Santa Clara County Real Estate Market

The Santa Clara County real estate market remains hot, despite weather that has been cold and wet. Few quick points, then the details:

  • Home prices and sales were both up in January 2024 compared to January 2023.
  • Inventory is starting to pick up, however it remains far below normal. As of this writing on Feb 6, there are 600 single family homes for sale in Santa Clara County. Typical inventory between 2012 and 2023 was 1046. (I ran it from the MLS today.)
  • Since August, the current price has been higher than the same month the year before (after the opposite was true Jan – July 2023). Taken as whole years, home prices were lower in 2023 than in 2022, but the momentum is now going in the opposite direction. Home prices are rising.
  • Nearly all stats point to an increasingly hot market.

 

January 2024 sales stats – Santa Clara County real estate market

 

Here’s the RE Report summary table. It’s an excellent summary of our Silicon Valley housing market. January is usually the lowest month of the year, followed by December. Once in a while December is worse than the January that follows it, and in those cases, the month over month numbers look soft.

 

Santa Clara County real estate market trends and statistics at a glance for January 2024

Real estate market statistics

 

Multi year real estate data charts for Santa Clara County real estate market (single family homes)

PLEASE NOTE: to view any of the data tables / images below in a larger version, just click on them and you will be taken to our blog post, where the images are larger (except for the first one). Still too small? Click on them in the article and a larger still version will pop up. 

Months of Inventory

First, the months of inventory. At 1.6 months of inventory is not bad for January. This is one of the softer data points – and it is not really soft.

 

SCC Months of inventory for Feb 2024 - single family homes
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Thinking of Selling Your Silicon Valley Home? Get It Right The First Time if You Go On The Market!

Thinking of Selling your Silicon Valley Home? Sell it right the first time!You keep reading that it’s still a “seller’s market” in Silicon Valley real estate. You hear about homes recieving multiple offers and prices getting pushed up. Yet with interest rates still threatening to rise and more layoffs, not everyone is ready to take the plunge to sell.

Should you jump in as a San Jose area seller now?

Maybe, but if you do it, do it right! The dirty little secret that no one talks about is that not all Santa Clara County homes for sale are selling like it’s a hot market. They sit on the market, popping up on MLS searches for month after month, lower their prices, and might eventually accept an offer below asking price.

Dangerous Seller Myths

There are quite a few common myths that home owners believe about selling their property. Believe these, and act accordingly, and your chances of selling are dramatically damaged:

  • my price is high, but buyers can always “make an offer”
  • it’s a seller’s market, my home does not have to be perfect
  • if I fix up the home to sell, the buyer may not like the changes (this one is especially common)
  • it was like this when I bought it, so I don’t have to improve it now
  • I have lived with (fill in the blank) forever, there’s nothing wrong with it

Getting the home prepped and pricing right matter tremendously. Today let’s focus on preparing and staging.
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Where are the high voltage power lines?

High Voltage Power Lines Collage

High Voltage Power Lines from around the West Valley.

High voltage power lines are a “location issue” that impacts real estate values, and it sometimes elicits worry regarding safety.

High voltage power lines: how far is far enough?

Something we have spoken about recently with our clients is being far enough away so that if the tower and high voltage power lines were to fall, they’d miss your home and property. In our recent series of atmospheric rivers in January 2023, in San Jose one of these large transmission towers did fall down. It’s rare, but not impossible.

I have not seen a website that can tell us how tall any given tower is, but from what I have read online, it seems that most of them are under 200 feet tall, but some could be higher than that. In most cases, that puts the lines about 4 houses away if the lots are a typical 6,000 SF lot of 60′ across the front and 100′ deep.

We cannot speak to the concerns around potential increased risk of cancer or other problems. Each consumer should research that issue on his or her own.

Where are the high voltage power lines?

High Voltage Power lines - map - CaliforniaYears ago, I painstakingly mapped out the transmission lines from what I knew on the ground and what I could tell from tracing the Google satellite view. (You can find that link near the bottom of this article.)

Today, though, there’s something better than my map available online. The California Energy Commission has a map of the transmission lines that you can view using THIS LINK. Or click on the image at the left.

From the landing page you can zoom in or out. It covers the entire state of California – you might find it interesting to navigate around a little.

Also, a few years ago, PG&E published an interactive map where you can view the location of electric lines (I’ve filtered the imbedded map below to show Electric Transmission Lines in the South Bay), and another map of natural gas pipelines, searchable by address. This doesn’t cover the entire state, but it does cover all of the Bay Area / Silicon Valley.

The PG&E map:

On the map I hand-drew at the bottom of this article I did also include the location of schools. Quite a lot of schools do have transmission lines present.

What other location issues are there to factor in?
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How Long Does It Take to Sell a Home in Today’s Market?

House with words - How long does it take to sell a home in Silicon Valley today?How long does it take to sell a home in Silicon Valley right now? It depends on what segment of the real estate market the property is in, and what type it is. Most homes are selling in 3-4 weeks.

How long does it take to sell a home in Santa Clara County?

First, for the success stories, the properties that do sell, what’s the timeframe?

  • Houses which have closed escrow averaged 27 days in September 2022 so far
  • Also in September, the median days on market is 17 days
  • For condos and townhouses, the average days on market so far this month is 38
  • The median days on market for condominiums and townhomes is 27

Pending sales – how long were they on the market?

  • Pending houses right now average 33 days on market
  • Pending condominiums and townhomes average 28 days on the market

It’s interesting to see that the more recent sales were slower for the houses but faster for condos and townhomes as compared to the closed sales.

Active listings and length of time on the market

  • Houses for sale in Santa Clara County that are not under contract (and not listed as “Agent Only”) average 52 days on market
  • For townhomes and condos, it’s an average of 44 days on market

So it seems that for the homes which DO sell (and not all homes which are listed become sale pending), the average is in the 3-4 week range.  What that says, pretty clearly too, is that if your listing is well marketed but doesn’t sell in three to four weeks, you’ve got a problem.

Some types of properties will always take longer (think Santa Cruz Mountains, ultra luxury homes and others), but overall, your home should be seeing 3-5 showings per week and get at least one offer for approximately every 10 showings, which should happen within 3-4 weeks.

What if your home has been on the market for a month with no offers, or only low offers?

If your house or condo has been actively listed and marketed for more than 4 weeks and isn’t selling, it’s time to have a conversation with your agent. Every situation is different and I cannot advise anyone but my own clients about what needs to happen in your case.

I can tell you that if your home does not get an acceptable offer in 3-4 weeks, there’s a good chance that the number one obstacle is a price that’s too high for the current market. If that is the case, it’s time to make a serious change in the price – think hedge clipper, not nail clipper. Otherwise, if home values are dropping and your price does not get ahead of it, you will be chasing the market down. It is very expensive when that happens.

Beyond price and just getting or not getting offers, you will want to understand:

  • how many showings are there each week?
  • what is the feedback from the buyer’s agents? (what are the buyers saying?)
  • what homes ARE selling?
  • how long does it take to sell if it’s underpriced? (that’s a common strategy today)

Some flaws are fixable and some are not fixable. You cannot do anything about a less desirable location or a neighbor with too many vehicles or an eyesore of a front yard. But you do control the price.

Some real estate gurus like to say “there’s no problem that the right price can’t fix”. That’s true, but sometimes there are cheaper ways to solve whatever the problem is.

In some cases, home sellers are offering to pay points on the buyer’s loan to offset the rising interest rates. Frequently it’s a lot cheaper for the seller to buy down the loan rate than to take a price reduction of 3-5%.

Related reading to how long does it take to sell:

Why didn’t my San Jose home sell? (on this site)

Beware over improving your property when preparing to sell (on this site)

Selling your home in Silicon Valley – 9 FAQs (on popehandy.com)

 

Where are Santa Clara County’s Earthquake Faults and Flood Plains?

Where are Santa Clara County's Earthquake Faults and Flood Plains_Earthquake faults and flood plains are of interest to home buyers throughout the Golden State and to their lenders, too. Part of the home sale and home buying process is to provide information on these risk factors so that consumers (and their lenders) can make an informed decision.

Natural Hazard Reports are included in the disclosures when homes are bought and sold here in Silicon Valley. Those reports will indicate whether or not the property is located in areas with known natural hazards, including

  • Flood Plains (100 and 500 year floods from heavy rainfall)
  • Liquefaction Zones
  • Earthquake Fault Zones
  • Unstable Soils Areas (landslide areas)
  • Flooding from dam failure zones

But wouldn’t you like to know where those places are before ever deciding where to target your next home?

Mapping Earthquake Faults and Flood Plains

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Prides Crossing Neighborhood

The Prides Crossing neighborhood in the northern part of Saratoga has a lot to boast about: a sense of community, easy access to commuter routes and many amenities, and laid-back California luxury. We’ll go into more detail below, but here is a profile of the neighborhood in bullet points:

  • The average home is ~2,400 SqFt on ~12,500 SqFt lot, built between the early 1960s-70s
  • Homes are in the attendance area for either Saratoga or Cupertino schools
  • Expect to pay between $3 – $4M for most homes, possibly a little less for a small home near a busy street, and more for a larger, centrally located home
  • The neighborhood is home to 2 parks, a member-owned pool and racket club, and has easy access to commuter routes, shopping, entertainment, and places of worship
  • There are few hazards, but keep an eye out for Zinsco panels

1 Prides Crossing South sign along Cox Avenue

Where is Prides Crossing?

Prides Crossing Map with markers

Click to view full size – Prides Crossing map with markers

North of 85 near the Campbell and West San Jose borders, boundaries of the neighborhood include Prospect Rd to the north and Cox Ave to the south, with 85 and Saratoga Creek at the southern corners. To the west, Scully Ave and to the east Titus Ave border what makes up the majority of the neighborhood, although they are not exact boundaries (the map paints a better picture). Miller Ave is the main thoroughfare through the community with a brick and brass sign marking it’s entrance at it’s intersection with Cox Ave.

While not technically part of Prides Crossing, I did include a corner of the Summerplace subdivision (built 1973) in the neighborhood map as it might easily be mistaken as such. There are 46 homes in the Summerplace tract (5233), but 37 are only accessible through the Prides Crossing neighborhood, touching the south end of Kevin Moran Park, while the other 9 are on the opposite side of highway 85!

Continue reading below, or explore other areas in our interactive map of neighborhoods in this city. We are slowly adding more!

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Santa Clara County Real Estate Market Prices

The Santa Clara County real estate market has been in a cooling trend, but it warmed slightly in October and appears to be warming again with the January sales so far. Prices are certainly down significantly from the peak pricing a few months back, but sellers will welcome the fact that sales prices are moving upward again. If this continues, we may be revisiting the normal seasonal patterns – which many economists have predicted would be the case.

 

2019-1-15 Santa Clara County city and town stats

 

The average sale price to list price ratio is still at 100.1% for the county, but is under 100% in many areas now. (And when I pulled that from the MLS just now for the first 15 days in January, I see that it has sunk to 99.6%. Days on market, though, shrank from 35 in December to 34 so far in January, interestingly.)

Home Prices in Santa Clara County:

The numbers themselves point to a general movement of  values sliding – at least until October, when it ticked up a little, and again here in the first half of January, when we also see upward pricing from sales that went under contract in December. 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. I pulled this data directly from the MLS:

January 1 – 15  2019  $1,200,000 prices up (so far) 5% from last month
December 2018 $1,145,625
November 2018 $1,250,000
October 2018 $1,290,000 prices up a hair
September 2018 $1,238,000
August 2018 $1,280,000
July 2018 $1,350,000
June 2018 $1,385,000
May 2018  $1,400,000
April 2018  $1,420,000
March 2018 $1,454,000 – PEAK
February 2018 $1,381,000
January 2018 $1,170,000

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.

 

Median and Average sale prices in recent years

I think this is really interesting. Most years, both the median and average sale price are lowest in January (I have drawn in the pink or red lines at January for each year), but some years the lowest has been December for the average. This year, though, it looks like both the median and average will be lower in December 2018  than in January 2019. Have a look:

 

Median and Average Sale Prices for SFH in Santa Clara County

 

What does that mean? I’m not sure – most years both the median and average hit a low point in January. In a few years, the average hits a low in December while the median is still lower in January. Right now, it looks like both median and average will be lower in December than in January. Are we starting an early spring climb? Maybe so. We’ll have to watch and see.

 

 

A quick look at the numbers for this month’s Santa Clara County RE Report:

Trends at a Glance

 

Trends At a GlanceDec 2018Previous MonthYear-over-Year
Median Price$1,163,000 (-7.0%)$1,250,000$1,293,690 (-10.1%)
Average Price$1,437,380 (-7.1%)$1,547,350$1,556,330 (-7.6%)
No. of Sales548 (-23.8%)719704 (-22.2%)
Pending528 (-26.3%)716515 (+2.5%)
Active682 (-38.0%)1,100271 (+151.7%)
Sale vs. List Price100.1% (-0.3%)100.4%109.3% (-8.4%)
Days on Market34 (+13.0%)3021 (+62.0%)
Days of Inventory37 (-15.8%)4412 (+223.3%)

 

Please view the online, interactive RE Report here: http://popehandy.rereport.com
Or pull up the four page, printable PDF here:  http://rereport.com/scc/print/Mary.PopeHandySCC.pdf

 

Bottom line, I still think we need to see what happens in February before we’ll know if we are returning to seasonal patterns or not. Right now, I don’t see anything that makes me think we are going into a correction right now.

 

 

 

When are property taxes due in Santa Clara County?

Currency_DollarThe schedule for when property taxes are due in Santa Clara County is not intuitive and confuses most people, at least initially.  The tax calendar is as follows:

  • Beginning of fiscal year: July 1st
  • First installment of taxes due covers July 1 – December 31st
  • Second installment of taxes due covers Jan 1 – June 30

Although you might expect the two bills to be due & payable 6 months apart, that’s not how it works!

Installment # 1 is due November 1 and is delinquent December 10th

Installment # 2 is due February 1 and is delinquent April 10th

Please note that the April deadline is very, very close to that for personal income taxes (April 15) and many homeowners accidentally send in their property taxes on the latter day.  This results in a costly penalty, so don’t be confused!!    (Also, do not count on mailing your payments by 11:59pm on the deadlines either – the tax assessor’s office does not work like the IRS! Payments are due by 5pm that day!)  Make sure you don’t cut it too close or you’ll find yourself paying 10% plus $20 more than necessary.

It is possible to pay your bill for your property taxes online, but the cost is significantly more than a postage stamp, so I don’t recommend it unless you are out of the area and cannot make your payment the normal way. (It’s 2.5% via credit or card – minimum $2.50 convenience charge.) You can also pay by eCheck for free, so that’s another good option if you are in a hurry.

 

Other articles of interest:

Home inspection vs appraisal

Appraisal value does not equal market value

What Do Silicon Valley Seniors Need to Know About Moving Their Property Tax Basis When Selling a Home?

 

 

 

Gilroy Garlic Festival

GGF_2015_Flameup_3Greet the morning with the sweet smell of fresh Garlic in the air – the Gilroy Garlic Festival is back!

If you’ve ever caught the vivid aroma of the stinking rose early in the day it’s likely a breeze coming over the southern Santa Clara County city of Gilroy, the Garlic capital of the world. Whether you love or hate the pungent allium, this herb is a favorite for many foodies in Silicon Valley and around the world.

Gilroy celebrates their favorite bulb one weekend of the year during the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the last weekend in July. This year it’s back for the 38th annual event held on July 29, 30, and 31, 2016. So what to should you expect from “summer’s ultimate food fair?” Food, food, food, fun, shopping, music, and more!

Gourmet Alley is “all about the food” – classics like garlic bread, garlic fries, calamari, scampi, and sausage are available at the booths, and at the end aisle, watch the Pyro-Chefs stoke up five foot tall blazes from their frying pans. Weird food lovers will enjoy a plenitude of flavors from other booths around the festival, including free samples of garlic ice-cream, alligator and buffalo meat, or ice cream in a half cantaloupe. There’s also the range of standard festival food stalls, beer, wine, coolers, and non-alcoholic chilled drinks.

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Endangered Species and Habitat in Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley

Please NoteIf you are shopping to buy a home in Silicon Valley, you will be given a report, once in contract, regarding any endangered species‘ habitats on or near the property. How does this impact your use of the land, should you complete the purchase?

You might be surprised at how many at risk or endangered species there are in Silicon Valley. The Bay Checkerspot Butterfly has several areas in Santa Clara County which are impacted, including Communications Hill, areas near Coyote Valley and San Martin, the Silver Creek area of Evergreen and many other areas along the east foothills and south county. Others include: Golden Eageles, Tri-Colored Blackbirds, Western Pond Turtle, San Joaquin Kit Fox, Steelhead Trout, California Tiger Salamander, Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse, and many more animals, fish, birds and plants.  A couple of days ago, I was reading that the threatened  marbled murrelet, a sea bird which can roost up to 70 miles inland, is in Los Gatos (near Highway 9 and Daves, if not more places as well).  They nest in old growth redwood trees – something that Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga have in abundance near the hills!

Suppose that the area in which you want to buy a home is within the habitat of an endangered species such as the red legged frog, the famous subject of Mark Twain’s The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and our official state amphibian. This is information that will be listed within one or more of the property reports, so read the Natural Hazard Report, Environmental Hazard Report and Tax Report you get in escrow very carefully. Now that you know where to find this information, what does that mean? (more…)