March 2017 newsletter

See what’s happening in local real estate now, with plenty of charts for the analytical types and plain explanations for everyone else, covering recent real estate trends from Burlingame to the South Bay.  Find out what’s hot and not. Offering hand-crafted and carefully charted statistics you won’t find anywhere else, now expanded to show recent trends for these ten local sub-markets (see end of newsletter for definitions of sub-markets and methodology):

  • mid-Peninsula top-end single-family residences (SFR)
  • mid-Peninsula midrange SFR
  • San Mateo and Burlingame upper midrange SFR
  • South Bay upper midrange SFR
  • San Mateo and Burlingame midrange SFR
  • mid-Peninsula townhomes
  • mid-Peninsula condos
  • South Bay midrange SFR
  • South Bay condos and townhouses
  • mid-Peninsula affordable SFR

And including seven leading indicators for the Silicon Valley housing market.

First, this month’s summary:  If you left the market last fall because you thought home prices would keep falling, or because the holidays distracted you–or because you just got discouraged–I understand.  If you thought the real estate market would offer more clarity after the first of the year, or that spring would renew your enthusiasm for house hunting, I understand that too.  And you were right, sorta kinda.  This spring you may be one of the reinvigorated buyers jamming open houses, and you did get clarity in 2017:  it’s still a seller’s market.  In fact, it’s an extreme seller’s market.  Declining prices?  The charts finally confirm the upward price moves I’ve seen since the first of the year.  The top end is still cheaper than it was at this time last year, but another month or two of the price increases typical of March and April in a hot market may erase the difference.  If you ask “who saw this coming?”, I understand that too.  But back in December I said that “strong activity this late in the year, plus local economic data and the stock market’s heightened confidence since the election suggest an even stronger spring”.  Nineteen years of selling Silicon Valley real estate has taught me to never underestimate the appeal of putting down roots here.   

Next, a look at the month-over-month trend in sales prices per sq.ft.:

Next, for historical context, a comparison of sales price per square foot  between February 2012, 2016 and 2017:

Next, seven leading  indicators for the Silicon Valley housing market.

indicator one-year trend short-term trend effect on real estate
San Mateo County unemployment     down        up  meh
Santa Clara County unemployment     down        up  meh
Silicon Valley VC Index   Q4 2016       up      down  Index still above average
30-year fixed mortgage rate       up        up depends on price range and area
NASDAQ Composite       up        up  good
Bloomberg Silicon Valley index       up        up  good
Silicon Valley 150 stock index       up        up  good

And finally, a more in-depth look at what’s hot and not in  local real estate, using the month-over-month trend in real estate’s two most  reliable indicators:

  • absorption: sales divided by inventory; shown on the charts below on the left X axis, a high or rising absorption rate favors sellers, while a low or declining rate favors buyers, and
  • days on market (DOM): the average number of days before homes go into contract; shown on the right X axis, a high or rising days on market favors buyers, a low or declining DOM, sellers.

mid-Peninsula top-end  single-family residences (SFR):

hot or not?

13-month trend 1-month trend
warm  warming  warming

mid-Peninsula midrange SFR:

hot or not?

13-month trend 1-month trend
                 beyond red hot          mixed       warming

San Mateo and Burlingame upper midrange SFR:

hot or not?

13-month trend 1-month trend
                          hot          mixed         mixed

South Bay upper midrange SFR:

hot or not?

13-month trend 1-month trend
                        red hot          mixed       warming

San Mateo and Burlingame midrange SFR:

hot or not?

13-month trend 1-month trend
                        red hot          mixed        mixed

mid-Peninsula townhomes:

hot or not?

13-month trend 1-month trend
                  beyond red hot       warming       smokin’

mid-Peninsula condos:

hot or not?

13-month trend 1-month trend
                          hot  essentially flat        mixed

South Bay midrange SFR:

hot or not?

13-month trend 1-month trend
                           hot         mixed      warming

South Bay condos and townhomes:

hot or not?

13-month trend 1-month trend
                           hot        cooling       warming

mid-Peninsula affordable SFR:

hot or not?

13-month trend 1-month trend
                          hot       warming       cooling

Local sub-markets: Mid-Peninsula top-end SFR:  Homes 2001 sq.ft. or more in top-end Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Woodside and Portola Valley; Los Altos; Los Altos Hills; and Atherton. Mid-Peninsula midrange  SFR:  Homes 2000 sq.ft. or less in entry-level neighborhoods of Palo Alto and Menlo Park; all of Mountain View; and Redwood City and San Carlos west of El Camino. San Mateo and Burlingame upper  midrange SFR:  Homes in the Aragon, Baywood and San Mateo Park neighborhoods of San Mateo, plus Burlingame west of El Camino. South Bay upper midrange SFR:   Homes in Cupertino, plus the neighborhoods of Sunnyvale, Saratoga, San Jose and Santa Clara with Cupertino schools. San Mateo and Burlingame midrange SFR:  Homes in San Mateo neighborhoods west of El Camino (except Aragon, Baywood and San Mateo Park) and Burlingame neighborhoods east of El Camino. Mid-Peninsula townhouses:  Two-plus level CID (Common Interest Development) 2000 sq.ft. or less in Los Altos, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Redwood  Shores and Sunnyvale. Mid-Peninsula  condos:  Single-level CID (Common Interest Development) 2000 sq.ft. or less in the same cities. South Bay midrange SFR:  Homes in Campbell and adjacent San Jose neighborhoods (MLS Area 15) and the Cambrian area of San Jose (Area 14). South Bay condos and townhomes:  Homes in Campbell and adjacent San Jose, Cambrian and Santa Clara. Mid-Peninsula affordable  SFR (Single-Family Residences):  Homes at least twenty years old in East  Palo Alto east and west of 101; Menlo Park east of 101 (Belle Haven); Redwood  City, San Carlos and Belmont east of El Camino; and San Mateo neighborhoods east of 101, plus MLS area 416 Bowie Estate west of 101 but east of El Camino. South Bay affordable SFR:   (Discontinued due to changes in the MLS.)  Homes in Central (downtown) San Jose (MLS Area 9) except Rose Garden and Naglee Park. Methodology:  For sales price per square foot, a rolling three-month average to minimize statistically irrelevant differences from month to month yet capture the overall trend; then adjusted to the average size of the last 1000 homes sold to minimize distortions in sales price due to variations in average property size sold for each period.   For days on market, a rolling three-month average.  For absorption, the one month average.  Thinking of buying or selling? Please contact me at  This is not a solicitation if your home is listed with another broker.  My Bureau of Real Estate license number is 01044243. copyright © John Fyten 2017

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