There is most always a big shock when folks relocate to Silicon Valley and start to learn how far their money goes – or doesn’t go – here.  This has been the case for a very long time, since long before I got into the business 20 years ago.   Prior to to looking online, you may hear that it’s bad, but you don’t really know what people are talking about until you get into a car with a Realtor and go see what $500,000 or a million or more will buy you here.

And now, too add to the already high home prices, the real estate market is overheated due to a severe inventory shortage of homes for sale in the San Jose and “South Bay” areas, too.   Most properties are selling over list price – and that was high to start with, particularly for out of state or global buyers.

In most parts of the U.S., a half a million dollars will buy you a great home.  Here, not so much.  A million dollars will buy you a nice home in a decent area, but it won’t be fancy, and you’re unlikely to have a large lot unless your commute is huge and you’re on the outskirts of the valley. It’s more than a million to have a really nicely remodeled home with great schools; that price point seems to start at about 1.2 million in most parts of the valley. Have a look at the median and average sales prices for houses in Santa Clara County – this will give you a sense of how the market has been behaving, but also of the cost to purchase homes generally.

Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley - San Jose area) Prices and Sales Feb 2013

Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley – San Jose area) Prices and Sales Feb 2013

Pricing does vary from area to area. Cities, towns, or parts of San Jose with the best schools usually sell for the most.  Next, see pricing for various areas within Santa Clara County. Please note that San Jose is a very large city and has many districts, all with distinct histories, neighborhoods and pricing – but only San Jose as a whole is listed.

Santa Clara County cities towns real estate market statistics

Santa Clara County cities towns real estate market statistics

How can you brace yourself for our insane real estate prices?  There’s nothing that can really prepare you for the reality, but an oversimplification that may help is to think “twice the cost for half the house“.  That will work for many parts of the U.S., but not all.  Or consider that we don’t need basements and large homes because with 300 sunny days per year, we are out and about rather than trapped at home.  At least that’s how most of us see it.

If you are committed to moving to the San Francisco Peninsula, the Santa Clara Valley or other parts of Silicon Valley, it would be good to connect with a knowledgeable Realtor upfront. (But do check with the company that’s moving you here to see if your relo benefits package requires that you work with an agent assigned to you rather than one of your own choosing. )  He or she can help you to evaluate your options and decide which compromises are the best ones to make for you.