents the offer situation from being a mere “foot race” (fastest one wins)
  • it allows everyone enough time to see the house, read the inspections, disclosures etc.
  • it provides enough time for the sellers and agents to plan

As with all strategic plans, this one can backfire too.  If you or your agent publishes an offer deadline and then no bids are forthcoming, it’s more than just a let down.  It’s a market signal that this home is overvalued by its owner and agent.  Then, suddenly, it can appear to be an old listing, even if it’s just been on the market 7 to 10 days.

Many real estate agents take a middle path, saying nothing about offers until agents ask. If they are asked, they will give a date in the future – usually a couple of days after the open house.  But the MLS won’t say it for these agents unless they hear many buyers’ agents asking about offer presentation.  They don’t want to look bad, they don’t want your house to look bad.

We never know until a property goes on the market how it will fare.  It is wise to be cautious about advertising an offer date unless you are very certain that you will be seeing multiples!

  1. 3 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,750 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,524 sqft
  2. 3 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,336 sq ft
    Lot size: 2,613 sqft
  3. 4 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,392 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,274 sqft
  4. 0 beds, 0 baths
    Home size: 1,902 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,492 sqft
  5. 0 beds, 0 baths
    Home size: 2,340 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,011 sqft
  6. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,335 sq ft
    Lot size: 4,312 sqft
  7. 0 beds, 0 baths
    Home size: 2,393 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,492 sqft
  8. 0 beds, 0 baths
    Home size: 2,675 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,492 sqft
  9. 0 beds, 0 baths
    Home size: 1,675 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,011 sqft
  10. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,100 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,054 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of San Jose.
(all data current as of 3/23/2017)

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

Beckwith Building in downtown Los Gatos, California

The beautiful Beckwith Building in downtown Los Gatos, California

I have been fortunate to have made 5 trips to Europe, one of them lasting 9 months, and will be returning again before the end of 2013 (this time to Belgium).  It is so diverse, beautiful and compelling! Having experienced a little culture shock myself (when living in Florence, Italy, for one year of university), I’m very sympathetic about how hard an international move can be, and I understand that for Europeans moving to Silicon Valley, there can be an acute culture shock, particularly for those coming from more rural areas.

The bulk of Silicon Valley is located in Santa Clara County, which is at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay.  In this county, there are approximately 1.8 million people, almost a million of them in the city of San Jose.  Some areas, or districts, of San Jose have a distinctive character and are almost like towns or small cities themselves.  So in this article I’ll mention both cities and towns, but also areas or districts of San Jose, which might appeal to our European transplants.   Most of my comments will reference Santa Clara County or “south bay” locations, but I will also mention others on the San Francisco Peninsula and SF Bay Area too.

Architecture, Urban Centers and Charm

It is an unfortunate negative in Silicon Valley that much of our housing consists of ranch style tract homes, and truthfully, they are not exactly a work of art.  New or newer homes tend to be on very tiny parcels of land (or “lots”) and for many people may simply feel too congested or crowded. But there are beautiful residential neighborhoods – you just need to know where to look!  In many ways, the areas with higher charm can make our global home buyers feel more comfortable than if they were faced with only track, ranch neighborhoods.

Do you value unique, older architecture with Victorian, Craftsman, Tudor or other home styles? Then check out these areas:

  • Within San Jose: the Japantown, Vendome, and Naglee Park areas of downtown San Jose. Also in central San Jose are the Rosegarden, Shasta Hanchett and Burbank neighborhoods which all boast some lovely older homes.  Or, if you love classic Spanish Revival style homes with views, consider the old Alum Rock area of San Jose near the country club (golf course).  The Willow Glen area of SJ (zip code 95120) is full of lovely old established neighborhoods with historic homes and tree lined streets.  If your job takes you to downtown San Jose, all of these areas will be fairly close.

Please read the rest of this article on the Move2SiliconValley.com website:

http://www.move2siliconvalley.com/which-silicon-valley-areas-are-the-most-european-feeling/

  1. 3 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 1,430 sq ft
    Lot size: 4,399 sqft
  2. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,600 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,013 sqft
  3. 5 beds, 1 full bath
    Home size: 1,100 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,924 sqft
  4. 3 beds, 1 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,416 sq ft
    Lot size: 3,876 sqft
  5. 2 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,050 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,500 sqft
  6. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,400 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,662 sqft
  7. 3 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,364 sq ft
    Lot size: 11,499 sqft
  8. 4 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,232 sq ft
    Lot size: 3,746 sqft
  9. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,699 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,403 sqft
  10. 3 beds, 1 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,170 sq ft
    Lot size: 4,268 sqft

See all Real estate in the 95112 zip code.
(all data current as of 3/23/2017)

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

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 other day I was hunting for local maps of Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) dating back 100 years or so, and although I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, I did find a treasure trove that I hadn’t expected to find at all.

Here please find a tiny snippet of a USGS Map from the late 1890s (actually part of the Palo Alto Map). According to my husband, who has a hobby of viewing and collecting maps, each “dot” on this image represents a house. If that is the case, you can see how sparcely populated Saratoga and Cupertino were at this time.

And what is that Azule Springs? Was it another hot springs type resort, like Saratoga Springs? A map like this raises a lot of questions!

If you love – or at least enjoy – history, I invite you to visit the USGS website and look at the historic maps there. One section includes Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Cupertino and the coastal areas such as Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. Another section of the map includes Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Campbell, Almaden, Cambrian Park, Santa Clara and many parts of San Jose.

It’s fun to see where things “used to be” and how they “used to be called”. Take a few minutes and enjoy!

  1. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,500 sq ft
    Lot size: 12,893 sqft
  2. 6 beds, 4 full baths
    Home size: 2,989 sq ft
    Lot size: 14,026 sqft
  3. 4 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 3,497 sq ft
    Lot size: 18,687 sqft
  4. 5 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 3,042 sq ft
    Lot size: 43,560 sqft
  5. 6 beds, 6 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 6,427 sq ft
    Lot size: 43,560 sqft
  6. 5 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 2,824 sq ft
    Lot size: 3.17 ac
  7. 2 beds, 1 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,088 sq ft
    Lot size: 653 sqft
  8. 5 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 3,139 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,407 sqft
  9. 4 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 3,914 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.43 ac
  10. 5 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 3,152 sq ft
    Lot size: 13,329 sqft

See all Real estate in the Saratoga community.
(all data current as of 3/23/2017)

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

Today let’s look at the Santa Clara County real estate market, the days on market (DOM) and the sale price to list price ratio for houses and duet homes (single family homes). This will primarily be graphs that I created using MLSListings.com (our local MLS, to which I am a paying member).  We’ll consider the county as a whole and various cities or towns within it, plus areas of San Jose, as it has about a million residents.

First: Santa Clara County homes over the last year.  Please note the decreasing days on market, the increasing sale price to list price ratio in recent months.  This is exactly what an appreciating market looks like!

Santa Clara County average days on market and sale price to list price ratio

Santa Clara County average days on market and sale price to list price ratio

Next, let’s have a peek at how some of the hottest markets in Silicon Valley look, starting with Sunnyvale. It is odd to see any kind of a blip on the sale price to list price ratio.  Are buyers giving some push-back?  We keep hearing stories of homes selling 30% or more over list price with gobs of offers.  So the SP – LP ratio change is a surprise.

Sunnyvale average days on market and sale price to list price ratio Sunnyvale

Sunnyvale average days on market and sale price to list price ratio Sunnyvale

Palo Alto is always the hottest ticket in town. Continue reading

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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.
:
Special focus on:
San Jose, Los Gatos,
Saratoga, Campbell,
Almaden Valley,
Cambrian Park.
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Valley Of Hearts Delight
Santa Clara County Real Estate,
with an interest in history

Move2SiliconValley.com
Silicon Valley relocation info

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Silicon Valley real estate,
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Silicon Valley Real Estate Report
Silicon Valley real estate
market trends & statistics
Mary’s Blog Awards
Top 25 real estate blogs 2016
2016: Personal Income's list of top 25 real estate blogs.


Best Realtor blog award
2016: Coastal Group OC's list of best Realtor blogs


The 2009 Sellsius list of top 12 women real estate bloggers
2009: Sellsius list of top
12 women real estate bloggers


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.


Non blog award


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

2011 readers' poll,
San Jose Mercury News

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