Neighborhood Spotlight: Green Gables of Palo Alto

By Rob Parish | Realtor® | Attorney | Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto Buyer Specialist

For savvy buyers wanting access to the premier schools located in North Palo Alto, the Green Gables neighborhood has traditionally been viewed as the value option. With beautiful parks, tree-lined streets, easy access to commute corridors, and two neighborhood-focused shopping districts, the desirability of this neighborhood is both obvious and confirmed by the fact the average time on market for home listings has been between nine and 14 days over the past three years.

As used in this article, Green Gables incorporates the homes within the following boundaries: Middlefield Road to the south, Oregon Expressway to the east, Highway 101 and San Francisquito Creek to the north, and Newell Road and Embarcadero Road to the west. Green Gables takes its name from a small subdivision of 63 one-story homes built by Joseph Eichler in 1950. Mr. Eichler’s subdivision was universally praised for applying modernist principles to affordable housing, and the subdivision was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 2005.

There is also a wonderful collection of other small districts within the larger Green Gables area. These districts were mostly built between 1930 and 1965, and include the neighborhoods of Embarcadero Oaks, Garland Park, Leland Manor, Duveneck/St. Francis, and Triple El. While the specific valuation of any property is always based on the unique combination of parcel size, finished square footage, assigned schools, and location considerations, the median sales price for single-family homes in Green Gables has risen by 22.8 percent since the beginning of 2014 (all stats per the MLS).

Because the housing stock there is generally older and North Palo Alto is so desirable, one feature outweighs all others when investors and builders consider the future potential of new listings in Green Gables: is the property located in a FEMA-designated flood zone? The reason for this focus is Palo Alto’s strict formula for calculating the maximum floor area (MFA) allowed for any parcel (see Palo Alto Municipal Code Section 18.12.040). Basements are NOT included in MFA calculations, and basements can only be built outside of the flood zone. Since new construction generally costs between $300 and $450 per square foot, depending on the architectural style, and finished new homes are selling for $1,600 per square foot, the desirability of an extra 1,000 to 2,000 square feet of lower level living space for projects outside of the flood zone is compelling.

The Embarcadero Oaks and Leland Manor neighborhoods are the most desirable neighborhoods outside of the flood zone, and properties within these districts will continue to demand a premium. A great case in point is 806 Seale Avenue, located in the Leland Manor neighborhood. This beautifully remodeled home of 3,422 square feet sold off-market this spring for $5,500,000. The buyers were seeking great schools, updated spaces for their growing boys to play, and a central location to simplify the parents’ commutes up and down the Peninsula.

Green Gables in Numbers

With the median sales price for a single-family home in North Palo Alto climbing to over $3 million, the Green Gables neighborhood will continue to attract new families, move-up buyers, and investors alike. With a relatively low inventory and continuing high demand, DeLeon Realty forecasts five to seven percent appreciation in the Green Gables neighborhood over the next 12 months.

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