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.

 

 

 

 

 

The shock of Silicon Valley housing costs: how little you can buy on a huge income

Relocation Housing Costs: how little you can buy on a huge income in Silicon ValleyIf 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.)

Setting expectations is a battle of it’s own. If you’re having trouble coming to terms with the price of homes here and seriously want to buy, or maybe you’re wondering why your offers aren’t working out, you may find this article helpful for introspection: Silicon Valley housing prices and the emotional stages they’ll put you through. And if you aren’t already working with an agent, getting good professional help is one of the #1 ways to succeed in this market, so make sure you know how to find and keep a quality agent! We love working with our blog readers, so always feel free to reach out if you’re in need!

Why make the sacrifice to live in Silicon Valley?

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Relocating from San Francisco to Silicon Valley

Coit Tower in San Francisco

Coit Tower in San Francisco

How hard could relocating from San Francisco to Silicon Valley be? It’s the same time zone, the same “San Francisco Bay Area” region, and depending on which part of Silicon Valley you target, the drive time could be all of 20 minutes – or perhaps well over an hour.

Relocating from San Francisco to Silicon Valley can be a little bit of a culture shock, which is surprising given the close proximity of the two areas.  What’s so different? In short:

  • Scenery
  • Density / Sprawl
  • Weather / Climate
  • Parking / Transit / Traffic
  • Events & Dining
  • Housing Sticker Shock

We’ll go over each of these below.

Silicon Valley Scenery

Most noticeably, the scenery is different.

You won’t be seeing the Golden Gate Bridge,  facing frighteningly steep hills, or catching a view of the Pacific Ocean from the Cliff House when you’re in Silicon Valley. Nob Hill, the Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Union Square, Market Street, Mission Dolores, the SOMA district and so many other colorful parts of the city will be places you visit on weekends rather than drop in on some evening for supper. The scenic beauty of San Francisco may be the thing you will miss the most if you move out of that fabled city.

Beauty isn’t absent from Silicon Valley, though!  There are views of the San Francisco Bay in many places (Foster City and Redwood Shores especially).  Scenic vistas of the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains can be enjoyed from many locations in the South Bay, especially Los Altos, Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Gatos, and the Almaden Valley in San Jose. Part of Silicon Valley reaches into North San Jose, Milpitas, and Fremont, where views of the eastern foothills can be quite lovely, too.  Some of these communities have a high elevation and can see the bay as well as the valley.
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Relocating to San Jose

Relocating? Evergreen: The Ranch with view of Downtown San Jose.

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

 

Silicon Valley retirement

Seniors making plans - Silicon Valley retirement - moving to Silicon Valley to be with loved ones in the Golden YearsSilicon Valley retirement can be challenging for those already living in the San Francisco Bay Area, but it’s even more challenging for those hoping to spend their Golden Years here if they are coming from a less expensive area. Today I want to give some info on:

  1. what does it cost to buy a home here (typical retirement size home)
  2. what are typical HOA dues
  3. what are typical property taxes
  4. what are some of the housing options that retirees or seniors have when relocating to Silicon Valley?

Silicon Valley retirement: what a modest home costs to buy here

The average sale price of a condominium in Santa Clara County is over $1 million (and it’s even more in San Mateo County), and that includes the range from most pricey to most affordable (and often most remote) locations. In most of the Unites States, a million dollars will get you a high end house on a comfortable lot. Houses are averaging around $2 million, so that is out of the question for the majority of retirees who move here from out of the area.

If a family member wants to come here to retire, most likely he or she will want to pay cash for a home so that there is no mortgage payment in retirement. If the budget is $1 million or less, that’s likely to mean purchasing a condo or perhaps a townhouse. In Santa Clara County, here’s where the money would go furthest:

 

Santa Clara County real estate market stats by city - Condos and townhomes

A 2 bedroom, 2 bath unit…

Silicon Valley retirement costs will be vastly different between Palo Alto and Gilroy.  San Jose will generally be more affordable than most of the rest of Santa Clara County except for the “South County” areas of Morgan Hill, San Martin, and Gilroy. San Jose is home to about a million people, and it has more and less expensive areas, of course.

The average sale price of a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condominium in San Jose in the last 30 days was $748,797. The average square footage was 1160 SF,
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Moving to Silicon Valley: is it possible to get a house here that’s as nice as the one you currently own?

Can You Get the Same Home Relocating to Silicon Valley?“Can I buy the same home in Silicon Valley?”

I am frequently contacted by extremely bright, successful engineers or high tech professionals who are in large homes on large lots with great schools in less expensive areas of the country, or ocasionally outsisde of the country. They want to move here because Silicon Valley is the hub of innovation, a center for jobs in high-tech, our weather’s great, crime’s low, and there’s so much to do in this region. The housing costs here are extraordinarily high here, but often these professionals hope that the salaries are commensurately high such that they can replicate the home and lifestyle they are accustom to elsewhere, but in Silicon Valley. It doesn’t work that way.

Unless you’re relocating here from New York, Tokyo, or Paris (or somewhere equally astronomically priced), don’t expect the salary offered in Silicon Valley will to go as far here as it would elsewhere in the world. I’m sorry.

Relocation & Silicon Valley: Downgrade to Upgrade

Downgrade the House, Upgrade the Price…

Most relocating homeowners can expect a home downgrade and a higher price compared to what they are leaving behind. Yes, incomes are a little higher but not nearly enough to match the discrepancy in real estate prices. This is even more true with the astronomical acceleration of the market that we’ve seen in 2021 and in early 2022. Even without a wild seller’s market I tell people, as a rule of thumb, that when you move here you will pay twice as much and get half as much. (While salaries might be a little higher, they are not usually double what you’d make elsewhere.)

Sometimes I get the comment: “I don’t want to move to Silicon Valley and have my family’s lifestyle negatively impacted by having to live in a smaller house. I want the quality of life to go up, not down!”

That is completely understandable. People who move here don’t do it because of the housing. They do it for the location and the style of living that this area offers.

… to Upgrade the Location and Lifestyle!

We have the Pacific Ocean an hour or less away, San Francisco an hour away, dozens of wineries, theatre, museums, professional sports (go Sharks!), and world-reknown parks and trails. Shoveling snow? Never! San Jose enjoys 300 sunny days a year on average. If you love to be outdoors, you can make the most of it all year long here where the weather is subtropical. Our population is highly diverse and highly educated, crime is low, not to mention it’s the center of the global tech industry! There are a thousand reasons why the South Bay is probably a major upgrade… but it’s not an upgrade if you equivocate your house with your lifestyle.

So if you are considering a move to Silicon Valley, expect to pay more, get less home, and move into an amazing community in a beautiful pocket of the world.

Related Reading from this and my other blogs:

Market Reports for Three Silicon Valley Counties

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

Comparing cost of housing in West Valley communities from Palo Alto to Los Gatos to Blossom Valley: what will a 4 bedroom home cost?