June 15 (Bloomberg) -- A surge in wealth from technology stock sales and initial public offerings is spilling into the Silicon Valley real estate market as newly rich workers bid up home values in suburban cities south of San Francisco.
The median price of single-family houses sold in Palo Alto, home of Facebook Inc., climbed 20 percent in May from a year earlier to $1.63 million, the biggest jump since 2008, according to preliminary figures from research company DataQuick. In Mountain View, the base of LinkedIn Corp., prices rose 3.1 percent to $957,500, the ninth year-over-year gain in 12 months.
The advances are defying a U.S. housing slump that has sent national values to an eight-year low. Share sales such as the IPO of LinkedIn -- which doubled on its first day of trading -- and an expected offering from Facebook will fuel a boom in some Silicon Valley cities into 2013, said Kenneth Rosen, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley.
“It’s just the beginning of the story and I suspect we’ll see an explosion in the next couple years,” Rosen, chairman of the school’s Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics, said in a telephone interview. “You’ve got young people with real money, and it’s not surprising they want to have a house.”
Almost 300 companies have filed for IPOs in 2011, the most for any year during the same period since 2000, and more than 10 percent of those are in California, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Silicon Valley is the U.S. hub for early-stage companies, receiving almost 40 percent of the $23.3 billion in venture-firm investments last year, estimates from the National Venture Capital Association show.
Pandora Media Inc. surged as much as 63 percent today as shares began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The online radio company, based about 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of Silicon Valley in Oakland, raised $234.9 million in its IPO. Shares were priced at $16, above the expected $10 to $12 range.
The real estate gains in Silicon Valley, located primarily in the San Jose metropolitan area, are mostly occurring in towns where million-dollar values are already the norm. The median price in Cupertino gained 12 percent last month from May 2010 to $1.08 million, and values in Saratoga rose 4.7 percent to $1.62 million, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.
“People at startups have a lot of pent-up demand and tend to spend a portion of their new liquidity pretty quickly,” Siciliano said of his newfound competition for residential real estate. “They want to manifest their wealth.”
Past Silicon Valley property booms started in Palo Alto, adjacent to the Stanford campus, and Cupertino, home of Apple Inc., because of those institutional links and their coveted public schools, said Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto. Buyers from China have also been drawn by education resources in prestige valley locations and pushed up demand.
“The market seems to be returning to the crazy days and the question is whether or not it is a false recovery or a sustained recovery,” Scott said in an e-mail after viewing two more homes at $1.25 million or more, and declining to make any offers. “I suspect that it is a sustained recovery, given the planned liquidity events with social-networking companies.”
Shares granted to employees of public companies can’t be sold until 180 days after the IPO, under U.S. securities rules.
“You will probably see hundreds, if not thousands, of newly minted millionaires in the next two or three years,” said Steve Eskenazi, a tech investor in Hillsborough, north of Palo Alto, where the minimum lot size is a half acre (0.2 hectare). He sold his portion of an online advertising network to Sunnyvale-based Yahoo! Inc. in 2007.
“Most people in their 20s who find themselves millionaires feel it’s their inalienable right to buy real estate, and they’re typically not price sensitive,” Eskenazi said.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, 27, bought a house this year in Palo Alto, said Larry Yu, a company spokesman. He declined to disclose details. Zuckerberg paid $7 million for a 5,000-square-foot (465-square-meter), seven-bedroom home in a “leafy and affluent” neighborhood, the San Jose Mercury News reported May 5, without saying where it got the information.
As more firms go public and workers cash in shares, real estate within 15 miles of the office will climb, said Rosen, who gave a presentation at Google Inc.’s Mountain View headquarters before the company’s 2004 IPO to educate employees on housing. Sales are usually concentrated in the “middle to upper end,” he said.
In Cupertino, about 12 miles from Palo Alto, a three- bedroom home listed for $908,000 got more than a dozen offers and sold for $950,000 on June 8, said Albert Kao, an agent at Giant Realty Inc. in the city. The prior owner, who bought the property in 2002, decided to sell after her children graduated from the public schools. She made a $290,000 profit before commissions, Kao said.
Lower-priced areas are still struggling with weak demand. In all of Santa Clara County, which encompasses some Silicon Valley cities, prices decreased 5.1 percent in May from a year earlier to $498,000 as distressed sales pulled values down in the broader market, DataQuick said in a report today. The drop was smaller than in the rest of the San Francisco Bay area, with the nine-county median in the region tumbling 9.3 percent.
Groupon Inc., an online coupon provider based in Chicago, filed for an initial share sale June 2 and is hiring engineers in California, according to its website. As early as March, Groupon was in talks with bankers about an IPO that would value the company at as much as $25 billion, two people familiar with the matter said at the time.
Zynga Inc. of San Francisco, the largest maker of games for Facebook and valued at $8.8 billion on SharesPost, may file for an IPO by the end of the month, a person with knowledge of the matter said June 3.
Those firms are among the companies that will help Silicon Valley grow by about 20,000 workers in 2011, said Levy, the California economist. Software publishers and Web portals accounted for 5,600 of the 13,400 jobs added in the year through April in the San Jose metropolitan area, according to the California Employment Development Department.
300 IPOs in 2011, the most since 2000
Almost 300 companies have filed for IPOs in 2011, the most for any year during the same period since 2000. Yet another sign of Peak Optimism and Bubble 2.0: Home Prices Exploding in Silicon Valley Amid Millionaires