The Portos-Harleigh neighborhood is a highly sought after community in Saratoga. Suburban yet centrally located, walkable, and easy access for commuters. Keep reading to learn more about this neighborhood, its homes, the local amenities, possible concerns, and home costs.
Neighborhood Profile: Boundaries and Property Descriptions
This community encompasses a number of streets north of West Valley College, and is named by its most prominent streets: Portos Drive and Harleigh Drive. It’s major borders are Saratoga Ave to the north west, Fruitvale Ave to the west, and Allendale Ave to the south between Fruitdale and Via Alto Ct.
This community lies within the greater Gardiner Park neighborhood (according to NextDoor), which also includes the Saratoga Gardens subdivision, Aspesi / Casa Blanca, and Riverdale communities to the north, and Peremont tract to the east.
It includes multiple tracts and was primarily built up in the 1960s and 1970s, but there are younger homes as well. Kerwin Ranch Ct and the end of Ronnie Wy are two smaller tracts built up between 1987 – 1995. Throughout the neighborhood there have been individual rebuilds over the years.
Most homes are on large, standard lots, but there are a smattering of flag lots as well.
The Average Portos-Harleigh Home
If I pull the data on homes in this mapped area. Here’s what the “average home” would look like:
Is it a good time to sell a home in Silicon Valley? One of the best ways to get a pulse on the real estate market with an eye to selling or buying is with the months of inventory (MOI), also known as the absorption rate. This is the months of supply of housing for sale.
The months of inventory tells us how fast the current inventory of properties will be sold off if sales were to continue at the same rate with no new inventory were to come on the market.
The easiest analogy is with a bathtub full of water. If we added no more water to the tub, and the drain were opened, how much time would it take for the water to be depleted if it continued to empty at the same rate? That’s the question being answered with the absorption rate of inventory.
Or, simpler still, if you have an hourglass that you turn over, how long does it take for the sand to empty from the top (since you cannot add more sand to that end)?
How to calculate the months of inventory or MOI
The way to calculate the months of inventory is simple: find the current available inventory of homes for sale (not under contract or sale pending), then find the number of homes with that exact criteria which have closed escrow in the last 30 days. Divide the first by the second and you get the months of inventory. Or, I can just use the stats program on the MLS to generate that number, as I did today.
Earlier I pulled this data from MLSListings.com, our local MLS association (of which I am a member) and I ran the numbers for single family homes (houses and duet homes) in Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose (all areas combined), Santa Clara, Saratoga, Sunnyvale. Separately, I also ran this same query for the City of San Jose by district.
The months of inventory by city or town in Santa Clara County
A balanced market for our area is 2-3 months of inventory (for most of the US it’s 4-6 months). Two months or less is a seller’s market, and one month or less is a very hot seller’s market.
Here’s a look at the months of inventory by city or town in SCC in April 2023 for single family homes. As you can see, the vast majority of the county is a strong seller’s market, with the only exception being Los Altos Hills.
Which are the hottest markets? They’re the ones with the smallest months of inventory -Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Cupertino, Milpitas and many more are well under the 2 month market. A few are a tad higher and in the “balanced market” area, and only one is in a deep buyer’s market.
The months of inventory by area within the City of San Jose
Mount Umunhum sits high on the Santa Cruz Mountain range, and from there you can enjoy spectacular views. Looking inland, there are vistas of San Jose & most of Santa Clara County, on a clear day even as far north as San Francisco from Mt. Umunhum. Turning toward the Pacific Ocean, from Mount Umunhum’s heights you can see Santa Cruz and Monterey on a fogless day.
This gorgeous peak is part of the mid-Peninsula’s open space holdings, specifically the Sierra Azul Open Space.
Visiting Mount Umunhum
The park is open from a 7 a.m. to about a half hour after sunset (but the gate closes at sunset) per the Sierra Azul Open Space website. The parking lot is not big (just 60 spaces) and it can fill up early on weekends.
It may be warm on the valley floor, but the weather can be quite different, windy and cold, at the summit. Bring layers!
Also, the road up there weaves and winds. If anyone in your party gets motion sickness, you may want that person in the front seat or driving if possible.
The main entrance to the park is at the end of Mt. Umunhum Road, approximately 5.3 miles from the intersection with Hicks Road. There are other places to access the park. You can find all of them on the park’s website under Know Before You Go.
My family and I visited Mount Umunhum on a cold and windy November day in 2017. The views were breath-taking.
For those not able to visit in person, the video below provides information on the work that’s gone into making it available to all of us.
“Why isn’t my Silicon Valley townhouse selling?” wonders the home owner. Even in a seller’s market some properties struggle. Real estate agents know why the home (or townhome, or condo) isn’t getting any offers, or worse yet, any traffic at all. In fact, local Realtors who’ve seen it might wonder if the owner of the property has seen the MLS printout at all!
Why isn’t it selling?
Whether your home has been on the market for a while or you’re just about to list it, here are some of the most common culprits to look out for:
- Terrible photos (or not enough of them): in our San Jose area MLS we are allowed 9 photos. How many are in your listing?
- More on photos: Would it be so hard to turn the lights on in the home when photographing the property? Real estate looks much better when well lit than when dark. Even beautifully remodeled kitchens can look so-so if the lights are not all on! A bright room will make you money…a dark room will cost you!
- Is there a video or virtual tour? **
- Is the listing syndicated so that buyers can find it on multiple websites?
- How is the pricing? Did you price a 2 bedroom townhouse as if it’s a 3 bedroom? That’s a very common but huge mistake! Compare apples to apples – the buyers are doing that, and when you bought your home, you did too! Did you price the home using comps from 6 months ago, or comps from 3 miles away, or a different school district? Huge mistake!
- What’s your competition? Luxury homes will almost always take longer than a mid-priced home nearby – they’re in entirely different markets with entirely different demands. You’ve got to know what market you’re in and what buyers will be comparing your home against! If you’re a short sale, you need to be competitive against other short sales. Don’t be satisfied that your home is less expensive than a “regular sale”. They are two entirely different things!
- MLS description and comments: Don’t waste this valuable space! What kind of comments are in the precious few words allowed to describe your home in the multiple listing service? I have seen inane things use up that space. It is imperative that the descriptions be strong. For example, not “nice kitchen” (that could mean almost anything), but instead “slab granite countertops” – specifics that buyers want to hear about!
- Commission rate: if your townhome is a “regular sale” and everything in your area is selling with a buyer’s agent commission rate offered at 2.5% or 3% but you’re offering 2%, guess what happens? Little or no traffic, that’s what! Remember that agents are selling homes as their livelihood, and while many will overlook a low commission, many others will not. (When I list homes I run the CR of similar homes so that my sellers can make an informed decision on this point.)
**This is more important than ever right now with restrictions on showings and open homes during the pandemic. Read more about how covid-19 is impacting the real estate market in Silicon Valley and how to sell a home during the quarantine in my articles on this blog.
There are many reasons why a Silicon Valley townhouse might not sell, but marketing correctly will give you the best odds for success and, in a sellers market as we are in, may bring you a higher sales price. If yours isn’t selling, have a look at the price, the photos, and the description and see if anything is amiss, and check what’s happening with comparable properties in the market. These are the most important areas to consider. Other issues may be at play, but if these are correct your home should sell despite other challenges.
It 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.
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.
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!
Locals to the San Jose area (Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County) know, and newcomers often do not, that we have micro-climates here. Our weather is mild everywhere, of course – we enjoy a “sub tropical climate” where citrus grows and palm trees thrive – but it varies a lot nonetheless.
What kind of variation exists in Santa Clara County’s weather?
Consider that our terrain is shaped somewhat like a funnel with the San Francisco Bay on the wide end, and the two mountain ranges making up the sides of the funnel, narrowing at its base (near Morgan Hill).
View Larger Map
Together with our funnel shaped valley, the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay are the major influences on our climate. The Santa Cruz Mountains are warmer and wetter than the eastern foothills. The Pacific Ocean brings in the rain, fog and winds pulling storms in from the ocean to the valley. Much of the weather stops at or near the coastal mountains, though, and the influence lessens as you go east such that the east foothills are very, very different from the Santa Cruz Mountains. The areas close to the bay get more breezes than those sheltered by smaller valleys or nooks.
So what are Silicon Valley’s Micro-Climates?
Here are a few basic notes for newcomers:
Sometimes sellers want to sell their home without the representation of a licensed real estate agent (FSBO, For Sale By Owner). But to try to encourage agents to show their home to a buyer, those same sellers might offer a buyer’s agent a commission (often somewhere between 2.5 and 3%, but it varies). The sellers are surprised when they don’t get a ton of real estate professionals clamoring to see and show their properties.
What’s going on? Why are licensed real estate sales people sometimes (or often) reluctant to show the home of an “unrepresented seller” (or “for sale by owner” seller)?
There are a couple of reasons why Realtors and other licensees may not be wildly enthusiastic about getting into a transaction with an unrepresented seller.
- There is more liability for the licensed real estate professional
- There is the risk of “implied agency“
Sometimes, as you know, transactions don’t go as planned and buyers or sellers are both unhappy at the end and the whole mess may end up in court. (Knock on wood, this has not happened to me!) If it does, the judge may well look at everyone involved and find that there was one professional real estate person in the bunch. The liability may shift greatly onto that person – even if he or she was not representing both sides (was not a dual agent) and was not compensated for the responsibility of both sides. (more…)
Selling a home is always stressful, no matter the reason. But some circumstances are tougher than others, and perhaps the worst is selling a house or home after the death of a loved one or in the face of declining health, particularly with serious or terminal illness, specifically if the sick individual is living at the home which must be sold. Today we’ll discuss that situation.
How can you sell a property if the owner usually cannot leave for buyer showings and cannot really keep the home in top condition?
It is of course not ideal to have the property being listed, marketed and sold not show well and if the seller cannot step out when home buyers visit. But there are strategies which may help. The goal is to sell the home quickly, which normally will also cause the price to be as high as possible (given everything).
First, before the home is ever actively marketed: (more…)
The beautiful Beckwith Building in downtown Los Gatos, California
I have been fortunate to have made 5 trips to Europe, one of them lasting 9 months, and will be returning again before the end of 2013 (this time to Belgium). It is so diverse, beautiful and compelling! Having experienced a little culture shock myself (when living in Florence, Italy, for one year of university), I’m very sympathetic about how hard an international move can be, and I understand that for Europeans moving to Silicon Valley, there can be an acute culture shock, particularly for those coming from more rural areas.
The bulk of Silicon Valley is located in Santa Clara County, which is at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay. In this county, there are approximately 1.8 million people, almost a million of them in the city of San Jose. Some areas, or districts, of San Jose have a distinctive character and are almost like towns or small cities themselves. So in this article I’ll mention both cities and towns, but also areas or districts of San Jose, which might appeal to our European transplants. Most of my comments will reference Santa Clara County or “south bay” locations, but I will also mention others on the San Francisco Peninsula and SF Bay Area too.
Architecture, Urban Centers and Charm
It is an unfortunate negative in Silicon Valley that much of our housing consists of ranch style tract homes, and truthfully, they are not exactly a work of art. New or newer homes tend to be on very tiny parcels of land (or “lots”) and for many people may simply feel too congested or crowded. But there are beautiful residential neighborhoods – you just need to know where to look! In many ways, the areas with higher charm can make our global home buyers feel more comfortable than if they were faced with only track, ranch neighborhoods.
Do you value unique, older architecture with Victorian, Craftsman, Tudor or other home styles? Then check out these areas:
- Within San Jose: the Japantown, Vendome, and Naglee Park areas of downtown San Jose. Also in central San Jose are the Rosegarden, Shasta Hanchett and Burbank neighborhoods which all boast some lovely older homes. Or, if you love classic Spanish Revival style homes with views, consider the old Alum Rock area of San Jose near the country club (golf course). The Willow Glen area of SJ (zip code 95120) is full of lovely old established neighborhoods with historic homes and tree lined streets. If your job takes you to downtown San Jose, all of these areas will be fairly close.
Please read the rest of this article on the Move2SiliconValley.com website:
The average sales price of houses sold in Santa Clara County has been sitting at just over one million dollars for the last four months. This isn’t shocking to Realtors active in the San Jose area, as we’ve seen appreciation going through the roof over the last 18 months or so. In many areas, home values are up about 20% over a year ago. But this fact did make front page news in today’s San Jose Mercury: Average Silicon Valley home tops $1 million.
What sort of home is that million dollar place in Silicon Valley? To provide a quick snapshot, I ran the closed sales of single family homes (mostly houses but also some duet homes) for the last week in this county. This is all of the county, both more and less expensive areas, with better and worse school districts, from Palo Alto to Gilroy. On average, these properties were 43 years old with living areas of approximately 2000 square feet on lots of about 11,000 SF and had been on the market for 22 days. The average list price was $1,055,765 and average sales price $1,089,940.
These numbers are horrifying for people considering our market from out of the area. But here – it’s just how it is.