Garden Against Fire!

Landscaping for Wildfire ProtectionThe Los Gatos Library will host an online class, Landscaping for Wildfire Protection

Coming up Thursday, September 24th from 6-7pm Pacific.

Does your garden fight fires? With fire season growing longer and fiercer each year with devastating losses, you might be wondering what you can do to lower risks and protect your property against wildfires. Especially if you live near one of the Bay Area’s beautiful greenspaces! Join the Los Gatos Library with speaker Barbara Hunt, UC Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County, to learn about how wildfires spread and how to landscape to protect your home, from hardscapes to fire-resistant plants. This is a free lecture aimed at California homeowners but open to all.

For more information and the Zoom link, please view the event page.

Join the event on Facebook and set a reminder.

Want to learn more about fire in Los Gatos? Check out some of my other posts on this topic:

Los Gatos Fire Risk

Wildfire Evacuation Route Signs Being Installed (2016)

Fighting Fire With … Wine

A History of Los Gatos Fires and the Los Gatos Fire Department

The Monte Sereno real estate market

Elm Park in Monte Sereno, sold by Mary Pope-Handy
Ranch style home on Elm Park in Monte Sereno, sold by Mary Pope-Handy

The City of Monte Sereno is quite small, with just about 4,000 residents, so the number of houses sold in any given month will always be extremely small.

For that reason, the data may appear to jump around wildly compared to Los Gatos or Saratoga, which each have about 30,000 people living there. Please take these statistics with a tablespoon of salt, and be sure to view the Los Gatos housing market data to get a more accurate picture of what’s happening with Monte Sereno homes (just add a little to the price tag as homes there tend to sell for a bit more than LG properties).

Also, there are only single family, detached houses in Monte Sereno: no apartments, multi unit housing (2 – 4 plex), no duet homes (attached single family homes). That will be changing soon, however, as the old La Hacienda property (formerly an estate, then a hotel and restaurant) at Hwy 9 and Austin Way will likely become incorporated into Monte Sereno and condos or townhomes built there.

Also, this month’s data will likely show some of the effects of the pandemic on the real estate market as it has changed since March. To learn more about how Covid-19 is affecting the local real estate market, please check Coronavirus Impact on Real Estate Sales on my other blog.

During the shutdown so far, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) stopped the timer on all Days on Market (DOM). Therefore these numbers will be off beginning from March 17th through around May 17th. In the data below, this will affect any numbers related to the days on market, the absorption rate, and the days of inventory from those months, but current numbers should be accurate.

First up for the market analysis is the Altos Research weekly profile for Monte Sereno (uses list prices, not sales – so the median sale price here is much higher than the median sale price on the solds):

 

 

This chart shows a strong seller’s market for the third month in a row. Market action is no longer on the rise, however. This is relatively consistent with, though stronger than, nearby Los Gatos’ statistics.

Below is the Monte Sereno Real Estate Report (click to view the complete Real Estate Report).

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Los Gatos real estate market trends and statistics

Low inventory is the main story in the Los Gatos real estate market today. Here’s a multiple year view of single family homes for sale in Los Gatos 95030 and 95032 since January 2014 – I find this to be enlightening since any one year can be an anomaly. What we see in the chart below tells us that average August inventory is in the range of high 60s to high 70s, but in 2020 inventory a good deal shy of that at only 55 listings! Going back, not since March was 2020 inventory in-line with the usual monthly inventory.

 

InventoryLG-August2020

 

The ultra low number of listings is due to many factors, one of them being the current coronavirus pandemic and health & safety concerns. For a look at of how Covid-19 is affecting the local real estate market today, please check Coronavirus Impact on Real Estate Sales on my other blog.

What is selling best in LG right now?

Of the 36 single family home sales in Los Gatos in August on the MLS, none sold under $1 million, 10 closed under $2 million (only one went below $1.5 million), 17 were between $2 and $3 million, 3 between $3 and $4 million, 5 between $4 and $5 million, and 1 over $5 million. The high end price point tends to be at around $3,000,000 and up for this part of Santa Clara County. The vast majority of what sold would not be considered luxury properties, even though in most areas of the U.S. these would be luxury price tags.

Los Gatos real estate statistics at a glance for 95030 & 95032

Next, data from the RE Report for Los Gatos (“in town”), in the Los Gatos Mountains, and for Los Gatos condos (only in town, none in the mountain communities). Below that are the live Altos Research charts, updated automatically each week. Altos uses list prices, not sold prices.

The numbers below analyze data gathered during the first week of each month and cover real estate statistics from the month prior in Los Gatos 95030 & 95032 (all areas / school districts), or MLS “area 16”. See the full RE Report here.

 

Trends At a Glance Aug 2020 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $2,500,000 (+0.1%) $2,497,500 $2,045,500 (+22.2%)
Average Price $3,006,510 (+7.9%) $2,786,610 $2,412,510 (+24.6%)
No. of Sales 41 (-24.1%) 54 26 (+57.7%)
Pending 42 (-6.7%) 45 27 (+55.6%)
Active 55 (-5.2%) 58 79 (-30.4%)
Sale vs. List Price 101.1% (+0.7%) 100.5% 98.7% (+2.5%)
Days on Market 30 (-11.5%) 34 35 (-12.7%)
Days of Inventory 40 (+24.9%) 32 91 (-55.9%)

 

Prices rose again with August numbers well above where they were a year ago. The number of sales and pending sales have also exceeded last year, though they’ve dropped since July, though active listings are below 2019. The sales vs list price ratio is strong at 101.1%, higher than last month and last year. Overall it remains a seller’s market in Los Gatos, possibly showing some delayed spring activity.

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Combined fire map with evacuation zones

A combined fire map with evacuation zones is now available! As the various fire complexes engulf the San Francisco Bay Area, the Monterey Bay Area, and much of the state, it’s been challenging to see regional maps since Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties were using Garmin Maps and Santa Clara and other counties were using Google map. Yesterday I found a new combined fire map with the evacuation zones published on Garmin and am happy to share that link with you here.

 

Combined fire map with evacuation areas shows

 

There are disclaimers, of course, as you log into the site. Because it is collecting info from several counties, that info may not be as updated as from the county in question.  The CZU fire, though, now has warning zones in Santa Clara County (from the heights of Montebello Road in Cupertino down to Redwood Estates in Los Gatos), so creating a map that would include Santa Clara County makes sense.

For me, this is  far more helpful than a list of roads and directions such as “east of xyz road” etc. It appears to be updated frequently

Los Gatos fire risk

What is the Los Gatos fire risk? This morning a good friend of mine shared a map app that is very helpful for understanding any California property’s wildfire odds. Buildings are given a color code from blue (for low risk) to dark red (for very high risk). With the fires raging in the Diablo range on the east side (from about Fremont to Gilroy), the Santa Cruz Mountains, and many other areas of the Golden State, some folks are getting nervous – even if their particular property is not close to the infernos or in a particularly dangerous location.

If you do live in the Los Gatos or Santa Cruz Mountains, you do know that the chances of fire are elevated over more densely populated areas.  If your home is close to the hills or large open space that stretches into the foothills, it’s not a surprise that your  risk is increased over those in the flat lands.  What is your Los Gatos fire risk? Have a look at the DefensibleApp website and see what it says about your California location.

 

Los Gatos fire risk map

View Permits Online

Did you know that you can view permits online for Los Gatos properties? (Use this link to do a search, and the permits can be seen on the next screen.) Not every city or town in Silicon Valley has this capability, though most do now. San Jose’s can be accessed via SJPermits.org.  You don’t need to register or provide any information to check out the permits. Property records are part of the public domain.

Why view permits online?

If you are a homeowner, it’s a good idea to check this site to make sure that work you’ve done with permits and finals is reflected there. If you have permits and finals for work and it’s not showing up online, contact the building department to see how you can get the records corrected. Normally we’d bring the originals to the town for copying, but right now they may have a workaround due to the pandemic.

It’s also wise to make sure that someone else’s work was not inaccurately attributed to your home. A few years back we saw a re-roof ascribed to our house that didn’t belong – it was probably a neighbor with a slightly different house number. One quick call to the town’s building department and it was changed.

If you are a Los Gatos home buyer or a real estate agent, it’s a helpful tool to view permits online to get a sense of what permitted improvements have been made and when. It is possible that items not on the town’s site are permitted even if not listed, but it would be good to investigate. This is especially true if someone added square footage to the living area and it’s not showing as permitted in the county’s living space records. It could be an insurance liability.

 

Screenshot of the page - Los Gatos view permits online form

 

Related reading:

Los Gatos homes: class and land use

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

Saratoga Highlands, Rio Rinconada, Granada Way and La Rinconada Park Neighborhood

Saratoga Highlands, Rio Rinconada, Granada Way and La Rinconada Park neighborhood are situated in west Los Gatos near the Campbell and Saratoga borders. As they are close to the large Safeway and surrounding shops along Pollard Road, this is a very convenient community.In this area you’ll find a beautiful park and tidy neighborhood with homes of varying sizes and price tags. From looking at the plat maps, I believe that originally this entire area was part of the Rinconada Hills tract of land, but today just part of the area, the gated community, bears that name. (Video below of a sampling of the area that I took from 2014!)

 

 

Please continue reading for much more information on the neighborhood!

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