Can I reasonably expect to buy a 3BR townhouse or SFR in Los Altos for 240k down on a base salary of $135k and good credit? What would rent be?

Asked by Sfbay-bay-er, Los Altos, CA Wed May 19, 2010

it seems that all public schools in Los Altos are great, with Oak Avenue being the best. I heard that there is a tiny strip of Mountain View that attends the Los Altos schools as well. Our children won't be old enough for K for another 3-4 years, but we're interested in getting settled in the area sooner rather than later. Based on recent comps, we have 240k equity in our current place in SF. We'd like at least a 3 BR. We're looking to move toward the end of this year. We are open to renting as well in the $3k range. What are our options?

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Bryan Robertson’s answer
Bryan Robert…, Agent, Los Altos, CA
Thu May 20, 2010
Hi SFbay-er,

It looks like you've got guidance on the loan question so now it's essential to find a home. My son currently goes to Oak School and I can say from personal experience, the teachers are excellent. The other schools in Los Altos are excellent as well.

Your best options are to look in the San Antonio, St. Francis Acres or The Crossings areas of Mountain View to get either a townhouse or single-family home. A home just came on the market on Gilbert Ave in Mtn View at $895K that has Los Altos schools. It will probably sell for more than the ask price but it is within your range. A 3/2 on Showers (end-unit TH) is going for $584K that has Los Altos schools. As you can see, there's a wide range of options that I'd be happy to help you narrow down.

As for renting, there are homes in both Mtn View and Los Altos offering Los Altos schools but you'll almost always pay more than $3000. Rentals in Los Altos typically run at least $3500 for a 3 bedroom and generally go closer to $4K. If you look at all the rentals in Mtn View with Los Altos schools, you'll see almost all over $3K. A 3 bedroom condo/TH/apartment is a rare find.

I'm happy to help you refine your search. Give me a call at 650-917-4269 or email at to follow up.

Best regards,
1 vote
Tony, Home Buyer, Los Altos, CA
Sat Jun 5, 2010
Although with $240k down payment, I can tell you that with $135k per year total family salary you will struggle financially if you buy a single family home with 3 bedrooms in Los Altos. No home in Los Altos with 3 bedrooms could cost less than $1 or $ 1.2 million. Knowing your take-home income and the cost of owning a home in Los Altos, you can do the calculation easily. If you have to hire a nanny to take care of your children while you are at work, this would be financially impossible for you to live here with a purchased home.

However, with your salary, it is possible to live in Los Altos if you decide to rent a 3-bedroom and 2-bath house with 9000 to 10000 sf yard (expense for a gardener included) for $3000 to $3100/month, even the rental house is currently valued at $1.2 or $1.3 million by This is the fact that I am presenting, not even guessing about this.

With the current real estate market in Los Altos, it makes more strictly financial sense to rent than to own a home. Of course, other people may reason otherwise because they may have other factors that they really desire for living in this area.
0 votes
Eric Nelson…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Campbell, CA
Thu May 20, 2010

The best loan options exist if you keep your new mortgage balance at $729,750. Combining this loan amount with your down payment gives you a potential purchase price of $969,750 or so.

The loan options that exist today would be on a 30 year fixed or a 5 year fixed, and you can contact me directly for interest rates and payment options on these.

I recommend getting pre approved for the mortgage and then making contact with a local realtor. I have several that I can recommend for you.

Also, there are several great websites to review available inventory, such as and These sites would allow you an easy review, and then talking with an agent on how best to proceed would be next.

Please contact me directly at 408-268-2442 and we can discuss in detail.

Best Regards,

Eric Nelson
Sr. Mortgage Planner
Silicon Valley Capital Funding
Web Reference:
1 vote
Grace Hanamo…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Fri Jul 9, 2010
SFBay and Tony,

As with all things, there are certainly areas within Los Altos and Mountain View where the occasional bargain property can be found. For example, a home on Levin - 4 bedrooms 3 baths, that would feed into Oak Park sold last month for $1 million as a short sale. That certainly was a bargain.

I will soon be privately listing for sale three homes in great areas: 1 in Los Altos, 1 in Birdland section of Sunnyvale, and 1 in Sunnyvale in the Cherry Chase/Sunnyvale Middle/Homestead High Areas. These homes will be sold for market prices, but qualified buyers can avoid having to queue up behind multiple offers, so it can be far more appealing to both buyer and seller. These homes will likely never appear on the MLS at the seller's request, so the only to get to them is through me and our company. If you are interested in this method of selling or buying, let me know. We work hard to find houses for our buyers in all areas of Santa Clara that meet price and school parameters, and have been quite successful thus far.

Contact me if you want more information.

Grace Morioka, SRES
Area Pro REalty
Sunnyvale, CA
Tel (408) 426-1616

0 votes
Robert Spino…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Mill Valley, CA
Thu May 20, 2010

I don't know the whole picture, but I can tell you that when you go to qualify for any loan (in the range you're considering), you will most likely confront a maximum debt-to-income (DTI) requirement of 45%. So on the salary above, you can support total debt per month of $5062, and likely still qualify.

How do we get to 45%? Add any proposed mortgage payment, real estate taxes, homeowner's insurance and any payments that would appear on your credit report.

The other option is to go ahead and get a loan pre-approval and if I can help you there, just let me know.

Best regards,

Rob Spinosa
0 votes
Alma Kee, Agent, Tampa, FL
Thu May 20, 2010
See what you can qualify for:

They are a direct lender with the lowest rates and fees.

You can learn about shopping for a mortgage here and how to avoid the pitfalls:

Then find a local well experienced Realtor to assist you once you are ready in the fall. You're shopping too soon if you want to get the best deal because bank owned properties go under contract within a week and must close within 30-45 days.

Good luck!
0 votes
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