Will the Presidential Election Have an Effect on the Real Estate Market?

The pundits tell us that this presidential election season has been unprecedented, completely atypical, singular in its volatility and astonishing revelations, and completely relentless in the instant access news cycles on social and traditional media platforms. True, the 24 hour news and social media cycles are unprecedented, however, looking back in history to other presidential election years, volatility and uncertainty tend to come with the territory in all election years.

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Where's the most expensive zip code in Silicon Valley?

You don’t have to read any source of national real estate news for very long before you see something about Silicon Valley home prices. This vibrant enclave south of San Francisco consistently comes in at the top of “most-expensive” lists. This time, we’re looking at the 20 highest-priced communities within the Valley, based on the median sold price of homes during 2014.It should come as no surprise that the town of Atherton, population about 7,000, ranked #1, with a median home price of $3,900,000 in its 94027 zip code. It’s interesting to note, however, that this figure is only 4% above the 2013 median price. Among the 20 highest-priced Silicon Valley communities, Atherton’s homes were among the slowest appreciators between the two years.

The list, compiled by Business Insider from stats gathered from PropertyShark, has 94022 and 94024 in Los Altos Hills as numbers 2 and 3, with home prices of $2,450,000 and $2,200,000, respectively. Homes in both zip codes increased 17 percent in price from 2013 to 2014.

Here are the communities, zip codes and 2014 home prices for the rest of the top 10. You can read the entire list at the Business Insider link above.

4. 94031 Palo Alto: $2,200,00 5. 94028 Portola Valley: $2,135,500 6. 94010 Hillsborough: $1,878,250 7. 94306 Palo Alto: $1,860,000 8. 95070 Saratoga: $1,805,000 9. 95030 Los Gatos: $1,800,000 10. 95014 Cupertino: $1,418,500

While most of the homes in these zip codes have grown considerably in value over the last two years, several communities have experienced sluggish – or negative – growth. Homes in #4 Portola Valley actually decreased in median price by 4%. Homes in Menlo Park, Redwood City and Los Gatos all had price increases of less than 10% from 2013 to 2014.

Price gains were seen in most zip code areas. The largest was a 50% median price increase in the 94301 zip code in Palo Alto – jumping from $1,470,000 in 2013 to $2,200,000 in 2014. Other top gainers included:

San Mateo +31% Mountain View (94040) +27% Palo Alto (94306) +19% Cupertino +18% San Jose +18% Los Altos Hills (both zip codes) +17% Belmont +17%

Interested in buying or selling real estate in Silicon Valley?  Explore the possibilities.

6 of the 10 most expensive housing markets are in Silicon Valley

Los Altos leads the nation as the most expensive housing market, compared with almost 2,000 other markets across the U.S. Recent numbers for communities throughout the country puts Los Altos home prices at an average of $1,963,099. (The report focused only on 4-bedroom, 2-bath homes.)Of the 10 most expensive communities on the list, six are here in Silicon Valley:

#1 Los Altos: $1,963,099 #3 Saratoga: $1,867,979 #4 Redwood City/Woodside: $1,430,329 #5 Los Gatos: $1,307,408 #7 Sunnyvale: $1,267,184 #9 San Mateo: $1,093,346

Only one of the top 10 communities was located outside California – #10 Wellesley, Mass., where the average home price is $1,090,088.

It’s no secret that homes of all sizes in Silicon Valley have seen an enormous increase in price over the last three years. Look at three of our communities as examples, comparing the median sold prices in third quarter 2011 to those in third quarter 2014. (These numbers include all sizes of homes.)

Mountain View 2011: $957.500 2014: $1,511,000

Menlo Park 2011: $1,025,000 2014: $1,900,000

Palo Alto 2011: $1,380,000 2014: $2,465,000

Atherton, one of the consistently most-expensive Silicon Valley communities, didn’t make the list. That could be because the study included cities/towns above a certain population, or because Atherton might not have had any 4-bedroom, 2-bath homes available. Currently, there are no such homes listed on the MLS in Atherton.

But just to understand the limits of the study’s ranking of the “most expensive communities,” let’s see what’s happening in Atherton right now.

Fifteen homes are currently on the market. The Home Listing Report 2014 places Los Altos on top with an average home price of $1,963,099. You can’t get into an Atherton home for less than $4,695,000. Nine of the 15 listed homes are selling for more than $10 million. The most expensive is $18.8 million and features 6 bedrooms and 6 baths within 8,168 square feet.

But no matter how you slice the statistics, homes just about anywhere in Silicon Valley aren’t cheap. And by what we’ve seen in 2014, it won’t be surprising if the high-price trends continue well into the next year.

Interested in buying or selling real estate in Silicon Valley?  Explore the possibilities.

Woodside recognized as top luxury home market in U.S.

Recently I wrote about how Woodside is at the top of a Wikipedia listing of highest-income places in the United States.  Now a CNBC article places Woodside as the nation’s top luxury home market.The latest stat, reported by CNBC, comes from the 2014 Coldwell Banker Luxury Report and names several other Silicon Valley cities as leaders in luxury homes, based on sales in units and volume as well as gains in average and median sold prices.  In fact, three of the top five top luxury markets are in Silicon Valley, with Portola Valley at #3 and Hillsborough at #4.

Silicon Valley home buyers come from various sectors

Where are buyers of these elegant homes that often sell at well into the tens of millions of dollars coming from?  People who don’t live in Silicon Valley but have only heard of it see it as one of the high-tech capitals of the world and assume that most of the expensive homes are being bought by rich executives and mavericks in that arena.  But those of us who work in real estate here know different.

Along with venture capitalists, bankers, hedge funders and others whose work involves financial aspects of the tech industry, we’re seeing more and more foreign buyers from countries such as Canada and more recently China.  While Canadian homebuyers have always played a part in the Silicon Valley real estate market, well-heeled Chinese are now putting significant amounts of cash into both personal and investment homes.

A relatively small number of homes for sale coupled with a high number of qualified buyers have created a very favorable market for homeowners wishing to sell.  Bidding wars are breaking out all over.  The CNBC article recounts a story from a local real estate agent that paints a common picture: the agent on a Tuesday listed a Woodside home for $5.8 million.  Five bids were placed on it in three days.  It was a quick sale for a nice price: $7.26 million.

9 for over $9 million

The Multiple Listing Service shows 59 homes currently on the market in Woodside, with the top listing a nine-bedroom, 9,000-square-foot property advertised at $69,800,000.  Of the available selection of homes, nine are priced at over $10 million.  Only one is listed for under $1 million, and only 16 others are selling for under $2 million.

With the strength of the current market and bidding wars ratcheting up prices, it’s likely Woodside will remain for awhile on top of the country’s luxury home market.

Interested in buying or selling real estate in Silicon Valley?  Explore the possibilities.


New, safer gas line will offer more protection to Woodside homes, residents

The Public Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) says it will begin work July 7 in Woodside to replace a 79-year-old gas transmission line with a new one that is larger and safer for area homeowners.Line 109, as it is known, runs along the eastern side of Interstate 280.  The replacement project will follow for the most part the current route except for the area proximate to Barkley Fields and Park.  Construction in the park area will last about four weeks with disruption to activities involving only the playing field.  The field will be restored to its original condition following construction.

The current gas line was originally laid in 1935 and measures 22” in diameter.  The new line will be 24” with the important safety feature of allowing for regular internal inspections of the entire line.  The project is in accord with the Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan (PSEP) created by Los Angeles-based SoCalGas.

All gas transmission operators in California are overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission, which in 2011 ordered that they each create a plan that would allow for cost-effective testing and replacing of all pipelines that haven’t been pressure tested.  To implement this directive, SoCalGas submitted to the commission its Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan, which the commission approved in June.

On the SoCalGas PSEP web page, the provider writes, “We believe that all customers will benefit from the added testing and safety validation” the new pipelines will provide.

PG&E will initiate other Line 109 work in Woodside – also on July 7 – on state land adjacent to Barkley Fields and Park as well as on Farm Hill Blvd.  This phase of the project is expected to take four months.

Woodside is situated in mid Silicon Valley, near Atherton and Palo Alto.  At the 2010 census, the population was 5,287, with 1,977 households.

For more information on the Line 109 project, contact Scott Hart at PG&E at (415) 517-6199.

Interested in buying or selling real estate in Silicon Valley?  Explore the possibilities.

Woodside tops the 100 highest-income places list

Among U.S. places with at least 1,000 households, Woodside enjoys the highest per capita income - $120,366.  Also on that exclusive list are Portola Valley #7/$99,621, and Hillsborough #9/$98,643.Per capita income is determined by dividing the total income of an area by the number of residents within it.  This can make the final number deceiving because residents factored in include children, who earn little to no money.

With 23, California leads the list of “places” (could be cities, towns or unincorporated areas) with the highest incomes.  Next closest was New York with 11.  Other Silicon Valley communities within this group include #14 Los Altos Hills and #92 Los Altos.

Twenty-three of the 50 U.S. states are represented on the list, which is part of a Wikipedia article last modified in April 2014.

Taking a look at average household income, Woodside’s is $222,986, placing it below only Atherton among Silicon Valley cities and towns.

Located in the western sector of Silicon Valley, north of Portola Valley and west of Menlo Park, Woodside’s real estate market is in line with its #1 spot on the highest-income places list.  Of the current 47 properties on the market, nine come with price tags of over $10 million.  The most expensive home is a massive 9,000-square-foot estate with nine bedrooms, selling for $69.8 million.

Woodside is a charming, high-end community with a population of 5,287 residing within just 11.7 square miles of prime Silicon Valley land lush with redwood, oak and eucalyptus trees.

Interested in buying or selling real estate in Silicon Valley?  Explore the possibilities.

7 Silicon Valley communities among top sellers in 2013 Calif. luxury market

Here’s a recap of a February 2014 report in the San Jose Mercury News that examined trends in California luxury home sales in 2013.Seven communities within Silicon Valley were among the state’s leaders in sales of homes for $1 million and above.  The statistics below, showing the community and the number of homes sold, were compiled by DataQuick of San Diego.

Hillsborough: 436

Saratoga: 332

Menlo Park: 321

Cupertino: 317

Los Altos: 267

Woodside: 273

Los Gatos: 243

One home in Los Altos topped the dollar amount for all homes sold in these communities at $14.3 million.  Next was Hillsborough, with a $13.3 million sale, followed by Saratoga, where a home was sold for $12.3 million.

Here are some numbers covering the 2013 California luxury home market as a whole:

840 – homes sold at more than $5 million

596 – homes sold between $4 million and $5 million

$74.5 million – amount paid for the most expensive home in California, a 15,000-square-foot Malibu mansion

10,602 – homes in the $1 million-plus bracket purchased with cash

270,591 – Current number of California homes and condominiums assessed for at least $1 million

Interested in buying or selling real estate in Silicon Valley?  Explore the possibilities.

California sees huge increase in sales of high-end homes in 2013

Sales of California homes priced at $1 million or more jumped a whopping 45.1% in 2013 with the most homes in this bracket sold since 2007.  Not surprisingly, Silicon Valley was among the leading regions in million-dollar home sales.The San Jose Mercury News reports that seven communities within the valley were among the state’s top sellers of homes valued at $1 million-plus.  Here are those communities along with the number of million-dollar homes sold and the most expensive single homes among them.

Menlo Park: 321 sales/$5.5 million 

Cupertino: 317 sales/$3.8 million

Los Altos: 267 sales/$14.3 million 

Woodside: 273 sales/$12 million

Los Gatos: 243 sales/$4.8 million. 

Hillsborough: 436 sales/$13.3 million

Saratoga: 332 sales/$12.3 million

These numbers were generated by DataQuick of San Diego.

Rising home prices and a strengthening economy surely contributed to the overall increase of luxury home sales in 2013.  The total number of California homes sold in the million-dollar-plus bracket last year was 39,175, up from 26,993 in 2012.  It was the largest number of homes in this price range sold since 2007, when 42,506 were sold.

More stats in the luxury homes market

  • Sales of homes valued at more than $5 million reached 840 in 2013, an all-time high.
  • 596 homes in the $4 million-$5 million price range were sold last year, another record.
  • Home in the $3 million-$4 million and the $2 million-$3 million brackets also sold at record levels in 2013.
  • 2013’s most expensive sold home was a $74.5 million ocean-front mansion in Malibu encompassing 15,355 square feet and featuring eight bedrooms and 14 bathrooms.
  • The number of million-dollar-plus homes in California bought with cash in 2013 was 10,602, setting a record and eclipsing the 7,791 sold in this bracket a year previously.
  • Including both homes and condos, 270,591 California properties are currently assessed for more than $1 million.

What do these statistics tell us?  They tell us that buyers are seeing the rising prices in the luxury homes market and are making their purchases now instead of in an unknown future.  If you’re one of those buyers looking for the ideal Silicon Valley neighborhood in which to live and grow, give me a call at (650) 947-2942 today and let’s start planning for your next home.

Interested in buying or selling real estate in Silicon Valley?  Explore the possibilities.


Reports give Silicon Valley residents good reason to conserve water

The San Jose Mercury News in January enhanced water-shortage concerns of Californians and gave us all more reasons to watch how much water we’re using.  The article noted that because of severe drought, the State Water Project will not be supplying urban residents and farmers with water this year. Rather than receive water from the State Water Project – which has been the foundation of the state’s water system – communities and regions will have to rely on reservoir water, well water and recycled water to meet their needs.  Which means its time for all of us to tighten up and do our part to conserve what water we do have.

In the Bay Area, Silicon Valley and residents of Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore in the East Bay are expected to be most impacted by the drought, the News said.  The question now is, will current water supplies meet demands?

The Almaden Reservoir south of San Jose is just 3.2 percent full, with 50 acre-feet of water, The Wall Street Journal reported in early January.  This is down significantly from its 1,568 acre-feet capacity level.  An acre-foot is approximately the amount of water used in a year by a family of five.

While the state’s agricultural industry will feel the sharpest impact of the drought, few residential communities will escape the effects of the water shortage.  The good news is, we can all do our parts to conserve water and ride out the tide until the trend turns back toward regular rains.

Below is a handy chart with five tips most of us can use to save water.  For many more tips, go to WaterUseItWisely.com for 100+ Ways to Conserve.