The Tale of Two Cities on One Avenue

By Ken DeLeon | Founder

I have truly loved my last few months living in Atherton.  The streets are so lush and the beautifully landscaped homes now make my drive to work seem more like taking a relaxing stroll through a magical park.  Atherton has struck an ideal balance of maintaining its parklike ambience while still allowing for redevelopment.  Of all of the towns with estate size lots, Atherton has best found the optimal formula that allows for preserving natural beauty while encouraging new construction and resulting appreciation.

As I have gotten to know Atherton at a deeper level, I found a physical illustration of how development regulations that allow for more redevelopment will also trigger more home building and consequent appreciation.  The difference between two elite towns with distinct construction guidelines is clearly visible while taking a stroll down Stockbridge Avenue west of the Alameda de las Pulgas.

The western portion of this avenue is the dividing line between Atherton on the south side of the street and Woodside on the north side.  While both towns are very exclusive and home to many of the Valley’s Who’s Who, it is Atherton that has seen its prestige and appreciation grow at a more rapid rate through its reasonable building regulations.  While both towns have similar property sizes of approximately one acre, there are extreme differences for the homes themselves.  On the Atherton side of Stockbridge Avenue, 64% of the homes have been significantly expanded and remodeled or recently rebuilt.  Whereas only 20% of the Woodside homes on Stockbridge Avenue have been significantly improved.

Woodside is renowned for having very restrictive and onerous obstacles to redevelopment.  The town is both limiting in the size of home that can be built on even a large property coupled with being very exacting on what is finally approved.  Consequently, building in Woodside is viewed as being more costly in both time and money versus any other local town.  As a result, very few build in Woodside and these few new homes are almost always custom built as speculation builders know of Woodside’s tough reputation.

Conversely, Atherton is a more reasonable town with builders, including those building their dream home for themselves or builders like Pacific Peninsula Group building quality homes for others.  As a result, both owners and builders feel comfortable building in Atherton.  As Atherton continues to become even more exclusive and the housing stock more impressive, the town has experienced above average appreciation.

To empirically illustrate the difference in appreciation, in 2004 (the earliest date for reliable MLS data) the average price per square foot in Atherton was $826 and in Woodside it was $698 per sq. foot.  In 2017, the average price for $ per square foot was $1,506 in Atherton and $1,004 in Woodside.  In this same timeframe, Atherton appreciated almost twice as much, with over 82% appreciation versus over 43% appreciation in Woodside.  Based on today’s buyers valuing the ease and density of new construction coupled with a love of Atherton’s centrality and proximity to shops and restaurants, I project that Atherton will continue to see appreciation higher than the other exclusive towns of Woodside, Portola Valley and Los Altos Hills.

As one of the top two teams/agents in Atherton and the sole leader of Atherton home sales up to $12 million (per the MLS and based on the number of 2017 Atherton sales below $12 million) , DeLeon Realty proudly promotes the many attributes that make all of us so greatly enjoy living in this beautiful town.