San Mateo Market Report – 1.26.09 – Single Family Homes

The City of San Mateo

The City of San Mateo had 140 houses for sale last week with a Median price of $677,000.  The Average price of those houses for sale was $820,827, with the least expensive house listed at $399,000 – something we haven’t seen for years.  The most expensive house was listed at $1,998,000.  Obviously, there is a dramatic difference between the least expensive and the most expensive house and location is only part of the reason.  Seven houses were either sold, canceled, expired or withdrawn, but likely they were all 7 were sold.  The time it takes to sell a home in San Mateo has gone up and is now averaging 109 days.  Our research company, Altos Research calls the City of San Mateo a Cold! Buyer’s Market.

San Mateo, the second largest city in San Mateo County, has four zip codes and I’ll go over the difference in the real estate market within each zip a little later.  Altos Research likes to divide their research into quarters, or QuartilesQuartile One makes up the most expensive group of houses down to Quartile Four, with the entry level homes, or the least expensive.  Each of these Quartiles generally fall into different parts of the city, but not always.  The First and Second Quartiles are selling faster than the Third and Fourth Quartile, yet all of them have a median of 3 bedrooms and either 1 or 2+ baths.  There is a slight difference in the median age of the homes in the different Quartiles, and of course, the square footage or size of the house is different.

The chart showing the decline in Median Price for the City of San Mateo is quite dramatic as it has dropped from the peak around the 4th Quarter 2006 to 1st Quarter 2007.  Everyone is curious if the market has dropped out completely and the Median Price isn’t always going to show this but it is interesting to see prices have been bumping up a little this week.  What will really tell you how the market is doing is by looking at the Market Action Index.

Altos Research developed a way to measure the fluctuation of supply and demand in the real estate market and by analyzing those fluctuations you can get a great picture of what a real estate market is all about.  The dramatic drop in October of 2007 was not the market but a change in the way Altos Research crunched the data.  The market was beginning to drop at that time but so dramatically.  The Index runs from zero to fifty.  The number 30 is the delineation between a Seller’s Market and a Buyer’s Market.  The closer you get to the number 30 the warmer or cooler you become.  The 90-day Market Action Index for the City of San Mateo is at 18, a Strong Buyer’s Market.  This means there is several months of housing inventory on the market and anyone considering buying in San Mateo has a fairly good selection.

So what’s the difference between the other zip codes if the median Market Action Index of the City is 18?  Let’s take a look by beginning with Quartile One.


The most expensive homes in San Mateo are generally found in the 94402 Zip Code. These homes are found mostly west of El Camino Real from the Burlingame border where San Mateo Park sits to highway 92 and encompassing Baywood, Aragon, Baywood Knolls, Parrott Park and  the homes near Aragon High School.  This is Quartile One. The Median Price for homes in this zip last week, and for most of the last part of 2008, have hovered around $1,200,000.  The average priced home was $1,138,818,  The least expensive home was $432,500 and the most expensive was $1,998,000.  Both of these extremes were in teh 94402 zip code.  We are seeing an uptick in the number of days on the market to 96 and there were 44 houses for sale last week and 2 sold.  The average sized home in 94402 is about 1800 square feet on a lot between 5000 and 6500 square feet in size and it’s 58 years old.

The Market Action Index says the 94402 Zip Code is sitting at 16 and that’s considered a Cold! Buyer’s Market. The reason for this is that demand is very low for the higher priced homes due to the difficulty in getting mortgages.  These homes are what we refer to as “move-up” properties and in order to move-up you need to sell your current house.  This is a problem today when there’s competition with Short Sales and the few Foreclosures we’re seeing in the Quartile Two.  Looking at this chart you might say, oh it’s at the bottom or heading that way.  Who knows.  Altos Research takes data weekly and each little squiggle you see is a different week.  Last week 94402 was down, this week it might be up.  If you are Pre-Approved for a loan and covet this area, you can get a great buy at 2004 prices.


This zip encompasses both Quartile Two and Quartile Three.  It is often the area of homes that first time buyers move-up to or move-up from.  This zip code begins just south of highway 92, runs across 101 to cover homes about a half of a mile north to those south near Hillsdale Blvd and then back across 101 to take in the rest of southern San Mateo up to 280.  These homes had a Median Price of $699,000 last week.  The Average Price was $799,759 and with that the least expensive home was $479,900 (likely a Bank Owned Property at that price) to a high of $1,750,000.  The median size finds a house around 1500 square feet sitting on a lot between 4500 and 6500 square feet and is probably a 3 bedroom, 2 bath 54 year old house.

The Market Action Index in the 94403 Zip Code is sitting at 19 and Altos Research says that’s a Cold! Buyer’s Market. It’s also the highest Market Action Index within San Mateo right now. There were 40 houses for sale last week and 4 houses were either sold, withdrawn, canceled or had expired listings.  My guess is these houses sold.  The average days on the market in this zip is now around 99 days.  The homes in this zip cover both Quartile Two and Quartile Three.


Quartile Four resides almost entirely in the 94401 Zip Code.  This is the area of San Mateo that has seen the most Short Sales and REO’s (Bank Owned Properties).  Prices have declined steadily for the past two years.  The high of the market was just about the end of 2006 start of 2007 and prices were in Fantasyland for what was for sale.  These are small homes, built post-war they generally sit either around downtown or across 101 in North and South Shoreview neighborhoods.  There are pockets of newer homes that get much higher prices, and some that sit along the bay also commanding higher prices, too.  Prices are at levels we haven’t seen in years and I’d say they’re back to 2001 or 2002 levels, making them great buys for first time home owners or investors.

The Median Price last week was $499,450.  We saw an average price of $572,731 and within this zip sits the least expensive house for sale in San Mateo at $399,00 and one of the most expensive houses at $1,290,000.  The median size of a house in this zip is about 1100 square feet and generally these houses sit on 5000 square foot lots.  They were originally mostly 2 bedroom 1 baths homes but have been added on so now the median number of bedrooms sits at 3 with 2 baths and the house is about 59 years old.

Looking at the Market Action Index for 94401 Altos Research labels it at 16, a Cold! Buyer’s Market.  There were 54 houses for sale last week and only one sale.  The market in this Quartile is bouncing along the bottom and has been there for over a year.  There are many months of supply and we keep seeing more and more Short Sales and Bank Owned listings in this area making it a Hot Opportunityf or Investors.

The last Zip Code in San Mateo is 94404.  There are only a handful of single family houses in this zip code, which is shared with Foster City.  I’ll cover this zip code tomorrow when I talk about the Condo/Townhouse Market in San Mateo.

As always, should you wish more detailed information about San Mateo we’re happy to provide it.  Just drop us and email here or call us at 650-696-2820.

We have interest rates at historical rates, rate I never thought we’d see again, so if you have secure employment, money in the bank, a good FICO score and the desire to own your own home, this is a fantastic time to do it.  San Mateo is a great city with a variety of homes to choose from.  It’s a central commute whether you’re headed north towards San Francisco or South San Francisco’s biotech or south to Silicon Valley.  It’s close to SFO, has great public transit and almost perfect weather.  What’s not to like?

Moving? Know the value of your home …