Santa Clara County
Like most of Santa Clara County, the wild appreciation of the last 5 to 6 years in Blossom Valley seems to now be slowing, and maybe flattening. It is possible that we have hit the “peak of the market”, but it’s also possible that this is simply a seasonal pattern. Often in late spring to early summer, we see inventory levels rise while buyers pull back. This can cause home sale prices to quite appreciating, and in some years, prices decline just a little bit. In 2017, it seemed that the normal patterns simply broke, as late in the year – November and December – buying was at a feverish pitch normally reserved for March.
About Blossom Valley
The Blossom Valley area of San Jose is on the south end of the city and covers the 95123 and 95136 zip codes. For our MLS, it’s “area 12.” A more affordable section of Silicon Valley, Blossom Valley has much to offer in addition to more reasonable housing prices. Many areas enjoy views of the Santa Teresa Foothills or the Communications Hill knolls or even the coastal foothills in the distance, as with the photo below. One corner of it sits alongside beautiful Almaden Lake, too. One corner is located at the crossroads of Highways 85 and 87, making it an easy commute destination for those working in downtown San Jose. And there’s an abundance of shopping and dining opportunities.
Much more could be written, but let’s now instead turn to the real estate market there.
First, “live,” automatically updating Altos Charts for San Jose 95123 and 95136 and single family homes (houses and duet homes). These use list prices, not sales prices.
The median list price of both 95123 and 95136, all prices, single family homes (houses and duet homes, if there are any).
Next, the median list price for just the San Jose 95123 area of Blossom Valley, and separated by price quartile:
And next, the median list price of just San Jose 95136 by price quartile:
My Cambrian area of San Jose Real Estate Report was recently published with the updated numbers from the closed sales last month for this part of San Jose (95124 and 95118 with a little of 95008 too). Please click on the link above to see much more information there. Those charts are below.
First, though, I want to share some info that I pulled from the MLS last night. It does appear that Cambrian home prices have come down quite a bit since the peak of pricing in March. For home sellers wondering why their properties aren’t selling as quickly, this may be helpful. Also it’s good info for those thinking of selling their houses or condos in this second half of 2018.
The very best way to know what the market is doing is to track the same house as it sells and re-sells. However, most home owners don’t move often, so that is not helpful to us. The next best method is to find very similar properties and track them. That would be such as all condos in a large development with approximately the same floor plan / size.
Cambrian often mimics the valley as a whole pretty well, so I thought I would pull up a representative sample from a hot segment of the market to get my own sense of how things are going. I pulled starter homes with Campbell Union High School District, zip code 95124, with 1000 – 1500 SF, 3-4 bedrooms and 2+ baths.
Here are the averages from March to today (updated Sept 7, 2018):
March 2018 (10 sales) average price per SF $1,100.53 average sale price $1,429,612
April 2018 (15 sales) average price per SF $1,138.75 average sale price $1,417,000
May 2018 (14 sales) average price per SF $1,076.54 average sale price $1,375,643
June 2018 (10 sales) average price per SF $980.64 average sale price $1,258,550 (steepest drop from the month before)
July 2018 (12 sales) average price per SF $974.35 average sale price $1,232,958
August 2018 (9 sales) average price per SF $899.29 average sale price $1,176,522
That is a drop in the average sale price of $253,090 over 5 months for this group, or about $50,618 per month on average (though some months it is more or less). The data here uses a fairly small pool, so it may not be accurate for all parts of Cambrian, but it is an indicator of what the market is doing overall since this is a very in-demand segment of Cambrian.
If we input this into excel and ask it to generate a forecast through December (which assumes the same rate of change, which may NOT be true), it looks like this – sellers please note, THIS IS WHAT BUYERS ARE THINKING AS THEY WAIT TO BID:
When I plunked the data into excel, it gave a range of possible values…and of course the actual range is myriad! Where do YOU think these values will be with December’s closings (revealed in January)? As low as $871k? As high as $1 million?
Now I need to remind everyone that the market is often not a straight line. Let’s stop and take a look at the county’s sales (average and median prices) to get a sense of that. Although the general trend for the last few years has been upward, please see that there are MANY drops, particularly in the second half of each year.
As is evident, seasonally, the market does often flatten or decline somewhat in the second half of each year. The peak is most often in spring sometime. Very often, the peak is in March (again, that means sales the month before, which is February, and that means getting your house all ready in January). So let’s say that the market does drop at the current rate, in January 2019, this hypothetical Cambrian home would be selling at about $886,000, prior to the possible spring surge in pricing. To get the lowest price means buying in December, not buying in January, most likely. But – December also typically has the lowest inventory, so not much selection. For that reason, if you like a home now, I would suggest buying that home now. Buying a home for yourself and your family is not like buying a stock. You are going to live in it, so you will want to like it. I have seen many buyers try to time the market and end up going through December since they hated what was available, and then they got caught buying in the spring madness, and they paid more.
But who knows if prices will rebound in early 2019 or not. Who knows if prices will continue dropping this year. Some years, we have seen drops followed by rapid appreciation. Last year, prices rose through December, confusing everyone. This could be the beginning of a correction, or it could be a seasonal cool down – a gift for wearing Cambrian home buyers.
If it’s the beginning of a correction, buying now does not make sense unless you plan to be in your home for 10 years or so. If it is a seasonal experience, or a blip, then buying this fall is a good idea, since the new year is very likely to see prices move back up.
Which is it? I do not know for sure. The CEO of my company thinks that prices will trail off for the rest of this year, and then return to their upward march in the spring of 2019 (think Feb – April). When I see the hiring, the Google expansion, I know that people have to live somewhere. It may be a standoff between sellers and buyers on price. My usual advice is simple: if you are ready to get on with your life, and you’re going to stay there 5 or 10 years, buying now most likely makes sense.
Cambrian single family homes trends at a glance – numbers from the RE Report
Sales and turnover are fast and steady, and the sales to list price has remained high, over 110% for many months now. Prices have been slipping fairly steadily since March / April. Usually I only show this month and the one before, but I’ll display 3 months’ of data this time so it’s more clear. Interesting, though, that the sale price to list price ratio is still so high. These numbers reflect all of MLS “area 14”, which includes virtually all of 95124 (some of that is Willow Glen) and 95118 (some of that is Blossom Valley) and a sliver of 95008.
Most of Cambrian did not get the same appreciation as our hottest segment, above, so the general area stats will be a bit different.
Trends at a Glance
|Trends At a Glance||Aug 2018||Previous Month||Year-over-Year|
|Median Price||$1,297,500 (+3.0%)||$1,260,000||$1,152,000 (+12.6%)|
|Average Price||$1,315,560 (+0.3%)||$1,311,880||$1,182,770 (+11.2%)|
|No. of Sales||52 (-8.8%)||57||75 (-30.7%)|
|Pending||50 (-3.8%)||52||47 (+6.4%)|
|Active||75 (+7.1%)||70||25 (+200.0%)|
|Sale vs. List Price||103.4% (-1.6%)||105.1%||108.2% (-4.5%)|
|Days on Market||26 (+52.7%)||17||12 (+117.1%)|
|Days of Inventory||43 (+17.4%)||37||10 (+332.7%)|
And the month before:
|Trends At a Glance||Jul 2018||Previous Month||Year-over-Year|
|Median Price||$1,260,000 (-4.0%)||$1,312,500||$1,140,000 (+10.5%)|
|Average Price||$1,311,880 (-5.3%)||$1,385,810||$1,178,450 (+11.3%)|
|No. of Sales||57 (-1.7%)||58||77 (-26.0%)|
|Pending||52 (0.0%)||52||61 (-14.8%)|
|Active||70 (+42.9%)||49||22 (+218.2%)|
|Sale vs. List Price||105.1% (-5.5%)||111.2%||107.9% (-2.6%)|
|Days on Market||17 (+39.4%)||12||19 (-11.0%)|
|Days of Inventory||37 (+50.4%)||25||9 (+329.8%)|
Cambrian Park, or more broadly, Cambrian, is a west San Jose neighborhood or district and is one of the more affordable, high-value areas in Silicon Valley. The schools are good, the crime is low, and the commute is not too bad. For people relocating to Santa Clara County, this is a place to know about since quality education and affordability are often high priorities! Most Silicon Valley home buyers would say that Cambrian Park real estate offers a very good value.
What’s the compromise for the more reasonable prices of homes for sale? Well, Cambrian doesn’t have an interesting, upscale downtown area like Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga, or Willow Glen.
But it does have tons of shopping & restaurants and even a Farmer’s Market. It also enjoys a top notch hospital (Good Samaritan) and plenty of parks as well as a fantastic rec center with a large park adjacent to it, the Camden Community Center, which has tons of programs (including an after school program for youth), classes, and a fabulous pool. (My family and I lived in Cambrian in the “Cambrian Gardens” neighborhood for 10 years and loved it – our kids made great use of the community center too.)
Altogether, there are about 75,000 to 80,000 residents in Cambrian, spread throughout the three zip codes of 95124, 95118 and a little tiny bit of 95008.
If there is a “central Cambrian Park”, it would have to be near the original Cambrian Park Shopping Center, which was the first actual mall in San Jose! That area is sometimes known as Cambrian Village. People sometimes use the three names interchangeably: Cambrian, Cambrian Park, Cambrian Village.:
Where is Cambrian Park? Map of approximate Cambrian Boundaries:
View Cambrian Area of San Jose in a larger map
The Santa Clara County real estate market is cooling off, which is very often the case in summers here. It varies from place to place within the region, and one pricing tier to the next, but I am definitely seeing and hearing about fewer offers, more lowball offers, contingencies creeping back into sales, etc. In red hot properties with great schools, you might get a half dozen offers…and three of them may be “bad” offers from home buyers who are pessimistic on the market. They do not get the sale, of course, but it is interesting to hear about an increase in those kinds of bids.
My RE REport just came out, and here are some images and data from that for Santa Clara County. First, the market barometer. Here, you can see that sellers had stronger power in March than they do now – by quite a lot! (Click on the image to go to the report and see a clearer version of it.)
Next, the average and median sale prices and the number of units (again, click on the image to go to the report). This graphic does not look as bad or as much of a change as the one before, though you can see that since May prices have gone down a little, and sales are now tipping downward and are fewer than sales for this time last year.
Next, the sale price to list price ratio is a bit more startling. Sales are still averaging about 1-05% of list price – so that is hard for sellers to complain about – however, it is unmistakable that the climate for home selling in Silicon Valley is undergoing a change and this is literally past its peak. Buyers and sellers alike need to wonder whether it will calm down or continue at the current rate of decline. Is it a buying opportunity, or the beginning of a correction?
The numbers themselves point to a turnaround in the market. I’ll jot the median sale price for the county here – it’s a large enough pool of sales to be pretty reliable as a gauge of the real estate market in the San Jose area:
July 2018 $1,350,000
June 2018 $1,402,000
May 2018 $1,416,000
April 2018 $1,420,000
March 2018 $1,450,000 – PEAK
February 2018 $1,380,000
January 2018 $1,163,000
Between March and July, the median sale price dropped $100,000, or 6.89%. As you can see, it had also jumped considerably between January and March, and even at today’s lower median sales price, it’s still higher than January. It will be interesting to see where it ends up in January of 2019.
A quick look at the numbers for this month’s Santa Clara County RE Report:
Trends at a Glance
|Trends At a Glance||Jul 2018||Previous Month||Year-over-Year|
|Median Price||$1,350,000 (-3.7%)||$1,402,000||$1,175,000 (+14.9%)|
|Average Price||$1,624,690 (-5.1%)||$1,712,500||$1,409,380 (+15.3%)|
|No. of Sales||847 (-13.3%)||977||1,015 (-16.6%)|
|Pending||924 (-0.6%)||930||931 (-0.8%)|
|Active||1,151 (+8.0%)||1,066||816 (+41.1%)|
|Sale vs. List Price||105.6% (-2.0%)||107.8%||105.5% (+0.1%)|
|Days on Market||19 (+13.7%)||17||20 (-6.7%)|
|Days of Inventory||41 (+28.8%)||32||24 (+69.0%)|
It’s now August 10th and it’s too early to know for sure what the August numbers are doing, but normally August is a quiet month with sale prices a little off. So we’ll see. Continue reading
Home seller temptation # 1: overconfidence on the market
Because folks read about the dozens of offers on some homes, by extension, it’s easy to believe that every home sells, for top dollar, with no effort or planning on the part of the seller. This is a huge mistake. Perhaps we should even call it a myth since it may be commonly believed.
In today’s wildly hot market, there are still some homes that DO NOT SELL.
What are the odds that your home won’t sell?
I just pulled some numbers from the MLS today, July 23, 2018. You may find them surprising!
- In Santa Clara County, there are currently 1274 single family homes on the market
- 490 of them have been on the market at least 30 days – 38% are not moving quickly & likely need a price reduction, if it hasn’t already been done
- 211 of the 1274 have been for sale for at least 60 days – 17% have had 2 months worth of open houses, keeping the home spotless, etc.
- 107 of the 1274 have a “days on market” of 90 days or more – 8% have serious market rejection
- These are not all luxury homes!
- 9 are listed at under $1 million
- 13 are offered between $1 million and $1,499,999 (“normal” houses in our area)
- 9 are on the market between $1.5 mil and $1,999,999
- 14 are listed at $2 million to $2,499,999 (these are still not luxury homes in most cases)
- 11 are priced between $2.5 mil and $2,999,999
- That’s 56 homes of 107 that are under $3 million. The balance are “high end homes”, which usually are more challenging to sell
The best homes, those which are well priced, well marketed, and are easily shown, sell within 2-3 weeks. After that, home buyers view them as stale listings and assume something terrible is wrong with them. After three weeks, unless the home gets a deep price reduction, it’s unlikely to get multiple offers.
This first temptation is the greatest one, and it often leads to mistakes in areas #2 and #3, listed below. Continue reading
When it’s a hot seller’s market, like it is right now in Silicon Valley, it is challenging to be a home buyer. That means it’s also hard to be a buyer’s agent, since it may require writing many, many offers (and a lot of time and energy) before the clients get into contract. Since Realtors are usually only paid when a property closes, that means it’s not too hard to go broke if a real estate professional focuses a lot of time with buyers. In other words, in a market like this, most agents would prefer to work with sellers rather than buyers, because it’s more likely that they’ll make a living.
What can you do to increase the odds of finding a great Realtor who will take you seriously, work with you and for you, and give it a good effort even if it’s an uphill battle? First, let’s understand what a real estate licensee is looking for a client – at least in most cases. Usually, the savvy agent doesn’t want to waste time with people who are not serious, not ready, or who will not be loyal. The smart Realtor knows that without these three things, it’s unlikely that they will be able to sell that person a home, or at least not in a reasonable period of time.
Serious home buyers:
Only about half of all home buyers will likely buy in the year they think they might, so it’s important for real estate professionals to try to make sure that they don’t spend months on someone only to have him or her remain permanent renters. The agent must qualify the client to make sure it’s worth the risk of spending time with him or her.
Clues that the buyer isn’t serious include these:
(1) Comments like “I may have to look at homes for a year or two” or “I may need to write a hundred offers to get the right deal” or “I’m in no rush” indicate that this isn’t a big priority for the buyer (so maybe it shouldn’t be for the agent, either). This buyer is able, ready and probably also loyal – but not serious. Some, though, will clarify with a time frame and this is a game changer. “My lease is up in July, so ideally, I’d like to get into contract in March, close in April and move in May. But if I find the right house sooner, I’ll buy sooner.” That works!
(2) If there are two decision makers, having only one do most of the house hunting and the other showing up at distant intervals often indicates that it’s a priority for one but not both. Sometimes that’s not the case, but it is a red flag. Both need to be serious. Continue reading
Buying a home in Silicon Valley is seldom easy, but right now, it’s nearly impossible with Santa Clara County’s critically low housing inventory. With slightly rising interest rates getting folks off the fence and strong job growth in the San Jose area – especially since Google announced its expansion in downtown, there are many more home buyers than home sellers. While this isn’t unusual, the severity of the problem certainly is extreme. How bad is it? Here’s a visual cue dating from January 2001 to March 2018 which indicates that this month’s inventory of single family homes for sale in Santa Clara County is the lowest we’ve had for March since 2001 (that’s as far back as I can get the data from MLS Listings). I’ve been selling homes for 25 years and have never seen it so dire.
This is sort of like “inventory limbo” – how low can you go? To me, this is uncharted territory for our region.
I am really wondering if other cities around the world have had this kind of inventory crisis in the past, and if so, what happened to pull them out of it. Obviously, we need more inventory, and that will mean either more new construction, incentives for current owners to sell, an easier way for people to commute long distances to work, or some combination of the three.
How does this impact you?
Many long time residents may recall that we have had a shortage for a few years here. In January 2012, I wrote about it here: Why is it so hard to buy Silicon Valley real estate right now? Compared to the recession that had just ended, inventory was low – I can look back now and think “wow, we had no right to complain! We had a lot more inventory then as we do now!” What also happened is that with the restricted inventory, home prices rose. A lot.
If you are a renter and want to be a home buyer, you now have two things going against you: rising interest rates and rising home prices (due to strong demand and critically low supply of homes to buy). If you wait a year, there’s a good chance that you will lose quite a lot of buying power as interest rates continue to go up and home prices do, too. Please check out my article on rates: How will rising interest rates impact your home buying power? Super low inventories tend to cause rapid price appreciation, and if you aren’t careful you could be priced out of the market (either because of home prices or because of those rising interest rates).
Normally, I’d be saying “take heart, buyers, inventory usually starts to rise after the SuperBowl” or “inventory rises after Valentine’s Day” or “we’ll see more homes coming on the market in March”. Well, it just hasn’t happened to any kind of significant degree.
If you are a seller, this is great news for you as it’s very likely that your equity will be increasing with the tight inventory. Buyer demand is good and interest rates are still very tolerable. It is hard if you want to sell and buy something else, but if you are down-sizing, you may be able to capitalize by purchasing all cash.
If you are a buyer, it’s important to realize that these days, most homes are selling with no contingencies of any kind (loan, appraisal, inspection). Purchasing a condo, townhome, or house is not for the faint of heart! Being not just pre-approved, but having an underwriter’s approval subject only to the ratified contract, a preliminary title report, and a satisfactory appraisal will put you into a better position. Cash is king, of course, so being able to absorb any appraisal shortfall is crucial. However, don’t let the all cash buyers scare you as some of them over estimate the value of cash. Most sellers will wait a few extra days if it means making more money on the sale.
Hearing the real estate market “war stories” about dozens of offers on Silicon Valley properties and overbids ranging from 20 – 55% had convinced me that we were in a Silicon Valley real estate market bubble back in early 2013. At least, this is what a bubble looks like, sounds like, feels like, and acts like. At the time I thought, “how much longer could this continue?” Four years and counting – that is the answer.
I tell my family and friends that we are in “crazyland” as buyers purchase homes with no contingencies of any kind, houses sell in 10 days or less (if everything is right, which seems to be the case 75% of the time), and those same properties are selling at well over list price and with much more than 20% down.
The absorption rate, or months of inventory: it is a Silicon Valley real estate market bubble?
What do the numbers say? I just logged into MLSListings.com and see that right now, in all of Santa Clara County there are 817 single family homes (houses + duet or attached single family homes). The pending and contingent homes measure 1074, far more! That ratio alone suggests that the market is in overdrive. In the last 30 days, 950 single family homes have sold & closed escrow. So the months of inventory is 817 divided by 950 = .86 of a month of inventory, so about 3.5 weeks of inventory. (When I originally blogged about the potential bubble, it was 1.8 months of inventory.)
In other words, things are flying off the shelves. And they have been, with only a few minor blips here and there, since early 2012. Does that sound like a Silicon Valley real estate market bubble to you – a crazy strong seller’s market lasting 4.5 years? I could be wrong, but I think of bubbles as being something fairly swift, not a multi year trend.
Homes are selling faster than new ones are coming onto the market!
It’s one thing to say that one city, town, or school district has a very low months of inventory (or high absorption rate). It is another altogether to say an entire county is that low. This is a major trend, not a tiny blip in the statistics.
How soon we forget that after the outrageously deep seller’s market in 2000, we had a steep drop in 2001. Or that all the crazy buying in the San Jose area (and other places) in 2005-06, combined with bad financial regulations, lead to the crash of 2007-2009. But perhaps that enormous “correction”, in which Santa Clara County lost about 50% of its value on average, had more room to recover than we initially realized. Jobs keep flowing in, and housing starts are not keeping up. Supply and demand – the age old equation. That would seem to refute the idea that this is a Silicon Valley real estate market bubble. Perhaps low inventory and strong demand are what we should be expecting going forward. Continue reading
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