What has waiting cost you?

Row of houses with arrow indication price appreciation - What has waiting cost you? Indecision can be expensive If you’ve been on the fence about buying a home, have you considered what has waiting cost you? Indecision can be financially and emotionally crippling. 

Both home buyers and home sellers can experience delays in buying and selling, and also experience losses in what they could accomplish in a real estate transaction because of slowdowns in execution. Since our Silicon Valley real estate market has more periods of home prices rising than prices falling, the majority of damage from delays appear to fall on home buyers.

Sellers may be locked in with low rates and may now be upset that they did make their move up or move down purchase when mortgage rates were better. Buyers may feel like their opportunity window has passed them by.

  • If you’ve been thinking of buying a home for 5 years or more, that wait has cost you lower home prices. There is a chance that you may be priced out of the market.
  • For those who bought a home before rates bottomed out during the worst of the COVID pandemic (rock bottom was January 2021), there was a chance of refinancing and getting a loan at under 3%.  Today rates are closer to 7%. Buyers now are watching rates for a chance to refinance and get a better deal and lower house payment. Rates are hugely important when gauging housing affordability.
  • A fair chunk of buyers are hoping that prices will decline.  Demand far outstrips supply, though, so for now that appears to be wishful thinking.
  • There are some times when home prices go up faster than you can save. Right now appears to be one of those periods. If you decide to “wait and save”, the gap will increase between you and the home you want to buy, sadly.

Home buyers, what has waiting cost you?

Since 2012 our housing market has experienced prolonged periods of rising home prices with only a few corrections here and there. For would be owners, those few corrections were opportunity moments. Our last one was the second half of 2022. When home values are soft, few buyers jump in, though, waiting to get more for their money by holding off.

Trying to time the market seldom works, though. Blink and the market shifts back into the other direction! There’s almost never a perfect time and some objection to buying.

As am example, here are the average and median sale prices for Cambrian Park (MLS area 14), a section of San Jose that is often fairly reflective of the county’s appreciation overall.

The first year is 2013 since from 2006 – 2012 we had a bit of a wild ride with the Great Recession, but by January 2013 we were solidly into an appreciating market.

Cambrian home prices over time - what has waiting cost you?

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Preparing Your Silicon Valley Home to Sell and Return on Investment

If you are preparing your Silicon Valley to sell, you may have concerns about both time and money. You probably don’t want to spend a year getting ready, but you do want to make the appropriate changes which will bring a good return on investment. Some home owners don’t understand the connection between the home’s condition and ultimate sale price – their expectations may be a little off.

Sometimes when I meet prospective clients who are thinking of selling their home, I hear immediately, “we only want to sell As Is” and “we don’t want to have to re-carpet, re-paint, etc.”.  In the next breath, they tell me, “and we want top dollar for our house”.  Those two are often mutually exclusive desires – that is, getting one usually means you won’t get the other.  But not always, and I’ll show you how to increase the odds of doing both.

Preparing your Silicon Valley home to sell and return on investmentTo get top dollar, a Silicon Valley home for sale must appear to be the best value for the money and attract the most qualified buyers who step forward with a strong offer.  Buyers will pay more IF they feel that your home is a better value.

There are a number of things which need to be done for that to occur, but one of the most important has to do with the condition and appearance of the property. Confident buyers write stronger offers than buyers who are concerned about the house or condominium and potentially unknown risks. (Buyers are thinking “risk, risk, risk” and “beware of hidden costs”!) Home buying is both a business decision as well as an emotional decision.  To get top dollar, your home has to make sense and appeal to buyers on both levels, and we’ll discuss both in this post.

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How much do permits cost?

I’m frequently asked how much permits will cost.  To say the least, it varies dramatically depending on the type of job, but also it depends on what city, town, or jurisdiction the in which the home is located.  The short answer is this: check with the municipality to see what it charges for the type of permit you’re after.

What is perhaps most surprising is the difference from one city or town to the next for the same sort of permit.  Let’s look at the cost for the permit (and final) for a furnace and air conditioning pair to be installed at a residence.  If you happen to live in Santa Clara (known for affordable utilities), your permit fee is low. If Gilroy or San Jose, it’s high!

Permit fees for adding a furnace and air conditioning:

Santa Clara  $125

Redwood City  $135

Mountain View  $145

Santa Clara County  $170

Morgan Hill  $190

Saratoga  $200

Sunnyvale  $215

Los Altos  $225

Los Gatos $230

Monte Sereno $265

Campbell $275

Palo Alto  $365

Milpitas  $370

San Mateo  $393

Cupertino $400

San Jose $425

Gilroy – where you really need that A/C – tops the list at   $450.

 

Quite a spread, wouldn’t you agree?

 

 

 

What does it cost to buy a home in Saratoga? Are there any affordable homes for sale?

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, CaliforniaSaratoga is a scenic, historic city with great schools, parks, beautiful neighborhoods and a very attractive downtown, “the Village“. This upscale community values its rural nature, and at the same time is home to some of the most expensive estates in Silicon Valley.  A typical house in average condition may cost anywhere between $1,500,000 to about $1,900,000 in today’s market.  Condos will usually be well under a million dollars, though sometimes over.

But does the fact that the normal price is so high, or that there are luxury homes, view homes & estates in Saratoga make it out of reach for everyone?

Not entirely.

Although best known for its tony neighborhoods, there are opportunities to purchase in this highly sought after and well regarded city without spending a million dollars or more.  Nothing in Silicon Valley is inexpensive, of course, and Saratoga is no exception, so the cost of housing here must be viewed in relation to the region as a whole.  It is certainly possible to buy a home in Saratoga for under $1,000,000. Today we’ll look at the strategies for getting in at the smallest price possible.

More and less expensive: school districts and location in Saratoga

Saratoga, like much of Santa Clara County’s cities and towns, has a fewl school districts.  Several things drive home values, but a key driver is the school district.  Areas where the local public schools have high API scores (all level of schools over 900 API) will command a premium – namely the area with the Saratoga or Cupertino schools.  Looking for a more affordable part of this lovely city? Consider the section which is served by Campbell schools or the Campbell Union High School District (the northeastern part of town).

Even within the Saratoga or Cupertino school areas, there are tiers of pricing.  Homes will be very highly valued if they are in close proximity of Saratoga Village (what some would call “walk to town”).  Also well regarded are neighborhoods which are very close to schools, shops, parks, or anything attractive.  The areas west of Highway 9 or Saratoga – Sunnyvale often sell for a bit more than those further from the hills too.

Something else to consider, especially in a market as tough as the current one, is choosing a home with a “location issue” such as being next to (or backing to) a busy road, too close to a shopping center or freeway, etc.  There are often very good discounts to be enjoyed when buying a house adjacent to something not ideal.  If you are not someone who spends a lot of time outside, this may be a great compromise for the budget minded home buyer, since often with double pane windows, it’s nearly impossible to tell indoors when the windows are closed.

Property type, size and condition in Saratoga

Condominiums and townhouses are often a great alternative for Silicon Valley home buyers who’d like to own, rather than rent, and enjoy the benefits of living in a wonderful community like Saratoga without either the maintenance or the cost of purchasing a house with a yard to look after.

Sometimes there are very tiny houses, or cottages, too.  In 1996 I sold a 1-bedroom house that was all of about 800 square feet on 4th Street in Saratoga. Not surprisingly, it was later torn down and a brand new house was built in its place. (more…)

Wine Tasting in Saratoga

Uncorked wine tasting in Saratoga CASaratoga has become a great place to go wine tasting.  Until just a few years ago, there were vineyards and wineries in and near to Saratoga, but no tasting rooms for many years, so oenophiles were out of luck if they wanted to wine taste in Saratoga.  Luckily, a trend is underway and tasting venues have been on the rise.  Today I’ll review for  you five of the places I’ve visited and enjoyed.  Three of them are right in Saratoga Village and a few more are not too far away. All have seating of some kind, either outside or in, and all of them have friendly, knowledgeable staff in my experience.

In Saratoga’s downtown Village you’ll find Cinnabar, Big Basin Vineyards and also Uncorked!, a wine bar (showcasing many wines from many vintners).  A little further out you can taste at Savannah-Chanelle and Cooper-Garrod. I’ll discuss each of them in this post.

Cinnabar opened a tasting room in Saratoga Village about 3 years ago and we finally paid it a visit yesterday (Labor Day).  Cinnabar’s chardonnay has long been one of my very favorites, so I was looking forward to sampling that and several other offerings.

The tasting room was positively hopping when Jim and I stopped in. Malcolm poured for us and educated us on the wines.  Luckily he wasn’t working alone so had plenty of time to tell us about what we were trying, about the wine club, events and more.  Cinnabar has two “flight” options, one at $5 (four wines) and one at $10 (5 wines) per person – please see their website for info on those.  Also, Cinnabar has a nicely done Saratoga visitors guide on their website – check it out!

The setting is very inviting, with a  unique gift shop and tables outside too – you can purchase “wine by the glass” and sip it outdoors, watching the activity on Big Basin Way.   This month (Sept 2010) Cinnabar also has Friday Evening Music on the Patio from 5:30 – 7:00pm.  Make it a first stop on your way to dinner in town!

Cinnabar Winery Tasting Room
14612 Big Basin Way
Tel. 408 867-1012
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