Home Types

Types of Homes in Silicon Valley

Tudor style house on graphic that says - How's the Campbell real estate market?How is the Campbell real estate market? Campbell is still in a strong seller’s market and continues to grow hotter into autumn.

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:

Campbell Altos Real-Time Market Profile

As of November 10th this chart showing Campbell, CA is in a strong seller’s market with the continuing trends of rising market action and shrinking inventory.

And now –  here are some quick stats, care of my RE Report for Campbell:

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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.

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California - photo for article on the Saratoga CA real estate market

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California

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.

Real-Time Market Profile Saratoga, CA 95070

In the latest update, November 6th, Altos shows a strong seller’s market with inventory picking up and days on market shrinking.

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 month over month and looking  up year over year in October. Sales dipped but remain close to last year’s numbers. Pending sales, on the other hand, rose well above last month and last year, showing that activity remains steady. Active listings rose a hair, though inventory is still missing roughly 1/3rd of the available listings from 2019. The sales to list price ratio jumped to 104.0% and the days on market shrank to 19 days. Limited supply with ample demand is creating a sustained strong seller’s market.

Trends At a Glance Oct 2020 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $3,337,500 (+7.7%) $3,100,000 $2,651,000 (+25.9%)
Average Price $3,476,700 (-0.9%) $3,509,020 $2,936,950 (+18.4%)
No. of Sales 24 (-11.1%) 27 26 (-7.7%)
Pending 34 (+36.0%) 25 21 (+61.9%)
Active 39 (+2.6%) 38 62 (-37.1%)
Sale vs. List Price 104.0% (+3.1%) 100.9% 98.5% (+5.6%)
Days on Market 19 (-44.1%) 35 68 (-71.6%)
Days of Inventory 49 (+19.4%) 41 72 (-31.9%)

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Glencrest Patio Homes in AlmadenThe popular Glencrest neighborhood in Almaden includes both the Glencrest patio homes as well as larger houses on regular lots.

This corner of Almaden is located at the end of Serenity Way near Glenview Park and Cathedral Park in the Williams area. The Glencrest patio homes area is shaped like a pentagram (a five sided object) so is easy to spot on the map.

The community enjoys a shared pool. The outside ring of homes are single family houses on large, normal lots of about 10,000 to 13,000 square feet (on Valley Quail Circle, Hollow Lake).

The more modest patio or zero lot line properties are found on the inside streets and have about 6,000 SF lots – the streets are Quail Creek Circle, Mountain Quail Circle, and Quail Cove Way.

The Glencrest homes were built by Shapell, a company which is known for a very high quality. Most were built in 1987 or 1988.

The big draws for these homes are as follows:

  • Top Almaden schools are close by: Williams, Bret Harte and Leland
  • Shappell is a highly regarded builder, perhaps the most valued in Santa Clara County
  • The Glencrest area homes, whether on normal lots or zero lot line / patio homes, are fairly young by local standards

Because the Glencrest patio homes are smaller, they are more affordable. Many people consider them entry level houses for Williams Elementary School. For this reason, real estate sales in the Glencrest area often command surprisingly high prices given that structures are built on one of the property lines and that there are no windows on that side of the home.

There are some negatives to any area. Here, the interior streets are narrow, and of course a zero lot line is not ideal. Water and hillside locations don’t help homes, so it’s important to manage drainage effectively.

Real estate listings and homes for sale in and near the Glencrest neighborhood of San Jose’s Almaden Valley: please view using the following link

Glencrest Patio Homes for Sale

 

 

 

 

 

Post-Tension Slab FoundationPost-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.

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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.

 

Raised Perimeter and Post and Pier Foundation Compilation 1960s

Still images from historic reels shared by History San Jose showing one of the city’s suburban developments of the 1960s and the installation of this type of foundation. Click to go to the original video on Youtube.

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 section of blueprint plus lowered subfloor for tile

Post and pier (or girder) foundation blueprint, including crawlspace access point and lowered subfloor and sleeper floor.

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.

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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.

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Market comparison: Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino and Los AltosToday we’re looking at the real estate market for houses in some of the “west valleycommunities 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!

Market Comparisons

(1) Median List Price (per Altos Research):

 

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

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Mary Pope-Handy
Realtor
ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at) PopeHandy.com
License# 01153805


Selling homes in
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