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). (more…)
The other day I was hunting for local maps of Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) dating back 100 years or so, and although I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, I did find a treasure trove that I hadn’t expected to find at all.
Here please find a tiny snippet of a USGS Map from the late 1890s (actually part of the Palo Alto Map). According to my husband, who has a hobby of viewing and collecting maps, each “dot” on this image represents a house. If that is the case, you can see how sparcely populated Saratoga and Cupertino were at this time.
And what is that Azule Springs? Was it another hot springs type resort, like Saratoga Springs? A map like this raises a lot of questions!
If you love – or at least enjoy – history, I invite you to visit the USGS website and look at the historic maps there. One section includes Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Cupertino and the coastal areas such as Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. Another section of the map includes Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Campbell, Almaden, Cambrian Park, Santa Clara and many parts of San Jose.
It’s fun to see where things “used to be” and how they “used to be called”. Take a few minutes and enjoy!
Today let’s look at the Santa Clara County real estate market, the days on market (DOM) and the sale price to list price ratio for houses and duet homes (single family homes). This will primarily be graphs that I created using MLSListings.com (our local MLS, to which I am a paying member). We’ll consider the county as a whole and various cities or towns within it, plus areas of San Jose, as it has about a million residents.
First: Santa Clara County homes over the last year. Please note the decreasing days on market, the increasing sale price to list price ratio in recent months. This is exactly what an appreciating market looks like!
Santa Clara County average days on market and sale price to list price ratio
Next, let’s have a peek at how some of the hottest markets in Silicon Valley look, starting with Sunnyvale. It is odd to see any kind of a blip on the sale price to list price ratio. Are buyers giving some push-back? We keep hearing stories of homes selling 30% or more over list price with gobs of offers. So the SP – LP ratio change is a surprise.
Sunnyvale average days on market and sale price to list price ratio Sunnyvale
Palo Alto is always the hottest ticket in town. (more…)
A common buyer question right now is whether or not the real estate market in Silicon Valley is overheated, if we are experiencing “another bubble”. If you visit open houses in places like Sunnyvale, Cupertino, and in many parts of the Peninsula, you may see droves of buyers and be convinced that the market is, in fact, overheated.
Silicon Valley encompasses a large area, primarily Santa Clara County and some of San Mateo County, but a few sections of neighboring counties as well. Generalizing about huge regions is tricky. Overall, though, it is a deep seller’s market throughout Silicon Valley. But there is a great deal of variation from one city or town to the next, as well as between ages of homes, quality of schools and neighborhoods, and price point. Today we will focus primarily on a couple of statistics: the ratio of sales price to list price for houses in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, and ratio of new listings to sold and closed ones of houses in these counties.
First, though, a look at the two counties combined to show the broadest common real estate trends for Silicon Valley in relation to the sales price to list price ratio and “days to sell”.
Santa Clara County and San Mateo County sale price to list price ratio and average days to sell
The chart above gives a snapshot of the Silicon Valley market, which appears to have had a peak in about October – November 2012. likely reflecting sales 45-60 days earlier, when the days to sell hit a yearlong low. Since that time, though, things appear to have calmed down.
New listings of houses for sale versus sold homes in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties
A few days ago, before getting the stats for closed sales in January 2013, I wrote about the trends for new listings of houses in relation to the closed sales in Santa Clara County in late fall 2012. What we were seeing was that homes in escrow were closing or finalizing the sales faster than new inventory was coming on the market. The closings in January, though,reflecting sales which began in December, a trend reversal, back to a more normal ratio, in both Santa Clara County and San Mateo County. December is often the softest month of the year, with few listings relative to the rest of the year and sales at lower price points. Looks like this December followed that pattern to a point. Have a look at the charts for both counties and notice the trend reversal, below.
Santa Clara County New Listings vs Sold Houses last 12 months
Mini update for Santa Clara County as a whole as of September 17, 2012 for houses in SCC:
Actives = 1295
Regular sales for sale = 1157 (89%
Short sales for sale = 95 (7%)
Bank owned houses for sale = 43 (3%)
Sold in the last 30 days = 859
Regular sales closed in last 30 days = 675 (79%)
Short sales closed in last 30 days = 151 (18%)
Bank owned houses sold in last 30 days = 33 (4%)
It seems that although short sales are in increasingly smaller part of the inventory of available homes, they are highly desirable and are showing up in the solds at twice their ratio of actives. Put another way, the absorption rate looks to be higher. Let’s check the math on the moths of inventory:
All houses in SCC: 1295/859 = 1.51 months of inventory
Regular sales in the county: 1157/675 = 1.71
Short sales in SCC: 95/151 = .63 moi (63% of one month!)
Bank owned homes: 43/33 = 1.3
All of these numbers are low, low, low – but the short sales are the lowest of all!
POST FROM APRIL 22, 2011:
Yesterday we looked at the types of home sales around Silicon Valley by price point. Not terribly surprising, most of the short sales and bank owned homes were in the lowest price ranges. Today we’ll look at this type of information not by pricing tier but instead by geography – in other words, by either town, city or district of San Jose (area). This post will not cover every area but will be a sampling a few communities, mostly on the west side of the valley (since that’s primarily where I work).
By way of reminder, the small image to the left reflects Santa Clara County’s houses for sale as a whole – all areas and all price points. (You can see the full sized image by clicking on it.) The green area represents “regular home sales” and the brick red and light orange signify distressed properties listed on the MLS for sale (red is short sales and orange is bank owned or REOs). Next let’s see a few regions within the county to see how things are faring geographically.
1. Almaden Valley area of San Jose – homes listed for sale by type – very few distressed properties on the market!
Almaden is a lovely southwest San Jose suburban community (zip code 95120) that grew up initially with the cinnabar or mercury mining activity. Today it’s an upscale area of more expensive homes than most of the county, it enjoys really good schools and scenic views of the coastal range as well as the Santa Teresa Foothills. Housing here is costly but residents love the quality of life. Since the cost of homes for sale here is high, it’s not super surprising, after seeing yesterday’s post, that there are very few distressed homes on the market here. Next we’ll check the other extreme…. (more…)
AreaVibes.com ranks cities all over the United States and recently came out with the top 100 for California. Many of our Silicon Valley cities and towns made the grade!
- Los Altos Hills # 3
- Monte Sereno # 6
- Los Altos # 8
- Saratoga # 9
- Palo Alto # 10
- Foster City # 11
- Cupertino # 26
- Mountain View # 27
- Belmont # 29
- San Carlos # 35
- Menlo Park # 38
- Woodside # 46
- Portola Valley # 50
- Atherton # 64
- Los Gatos # 67
- Sunnyvale # 82
- Scotts Valley # 89
- Daly City # 96
They called the Loyola area of Los Altos a city and it was on this list too (# 39 ) but it is only a district, not a city or town. Surprising, then, that they didn’t include Almaden Valley (part of San Jose) or other nice districts as well.
To see the entire list, please visit their website:
Halloween is almost here and it is time to get creative! Sereno’s in on the spirit too. Each year, Sereno Group Real Estate offices in the San Jose and Silicon Valley area have a Halloween pumpkin decorating contest for kids. Winner’s pumpkins (and names of winners if parental permission is received) will be advertised in our local papers after the contest is finished.
Decorate your own small pumpkin, or pick up a complimentary pumpkin at one of our offices in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Soquel/Santa Cruz, Los Altos, or Palo Alto.
3 age groups: toddler, early elementary, late elementary
All contestants will receive a gift goodie bag
One grand prize per age group, per office, will be awarded
Any carved or punctured pumpkins will be disqualified due to rotting
All entries must be dropped off at your nearest Sereno Group Office by Friday, October 21st at 5pm. Judging will happen the week of October 24th during our regular real estate marketing meeting.
Where and when can you drop off a pumpkin? Please find the office locations and hours below. We are looking forward to seeing some wonderful kids’ creations!
Multiple offers have returned to many segments of the Silicon Valley real estate market. We are hearing about them in Palo Alto, Cupertino, Mountain View – areas where newly minted IPO money is having an impact – but also in more modest, middle class areas such as San Jose’s Cambrian neighborhood. The trend appears to be spreading.
What Silicon Valley home sellers need to know and do to attract multiple offers
If you’re a Silicon Valley home seller, what do you need to know to try to get multiples on your home? What should you beware of? In short, here’s what needs to happen if you want to attract multiple offers on your home for sale:
- The home must be turnkey, either fully remodeled or close to it – it must look like there’s nothing or very little for a buyer to do. In addition to being turnkey, it must be squeaky clean and well staged! It needs to be comfortable – not too hot, not too cold. You want buyers and their agent to linger longer.
- The price must be at or even under market value. That is, you must be willing to price it aggressively. Think it’s worth $1,050,000? You might list it at $999,999 to get in under a major price threshold and to be the very best, most attractive property for the money. Yes, it might be under priced. Over priced listings get either one offer at best or, more likely, none at all.
- The property must be highly accessible. If it is hard to see, you probably won’t get multiple offers (and may get none at all). (Please see articles on accessibility and on open houses.)
- Finally, the property must be well marketed. This includes a wide range of factors ranging from photographs, text, fliers, signs, and even the commission rate offered to the buyer’s side.
What Silicon Valley home buyers need to know and do to compete with multiple offers
If you’re a Silicon Valley home buyer, how do you win out in multiples without giving away all of your rights or overpaying for your house/home? (more…)
Right now there are about 4664 active residential real estate listings (homes listed for sale on our local MLS) which are houses, duet homes, townhouses or condominiums in Santa Clara County. Of those, there are 1255 short sales (27% of the inventory) and 463 bank owned properties, or REOs (9%), on the market. So the “distressed properties” segment equals 37% of the Silicon Valley real estate market (or Santa Clara County real estate market).
Some areas are flooded with short sales & bank owned homes. Others are going through this meltdown nearly unscathed. Below please find a sampling of areas in and around San Jose with the percentage of distressed homes for sale (including both short sales and REOs or bank owned properties). In most areas, there are usually about 3 times as many short sales as bank owned homes, but sometimes it’s a lower percentage, closer to 2.5%. I pulled the numbers from our MLS tonight – info is deemed correct but of course not guaranteed.
Percent of Distressed Home Listings in Parts of Santa Clara County
Figures represent houses, duet homes, townhouses & condos for sale
|South County (Morgan Hill, Gilroy, “area 1”
|Santa Teresa (area of San Jose, “area 3”)
|Central San Jose (downtown & nearby, “area 9”)
|Los Gatos (town of, zips 95030 & 95032)
The condominium & townhouse market is improving dramatically now. It is evident both in looking at the stats countywide and in my recent experiences holding open my townhouse listings in Saratoga and Sunnyvale as well as recently participating in the sale of a townhome in Almaden Valley (representing a buyer) – all different areas and price points but all very active.
Here are the numbers for May sales of condos and townhomes for all of Santa Clara County:
|Trends At a Glance
|No. of Sales
|Sale vs. List Price
|Days on Market
As you can see, the days on market are shrinking and prices (both median and average) are rising. A few numbers cut back slightly in May: the sale to list price ratio retreated a little to 99.9% and the pending properties went down a little too. But the number of sales were up.
The “months of inventory” or absorption rate is a great way to know how much of a buyer’s or seller’s market it is in any given place. Six months is considered balanced, less is a seller’s market and more is a buyer’s market. Here are the months of inventory for selected communities in the “west valley” area of Silicon Valley – they are all “seller’s markets”, but some are strong and some are approaching balanced:
|SC County (all)
|Willow Glen (SJ)
Of course, this is still painting with a broad brush. The absorption rate for any of these areas may not be accurate for the various price points or school districts that might be found there. For instance, a large luxury townhouse in Los Gatos which is downtown might be a really different type of market than a small, entry level one bordering Campbell or Cambrian Park.
What everyone’s wondering is if this seller’s market for condominiums and townhouses will continue despite the end of the federal home buyer credit. To utilize that credit, homes had to be in contract by April 30th. Most of those should be closed now, or nearing that date at best. So we’ll really know more as we move into summer. My sense, though, is that what’s driving this market is much more the affordable prices of homes and of loans. The credits are a bonus, but many in Silicon Valley make too much money to be able to use them.
For information on your particular part of the Silicon Valley condo or townhome market, please give me a call or email me!