Real Estate

Real Estate

Visiting Silicon Valley for job interview and considering a relocation: how to get a feel for where to live?

Cruising Silicon Valley CAA few times a month I get phone calls from people considering a relocation to Silicon Valley.  In most cases, a trip out to Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, San Jose, Menlo Park or somewhere else in the South Bay or Peninsula is planned. These questions always arise:

What should we see when visiting Silicon Valley?

What neighborhoods should we consider or tour while there?

First: know which part of Silicon Valley where the possible employer is located

Silicon Valley covers a lot of ground – most of 2 counties (Santa Clara County and San Mateo County) and snippets of a couple more, which the Silicon Valley sprawl now inching north toward San Francisco.  The first thing to know is where the potential job is located.  There’s a huge difference between Oracle in Redwood Shores, Apple in Cupertino or Cisco in North San Jose, let alone some of the more far reaching Silicon Valley areas like Scotts Valley, South San Jose (at the intersection of Hwy 85 and 101), over in Los Gatos (Netflix) or inching up the east Bay in Fremont or Hayward.

Second: know your commute tolerance and have your priorities organized

Everyone would like to live close to work (under a half hour commute) but if you are juggling multiple priorities such as having a house & yard for kids, needing good public schools, and bringing it in at less than $2 million, you may have to sort out which of the important priorities is the very most important and go from there.  For many, the commute gets longer in order to provide the other things (a house not a condo or apartment, better schools, lower price).  Most people say that they would like a commute of 30 minutes or less.  Often they end up with a longer one after seeing a few areas and properties. Continue reading

San Jose Mercury News Headlines April 15 – 16 2014: home prices to buy or rent are rising steeply

Here are the headlines from the San Jose Mercury News in mid April 2014:

Home Prices to buy or rent going up April 15-16 2014

Rental article: Bay Area apartment rents set record 4/16/14

Excerpt:  Bay Area apartment rents are rising at nearly double-digit annual rates and have reached record levels, according to a report released Tuesday, prompting some analysts to warn that the region’s economic boom could be choked off by the relentless rise…..  Among the Bay Area’s three largest cities, San Jose had an average asking rent of $2,066 during this year’s January-March quarter, up 10.3 percent from the same period last year, RealFacts reported. Oakland had an average rental rate of $2,187, up 12.3 percent, while San Francisco posted an average of $3,057, up 9.5 percent.

Home buying article:   Bay Area home prices jump year over year

Excerpt:  March marked more than 20 consecutive months of year-over-year price gains for single-family homes in the East Bay, South Bay and Peninsula, according to real estate information service DataQuick, which released a report on March sales Wednesday…. The San Diego-based company said that prices were up 29.2 percent from the previous March in Alameda County to $575,000. In Contra Costa County, prices rose 22.8 percent to $425,000. Santa Clara County gained 20.3 percent to $800,000, and San Mateo County was up 13.2 percent to $860,000.

Whether you buy or rent, prices have been rising dramatically.  When factoring in what housing will cost, include the trajectory of appreciation per month.

Welcome notes and a word about rental housing in Silicon Valley

Although normally I prefer to take photos than be featured in them or in videos, many of my Realtor friends from across the country have been telling me that our blog readers would like to see us on video (and not just read our typed words).  So I’m caving in – and saying hello!  Hope you enjoy this 4 minute video, shot from my home office in Los Gatos.

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.

How to find a rental home in Silicon Valley

Rentals from RealtorsFinding a rental home in Silicon Valley can be challenging.  Where to look?  Can a Realtor help you?  (Not very much.)

In many areas of the U.S., real estate agents actively work the rental market.  In those areas, owners are willing to pay a commission for the service, and houses and condos are listed in the local multiple listing service.

Not in Silicon Valley, though.  Instead, it’s a land of “for rent by owner”.  A few properties may be on the MLS (see link below), but hardly any. Far less than 5%.

Craigslist – http://sfbay.craigslist.org – houses, townhouses, condominiums (best resource)
MLSListings – http://www.MLSListings.com – very few listings of rentals, but all legit!
Trulia – http://trulia.com – click on “Rent” tab – mixed housing types
Zillow – http://www.zillow.com/ – click on “Rent” tab – mixed housing types
Padmapper – https://www.padmapper.com – apartments
Prometheus – http://prometheusreg.com – apartments
Please beware that there are many scams around rentals. Be extremely careful!  Some scams ask for money upfront, before you can even see the property.  Many of these homes are actually for sale, so Google the address to check.
Sometimes we Realtors have “courtesy rentals” where we share wants and needs without being paid (as a courtesy to our clients).  Don’t count on finding a property this way, but if you have a Realtor you’ve been chatting with, it’s not a bad idea to let him or her know what (specifically) you are wanting and if he or she hears of something, can get back to you with that match.  Odds of that working are less than 1% so use the list above, or drive around where you’d like to live!  If you’re a corporate relocation situation, your hiring company may be able to assist you with additional resources.
What do rentals cost?  One source of info is Rentometer.com.  I found it to be a little low in some areas but still a good starting point. www.Rentometer.com.

Related reading:

Why is it so hard to find a rental home in Silicon Valley now?

Finding Rental Housing in San Jose, Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley

The Crazy Silicon Valley Real Estate Market

There is most always a big shock when folks relocate to Silicon Valley and start to learn how far their money goes – or doesn’t go – here.  This has been the case for a very long time, since long before I got into the business 20 years ago.   Prior to to looking online, you may hear that it’s bad, but you don’t really know what people are talking about until you get into a car with a Realtor and go see what $500,000 or a million or more will buy you here.

And now, too add to the already high home prices, the real estate market is overheated due to a severe inventory shortage of homes for sale in the San Jose and “South Bay” areas, too.   Most properties are selling over list price – and that was high to start with, particularly for out of state or global buyers.

In most parts of the U.S., a half a million dollars will buy you a great home.  Here, not so much.  A million dollars will buy you a nice home in a decent area, but it won’t be fancy, and you’re unlikely to have a large lot unless your commute is huge and you’re on the outskirts of the valley. It’s more than a million to have a really nicely remodeled home with great schools; that price point seems to start at about 1.2 million in most parts of the valley. Have a look at the median and average sales prices for houses in Santa Clara County – this will give you a sense of how the market has been behaving, but also of the cost to purchase homes generally.

Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley - San Jose area) Prices and Sales Feb 2013

Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley - San Jose area) Prices and Sales Feb 2013

Continue reading

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.

Why is it so hard to find a rental home in Silicon Valley now?

Rental Home SoughtAt the moment, many people relocating to Silicon Valley are reporting that it’s harder to rent a home than to buy one.  What’s the reason for that?

Two things are happening that create pressure:

  1. There are a lot of companies hiring, and many high tech people, especially, are moving to Silicon Valley
  2. People who have lost homes in foreclosure, or who had to do a short sale to avoid it, are not able to buy for at least a few years. They may double up with family or friends for awhile but eventually do rent.

With demand increasing like crazy, rents are increasing like crazy too.  It’s the old tale of supply and demand: more demand than supply exists in the rental housing market today.

Just watch out for the scams!  If a price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  I wrote about this not too long ago, please have a look:

Scam: Online ads for houses listed for sale are sometimes scraped and offered as rentals by those wanting your money!

Rentals from RealtorsFinding a place to rent – how do people locate one in Santa Clara County?  Where can you find properties to lease or rent?  I have a list of resources on my Valley of Hearts Delight blog – please click on the following link.

Finding Rental Housing in San Jose, Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley

What about a broker or agent? Can a Realtor help you to find a rental home in Silicon Valley? Most of the time, a real estate sales person will not be of much help in finding rental properties, and that’s because they aren’t usually listed in the MLS (and the MLS is the way in which we are paid).

Sometimes, though, a rental is listed on our Multiple Listing Service (MLS). You can check it out directly at www.MLSListings.com – just select rental under “type”.  The vast majority of rentals are online via Craigslist, though, and a real estate agent has no role in that type of rental property.  Just beware of the scams, mentioned above, and always google the address of the property that looks interesting to see if it’s for sale also. If it is listed as for sale, the odds are that it’s not really for rent.

On occasion, members of the real estate community will know of a “courtesy rental” property, meaning that a client wants to rent it out but not necessarily put it on Craigslist or the MLS. Instead, it’s word of mouth.  You do not need to call every real estate professional in town to ask if they have any courtesy rentals. Instead, turn to your trusted Realtor and ask him or her to inquire for you.  Most agents are very happy to send out the request within their company and to top agents or managers of others nearby to ask on your behalf (but it’s no good if 10 Realtors are all circulating the same request, so please don’t give in to temptation and ask everyone for this favor.)

 

 

Finding Furnished Rentals in Los Gatos

Main Street in Los Gatos, CaliforniaMany people who move to Silicon Valley want to rent initially.  Los Gatos is a great place to start!  Many newcomers say that Los Gatos is the “most European” of Silicon Valley’s cities and towns.  I agree!

In addition to the El Gato Penthouse (in downtown LG on Main Street), a newer complex with some furnished rental units on the edge of Los Gatos next to Netflix is Aventino. It’s a luxurious community with granite counters in the kitchens, a beautiful pool and spa area, and secure parking.

The Bay Tree Apartments are in the Almond Grove District (downtown or “walk to town” Los Gatos) and they have both furnished and unfurnished, but they do not always have vacancies.  Here’s their contact info to check back later or see if there’s a waiting list: 347 Massol Aven Los Gatos, CA 95030   (408) 354-7317.

Want to learn more about living in Los Gatos? Please visit my Live in Los Gatos blog and see selected pages on my popehandy.com website devoted to the town of the cats.

Want to purchase a house, condo or townhouse in Los Gatos?  Here are some links to help you with your research.

Buy a home in Los Gatos

Browse Los Gatos Homes for Sale on my popehandy.com site:

 Los Gatos real estate market trends – uses live charts and list prices (not solds)
Los Gatos real estate market statistics – uses sold prices for Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and all of Santa Clara County

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


Comps near any address in Santa Clara County
Listings and Sales Near Any Address in Santa Clara County

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