A resource for folks living in or moving to Los Gatos, by Mary Pope-Handy

Los Gatos Real Estate

Cameo Park West neighborhood

Cameo Park West neighborhood in Campbell / Los GatosLos Gatos, Campbell, and Saratoga meet near the intersection of Quito Road and Pollard Road in the far northwest end of LG. People driving through for the first time are often confused about what city is where. To complicate matters, some areas belong to one municipality but have the mailing address, or postal label, of another.

Such is the case with Cameo Park West, a lovely residential pocket of Campbell which is a bit of an outpost for that city and hence has a Los Gatos mailing address to make it simpler for letter carriers. The schools, of course, are not impacted either way since they have nothing to do with the city or town boundaries.

This popular neighborhood, which has claims of some sort to both areas is well built and well kept. For Los Gatans commuting to Cupertino or Sunnyvale, homes in west Los Gatos and nearby offer a shorter commute than from downtown LG or east Los Gatos.

What are homes like in Cameo Park West?

Cameo Park West HomeThe houses found along Elwood Drive, Hyde Drive, Hyde Court, Bearden Drive, and Pollard Court were built mostly in 1966 and 1967 by a well respected, San Francisco Bay Area builder of houses, Leep Homes. There were many extras that went into homes built by Leep, among them copper plumbing (well before that was typical), two way fireplaces, front porches, formal entry halls, step down living rooms, central forced air heat, wood shake roofs (originally, now most are composition shingle) and beautiful hardwood floors. This builder was active in Santa Clara County and we see Leep subdivisions throughout San Jose, Los Gatos, Campbell and many other places within Silicon Valley.

Cameo Park West homes range in size from 1380 square feet to 2620 square feet and sit on lots as small as 6000 SF to as big as 12,600 SF. Most lots are around 8000 SF and a typical house might be about 1800 SF with 3-4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Most of the homes in this area are single story but a few are two stories.

Most houses are “interior” to the neighborhood, but some are close to or face Pollard Road, others are next to the freeway (and with it, the high voltage power lines & towers and also the train tracks) or the school or the creek. Many would prefer a creekside setting or a school as a back neighbor, but not everyone shares that feeling.

How expensive is Cameo Park West real estate?

As of this writing, late July 2018, in the current market homes have sold between about $1,500,000 and $2,000,000. Homes may still sell as low as $1.5 million or less if they’re small, have location issues and / or fixer uppers, but within the last year one sold as high as $1,805,000. Continue reading

Los Gatos real estate statistics and market trends

Each month, we update the Los Gatos real estate statistics and market trends with the latest information on closed sales for the prior month. We’ll review the Los Gatos inventory of homes for sale, the number of homes sold and under contract, and of course the median sale price and average sale price of sold properties. There’s one report for single family homes, meaning houses and duet homes (duet meaning attached single family), and another for condominiums and townhomes. This article covers the 95030 and 95032 areas of town, but not the Los Gatos Mountains, which is zip code 95033 and consists of unincorporated areas in Santa Clara County and also Santa Cruz County. To make this comprehensive, I have two subscriptions that are utilized here: REReport and Altos Research. The first one uses sold / closed figures, and the latter one uses current listings (and is updated automatically each week).

Los Gatos real estate statistics and trends from the RE Report

How’s the Los Gatos market? Real estate inventory and sales often slip in winter, during the holiday season, and rise in the summer. We saw some of that throughout Silicon Valley, including in the town of Los Gatos. Though inventory is down from a year ago for houses, it’s up for condos. Homes are selling at more than list price in most segments of the market, and both condos and houses are flying off the market with an average of just 18 days on the market (for all pricing tiers).

The real estate numbers below reflect realty data gathered the first week of the month for the past month in Los Gatos 95030 & 95032, or MLS “area 16”. See the full REReport here.

Continue reading

Ending the Alberto Way Condo Confusion

Alberto Way MapOne of the more confusing areas in Los Gatos may the Alberto Way. Most of the condominiums along that street in Los Gatos are part of The Los Gatos Commons, a senior complex that’s fairly large. (To read more about senior housing in the area, please see my post on it here.)

As with most senior housing, the units at The Commons are more affordable than the majority of  Los Gatos condos. The Commons was built in 1978 and requires that at least one resident be 55 years of age or more. As of 2018, you may be able to purchase a tiny 1 bedroom in the Commons for under $700,000.

A smaller condo community just a little closer to Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, and on the opposite side of Alberto Way, is Pueblo de Los Gatos.  These homes are a little further away from Highway 17, are a little quieter, and are not senior housing.  They tend to sell for a little more than the homes across the way. There seems to be about a 5% to 10%  difference in price, most of which may be attributable to freeway noise, but part of it to the “senior community” status. This property was developed in 1970, so is actually a little older than the Commons.

Pueblo de Los Gatos consists of 53 units. Of these 53 condo units, 1 of them is a 3 bedroom (unit # 1, which also has a large 2 car garage), 44 are 2 bedroom units, and 8 are 1 bedroom units.  Except for unit # 1, the rest of the homes in this community have carports.  For many home buyers, these properties offer a more affordable way to get into the Los Gatos Union School District than might otherwise be possible.

Additionally, there is a small townhouse complex on the same side of the street as the Los Gatos Commons. These are also not senior communities.

What is the fastest way to tell them apart? The easiest way, without even clicking on a link, is to spot the address.  If there’s a letter as part of the unit number (as in A100 or B202), it’s part of The Commons. If there’s no letter, as in #7, it’s part of the Pueblo de Los Gatos. Of course, there are other townhomes in the immediate area, too – but these are the largest communities.

Both of these are in close-to-downtown Los Gatos locations. If you’re in the market for Los Gatos real estate and would like to live close in, this is a great street to check out.

Los Gatos Commons homes for sale (55+)

Condos in the Los Gatos Commons (a senior community) which are for sale or pending sale right now. (If nothing shows, then nothing is on the market there at the moment.)

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All Alberto Way area homes for sale

This includes properties on Alberto Way as well as Maggi Court

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Los Gatos real estate market trends by price point and high school district

There are many factors impacting the Los Gatos real estate market, including the price point and the elementary or high school district. This post is updated every month or two. Today we’ll look at the Los Gatos realty market by pricing tiers and high school district using the months of inventory as a data point. The months of inventory, or MOI, is the currently active (for sale, no contract or pending sale) homes for sale divided by the number of homes using the same criteria which have closed escrow in the last 30 days.

These numbers were run today using MLSListings.com and it’s possible that a few more homes will be recorded as closed sales or new homes added to the market after we ran these numbers. One other disclaimer: sometimes the number of closed sales is very low or is at 0. This can be for many reasons. In some cases, there are a few which are sale pending and simply haven’t closed recently. In other cases, the market might actually be empty in those tiers, indicating a possible lack of demand or inventory. That being said, what do the numbers say?

Los Gatos real estate months of inventory in 95030 and 95032 combined

The overall MOI for the town as a whole with 95030 and 95032 zip codes still shows a strong sellers market, despite inventory continuing to increase since February (see the 3 charts below), likely in what is a typical seasonal pattern. While there is rapid turnover in the entry-level and mid-range price points, the high-end to luxury markets show significantly slower movement, although they are still very fast and much hotter than average. Homes listed at under $1.5 million, if you can find them, are flying off the market in about 3 weeks’ time.

Los Gatos 95030 95032 months of inventory June 20 2018

 

And from about two months ago, back in April:

 

2a - Los Gatos real estate market trends by price point and high school district

Here is the chart from February for comparison:

2A - Los Gatos real estate market trends by price point and high school district

 

All of Los Gatos 95030 and 95032, both high school districts overall, it’s a clear seller’s market.

The real estate market for homes with the Los Gatos – Saratoga Joint Union High School District only

Now let’s view just the homes which are in the Los Gatos – Saratoga Joint Union High School District (or homes “in the schools” as locals say). Continue reading

What do you need to know before buying a house in Los Gatos?

 

What do you need to know before buying a house in Los Gatos? Particularly for people relocating to Los Gatos (or generally to Silicon Valley) from other areas, or from parts of Santa Clara County not close to the hills, there are a few home buying tips you’ll want to know before purchasing a home in our fair town.  (For locals, these may seem obvious!)

1. Los Gatos & Schools

Whether you have school aged kids or not, you’ll want to know that there are several school districts covering the Los Gatos area. School district lines do not follow the town’s boundaries. (Not too long ago I met someone with a home to sell in the Belgatos area and he had no idea that his home did not belong to the Los Gatos Union School District. This caused him to misunderstand the likely market value of his property.)

Santa Clara County Office of Education School District Boundary Map – Sadly the map no longer exists
Town of Los Gatos: List of Schools Serving Los Gatos Students

2. Historic downtown Los Gatos areas

Areas closest to “downtown Los Gatos,” especially the historic neighborhoods (including Almond Grove, Edelen, Broadway, Fairview Plaza) tend to be much more expensive than those further out. The “walk to town” or “close to town” proximity makes them highly desireable, but also these regions of town are very scenic and have some fabulous Victorian and other beautiful architectural styles. Many are tree-lined, too.

Related to both #1 and #2, the public schools are not all that close to downtown Los Gatos. (St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School is in the downtown area, as is the adjacent Los Gatos Parent Nursery School.)

 

3. Hillside locales

If you buy a house close to a hill, among some hills or on a hill, you will need to pay close attention to issues which are less common in flatter areas further from slopes. Among them are foundation, water and drainage concerns. Some flat areas near the hills may have a high water table, may springs that come seasonally or in very wet years as well as runoff problems.

Water is often far more damaging than termites but it is not really uncommon to find water in a crawl space during the rainy season. Learn about it and pay heed to property inspectors’ suggestions regarding remediation if it’s a condition in a house you want to purchase.

I wrote about this on my Valley of Hearts Delight blog (covering all of Santa Clara County, but mostly the west valley) and suggest these two articles:

What To Consider When Buying a Hillside Home in Silicon Valley

Cracked Foundations, Adobe Clay Soils and Water in Silicon Valley

 4. Los Gatos address

Some homes with a “Los Gatos address” may not actually be in the town of Los Gatos. Many are in a county pocket or area (and may not have all the services of the town). A very few are actually part of either Campbell or San Jose but were assigned the Los Gatos mailing address for ease of the US Post Office.

How can you tell if a residence is part of the town of Los Gatos, is unincorporated or part of another city? The website for the county of Santa Clara has a lookup service. First you must accept the terms of service (see link above), then you will be allowed to input an address. If you type in a location’s address and it says “not found”, either you’ve got a typo in the building number or a mistake in the actual city, so perhaps it’s unincorporated or belonging to another adjacent municipality.

What difference does it make? The actual address (not mailing address) will impact a variety of things such as services (sherriff vs Los Gatos Monte Sereno police, free access to Oak Meadow Park), planning (any additions, remodels etc. will need to be approved by your actual city), voting in Los Gatos elections, etc.

5.  Los Gatos is a town, not a city

Los Gatos is a town. (Monte Sereno, with whom we share some services, is much smaller but is a city, not a town.) This means our government is run a little differently. For instance, we don’t vote for mayor.  Instead, we vote for town council members. They, in turn, vote for mayor. (Usually it’s a rotation.)

According to Wikipedia: “There are 481 incorporated municipalities in California, of which 459 are called cities and 22 are called towns.” [Edit: this quote was accurate as of Feb 28, 2011, but has been edited since. On Oct 24, 2017, the page lists 482 municipalities, 22 of which call themselves Towns.] I was surprised that there are so many towns – had thought it was only a handful!

Los Gatos is an interesting, fun, welcoming town. If you’re moving to the area, it’s a vibrant place you should check out. Please call or email me if you’d like more assistance.

 

 

Critically Low Inventory of Homes for Sale in Los Gatos

As of yesterday, May 1st 2017, the MLS shows just 67 houses for sale in Los Gatos, 95030 and 95032.  (Today it’s lower still at a mere 54 houses.) The chart below is based on the number of active listings in Los Gatos 95030 & 95032 (MLS Area 16) on the first of each month going back to January 2007.  Take a look at the history of homes for sale (not pending or in contract) month over month – I’ve circled all of the rows for May in each year to see the contrast.

 Los Gatos 95030 and 95032 active listings single family homes

What can someone buy in town right now?  Of the 54 houses, 30 are priced at $3 million or less, with many homes available to purchase around  $1.5 to $3 million.  The least expensive home available right now is an 1100 SF house in original condition for $1.3 million.

For people thinking of selling, this is an excellent opportunity, generally, since few homes available creates the scarcity that lends itself toward homes selling faster and for more (if there are multiple offers especially).  Homes under $3 million are selling briskly.

See more information about the Los Gatos real estate market via my online Real Estate Report. Also available, download the 4 page printable report here:
http://rereport.com/scc/print/Mary.PopeHandySCC.pdf

90-day stats for Single Family properties in
LOS GATOS, CA 95030 as of August 17, 2018
Median List Price:$3,583,823Average List Price:$4,315,411
Total Inventory:32Price per Square Foot:$1,093
Average Home Size:3,392Median Lot Size:40,162
Average # Beds:4.26Average # Baths:4.42
Homes Absorbed:3Newly Listed:3
Days on Market:148Average Age:47

90-day stats for Single Family properties in
LOS GATOS, CA 95032 as of August 17, 2018
Median List Price:$2,584,923Average List Price:$3,041,340
Total Inventory:39Price per Square Foot:$944
Average Home Size:2,672Median Lot Size:11,337
Average # Beds:4.11Average # Baths:3.61
Homes Absorbed:6Newly Listed:7
Days on Market:44Average Age:41

Los Gatos real estate: unreal prices!

Here’s a fun bit of Los Gatos real estate history – pricing from yesteryear!  The newspaper ad for Los Gatos homes for sale is enticing.  One of them reads:

Fillmer Ave.

Rustic type of 5 rms.,
2 Brs., tub and shower bath,
fireplace, H.W. floors, 2 car
garage, lot 60 x 140.
Immediate poss.
Asking $15,000

Or check out the house on Englewood:

Englewood Ave.

1 story, rambling type, 6
rms., 3 brs., H.W. floors,
fireplace, tiled baths, 2-car
attached garage, choice
location.  Terms.
Price  $13,500

Another one features a house on Almendra for $12 ,750 with “floor furn”, which appears to be “floor furnace” (from the “Must Sell” ad, which spelled it out). Makes me wonder what the alternative to floor furnace would be!  Or a house on Massol, also a rustic type for $15,000.  I love the description of the “Must Sell” home as “sturdily built” and, surprisingly, “complete, with all new furniture” – $12,700 and just $4,000 down.

Can you guess the year of this Los Gatos real estate advertisement?

Have a look at this and try to guess the year:

Los Gatos real estate ad date not shown

Los Gatos real estate ad date not shown

What year do you think this ad for Los Gatos homes for sale ran?  The newspaper was called the Mail News and Star, by the way.

Keep reading to see the year…

Continue reading

Planning Commission: deny North 40

Los Gatos North 40 proposed development as seen from Hwy 17

Los Gatos North 40 proposed development as seen from Hwy 17 -orange netting on story poles

Earlier this week, the Los Gatos Town Planning Commission recommended that the proposed Grosvenor development in the “North 40” be denied by the Los Gatos Town Council.  Reasons cited are that it does not appear to be in conformity with the town’s plan for that large parcel.

The Mercury News reports that:

In advising against approval, the commission’s majority found that the project — being led by Grosvenor in partnership with SummerHilland Eden Housing — was “not consistent” with the town’s land-use guidelines in four ways: It doesn’t address unmet housing needs in the town for seniors; it doesn’t adequately incorporate hillside views in the layout in conformance with town open-space guidelines; it relied on a flawed economic study of its impact on downtown Los Gatos; and its density is too high on a portion of the site.

The first phase of the project would include 320 housing units (including 50 affordable units for seniors) and 66,000 square feet of retail.

Read the whole article here:
http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2016/07/14/los-gatos-planning-commission-recommends-denying.html

Wildfire Evacuation Route signs being installed

Wildfire Evacuation Route in Los GatosThe Town of Los Gatos takes its responsibility for minimizing risk from flood, fire, earthquake, or other disasters seriously.  A few months ago, I began to notice “Flood evacuation route” signs.  First I noticed it along Blossom Hill Road, close to the Highway 17 over crossing, and later on Lark Avenue.  (Lexington Reservoir  is located further down the highway and a break in the dam would bring tons of water screaming down the highway 17 corridor.)  Seemed like a wise idea, given that we have that and also Vasona Lake right here.

Additionally, though, last week I saw a “Wildfire Evacuation Route” sign too.  It was located on Prospect Avenue and Kimble Avenue, across from the new Sorellas housing development which is currently under construction by Summerhill (formerly the Holy Names Sisters convent and Casa Maria Montessori School).

If you live in a woodsy or mountainous area, the odds are good that your property is located in a zone earmarked as high risk for wildfires, and you’ve been notified that brush must be cleared 100 feet away from your house or structure annually to create “defensible space”. (Some of the best Los Gatos real estate can be found in those areas!) What isn’t always so apparent is where to go in the case of a wildfire.  These new signs should help to improve safety in case of a serious fire.

You may not know that the town has some helpful resources online, too.  You can find them here:

http://www.losgatosca.gov/1359/Fire-Safety-and-Wildfire-Preparedness

CalFire flier on creating 100′ of defensible space around your home (pdf)

Other helpful info:

Flood evacuation information on the town’s website

72-Hour Emergency Preparedness Kit Checklist (pdf)

“Los Gatos Prepared” revised

Statement of purpose on the Los Gatos Prepared page:
Empowering Community Self-Sufficiency towards the ultimate goal of every resident and business in Los Gatos having the awareness, skills, and resources necessary to be self-sufficient in the event of an  earthquake, fire, flood, or possible flu pandemic

Available inventory in Los Gatos and Monte Sereno 95030 & 95032

Last week (on April 6th) I pulled the statistics for available houses or single family homes for sale in Los Gatos and Monte Sereno (95030 and 95032, not the Los Gatos Mountains 95033). We have been experiencing a very palpable shortage of inventory. Below please find a graph to visually demonstrate where we are, and then the data in numbers so you can see each month compared to the years prior.

Los Gatos Monte Sereno inventory of SFH by month 2002 to March 2016

 

And next, the numbers themselves. I particularly like this way to view info as it provides a way of seeing what inventory has been like for the same month in prior years very easily and it also enables the viewer to get a sense of the normal patterns that the local real estate market tends to follow (albeit with some fluctuation).   It’s easy to see that the lowest months for inventory tend to be in winter and the peak months are usually in the middle of the summer.

For our current year, this view offers a way of validating that inventory really is low.  In March we had 68 houses for sale, but in March 2015 it was 70, March 2014 it was 84 and the numbers rise for each year going back until we see the largest inventory in 2009 at 260 – a very deep seller’s market here.

Is inventory low?  Yes, it is – there have been very few months since January 2002 in which home buyers have had so little choice and home sellers such a good opportunity to sell.

 

Los Gatos and Monte Sereno inventory of available houses to buy

(Please note small error on this image – the data was pulled April 6th, not April 10th, but the data should be unchanged.)

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Mary Pope-Handy

Realtor
ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at) PopeHandy.com
License# 01153805

Selling homes in
Silicon Valley, with
special focus on
Los Gatos

and nearby areas,
including
Monte Sereno,
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Campbell,
and the San Jose areas of
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