Silicon Beat: In the heart of Silicon Valley, summer home sales keep going up despite sharp drop in listings


Real estate markets traditionally suffer from the summertime blahs.

But the Silicon Valley market is not a normal market, particularly in Santa Clara County.

Yesterday’s monthly report from the CoreLogic real estate information service showed July sales down across the Bay Area, but up 13.0 percent in Santa Clara County from the year before. That was despite the fact that inventory in the county has been down about 30 percent from the same period in 2016. So how are sales increasing?

Andrew LePage, a research analyst for CoreLogic, guessed why: “Buyers are burning through whatever inventory there is, really fast.”

The median price of a single-family home in July was $1,097,000, a hair under the county’s all-time high of $1,100,000.

We spoke with Alex Seroff, an agent with DeLeon Realty in Palo Alto, who dug further into the numbers to flesh out the Santa Clara County phenomenon.

Drawing his figures from the Multiple Listing Service, Seroff looked at active listings, median prices for single family homes, and median prices per square foot in five cities: Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

“Typically you’d see less buyers on the market and prices would stay flatish over the summer,” he said. “But here we saw the median price go up in each of those five cities because the demand is just increasing.”

First, he computed the change in active listings from July to August (through Aug. 29): down 37 percent in Sunnyvale; down 8.0 percent in Mountain View; down 24 percent in Palo Alto; and down 20 percent in Los Altos. Los Altos Hills’s inventory actually went up 6 percent, though the statistical sample was tiny — the number of listings increased from 31 to 33.

“Inventory is now so low that trying to derive meaningful statistics is challenging,” Seroff said. “The sample sizes are so small.”

Still, it’s at least somewhat telling that the month-over-month prices in the five cities went up between July and August, when the market is typically flat.

Here are the August prices per square foot: Sunnyvale, up 7.0 percent month-over-month to $1,000; Mountain View, up 1.6 percent to $1,081; Palo Alto, up 5.8 percent to $1,528; Los Altos, up 4 percent to $1,293; and Los Altos Hills, up 8.7 percent to $1,431.

And here are the month-over-month August numbers for the median price of a single-family home: Sunnyvale, up 3.5 percent to $1.37 million; Mountain View, up 17 percent to $1.70 million; Palo Alto, up 3.2 percent to $2.69 million; Los Altos, up 5.4 percent to $2.95 million; and Los Altos Hills, up 4.4 percent to $4.07 million.

“Anecdotally, I haven’t heard anyone arguing that the market is cooling here,” Seroff said. “Sellers are still emboldened and expect high prices and buyers are still very motivated and willing to do what it takes to get houses.”