Buyers! Buy your home by the pound!

Recently it’s come to my attention that some of you home buyers are buying by the pound:  you’re focusing on cities and neighborhoods where homes cost less per square foot.

by the pound 2

I won’t get into whether it’s a good idea to buy the cheaper cuts.  It’s your  house, after all, and besides, I’m the guy who always makes a beeline for the bargain bin.  But I will say that there are no bargains in real estate, just homes, neighborhoods and cities that sell at a discount for very good reasons.

So I’ve run the numbers, and come up with the average sales price per square foot so far in 2015, for single-family homes in buyer magnet cities.

bythepound chart

To keep the comparisons apples-to-apples I kept the neighborhoods in these cities comparable in terms of perceived desirability and school quality.  To do that I (if methodology bores you, skip this part):

  • used just the neighborhoods of Belmont west of El Camino
  • ditto San Carlos; I also excluded San Carlos neighborhoods with Redwood City schools
  • used only Sunnyvale neighborhoods with public schools largely perceived as good by home buyers
  • included only Redwood City neighborhoods west of El Camino, excluding wildly inconsistent Emerald Hills
  • selected just the better Santa Clara neighborhoods with Santa Clara Unified schools (not Cupertino or Campbell schools) and excluded the Northside neighborhoods, which are an anomaly in local real estate
  • used MLS area 15:  the city of Campbell and adjacent San Jose neighborhoods with Moreland and San Jose Unified schools


Any surprises or earth-shaking discoveries?  There was a time in recorded history when Sunnyvale and Redwood City prices were roughly comparable, and Mountain View and San Carlos prices were comparable.  Sunnyvale and Redwood City still hold their relative positions, but Mountain View with good schools has outpaced San Carlos.  I’m a bit surprised that Santa Clara and Area 15 (Campbell/West San Jose) prices are virtually identical, since I’ve found that Santa Clara is generally a little more affordable–being selective with neighborhoods yielded a surprising result.  advancing science, one bar chart at a time.

copyright © John Fyten  2015

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