Cambrian & Cambrian Park Neighborhoods: How to Choose Where to Live?

Cambrian Park neighborhoods are very popular within San Jose. With close proximity to Los Gatos, Campbell, Willow Glen and Blossom Valley, there’s lots to do within Cambrian itself or very nearby.  Cambrian also enjoys good schools, low crime, two newer libraries, two Farmer’s Markets, and a fabulous rec center, the Camden Community Center.

Cambrian Park neighborhoods

cambrian-park-plaza-signWhere is Cambrian Park and how big is it? The 2010 census reported Cambrian Park as having less than 4,000 people, but it didn’t include all Cambrian Park neighborhoods! In contemporary usage, though, Cambrian consists of much more than the area known as “Cambrian Village” (which has this small population), and now includes about 75,000 residents in all.

The area includes most of the 95124 zip code plus the 95118 zip code. Historically, though, Cambrian was really a very vast area including much of Campbell and many areas now falling under different district names.  The area is alternately known as Cambrian, Cambrian Park, and Cambrian Village – the latter referring to the area near Union & Camden Avenues.

Related posts not to be missed:

 

Cambrian Park neighborhoods area with general boundaries

 

How do you decide where in Cambrian to live? Many aspects of home buying will likely come into play, from schools desired and budget available to the ambiance and practical things you desire such as RV parking, an extra large garage, family room, guest suite, commute issues (proximity to freeways),  etc.

School Districts serving the Cambrian Park neighborhoods

Your decision might be influenced by the school district you want; the Cambrian Park neighborhoods have three elementary school districts. Most are good to great – Cambrian Park almost no low scoring schools – but some are exceptionally high. Some districts may have more offerings for special needs kids or gifted kids – if you have children and are looking at placing them in the local public schools, do your research before you house hunt!

  1. The north and northwest side of Cambrian Park (going into Campbell and Willow Glen) has schools belonging to the Cambrian School District (see map).
  2. The east side of Cambrian Park (going toward Blossom Valley) is part of the territory of the San Jose Unified School District.  Schools for all of San Jose are beautifully mapped out by the district – you have to zoom in to see the boundaries around Cambrian but it includes all three local districts so is worth the extra steps!
  3. The southwest side of Cambrian (and east Los Gatos) is within the boundaries of the Union School District, which also has a helpful map of the borders. The map is a pdf and it is very detailed.
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Preparing to buy your first home in Silicon Valley

Preparing to buy your first home - couple looking at computer at their dining room tableIf you’re mulling around a home purchase, it’s a good idea to formulate a plan. Preparing to buy your first home will take some time, even before you see any homes. Just thinking about it can be a little overwhelming!

In this article we’ll share tips for folks interested in buying how to get started:

  • video discussion of the first three steps
    • online research (various areas of interest to you)
    • talk to folks you know who have recently purchased about their experience so that you can learn what to anticipate
    • talk with a Realtor (or a few of them) and learn how they work
  • a list of things to consider researching when considering home buying
  • a list of other resources at the end

Preparing to buy your first home: 3 steps

 

When preparing to buy your home, slow down, make a plan, do some research online, talk with recent home buyers, and then speak with a Realtor (or two or three).

Once you select a Realtor, he or she can help you to create a path forward. Often they’ll ask you about setting priorities (and as much as possible, for you to rank them), your budget, your tolerance for doing repairs, your desired timing, and a few other things.

The folks who get into the most trouble with a real estate purchase are those who do it spontaneously.

What kind of research should be done when preparing to buy a home?

There are many areas you’ll want to investigate:

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How long does it take to buy a home in Silicon Valley?

How long does it take to buy a home - calendar with target, house, moving truck, keys, bubblyHow long does it take to buy a home in Silicon Valley?  There are really three questions within that one:

  • how much time will be required before you’re ready to choose a home to purchase (or how many homes will you need to see)
  • how many offers will you have to write
  • and finally, how much time is involved in getting the transaction closed

We are presuming that our readers know that a pre-approval, not a pre-qualification, is absolutely necessary. Being pre-underwritten is better still. The lender decision needs to be made early on, before house hunting.

The short answer: if you are pre-approved, have cash in the bank, are decisive, are on the same page (if buying with someone else), and committed, you could go from getting the pre-approval letter to owning a home in 6 weeks – if everything lines up perfectly. For most people, it’s 2- 4 months.

What could go wrong? What could slow things down? Please read on!

How long does it take to buy a home in Silicon Valley: first step, selecting a home to bid on

Often our clients need to see 10 homes, sometimes a little more, in person before they feel like they know the market and the choices well enough to select a home they want to write an offer on.  This is after a highly refined search, usually, with a lot of info provided upfront and online. Many properties are eliminated before we ever see them.

How long does it take? Depending on how broad of an area they’re considering, and how much of a hurry they’re in, this varies, but normally is 4 – 6 weeks for most of our home buyer clients. Some are faster, some slower.

Clients relocating to the San Jose area often want to settle in.  If they’ve owned homes before, they may have a perfect idea of what will and won’t work for them.  Once I sold a Los Gatos house to a couple before the wife ever saw the property!  They moved every couple of years, the husband knew his wife’s requirements perfectly and they had no trouble being expedient.

If clients look for 3 or 4 months and never even write an offer, they are either not serious, not realistic, or if there are two buyers, they aren’t in agreement with each other. We see this too often.
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The percentage of all cash sales in Santa Clara County

The percentage of all cash sales (all cash, no loans) rose in July, but the actual number of sales, shown immediately below, shrank a little. I pulled this data from the MLS today and it’s reflective of whatever the listing agent entered into the fields for financing.

Number of Cash Sales of Single Family Homes in Santa Clara County

 

Percentage of All cash sales, month by month, in Santa Clara County (single family homes)

Next, the actual percentage of all cash sales in the county for houses and duet homes.

Percentage of All Cash Sales in Santa Clara County for Jan 2013 - July 2023

 

The average for the 11 Julys shown is 13.9%, so July 2023 with 15.7% is interesting to see. Interest rates have skyrocketed over the last 14 months, forcing home prices down in the 2nd half of 2022. It’s a little surprising that we did not see a surge of cash buyers then, but their numbers stayed in the typical range from what I’m seeing.

Now, in mid 2023, we have seen both interest rates and home prices rising – at least for the first 6 months of the year – in most of the valley.

Cash buyers are usually investors, but not always. Sometimes they are homeowners who sold their long held family home and are now downsizing and buying with the proceeds of the larger home that they just sold. We don’t get that piece of data from the MLS, but anecdotally, that’s what I’m seeing with the cash offers I’m seeing and hearing about.

 

What does it mean that cash buyers are an increasing percentage of the closed sales?

  • Rising interest rates not only don’t harm the all cash, no loans buyers, it actually helps them as it weakens their competition
  • These buyers may be feeling more confident with the softened market and easier buying conditions generally
  • My thinking when we saw interest rates rising is that it would help the mortgage free buyer more than anyone else – that seems to be the case.

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San Jose CA 95129 Real Estate Market

The San Jose CA 95129 real estate market area, which is sometimes referred to as the “Cupertino Border” area and is generally part of West San  Jose, is highly desirable for many reasons, including a short commute to tech employers such as Apple. Below we’ll review home values by school districts, both for starter homes and for homes with more than 1500 square feet.

If you love West San Jose, please also check out our post on the nearby Happy Valley neighborhood.

The 95129 zip code and school districts

The school district situation is a little confusing in San Jose CA 95129, but as schools are a major driver of real estate values, it’s imperative to consider their impact on housing prices.

  • About 60% of this zip code is in the Fremont Union High School District (Lynbrook High) and in the Cupertino Union School District (several different schools)
  • The rest is in the Campbell Union High School District (Prospect High), with most of that area in the Moreland School District, but a little bit in the Campbell Union School District (several schools)
  • On Great Schools, the scores for these schools range from 4 or 5 on the low end to 10 on the high side.

Here’s a map that I’ve marked up. The initial map came from the MLS, which shows the approximate zip code boundaries (bright blue) and the high school district boundary (purple or berry colored). These are never 100% precise, always check with the school district to be sure about the assigned school or district.

 

San Jose CA 95129 with school districts - real estate info for West San Jose

 

In the upper right corner you can see a tiny little polygon, almost a square, for the part of 95129 with Campbell Union School District. Moreland schools are mainly on the southeast side of the zip code. Cupertino schools are on the far west and northern section, except for that postage stamp area with Campbell schools.

The homes with Moreland and Campbell schools sell at lower prices than those with Cupertino schools, making them more affordable and also very desirable as a close in commute location.

The homes in San Jose with Cupertino schools sell for less than those houses in the City of Cupertino with the exact same schools, making this pocket a relative bargain, too.

No matter which district  you’re considering, most of this area is a good ‘bang for the buck’ part of the valley.

San Jose CA 95129 real estate stats for starter homes

Today we’ll consider the real estate market activity for houses in this area today and in relation to recent history as of today, July 18, 2023, and looking at sales data for the last 60 days.

In the last 60 days, there were 29 single family homes sold in this zip code. Of them, 15 were “starter homes”, meaning that they have 1500 SF or less. Here is the data for the starter homes in all school districts of this zip code area:

  • Days on market – 13
  • Average square footage – 1392 SF
  • Average lot size – 6227 SF
  • Average list price – $2,035,056
  • Average sale price – $2,294,453
  • Average age of the home – 62 years
  • Average sale to list price ratio – 113% (range of 94% to 138%)
  • Average price per SF – $1,652.29

For the 10 homes with Fremont Union High School District:

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Doesn’t the listing agent have to show it to me?

Telephone Photo with dialogue between a caller and listing agent - Doesn't the listing agent have to show it to meIf a buyer wants to view a property, does the listing agent have to show it to him or her outside of regular open houses? The answer might surprise you!  Here’s a quick overview:

  • The listing agent and seller decide about showings that the listing agent is expected to do. Does the listing agent have to show it privately, or during open houses, or only on one weekend before offers are reviewed?
  • The listing agent will make showings possible for buyer’s agents with instructions on scheduling in the comments that members of the MLS can read.
  • In many cases, the real estate licensee working with the home seller will hold the property open for the public on the weekend and sometimes mid-week as well. It may or may not be the listing agent holding it open.
    • For safety reasons, many listing agents will not have private showings with buyers whom they don’t know and who aren’t clients of theirs. Realtors are harmed every year in the line of duty.
    • For agency reasons, a listing agent who plans to only represent the seller may not want to have an appointment with a buyer who plans to write the offer with someone else.
    • There are many other reasons why the listing agent will not personally show the home for sale outside of open house times, but may be able to arrange for the buyers to see it with another agent.

When does the listing agent have to show it?

The most important thing for buyers to understand is that the accessibility of the home for viewings depends upon the agreement, verbally or in writing, between the owner of the property and the agent/brokerage hired to market, negotiate, and sell the real estate as to whether or not the seller’s agent is obligated to show it privately.

It’s not an “on demand” situation where an interested buyer can insist on seeing the property as desired. To make an absurd point, no one would say “doesn’t the listing agent have to show it to me at 10 p.m.?” Without any thought, we know that’s unreasonable.
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What Does It Cost to Buy a 4 Bedroom, 2 Bath Home in Silicon Valley with Good Schools?

Often I have clients who are interested in purchasing a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home in a good school district in Silicon Valley, particularly in the South Bay and West Valley areas. But what does it cost to buy that “average home”? Tonight I did a study on the MLS of homes that have sold and closed escrow in the last 4 months with these characteristics:

  • single family home (house)
  • 4 bedrooms
  • 2 full bathrooms
  • 1800 to 2200 square feet of living space
  • 6000 to 10,000 sf lot

Disclaimers aside, here are the numbers for select West Valley Communities in the West/South Bay area with good schools.

Cost to Buy 4 Bed 2 Bath Home in Popular Silicon Valley Communities

The first number is the number of sales during that time (more sales = more reliable averages). This one is not in the older charts, but with inventory as low as it has been lately this makes a huge difference. The second number is the average sales price per square foot, the third number is the average sales price, and the last number is the average days on market:

2022-11-3 Average Cost to Buy West Valley Homes 120D 4b-2b West Valley

 

And now a look back to late winter, early spring of 2017…

 

 

What’s changed? A lot! The order has shifted some, showing where demand has increased or decreased. Most noticeably, the prices are mostly up significantly, which is most noticeable in the price per square foot. Cambrian has traveled a good deal up the ladder. Palo Alto and Los Altos were displaced by the sole Saratoga sale, and Blossom Valley of San Jose remains in it’s regular position at the bottom.

The home prices tend to run with school rankings. Previously this was by district API scores.  You can check the 2013, three year average, API scores in Santa Clara County for both the districts and the individual schools online here, however that system is no longer used. So how to people judge? Most buyers use sites like GreatSchools.org when looking for a home with good schools which ranks schools on a scale of 1-10 in a few categories.            (more…)

Nanny cams

Are you being recorded - nanny cams, video doorbells, and security camerasWe’ve all heard of “nanny cams” and realize that many homes with babies are equipped with them. A fair number of pet owners have them, too – some even enable dog or cat owners to talk with their furry family members remotely, and some super high tech ones even dispense treats!

But what about homes for sale in Silicon Valley?  Do many of our local San Jose area listings have nanny cams?  And if so, are they recording audio as well as video?

What we’re really asking is this: are sellers spying on buyers?

In a nutshell, it’s legal for home sellers to use video doorbells and security cameras that use audio by their front door and in areas that would be considered “public”. Hidden nanny cams that record audio without the recorded person’s consent are illegal. Having security cameras indoors that do not record sound, though, are legal.

Security cameras, video doorbells, and nanny cams

What’s allowed in terms of recording varies from state to state. A cousin of mine who sold her home in another state had indoor security cameras with audio and she watched the open house events to see what was said (by her agent as well as by the buyers or interested visitors). In that state, it was legal to do so.

In California that would be illegal unless the people being recorded had given their consent. California’s eavesdropping law aims to curb recordings done without permission on the phone or in a place where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy. In other words, having a hidden nanny cam that records audio is illegal.

Exceptions include public places

There are some exceptions, though. One is if you’re in a public place. It seems that one’s front yard or front porch – anything before the front door – is public. Therefore it’s perfectly legal to have security systems that record video and audio both. Some enable conversion to be two ways, too.

Approach any high tech video doorbell on a front porch and what you do and say can be seen and heard, and it’s legal to do so.

Hold the conversations until later

It’s easy to forget that even a quiet conversation on a front porch or driveway my give away info you’d rather not share with the sellers or their agent. If you can see a camera, there’s a good chance that it can records both sounds and sights.

Inside, there should not be any audio recordings being made, but there could be hidden nanny cams, so you cannot be sure. Some of them are quite small and easy to miss. It’s best to behave as if cameras with sound are rolling, and to avoid discussing anything sensitive while in the home or in earshot of surveillance cameras.

A video from Washington State

A few years ago, I saw the video below, which is from a real estate attorney in the state of Washington.  Our rules may be different but the prevalence of the nanny cam is something to be considered.  Have a look and listen:

 

 

I like her idea that questions and comments should be held until away from the property.  That cannot hurt and may help your position should you elect to present an offer on that property later.

 

Security related reading:

Getting a fumigation? You may want security with that.

California audio and video  recording laws (on the recordinglaw.com website)

 

What are typical buyer closing costs in Silicon Valley?

Typical buyer closing costs - home buyer costs to close escrowWhat are typical buyer closing costs in San Jose? How much extra money will it take, beyond the down payment, get into that new home in Silicon Valley? The cash needed at the closing table varies depending on many factors.

Today we will offer some general information on home buyer‘s closing costs in Silicon Valley. Different jurisdictions and situations may have additional closing fees.

Typical buyer closing costs – rough estimate

Just need a rule of thumb on the costs? The average closing costs percentage is between one half and two percent of the purchase price, but your actual figure could be substantially more or less, depending on many factors. Most of our buyers pay between .5% and 1%. 

 Recurring versus non-recurring closing costs

Please note that some fees will be recurring (meaning they will be things you’ll pay again, like property taxes or HOA bills) and others non-recurring (which are one-time fees like title insurance). Where you are in the calendar year can impact fees like property taxes due at closing, too.

Some of the main factors that cause the fees due at closing to rise or fall include:

  • loans and related required fees are generally a home buyer’s steepest fee after the down payment
  • home buyers who buy down the interest rate with points will see their cash needed to close escrow rise significantly
  • whether or not you pay for inspections
  • what city you’re buying in
  • what type of home, or if it’s in an HOA or not
  • and many other smaller escrow related fees, such as if you both fund the loan and close on the same day
  • any pest work or other repairs that you pay for on the home prior to the completion of the sale (this is uncommon, but I’ve seen it happen)
  • when the next property tax bill is due (you won’t pay more or less, but it’s whether that amount is due at closing or a few months later)

There are online tools that can bring clarity to the typical buyer closing costs, but again only roughly. You will find a closing costs calculator for buyer at ORTC.com, the Old Republic Title Company’s site, and then click on the link for the online netsheets. Or use this link for their online netsheets.

Next we’ll go over what these various typical buyer closing costs can run.

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Setting Priorities and Organizing Them for Home Buying

Planning to purchase your first or next home is very exciting (if a little scary). Setting priorities can be a challenge.

Setting priorities is key to your success, but not easy for many reasons:

There are so many things you may want or even expect: a price in budget, a good and quiet neighborhood, and turnkey condition, certain schools, a larger home or yard, a tree lined street, a pool, a cottage, or any number of things. 

Before looking, you may be positive that what you want for the price you can pay is doable because you saw homes online and they looked about right.

Setting priorities - a checklist of commonly sought after features in a home to purchaseThe first time or two out and really looking at homes for sale can be very disturbing.  After seeing acceptable looking homes online, why are the homes you are looking at still so terrible for the money when you see them in person?

Or why are the disclosures filled with a long litany of needed repairs?

This is the adjustment to reality period, and it’s stressful and depressing for most first time home buyers in Santa Clara County. (See Managing real estate stress and worry on another of my sites.)

Adjusting and Setting Priorities

Some buyers have a must-have list that doesn’t line up with their budget at all.

How do you get your must-have list ranked so that you can buy something that’s in reach?

Start asking yourself (or yourselves) some either-or questions.

  • Which is more important to you, home size or home condition? (Smaller house in great shape or larger house that needs work?)
  • Which really is more important: having 3 bedrooms and 2 baths close to work, or on a nicer street with a further commute?
  • Is it better for you to get a low price and put in the “sweat equity” later, or would you prefer to buy a turnkey home but pay top dollar for it?
  • Do you have to have a formal dining room or would you give that up to be on a better street?

Most people want or expect more than they can actually afford in the current market. This is true in all price ranges, whether entry level condos or luxury homes.

One of my Realtor friends likes to say that if you have 3 items on your list (price, location, home size), the odds are good that you’ll get two out of three. That’s often the case.

Often the choice comes down to location – you may be able to get what you want for your budget, but not where you want it.  The trade-off may come in the way of a longer commute, lesser school district, higher crime area or some other factor.

Or, if location is a non-negotiable, your choice may be to get into a certain area with fabulous schools or a great little downtown area, but instead of a house, you’ll be purchasing a condo or townhouse. Or a house which needs a whole lot of work, or is smaller and has a smaller yard than you want.

Write down everything that you want, but start with two categories: the must have list and the want to have list. This is the first step in setting priorities. (Include things to avoid, too.)

Now pare down your must have list as much as possible (whether it’s budget, amenities, geography or anything else) to what you believe is your true, top priorities – only allow yourself five or ten items on this list. The shorter it is, the more attainable it will become, most likely. (more…)