Building a new house in Palo Alto

Building a new house in Palo Alto

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Beginning

This is the start of my blog on our new house.  In Nov 2011, we purchased this charming little 1950s home in Green Acres, Palo Alto.  If you look closely you'll see our dog Astro marking his new territory. He was really excited because we bought the house on his first birthday.  We plan to spend the next year+ turning this into our dream home and will try to capture as much of the process as possible here.

We discovered this hidden gem of a neighborhood after using Google Maps satellite view to search for large green areas on the map.  As dog owners and future parents, one of the most important features of a home to us is proximity to open space and neighborhood parks.  Our new home is walking distance to Juana Briones ParkBol Park, and great open space areas and trails located behind Gunn high school along Matadero Creek.  An added bonus is that it is also walking distance to Juana Briones elementary, Terman middle, and Gunn high school.  No driving for us!

Here are the stats on the house as listed by the selling agent:
Type: Detached Single Family
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms Full: 2
Approx. Sq. Ft.: 1559
Approx. Lot Size: 8,514 sf
Year Built/Age:  1952/59 years 
The fine print reads: "Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed to be accurate."  More on this later...

The Green Acres neighborhood in Palo Alto, nestled between open space, local parks & schools.


  1. I stay at the Zen Hotel near this neighborhood whenever I'm in Palo Alto. I had my wife and son down this summer, and the wife quickly got up to speed on local history and fell in love with Juana Briones' story. By strange coincidence HER old adobe home in Palo Alto was destroyed just this year after a long legal battle. Anyway, good luck with this project. I'm a former student and lifelong lover of architecture and will be watching with interest. -Matt

  2. Just curious - how much did you pay for this. I live in Boston suburbs and own my home. Wanted to get an idea about what it takes to buy a single family house now days in bay area. I worked in Sunnyvale for 2 years during mid-late 90's and back then I was not married - so I had lot of fun. But soon realized it was too expensive to bring up a family and maintain good standard of living.. so moved east. I am feeling it may be a good time to consider moving back to west coast.

  3. Thanks for the note, Matt...I'm surprised the city allowed a historic home to be destroyed. Thyaga, you can see what homes sold for on Zillow by selecting the "Recently Sold" checkbox: It's a great market research tool.

  4. Hi Kay, I love your blog! Definitely one of my favorite ever. We're about to start a gut remodel (although keeping exterior walls) in Duveneck and your stuff is really right on target, humorous, and witty. Looking forward to see how things develop. (coincidentally, Denise Simons was the listing agent for a house that we bid on but didn't win, and I really liked her.) Cheers!

  5. Thanks for the nice comment, Carla...keeps me writing. And have fun with the remodel! You might want to talk to a demo/deconstruction specialist to see if it's worth doing a may be able to get a tax rebate. If you need appliances, head to Atherton Appliances in Redwood City and talk to Beth...this will be the subject of a future blog post.

  6. Hi Kay,
    Love your posts. I also love living in Green Acres, too. But did you notice that Green Acres prices in the past few years have been falling behind other areas of South Palo Alto? I can't understand why this is. Walking distance to all three schools, the Bol Park bike path, access to two great parks, easy access to 280, accessible to all three major downtowns (Los Altos, Mountain View and Palo Alto). I think this is the best neighborhood in South Palo Alto. And yet--in the first half of 2014 Green Acres ranked dead last in price per sq foot for Palo Alto neighborhoods. A decade ago, it was on par with midtown. Now it is behind Ventura (traditionally thought of as the most affordable neighborhood). This is a trend that has only accelerated in the last few years. I think Green Acres is in some serious need of some positive real estate PR! Link to the graph:

    1. I would take that graph with a grain of salt. You need to be careful with data points at a neighborhood level since some neighborhoods don't have enough sales to generate a meaningful cost per sq foot estimates. Traditionally there's been very low available inventory in Green Acres (people must love living her too much to move). I know of only one home (4162 Crosby) that has come on the market this year and it sold for ~$1000/sq ft.