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Almaden Valley Real Estate Market Conditions

Almaden View Real Estate Market Conditions San Jose 95120 - photo with Mt Umunhum in backgroundThe Almaden Valley real estate market remains red hot while inventory shrinks to record lows this autumn. All in all, Almaden Valley is in a continual, active seller’s market. Here are a few data points from the most recent update, which you will find in more detail below:

  • Closed sales grew while active inventory and pending sales fell in October.
  • The sales to list price ratio remains extraordinarily high, heating to an average of 106.5% of asking.
  • Homes are selling at breakneck speed in an average of just 13 days on market.

Before we begin, it’s important to recognize how much has changed since March, 2020. Over time we will have a better grasp over the pandemic’s affect on the real estate market. For more on the impact of the pandemic on the market, check out my post titled Coronavirus impact on real estate sales.

A large part of the story is inventory levels. The number of active listings has been the lowest we’ve seen in years, and very likely decades, for much of 2021 and it’s only getting compounded by a regular cool-season dip!

Almaden Valley Real Estate Market Conditions: Trends at a Glance

Next, a look at the residential real estate market statistics for Almaden, or San Jose 95120 from the Real Estate Report (a subscription that uses closed / sold data). Closed sales have shot up above last month, but are a little behind last year. Pending sales have dipped month-over-month and were a little above last year. Active inventory dropped to half of the month before, remaining below where it was a year ago. That small inventory is selling quickly, averaging a lightning fast 13 days on market and with a hot, and heating, sale to list price ratio of 106.5%. It’s a fierce seller’s market in Almaden Valley homes!

Please find the current statistics for single family homes (houses & duet homes) from my Almaden Valley real estate report (click on link for more info).

Trends At a Glance Oct 2021 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $2,065,000 (+0.7%) $2,050,000 $1,685,000 (+22.6%)
Average Price $2,042,500 (-2.5%) $2,094,600 $1,840,150 (+11.0%)
No. of Sales 31 (+47.6%) 21 39 (-20.5%)
Pending 37 (-11.9%) 42 33 (+12.1%)
Active 11 (-50.0%) 22 15 (-26.7%)
Sale vs. List Price 106.5% (+1.5%) 104.9% 102.7% (+3.7%)
Days on Market 13 (+6.8%) 12 20 (-36.6%)
Days of Inventory 11 (-65.0%) 30 12 (-7.7%)

 

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The San Jose Real Estate Market Analysis

San Jose - Valley View 2019-1-20 - for the San Jose real estate marketThe San Jose real estate market is a strong seller’s market, and it has been for months. Available inventory remains unbelievably low and can’t keep up with the high demand. This article is updated monthly with the latest market data. Here’s a sample of the latest for San Jose’s single family housing market:

  • The October 2021 market was distinctly hotter than the year before, and warmed up month-over-month!
  • San Jose homes took an average of only 14 days to sell.
  • The average sale to list price ratio was a red hot 108.5%.

Last year the spring market experienced mild unseasonable cooling, but from the summer of 2020 on it’s been heating up in San Jose. Early winter saw a hint of seasonal cooling, but by mid-winter it was heating right back up again! Finally, after a hyper-competitive spring, summer 2021 finally experienced some slight market cooling. This is shown in the San Jose housing market data below, and I’ve also experienced it in my own real estate practice.

These charts will not reflect the full effect of the pandemic on the market. It will take a while before we see the full picture on how it impacted realty, but for now you can read about the Coronavirus’ impact on real estate sales on my other post.

Early on in 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 of 2020. In the data below, this will affect any numbers related to the days on market, the absorption rate, and the days of inventory. Current numbers are accurate, but disregard this data for those previous months.

First please find the Altos Research Charts, a live feed of data on the housing markets in San Jose. You will then also find the RE Report, charts with statistics comparing sales in the last month and comparing them month-over-month and year-over-year. These are both the usual tools I use to gauge a market. Directly below are links to the market analysis of specific neighborhoods in San Jose. Some of these, where I work the most, are updated monthly, and others are updated every few months.

Altos Charts for the San Jose real estate market as a Whole – automatically updated each week – single family homes

First, the market profile and then the basic charts for single family homes or houses in San Jose. FYI, Altos uses LIST prices. The RE Report further down uses SOLD prices (which is part of the reason why I utilize both).

This real time market San Jose housing market profile (updated November 18th) shows shrinking low inventory, speedy days on market, and extremely high market action bouncing back after a recent decline. San Jose is in a strong seller’s market and holding, according to Altos! The Median List Price (for condos and houses combined) is usually stable around $1,250,000, though it has been getting nearer and nearer to $1.3 mil since last year and, around the spring peak was sticking close to $1.35!

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Where are the high voltage power lines in Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Gatos, and Almaden Valley?

High Voltage Power Lines Collage

High Voltage Power Lines from around the West Valley.

“Location, Location, Location!” The most important element when buying or selling a home is the one thing you can’t change – it’s location. Because of that, you’ll need to know some location-specific things, naturally occurring and man-made. Like high voltage power lines.

What about this location?

If you own or are thinking of buying a home in Silicon Valley, here are a few location-specific things you want to know upfront so that you can make informed decisions:

  • where are the earthquake fault lines?
  • where are the geologic hazard zones, such as liquefaction areas?
  • where are the flood plains?
  • where are man-made things that will negatively or positively impact a home’s value? Things such as
    • train lines
    • freeways
    • electrical transmission
    • school district boundaries
    • zip code boundaries
    • proximity to entertainment venues

When looking at maps, sometimes these items show up and sometimes they don’t. Realtors and other real estate professionals in the San Jose area often use a Barclay’s Locaide and various online resources to locate the natural hazard areas. There are other tools to help locate school districts and zoning restrictions.

Google maps can help uncover some other areas, like distance to shops and freeways, but sometimes it raises more questions than it answers. For instance, a years ago a Realtor who didn’t know the Belwood of Los Gatos area too well phoned me to ask what a large object showing up on satellite view in the hills of Belgatos Park was. It is just a covered reservoir, but since it was not identified on the map it concerned some buyers. Local knowledge is still extremely helpful.

Mapping the Grid: High Voltage Power Lines

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California Ridge townhouses in Almaden

California Ridge sits in the southern park of Almaden Valley within the city of San Jose CA 95120. This townome community is nestled into the foothills, within the highly prized Williams Elementary School area of attendance as well as the Bret Harte Middle, and Leland High attendance areas. Aside from nearby construction or home improvement projects, this is a quiet area of Silicon Valley, close to the scenic and enormous Almaden Quicksilver Park.

Many of these townhouse properties enjoy lovely views of Almaden Valley or open space. The streets are gently rolling and the homes younger and pleasant looking.  Nearby San Jose neighborhoods are Almaden Springs and Country View Estates.

 

California Ridge neighborhood view

 

Although sometimes mischaracterized as a condominium or condo complex on the MLS (likely because that is how CoreLogic has dubbed it), California Ridge is a Planned Development, not a condo. Owners own the lot and the home in which they live. That is not the case with condos.

The community actually consists of two distinct neighborhoods.  One is on or adjacent to Copper Peak (tract #7829), which is the street where these photos were taken. It’s got enough elevation to afford lovely valley views. The other area is on and adjacent to Shelby Creek (tract #7828), which has a pleasant setting also, but without the same valley views as it’s lower. This photo is from the Realist Report, which shows each property in a track with the red “tag”. While I don’t love the way it looks, it provides a good sense of where these 2 neighborhoods are in relationship to one another.

 

Map of the two California Ridge neighborhoods

 

What is interesting is that between these two California Ridge neighborhoods, there are a couple of streets with single family homes on large lots (tract #7986). This is unusual.

What are the townhomes at California Ridge like?

These townhomes can feel refreshingly “young” compared to many other homes in Silicon Valley, most of which were constructed decades earlier.

 

Built in 1987 and with wood siding, decks, and loads of windows, the homes are a great visual match for the setting and seem poised to take the most of the terrain. The interiors are a little more open than older homes, so that is an appealing element to many home buyers, also. Each townhouse includes a 2 car garage.  (more…)

Meet the Oak Canyon Neighborhood of Almaden Valley in San Jose

Almaden Valley in San Jose is comprised of many neighborhoods and subdivisions. One of them, close to the border with Los Gatos and Cambrian Park, is particularly popular: the Oak Canyon neighborhood.

There are many reasons for its draw among Silicon Valley home buyers: the houses were well built by Shea Homes in about 1980, so they are relatively newer by Silicon Valley standards. They’re larger homes on comfortable lots, often 8000 sf or so but some as small as 6500 sf and others larger than a quarter acre in the Oak Canyon corner of Almaden.

Most of the homes boast a 3 car garage, which is a big help with storage of stuff, if not storage of cars. The roads gently turn, which makes a more pleasing look. It’s a very “conforming” neighborhood where everyone keeps up the homes and yards. Much of Almaden is viewed by consumers as somewhat remote, but this section, near the mouth of Almaden, is not too deep into the valley and is a better commute location for most. One of the largest pulls for the area, though, is the nearby elementary school, Guadalupe School, which has an excellent reputation for quality education and ranks exceedingly well on testing.

 

Where is the Oak Canyon neighborhood in Almaden Valley, San Jose?

Oak Canyon is found near the intersection of Camden Avenue and Coleman Road in San Jose but is bordered by Coleman on one side and the Guadalue Creek on the other sides. (The far side of the Guadalupe Creek at this point is Cambrian Park.)  Just the other side of Coleman Road is the Montevideo neighborhood, and next to that is the Almaden Meadows neighborhood.

 

Oak Canyon Neighborhood Map

 

And to provide some bearings, here’s a map of the Almaden Valley district of San Jose generally:

 

Almaden Valley Map

 

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Glencrest Patio Homes in the Williams area of Almaden Valley

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

 

 

 

 

 

The months of inventory indicate how tough or easy it is to buy a Silicon Valley house

How can you tell if it’s really a buyer’s market or seller’s market? One important data point is the months or inventory, also known as the absorption rate.

The months of inventory (MOI) tells us how long it would take for the current inventory to be absorbed if sales continue at the same rate and no new inventory were to be added.

What is the months of inventory?

The best explanation given to me for the absorption rate uses the analogy of a bathtub draining. If the tub has water in it, and no new water is added, and the drain is opened (and drains at a constant rate), how long will it take for the water to all be eliminated?

So too with Silicon Valley homes for sale. How long would it take for the current supply to be bought up if no new listings came on the market? That’s the question. It can be days of inventory, weeks of inventory, or months of inventory – or any other chunk of time you want to use.  My monthly Silicon Valley RE Report uses days of inventory, referenced via DOI in the chart below, where you can see that the average days of inventory for the county is 61, or about 2 months. A quick scan down that column will provide a sense of the market for each city and town.

Santa Clara County SFH Market - May 2020

 

The faster the absorption rate, the easier it is for sellers to sell and the harder it is for buyers to buy. In the U.S., about 5- 6 months of inventory is a balanced market. Here in Silicon Valley, balanced is probably closer to 4 months of inventory.

Readers of this blog know that I really like the multi year view of data, and I think with the months of inventory that’s also really helpful. Here’s the rate for Santa Clara County, single family homes, from January 2014 to May 2020 (needs a full month to be accurate).

 

Santa Clara County months of inventory - multi year view - click on image to enlarge

 

For the month of may, the months of inventory was 2.2, which is significantly more than most of the last six years, and double the height of the market in 2017 and 2018. Translation: buyers, this is the best it’s been for you to buy in years. Yes there may be multiple offers – but if so, it is very likely to be much calmer than this time last year or at any other time for this same season in years.

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Silicon Valley Homes for Sale Near Golf Courses in the Foothill Areas

With our 300 sunny days per year in Silicon Valley (at least most years!), golf is a sport enjoyed year round here in the San Jose area.  Living near a golf course, or having a golf course view, is highly desirable as it provides scenic open space as well as convenience for avid golfers.

Silicon Valley Golf Homes, Silicon Valley Golf Properties

There are beautiful courses throughout the South Bay Area and it’s possible to find small condos with views of them at fairly affordable prices (Sunnyvale’s Sunken Gardens area is one of them).  Today, though, I want to provide a list of homes for sale near golf courses in the foothill areas of Silicon Valley.  Many of these will also be luxury homes. So the MLS list of these houses on the market which you can browse includes these areas:

San Jose areas including Evergreen & Silver Creek, Santa Teresa, Blossom Valley and Almaden; Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, Cupertino, and Los Altos.

There are golf courses to be found in other parts of Santa Clara County too (Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and more) – let me know if you are interested in these parts and I can send you a link for searching them for similar residential real estate.

Here are a available or recently sold homes near to golf clubs:

 

 

 

 

What To Consider When Buying a Hillside Home in Silicon Valley

Artistic sketch of the terrain for a hillside homeHave you always dreamed of buying a hillside home, one close to, or in, the western foothills in Santa Clara County, such as Almaden, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga? Some of the prettiest parts of Silicon Valley are snuggled into the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains. With views of downtown San Jose and the southern San Francisco Bay Area on one side, and rolling, grassy and redwood & oak filled hills on the other, its certainly scenic. Additionally, these areas all tend to have lower crime and good schools.

Hillside homes may be subject to insurance difficulties if they are deemed to be in a high fire risk zone, and property owners need to plan for how to escape in case of emergency. Trees may fall and block ingress or egress, so many mountain residents carry chainsaws. There can be wildlife living nearby, munching on carefully installed landscaping, or threatening household pets or small children in some cases (mountain lions – never leave your children unattended in hillside areas!). In terms of the structure of the hillside home, or the home near the base of the foothills, water is perhaps the risk that is least appreciated but impacts many more homes than most people realize.

Hillside home and water challenges

As a savvy foothill-area buyer, you will want to understand some of the unique issues that this geography may present. The most important of these hillside issues may well be that of water control and drainage.

The Santa Clara Valley, and most of the neighboring Silicon Valley areas, is composed of mostly expansive clay soil. This is an extremely strong substance – so much so that settlers used it, mixed only with a little straw and water, to form adobe bricks for building.

The caveat with clay soil is that when it becomes wet, it expands, and when dry, it contracts. (Hence “expansive clay soil”.) The amazing thing is that the clay is more powerful than concrete. And that is the problem for houses and other buildings if the ground is expanding, contracting, or alternating between the two.

 

Foundation crack efflorescense

 

What can a homeowner do? Its imperative to try to control the amount of water near (or under) the home as much as possible.

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Comparing cost of housing in West Valley communities from Palo Alto to Los Gatos to Blossom Valley: what will a 4 bedroom home cost?

Sketch of houseIt can be really challenging for people moving to Silicon Valley to get a sense of real estate prices, and perhaps more, comparing cost of from one town or district to another.

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 County / Silicon Valley area versus another.

Comparing Costs

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. Because some areas have had a scarcity of inventory, I’ve added an addition to the chart titled NoS for Number of Sales within the given range.

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.

 

Feb 2020 Sales Comparisons

 

Within this range, Campbell only had one sale over the last 90 days, so data for that segment may or may not be a good average. Both Los Altos and Saratoga had no sales within the last 90 days within these criteria, so their searches have been expanded to 0-180 days (or 6 months / half a year) and 0-120 days (or 4 months / a quarter year) respectively to provide data for comparison for this chart. Now that we have the data, let’s analyze it!

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