Apple Headquarters – One of the Most Valuable Buildings in U.S.

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The Apple “spaceship”, the company’s iconic headquarters in Cupertino, California, has been considered by many to be one of the most innovative campuses in America. Now, it also has the somewhat inelegant honor of being one of the priciest properties in the country.

The Santa Clara County Assessor office recently assessed the 2.8 million-square-foot Apple Park at $3.6 billion. By comparison, One World Trade Center in New York cost $3.9 billion; the TransBay Tower in San Francisco, occupied by SalesForce, was assessed at $1.7 billion. The value of the Apple HQ even exceeds that of what was once considered the most expensive transaction in real estate history: the sale of the General Motors building in New York to the Blackstone Group in 2008 for a whopping $2.9 billion.

Apple’s HQ also has the unique distinction of being housed in a single building, unlike many other tech firms, which tend to build or purchase multiple separate buildings to create a “corporate campus”. This makes it more difficult to value these properties, since each building can be considered a separate structure for valuation and comparison purposes.

Image Credit: Daniel L Lu via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Apple’s entire campus, which reportedly cost $5 billion to build, is unique in a number of ways. It’s sleek and modern aesthetic is rivaled by the innovations employed for sustainable building practices, energy efficiency, and eco-friendly design. The building opened in 2017, and has since drawn many locals and tourists to the visitor center, where they can learn more about the unique design while also being served up shopping, dining, and various events.

The challenge with placing a value on Apple’s HQ is that there are really very few, if any, buildings like it. How do you determine a value when you have nothing to compare it to? Like many other large companies, Apple has actively disputed its assessed valuations, in order to contain property tax costs.

The Impact of Tech on Silicon Valley

There is no doubt of the impact of technology companies on the whole Silicon Valley landscape (obviously, even the term “Silicon Valley” wouldn’t exist without the presences of tech giants both past and present). Despite Apple’s (and its cohorts) disputes over property values, the economic impacts of these major employers have touched nearly every level of life in the Bay area, from local planning and development, to housing, schools, and transportation.

In 2018, the tax assessments for Santa Clara County alone hit $516 billion, according to the county assessor, mostly led by corporate real estate owned by the tech giants. However, while Santa Clara has experienced the longest period of growth in decades, the signs of slowing growth are starting to become apparent.

“There are early indicators that the economy may be in transition if for no other reason that we are due for a recession,” Stone said in a recent statement to CoStar. “We are seeing a marked increase in for-rent or -lease signs outside of major apartment complexes, in addition to concessions such as free rent and reduced deposits to attract tenants, a clear signal that the peak of the apartment market has passed.”

Similar trends are also showing up in the commercial real estate arena, as well.

“The unsustainable and frenzied leasing activity of 2015 and 2016 has slowed, in part, as a result of the significant increase in the supply of new office space,” Stone said. It’s highly likely that the assessment roles may also level off or slow over the course of the next couple years.

According to CoStar data, office vacancies are still low (around 2.5%).

Let my team at Keystone Realtors® meet all your real estate needs. We can help you find the perfect investment property to get started, and provide advice on your investing journey. Paul Phangureh has over 16 years of experience in buying and selling in the Santa Clara and San Mateo County areas, specializing in the high-end, luxury market, as well as commercial and multi-use real estate. We can help you navigate the process of getting started with real estate investment. Visit our website at Keystonesv.com for listings and information. You can contact Paul at 650-924-2544, or email at [email protected].