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San Carlos Real Estate June 16, 2017

San Carlos and Belmont: Which Market is Hotter?

by Chuck Gillooley

Two Red-Hot Markets.

From the perspective of someone who watches the San Carlos market with a microscopic focus, it sure seems to me that the Belmont real estate market has been absolutely on fire lately. Every time I review the statistics for recent sales in Belmont, it seems like everything is selling very quickly, and for WAY over the asking price.  Sounds just like the San Carlos real estate market, right?

Well, it’s not a coincidence.

For many of the same reasons that people put San Carlos at the top of their list of communities to call home, Belmont makes the same cut for many home buyers. Both communities share great weather, an ideal mid-Peninsula location, and strong elementary and middle schools. But there are two additional factors that are keeping the Belmont market in lock step with the scorching San Carlos market:

  1. Relative Affordability.  Let’s use this phrase loosely, because let’s face it — nothing is affordable on the Peninsula anymore. But despite Belmont’s meteoric rise in home prices over the past 5 years, the numbers below show that it’s still a more affordable place to live than San Carlos on all metrics that I’m tracking — average sales price, median sales price, and average price-per-square foot.
  2. Schools:  Despite the constant hoopla about the quality of schools in San Carlos, Belmont’s elementary and middle schools have quietly scored extremely high on all of the school rating websites. In addition, there is an increasing bias and desire for buyers to be within the Carlmont High School boundary, which pushes buyers into Belmont or the northernmost slice of San Carlos.

So what do the numbers tell us?  Because after all, if it’s not in the numbers it doesn’t exist.  Let’s take a closer look at some common performance metrics below:

When we look at the average sales price for single-family homes that have sold in both San Carlos and Belmont since 2014, we get two slightly different stories. When you consider recent price appreciation, Belmont is indeed slightly hotter than San Carlos.  The average sales price for homes in Belmont increased by 7.4% since just last year, as opposed to the 4.8% growth in San Carlos over the same period of time.  But when you consider the growth in home prices since 2014, San Carlos has a slight edge in appreciation at 28.8% versus 25.4% for Belmont.  Regardless, both are pretty remarkable figures.

The median sale price analysis tells a slightly different story: In both time periods — year over year, and 2014 to present — Belmont’s median home prices have grown at a higher rate.

The rate of increase in median sales price in Belmont was 2x that for San Carlos since just last year. And over the longer stretch since 2014, Belmont also outpaced the growth of San Carlos at a whopping 31.3% increase, compared to a respectable 22.8% increase for San Carlos.

And looking at the final metric of average price per square foot….

The rate of growth in average price per square foot (PPSF) was almost identical last year between the two cities.  But since 2014, Belmont has increased at a rate of 33%, compared to an increase of 22.8% in San Carlos. Both figures for 2017 are simply eye-popping.  The thought that the price per square foot for all houses sold in San Carlos would simply average at $1,000 is mind blowing, and Belmont is not far behind at $942/sq foot.

What Does it All Mean?

The numbers above tell us a few key things about the San Carlos and Belmont real estate markets:

  • Both cities are experiencing unprecedented popularity and growth over the past decade.
  • San Carlos is still more expensive to live in than Belmont on pretty much all counts.
  • The traditional gap between home prices in San Carlos and Belmont is starting to close, as Belmont is experiencing a faster increase in home prices than is San Carlos.

So whichever of these two communities is on the top of your priority list to call “home”, just know that you’re stepping into an ultra-competitive market where prices are continuing to grow at a healthy rate. Make sure you’ve got a Realtor on your side who can successfully get you a home in this intensively competitive environment!
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