It’s hard to overestimate the impact tech culture has had on San Francisco and the Bay Area. It has changed the entire perception of the region and the way the residents think about themselves. It has also had an enormous impact on real estate, driving up prices and speeding up the usually laborious process of neighborhood rehabilitation. It has changed the cultures of entire towns. Nowhere is this more true than in Mountain View, with their biggest employer: Google.
It’s hard to remember now, but when Google first moved to Mountain View in 1999, it brought a half-dozen employees and an obscure company name, known only to a few. Within a few years, it had become its own verb, as well as an empire, and it now has 20,000 employees in what once was (and in many ways still remains) a small, suburban, strip-mall town. Google’s growth is set to become even more dramatic thanks to news of its new headquarters, an architectural feat that will advance our understanding of buildings and how they integrate with the landscape. Google does not go small.
Along with these changes will come an opportunity for real estate investors to get property before prices get too high in order to sell. See, Google’s expansion plan is part of an ambitious project by Mountain View to become not just the city that houses Google, but its real home.
Google Headquarters: Transforming the Town
With their new Googleplex, the information giants are trying to create a building that integrates both the guiding principles of technology and the community around it. While Mountain View is happy to have Google, to whom it largely owes its 3.3% unemployment rate, there has always been tension. For one thing, many employees of Google don’t live in Mountain View, and instead commute there from trendier San Francisco, causing enormous traffic snarls and disputes over the notorious Google buses. This impacts the quality of life for people all over the Bay Area.
The new headquarters can change that, though. For one thing, it is poised to become an architectural wonder, and not only that, it can establish a sense of permanence for the headquarters. This will have the dual effect of attracting more businesses and encouraging Google employees to move closer to town, or perhaps even into the town itself. If Mountain View can become more attractive to the younger tech employees, they will be more likely to move there. Which brings us to the issue of housing.
Adding Housing in Mountain View
Earlier this year, before Google officially revealed their plans, the Mountain View City Council agreed to rezone land in the North Bayshore area to make room for transformative commercial development, as well as potentially 1100 new housing units. The North Bayshore area is where Google wants to develop their HQ, as does LinkedIn. Along with these giants, several developers are placing bids to control the commercial parts of the land. Right now, even with the bids, only 1 million of the approximately 3.4 million acres are spoken for. This could be transformative for the real estate in the area. Here’s how it would impact potential investors:
- The housing units themselves. The North Bayshore region, which will likely be home to the new Googleplex, will want to have its employees close so they can walk or bike to work. These will be very nice housing units, as Google pays it employees very well.
- Auxiliary housing. As Mountain View develops and becomes the permanent home for more employees, it will attract even more people south from San Francisco. This will create a need to purchase homes for rehab and flip, as condos and nicer units will be in heavier demand.
- Increased real estate pricing. As you would imagine, Mountain View real estate is hot, with average home prices reaching over $1 million dollars. This is almost certainly going to go up. While it might be expensive to break into, it also might be worth it.
Google and the tech industry have changed everything in our lives, and for the town of Mountain View, the changes have been even more dramatic. But this is just the beginning. Smart real estate investors can get in on the ground floor of what is going to be a competitive and lucrative environment for housing, both for new building and rehabbing. You don’t need a search engine to tell you that when Google makes Mountain View its permanent home, the real estate market will be the place to be.
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