What makes an expensive house in the San Jose area more than just a pricey bit of real estate, but instead a Silicon Valley luxury home? How is high end real estate different from the rest of the market? When is a property not just a home with land, but an estate?
In other parts of the U.S., spending $1,200,000 may fetch a 4000 square foot home, new construction, in an upscale gated community with country club amenities such as a golf course, tennis courts, and more. Here, that same $1,200,000 will procure an entry to mid-level single family home in many parts of Santa Clara County. It won’t necessarily be a Silicon Valley luxury home.
Luxury connotes a combination of qualities, features, and amenities. And it includes pricing (relative to the nearby market), condition, land, design.
Pricing Luxury Homes in Silicon Valley: What Do They Cost?
Expensive Silicon Valley homes are not necessarily luxury homes. Depending on the city or town, the price tag could be higher or lower. For instance, a fabulous house on a large lot in Gilroy’s Eagle Ridge might sell for 1/3 as much as the identical type of home, land and neighborhood found in Saratoga, Monte Sereno, or Los Gatos, or Los Altos, if a similar home happened to be available. Generally, though, luxury homes could cost as little as $1,000,000 or so in some parts of Silicon Valley or in neighboring counties, but in most parts of Silicon Valley, a true estate type property will be valued at $2,000,000 or $3,000,000 or more. In some areas, such as Palo Alto, that $2 million doesn’t go too far and the home you can purchase at that price tag may need major updating – or it could be “land value”. For our purposes today, we’ll use $2 million as the bottom number for estate properties, but it may or may not be the case in some areas.
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
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
How do you choose where you’d like to live in Silicon Valley? Especially if you’re relocating here from out of the area, this can be a huge question (for more relocation-specific posts, check out my blog Move2SiliconValley.com). Most Santa Clara County home buyers have strong preferences for low crime, good schools, and pleasant looking, quiet neighborhoods.
My clients often ask me to compare for them areas which are somewhat similar, such as Los Gatos & Los Altos. Off the top of my head, I can give general answers, such as this: Compared to Los Gatos, Los Altos is a more expensive (perhaps 20 or 25% more?), has a very slightly smaller population, is a little more spread out, has slightly milder weather and is overall “quieter” in terms of the downtown night life. Los Altos is more convenient if you want to go to Palo Alto or San Francisco. Los Gatos is more convenient if you like to visit Santa Cruz, Monterey and the coast. Los Gatos is more mixed in terms of housing types (it still has many beautiful historic districts with nicely renovated Victorian homes, but also newer construction). Both are “nice looking” but Los Gatos has more varied terrain as it is nestled into the Santa Cruz Mountains. Both enjoy pleasant neighborhoods, good schools, lower than normal crime and community involvement.
That’s the kind of “ballpark” info I can tell people about various areas of the Santa Clara Valley, whether it’s comparing one part of San Jose to another (Cambrian Park vs Almaden Valley vs Willow Glen) or one city to another (Cupertino vs Saratoga). I can give general info on schools.
What I can’t do (and most agents can’t) is recite from memory school API scores, median household income, housing density, crime statistics, etc. For that we have the web! Here are some very helpful links which can assist you in your search to find the part of Santa Clara County that’s the best fit for you, your wants, needs, and budget:
Want to compare areas in and near San Jose? A great tool for some basic and broad information by zip code is Zip Lookup. Input a zip code and get an easy to read map of population information like density, age, and income. For more official documentation, census data is easily searchable online through Fact Finder – just search by county, city, town, or zipcode. A good overall source for research is Melissa Data.
The K12Niche.com website created a list of important factors in grading the success of a high school, and evaluating secondary schools in that light, ranked them from best to worst. Elements graded for the Niche Report included academics, health & safety, surveys of parents and students on the overall experience, student culture & diversity, teachers, resources & facilities, extracurriculars & activities, and sports & fitness. (My two cents: I think it’s wonderful that they are counting much more than test scores!)
In the San Jose Metro Area (click on link to see full list), the top ranked schools are:
- Saratoga High School in Saratoga (ranked # 3 in California)
- Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto (ranked #4 in California)
- Lynbrook High School in San Jose (serves parts of Saratoga and Cupertino also) (# 12 in California)
- Los Altos High School in Los Altos (# 19 in California)
- Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto (# 27 in California)
- Mountain View High School (serves parts of Los Altos too)
- Monta Vista High School in Cupertino
- Los Gatos High School in Los Gatos
- Homestead High School in Cupertino
- Cupertino High School in Cupertino
- Leland High School in San Jose (southern Almaden Valley)
Please click on the link above to see the ranking of the next 30 in the San Jose area.
The San Francisco Metro Area seems to include a huge area, some of which may more properly be said to be a part of the San Jose area, such as Fremont. Given that some of the SF “area” covers several counties and part is really within Silicon Valley, these good schools should be mentioned also. I’m not going to list all of them, only those close to or in Silicon Valley. Also, because a far greater area is covered, the lower rankings should be understood as within the context of a much greater pool of competition.
See the whole SF area by clicking on the link.
- Ranking 5th in the SF list is Amador High School in Pleasanton
- Ranking 6th in the SF list is Burlingame High School in Burlingame
- Ranking 10th in the SF list is Mission San Jose High School in Fremont
- Ranking 11th in the SF list is San Mateo High in San Mateo
- Ranking 12th is Foothill High in Pleasanton
- Ranking 15th is Hillside High in San Mateo
- Ranking 17th is Aragon High in San Mateo
- and many more: Carlmont, Menlo-Atherton, Mills, Irvington, Sequoia all are in the top 25%
What about private high schools?
Yes, there’s a Niche ranking for private high schools too. However, a closer look at the details and it’s apparent that far fewer criteria were used with these grades. Not sure why there’s less that went into the private school rankings. There are 15 private high schools in the San Jose Metro Area, and the top five are Harker (San Jose), Oakwood Country School (Morgan Hill), Bellarmine College Prep (San Jose), Notre Dame High (San Jose) and St. Francis High (Mountain View). To see the broader SF area, click on this link, which appears to cover San Mateo, San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin Counties.
$5,850,000 : 160 Prospect AVE Lot 12, LOS GATOS5 beds, 5 baths
$1,195,000 : 126 Via Lago, LOS GATOS3 beds, 3 baths
$1,900,000 : 242 Almendra AVE, LOS GATOS3 beds, 2 baths
$4,895,000 : 16362 Hilow Road, LOS GATOS6 beds, 6 baths
$1,450,000 : 226 Jo DR, LOS GATOS3 beds, 2 baths
$1,489,000 : 14350 Blossom Hill RD, LOS GATOS4 beds, 3 baths
$2,499,950 : 18570 Blythswood DR, LOS GATOS3 beds, 3 baths
$1,790,000 : 131 Calle El Padre, LOS GATOS3 beds, 3 baths
$998,000 : 175 Villa AVE, LOS GATOS2 beds, 2 baths
$2,100,000 : 17610 Bruce AVE, LOS GATOS3 beds, 2 baths
See all Real estate in the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno community.
(all data current as of 1/22/2018)
Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.
Please continue reading to view the real estate trend charts for the various areas & elementary school districts across Santa Clara County (San Jose, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Milpitas, Campbell, Saratoga, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Los Altos, etc.)
Today I’m sharing with you Silicon Valley real estate statistics which were presented to me by my company, Sereno Group. These are “by school district” and I think you will find them immensely insightful! First, though, a brief commentary on the overall findings, then statistics for single family homes (mostly houses but a few “duet homes”) in Santa Clara County, and lastly, the same info but for condominiums and townhouses.
Please find the real estate market statistics by school district in the Santa Clara County area next. Please note that the San Jose Unified School District is extremely large and varied, and the numbers would be very different if you were narrowing it to Almaden Valley with Leland High School as opposed to some areas which are not performing nearly as well.
If 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
For people relocating to Silicon Valley, often there’s not just one city, town or area which seems like a good fit. Sometimes it may come down to what your money can buy or how difficult it is to purchase in one area versus another. This is frequently the case with the “West Valley” areas where schools are good and the neighborhoods are tidy.
There are two statistics which are especially helpful in understanding the Santa Clara County real estate market. One is the “days on market” or DOM. The shorter this is, the hotter the market – and the harder it is to purchase. The second is the sale price to list price ratio, which hints at the existence of multiple offers, overbids, and buyers giving away all of their rights.
Today, then, we’ll have a look at these, starting with Almaden, the southernmost area, and working our way north along the coastal range. The charts below are all for single family homes (houses and duet homes, not condos or townhomes).
Almaden Valley is a district within the city of San Jose. Its boundaries roughly follow the 95120 zip code, though there are some parts of nearby zip codes which somewhat overlap into Almaden too. How’s the Almaden market? Red hot! Days on market is crazy low – a mere 16! And the average sale price is almost 104% of list price…and rising!
Silicon Valley features a number of upscale communities that enjoy beautiful estate properties. These luxury homes are not simply large houses, but rather they boast qualities generally not seen in regular residential real estate.
What makes a house a “luxury home”?
A luxury property in Santa Clara County often includes a number of elements that set it apart, such as:
- price tag: these homes usually sell for more than three or five million dollars (and may be $10 or $20 million or more, though in some cases as low as $2 million – that largely depends on location)
- close to an acre or more of land
- house larger than 4000 or 5000 sf
- the inclusion of “out buildings” such as a guest cottage, gatehouse, etc.
- views (valley, hill, acreage) or special features of the land (waterfront, riverfront adjacent), a vineyard, or something else special and uniquely beautiful
- amenities such as a pool, tennis court, racquetball court, gym, sports court or facilities for enjoying other sports & exercise on site
- specialized hobby or relaxation rooms, as in a darkroom, library, workshop, conservatory, wine cellar & tasting room
- entertainment centers not commonly found in private homes, like a ballroom, dedicated home theater room for movie viewing, bowling alley, shooting range, or place to practice a golf swing; pool or billiards and “game room”, and ice cream parlor
- safety tools such as a video surveillance system, electronic gates
- neighborhood: it is very hard for an expensive house to be viewed as a luxury home if the surrounding properties are not also high end homes
The (main) house itself is qualitatively different too.
Kitchens tend to be the most important room for San Jose area home buyers of all price ranges, and this includes homes that cost upwards of ten million dollars. Usually, kitchens in these homes are designed with a very clear purpose in mind and are done beautifully, though recently in Los Gatos I saw a home listed for about ten million with a kitchen that needs to be completely remodeled. This is very unusual, though.
Most luxury homes features kitchens of one extreme or the other. On the one hand, it may be more industrial in nature if those cooking in it are primarily professional chefs, domestic employees or catering services rather than the homeowner. This is not the kitchen of glossy magazines, it’s not meant to impress anyone for all the maple cabinets, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. This sort of kitchen is functional, not gorgeous, and it may have stainless steel countertops, for instance, alongside the giant gas range. Such a kitchen is usually separate from the living areas and the guests are not expected to visit this part of the home.
Far more commonly found in Silicon Valley is the other end of the spectrum, the kitchen where residents spend most of their time, and it’s meant to impress. Here we see high end materials and appliances in a room viewed as much as art as the meals created in it are. This type of kitchen is often the focal point of today’s upscale or luxury home. The home’s floorplan is “open” to the kitchen – often the kitchen and family room blend together as part of a Great Room. This is a kitchen designed for owners who cook, not those who have servants.