Home Buying in Fairmeadow>Question Details

Rene, Home Buyer in Palo Alto, CA

Why is there significant price difference between similar houses in different neighborhoods of PA?

Asked by Rene, Palo Alto, CA Wed May 28, 2008

All the schools in PA are great. So, what are the factors that make one neighborhood of PA more valued than others?

Help the community by answering this question:


All of Palo Alto has fabulous schools. There are 2 high schools in Palo Alto - Palo Alto High and Gunn High School. Both schools are excellent with Gunn maybe having a slight edge in higher test scores. Generally speaking residents north of Oregon Expressway go to Palo Alto High while residents south of Oregon Exp go to Gunn. That being said, the Palo Alto neighborhoods of Old Palo Alto, Professorville, Crecent Park, downtown, and Community Center have higher property values than the Palo Alto neighborhoods south of Oregon. The areas north of Oregon are typically older and have higher quality homes on bigger lots many times. The homes are very charming in design. Many Palo Alto homes south of Oregon are Eichlers or other contgemporary styles that are of lower quality. Of course many of the homes are being replaced by high quality new homes. You can drive through the neighbors and just feel the difference. Barron Park is another very popular area with a rural feel and proximity to Gunn High School.
I hope this sheds some light on your question.
Please contact me should you have further questions.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 3, 2008
Just to clarify one of the statements below, in all my years of working as a real estate professional in Palo Alto, I don't know of any buyer's agent that charges an "arm and a leg" (or any buyer side fees for that matter).

Every local agent should provide a superior level of service without any surprise charges. It is simply the level of care expected in this area.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 28, 2008
Location location location. Better schools, amenities, entertainment options, restaurants, etc. etc. etc. will all drive up the price of a home.

There's no substitute for a local real estate agent who knows the ins and outs of each neighborhood and sub-neighborhood to help you in choosing a home. To find quality agents who won't charge you an arm and a leg (and will even give you a buy-side commission rebate), check out seekingagents.com.

Best of luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 28, 2008
There are many factors determining price. Maybe the the most significant is location. Homes closer to downtown Palo Alto (University Avenue) tend to command a higher price than other locations. A related factor is proximity to El Camino, CalTrain and 101. Too close to any of these and the noise impacts desirability. Too far and the convenience factor is lost.

Then there is the newness factor. Since most of the homes were built some 60 years ago (plus or minus 10 years), the maintenance and updating of homes varies widely. You can find an original Eichler with yellow counters and appliances to match, and right next door a totally updated home with a similar floor plan. Some homes have also been remodeled and expanded, usually greatly enhancing their value. And you may never know any of this from the outside.

Another big factor is lot size. On the Peninsula, land is a constrained resource. There are very few new developments because almost all land that can be developed has been (unlike Southern California where there are substantial new developments in many locations). The lot size not only determines your yard size, but also constrains the square footage of a home that can be built on it. 5000 square foot lots are pretty common. 10,000 square foot lots are pretty rare and command a premium.

Finally, as you indicate, all the schools score quite highly, but some are considered more desirable than others. Of course, this is somewhat like deciding between gold and platinum. Both are great options.

There are naturally many other factors, but these are the high points. The Palo Alto real estate market continues to be strong despite what is happening in the rest of the country.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 28, 2008
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