Palo Alto Neighborhood Appreciation

 
 

As homeowners in Palo Alto ourselves, we care about the trends in our beautiful city’s housing market.  Which neighborhoods are appreciating the fastest?

If we look at public MLS data (this excludes off-market transactions) since January 2004, representing each month as the average sales price of all transaction in that neighborhood, we get this:

 
 
 
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Old Palo Alto tops the list, rocketing ahead of Crescent Park in the past six months!  Palo Alto Hills, Community Center, and Professorville round out the top 5.

Now, a few details about this data-set.  A rolling 12-month average was applied to smooth out the curves and show the longer-term trends.  A few very high months (notably in Old Palo Alto) were reduced to the value of the surrounding 12 months, so Old Palo Alto is actually better in certain months than these charts show; a few blockbuster houses in slow months can sway the entire neighborhood in ways that, while true, serve to mask the point being made here.  Null values are excluded, meaning that if there were no transactions in a neighborhood for a certain month, then we are not averaging a zero into the neighboring months.  Finally, this dataset ends in April, historically not the strongest month of the year, so a relatively smaller set of transactions serves as the end-point of these charts, which may means that a few high or low transactions make the graph seem to move a lot.

The Best Investment over the Past 14 Years

Now, what if you had a pile of money in January 2004 to invest into Palo Alto.  Which neighborhood on average would have appreciated the fastest?  Sure, Old Palo Alto is the cream of the crop, but it was also expensive to buy in in 2004, right?  If we index Jan 2004 to 100, here is how the neighborhoods have appreciated:

 
 
 
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Congratulations Midtown buyers, your neighborhood has appreciated the most! Runners up include Crescent Park, College, Old Palo Alto and Ventura.  It is interesting to note that Ventura, the most affordable neighborhood in Palo Alto, has been a great investment (almost tripling in value between Jan 2004 and April 2018).  Conversely, Palo Alto Hills is quite exclusive, yet is appreciating slowly relative to the rest of the city (up only 87% in the same time period).

The perfect home for you is a combination of factors unique to you, but one part of your decision should be the investment potential of your neighborhood, street, and specific property.