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 begin to show the effects of the pandemic on the real estate market more distinctly than what we saw from 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 the prior months, but June 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 second month in a row. Market action is on the rise after a recent dip. 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 July inventory is in the high 70s or above with lower averages in the low 70s, but in 2020 inventory a good deal shy of that at 61 listings! Going back, not since March was 2020 inventory in-line with the usual monthly inventory.

 

InventoryLG-July2020

 

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 50 single family home sales in Los Gatos in July on the MLS, none sold under $1 million, 13 closed under $2 million, 25 were between $2 and $3 million, 7 between $3 and $4 million, 4 between $4 and $5 million, and 1 at $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 Jul 2020 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $2,497,500 (-2.5%) $2,562,500 $2,364,580 (+5.6%)
Average Price $2,786,610 (-7.3%) $3,006,550 $2,522,580 (+10.5%)
No. of Sales 54 (+50.0%) 36 35 (+54.3%)
Pending 45 (-11.8%) 51 27 (+66.7%)
Active 58 (+1.8%) 57 82 (-29.3%)
Sale vs. List Price 100.5% (+1.6%) 98.8% 100.2% (+0.3%)
Days on Market 34 (+29.3%) 26 34 (+0.1%)
Days of Inventory 32 (-29.8%) 46 70 (-54.2%)

 

Prices saw a drop since March, but June numbers saw prices rise again and they’re above where they were a year ago in July. The number of sales and active listings have also bounced back with sales well exceeding last month and last year. Active listings are up from last month but well below last year, but pending are nearly double what they were a year ago. The sales vs list price ratio is strong at 100.5%, 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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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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Austin Corners: from Popular Resort Destination to Death Curve

In 1940 construction began to widen, straighten, and modernize Highway 9. This was eagerly welcomed by locals who hoped to ease beach traffic and to eliminate the infamous ‘Death Curve’ at Austin Corners. The project was a success and the once bustling, popular, and even notorious, Austin Corners has since become a nearly forgotten by way.

The Austin Corners Namesake

Historic Maps from History San Jose highlighted to show DB Austin’s property of Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd and Quito. Click to go to the source of the maps.

The name Austin comes from Captain Daniel “Dan” Buckley Austin, who purchased 60 acres of land 1.25 mi from Los Gatos around 1882. By 1888 he sold all but the 2.25 acres of his parcel surrounding his home, though the area would keep his name for centuries to come.

Mr. Austin was one of the original stockholders and directors of the Los Gatos and Saratoga Wine and Fruit Company, and his property became the location for the Plant from 1885-1919. The Wine and Fruit Plant was a community effort, “built by local growers… to facilitate the processing of grapes” (LG History Research Collection) and its managers were respected members of the community, such as orchard owner Alfred Malpas and Antone Anderson. Mr. Austin did not live to see the Plant’s destruction due to prohibition in 1919.

Mr. Austin was heavily influential in the creation of a school house and a school district in this part of the county. The original Austin School District’s single room schoolhouse was built on his property in 1884, and was used until a new schoolhouse was built on the same location in 1913 at what is today 19010 Austin Way. This school district was incorporated into the Saratoga School District in the 1920s, and when the highway was straightened the old schoolhouse was raised and replaced with an Arts and Crafts style building that would be used as a nursery school for years (Saratoga History Newsletter March 2009).

A Trip to the Corner

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What’s New? Changes and Re-Openings in Los Gatos

Open Sign NeonSpring has stretched into summer and while closure protocols remain in place, the Town of Los Gatos has been progressively re-opening.

Safe Summer Reading

Socially distant opportunities are ever-expanding. The Town Library is working hard to circulate your summer-reads safely. Residents can now check-out material online with safe patio pick-up for books, CDs, and DVDs. Virtual services include online classes and remote storytimes in addition to the virtual library services already in place.

Summer concerts have gone virtual, too, at least for Jazz on the Plazz.

Back in Business

Unfortunately, increasing virus spread has led to a rollback on opening many indoor services. Outdoors, however, there’s plenty to do!

Back in May the Town Council began work and the April-approved reallocation of $1.9M in surplus to bolster local COVID-19 economic recovery. Some of this has been used to help create the outdoor expansions into temporary parklets.

If you haven’t been downtown recently, it’s all hustle and bustle with the new setup. Patio dining is now available at many of your favorite restaurants. Personal services including hair salons, cosmetologists, nail salons, and barbershops are now also open for business – outdoors and by reservation only. The weekly farmers market is still open for business every Sunday.

While indoor malls remain closed you can still enter shops in outdoor malls or at standalone stores, so window-shoppers, follow the posted rules and enjoy stalking the shelves!

Re-Opening the Outdoors

Los Gatos Collage Re-OpeningTrails and parks remain open with social distancing requirements. Boating on Vasona Lake is open with plenty of safety protocols in place. County parks have yet to reopen playgrounds, water fountains, and group picnic sites, according to their website, so keep that in mind when you plan a Vasona visit. Town parks have reopened some sports equipment (such as tennis courts), and playgrounds, picnic tables, and BBQ areas are all open for use. The Town of Los Gatos is accepting picnic site reservations online again.

To keep track of what’s open and what’s changing in the Town of Los Gatos, check the Town Department Updates page, the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce Open Businesses page, or contact individual businesses for details.

Remember that the best practice is still to remain home as much as possible. When not possible, follow all safety protocols, wear a mask, stay physically distant, and wash your hands often.

Bella Vista Village

Map - Bella Vista Village is one of the communities along Alberto Way in Los GatosBella Vista Village is an upscale, fairly young townhome community off of Alberto Way in Los Gatos. These 47 townhouses are close to downtown Los Gatos and offers easy access to Highway 17, Highway 9 (Los Gatos-Saratoga Road), and Los Gatos Blvd (once called Los Gatos-San Jose Road). Alberto Way is a cul-de-sac, so a plus is that there’s no through traffic here.

This whole area is at the doorstep to downtown Los Gatos and there are many things for which residents here may elect to walk or ride a bike rather than take a car. It’s an enormous benefit.

Built in 1997, the first section is Tract 8820 and consists of 34 townhouses on Cuesta de Los Gatos except for 5 on Treseder Ct . This is the area closest to Alberto Way. The second phase, completed in 1998, is Tract 8976 with just 13 homes, all of which are on Maggi Court. In the map at the right, you can see that there are two sections of Bella Vista Village.

What are the homes like at Bella Vista Village?

Because these homes are so young, they are delightfully light, bright and open. They feature double pane windows and are quiet inside, too. Outside, the looks is contemporary Craftsman style.  The grounds and exteriors are well maintained and attractive.  The private driveways are kept up.

 

Bella Vista Village - home facing Alberto Way - Los Gatos

 

Homes range from 943 SF to 1735 SF, offering 2-4 bedrooms (most are 3) with 2-3 bathrooms. All appear to be 2 story homes, though one was listed as a 3 story in the MLS.

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