The Santa Teresa area of San Jose is enjoying a hopping real estate market with the number of pending sales suddenly going through the roof! (Stat below care of Altos Research, to which I have a subscription. List prices are used.)


Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research


Homes in this part of south San Jose are often selling over list price as inventory drops. The days on market appears slow, but a lot of homes that have been “just sitting” on the market are now selling.


Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research


The great rush in Santa Teresa is, of course, in response to the list prices, which have been falling steadily in most areas – and making for incredible bargains.


Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research


Here are the August sales stats for our MLS “area 2”, Santa Teresa (per the REReport, also a subscription, which uses closed sales):


Trends At a GlanceAug 2009Previous MonthYear-over Year
Median Price$540,000$500,000 (+8.0%)$550,000 (-1.8%)
Average Price$509,007$506,200 (+0.6%)$565,476 (-10.0%)
No. of Sales1517 (-11.8%)25 (-40.0%)
Pending Properties7547 (+59.6%)35 (+114.3%)
Active1734 (-50.0%)138 (-87.7%)
Sale vs. List Price100.5%101.4% (-0.9%)99.0% (+1.5%)
Days on Market7360 (+21.6%)58 (+26.3%)


With more pending sales than active ones, you can see that most houses are now selling and the pace is quickening.  A major player in the market conditions of this part of San Jose is the situation with distressed properties: foreclosures, short sales or homes sold under pressure as they’ve got a notice of default on the property.

How big an impact does the REO or short sale label have on a home’s eventual sales price? How much more or less will a home sell for based on the situation as a “regular sale” or “bank owned” or “short sale”?

Buyers are voting with their wallets. Uncertainty causes buyers to be unwilling to pay top dollar. In some cases, the bottom of the heap is short sales – because the condition is less known (there are no pre-sale inspections) and even more, because the time in which the bank eventually responds, if ever, is likewise unknown. In other cases, REOs sell for the lowest amount because the condition of the home may be especially poor. Some REOs are “stripped”, with whole kitchens missing, trim missing etc. I recently visited a Willow Glen REO that even had a missing shower head in addition to the water heater, kitchen appliances, and windowsill.

Regular sales DO sell for more. How much more? Here are the numbers, which may surprise you. I looked at both 95119 (which is most of “Santa Teresa”) but also our MLS “area 2”, looked at pendings (which reflect list prices), solds in the last month and solds in the last 3 months.


    95119     Area 2  
 StatusTimeframe# HomesSale Type $ per SF  StatusTimeframe# HomesSale Type $ per SF  
 Pending (2-4)Currently24All $ 311.91  Pending (2-4)Currently104All $ 291.17  
   13SS $ 300.69    69SS $ 281.21  
   1REO $ 271.12    14REO $ 298.49  
   10Regular $ 330.59    20Regular $ 322.09  
 Closed (5)Last month6All $ 307.43  Closed (5)Last month20All $ 288.20  
   0SS n/a    4SS $ 287.33  
   2REO $ 302.11    7REO $ 276.85  
   4Regular $ 310.09    9Regular $ 297.41  
 Closed (5)Last 3 mos15All $ 277.51  Closed (5)Last 3 mos50All $ 281.33  
   1SS $ 301.20    8SS $ 285.97  
   7REO $ 246.12    21REO $ 264.00  
   7Regular $ 305.51    21Regular $ 296.88  


Most regular sales are not only unpressured, but there are pre-sale inspections and often work done to put the home into good shape for the sale. So buyers know that they are getting a solid house with a regular sale.  They know that they will get disclosures completed by the sellers.

The numbers above display a wide range of prices per square foot, but in all cases, the distressed properties are selling for less than regular homes.  In some cases the difference in the average price per SF of the solds is double digits.  Among the pending sales, the list price is 10 – 18% less than amoung short sales or bank owned homes.

The widest gap for the average sales price is about 20%, but if we looked at individual sales we’d find some lower and some higher than that. The worst ones will be abused houses, and the best ones will appear almost like a normal sale, but perhaps a bit dirty.  One of the problems with the “auto comp” sites is that they don’t factor in these conditions, which have such a giant impact on a property’s value.

What is a home really worth? Usually it’s what an informed buyer will pay for it.  In Santa Teresa, as in other parts of San Jose, informed buyers are scooping up bank owned homes and short sales, but only if they’re getting a sizeable discount.  Aggressively priced, well staged and marketing “regular sales” are getting top dollar here and throughout Silicon Valley.