Saratoga, California is well loved due to its scenic setting, nestled into the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, as well as for great schools, shops, dining and overall fabulous quality of life. This little city on Silicon Valley’s west side has attracted some of the best and brightest folks drawn to our high tech area. Because of the high desirability of Saratoga homes and neighborhoods, Saratoga CA real estate prices are sky high – even by local standards.
How bad is it?
Home pricing depends on all kinds of factors, such as proximity to Saratoga Village, whether or not the home is in walking distance to schools, views, lot size, home size, newness of construction and remodeling and many other elements, perhaps strongest of which is the schools.
For home buyers searching by zip code or city name, it’s very easy to get confused, especially if you’re coming from out of the area and do not realize that one city can utilize several different school districts! Saratoga is served by three different high school districts and four elementary school districts: Los Gatos Saratoga Joint Union High School District or LGSUHSD (with Saratoga elementary and middle schools), Fremont Union High School District or FUHSD (with Cupertino elementary & middle schools), Campbell Union High School District or CUHSD (with Campbell & Moreland elementary and middle school districts). Today we’ll view affordability by high school district. As a fairly recent sampling, we will consider houses sold in Saratoga, California 95070 over the last 150 days, or appx 5 months.
How many houses have sold in each district over the last 5 months? Have a look.
About 60% of the sold houses enjoy “Saratoga Schools”, meaning Saratoga High School, Redwood Middle School and any of the elementary schools part of this district. Approximately 31% have Campbell or Moreland Schools, with either Westmont or Prospect High School. A very tiny sliver, about 9%, is within the Cupertino Schools area (Lynbrook High School).
Comparing Saratoga CA residential real estate on a price per square foot basis
Often consumers want to compare based heavily on a price per square footage basis – something which I have cautioned against many times because it is seldom as accurate or helpful as one might think. But because of the demand for this info, let’s have a look.
If you are familiar with Saratoga, California, you will find the above graph puzzling if viewed by itself. Saratoga High (933) and Lynbrook High (946) are exceptionally high scoring schools on the Academic Performance Index or API. This is not so true with Westmont (795) or Prospect (775). How, then, can they be priced so similarly on a per square footage basis?
Part of it is that the home and lot sizes vary tremendously. Price per SF fades in usefulness if you’re comparing a 1200 SF house on an 8,000 SF lot to a 5,000 house on an acre. Add to this age of home, views, walkability, and overall home value (an estate vs a tear down) and you can see why this type of info has limited usefulness.
Let’s narrow our field of vision to the most affordable properties in each district serving Saratoga 95070. (Why? Because many people wanting to move to Saratoga, either from within Santa Clara County or relocating here from elsewhere, are trying to figure out what’s the minimum they can spend for their kids to attend particular schools). I pulled the bottom 10-20% or so from each group to give a sampling of what to expect to home buyers trying to get into Saratoga or into a particular high school district. So we’re comparing “apples to apples”, let’s begin with that price per square foot approach.
It’s not a typo – each of these is more costly on a per SF basis for the most affordable properties as opposed to all sold. What gives? Smaller homes are virtually always more expensive on a ppsf basis. And the least expensive houses are usually a whole lot smaller than “average” houses.
What about the actual cost of these Saratoga houses by high school district?
Inquiring minds want to know: what does it cost to get into each school district with a house, not a condo or townhome? First, buckle up your safety belts: the average sales price of all homes sold in the last 150 days in Saratoga by HSD.
Admittedly, these are scary numbers. Part of the reason is that many houses in this lovely city are big, and they’re situated on large lots too.
What if we consider the bottom 10-20% or so? How about a modest house and parcel of land? Will we still have sticker shock? (Probably.) Let’s now consider the actual prices of homes sold in the lowest pricing tier of each high school district. If you are trying to “get into” a particular district, this is what you might realistically expect to pay for a house at the very least. (Remember, many homes are now sold “as is” and need some work done, so the sale price is not the same thing as the total cost.)
In a nutshell, if you want Saratoga High School, expect to pay close to $1.4 million for a simple house. If you want Lynbrook High, think $1.6 million as entry level. If your budget is under $1 million, the house you can afford will be either Westmont or Prospect. Many home buyers, especially retirees, do not want to pay for schools that they aren’t using. This is also true for families with kids in private school. And other households prefer Westmont or Prospect, finding them to be “more balanced” and without the pressure cooker environment that the top schools sometimes seem to have.
If a top notch high school is your priority but these figures leave you feeling faint, there are lots of options. Some buyers elect to rent for a few years. Some will purchase a townhouse and sacrifice the yard for the academic excellence. Others will take on a longer commute and go to Los Gatos, Almaden or Cambrian as all of them offer strong schools and a lower price tag. (Almaden has several districts and high schools also!)
For further reading & viewing on Saratoga:
A few years back I took photos of Saratoga Village and put them into a slideshow, now viewable on YouTube. Enjoy!