January 19, 2011

Affordable house with great schools–just $284 per square foot!

So on Monday we looked at an affordable house with easy commutes in the Bay Area – just $288 per square foot in East Palo Alto.

Today, let’s look a house in the same category in the suburbs of our mortal enemy: New York

Beds: 3
Baths: 1.5
Sq. Ft.: 1,300
$/Sq. Ft.: $284
Lot Size: 8,084 Sq. Ft.
Property Type: Residential, Detached
Style: Colonial
Year Built: 1924
Community: Westbury
County: Nassau
MLS#: 2306655
Source: MLSLI
Status: New
On Redfin: 191 days
Charming Colonial Has Been Updated With New Kitchen, Ss Appliances, Granite Countertops. Hardwood Floors On Main And Top Floors, Fabulous Sunlit Home, Sliders To Deck In Rear Yard, Beautiful Landscaping, Separate Shed On Property. Must See! Fabulous Yard
Hah. And people say New York is expensive. Look at this! Just $284 per square foot, with some of the nation’s best schools.
And, let me tell you one thing I know for sure: It’s a long drive from New York to Facebook – so you’re looking at a crazy commute. And they only have cannoli there, no sushi. Are there even smart people there?
Sorry NY suburbs – you have nothing on Bay Area suburbs.
Let’s all give a round of applause to East Palo Alto for helping us stand out!
Comments (41) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:33 am

41 Responses to “Affordable house with great schools–just $284 per square foot!”

  1. SiO2 Says:

    I know a lot of people like four seasons. But, to me, the 60-65 degree highs in SJ recently are a lot better than the 20-30 degree highs plus snow in NY. Is it worth a few hundred $? That’s a decision for each person to make on their own.

  2. nomadic Says:

    The idea of living on Long Island fills me with the same sort of dread as living in Los Angeles.

  3. SanMatean Says:

    This Long Island place has a 8000+ sq ft lot! If you look for 8K sqft+ lots, 1.25+ bathrooms and 1250+ sqft under 375K at redfin, you can’t even find places in EPA. Heck, you can’t find anything in the counties of San Mateo or San Francisco. You’re forced out to Alum Rock, Hayward and beyond. I guess those places are, um, scenic…let’s face it it’s special here!

  4. SEA Says:

    #3 CLAIM: If you look for 8K sqft+ lots, 1.25+ bathrooms and 1250+ sqft under 375K at redfin, you can’t even find places in EPA.

    Counter Example: 2248 EUCLID Ave

    Beds: 5
    Baths: 2
    Sq. Ft.: 1,630
    $/Sq. Ft.: $202
    Lot Size: 9,150 Sq. Ft.
    For Sale (MLS-listed) $329,500
    Status: Active

  5. SEA Says:

    And for $125k, I bet you could either get that .25 bath, or simply suffer without:

    867 WEEKS St

    Beds: 3
    Baths: 1
    Sq. Ft.: 1,280
    $/Sq. Ft.: $155
    Lot Size: 8,505 Sq. Ft.
    Listed at: $198,645
    Status: Pending Without Release

    And my favorite part:

    Aug 10, 2006 Sold (Public Records) $650,000

  6. SEA Says:

    Not $125k, it’s $175k for a .25 bath, or about 90% more, using the listing price. Alternatively, I’d gladly give up a .25 bath for roughly 45% off the $375k.

  7. nomadic Says:

    WTF is a 1/4 bath? A sink?

  8. madhaus Says:

    Urinal or medicine chest, take your pick.

  9. The Gilroy Alex Says:

    That’s a really neat little house. I guess that’s the driveway on the side there. You know it’s not that much hassle to use a car cover and it’s neat to be able to come hone on your bicycle and ride right around to the back where you store it.

    These temps here are freakish. Another week of this? It will serve us right if we get that arkstorm thing.

  10. SanMatean Says:

    Durn it! I had “under contract/pending” checked. Thanks for exposing my confirmation bias SEA!

    Nevertheless, there is but a single property between San Francisco and San Jose that meets those (albeit obscure) criteria. There are 85 properties with these criteria between Oakland and San Jose. I see this as further evidence that the West side is the Best side. East Bay, you can keep your warmer weather and affordable housing, we’re way cooler than you!

    I once lived in an apartment that had separate rooms for the toilet and the sink/shower. I’m going to guess that a toilet without a sink is a 1/4 bath. It’s also green- think of all the water wasted on unnecessary hand washing!

  11. DreamT Says:

    The green thing to do is indeed to wash one’s hands in the toilet itself. After all, as any cat will tell you, the water’s even safe to drink.

  12. nomadic Says:

    You’re right, DreamT, but there is a slightly more sanitary method.

  13. SanMatean Says:

    That thing looks like a dental rinse sink. Somewhat unsettling seeing it in that setting.

    DreamT- my cat is spoiled; he won’t drink water out of the sink unless it has just been poured. Maybe he’ll drink out of the toilet right after it’s been flushed…

  14. SEA Says:

    Is this some crazy Redfin search game? I simply searched “East Palo Alto” and took a look at a few properties. Maybe I was lucky that one existed, but I had no idea that you were simply toying with the Redfin search to find a way to eliminate all properties. I mean does it really matter if the lot is just under 8,000 square feet?

    The bigger issues is why 867 Weeks St went from a sale of $650k in 2006 to an asking price under $200k. A loss of over 67% in under 5 years? I really don’t care if the lot is over 8,500 square feet.

    Once again, I don’t see how the RBA can survive the continued increase in price differential. It’s not too tough to find examples of properties very close to the RBA that have lost 50%+ in value, and yet the RBA continues to go up in value? Wonder where all the “trade up” buyers are coming from–that is, who is buying the least expensive RBA home?

  15. bob Says:

    After having lived on the east coast for a number of years I can honestly say I have absolutely zero desire to ever live there again. The weather sucks. Plain and simple. Thus I don’t care how cheap this house might be.

  16. madhaus Says:

    I am from the East Coast and agree that the weather sucks. Even though they have some sushi. The problem is the sushi is in some all-purpose Asian restaurant with Chinese and Vietnamese food too. Order fugu and they’ll cut corners by just serving you rat poison.

  17. SEA Says:

    I have no idea what a 1/4 bath is, but whatever it is, I figured $175k should be enough to obtain it.

    That said, take a look at 1376 Alabama St SF. According to the listing, it’s a 1.25 bath. The photos have been cut up into pieces.

    2022 Fell St SF has “period details” and a 1.25 bath. I’m not sure I’d want the combination, but take a look at the 10th photo for what might be a hint.

  18. SanMatean Says:

    One thing that I’ve noticed is that the API scores of many non-RBA schools have risen considerably over the last decade, narrowing the gap between them and RBA schools. This could be a head and shoulders effect ( inability of a test to measure the top end of the scale, i.e., saturation). Or it could be a convergence of school performance. Does anyone know of alternative measures that might be able to discriminate between these possibilities? Are there public data about %admissions to UCs, top ten schools, any college, etc.?

  19. SanMatean Says:

    14- Why so snippy? Need a hug?

    I agree that the search terms were overly restrictive- expanding them to 3/1 6500 sq ft returns 1500 EPA properties. Dang! Talk about selection!

    Oh, and continuing from above (18), if there has been a convergence of school performance between the RNA and non-RBA, the value proposition of RBA is significantly eroded. People might not have realized it yet though.

  20. SEA Says:

    In regards to the API, and the value proposition of the RBA, you make it sound like a high API creates economic prosperity. Hasn’t it been established that the residents of the RBA are those with the greatest economic resources? My guess would be those with the greatest economic resources are also the ones who send their children to college. Is it possible to buy prosperity?

  21. nomadic Says:

    Wow, I wouldn’t have thought EPA had much more than 1500 properties.

    The value proposition of the RBA is based on home price doubling every 10 years, yes? One reason for the appreciation we’ve all accepted was superior school performance.

  22. anon Says:

    Pssst: The real reason is ever increasing debt loads coupled with ever decreasing interest rates.

  23. SanMatean Says:


    Typo. Should have been 15 properties. That’s enough mistakes from me for one thread…


    No, I’m not implying that high API creates economic prosperity. I’m suggesting that a large part of the divergence in value of properties in the RBA vs non-RBA derives from the perception that the schools in RBA are vastly superior to non-RBA schools. If the schools are only marginally better, the leap in prices don’t make a lot of sense. Of course, it’s easy to justify excess if you believe that all the action happens at the margin…

  24. DreamT Says:

    The outsized premium for marginally better schools may still remain despite upwards-creeping API scores. People see much less difference between say #100 and #150 than versus #1 and #10, and perception is a large part of what drives real estate prices.

  25. SEA Says:

    My guess, and I have no scientific data to support this guess, is that housing prices are far more complex than API scores.

    Even if API scores were the biggest factor driving home prices, I’d guess that the API scores are always higher in the most affluent communities, but I’m too lazy to test the theory. In other words, I’m suggesting it’s the residents driving the API scores rather than the API scores attracting the residents.

  26. SiO2 Says:

    The non RBA APIs have definitely gone up, but mainly for elementary. E.g. Union Elem has plenty of 900+ schools. But there’s not so many high schools with 850+, so that’s a factor.

    The Sac budget could have an effect. Non-RBA is usually “revenue limit”, getting most funding from the state. So if there’s school cuts, then those schools will be hit harder. RBA is usually “basic aid”, meaning mostly self funded by property tax. So Sac budget matters less.

    Of course if the predictions of 25% price cuts in RBA come true, then prop tax will decline. But not as much as you might think; a prop 13 house that sells at 75% of 2010 value will still be assessed higher upon sale, since the original assessment is really low.

  27. SanMatean Says:

    One reason elementary schools in non-RBA areas have high APIs but the high schools don’t is because of demographic differences that result from admixture of districts with combinations of low API elementaries and high API elementaries. One method to control for these socio-economic influences (albeit crude and admittedly falling into unfair racial stereotypes) is to examine the API scores within a race- say comparing asian performance in one school to asian performance in another school. This control for the effect that the overall score of many schools is strongly affected by the overall demographic profile of a school.

    An example: here are some overall 2009 APIs:
    Gunn: 915
    Carlmont: 827
    Menlo atherton: 771
    Sequoia: 740

    From the above scores, it looks like Gunn is substantially better than Carlmont, MA, or Sequoia.

    Now, if you break out the Caucasian APIs at these schools:
    Gunn: 921
    Carlmont: 882
    Menlo Atherton: 902
    Sequoia: 876

    Wowsers! Gunn just edges out Carlmont and MA! Who knows what the error of measurement is, these scores might even indicate equivalent performance! Sequoia, long viewed as the lowly dog of the area, looks darn competitive by this analysis.

    These data say to me that even high school performance is largely converging. This doesn’t say anything about the availability or quality of honors/AP/IB classes or other goodies, but by this limited measure there is striking equivalency that seems add odds with the broad perception. Of course, in real estate perception is reality, and the having the status of “best schools” may continue to drive intense competition and hence higher prices.

    I’d still like to see some outcomes statistics from these schools regarding college admit rates, etc. If anyone knows where to find it, I’d be totally stoked.

  28. SEA Says:

    Here is the 2009-10 API Information Guide. (PDF; 589KB; 78pp.)

    It takes a 78 page information guide…

    Page 15 outlines some “examples of invalid and valid comparisons of the API.”

    “Because new indicators are added to the API and test weights may change from one cycle to the next, it is inappropriate to compare APIs across reporting cycles. It is appropriate, however, to compare the Base and Growth APIs within a reporting cycle as well as to compare the amount of API growth (i.e., change in the API) of different reporting cycles.”

    Valid: “2009 Base API and 2010 Growth API Within a Reporting Cycle”

    Invalid: “2003 Base API and 2004 Base API”

    There is much more in this 78 page information guide, which does not contain the actual data.

    The data files are here:


  29. SEA Says:

    The latest “100 Similar Schools” report for Palo Alto High (Base API: 901) shows a few others in the BA.

    The report shows:

    43-69641-4332904 Santa Clara Palo Alto Unified Henry M. Gunn High 915
    43-69641-4335782 Santa Clara Palo Alto Unified Palo Alto High 901

    Here is Alameda County:

    01-61127-0130450 Alameda Albany City Unified Albany High 806
    01-61176-0134270 Alameda Fremont Unified Irvington High 831
    01-61176-0135244 Alameda Fremont Unified Mission San Jose High 949
    01-61275-0136515 Alameda Piedmont City Unified Piedmont High 903
    01-75101-0130583 Alameda Pleasanton Unified Amador Valley High 879
    01-75101-0130096 Alameda Pleasanton Unified Foothill High 889

    Note that Fremont Unified has Mission San Jose High at 949–a higher API score.

    How much more is Fremont Unified worth over Palo Alto Unified?

  30. SEA Says:

    Sorry, I forgot the link:


  31. SEA Says:

    By the way, sorting by the highest listing price shows that Fremont is the winner!

    5999 Show for $5999k times 10. lol

  32. SanMatean Says:

    Fair point SEA. By API, Fremont’s schools appear superior to Palo Alto, and yet Fremont property values are lower- this offers strong evidence that school performance alone don’t drive the cachet of Palo Alto.

    They’re both similar commute distances from Silicon valley, so that doesn’t seem to be the driving factor. Crime rates are similar, so that’s not it. Perhaps it’s the proximity to Stanford- maybe Stanford alumns try to recapture the glory of their collegiate days by staying close to alma mater.

    I don’t know much about Fremont- is it arboreal like Palo Alto, or is it denuded like Sunnyvale? Somewhere in between? The East Bay location and proximity to Haywars et al can’t help much, but then again Palo Alto directly borders EPA and that doesn’t seem to hurt things much.

    Perhaps Palo Alto really is just special…

  33. madhaus Says:

    #32: Denuded? Really? There are plenty of trees where I live (SW Sunnyvale) so would you please explain?

  34. nomadic Says:

    To me, the big difference between PA and Fremont is that PA has a well-defined downtown area – or two. In the back of my mind I’m thinking there might be an old downtown for Fremont but it’s generally thought of as a sprawling suburban soulless mess.

  35. SanMatean Says:

    33- Sorry, didn’t mean to pick on anyone. I just seem to remember some story that Sunnyvale’s name was tied in some way to the legend that you weren’t allowed to have trees that cast a shadow on your neighbors house. I can’t find anything on teh internets to back this legend up, so it must be hogwash.

    How ’bout denuded like Santa Clare, is that better? Here’s a street view of the first place I picked:



  36. SanMatean Says:

    Well, if this picture is any reflection of Fremont’s typical neighborhoods, I’ll go with the denuded description.


    As opposed to this street in Palo Alto:


    I’d prefer to live on the tree-lined street. I don’t know that I’d pay 50% more for that, but it would come into the equation…

  37. nomadic Says:

    Interesting anecdote about Sunnyvale’s name; I’d never heard that. Where I come from, we call neighborhoods like your pics “Sunburn Acres.” It was usually newly constructed developments that earned the nickname. Here, there’s no excuse for such a lack of trees because of the maturity of the neighborhoods.

  38. Real Estater Says:


    You keep talking about trees in Sunnyvale. Show us a shot. I see bushes, not trees in Sunnyvale.

  39. nomadic Says:

    Didn’t you live in Sunnyvale???




  40. madhaus Says:

    Sure Fremont has a downtown. Heck, it has FIVE of them. Remember, Fremont was formed by the merger of five smaller towns, resulting in its Five Neighborhoods in search of a Civic Identity issue. Palo Alto only has two downtowns.

    Wow, wonder where the Sunnyvale story came from. Does it date back to when the place was all apricot and cherry orchards? Maybe that was to discourage taller, sun-blocking trees?

    Comment #38 makes no sense, as most of Sunnyvale’s housing stock dates to the 1950s and 1960s. 40-60 years is more than enough time for mature trees to fill out a neighborhood that old. The less expensive neighborhoods, with even older stock, do seem light on the trees. Sunburn Acres indeed.

  41. SEA Says:

    A quick Internet search on Sunnyvale revealed:

    “Martin Murphy Jr. came to California with his father as part of the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party in 1844. In 1850, Martin Murphy Jr. bought a piece of Rancho Pastoria de las Borregas for $12,500. Murphy established a wheat farm and ranch named Bay View. Murphy had the first wood frame house, which was shipped from New England, in Santa Clara County built. The house was demolished in 1961 but was reconstructed in 2008 as the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum. When he died in 1884, his land was divided among his heirs.

    In 1860, The San Francisco and San Jose Rail Road was allowed to lay tracks on Bay View and established Murphy Station. Lawrence Station was later established on the southern edge of Bay View.

    In 1901, the residents of Murphy were informed they could not use the names Encinal or Murphy for their post office. They decided to use the name Sunnyvale for the name of their town.”


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