Silicon Valley is one of the most expensive areas to live in the United States. In its epicenter, Palo Alto, California, the median price for a single-family home is roughly $2.6 million. Meanwhile, the median price of a single-family home across the country is $240,000. The housing bubble in Silicon Valley extends throughout the San Francisco Bay area to the north, which has developed into the housing affordability crisis.
Not too long ago, we reported on an 897 square feet Palo Alto bungalow – recently listed for $2.6 million. At $2,800 per square foot, the price was equivalent to the most extravagant penthouses in New York City and or Miami.
We even covered a listing back in April, where someone in the southern region of the San Francisco Bay Area listed their burned-out shack in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood for $800,000.
Now, another absurdity has crossed our real estate bubble radar — this time, it is a vacant, one-acre dirt lot in Palo Alto, listed for a whopping $15 million.
The vacant lot at 4103 Old Trace Road “is the ONLY FLAT VACANT Acre parcel in Palo Alto available,” according to the Redfin listing. The plot of land is minutes away from venture capital firms, Stanford University, downtown Palo Alto, and about 15 minutes from Google’s Googleplex Headquarters.
The listing says “Dream it & Build it,” however the future owner must first shell out $15 million-plus the cost of a new structure. The listing emphasizes “Location! Location! Location!,” and tells prospective homebuyers to “visualize an exquisite villa with vineyard” on the 1.03-acre parcel.
The “exquisite villa” would be lacking privacy, as it is situated on the corner of a congested two-lane road. Nevertheless, this is the price one may pay very late into an overheated real estate market fueled by a tech bubble that could be large than in 2000. Tech workers in the region have the highest incomes in the country, and couple it with 10-years of zero lower bound rates via the Federal Reserve, well, a massive housing bubble was formed.
To visualize the extent of the housing bubble in Silicon Valley, Wolf Richter provides an excellent chart below:
“The index for “San Francisco” includes the counties of San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Mateo, a large and diverse area consisting of the city of San Francisco, the northern part of Silicon Valley (San Mateo county), part of the East Bay and part of the North Bay. The index jumped 1% from March, 11% from a year ago, and 38% from the insane peak of Housing Bubble 1. It’s up 164% since 2000.”
With new warnings of a global slowdown, the yield curve 2/10 nearly flat, James Powell’s auto-tightening, quantitative tightening, stretched real estate prices, trade wars, overvalued stock and bond valuations, and an exploding deficit, this is not a recipe for a sustained booming economy. President Trump and Wall Street have recently made their rounds of force-feeding economic propaganda to Americans, hoping that they could spur consumption, as if the heavily indebted middle class needs to buy more things they do not need, nor stuff they cannot afford.
As for now, it seems as Trump’s debt-fueled tax cut has spurred a monstrous stealth QE round for corporations, including trillions in buybacks, dividends, and merger and acquisitions.
The can has been effectively kicked down the road for the tech sector, but eventually, tax reform will evaporate and lead to the next round of tech layoffs. When that occurs, well, it could be straw that broke the camel’s back for real estate markets in Silicon Valley. Buyer beware.