Silicon Valley housing prices and the emotional stages they’ll put you through

Stages of Silicon Valley real estate sticker shockIt’s no surprise that housing prices in and around Silicon Valley are extremely high. So when moving to or purchasing a home in the area, know that getting over Silicon Valley real estate sticker shock happens in stages.

The 5 Stages of Housing Sticker Shock

First there is disbelief or denial.  “It cannot be that bad – people are exaggerating.”  That’s followed quickly by “I thought it was bad where I used to live!”

Then there may be outrage (anger is too mild a word): “Why would anyone pay that to live there?”

Next, a little bargaining: “What’s the work around? Are there any bank owned homes?  How about something older – I don’t mind a 15 year old house…” (To us, that’s a young house, by the way.) “What about buying a lot and building?”  Or the commute negotiation “I thought I had to be within 15 minutes, but I could go 30.”  A typical commute might be 30 minutes in the morning, but 45 in the evening.  Many people have worse than typical, though, as they want a bigger, nicer home, better schools, quieter location, etc.

Depression soon follows suit. This may be accompanied by “We just cannot do it” or “We are not willing to do that” (until they see that rents are $4000 for a smallish house in an only OK area and $6000 per month for a decent sized home in a good area.)

Acceptance comes at last. Either you can and will buy locally, or you won’t. For some, coming to terms with our local market costs means they’re ready to go all in, bite the bullet, and buy locally. That may mean spending more or getting less than what you would like. It may lead others to move out of the immediate area and embrace an hour-long commute, or to take the Apple or Google bus to work, if applicable. Or perhaps they choose to rent indefinitely (although this can also appear in the other stages).

Alternatively, it could lead some people to move to Seattle, Orange County or somewhere a little less overwhelming in terms of housing costs where they can buy the home they want.

Burning Money While Housing Prices RiseMoving Through the Stages – Acceptance of Housing Prices

Progressing through the stages is often not a straight line.

Sometimes people think they are at “acceptance” as they write offers which are habitually 5-15% too low.  In reality, they are actually still somewhere between the “denial” and “bargaining” phases, either refusing to believe the market data or hoping for a good deal amidst our raging seller’s market. That “good deal” doesn’t usually happen. Writing multiple unsuccessful offers frequently leads to depression, and sometimes even blaming their agent for their offers not going through (outrage), even when it’s clear at closing that their offer price or terms were the issue, and they were recieving good guidance from their agent that was disregarded (denial).

So how fast can you expect to get to the acceptance stage and write a realistic purchase offer? Honestly, everyone will go at a different pace, but the sooner the better. For people who could have bought 12 months ago but are still shopping now, that wait has cost them about +10% of their home price in many cases, possibly more. For those who have been looking 3 years, it’s more than double that. At that point, it’s like setting a match to your entire down payment.

If you want to be a successful home buyer in this crazy Silicon Valley real estate market, you will need to get onboard quickly, because the longer you take to get to acceptance, the more expensive your final home will cost when the market is appreciating, as it has been for about 3 years now.  Time is money and nowhere is that more true than in the San Jose, Silicon Valley, or South Bay real estate market.

 

 

Looking for more Silicon Valley real estate resources?  Here are a few of my other sites, blogs, and market stats tooks:

popehandy.rereport.com – real estate statics for San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, and Santa Cruz County

popehandy.com – Silicon Valley real estate, Los Gatos real estate, info on many areas of the realty market in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties

SanJoseRealEstateLosGatosHomes.com – Santa Clara County real estate, special focus on San Jose areas of Almaden & Cambrian and also Los Gatos with info on the real estate market, neighborhoods, and more

LiveInLosGatosBlog – Los Gatos real estate, neighborhoods, events, businesses, parks. Many photos and neighborhood or subdivision profiles.

 

 

 

 

 

Market Reports for Three Silicon Valley Counties

Today we’ll share the market reports for three Silicon Valley Counties. These are from December 2022.

Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Santa Cruz County are the areas covered below. Generally, “Silicon Valley” is 95% within Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, plus a little of Santa Cruz County and a small part of Alameda County. Alameda County uses a different MLS system, and we don’t usually sell there, so we are not covering it in this post.

Each section below includes first the data for single family homes and then condos and townhomes for each region.

If you’re ready to dive a little deeper, we also provide regular monthly market updates on some of the popular communities within Santa Clara County over at my Valley of Heart’s Delight blog. Scroll the most recent ones here.
December 2022: Three Silicon Valley Counties

Santa Clara County Real Estate Market Report for Dec 2022

The first of the three Silicon Valley counties is Santa Clara County – home to San Jose, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Santa Clara, Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, and a number of other cities and towns. This county is the heart of Silicon Valley.

If you’re having trouble reading any of the charts on this page, click to open the full size image.

 

Santa Clara County real estate market trends for December 2022

The market is clearly cooling with longer days on market, fewer sales, and a falling median sales price.

The condominium and townhouse report for Santa Clara County

While it had fewer than half the sales of the single family home market, the condo and townhouse market is also experiencing similar trends.

 

Santa Clara County condominium and townhouse real estate market stats for Dec 2022

Keep reading for updates on the San Mateo and Santa Cruz county markets.

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What does it cost to buy a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home in the West Valley areas of Silicon Valley?

It can be challenging for people moving to Silicon Valley to get a sense of pricing for home buying. So to compare “apples to apples,” let’s take a hypothetical case of a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home of approximately 2,000 SF house (appx 185 square meters) and see how the cost looks in one area versus another.

Last week I compared several areas using the formula: single family homes of 1,800 – 2,200 SF, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, on lot sizes of 6,000 SF – 10,000 SF that have sold within the last 120 days. I sometimes will adjust this criteria slightly, usually the days, depending on the market activity. The prices listed are the average from sales in this criteria, so areas with a higher volume of sales will have more stable averages than those with less sales to analyze. DOM means “Days on Market”, the number of days a home was listed as available before pending.

Please note that this is a rough sketch of home prices based on averages taken across large, diverse residential communities. There are many factors that will affect market value beyond these boundaries.

Now, on to the charts.

The Cost To Buy A 4 Bedroom 2 Bath Home In…

I have arranged this chart in descending order by Price per Square Foot. Most of my charts are organized either by Price per Square Foot or by Sales Price, and you can see certain markets shift positions compared to past charts, moving up or down the order depending on what’s hot.

Occasionally one of these markets will have few to no sales within the timeframe, so those will be left in place from where they were when we last checked, but will show “n/a” in place of any pricing or statistics – usually I try to avoid this and will increase the timeframe of my search! Once you’ve reviewed the most recent data, scroll down farther to compare today’s market against past years.

Please use the list below as a way to get your bearings on nearby areas in the South Bay (southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area). This is not an exhaustive list – it’s just most of the areas closest to Highway 85 or the West Valley Freeway. You can study various cities, downs, and districts within the region at my stats site, popehandy.rereport.com. (Free and you do not have to register unless you want email updates.)

Want to do a deep dive on any of these areas? Please visit my Valley of Heart’s Delight Blog to learn about them.

 

2022-11-3 Homes 120D 4 bed 2 bath West Valley

 

There have been a number of changes to the order since the last time we checked in December 2020 – that time I did arrange it by sales price, however, so some of these changes are due to the sorting system difference. Saratoga jumped to the top of the list with it’s sole sale. Sunnyvale and Cambrian also climbed the ladder, even taking into account the sorting difference.

Most, but not all, areas averaged higher prices compared to last year. The West Valley “typical” home is selling approximately 7% above where they were last June. In areas like Saratoga with few sales it’s normal to see broad fluctuations in the charts for this community, so these may move around without suggesting any major changes in the market.

What we see across the entire chart is sky high spring pricing and extremely low days on market – about 2-3 weeks in most areas. While there are the occasional slow sales the majority are selling quickly, although not at the breakneck speeds of last year.

Cost to Buy in West Valley Varies Widely: What’s the Difference?

This chart shows average sales in West Valley communities above $3M and under $1.5M. Why such a big difference? In most cases, the most expensive and desirable places have either the best schools or shortest commute location or both. Communities like Palo Alto and Los Altos, which are consistently high, tend to have both. Had I ranked these for school scores, you’d find that Cambrian would be fairly high up as it is a good “bang for the buck” location – though not a super short commute for folks who work in Mountain View (though not so bad for people working in Cupertino). None of these is especially close to North San Jose (Cisco).

Also, it should be noted that one of the main drivers of home values is school districts. In the San Jose / Silicon Valley area, the school district boundaries do NOT follow the city or town boundaries. Los Gatos, for example, has 3 different elementary school districts, with varying scores which impact home values. So too with Saratoga, Campbell, Sunnyvale, and many other areas – San Jose especially!

All this to say that the figures above are only ROUGH GUIDES. When you break it down to micro-markets, the picture changes more. But as a starter guide, I think you’ll find the above info helpful to give you a general idea of how far your money can go in home buying for areas in Santa Clara County from Palo Alto to Blossom Valley.

Palo Alto is a gorgeous, exciting area with all kinds of wonderful features – beautiful neighborhoods, lower crime, great schools, short commute. It is usually the most expensive area on this list. But unless you found a successful startup company or inherit a couple of million bucks, it can be hard to buy a single family home there. Many people would like to live in the shadow of Stanford University, but the budget just won’t allow it!

Now let’s have a look at that June 2021 chart I’ve been referencing. Although overall it was an extremely active market in the West Valley, low inventory meant few sales in most areas!

 

Comparing West Valley House Prices 2021-06-28

 

Now let’s have a look at that some older charts.

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Home prices by high school district

Here’s a quick look at home prices by high school district and further below, also by elementary school district. This is a great way to get a broad sense of where it’s more affordable or more costly to buy a home in Silicon Valley! The numbers were for sales in June 2022.

First, the median home prices by high school district for single family homes (houses and duet homes) in Santa Clara County. (Click on the images to view a larger version of each).

The SP/LP figure refers to the sale price to list price ratio. When it says 109%, that means the home sold on average 9% over list price. Med DOM is the median Days on Market.

PLEASE CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO VIEW LARGER VERSION

 

2022-07-13 SCC SFH stats by High School District Updated

 

Within each of these high school districts, there are more and less expensive areas. In the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union HSD, for instance, some homes are in Los Gatos, some in Monte Sereno, and some in Saratoga – some have views and acreage, some are more modest. The figures are very broad.

Next, the same data but for condominiums and townhouses in Santa Clara County. These are far more affordable, but still very costly.

PLEASE CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO VIEW LARGER VERSION

 

 

2022-07-13 SCC condo Stats by High School District

 

The condominium and townhouse market has been strong also.

Home prices by Elementary School District

Single family homes (nearly all houses, some duet homes)

 

 

Condos and townhouse by elementary school district for June 2022:

 

2022-07-13 SCC con do Stats by Elementary School District

 

Need similar data for San Mateo County or Santa Cruz County? Please let me know and we can get it to you.

What can you buy for $1 million in Silicon Valley?

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

  • Gilroy
  • Morgan Hill
  • Milpitas
  • Certain districts in San Jose
    • Alum Rock
    • South San Jose
    • Evergreen
    • Berryessa
    • 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.

Silicon Valley homes for under $1 million: houses

(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:

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How’s the Silicon Valley real estate market?

Aerial vew over San Jose looking east - photo by Mary Pope-Handy

Aerial vew over San Jose looking east – photo by Mary Pope-Handy

What’s going on with the Silicon Valley real estate market? Is it as crazy as ever with multiple offers, overbids, and few or no contingencies?  Today we’ll consider the regional view, aka The Big Picture, to provide a sense of what is going on. For info on smaller areas or districts, please head over to my main blog, the Valley Of Heart’s Delight Blog – SanJoseRealEstateLosGatosHomes.com. There cities, towns, and districts are looked at in depth.

Seasonal Patterns in Silicon Valley

The quietest time (number of sales, traffic, etc.) and lowest prices in the real estate market tend to fall in January, or sometimes in December.  As with most years, this time around January had the lowest prices.

Most years, we see strong buyer activity with multiple offers early in the year – often emerging as a pattern by the middle of February.

Right now, some home sellers have not accepted that home prices have dropped 20% or so since the peak last spring (more or less depending on location, pricing tier, school districts, property condition, and so on). Those properties are not moving quickly.

For sellers who understand the current market conditions and have priced appropriately, home buyers are flocking and multiple offers are back – in force.

In short, there’s a kind of duality right now, so it’s a weird time. Homes that were sitting on the market but get a price reduction may linger awhile, and then sell with multiple offers. This catches buyers and their Realtors off guard.

To provide regional Silicon Valley market conditions, today I’ll post info on  the three counties (San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz).

In terms of expense, San Mateo is the most costly of these 3, and overall it becomes less expensive in Santa Clara County, then less expensive still in Santa Cruz County.  Alameda County has a little of Silicon Valley, but that area is in a  different MLS system so is not part of this analysis.

Next, a look at sale prices an market conditions for single family homes and condominiums / townhomes by county.

What does it cost to buy a house or condo in Silicon Valley?

In Santa Clara County (home to Palo Alto, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, San Jose, and my own Los Gatos), the average sale price is $1,413,000 and the median sale price $1,185,000 – quite a bit lower than last spring.

Santa Clara County
http://rereport.com/scc/print/Mary.PopeHandySCC.pdf

Please click to enlarge:

Santa Clara County trends at a glance

 

For condominiums and townhouses, of course, it is a more affordable.

Santa Clara County condo trends at a glance

 

In San Mateo County (home to Redwood Shores, Foster City, Menlo Park, San Mateo), the average sale price is about $1.78 million for houses recently sold.  The median is a little lower at $1.425 million. (more…)