“What is the most expensive area to live in San Carlos?” That’s a question that I get every so often, and the answer is usually — “It depends”.
It depends on a lot of things, most notably what actual data you look at to determine relative value of homes, and the time period that you capture the data in. At one point in time, landing a big house with a killer view in the hills of San Carlos was the prize catch for many San Carlos home buyers, so home prices on the west side of Alameda easily eclipsed homes in the flats. But with the recent growth in popularity of downtown San Carlos, the hills seem to have conceded that title to neighborhoods that are in the flats and closer to downtown.
The intense focus on elementary school boundaries also had a significant historical impact on home prices. For many years, API-score-watchers would pay a significant premium to live within the White Oaks School boundary, regardless of fact that they were paying more money for a smaller house than what they could get anywhere else in San Carlos. Because of that, and its quaint tree-lined streets, White Oaks was widely perceived for many years to be the most expensive neighborhood in San Carlos. But as we found out from this very similar post that I wrote 6 years ago that ranked the neighborhoods by cost, Howard Park actually nudged slightly ahead of El Sereno Corte (White Oaks and Oak Park) as the most expensive neighborhood in San Carlos.
In this post, e will examine two commonly used metrics for all single-family homes that have sold so far in 2016: Average Price per Square Foot (PPSF), and Median Sales Price. I chose both of these datapoints to help cross-check the results of both. For example, if the PPSF data is extremely high for a region, but the median sales price is relatively low, that just means that a lot of small homes sold in that area. On the flip side, if the PPSF is low but the median sales price is high, that points to the fact that area is dominated by larger homes. So we will see what conclusions we can draw from the data below.
For those of you that are not familiar with the various neighborhoods of San Carlos, you can click on the San Carlos Realtor Zone Page or use the map below as a reference. Note that “El Sereno Corte” is comprised of both the White Oaks and Oak Park neighborhoods – they are not split out independently in the MLS data.
So here’s the data (disclaimer – the data below is extracted from the multiple listing service, and therefore only captures homes that were posted on the MLS. Private sales that were not reported on the MLS are excluded) First, we will look at the median sales price for all homes sold in San Carlos this year:
The results are somewhat surprising if you were expecting White Oaks to be lead the way in home prices. In reality, the highest home prices fall in the Alder Manor neighborhood, closely followed by Howard Park. This actually makes sense, because the homes and lots in Alder Manor are generally larger than anywhere else in San Carlos, which helps offset the main detraction that the neighborhood falls largely in the Redwood City School District. The fact that Howard Park is high on the list is not a surprise at all, since many home buyers place a high value on living close to the north stretch of Laurel Street where most of the popular coffee shops, restaurants, and retail stores are.
What’s probably most surprising in the data above is how fast the Greater East Side (Clearfield Park) home prices have skyrocketed. It used to be newsworthy when a house sold for over $1,000,000 in this neighborhood. Now, the median price itself is $1,200,000 — much to the joy of those who already own homes there.
The second data analysis shows the price per square foot (PPSF) of the same neighborhoods over the same period:
So far in 2016, Howard Park has registered an eye-popping average of $1,054 per square foot for all homes sold, followed closely by El Sereno Corte at $1,016. Both of these are absolutely stunning averages, considering that $600/square foot used to be a number only achieved by brand new construction. The aforementioned 2010 post shows that price per square foot figures have increased by almost 75% in San Carlos since 2010!
So what’s the most expensive neighborhood in San Carlos? Again, it depends on which statistic you place the most amount of weight on. Looking at the two examples above, it’s pretty clear that Howard Park is #1 in price per square foot, and #2 in overall median sales price. In my book, it retains the title as the most expensive neighborhood in all of San Carlos.
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