Developed as an unincorporated town in the early 20th century, Willow Glen has retained its own distinctive downtown area, even after joining the city of San Jose in 1936.
So despite being part of the third largest city in California and the 10th largest in the United States, Willow Glen has remained a village-like neighborhood, with walkable, tree-lined streets and its own downtown area along Lincoln Avenue.
“I’ve lived here my whole life,” said Monica Farnsworth of the Sereno Group. The neighborhood is “very charming, relatively safe, and everybody knows everybody. It’s very much a community.”
Homes in the neighborhood command top dollar amid the fiercely competitive market in Silicon Valley’s cultural capital, San Jose.
Although there are certainly MLS-defined boundaries for the neighborhood, “part of the charm […] of Willow Glen is that the boundaries are disputable depending on who you are speaking with,” said Kat Bedbury of Today Sotheby’s International Realty.
She said that generally, Willow Glen’s northern boundary would be considered Highway 280; to the east is Highway 87 and Highway 17 lies to the west.
“While the lines become a bit wavy beyond that … Foxworthy [Avenue] would definitely be considered the outer edge to the south,” she added.
The price of entry for Willow Glen is approximately $1 million, Ms. Farnsworth said. At that price point, buyers could expect an older, smaller home in need of some updating. She added that the average price is around $1.4 million.
Homes currently on the market range from $1.35 million to $3.7 million, Ms. Bedbury said. At the lower end of this range, buyers could expect to find a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,500-square-foot home on a 6,500 square-foot lot; at the high end, a roughly 4,000-square-foot home on a 14,000-square-foot lot would include four bedrooms and three baths. Ms. Farnsworth reported that in the past month, multiple homes have sold for just over $4 million.
There are only four condominiums or townhomes currently on the market, listed between $800,000 and $1.1 million, according to Ms. Bedbury.
Homes in Willow Glen represent a “vast variety of styles and ages, from the 1920s-style through new construction” Ms. Farnsworth said, although some homes date as far back as the 19th century. As Ms. Bedbury put it, “Willow Glen has an eclectic architectural style to it,” with its Victorian, Queen Anne cottage, neocolonial, craftsman, mission, prairie, Spanish eclectic and Tudor homes.
Inevitably, some older, smaller homes have been torn down to make way for more modern ones, but as Ms. Bedbury said, buyers look to Willow Glen “because of its charm, so they aren’t intent on knocking anything down. They’re more likely to renovate,” if the home needs a bit of updating, she explained.
What Makes it Unique
The word used most often to describe Willow Glen is undoubtedly “charming.” Ms. Farnsworth called it “a hidden gem.” On the other hand, Ms. Bedbury said that “Willow Glen’s architecture is what makes it unique. Each home is unique.” She also added that the neighborhood is “quiet, beautiful and friendly,” and restaurants, quaint shops, and farmer’s markets are just a short walk away. With its tree-lined, streets, diverse architectural styles, and proximity to downtown San Jose, the neighborhood unites convenience with beauty and tranquility.
Reflecting its origins as an independent town, Willow Glen is largely residential, aside from its vibrant downtown area, which, according to Ms. Bedbury, is known for its restaurants and specialty shops. The neighborhood’s close proximity to downtown San Jose makes the city’s diverse cultural offerings eminently accessible as well.
The Children’s Musical Theater of San Jose is just north of the neighborhood, as is the California Theater, which is the home of both the Opera San José and the Symphony Silicon Valley, and which hosts the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival. Los Lagos Golf Course sits to the west of Willow Glen.
Willow Glen’s downtown area also offers upscale boutiques, including Ibiss and Details Clothing Company. Westfield Valley Fair (commonly known as Valley Fair) is just a five-minute drive away and offers luxury shopping, such as Prada, Versace, Burberry, and Balenciaga.
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Braise and the Black Sheep Brasserie are just two of the many fine-dining options lining Lincoln Avenue, while The Table, serving rustic American fare, is located just around the corner.
The Willow Glen Business Association organizes its yearly street festival, Dancin’ on the Avenue, in June, in the neighborhood’s downtown area along Lincoln Avenue. The community also organizes seasonal Wine Walks, and festivities during the Halloween and winter holiday seasons.
Meanwhile, Booksin Elementary School and Hammer Montessori School (both serving students in kindergarten through fifth grade) are both part of the San Jose Unified School District that serves Willow Glen. The nearby University Preparatory Academy Charter serves grades 7 through 12, and has been rated one of the top high schools in California by U.S. News & World Report.
Who Lives There
Tech giants such as Cisco, Adobe, eBay, and PayPal are already headquartered in San Jose, and with Cupertino-based Apple planning a new San Jose campus and Google negotiating with the city to purchase land for a new office park, young professionals in the tech industry are flocking to San Jose. For these buyers, Willow Glen “will appeal to people who want high-end living with a charming neighborhood,” Ms. Bedbury said.
In general, buyers are in the market for a primary residence, Ms. Bedbury said, noting that the neighborhood attracts younger executives, particularly those in the tech industry.
Although buyers naturally value their privacy, several players for the San Jose Sharks NHL team, including Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski, and the San Francisco 49ers NFL team reportedly live in the area.
Willow Glen has seen a surge in interest, especially in the past two years, as buyers and their agents have looked further south in San Jose to accommodate demand.
Overall, Ms. Bedbury reports that the market is “intense, for sure. It’s the fastest and craziest market in the peninsula right now.” She added that “Willow Glen home values have gone up 25.1% over the past year and [are] expected to rise an additional 10% [or more in the] next year.”
Both Ms. Bedbury and Ms. Farnsworth agreed that it is currently a seller’s market, pointing to the current low inventory and noting that homes are receiving multiple offers, as many as 30, in some instances.
What’s more, a recent report shows that the booming market in San Jose is the most competitive in the nation, with 83.2% of homes selling above their listing price.
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