Mary Pope-Handy

Where are the Silicon Valley luxury homes? Where are the more upscale Silicon Valley neighborhoods?

Know your neighborhoodsIf you are relocating to Silicon Valley and wish to choose an upscale or luxury neighborhood, where should you begin looking?  Where are the very best areas in or near San Jose?

Here are some quick lists of areas in Silicon Valley areas which enjoy beautiful estate properties:

Luxury Home Neighborhoods in Silicon Valley’s west side

Most of the more expensive parts of Silicon Valley are along the “west valley” areas, and these all enjoy excellent public schools.  If you were to look at a topographical map, they would be the cities, towns and neighborhoods close to the coastal foothills (also known as the Santa Cruz Mountains).  Or if you looked at a road map, most of them would be on the west side of Highway 85. Unless otherwise noted, the districts, cities or towns are all in Santa Clara County.

These “west valley communities” are listed from southernmost to northernmost, extending from southwestern San Jose up into the San Francisco Peninsula.

  • Almaden Valley (part of San Jose)
  • Los Gatos
  • Monte Sereno
  • Saratoga
  • Cupertino (foothills area in particular)
  • Los Altos
  • Los Altos Hills
  • Palo Alto
  • Portola Valley (San Mateo County)
  • Woodside (San Mateo County)
  • Hillsborough (San Mateo County)

These are not the only places to find high end real estate in the South Bay area, though – it’s just that most of them are located along the west valley corridor.

More Luxury Home Neighborhoods in Silicon Valley

More communities which are “exclusive” can be found:

  • The Silver Creek area of San Jose (eastside, within the Evergreen district)
  • Part of the Alum Rock neighborhood near the old San Jose Country Club (also on the east side).
  • The Rosegarden area of central San Jose
  • The Naglee Park neighborhood near downtown San Jose
  • Willow Glen enjoys some beautiful old mansions (between downtown SJ and the west side)
  •  Part of the Mission District of Fremont (Alameda County)
  • Eagle’s Ridge community in Gilroy (south part of Santa Clara County)

Something to be aware of is that many of these areas are served by more than one school district. In some cases, the different school districts can be very different in terms of school performance scores.  In Saratoga, for instance, there are 3 different districts. Two have excellent scores and the third has good scores – but very different numbers!  This can be a surprise to people who relocate to Silicon Valley: so be aware of this quirk if you move here!  (Even if you are not interested in utilizing the schools, know that they are a prime driver in home values and pricing.)

Would you like to learn more about luxury real estate & homes in Silicon Valley? I have some other blogs with posts that you might find helpful

Related posts on the Valley of Heart’s Delight blog:

Luxury Real Estate in Silicon Valley

The Silicon Valley Luxury Home Market (browse listings over $2 million in a few areas)

The Luxury Real Estate Market in Almaden, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga

Monte Sereno Real Estate and Homes for Sale

Saratoga, CA, Real Estate Market Update

What Type of Home Can You Get for $1,000,000 in Silicon Valley?

Almaden Valley Housing Market by Price Point in June 2010

Real Estate Inventory & Sales in Silicon Valley’s “West Valley” Areas of Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell and Cambrian Park

Related posts on the Live in Los Gatos blog:

Fewer Sales, but Higher Prices, in Los Gatos & Monte Sereno

What’s Selling in Los Gatos Now? How’s the Market?

A Five Year View of the Los Gatos Real Estate Market (Jan 2005 to June 2010)

Where Are the Good Public Schools in Silicon Valley?

Many relocating families search specifically for neighborhoods with the very best schools.  There are many sites which will give you this information in immense detail, but if you want a “quick answer” on excellent schools in Silicon Valley and San Jose, I can give that to you quickly here.

The finest public schools and districts (with excellent scores at all levels of schooling) tend to be found in the most expensive parts of Santa Clara County, and most of them are along the “west valley” areas, including Almaden Valley (an area of San Jose), Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto.  Most of these communities are found along the base of the coastal foothills, aka the Santa Cruz Mountains, are are located not too far from Highway 85.  The Silver Creek area (of the Evergreen District of San Jose) on the east side also has some fine schools.  There are pockets with great elementary schools scattered throughout the valley too.

What do these homes cost? In the best areas, it is not uncommon to spend a million dollars or more for a “turnkey” home of 1800 square feet with no issues (no high voltage lines, no busy road, etc.).  In some areas, like Saratoga, that might be closer to $2 million.

In many parts of Santa Clara County the elementary schools are excellent, middle schools are “very good” and the high schools are good.  This is true for parts of west San Jose (bordering Cupertino and Saratoga) and Cambrian Park.  These areas tend to be much more affordable than those with excellent schools in all levels. For home buyers not so worried about high schools as cost, these can be a great option for getting more home (and school) for your money.

While many home buyers are reluctant to consider private schools, sometimes it is much less expensive in the long run to purchase a comfortable home in an area you like but which doesn’t have fantastic schools and then send your kids to private or parochial schools.  In Los Gatos, where the schools run from very good to exceptional, about one-third of students are not in public schools.

If you are planning a relocation to Silicon Valley and want to know more about local schools (public or private) please email me at mary (at) popehandy.com and I’ll be happy to chat with you about them more in person. I can also help you to find areas which are more affordable and offer strong schools.

Linguistic Quirks in Silicon Valley

Every area has its linguistic quirks or slang, and the San Jose – Silicon Valley – Santa Clara County region is no exception. Some of it is in the words we use, some of it’s the way we pronounce things, and some of it is just the way we think. If you relocate to the South Bay, you may want to know what some of these mean!

Silicon Valley linguistic quirksPlaces:

The Hill – refers to the Santa Cruz Mountains. Going “over the hill” means going to Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz, or somewhere along the coast.p>

The City – means San Francisco, even though it’s smaller in population than San Jose.

South County – areas such as Gilroy, Morgan Hill, San Martin and Coyote Valley (and outlying areas)

The Bay – is the San Francisco Bay, not the Monterey Bay.

The Airplane Park – this is Oak Meadow Park in the Town of Los Gatos

Read the rest of the post on the Valley of Heart’s Delight blog post,
Silicon Valley Local-Speak: A Guide to Understanding Folks in the South Bay

Swim Teams and Cabana Clubs in Silicon Valley

Got swimmers?  Our sub tropical climate in Silicon Valley makes swimming a popular sport, so if you relocate to the “Valley of Heart’s Delight” you may find an increased desire for jumping into a pool.

Perhaps swimming is already important to you or to your family.Several community centers have excellent swimming facilities, including the Cambrian Park Community Center in San Jose (at Union & Camden Avenues, approximately), the Y and several provate clubs.

If you are looking to live in a neighborhood with a swim club and cabana, you will find many options in the San Jose – Santa Clara County region.

The city of Santa Clara probably has more pools, cabanas and swim teams than any other part of the south bay.  There are plenty in San Jose, too, though, including in Los Gatos, Cambrian Park and Almaden Valley. There are different leagues, not all of them with easily findable websites.

Valley Cabana Swim League is a local association with these member teams

Almaden Country Club (in San Jose’s Almaden Valley)
Belwood Dolphins (Los Gatos – Belwood & Belgatos area)
Los Paseos
Montevideo (in Almaden)
Silver Creek Valley Country Club (in Evergreen area of east San Jose)

Here’s a good list of local and greater Bay Area swim teams:
http://www.swimconnection.com/pc/exec/Teams

Relocation can be challenging but if you know what features you want to find when you get to Silicon Valley, I can help you to locate them, whether it’s a place to swim or virtually anything else.

Rush Hour Traffic in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley’s rush hour traffic can begin as early as 6:45 or 7 am and last until 9 or 9:30am most workdays.  The evening commute begins to get congested around 3 or 3:30pm with a knot of traffic in place by 5pm and lasting until around 6:30 or 7pm on some roads.

Looking for a reverse commute?  Many commuters do precisely that!

If you work in Scotts Valley (just “over the hill” in Santa Cruz County), living in Los Gatos, Campbell, Cambrian Park or West San Jose will be a reverse commute for you. You’ll be going against the flow of traffic and your commute will be immensely easier.

Ditto that if you work in the south San Jose or Edendale region and begin your commute in Almaden Valley.  Once you get to 85, it will be a breeze!

Work in Gilroy? Living in Blossom Valley or Almaden, you can engineer a reverse commute on the back roads or take Santa Teresa Blvd going south.

Most employees and workers try to carpool, take light rail, or otherwise beat the rush by using tricks of timing or alternate routes to avoid spending twice as much time on the road as necessary.  Many companies have flexible hours – it’s worth investigating to see if you can shorten the length of your time in the car!

Relocation to Silicon Valley can be a bit of a shock to people in terms of the traffic and commute times if they are not accostomed to suburban living (which is most of the valley). Typical commute times are about 30 minutes, though some people have longer or shorter commutes, of course.

Traffic moves toward downtown San Jose primarily along Highways 87, 680 and 280 and toward the Cupertino – Sunnyvale – Mountain View areas along Highway 85 (and 280). Bringing traffic in from the south county is 101.  Other roads getting a lot of use too are 17 and 880 (same road, different stretches), San Tomas Expressway, Montague Expressway, Lawrence Expressway, Santa Teresa Boulevard, Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road, Stevens Creek Blvd. and Almaden Expressway.

South County – where is it?

Silicon Valley residents will sometimes refer to “South County”.  Where is it?  This is the area south of south San Jose where you find Gilroy, Morgan Hill, San Martin and nearby areas.

The south county region of Santa Clara County is the last real stronghold of agricultural land in the valley (that plus the eastern range by Mt Hamilton).  There you will find many orchards, vineyards, farms and ranches even today.  As you drive through Gilroy you may catch a scent of garlic – particularly if you drive highway 152 toward Pacheco Pass as you go past a garlic processing plant!  In summer you will want to visit the famous “Garlic Festival” at least once, if not make it an annual event.

South County is home to the discount Outlet Malls in Gilroy (at Hwy 101 at 152 east), so if you live in or near San Jose, you will eventually find your way there!

Want to relocate to South County? Many San Jose area residents consider it a good place to retire since they can downsize to a comfortable home and often pay much less than a comparable home might cost in Los Altos, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Willow Glen or Almaden and at the same time get more home.  A number of my clients have spoken of wanting to retire into the Eagle Ridge Golf Course area of Gilroy for that very reason.

View a map of South County on Google maps.

What are the Major Sports Teams in Silicon Valley?

With 300 sunny days a year, you know that sports are an important part of Silicon Valley life.  If you are thinking of or planning to relocate to Santa Clara County, you may be wondering what the major professional teams are here.

The San Jose Sharks (ice hockey)

The San Jose Earthquakes (soccer)

The San Francisco Giants (baseball)

The Oakland Athletics (baseball)

The San Francisco 49ers (football)

The Oakland Raiders (football)

Golden State Warriors (basketball)

 

Los Gatos Real Estate Market: What a Difference a Zip Code Makes

Combination of 95032 and 95030 areas in Los Gatos (homes for sale, list price)Real estate is local, local, local. There may be discernable trends in the national real estate market, the California real estate market, or the Silicon Valley real estate market – but all of that may or may not be reflective of what is happening with your house or home today.

Los Gatos is a case in point. The view of “the town” is entirely different from a view of its parts taken separately. Recently I spent a few hours pouring over the data and learned how dramatically different the market is from the 95030 zip code to the 95032 zip code.

It all depends on how you search.

If you are analyzing all of the addressess with “Los Gatos” as the mailing address, you will get homes in town and also properties that are not part of the town but rather are in the Santa Cruz Mountains (such as Redwood Estates, Aldercroft Heights, Chemeketa Park, etc.). Those homes have a 95033 zip code and really should not be considered as the “Los Gatos real estate market” because the mountain communities are entirely different.

In town, the schools tend to define desireability. Most of 95032 does not have the exceptionally highly regarded Los Gatos Schools and right now, that is most likely what is causing the huge gulf between the markets.

I invite you to view my detailed post and check out the large number of graphs on my Live in Los Gatos site:
Understanding the Los Gatos Real Estate Market Trends  and also see Los Gatos real estate market trends

Is This A Good Time to Buy A Home in Silicon Valley?

If you’ve recently relocated to the San Jose area, you may still be getting your “sea legs” here. Perhaps you’re still learning your way around, or maybe trying to get a feel for our market.  And very likely you are wondering, “should I buy a home now…or should I wait?”

There are no easy answers. Sweeping generalizations are often wrong in particular cases. I’ll explain.

Right now, if you want to buy a home in Saratoga, with Saratoga Schools and you require that the home be perfect (doesn’t need remodeling, doesn’t back to a busy road or have something else objectionable), and the price point is between one and two million dollars, you’ll have some competition. You’ll be in multiple offers if the home is priced appropriately.

On the other hand, if you want to buy an entry level condo in east San Jose or Morgan Hill, Gilroy or Santa Teresa, it truly is a buyer’s market. Home sellers aren’t giving away their pride & joy, but the market is definitely in your favor and you may well get a great deal.

Each situation is unique: you might need or highly value a short commute distance, or the very, very best schools, or a turnkey home. Or not. Depending on your circumstance, your budget, and your timeframe (if you buy, can you stay put for 3-5 years minimum?), this could be a great time for you to buy.

Some things to consider now – potential plusses:

Most often, November and December are wonderful months in which to purchase a home in Silicon Valley because sellers who market their home now are usually highly motivated. Inventory is lower, but prices are usually softer. When clients ask me, “when is the best time of the year to buy?” I usually tell them “November and December – but no promises for any given year”. Second best month is frequently August.

A big plus for this time of year involves your financing too. Since loans are really something you “purchase”, and the price is influenced by the ancient laws of supply and demand, getting a loan while everyone else is doing holiday things can be a boon to you. Loan rates frequently go up around Valentine’s Day. (I cannot predict that loan rates will go up or down, but historically the most favorable rates are often found at this time of year.)

Are there drawbacks to buying now? Sure. Inventory is restricted. In some price points and areas, that means that there may be multiple offers – even in this “normal market”.  Homes may not show as well in winter as they might in spring, so you may have to use a little imagination if the backyard is not as cheerful as you might like to envision.

Overall, I would say for most buyers, this IS a good time to buy a home in Santa Clara County. But call me or email me and we can chat about your particular situation, which may change everything for you!

If you’d like specific information on the housing markets around the San Jose area, please visit my online Real Estate Report, which breaks down the stats and trends. It’s a tremendous amount of very useful data.

Wishing you and yours a joyful Thanksgiving.

Silicon Valley: A Word About the Climate

People coming from out of the area to relocate to Silicon Valley might not know what to expect from the weather in the San Jose, Santa Clara County, or Silicon Valley Area.  What’s it all about?

In a nutshell, this is a “sub tropical” area, or a place that enjoys a “mediterranean climate” that is most heavily influenced by the close proximity of the shoreline and the Pacific Ocean.  Temps are mild, we get little rainfall compared to many parts of the country. More specifically, we usually get about 20 inches of rainfall a year and enjoy 300 sunny days a year. Winters seldom see many hard freezes (but they can happen).

A typical summer day has highs in the mid to upper eighties but very low humidity – so it feels much cooler. Heat waves and heat inversions can run the temps up to the low to mid 100s in the hottest parts of the valley. Luckily it doesn’t happen much, or stay for long! Most people do NOT have air conditioning here unless they are in a newer home or live in the warmer South County areas of Morgan Hill or Gilroy.

A January day might have a high in the 60s or 50s, depending. By February, though, the worst is usually over and it’s even possible to have freak warm days that hit 80 degrees!

Our weather varies from year to year. Some years we get drought conditions and may require water rationing (right now we have been asked for a voluntary cutback of 10%). Other years we get lots of wet weather from the Pacific – temps are warmer but there’s much too much rain: those are the El Nino years. Most often, though, winters aren’t that bad – evenings can be nippy as temps drop into the 20s on the worst nights in December or January.

Because we are on the Pacific, that ocean dominates our weather. Sometimes a freaky cold storm from Alaska barrels down the coast in winter. When that happens, it gets  extremely cold. And once in a rare time – perhaps once a decade – it might even snow! When the white stuff does fall in Los Gatos, Saratoga or San Jose, though, it doesn’t usually stay for awhile. It is so rare that it simply feels like magic. Can you imagine the look of snowfall on a palm tree?

Warm weather – or mild, comfortable weather – is the norm from about spring (varies from Feb – April each year) through most of November. Really December and January tend to be the coolest months, but sometimes cold storms can make winter linger longer and forestall spring a bit.

LiveInLosGatos IMG 0019 Small - Silicon Valley: A Word About the ClimateAnd what of those palm trees?   We have LOTS of types of palms here (Royal Palms, Fan Palms, Date Palms, etc.). They do well here when planted right and well nurtured, but they are not indigenous to northern CA. They are native to southern CA but not here. However, if handled well they usually do fine in our slightly cooler climate.

For me, the palm trees are a sign that the climate somewhere is “mild enough”. I often joke with folks, “if the palm trees can live there, so can I….”

Mary Pope-Handy
Realtor,
CIPS, CRS, ABR, SRES
Sereno Group
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd.
Los Gatos CA 95030
[Silicon Valley, California, USA]
1-408-204-7673
mary (at) popehandy.com
CA BRE # 01153805

CIPS - Certified International Property Specialist
CRS - Certified Residential Specialist
ABR - Accredited Buyer Representative
SRES - Seniors Real Estate Specialist

Helping nice folks to buy and sell homes in Silicon Valley since 1993. Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor, Silicon Valley
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Listings by Price Range
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Trends & Statistics

Click the link below to get real estate data for Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Santa Cruz County (together making up about 98% of "Silicon Valley").

Real Estate Market Statistics and Trends for Santa Clara County


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