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.

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 $1,500,000 to $2,150,000 depending on the school district
  • Saratoga: approximately $1,700,000 to about $2,500,000 depending on the schools
  • Cupertino: approx $2,000,000 (some high schools will bring in higher prices and others lower)
  • Palo Alto: approx $2,700,000 – $3,000,000

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.

To compare, here’s the same chart, following the same criteria, taken in April 2014. See what’s changed:

Market info April 19 2014

 

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. 1 bed, 1 bath
    Home size: 786 sq ft
    Lot size: 2.03 ac
  2. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,735 sq ft
    Lot size: 4,874 sqft
  3. 0 beds, 0 bath
    Home size: 2,573 sq ft
    Lot size: 9,395 sqft
  4. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,625 sq ft
    Lot size: 3,449 sqft
  5. 2 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 994 sq ft
    Lot size: 2,108 sqft
  6. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,190 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,098 sqft
  7. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,498 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,405 sqft
  8. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,677 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,100 sqft
  9. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,263 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,201 sqft
  10. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,430 sq ft
    Lot size: 3,824 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of Cupertino.
(all data current as of 9/20/2017)

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

money faucet graphicIf you are tired of paying $3,000 per month in rent for a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment and have decided that you want to buy a Silicon Valley home, you may find that it’s complicated and scary as the San Jose area is in a very deep seller’s market. Let’s take a quick look at the major challenges and decisions you’ll face as a potential Silicon Valley home buyer.

Silicon Valley home buyer challenges

Affordability – or the lack of it

The cash challenge - the Lincoln 5 dollar bill as a jigsaw puzzleChallenge # 1: the cost of housing is staggering, whether you are renting or buying, whether you are a first time home buyer or you’ve just relocated from somewhere else less expensive (meaning almost anywhere). Homes under a half million dollars are few and far between, as the newspapers and media have recently announced, and the median price of houses in Santa Clara County is about $1.1 million (and closer to $1.3 million in San Mateo County, less in Santa Cruz County), with the average price being higher still. Of course, condos and townhomes are less pricey, but they will have Home Owner Association or HOA dues to factor in. Same with mobile homes, which nearly always have space rents of $1,000 or more in Silicon Valley. If you want to buy a Silicon Valley home, figuring out “how much house” you can afford when purchasing can be a painful exercise. (Hint: your success in life is not reflected in the size or remodeling of your home here. The odds are good that you will be disappointed when you see how little you can buy.)

How much can you afford in this hyper expensive real estate market?

The old rule of thumb is that a consumer can qualify for a mortgage for 3-4 times his or her annual income. Translation: if you make $200,000 per year,  and don’t have other debt (student loans, car payment, etc.), you may get a mortgage of $600,000 to $800,000 (and then you need the down payment on top of that).  In most parts of Silicon Valley, that means buying a condo or a townhouse, not a single family home.  In addition to the down payment, there will be closing costs, and most likely repairs to the property since in the current market sellers usually aren’t providing section 1 pest clearances or doing other repairs. Cash is crucial.

Challenge #2 if you want to buy a Silicon Valley home: money for the down payment, closing costs, repairs, and reserves – it’s more than you might think.   Pulling together the hefty down payment and other needed money is always hard. In this crazy area, though, most people who want to buy a Silicon Valley home need not just 20% down, but additional funds in order to be competitive with multiple offers. So you may need to be able to throw $200,000 to $400,000 down on  that normal, non-luxury house or townhouse.  Saving that much money is a trick, and many first time home buyers either get help from parents or are cashing in on stock options to pull it off. Most of the time, home prices seem to appreciate faster than buyers can save, so having some sort of boost beyond your own saving power is critical for most.  This has been true for many decades here – both the relatively high cost of housing and the difficulty in pulling together 20% or more for the down payment. (It was true in the late 1980s when my husband and I were trying to buy our first home, too.)  It’s even harder now, though, as 25% is often the bottom amount that will get your offer seriously considered if there are multiple bidders on a home for sale. Continue reading

Bathroom 1960s style (or earlier)Keeping up with the latest trends in home decor and remodeling is a bit like painting the Golden Gate Bridge: by the time you’re done, you need to do it all over again. Styles change, tastes change. How often do you really want to remodel and update your hardware, light fixtures, floor coverings – to say nothing of kitchens and bathrooms? If these items are functional and you like them, there’s no reason to change. Then again, if you’re going to sell your home and want to maximize the return, it might be worth it to do some updating.

The average American kitchen is remodeled about every 17 years – that’s long enough to jump from one trend to the next, one set of materials or colors to the next. If you wait long enough, certain themes actually come “full circle,” not unlike clothes!

To make a point: in the mid 70s, brushed brass was in, and many if not most homes built then in the San Jose, Silicon Valley area were made with brushed brass doorknobs, hinges, drawer pulls, doorbells, you name it. That trend moved to gold, brushed stainless steel and now – full circle – back to brass! Ditto that with colors. “Earth tones” were all the rage in the 70s (olive green, deep brown, tan) and as things moved through the cycles (with a whole lot of white in between), the earth tones have come back again.

Some colors make more infrequent appearances, such as lemon yellow, lime green, bubble gum pink, baby blue….

Let’s just take a look at bathrooms and kitchens for this discussion about colors, materials and being in style. Continue reading

How's The Luxury Home Market?Luxury home sales are going like crazy in the west valley areas of Santa Clara County. Right now in Almaden Valley, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga, there are 105 houses for sale listed at or more than two million dollars (just checked MLSListings.com), and in the last 30 days 56 have sold and closed escrow in those same areas and price ranges. For the Almaden – Saratoga region generally, then, there are 1.88 months of inventory in the over two million dollar price range (105/56). That makes it a strong seller’s market. Things have certainly livened up a lot since October. (In the same region, there are 25 pending sales.)

Next we’ll look at these four Silicon Valley communities separately to see how the luxury market in each one is faring overall.

Almaden Valley (San Jose, 95120)

Currently in Almaden there are 9 houses for sale which are listed at or over $2,000,000.  In the last 30 days, 8 sold in that price range (with two sales pending). That makes for just over 1.13 “months of inventory.” That would mean this luxury market has rapid turnover and is in a strong seller’s market. It’s a deep seller’s market in Almaden Valley among the most expensive real estate offerings for sale. Five to six months is balanced and over six is a buyer’s market. Continue reading

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 3 months, or 90 days, for a better range. As of this writing, Saratoga only had one sale over the last 90 days, so data for that segment may or may not be a good average.

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.

To compare, here are the numbers from the this past January 26, 2017. There were fewer sales, so the search range was bumped up to 120 days instead of 90 days (and Los Altos was so low, it was individually searched at 180 days). You might notice price per square foot appears lower across the board in January compared to July. This is most likely because the market has heated up over spring and summer, which you can also see in the DOM.

Below are my results from the same search back in September 18, 2015. By comparison, 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, Los Altos only had four homes sold, the second lowest, matching this criteria within the 90 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 38 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

1512 Santa Monica AVE San Jose CA 95124 - front right viewTastefully updated & remodeled throughout! 1512 Santa Monica Ave boasts hardwood and tile floors only! This beautiful and sunny Cambrian home sits along the Willow Glen Border and enjoys an open floor plan, ideal for entertaining! And it is move-in ready!

1512 Santa Monica Avenue, in the Cambrian area of San Jose:  Offered at $850,000

MLS # ML81670041

QUICK FACTS:

  • 3 bedrooms
  • 2 updated bathrooms
  • 1144 SF of living space (per county records)
  • 5882 SF lot (per county records)
  • Central air conditioning
  • Many dual pane windows
  • Hardwood & tile floors throughout
  • Raised panel interior doors
  • Attached 2 car garage with extra wide driveway
  • Washer, dryer, and refrigerator all stay
  • Built 1954

1512 Santa Monica Ave – Virtual Tour Link: http://www.tourfactory.com/1642868

Living Room & Open Floor Plan 1512 Santa Monica Ave SJ 95118

OPEN LIVING, ABUNDANT NATURAL LIGHTING!

The living room offers a wood burning fireplace, built in bookshelves, hardwood flooring, recessed lights, and access to the front porch – a welcoming, comfy place to relax in a friendly neighborhood.

The kitchen overlooks the back yard and features younger cabinets, stainless steel appliances, slab granite countertops, a sun tunnel, tile floor, and a door to the garage.

The spacious dining area is open to both the kitchen and living room, and it also provides a tile floor & view of the inviting back yard.

Outside there’s plenty of room for everything with both a spacious deck – like an outside “family room” – and a flagstone patio with an exquisite pergola, which makes for a fabulous outside dining area. A lawn, fruit trees, and planting area complete this space. (Fruit trees include apple, peach, and orange.)
BEDROOMS & BATHROOMS

The bedroom wing enjoys hardwood floors, fan lights in each bedroom, and cedar floors in the closets with custom “Elfa” organizers and shelving.

The large master suite includes 2 closets, hardwood floors, and a fan light. Located at the rear of the home, it enjoys a wide view of the beautiful back yard.

The updated master bathroom provides a stall shower along with a toilet and vanity. The hall bath is also nicely updated with a pedestal sink, toilet, and shower over tub.

SCHOOLS for 1512 Santa Monica Avenue

Schallenberger Elementary
Willow Glen Middle
Willow Glen High

See also:

http://popehandy.com/san-jose-cambrian-park/

http://www.valleyofheartsdelight.com/Property/1512-Santa-Monica-Ave-San-Jose-California

Please join us for the Almaden Music in the Park series every Thursday in July! The evening hours are 6:30pm to 8pm. Next week will be the first one, and like those in recent years, will be loads of fun! A few other Realtors at Sereno Group and I are sponsoring the month long event. At our table, under the green awning, we give away water bottles and red vines. Please stop by and say hello! (And if you are one of my blog readers, I really would love to meet you, too!)

Almaden Music in the Park crowd July 7 2016

Almaden Music in the Park crowd July 7 2016

These musical evenings are open to everyone, without cost to the general public.  In the few years in which I’ve been a co-sponsor, I’ve noticed that the first week is nicely attended, but the audience grows each time and by the last night, it’s a large crowd with loads of dancing.  So don’t wait – go to the first Almaden Music in the Park concert and make as many of them as you can!

Almaden Music in the Park 2017 San Jose, CA

The Alta Vista neighborhood, which sits along the border of Los Gatos and the Cambrian Park district of San Jose, is very highly sought after and valued for many, many reasons. Real estate prices vary depending upon the precise location within the neighborhood as well as the size and condition of the home.

Why is this area so popular?  Most of the streets close to Alta Vista School are beautifully tree-lined, and from virtually everywhere in the neighborhood, you are close to Blossom Hill (that’s the name of the hill, not just the name of the road!). Homes are well kept, streets are wide enough, and except when there’s a school function, there really aren’t too many cars on the street. It is very scenic, pleasant and uncrowded feeling. Although you’re in the city or town, you feel close to the country there.

Additionally, many homebuyers select this area because the school scores are high and because it’s easy to get to the elementary and middle schools without crossing any major streets: that is a big plus! It is also a quick drive to highway 85, just a couple of miles to the Los Gatos shopping areas (at Los Gatos Blvd and Blossom Hill Road) or to Vasona Lake County Park. For many, it’s a way to be close to Los Gatos while paying less expensive San Jose prices.

Prior to being developed for housing, this spot at the base of Blossom Hill was once blanketed in orchards and was scenic enough that it was part of the “blossom tours” that used to take place at the height of the flowering.  Hence, one large section of this neighborhood has street names that begin with “blossom”.


Continue reading

Close to the Los Gatos border sits one of the more affordable Cambrian neighborhoods in San Jose and the west valley generally. It enjoys lovely views of the hills, great public schools with high API scores, a neighborhood private school to boot, and convenient access to freeways and stores. There’s no sign, marker or gateway to the area, so many of its residents are probably unaware that the official name to it is Cambrian Gardens.

This neighborhood provides an incredible “bang for the buck” for home buyers wanting excellent schools and not wanting to pay luxury home pricing. In many ways, it’s a “sleeper” – meaning that many people don’t know it’s there, but it’s a good deal!

Continue reading

Located close to the Guadalupe Creek and the foothills of the coastal mountain range, the Montevideo neighborhood enjoys tree lined streets and scenic green views of the hills. Houses and yards are nicely kept. It is fairly convenient for commuting as it’s not too deeply into the San Jose area of Almaden Valley. About 500 residents call this beautiful neighborhood home.

Montevideo nighborhood in San Jose's Almaden Valley area (zip code 95120)

The Montevideo Neighborhood in the Almaden Valley area of San Jose

Shuffle board area of Montevideo cabana

Shuffle board area of Montevideo cabana

In addition to the pleasant vistas, the Montevideo home owners and residents enjoy the cabaña, which includes a community pool, clubhouse, recreation grounds (shuffleboard, volleyball court and more), a fun swim team for kids. There are very few cabañas in the west valley, so this is a big draw.

Adjacent is the very highly regarded Guadalupe Elementary School, which can boast API scores in the 900s (it was 941 in the 2013 study). 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
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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Mary’s other sites & blogs

Valley Of Hearts Delight
Santa Clara County Real Estate,
with an interest in history

Move2SiliconValley.com
Silicon Valley relocation info

popehandy.com
Silicon Valley real estate,
focus on home selling

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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