Brajesh Goyal, Both Buyer and Seller in Cambridge, MA

Why is Peninsula (Belmont, San Carlos, Mountain View, etc.) so much more expensive than Fremont?

Asked by Brajesh Goyal, Cambridge, MA Sun Jan 18, 2009

I'm looking to relocate to San Francisco Bay area. We are looking with neighborhoods with good school district. We noticed that Peninsula (Belmont, San Carlos, etc.) districts with good schools are so much more expensive than Fremont good school district neighborhoods. We are looking for 3 bd/2ba, 1500 sq, and 5000 sq ft lot. Can soneone pls explain why is so?

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Steven Ornel…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Sun Jan 18, 2009
Hi Brajesh, good answers below, I won't belabor the topic with any further redundancy. However, I would like to address your timing.

I’m not sure how flexible your purchasing needs are, but if you can wait to buy, I would. Maybe even rent to get to know the area(s) and where you might want to live.

While the predominate amount of foreclosures tied to “subprime” loan products has passed, we're not in the clear. This chart shows scheduled reset loan volumes for different loan categories: As the chart shows, Subprime loans have pretty much run their course; however, Option/Alt-A/Unsecuritized ARMs are the next phase to provide an unstablizing affect. We have already taken on some of the projected Option ARM pain. This is because Option ARMs have valuation based "triggers" that can cause resetting to occur sooner than originally planned (due to property devaluation and the owner's payment selection). The following chart shows how the resetting of these loans has shifted and I have also provided an explanation.

I'm suggesting that my buyers hold their cash at least until the end of Q109 and then reassess the direction of the economy. I don’t see anything yet that indicates Q2 will be better. The resulting reduction in jobs will lead to less demand for purchase housing (and will also lead to more distressed supply). I would hate to see you put money down on a Home only to have the market vaporize it before you hit your one-year anniversary!

If you find yourself leaning towards Fremont as a housing solution I would like to certainly work with you to find your new home. My family has been in "Fremont" since the late 1880s (not 1980s). I have lived in the 94539 (Mission San Jose) zip code for all my life and know the area like the back of my hand. Please review my Trulia Profile for professional and academic achievements.

FYI, there are currently 5 Active listing matching your search criteria, which range as follows:

Price: $640,000 -$1,198,000
SqFt: 1,536 - 2,394
Lot Size: 5,100 - 10,000
REO: 1

Fremont Neighborhood Map:

Mission San Jose Attendance Area Map:

City Website:

Best Regards, Steve
1 vote
David Tapper, Agent, Burlingame, CA
Sun Jan 18, 2009
Brajesh, I'm a native San Franciscan and live on the Peninsula close to Belmont. One thing I learned prior to getting into Real Estate was that the value of homes will always be more from S.F. to the Peninsula because we are surrounded by a body of water and there is very little land. The ocean is on one side and the bay is on the other.

IF you were to move to Fremont, it would be more affordable, but I doubt it would appreciate as much as it would if you were to move on the Peninsula.

With home values down and the cost of money cheap, it's a great time to make the move for you and your family.

Since you are in Cambridge, I'm more than happy to email you homes in both Belmont and San Carlos so you can follow our maket. You have already conveyed what you are looking for, all I need is your price range.


Dave Tap Tapper
Cashin Company
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1 vote
george, Both Buyer And Seller, 94539
Sat Jul 25, 2009
I am not a realtor but I have been living in Bay Area for over 30 years. So, I can provide some unbiased information for you. As many realtors indicated, Peninsula is more established area and homes tend to be smaller. If you like a small cozy community, it is good. However, if you want the best school district, it is NOT high on many Asian parent's preferred area.

If you want top schools, you want to look at following communities.
1) Cupertino School district(Monte Vista, Lynbrook) - house may be similar cost to Belmont, San Carlos
2) Fremont(Mission SJ) - may be slightly lower than Belmont, San Carlos ($/sq. ft wise)
3) Palo Alto (Gunn, Palo Alto). - very expensive area
4) Saratoga. - expensive area.
Having said that you should understand that first two areas are NOT very diversified. I would say it is around 70-75% of students have either Chinese/Indian ethnic background. Thus, it may give your kids a culture shock if your kids went to a school in Boston area. But they have the highest API and most of the students go to 4 year college.

The best area for your money is Fremont Mission district but it may be little further from your job. Some prefer Fremont since the houses tend to be newer than Peninsula or Cupertino and you get more for your money.

Good luck on search for a new house.

p.s. But you should not compare Peninsula with Fremont. You should compare Peninsula with Mission SJ district in Fremont. Mission SJ district is one of top school district in Bay Area. It is much superior to Peninsula school (API was even higher than Palo Alto few times).
0 votes
Chuck Gilloo…, Agent, San Carlos, CA
Sun Jan 18, 2009
Just an additional point to the two previous (correct) posts. One of the key influences that keep prices higher and more stable on this side is supply and demand. Most of the Peninsula is fully developed -- what isn't already built is protected by greenbelt and is owned by either Stanford University or the Peninsula Open Space District. Therefore, you don't have the same phenomenon that you would in parts of the East Bay, where there are acres upon acres of brand new development stretching eastward.

The bottom line is that it's extremely difficult to sell an older home when there are lots of brand new ones sitting on the market for close to the same price! Since that supply imbalance doesn't exist on the Peninsula, prices are higher and generally more stable.

On the topic of commute,I wouldn't go so far as to qualify the commute from the Peninsula to the valley as "easy." I did it for over 20 years and the 101 stretch between Menlo Park and Santa Clara can take a few years off your life in terms of time lost and stress. But I agree it is still probably better than 880 on any day.

Good luck with your search.
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0 votes
Arn Cenedella, Agent, Greenville, SC
Sun Jan 18, 2009
Good question - coming from out of area, it is difficult to understand why property values can vary so much from neighborhood to nieghborhood.
Rod is correct in that in terms of market value, location is the biggest determinant BY FAR.
Most major employements centers are either in the Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, San Jose, and Cupertino) or in San Francisco. Living on the Peninsula, you do not have to fight commute traffic every day back and cross the Bay on one of the bridges.
San Carlos is an easy 20 to 30 minute drive to either the Silicon Valley or San Francisco.
If you live in Fremont at rush hour, it will take you 20 to 30 minutes just to cross the San Mateo or Dumbarton Bridges.
So commute time to major employement centers is a major factor.
The Peninsula is older and more "established", more "charming", more "appealing" than Fremont let's say.
This is a difficult factor to quantify as it is based on subjective factors.
Fremont is going to be more tract type development where most of the Peninsula is custom development.
Each person will perceive these issues differently.
The truth is the "movers and shakers" - the "hi-tech leaders" live on the Peninsula.
As the old expression goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and a picture is worth a thousand words.
If you have not been out to the SF Bay Area, come on out, take a loook at all these areas, and then you can decide for yourself.
I have lived in San Carlos since 1986 and have raised my two sons here.
It is a small town (25,000 people) where there is a strong sense of community through the schools, through youth sports, and through a thriving downtown.
I have never locked my doors - the city is so safe.
You could buy a very nice 3/2 1500sf in San Carlos for $1M to $1.1M.
I do not know the Fremont market bvut my sense is you could buy the same house for say $700,000.
Assuming you could afford either price, it is only you who can decide whether the extra money is worth it.

Please let me know if I can provide you further information about the SF Peninsula areas. I was born and raised in Los Altos, have lived in San Carlos for 22 years, and have been in the real estate business here since 1978.

Good luck!

Either way the SF Bay area is a great place to live.
0 votes
Herman Rod, Agent, Benicia, CA
Sun Jan 18, 2009
It all goes back to the time-honored adage that the three most important things in real estate are: 1) Location, 2) Location, and 3) Location. No matter how nice the home nor how wonderful the yard or improvements, if it's located right next to a freeway off-ramp or in the midst of a neighborhood with heavy crime activity, its value will suffer. Similarly, homes located close to the best schools or in a idyllic neighborhood will be more highly regarded.

A neighborhood's value is made up of many different components -- schools, climate, crime rate, cultural amenities, to name a few. So while two communities may both have fairly comparable school systems, that alone will not equate into similar housing values. Consider a school district in the middle of Kansas and an equally ranked school system in La Jolla, CA, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There's no way homes in the two areas would be anywhere close to one another in price.

For many reasons, the SF Peninsula has always been higher in price than the Lower East Bay. It's not due to schools or any single factor. It's due to a multitude of things that all combine to determine an area's general housing values.

Best of Luck.
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