The Price of Homes in Silicon Valley

Todd C. Frankel:

It’s Sunday, which means house-hunting for Barry and Katie Templin. They have been on the prowl for months and saving for years, looking for a place with reasonable commutes to their technology jobs and good public schools for their two young children. They hope that is not too much to ask, even in Silicon Valley, the nation’s most expensive housing market.

They pull their decade-old SUV up to a house that needs to be torn down yet is offered at $1.5 million. “Home has original GE metal kitchen cabinets,” the listing brags. They walk up to find the house unlocked and empty. Black mold crawls over the walls. The ceiling is caving in. The wood floors groan as they pass through.

“It’s like going into a haunted house,” Barry Templin says.

“I can’t believe this is 1.5,” Katie Templin says.

“It’s because it’s Los Gatos,” explains agent Laura DeFilippo of Alain Pinel Realtors.

The median home value in the San Jose region — which includes the headquarters of Facebook, Apple and Google — has reached $922,100, five times that of the nation overall and 2.5 times the Washington area’s $356,000 median, according to real estate website Zillow.com.

That’s also 20 percent higher than nearby San Francisco, the nation’s No. 2 market and the usual target of eye-rolling about a tech-fueled, out-of-control housing market.

But the market is even crazier in the sedate suburbs to the south, in places such as Los Gatos.

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