Types of Homes in Silicon Valley
How is the Campbell real estate market? Campbell is still in a strong seller’s market, but like the rest of the county, is looking warmer than it was in spring.
It’s hard to predict what’s coming up next with all that’s happened since March. The charts are beginning to show the impact of the pandemic on the market, but it will take a while to see the full picture. To read more about the Coronavirus impact on real estate sales, check my blog post on the topic.
During the shutdown so far, 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. In the data below, this will affect any numbers related to the days on market, the absorption rate, and the days of inventory in those months, though current numbers are now accurate.
If you’re selling, perhaps last summer you’d have gotten 4 – 6 offers on your well prepared, beautifully staged, and aggressively priced home for sale. Recently, we’ve started to see those numbers again as restrictions on the market ease. However, we are still seeing buyers bring in offers with normal contingencies, particularly if there are not any competing bids. With the restrictions on showings and real estate in general, these numbers may still be low, especially if there is delayed market activity from spring.
Here’s a quick view of the Campbell real estate market stats from Altos Research, using LIST prices:
As of September 13th this chart showing Campbell, CA is in a strong seller’s market with rising market action and shrinking inventory.
And now – here are some quick stats, care of my RE Report for Campbell:
How’s the Saratoga California real estate market?
This spring has been unlike any other, yet remains in the seller’s favor for the Saratoga, CA real estate market. Much of the market strength depends on the price point, school district, and condition – today’s buyers generally prefer recently remodeled homes. (Not long ago, I showed a home that was remodeled in 2010 and my buyers found it to be dated.) In response to this strong preference, many sellers have begun moving out and getting their homes updated prior to going on the market.
That being said, the real estate market today is not the same as it was at the start of March. We’ll see more of the results of these changes in the April market analysis than we will looking back on March. To learn more about how Covid-19 is affecting the real estate market, please check my post: Coronavirus Impact on Real Estate Sales.
During the shutdown so far, 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. 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 months. Current numbers are accurate.
First, a quick glance at the Altos Research market profile for a quick summary of the market conditions. Altos uses LIST prices, not sold prices, for this chart and the others, below.
In the latest update, September 9th, Altos shows a strong seller’s market with rising market action and low inventory.
Next, let’s turn to the closed sales from last month. This time we’re using data from a subscription service of mine to the RE Report.
Here are the real estate sales statistics for closed sales last month among houses and duet homes (if there are any) in the 95070 zip code (click on link to read the full Saratoga Real Estate Report for houses). Bottom line is that most livable homes in Saratoga will run between $2 and $3 million if they are mid sized (2000-3000 SF) and in the best schools area (Saratoga or Cupertino). Homes in the Campbell schools area, which have very strong elementary and middle schools, are very rare and generally more affordable, closer to $1.5, but depending on size, condition, and location they can be significantly higher (the ones selling in October 2019 were closer to $2.5, for instance).
Trends at a Glance for the Saratoga CA Real Estate Market
Saratoga has remained fairly stable. Prices are fairly stable year over year but dropped since last month. Activity has slowed since last month with fewer sales, sale pending, and active listings, though sales are close to last year and active inventory is only half of 2019. The sales to list price ratio is up to 103.2% and the days on market are a mere 22 days. This isn’t too far from the usual market at this time of year, but limited supply with ample demand are creating a strong seller’s market.
|Trends At a Glance||Aug 2020||Previous Month||Year-over-Year|
|Median Price||$2,675,000 (-8.9%)||$2,935,000||$2,658,000 (+0.6%)|
|Average Price||$2,736,470 (-10.6%)||$3,061,070||$2,811,700 (-2.7%)|
|No. of Sales||27 (-27.0%)||37||27 (0.0%)|
|Pending||26 (-3.7%)||27||24 (+8.3%)|
|Active||32 (-11.1%)||36||62 (-48.4%)|
|Sale vs. List Price||103.2% (+3.8%)||99.4%||99.2% (+4.0%)|
|Days on Market||22 (-39.0%)||36||51 (-56.9%)|
|Days of Inventory||36 (+21.8%)||29||69 (-48.4%)|
And the month before:
I recently published a piece on post-tension slabs, which is more used in new construction, however it’s not the most common type across existing homes in the South Bay. While basements are not often found in the South Bay, crawlspaces are. You’re most likely to encounter raised perimeter foundations.
What is a Raised Perimeter Foundation?
A raised, perimeter, or raised perimeter foundation is one that supports a structure while lifting it a few feet above the ground level, as the name implies. It is called a perimeter foundation because the exterior walls are held up by a reinforced concrete stem wall, while the body of the house is supported by a post and pier construct. (In earthquake-free parts of the world, the stem wall may be brick or cinder block.)
This type of foundation is usually only raised around 1-1/2’ – 2’ high, one or two stair steps above ground level. Much taller would make a top-heaviness that becomes less stable against seismic force.
Alternatively, some floors might be set quite low. Two rooms in my single-story house are a step below the rest. They are still raised on posts and piers, but they are distinctly lower than the rest. This is called a sleeper floor. In the crawlspace, this translates to very tight quarters, and I have met professionals who will, and who will not, be able to work in that space.
What is a Post and Pier Foundation?
Post and pier, or beam and post foundation, supports a structure by raising it on individual posts distributed evenly beneath a structure. Each pillar of support consists of three parts: the pier, the post, and the beam.
The pier is a vertical anchor set deep in the ground, usually made of concrete (but occasionally other resistant material like steel). The pier rises a few inches above ground level and is attached to a vertical post. The post, or column, is generally foundation-grade treated wood. This post attaches to a horizontal beam, or girder, which directly supports the floor joists. Occasionally, the pier may act as a post and connects directly to the beam, but that is very uncommon in my experience.
Post and pier foundations can be built without the perimeter wall, but functionally it is very different. You will often see decks built this way, including decks that are attached to homes with a raised perimeter foundation. Without the continuous stem wall the cost to construct is significantly less, but the resulting structure is more vulnerable to the forces of nature, to lateral seismic force, and to pests and wildlife. It also has greater airflow beneath, which is good in places with regular flooding, but provides less insulation from below.
Post-tension slab foundations are found in newer homes. Here in the Bay Area, a structure’s foundation needs to withstand not only the load of the building, but expansive soils, and the ubiquitous earthquake. Certain foundations are better at handling these conditions, and are seen more frequently here. One of these which is gaining popularity in new construction is the post-tension slab foundation.
What is a Post Tension Foundation?
Post-tensioning is a technique that was developed and first put to regular use in the 1970s, and approved methods have been published by the Post-Tensioning Institute (PTI), a nonprofit organization, since 1976. Sometimes called post tensioning, or simply PT, this is a type of slab foundation with added reinforcement.
In essence, a slab foundation, aka a slab on grade foundation, is a concrete base only a few inches deep, sitting directly on earth. You might see this for a small shed or playhouse, but larger structures are almost always reinforced, usually with rebar, and a fabric water barrier is lain out before the concrete is poured.
A post-tension slab is reinforced with grids of steel cables cased in plastic sheathes instead of rebar. After the concrete has hardened around them, the cables are pulled taut with hydraulic stressing jacks. This pre-stressing of the concrete creates added compressive strength to the foundation.
Where can you find gated communities in San Jose or Silicon Valley? There aren’t many of them! (It is a myth, however, that the Silver Creek Valley Country Club is the only one in Silicon Valley. That’s just not true.) There are fewer than a dozen, though, and in this post I’ll provide some basic info on each and links to the home owner association for each so you can learn more if you so desire.
Most of these enclaves include neighborhood pools. Some also boast golf courses, spas and restaurants. One even has riding stables!
Evergreen gated communities
In the Evergreen area of San Jose (the east foothills), there are very two very large gated residential neighborhoods: The Villages, which is a retirement community for seniors (and has age restrictions, one resident must be 55+) with many luxury amenities (pools, tennis courts, horseback riding stables, bocce ball, and more).
Silver Creek Valley Country Club, which is the largest and best known gated community in Santa Clara County, is also found in the east foothills in the Evergreen area. A big complex and elegantly appointed, the Silver Creek Valley Country Club is also the most expensive of the gated communities. Silver Creek centers around a well known, beautiful golf course, and features a wonderful clubhouse as well as multiple pools. Some communities within Silver Creek have their own HOA, so it is possible to end up paying HOA dues to both Silver Creek and also a neighborhood HOA to boot.
Today we’re looking at the real estate market for houses in some of the “west valley” communities along the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains – areas where schools are good, crime is low, residents enjoy scenic views of the hills (or of the valley from the hills, depending on the location) and overall, a highly educated population not too far from Highway 85. This will be a real estate market comparison for Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, and Los Altos.
Of the four municipalities, three are really very similar to each other in several regards. Cupertino has the largest population – about 61,000 people – but Los Altos, Los Gatos and Saratoga are all similarly sized, somewhere between 31,000 residents. The latter three also enjoy a traditional “downtown” area which is popular with pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike. (Monte Sereno has under 4,000 residents, which is so small that the statistics are very easily thrown from month to month, so it is omitted in this quick study.) Of the four, Cupertino, then, is the least similar due to size and lack of a central downtown area for now. This may feel different once the Vallco Mall is redeveloped.
We’ll take a quick look at these areas now in terms of the real estate market trends and statistics for each area, considering just “class 1” (houses and duet homes). The charts used below are from Altos Research, to which I have a subscription, and they will be automatically updated each week.
Please note: the Los Gatos data is probably a little artificially low as it will include all 3 zip codes, meaning also the Los Gatos Mountains, which are quite a bit more affordable than the areas “in town”.
In addition, as of this writing we are in the shelter-in-place phase 1 of the pandemic. This post is updated approximately every quarter or half-year, so we’re just starting to see the results of these changes to the market, but it will take a while to see the full picture. For now you can read more about the Coronavirus impact on real estate sales in my post on the topic.
Also, during the shutdown so far, 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. In the data below, this will affect any numbers related to the days on market, the absorption rate, and the days of inventory.
Now on with the analysis!
(1) Median List Price (per Altos Research):
Willow Glen is a very charming, older part of San Jose that seems to beckon to a more gracious time. It is perhaps best known for its historic homes and quaint streets, but it is also highly regarded as a tight knit community with its own, vibrant downtown.
Where is Willow Glen?
Willow Glen is close to downtown San Jose, bordered by Highway 87 to the east, Highway 280 to the north, Southwest Expy, Leigh Avenue, and Bascom Avenue to the west, and Foxworthy Avenue to the south. To the west is Campbell and to the south is Cambrian.
This area is mostly the 95125 zip code, but includes a little of 95124 on the south end.
The public schools are mostly within the San Jose Unified School District, but on the south west side, I believe all within 95124, some are in the Cambrian School District.
The district’s centerpiece is Lincoln Avenue, a street bustling with cars and pedestrians alike. It’s filled to the brim with restaurants and shops and seems to attract a never-ending strea of visitors, especially in summer and during the holidays. Additionally, there are a number of businesses and shops along Meridian Avenue.
The boundaries are not always agreed upon. Google Maps shows a much broader area, extending west all the way to Highway 17 and all the way south to Hillsdale, including parts of Campbell and Cambrian. The Wikipedia page on WG only includes the 95125 zip code.
A little Willow Glen history
Willow Glen began as an unincorporated community at about the time of the Gold Rush, at about the same time as when San Jose was the capitol of California. In 1863 the first school was built to meet the needs of the children there. It became incorporated in 1927 to fend off being annexed into the larger City of San Jose, but had a change of heart and voted to be annexed in 1936 so that the area could be on the city’s sewer system rather than to continue with septic tanks and cesspools.
Willow Glen architecture
Much of Willow Glen was built early in the 1900s and so the homes in the “downtown” area are older and feature classical styles of housing on tree lined streets – Spanish, Craftsman, and some even more venerable and Victorian. That is surely a large part of its charm. On the edges of Willow Glen, the homes are newer and tract. One area, known as Palm Haven, has a myriad of palm trees (both Royal Palm and Fan Palm) and older, diverse architecture surrounding a community park. The original access to Palm Haven from Bird Avenue and the rest of Willow Glen has been blocked off, but the grand old road can still be found easily enough via Clintonia off Riverside. Continue reading