by Mary Pope-Handy, Clair Handy | Apr 7, 2023 | Buying Tips, FAQs
Back in the 1960’s, when I was growing up in Santa Clara, air conditioning was considered a luxury. I didn’t know anyone who had it in their homes in the immediate San Jose area. Hot days often weren’t too terrible, and if they were, we’d find our way to a pool, the beach, or a restaurant, library, or theater with A/C. Besides, as locals would insist, “it’s a dry heat”.
Over the last few decades, though, central forced air conditioning has become more mainstream. I do believe that Silicon Valley has grown hotter in recent years and it’s less and less of a reasonable option to go without it for most home buyers.
How common is air conditioning in Silicon Valley?
Today I looked on the multiple listing service to get a sense of how common central air conditioning is in Silicon Valley homes. Here’s what I found:
Single family homes or houses for sale in Santa Clara County (home to about 1.9 million people) = 743
Of these, houses with central forced air conditioning = 457 (61.5%)
Houses with central forced air – gas = 0
With ceiling fans = 121
With wall or window units = 18
With whole house or attic fan = 17
With multi-zone cooling = 88
“Other” cooling listed = 28
No cooling of any kind = 172 (23.1%)
There may be overlap in some fields. Interesting to see that 23% had no fans or cooling listed at all and that at least 61.5% but possibly as much as 66.5% (if including multi-zone and “other”) do have central forced air. If you are house hunting in the San Jose area, it’s important to realize that at least 23% of the homes on the market will not have any A/C.
And from 2016:
Single family homes or houses for sale in Santa Clara County (home to about 1.9 million people) = 1408
Of these, houses with central forced air conditioning = 891 (63%)
Houses with central forced air – gas (could be overlapping with the group above but if combined it’s 1010) = 119
With ceiling fans = 254
With wall or window units = 4
With whole house fan = 33
No cooling of any kind = 298 (21.1%)
In just 7 years the percentages of homes listed for sale with central A/C or with no cooling haven’t changed much, however we are seeing more homes with alternative cooling advertised. This may indicate an increase in buyer interest in this feature.
How necessary is air conditioning in the San Francisco Bay Area?
This has always been the old debate: “do we really need air conditioning?” Like many things, that depends. microclimates can have a huge impact on weather.
by Mary Pope-Handy, Clair Handy | Mar 3, 2023 | FAQs
Perhaps you love – even need – a good view in order to feel happy with your new home in a new place. We don’t have a lot of water view homes in Silicon Valley, though there are some of the San Francisco Bay in places – mostly either right on the shorefront or certain hillside areas. What’s easier to find are hill and mountain vistas, or valley views. So what do these Silicon Valley view homes cost?
Silicon Valley View Homes: The Market
Naturally a lot of the answer has to do with location, home size, condition of the property, and land value. If you’re looking for a turnkey +2500 SqFt home with a 20 minute commute and great schools expect to pay upwards of $3 million. In general, it’s difficult to find a house with valley views for less than $2 million unless the property needs a lot of remodeling, repairs, and updating OR is in a very remote location.
You can find plenty of Santa Clara County mountain homes for under $1 million in picturesque settings, as well as luxury ridge-top estates with picturesque valley, bay, and ocean views, however the mountains are a specialty market that’s not for everyone.
While it’s difficult to put an exact number on it, expansive and sweeping views will generally be of higher value than comparable properties with peek-a-boo views. That said, sellers – don’t forget to market your views! A good agent will know how and where to include a pleasant vista in their marketing, whether it’s capturing photos of the scene, drone footage to show off the location, greeting open house guests from the front deck, or a description of the foothills seen out the bedroom window.
I live in the Belwood neighborhood nestled beside the foothills of East Los Gatos close to Belgatos Park. A “close in” location, not out in the boondocks, assigned to the sought-after Union schools. Many of these homes are comfortably sized single family homes around 2,000 SqFt and on 10,000 SqFt lots. Over the last year (March 2022 – March 2023) in Belwood and neighboring Belmont, 14 properties sold between $2M for one of the smallest homes on one of the smallest lots in the area up to $3.65M for one of the larger homes which had been extensively remodeled.
Take that same house and move it to Saratoga with Saratoga schools, and the price would be substantially more expensive, and more still in Los Altos! Compared to some other foothill communities in the South Bay, Los Gatos offers homeowners good “bang for your buck”, at least for Silicon Valley standards. If you haven’t spent much time in this charming town, I’d invite you to check it out!
San Jose also has some popular communites in the foothills. Almaden Valley is surrounded by natural beauty with some of San Jose’s top-rated schools. Berryessa has also seen a more recent surge of interest as a good “bang for your buck” neighborhood, especially for East Bay and Penninsula commuters, with improving schools and foothill views. Cambrian has longstanding popularity for it’s commutability, highly regarded schools, and areas with hill views, as has it’s the neighboring, and slightly more affordable, Blossom Valley district.
Value of a View
Silicon Valley view homes vary in condition, size, parcel size, and many other factors. In most cases, the properties which are move-in ready will run between $2,000,000 at the low end to $5,000,000. Luxury estates and oversized lots may well cost more. We see homes in Santa Clara County priced up to around $20 million at times, and on the Peninsula sometimes much higher ceilings.
by Mary Pope-Handy | Jan 25, 2023 | Communities, FAQs, Lifestyle
The Silicon Valley and San Jose areas are seeing a resurgence in the popularity of “urban living” neighborhoods. If you are looking to rent or buy a home in one of these areas, you may wonder where you can find them.
For those not familiar with the “urban living” name, it refers to areas of higher density and mixed use. These are areas where homes and shops are close together, sometimes even stacked, and land tends to be scarce and in high demand. In these areas residents often are not so dependent upon cars, and some sites may refer to them as “walkable” or “walk to town” neighborhoods, although that phrase is less inclusive and is being phased out.
Urban Living Neighborhoods in Silicon Valley
Here’s a quick list of areas to consider if you want the urban living experience:
by Mary Pope-Handy | Oct 1, 2022 | FAQs, Relocation
If you’re relocating because you’ve just been hired as a high level executive at Apple, Google, Microsoft or any other high tech or biotech firm in Silicon Valley, you may be coming to the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley from an enormous home (5,000+ square feet) on an enormous lot (1 acre +). You are a raging success. You are highly regarded. You are on the top of your game. Your house “back home” displays your accomplishments. What about your Silicon Valley Home?
Housing Costs & Relocation
Set Your Expectations
You’ve heard that prices are bad here, but how much worse could they really be? Surely you could downsize a bit to a 3,000 to 3,500 square foot house on a half acre with a 20 minute commute, right? And you’d still have great schools for “resale value,” right? You are prepared to give up the full basement, the pool and tennis court and the 4 car garage. That is enough of an adjustment, isn’t it?
No, I’m sorry to say, it isn’t.
That house you are leaving behind in the suburbs of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Chicago, Denver, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, or wherever you’re coming from is a super high end luxury home. It’s probably worth $1,500,000 to $2,500,000. But guess what? Here, in a nice area, that’s a 2,000 SF house on a 10,000 lot in a good area that’s a tear down. And in traffic, it could be a +40 minute commute.
Want an acre in an area with really good public schools at all levels? Think $4 million plus. And that doesn’t mean that the house will be turn-key. You will very likely have to remodel or personalize so that you are happy with it, as most of our houses were built between the 1960s and 1980s. (Here a 25 year old home is considered relatively young.)
Why make the sacrifice to live in Silicon Valley?
by Mary Pope-Handy, Clair Handy | Sep 9, 2022 | Buying Tips, FAQs
One of the simplest ways of assessing the real estate market is to check the absorption rate, often called the months of inventory.
In short, it tells you the pace of home sales (beyond the simpler days on market). It informs you:
- if you’re buying, whether or not you need to hurry or if you can take your time!
- if you’re selling, this figure tells you what the odds are of your success in the next month. That could impact your selling strategy.
What is the months of inventory, or the absorption rate?
The absorption rate tells us how quickly the current inventory will be absorbed, or sold off, if sales continue at the same pace and no new inventory were to be added.
The absorption rate could be measured in days, weeks, months, years, or decades – but the most common is the months of inventory. It’s really two data points in one: the available inventory and the number of sales in a particular period of time.
If this is hard to picture, consider a bathtub. If the tub is draining, how long will it take until the water is gone if the faucet is left off and if water continues to exit the tub at the same rate? That is the pace we are considering for homes for sale.
When homes are selling fast, in 30 days or less, often the data is described as days of inventory rather than weeks or months.
What is a fast absorption rate, and what does that mean for home sellers and buyers?
A balanced rate of sales suggests that neither home sellers or home buyers have a real advantage over the other. In the United States, anywhere from 4 – 6 months is considered balanced. Less than that is a seller’s market, and more than that is a buyer’s market. The lower the number, the hotter the market.
In Silicon Valley, though, it’s almost never as high as 4 months – though it can and does happen sometimes.
For us, anything under 2 months is a hot market, and anything under 1 month is a super hot seller’s market.
Here’s a graph displaying the absorption rate for houses in Santa Clara County between January 2005 and now. The highest absorption rate was 14.2 in January 2008. It fell quickly from there with the next month at 12.4, then 10.1 in March, and eventually settling in at around 6-7 months of inventory for a period.
by Mary Pope-Handy | Sep 1, 2021 | Communities, FAQs, Market reports, Market trends & statistics, Relocation
With soaring housing prices in Silicon Valley, newcomers and folks potentially relocating here may wonder what can you buy for $1 million or less in Silicon Valley? This article will provide a snapshot in time and provide a sense of whether your million dollar budget can get you into a house, a townhouse, or a condo – or perhaps “none of the above” – on the valley floor.
(Homes in the Los Gatos or Santa Cruz Mountains are generally more affordable, but will of course be farther out and are generally considered a specialty market. Not included will be mobile homes, as the space rents are often close to or more than $1,000 per month. Also not included are duplexes, which you’d be hard pressed to find many of under that $1 million mark.)
If you absolutely must buy a house, and the budget must be under $1 million…
If you absolutely must have a house or single family home, as opposed to a condominium or townhouse, there are a number of areas for you to consider in Santa Clara County, including
- Morgan Hill
- Certain districts in San Jose
- Alum Rock
- South San Jose
- Downtown and Central San Jose
- Santa Teresa
- and Alviso (including County pockets)
- the Los Gatos 95033 (mountains) area – which is vast and contains many small communities
The Los Gatos mountains area varies in price from one community to the next and right now that is a hopping market, I’m told. You can find information, including a list of mountain neighborhoods, on the page linked as well as the occasional market update. If you’re interested in buying or selling a mountain home here in the Bay Area, please reach out! I do some work in the mountains, and if it’s not a match I am happy to connect nice folks with trusted Realtors that are mountain market specialists.
To determine where someone could get into a house for under $1,000,000, I pulled the sales from the last 90 days (as of August 31, 2021) and looked at how many of the sales of houses for any given area were under that budget amount. In many places, there were zero – even if I looked back a full year! The areas below are listed in order of the average sale price for these “in budget” properties, though you might prefer to rank them by the average square footage or some other criteria.
(Trouble reading the image above? Click to view the full-sized photo.)
This doesn’t mean you can’t find something under $1mil elsewhere. San Jose’s Almaden Valley, Willow Glen, and Cambrian areas each had one sale under the million-dollar mark during the same time period, but these sales are significantly less common. When you see ratios of something like 3% or less of the houses sold are under that price point, it’s important to understand that those homes may be major fixer uppers, tear downs, or have a location issue or some other big challenge. But – perhaps you are handy, do not mind the property condition, location, extremely small size, or whatever the presenting issue may be.
Areas in Santa Clara County where a house is possible but unlikely, but a townhouse or condominium may work: