Frequently, people new to Silicon Valley and the San Jose area arrive expecting to find new homes like the ones they left behind. But in reality that’s just not the norm in this market!
Unless you are looking to purchase a condominium or a townhome, or are looking at areas with very long commutes, it can be challenging to find truly new homes for sale here.
Finding New Homes in Silicon Valley
For the most part, Silicon Valley had a post World War II housing boom that stretched primarily from the 50s into the 70s. By the 1980s, most open space in the Valley was gone.
A view of Downtown San Jose on the valley floor from The Ranch community in Evergreen district on the East Valley area of Santa Clara County.
Are you mulling over a job opportunity in the tech capital of the world, Silicon Valley? If you’re relocating to San Jose, or nearby, there are a few helpful things to know right away. Here’s a quick primer:
Relocating to San Jose – Here are Some Quick Facts.
- San Jose (officially named City of San José) is located at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay, so is part of the SF Bay Metro Area and about 1 hour by car south of San Francisco (which locals call The City).
- It is located within Santa Clara County, and geographically in the Santa Clara Valley and along the foothills of the Santa Cruz and Diablo ranges.
- This sprawling city has a number of different districts or communities, some of which have their own thriving downtown strips. There are also quite a few school districts – school lines are not based on city or zip code boundaries.
- The beach at Santa Cruz is anywhere from 30 – 60 minutes away from most of San Jose (assuming you don’t go at the peak of “beach traffic” timing on a weekend or holiday).
- San Jose is also the home of Silicon Valley, which began here in Santa Clara County, but has now spread throughout the area.
- This city is the 10th largest in the United States (though poll most people who aren’t in The Golden State and they couldn’t tell you where it is). The population is just shy of the 1 million mark. The county has about 1.9 million people and the Silicon Valley region (Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and a little each of Santa Cruz County and Alameda County)
- Home prices are reportedly on average the highest in the nation, and 5th highest in the world. The average price of a house in the area is $1 million. And that is not for a big home, in most cases. Sticker shock is the #1 reason why some people won’t move here – and why others move away. Rents are, similarly, high. It’s not uncommon to hear of people spending half their income or more on housing.
- Next to housing or real estate prices, traffic is the second biggest complaint.
- Weather is often ideal – 300 sunny days per year, and there are many parks and open spaces to make use of it all. Winter here is pretty much just December and January, and even in January you’ll see some trees pop alive with beautiful blossoms.
- San Jose has frequently been named one of the best places to raise a kid.
Looking for more info? Here are some links:
Facts about San Jose, the Capital of Silicon Valley
From the City of San Jose: San José at-a-glance
San Jose is big and sprawling: where the the districts?
Browse available listings of San Jose homes for sale
As I was going through old blog posts, I found this brief installment from April 17th, 2014. Often I write that the current hot sellers market in the Bay is “prolonged,” “steady,” or “persistent,” but seeing these two headlines from over 3 years ago really shows just how unyielding it has been. It is highly unusual to be in such a strong, drawn-out market, but there’s no clear indicator that things will change anytime soon, either. Buyers and renters might find some relief now that autumn is here in hopes that it brings the usual seasonal cooling.
Find the original post immediately below. – Update October 22nd, 2017
Here are the headlines from the San Jose Mercury News in mid April 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.
It’s a hot seller’s market in Silicon Valley, but it’s also a time of great job growth here! Each week I get calls or emails from people considering job offers in Cupertino, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Menlo Park, San Jose and nearby. Many of these recruits are interested in areas with superior public schools.
What’s the cost of buying a house of about 2,000 square feet with 3-5 bedrooms and great schools? A few communities with better education are these: Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, Palo Alto. We’ll consider these to provide a sense of prices in similar areas.
Here’s a quick look at what single family homes have been selling for over the last three months:
- Los Gatos: mostly $1,200,000 to $2,200,000 depending on the school district, averaging about $1,700,000
- Saratoga: mostly $1,400,000 to $2,300,000 depending on the school district, averaging about $1,900,000
- Cupertino: mostly $1,700,000 to $2,100,000 depending on the school district, averaging about $1,950,000
- Palo Alto: mostly $2,000,000 to $3,300,000 depending on the school district, averaging about $2,650,000
If you are new to Santa Clara County, you may be wondering if this is correct. It is…
Please continue reading here:
How do prices compare between Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino and Palo Alto?
920 Hazelwood Ave Campbell – Home with in-law suite or guest quarters
Looking for a Silicon Valley home with in-law suite and a quarter acre lot? It can be challenging to find a house offering a separate wing of with guest quarters big enough for family, friends, or rental income and still have a nice sized back yard left over. Right now you can find a fantastic place in Campbell, one of the most popular cities within the region, that’s been remodeled and expanded, featuring a spacious guest suite and a large back yard. It is sure to please! Let me introduce you to 920 Hazelwood Avenue, Campbell, CA 95008.
From small bungalow to stunning, remodeled home with in-law suite
Originally built as a small ranch style home in 1945, the house was a modest but thoughtfully designed 3 bed, 1 bath home with a detached 1 car garage at its inception. Long before there was Silicon Valley, this was a quiet county pocket near Campbell with quarter acre lots (today it is incorporated and part of the city.) Previous home owners expanded the house, adding a family – dining area, an office, and a second bath off of the office. Hardwood floors are found throughout all of these areas except for in the bathrooms.
In around 2000 to 2001, current owners did a beautiful kitchen remodel, demolished the 1 car garage and built an over-sized 441 SF attached 2 car garage just off the kitchen, and added a 539 SF guest suite behind the garage. Today it is a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home with 2024 square feet – and it’s move-in ready!
The San Francisco and Silicon Valley unemployment rates are a huge driver of the SF Bay Area’s housing market. Today I saw real estate market info from the California Association of Realtor’s chief economist, Leslie Appleton-Young. One of her slides makes plain why the Silicon Valley real estate market is so crazy: our unemployment rate is extremely low, behind only San Francisco (where trying to buy a home is even worse than on the Peninsula or South Bay). Have a look at the data by California metro area:
San Francisco and Silicon Valley unemployment rates
San Francisco and Silicon Valley unemployment rates plus all of California by metro area
As you can see, San Francisco has a screaming hot jobs market with only 3.4% unemployment. The San Jose metro area is only slightly cooler at 4.1%. (Unfortunately there are no “Cliff Notes” to tell where the San Francisco Metro Area ends and where the San Jose Metro Area begins – so I cannot tell if San Mateo County is lumped in with Santa Clara County to the south or San Francisco County and City to the north.)
With all this hiring going on, it’s no wonder that a frequent topic of conversation is Silicon Valley traffic patterns and congestion. A few years ago, the rush hour traffic in the morning went from about 6:30 or 7am to 9am, and the evening commute times were about 4 to 7pm. Today both are extended. I find that Highway 85 in the “west valley” areas along Los Gatos, Saratoga, and Cupertino tends to still be pretty thick with cars even at 10am. The return trip from Palo Alto (where I have some doctors at Stanford Hospital) can be sluggish as early as 3pm.
Worsening traffic from low Silicon Valley unemployment rates means that Silicon Valley real estate is even more expensive than usual for close-in locations. Many San Jose area commuters spend an hour driving into work in the morning and 75 or 90 minutes driving home in the evening (for reasons I don’t understand, the evening commute is quite a bit worse than the morning one). That translates to home prices being much, much more expensive than you’d expect in places like Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara. For a better quality of life, Silicon Valley employees will often pay dearly to get that shorter commute. If they can get the smaller commute and great public schools, the communities are the most expensive places to live, as is the case in Palo Alto, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills in particular.
Find Silicon Valley real estate and homes for sale in “close in” locations below