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Willow Glen real estate market in San Jose

Willow Glen real estate market is a strong seller's market. This Willow Glen sign is from the downtown business district.The real estate market of Willow Glen in San Jose remains a hot seller’s market, and distinctly hotter than it was a year ago. This article will provide data and analysis for the residential markets in this area, updated monthly. Here are a few points from the single family housing market update:

  • Continually low active inventory shrink to extreme lows this winter.
  • The market faces seasonal cooling, but 2021 had a hotter January than 2020.
  • Most homes continue to sell in under a month and with an average of 102.4% of list price.

The Willow Glen Real Estate Market

Willow Glen is perhaps the most charming residential area of the city of San Jose with its old style architecture, tree lined streets and quaint downtown area on Lincoln Avenue and nearby. For folks working in downtown San Jose, the Willow Glen area (roughly the same as 95125 zip code, though a bit of 95124 is included also) is extremely convenient.

The Willow Glen real estate market for single family homes remains in a long-term seller’s market despite recent cooling.

But things have certainly changed since last March. We should have a better view of the affect those changes are having on the Willow Glen real estate market this month, though not the complete picture. For an understanding of how Covid-19 is affecting the local real estate market, please check my post titled Coronavirus Impact on Real Estate Sales.

At the start of the shutdown, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) stopped the timer on all Days on Market (DOM). Therefore these numbers will be off beginning from March 17th through around May 17th, 2020. In the data below, this will affect any numbers related to the days on market, the absorption rate, and the days of inventory for those previous months, though current numbers should be accurate.

1. Willow Glen Market Trends: Single Family Homes

January continued the seasonal cooling trend in this market, but it’s distinctly hotter than last year. Sales and pending sales fell from the month before but are well above last January. Active inventory, on the other hand, is holding steady from December and remains below 2020 numbers. Far more homes are selling than are currently available! Compare that to last year when the market had slightly higher inventory than closed sales. The sales to list price ratio follows a similar trend: it is low month-to-month but up a good deal from 2020, currently at 102.4%. Overall the market is stable with some seasonal cooling and Willow Glen homes continue to be in a hot seller’s market.

Here are the most recent housing sales statistics from the RE Report.

Click for the complete Willow Glen real estate report:

Trends At a Glance Jan 2021 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $1,600,000 (-2.1%) $1,635,000 $1,440,000 (+11.1%)
Average Price $1,668,950 (-3.6%) $1,731,810 $1,562,060 (+6.8%)
No. of Sales 47 (-16.1%) 56 33 (+42.4%)
Pending 47 (-9.6%) 52 27 (+74.1%)
Active 25 (0.0%) 25 38 (-34.2%)
Sale vs. List Price 102.4% (-0.3%) 102.7% 101.0% (+1.4%)
Days on Market 25 (+5.6%) 24 26 (-3.8%)
Days of Inventory 16 (+19.1%) 13 35 (-53.8%)

And last month:

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Santa Clara County Real Estate Market

The Santa Clara County real estate market is white hot. The selling conditions across the valley are about as good as they can get for sellers, and it’s about as rough as it can be for home buyers. We are seeing rapid price appreciation, multiple offers, and quick turnaround times for sales. Please note: January’s numbers are normally softer than December’s, hence the focus on the year over year numbers.

  • The median sale price was up 15.1% from last year and the average was up 11.7% from last year.
  • There were 23 days on the market in January, as compared to 41 DOM last January
  • The sale price to list price ratio rose both month over month and year over year and was at 104.4% for January as a whole.

Santa Clara County Real Estate Market Data

The first image below is the brief update on the housing market from my Silicon Valley RE Report – 4 page printable PDF. 

 

Santa Clara County real estate market trends at a glance

 

Data from MLS Listings for the Santa Clara County real estate market

Inventory is about as low as it gets. Only one year in recent memory had a lower number of homes for sale in Janaury. Check out the year over year inventory stats for Santa Clara County that I pulled from the MLS directly today:

Inventory of Single Family Homes for Sale in Santa Clara County Jan 2014 - Jan 2021

 

The demand for housing has been off the charts. Closed sales are up by a huge amount. By these numbers, closed sales are up 48% over January 2020. (The RE Report info has it at 51%, which  you’ll see further down in this post.) In fact, when you take the 10 year view, it’s all the way back to 2012 before there is a higher number of sales.

Sales of Single Family homes in Santa Clara County

 

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Villa Cambrian subdivision in Cambrian’s Parker area

The Villa Cambrian neighborhood in San Jose enjoys direct access to Hogue Park with its many amenities and enormous lawn. It also offers great proximity to major commute routes, shopping, employment centers, doctor and dental offices, bus routes, Harker preschool, and just about everything else. This subdivision stretches from Union Avenue on the east to Houge Park on the west an runs along Barrett Avenue and includes a few other streets, including part of Esther Drive. The area near the park is generally referred to as the Parker area.

 

Map of the Villa Cambrian area in San Jose

 

There are 153 ranch style houses in the Villa Cambrian subdivision, which were built between 1960 and 1965. They range in size from 1222 SF to 2800 SF, and most homes  are around 1222 -1457 square feet. The lots or parcels run from the smallest size of 5509 SF to more than 10,000 SF; most are less than 7000 SF, though.

Something unique and much appreciated by privacy lovers: all but 1 are single story houses.

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Can you change your purchase offer after it’s signed?

Pen and edited text with the words - Can you change your offer? With multiple offer situations in Silicon Valley real estate bids, sometimes buyers write an offer and later decide that it’s too much or too little, or that some other change is warranted (before it’s submitted).  Can you change your purchase offer after it’s written, or is it a “done deal” once you’ve signed it?

The good news is that you can change your offer before it has been given to the listing agent / sellers. Many buyers do, either because they changed their mind or strategy, or because they just got new information. What is key is circling back to your buyer agent quickly, before the email is sent.

Why would you change your purchase offer?

Awhile back, some of my buyers were bidding on a San Jose home. As I asked the listing agent more questions and we got a little more information from that agent on the numbers of offers being received, my clients wanted to improve their offer. We redid page 1 of the contract, which is where all the financial basics are listed. Their improved offer went to the listing agent and it was seamless.

At other times, even after the offer is submitted, I have had buyers ask to improve their offer. The pages of the contract which were involved in the change were redone, signed and resubmitted. This is a bit like going through the counter offer process yourself. (more…)

Landscaping with tanbark or mulch? Use caution!

Beware Tanbark or Mulch by the foundation!Some Silicon Valley homeowners spruce up their yards and gardens in spring and summer with tanbark or mulch. While this is a very common practice, and often encouraged as a drought-friendly gardening option, it can be a bad idea if it is too close to the structure, especially the home’s foundation. Tanbark is simply small bits of wood, and most common mulch is often no more than shredded wood. Why is that bad? Wood is food for termites and piles of tanbark or mulch can invite and hide them as well!

Tanbark or Mulch?

Mulch is the more widely used term and it can cover a broad scope of materials, but the most common type you will find in stores (and in Bay Area gardens) is the woodchip mulch. If you ask for mulch at a hardware store, this is most likely what they will show you. In the local vernacular, we often refer to mulch as the fine, thin, or decomposed stuff – we have a different name for the larger bark and wood chips.

I learned only recently that tanbark is something of a local term that people from other parts of the state or country may not be familiar with. Here in the Bay Area we call the stuff you commonly see underfoot at playgrounds or piled thick on the planted berms around a shopping mall parking lot by the name of tanbark. Some people may reserve the name for the large chunky bark chips while others will call just about any wood chip substrate by that name. So tanbark is, in fact, a mulch.

Homeowners and sellers wanting their home to make a good first impression are often tempted to apply mulch or tanbark in otherwise bare patches around their yard, but you can wind up with far bigger (and more costly) problems if it’s too close to the foundation!

What Was That About Termites?

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Scottsdale 2 and Coronado subdivisions in Cambrian area of San Jose

Cambrian subdivisions Scottsdale 2 and Coronado

On the northeast side of the Cambrian district in San Jose, just west of the Robertville area, there’s a nice pocket which has the 95118 zip code but the Union School District (most of 95118 has San Jose Unified schools). In fact, it’s right next to the school district boundary, so homes just a little east of here will be in San Jose Unfied, with lower performing schools and lower prices. This is a very goodvalue area” for how much home you can buy with really nicely performing public schools!

Within this area there are a few really outstanding subdivisions.  Two of them are adjacent to each other and share many of the same amenities, such as walkability to the nearby Lunardi’s grocery store and other shops, so it’s helpful to view them together:  Scottsdale 2, which is in three sections on different sides of Meridian and Branham, and Coronado, which fits like a puzzle piece around one end of the Scottsdale 2 tract.

Scottsdale 2

Many, but not all, of the Scottsdale 2 houses have streets that begin with “Calle de”. With good sized rooms and comfortable floor plans, the Scottsdale 2 homes feel younger than they are. Built between 1973 and 1976, the 383 houses there average a comfortable 1807 square feet (range is 1426 to about 2500 with one other which is more than 3000 SF) with mixed single and double story floor plans.  The average lot size is around 6600 SF, but some are as small as 5500 SF and others larger than 10,000 SF.

Major plusses are the more open floorplans than are typically seen in Cambrian, good sized home and room, walkability, good public schools and something infrequently found in Cambrian: underground power lines.  It is so nice to not see wires everywhere!

Streets included:

Calle De Aida
Calle De Arroyo
Calle De Farrar
Calle De Gilda
Calle De Lucia
Calle De Stuarda
Calle De Tosca
Casa De Ponselle
Corte De Boleyn
Corte De Callas
Corte De Medea
Corte De Moffo
Corte De Pons
Corte De Tebaldi
Corte De Thais
Ilikai Ave
Tampico Way
Via De Caballe

What do homes cost in the Scottsdale 2 neighborhood?

Prices range tremendously, even for the same floorplan, based on exact location, lot size, remodeling, permits (or lack of them), and of course marketing. Photos are a home’s first “open house” and good photographs with good staging can make an enormous difference in the level of qualified buyer traffic and the ultimate sale price of the home. Smaller homes with small lots and needing remodeling will sell for the low million dollars, perhaps around $1.25 mil at the low end, but those which are bigger, highly remodeled (with permits and finals) and professionally marketed with professional photography will command a premium and sell for $1.7 million or more.

 

Scottsdale 2 subdivision

 

Here’s a closer view of one of the one story houses in Scottsdale 2.

 

Scottsdale 2 house

 

Coronado

The Coronado area is slightly smaller of a subdivision.   It consists of 238 houses which were built in 1967 and 1968. The houses and lots are just a little bigger than the larger Scottsdale 2 subdivision.

The home sizes in the Coronado tract range from 1579 square feet to 2500 SF in most cases (a small handful are bigger) to and the average home is 1981 square feet & average lot size 7021 SF.

Streets included:

Durango Court
El Roble Court
La Paz Court
Las Cruces Court
Luning Drive
Portobello Drive
Puebla Court
Rio Verde Drive
Sutcliff Avenue
Tampico Way
Yucatan Way

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Getting priced out of the market when housing prices rise rapidly

Home being carried up and away from earth by balloons with the words "Priced out of the market?"Are you getting priced out of the market? If so, you’re not alone. In Silicon Valley, the prices of houses are rising dramatically right now. In some cases, homes are selling for 20% or more than list  price. In the last week I’ve heard of at least 2-3 homes which sold $400,000 or more over the asking price. This is happening in prices up to $3 million especially, but I’m also hearing it in the luxury tier.

With rapid housing price appreciation in Silicon Valley, home buyers who are “patiently waiting” for more inventory and just the right house to come on the market can end up finding themselves “priced out of the market“.

What does it mean to be “priced out of the market”?

In a nutshell, it means that while a few months before, you could afford the type of house you wanted (more or less), but prices have risen so fast that now you feel that you cannot buy anything at all.

If that’s the case, you feel that it’s no longer worth it to buy – so you continue to rent (or not purchase that investment property).

The waiting strategy may backfire

Have you been patiently waiting for just the right house to come on the market?  Let me suggest to you that it may not be forthcoming. What you could afford a year ago is no longer possible today, and we do not see that situation changing anytime soon. In fact, appreciation would appear to be steeper now than it was 12 months ago. Waiting can be very expensive in a market like this one.

Why do buyers wait when they might do better to jump in?

Want to be a home owner in the San Jose area? Hire a great agent, but then LISTEN to him or her! (more…)

What does it mean to be “out of contract” in a home sale?

Is your indecision putting you out of contract? Worried looking woman with laptop computer.Every region of the country has some unique real estate vocabulary and phrases.  Here, in Silicon Valley, when we say “you’re out of contract“, it’s another way of saying “you are not doing what you promised to do in the purchase agreement that you signed” (meaning the real estate contract).  In other words, there is a seller or buyer default happening.

“Out of contract” is not a legal term. I remember hearing a local real estate educator say “there’s no such thing”. It’s not an official status. But it is a way of describing behavior that’s not in alignment with the contract’s express promises.

Both sellers and buyers make promises to do certain things and most of these promises are tied to time frames or dates.  Here are a few of these time-sensitive promises or contractual obligations:

  • sellers agree to leave the utilities on until close of escrow
  • sellers promise to maintain the home until close of escrow as it was on the day the property went into contract (so mow the lawn, water it etc.)
  • buyers assert that they will get their initial deposit to title within a set number of days (the California Association of Realtor’s form states 3 business days or provides a blank to fill in an alternate number – it’s often 1 business day here)
  • buyers promise to remove contingencies within the times they stipulated in the offer
  • sellers will move out in according to the date set out in the contract
  • indecision over material facts or between buyers may make it hard to decide whether or not to remove any contingencies
  • buyers agree to take possession (move in) per the time/day agreed to in the purchase agreement (not before)
  • sellers bind themselves to having repairs done in a certain manner (depends on contract and clauses, if promised)

At one time or another, I have seen all of these items not adhered to by the parties who were supposed to make good on their word, and stranger violations that I don’t want to write about here lest I give someone a bad idea. I have seen sellers not move out on time (in some cases, elderly sellers who grossly misjudged the effort required to vacate.)  The failure to do so causes stress and anxiety, and sometimes worse: fear and anger. (more…)

Research the neighborhood

Home Buying - Research the NeighborhoodIs this the year you want to buy a home in Silicon Valley? There’s more to think about than what you can afford and how much home you can get for your budget. It is imperative that you research the neighborhood before taking the plunge. More times than I can count, I’ve heard home owners tell me that they walked into an open house, fell in love with the property, and bought it as soon as they could.  That is really not ideal, but we know that home buyers sometimes make decisions emotionally, and then rationalize the purchase.

In addition to studying the disclosure packet – including the HOA docs, if there are any – it’s also important to research the neighborhood, since that is the one thing you cannot change after you have completed the purchase.

The disclosure package will include (99% of the time) seller’s  completed disclosure forms, generic state and county advisories and disclosures, a natural hazard report, an environmental hazard report, buyer and seller “agent visual inspection disclosure” forms (AVIDs), real estate brokerage advisories and disclosures, a preliminary title report (often with CCRs – covenants, codes, and restrictions). Even without HOA documents, the stack can be several hundred pages long. What else could you possibly need to know?

The onus is on the home buyer to research the property and anything else impacting value or desirability – objectively, or to that buyer particularly.  That should include, as a top priority, the neighborhood. You might include these items in your study of the area:

  1. Local crime. It may be true that this or that zip code has a safe reputation, but what about your home’s corner of it? Go to a site such as CityProtect.com and tweak the time frames to cover as many months as possible to get a feeling for the safety issues. Los Gatos and Monte Sereno’s police are not reporting the crime stats to CityProtect. If you want to see that data, you’ll need to visit https://lgpd.crimegraphics.com/   I’m not a fan of that site as you can only view 1 week at a time, but it’s what we have. Ask friends who live in that area what they see on NextDoor (they are not allowed to copy and paste out of that site, but may have input). There are no crime-free zones in Silicon Valley, but some areas are worse than others.
  2. Local schools. You may not have kids, but the schools are often a leading driver of home values, so be sure to research the neighborhood schools. If the market turns south, having something with enduring value such as good public schools will help to bolster values. There are a variety of websites that cover test scores,  parent and student feedback, college readiness at the high school level, and other indicators. I like the SchoolAndHousing.com website, but would not limit my recon to that alone. You can also ask to meet with school officials or perhaps get a tour to make sure any questions are answered.
  3. Traffic and commute.  It seems like the farther out you go, the more home you get for the money. But how brutal will your commute be in a post-Covid world? My suggestion is to try the commute before you buy. Don’t do it on “Friday light”, but give it a go mid-week, and aim to do it at your normal driving hour. You might want to assume that it will be much heavier in a couple of years when the coronavirus is but a bad memory. Google maps has a tool that allows you to plug in your starting and stopping points, and when you want to be there, but I’ve found it’s a little optimistic. It’s just not the same as doing it. I would advise trying it twice. (You may end up preferring a smaller home with a better commute.)
  4. Natural Hazards. There’s a lot of great info online at the MyHazards site. Disclosure packages normally include a Natural Hazard Report. The report is dozens of pages long, but do take the time to get past page 1, which only reveals the state mapped zones. A little deeper into the document, you’ll find additional data on the county mapped zones, such as earthquake faults, that you do want to know about. The county mapped faults supposedly have not moved in 11,000 years, but it does not make it impossible for them do act up should a large quake drop on the San Andreas or Hayward fault. Not sure what to make of the zones? One of the geological companies which provides the NHD reports has a series of videos on what the major state mapped zones means. I highly recommend viewing them. You can also learn about environmental hazards in that report as well.
  5. Neighbors. Are the neighbors neighborly, or are the difficult people in close proximity? Some years back, I showed a home in which the next door neighbor broke through the fence and installed a new fence across part of the seller’s yard – hoping to claim it as his own. It was a strange legal situation as that part of the yard used to be an alley, so there was some legal limbo involved.  There can be unkempt homes, too many cars on the street (suggests crowding), yards that need some TLC, tagging, litter…. I have sometimes had buyers knock on the doors of immediate and nearby neighbors to say hello and ask about the area. That’s gone well and it might be something for home buyers to consider doing. You might be surprised at what you learn. One buyer of mine found that several of the neighbors worked at Cisco, as he did at the time. you may also hear of nuisances that sellers omit, though, such as barking dogs or loud neighbors.
  6. Web searches. You may want to go to the Megan’s Law website, or google the street address, or do any number of other searches online to make sure you understand the area which interests you.
  7. Topography. Hills are beautiful but living on or near them sometimes means dealing with water related issues. Is the crawl space damp in the middle of summer or when it hasn’t been raining? Learn about drainage and foundation work – right away.

Got more ideas for neighborhood research that I’ve missed? I’ve had to turn off comments due to overwhelming spam (1,000 spam to 1 real comment), but shoot me an email and I’ll update this piece if I agree that it’s a good tip.

Why listing agents don’t like to issue counter offers in today’s hot market

Gotta Get That Call!It’s a little funny that when Silicon Valley home sellers and their listing agents get contracts or offers, many do not want to deal with issuing or negotiating counter offers.  In many cases, it can go like this fictional bidding scenario:

Offer due date set, and let’s say there are 5 offers.  Of the five, perhaps one is all cash, one is half cash, and the rest are 20-25% down.  Most offers will be in a tight cluster of pricing (this is probably “true market value”).  One may be far higher than the rest. Or perhaps two a little higher than the others.

  • The seller wants the highest price, no contingencies, and preferably, all cash.
  • If the all cash offer is non-contingent (no contingencies for inspection, loan or appraisal) and is the highest price, there will be a straight acceptance in almost all cases.  No counters.
  • If the best combination of cash and contingencies and pricing is the half-cash offer, most likely the listing agent will phone that buyers’ agent and ask if those buyers would match the highest price.  If those buyers say yes, one counter offer will be issued and it will have a short deadline for response.
  • If the “best combination” buyers say no, the listing agent and sellers will move to the next best offer, however they decide “best” looks, and phone them, giving them the opportunity to come up.
  • In these scenarios, meanwhile, the rest of the buyers and their agents wait – and hear nothing in the meantime.

Once in awhile, there are a few good offers that are all neck-and-neck, and perhaps there’s one flaky looking offer at a higher price.  If that happens, the listing agent and sellers may issue a multiple counter offer to most or all bidders.  That used to be really common, but today, I’m finding the most typical scenario is the “one phone call” approach instead.  (more…)