Communities

More affordable homes to buy or rent in Silicon Valley with better schools

This morning I received an email from folks wanting to find a good area in which to move where they’ll have good schools but not pay the kind of prices they see in Palo Alto.  Below is my response to them.  I focus on Santa Clara County, and in particular the west valley areas from Los Altos to Almaden Valley or Blossom Valley areas of Willow Glen to Downtown San Jose, Santa Clara, Campbell, and back toward Los Gatos and its nearest parts.  Below is my response – hope it is helpful to many of my readers!   (The list is not exhaustive.)

The easiest way to check school scores is to use the site www.SchoolAndHousing.com.  It’s good for showing what house has which schools.  The home search feature is not very good, though, so don’t use that.  Best for home searching is www.MLSListings.com, as it is the public branch of our agent MLS and it is updated continuously.   Something to consider, though, is that the school scores do not tell the entire story.  There are many factors to include in your evaluation of a school, such as the variety of coursework offered (some schools may not have art or music, for instance), the availability of sports (for a balanced upbringing) and the overall feeling of a school (are the kids happy or are they overly pressured into excellence at a very young age?).  For many of these things, the best approach is to visit the schools personally and request a tour.  See if you can chat with the parents who are waiting to pick their kids up after school to hear about their experiences.  And of course read reviews online.

In terms of general areas to consider for schools near Mountain View, Palo Alto or Sunnyvale, in general, the better the schools, the more expensive the housing (whether to buy or to rent).  Hence Palo Alto is extremely pricey because the schools are absolutely top. Here are some communities that have great schools or good to very good schools:
  1. Palo Alto (very costly)
  2. Cupertino (less expensive for the school scores compared to other areas up to #5 on this list)
  3. Saratoga (very expensive)
  4. Los Altos & Los Altos Hills
  5. Los Gatos & Monte Sereno (95030 & 95032)
  6. Parts of San Jose in Cambrian 95124 and Almaden 95120 (very good value)
  7. The Los Gatos Mountains (zip code 95033)
  8. Parts of Fremont (Mission San Jose area)
Also it should be noted that in many cases, it makes more economic sense to utilize private schools and to live in an area which is a little less costly, such as Santa Clara (part of SC has Cupertino schools, so that will be expensive) or parts of San Jose (part of west San Jose 95129 has Cupertino schools, and part does not).  Many of my global clients initially do not see private schools as an option, for fear that all the kids in them will be from wealthy families and spoiled.  But often that is not the case at all – the kids are from families who like the curriculum, the teachers, the overall approach of the school and literally make sacrifices to send their kids there.  So I would advise that you at least have a look at that option since homes in the areas with the very best schools can be extremely costly.

Comparing real estate market conditions in Almaden, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, Sunnyvale and Los Altos

Days on market for several "west valley" communities within Silicon ValleyFor people relocating to Silicon Valley, often there’s not just one city, town or area which seems like a good fit.  Sometimes it may come down to what your money can buy or how difficult it is to purchase in one area versus another.   This is frequently the case with the “West Valley” areas where schools are good and the neighborhoods are tidy.

There are two statistics which are especially helpful in understanding the Santa Clara County real estate market.  One is the “days on market” or DOM.  The shorter this is, the hotter the market – and the harder it is to purchase.   The second is the sale price to list price ratio, which hints at the existence of multiple offers, overbids, and buyers giving away all of their rights.

Today, then, we’ll have a look at these, starting with Almaden, the southernmost area, and working our way north along the coastal range.  The charts below are all for single family homes (houses and duet homes, not condos or townhomes).

Almaden Valley is a district within the city of San Jose.  Its boundaries roughly follow the 95120 zip code, though there are some parts of nearby zip codes which somewhat overlap into Almaden too. How’s the Almaden market?  Red hot!  Days on market is crazy low – a mere 16! And the average sale price is almost 104% of list price…and rising!

Almaden Valley, San Jose, 95120 days on market and sale price to list price ratio

Almaden Valley days on market and sale price to list price ratio

 

Los Gatos is a bit north of Almaden and has many micro-markets within it based on proximity to downtown Los Gatos, the school districts, view of the hills or valley and many other factors. (This is “in town”, zip codes 95030 and 95032, not the Los Gatos Mountains 95033.)  The market is also red hot in Los Gatos! The days on market are significantly longer (36 as opposed to Almaden’s 16), but the sale price to list price ratio is a tad higher here.
Los Gatos days on market and sale price to list price ratio (95032 & 95030)
Los Gatos days on market and sale price to list price ratio.

Waterfront homes in Silicon Valley: are there any concerns?

Beach view from Sunny Cove in Santa Cruz, CASometimes people relocating to Silicon Valley tell me that they’d like to move to an area with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Most of Silicon Valley is inland, though, separated from the ocean by the coastal mountains.

For those truly set on having a view of the Pacific, home can be found in the Santa Cruz area with lovely ocean and Monterey Bay views.  The compromise will likely be a long commute over Highway 17.  Or similarly, ocean lovers may settle close to Half Moon Bay or Pescadero, but will have to slog over the coastal hills on Hwy 35 each day to get to the Peninsula.  (Some lucky souls may find employment in Scotts Valley or along the coast, but most of the jobs are not in these places.)  If a faraway ocean view will work, perhaps making the Santa Cruz Mountains home may be the ideal fit.

If you want to live along the waterfront within Silicon Valley, there really are not a lot of neighborhoods from which to choose.  Most of the water views involve being near the San Francisco Bay.  There are a few rivers, creeks, ponds and lakes to be found as well, but enjoying lovely water views up close is not the easiest criteria to fill. Along the bay, though, it often comes down to Foster City and Redwood Shores, which we’ll discuss next. Continue reading

Where to find historic homes in the San Jose and Silicon Valley area?

Mediterranean style home from the 1920s in Naglee Park (downtown San Jose)Sometimes newcomers to Silicon Valley strongly prefer older homes, such as Victorians, Craftsman, or other distinctive architectural styles, preferably surrounded by homes of the same vintage.  Most of the valley is filled with ranch style housing, but there are quite a few neighborhoods which enjoy historic home which exude tons of charm.  Where to find them?

San Jose’s historic homes

San Jose is a large city (10th largest in the United States, almost 1 million residents) and very spread out with a wide diversity of neighborhoods.  Here are a few to consider for classic, older properties:

In central San Jose there are quite a few areas to check out:

(1) Downtown San Jose generally, but within that area
Naglee Park
Japantown
Vendome areas
(2) the Shasta-Hanchett neighborhood
(3) the Rosegarden area (close to Shasta Hanchett, both in “central San Jose”)
(4) Alum Rock in east San Jose – up into the foothills there are lovely, older Spanish style homes
(5) Willow Glen – close to downtown SJ, features all sorts of architectural styes, from mid-century modern to Spanish, Victorian, Tudor – you name it. Within Willow Glen, The Palm Haven neighborhood has the added charm of so many palm trees (very visible when flying into the San Jose airport)

There are many more scattered throughout San Jose and nearby suburbs, even in places like Cambrian Park or Almaden (away from the old mercury mining area), where it seems all the houses were built from the 1950s to the 1980s.  When we see a hundred year old house in this area, it’s very likely that it used to be the house on a large ranch, orchard or farm.

Los Gatos

Waterman house on Broadway in Los GatosThe town of Los Gatos is far smaller than neighboring San Jose, but has a great assortment of historic districts that are beautifully maintained and tastefully updated, most of them right in downtown.  I’ve written about these on my Live in Los Gatos blog, so here are a few links to those neighborhood posts:

Edelen District

Almond Grove District

Broadway – first subdivision in Los Gatos

Overlook Road

Fairview Plaza

 

Palo Alto

Palo Alto enjoys some of the most beautiful, gracious older houses in Silicon Valley, particularly the Professorville and Old Palo Alto areas, but others too.  Drive the neighborhoods between Stanford University (El Camino Real) and 101 and you’ll find lots of historic homes to love!  The challenge is affordability, as these are the most expensive historic homes in the region.

There are many more lovely older homes throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties and nearby.  If you enjoy these classic beauties, watch for a series of spring home tours which become available beginning in around March each year.  Most of them will cost a few dollars, with proceeds going to a worthy local charity.  If you’re interested in purchasing an historic property, visit my “search by map” page and enter a “built before” year and then scroll around the valley to see what is available.

The Santa Clara County Real Estate Market

The Silicon Valley real estate market is spread out over a few counties, primarily Santa Clara County but also much of San Mateo County and part of Alameda and Santa Cruz Counties.  Santa Clara County is home to about 1.8 million residents, more than half of them in the big city of San Jose.  The high tech companies such as Cisco, Apple, Google and more are spread out around the valley, and each neighborhood has a very different set of housing market conditions.  Even so, we’ll take a broad view of the county today to give some general indicators on what you might expect when moving here.

As a whole, home prices in Santa Clara are rising due to a dire scarcity of listing inventory.  On average, houses sold in December were overbid and the sales price to list price ratio was about 102%.  Here are the numbers at a glance:

Trends At a Glance Dec 2012 Previous Month Year-over Year
Median Price $682,500 $685,000 (-0.4%) $530,000 (+28.8%)
Average Price $908,873 $885,921 (+2.6%) $714,562 (+27.2%)
No. of Sales 899 903 (-0.4%) 903 (-0.4%)
Pending Properties 980 1,500 (-34.7%) 1,396 (-29.8%)
Foreclosures Sold 25 34 (-26.5%) 112 (-77.7%)
Short Sales Sold 154 138 (+11.6%) 229 (-32.8%)
Active Listings 534 782 (-31.7%) 2345 (-77.2%)
Active Foreclosures 22 27 (-18.5%) 173 (-87.3%)
Active Short Sales 39 52 (-25.0%) 980 (-96.0%)
Sales Price vs. List Price 102.6% 102.3% (+0.3%) 98.7% (+3.9%)
Days on Market 36 32 (+11.3%) 63 (-42.8%)

Though there was a slight slippage in values from the prior month’s median sales prices, the average price was up 2.6%.  More dramatically, though, prices were up 27-28% from the year before!  Foreclosures and short sales are way down.  Inventory is critically low, off 77% from a year earlier.

It is a very deep seller’s market in Santa Clara County.  Some areas, such as Cupertino, are very difficult for buyers right now.  Cupertino’s prices are already past the last peak pricing and have only about 2 weeks of inventory.

Trends At a Glance Dec 2012 Previous Month Year-over Year
Median Price $1,343,880 $1,325,000 (+1.4%) $982,500 (+36.8%)
Average Price $1,304,180 $1,373,820 (-5.1%) $1,085,210 (+20.2%)
No. of Sales 26 27 (-3.7%) 24 (+8.3%)
Pending Properties 18 23 (-21.7%) 13 (+38.5%)
Foreclosures Sold 0 0 (N/A) 0 (N/A)
Short Sales Sold 0 0 (N/A) 0 (N/A)
Active Listings 13 26 (-50.0%) 31 (-58.1%)
Active Foreclosures 0 0 (N/A) 0 (N/A)
Active Short Sales 0 0 (N/A) 4 (-100.0%)
Sales Price vs. List Price 102.9% 104.4% (-1.4%) 96.4% (+6.7%)
Days on Market 31 33 (-5.8%) 52 (-40.7%)

To get the full report with much more data and information for all areas within Santa Clara County, please see www.popehandy.rereport.com.

How to Decide Where to Live in Silicon Valley or Santa Clara County

How do you choose where you’d like to live in Silicon Valley?  Especially if you’re relocating here from out of the area, this can be a huge question.  Most Santa Clara County home buyers have strong preferences for low crime, good schools, and pleasant looking & quiet neighborhoods.

My clients often ask me to compare for them areas which are somewhat similar, such as Los Gatos & Los Altos.  Off the top of my head, I can give general answers, such as these:   Compared to Los Gatos, Los Altos is a  more expensive (perhaps 20 or 25% more?), has a very slightly smaller population, is a little more spread out,  has slightly milder weather and is overall “quieter” in terms of the downtown night life.  Los Altos is more convenient if you want to go to Palo Alto or San Francisco.  Los Gatos is more convenient if you like to visit Santa Cruz, Monterey and the coast.  Los Gatos is more mixed in terms of housing types (it still has many beautiful historic districts with nicely renovated Victorian homes, but also newer construction). Both are “nice looking” but Los Gatos has more varied terrain as it is nestled into the Santa Cruz Mountains. Both enjoy pleasant neighborhoods, good schools, lower than normal crime and community involvement.

That’s the kind of “ballpark” info I can tell people about various areas of the Santa Clara Valley, whether it’s comparing one part of San Jose to another (Cambrian Park vs Almaden Valley vs Willow Glen) or one city to another (Cupertino vs Saratoga).  I can give general info on schools….

To read more, please see the rest of the article on the Valley of Hearts Delight blog:
http://sanjoserealestatelosgatoshomes.com/how-to-choose-where-to-live-in-silicon-valley-or-santa-clara-county/

Incredible Price on 5114 Nerissa Way in Cambrian Park

Cambrian Park, Santa Clara County

 – 

Announcing newly on MLS and at low price for Alta Vista School, quiet street, updated/remodeled condition and oversized lot! 5114 Nerissa Way, a 1,233 sq. ft., 2 bath, 3 bdrm single story “Room to add on!”. Now

MLS®

$579,000

– Fabulous price!.

Property information not available

Open House in Almaden Winery on Sunday

October 2010
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Almaden Winery, Cambrian Park  –  We invite everyone to visit our open house at 5641 Le Fevre Dr. on October 17 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

Property information no longer available.

Open House in Sunnyvale Meadows on Saturday

October 2010
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Sunnyvale Meadows, Sunnyvale  –  We invite everyone to visit our open house at B-1095 Reed Avenue on October 16 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

Property information no longer available.

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)

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
Below please find a list of SOME of the popular Silicon Valley areas with listings offered by price range. This is not a complete list! Please use the "search" app to find ALL properties on the MLS.
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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