What does it really cost to buy a house in Silicon Valley?  In Santa Clara County, the median sale price of houses is $1 million (May 2015) and the average sale price is just about $1,300,000.  So you know it can’t be easy – these are for the whole county, not the areas with the best commutes, best schools, most charm, etc.    And it’s worse if you go north, and into San Mateo County, where the median sale price is $1,325,000 and the average sale price is $1,660,000?  (Please visit my RE REPORT for information on Silicon Valley real estate statistics. It is automatically updated each month.)

Today I’ll use the Altos Research charts to show the median LIST PRICES (sales prices often a little higher) of homes for sale in several Silicon Valley communities – just a sampling, not all of them, and then we’ll look at the median list price of just the lowest priced homes – those in the bottom 25% of pricing.  Please note that the charts will be AUTOMATICALLY UPDATED each week, so this article should remain current.

The high tech epicenters: Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Cupertino

Below please note the median list price of homes in the super highly desirable areas of technology intensity. These areas are always “sky high” relative to the rest of Santa Clara County (Palo Alto and Cupertino are noted for their exceptionally high scoring public schools, and Palo Alto has a very bustling, fun downtown area).

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

Next, what is the least you might expect to pay for houses in these same areas?  Here’s a glance at the least expensive single family home segments. Palo Alto is just a hair under $1.95 million (these are likely mostly “fixers”), Cupertino comes in at $1.3 million, Mountain View again close behind at just barely under $1.3 million and Sunnyvale offers its most affordable homes at about $775 – $800k.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

Please also see this article on another of my sites for more detailed information on the Cupertino real estate market:

For more information on the Sunnyvale real estate market specifically, please read this article:

Los Altos and Los Altos Hills

Right next to these lovely communities you’ll also find Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. Both share the 94022 and 94024 zip codes.  Los Altos is the more affordable of the two and has a lovely downtown area (though it’s a bit sleepy compared to Mountain View or Los Gatos).  Los Altos Hills is equestrian country, a place where the lot sizes are 1 acre minimum.  No one would call either of these scenic places affordable, but they are very convenient.

All quartiles combined – the median list price of homes in Los Altos and LAH:

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

The lowest quartile of prices for these same areas:

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

Saratoga, Monte Sereno, and Los Gatos – good schools in the West Valley

Next let’s look a little further out to three communities nestled at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains: Saratoga (closest to Cupertino), then Monte Sereno, and finally Los Gatos (two zip codes: 95030 and 95032).   Saratoga and Los Gatos both have nice “downtown” areas, and Monte Sereno shares many services of Los Gatos.

Median list price of all homes for sale – yes, they are sky high! It can vary but often Saratoga is the most expensive, followed by Monte Sereno, then Los Gatos 95030 and finally Los Gatos 95032  (95032 spreads the east-west distance of Los Gatos, with some of it close to Saratoga, Campbell and Cupertino and another area close to the San Jose districts of Almaden and Cambrian – that’s east Los Gatos and west Los Gatos.)

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

Saratoga, Monte Sereno, and Los Gatos – lowest price quartile – a little easier on the pocket book, but not by much.  Monte Sereno is way on top at $2.3 million for their most affordable houses, then Los Gatos 95030 at $2 million, next Saratoga at close to $1.7 million, and finally Los Gatos 95032 at $1.4 million.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

Even more information on the Live in Los Gatos blog on the Los Gatos real estate market, with information broken down by price point and high school district:

More information on the Saratoga real estate market by price point and high school district, too:

More affordable alternatives: Campbell, Almaden Valley, and Cambrian

Campbell (95008) is a hot market now – the city enjoys a vibrant downtown, light rail access to downtown San Jose, tons of parks and shops and is a fairly easy commute from there to most of Silicon Valley’s high tech centers.  Except for the extreme west side of town, on the Saratoga border, it’s not known for its schools, though.

Almaden (95120), especially southern Almaden, is often a rival to Cupertino as the schools are fantastic and many home buyers think that they get a really good bang for their buck.  But Almaden is not an easy commute to Sunnyvale.  In rush hour, from 85 and 101 to southern Almaden it’s probably an hourlong drive.  If you’re working in downtown San Jose, though, it’s not nearly so bad.  Almaden Valley is scenic.  There’s no downtown – just some shopping centers (where you can expect to bump into everyone you know.)

Cambrian or Cambrian Park (95118 and 95124)  is a little closer in and much of it enjoys really strong schools at a relatively affordable price (Union and Cambrian school districts especially)

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

Bottom quartile of median list prices for Almaden, Cambrian and Campbell

Almaden Valley (San Jose 95120) is about $1 million (think small house/lot/fixer/not better schools).  Campbell is next at around $860,000.  Then San Jose 95124 (Cambrian) coming it close to $780,000 and lastly San Jose 95118 (also Cambrian, but mostly with San Jose Unified schools) at about $670,000.
Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

For more reading:
Schools, API Scores & Maps of School Boundaries in San Jose’s Almaden Valley

Willow Glen, Santa Clara and Milpitas

Finally, the Willow Glen area of San Jose (95125), Santa Clara and Milpitas – Santa Clara is a pretty quick commute so is a popular alternative for convenience. Santa Clara is also highly regarded as a “most liveable” medium sized city. But overall, people don’t go there for good schools (though one area lies within the Cupertino schools area). Willow Glen is oozing with architectural charm and a great little downtown; it’s also convenient for people working in downtown San Jose. Milpitas has good schools and an excellent commute for someone working in North San Jose (think Cisco) or along the nearer sides of Hwy 237.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

And finally, by price quartile:

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com


If these prices still have your heart racing, you can consider going a little further out to the Los Gatos Mountains or “South County”, where you get more home for your money.  If your corner of Silicon Valley is in North San Jose, have a look at Pleasanton (great schools) or Livermore (very affordable by area standards – and a lot of lovely new construction on the south side of town).    Can’t handle a long commute?  Another alternative is to consider a townhouse or a condo. In most of the area, you can get a decent sized home for under $1 million if you are willing to accept a condominium or townhome.