The Milpitas real estate market has been one of the hottest in Santa Clara County, and even now Altos Research calls it a strong seller’s market. The sale to list price ratio rose again, sales are twice what they were this time last year, and days on market are shrinking.
Despite unusual circumstance this year, Milpitas is a favorable market for the well-prepared seller, though not as hot as we might have anticipated it would be prior to the pandemic. This is in keeping with trends we are seeing throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley: well priced homes are selling close to list price, but below peak pricing from spring 2018.
A lot has changed since the start of March. Over time we’re beginning to get a clearer view of how these changes are affecting the market, but it will be a while before we know the full impact of the pandemic on real estate sales. For now, check out 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. So disregard those previous months data, but current numbers are accurate.
So let’s look at some data. First up, the Altos charts using list price and active listings. It is updated automatically on a weekly basis, so check back often:
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.
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).
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.
It’s possible to live in Silicon Valley and have no idea that there are still some original adobe houses to be found right here in the San Jose area. Today, though, I hope to help some of our residents discover the past which is lurking right in front of us!
The historic Adobe Woman’s Club is just a block or two off the campus of Santa Clara University, tucked away on a side street now that The Alameda is re-routed as The El Camino. Address: 3260 The Alameda, Santa Clara. According to the state’s historical preservation site, this state landmark # 249 is one of the oldest in the Santa Clara Valley, was built between 1792 and 1800 and was one of many row houses built for the native Americans who worked at Mission Santa Clara. Please note that this is private property and you may not enter without permission, but the adobe abode is very visible from the sidewalk.
Today the beautifully preserved adobe house functions as a nonprofit group with these objectives: “to promote educational, moral, social welfare, cultural, civic and community service. Anyone who supports these objectives is welcome.” This scenic place can also be rented out for private events. The garden is quite lovely and the interior appears to be very modern. You can see photos of the inside of the house at the club’s website: The Santa Clara Woman’s Club.
If you arrived into Silicon Valley via Highway 101, driving south from San Francisco, you might believe that the Santa Clara Valley, the San Jose area and Silicon Valley as a whole has got to seem to be the ugliest place on earth. Although heavily traveled, that is not the “scenic route”.
So, too, if you are looking for a place to live and are groping to find a place that is reasonably priced, fairly safe and not a terrible commute distance. You might not even have “is nice looking” on your wish list. You might not think it’s possible if all you ever see are the ugly concrete tilt-up buildings in north San Jose, Santa Clara, Alviso, or anywhere along the 237 corridor. That area is an architectural wasteland.
Let me assure you: there are a lot of beautiful places in Silicon Valley where you can rent or buy a home. But how do you find them? It helps a lot to have a local give you a few pointers. I’ll give you some tips today on finding a scenic place to live.
Hills – An easy way to find a scenic location to make your home is to settle near the hills, especially those in the west valley (the Santa Cruz Mountains or the Coastal Range) as they are green year-round. Communities at the base of the west valley foothills include, in Santa Clara County, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Los Gatos, and the Almaden Valley area of San Jose. All of these areas are adjacent to the hills or mountains and offer far better than average schools (many of them qualify as great – compare costs between these areas). Continue reading
Spanish style houses evoke a kind of nostalgia for “old California”, and when we think of local history, homes with a Spanish type of architecture seem most appropriate, especially if the landscaping reinforces it – things like bougainvillea, hibiscus, ferns, palms, roses and citrus trees.
California features different types of Spanish style homes
There are a number of Spanish styles found locally and throughout California: Spanish Colonial Revival, Spanish Mission, Spanish Eclectic, Mediterranean, and Monterey, which is the only archietectural style hailing from California (and admittedly is a hybrid).
Where to find classic, older Spanish style homes in Silicon Valley
Some neighborhoods, like downtown San Jose’s Japantown and many of the older areas in Willow Glen, are filled with beautiful Spanish Revival bungalows which were mainly built in the 1920s and 1930s. The largest collection is probably there, close to Lincoln Avenue and near Bird & Minnesota Avenues, and especially in the “Palm Haven” neighborhood of Willow Glen.
More can be found in the older parts of San Jose’s Alum Rock Park (up by the country club), in Santa Clara’s oldest neighborhood (by the university), in downtown Los Gatos and downtown Palo Alto, more in south county, especially Gilroy, and scattered throughout the Santa Clara Valley.
What about newer Spanish style homes in Silicon Valley?
There are some newer houses and homes with a Spanish flair, but for the most part it’s limited to the exterior (or “elevation”). The interiors of most Spanish style homes built since 1950 are not at all Spanish style. There were a number of Spanish style tract homes built in the 70s and 80s, but they are essentially ranch style homes with a Mediterranean elevation only.
Too often, the very newest homes don’t seem to know what style they’re trying to reflect at all, but tile and stucco and a few arches are thrown in to attempt something generically Mediterranean. In the last 20 years, many builders have created neighborhoods with varying home styles – the same floor plans but varying styles on the exterior such that one is pseudo Spanish, another is pseudo Craftsman, another is pseudo English cottage or Tudor. Home buyers may get to choose which “style” they want if they get in before it’s built.
Resources for Spanish style homes in the San Jose area
Fabulous books can be found to help restore and remodel these homes. Older houses need remodeling for practical reasons, and the younger ones can benefit from it to make them more authentically Spanish styled.
Meanwhile, if you love Spanish style homes of all ages, you’ll find plenty of classic older ones around here (all pre-1950). Unfortunately this search tool does not allow me to constrain results to the style of home, so there will be some Victorians and Arts and Crafts homes in the mix below.
For more reading:
Spanish Revival Style Home in Japantown Features Classic Tile Bathroom