Los Gatos condo sales: what does your money buy?

Los Gatos condo sales are good to watch as it provides info on the most affordable segment of the local real estate market. The condo / townhome market in Los Gatos includes a broad spectrum of housing and affordability across the 95030 and 95032 zip codes and its various school districts.

Included are senior condominiums (mostly but not exclusively at the Los Gatos Commons), which are usually the lowest priced homes and which are residences with age restrictions (mostly 55+). This can skew the data a little, so remember that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is (for all the non-seniors who would love the prices at the Commons in a non seniors complex).

Also incorporated in the chart below are townhouses. A townhouse is an architectural style, not a type of ownership. A townhouse really refers to properties with no other units above or below them. They are either in condo style ownership (essentially a condominium in the shape of a townhouse) or they are planned unit developments (PUDs), which are not condos and in which the ownership includes the land under the unit.  (See also: Is that Los Gatos house or townhouse actually a condo? on this blog.)

Chart of Los Gatos condo sales in 2020

Below please find data on the Los Gatos 95030 and 95032 condominium and townhome sales.

 

Los Gatos condo sales in 2020 year to date

 

How do these condo and townhome prices compare to other nearby areas? Here’s the most recent data from my RE Report (link is to the main site, the PDF with this chart is listed in left column).

Read moreLos Gatos condo sales: what does your money buy?

Bring the Indoors Outside: the California Room Trend

If you are house-hunting and find yourself looking at new or recently developed homes in the Bay Area, you may have seen properties advertised to have a “California Room,” but what exactly is a California room?

California room or luxury porch image from Pixabay
Image by andre casti from Pixabay

What is a California Room?

Sometimes when a house has beautiful views, large sunny windows, and plenty of access to outdoor spaces we might promote it as “bringing the outdoors in.” With the popular trend of California Rooms, however, Bay Area new homes are bringing the indoors outside!

Outdoor living features are as old as the art of architecture itself. The California room is very similar to the classical loggia. It is a living and entertaining space open to the outdoors on at least one side and always covered by a roof. More protected than a lanai, not fully enclosed like a sunroom, and more multi-purpose than a patio, the California room is a luxury space that can be described as a hybrid between a porch and a room.

Read moreBring the Indoors Outside: the California Room Trend

Remember to vote by November 3rd!

voteElection Day is less than two weeks away, and in addition to the presidential election, there are a number of other candidates and issues on the ballot. Please remember to vote!

This year voting is being done a little differently here in California. Back in 2019, Santa Clara County became the 10th county in California to adopt the Voter’s Choice Act, adopting practices to make voting in elections more convenient, expedient, and accessible. Ballots and booklets on the propositions were mailed out to every registered voter early this month. All voters have the option to vote in-person or remotely by mail or official Ballot Drop Box. The Act also replaces designated Polling Places, assigned by address, with universal Vote Centers, where any Santa Clara County registered voter can vote.

Due to the pandemic, residents have been encouraged to vote early and vote by mail to reduce crowds at Vote Centers. In-person voting remains available throughout the county, but locations have been reduced for the upcoming election. If you aren’t sure where to go, or have more questions about voting, please check the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters website or phone them at 408-299-8683.

There are two types of locations: drop off only Ballot Drop Boxes, and Voting Centers where you can either drop-off your mailed ballot or fill one out in-person.

Ballot Drop Box locations in and near Los Gatos

Ballot Drop Boxes are open 24 hours a day between October 5th and November 2nd, and on Election Day, November 3rd, from midnight to 8pm when polls close. You can also find your nearest Ballot Drop Box location using the County Registrar of Voters search by address using the tab on the left titled “Find Ballot Drop Off” or by checking the complete list of locations. All of the boxes listed below are outdoor sites.

Read moreRemember to vote by November 3rd!

Cheeky Los Gatos Article from 1892

Tucked away on the back page of the San Jose Daily Mercury from Monday September 5th, 1892 is an amusing and impudent little article titled “The Effect of the ‘Mercury’ on the Gem of the Foothills”.

It reads:San Jose Mercury-news, Volume XLII, Number 67, 5 September 1892

San Jose, says the Los Gatos News, is making a lively bid for Los Gatos favors. The Mercury has arranged for a daily news budget and an agent (his name is Dennis) is canvassing the town for subscribers. Like the Novitiate College and Glenridge, the Garden City will soon be applying for annexation to Los Gatos. No doubt San Jose envies us our felicitous zephyrs and the picturesqueness of our mountain scenery and would like us to divide the honor which the Gem of the Foothills monopolizes on the Pacific Coast. We advise our Town Board to go slow on San Jose. It would be well to modestly suggest that our patronizing sister first purge herself of the discordant elements which have been blazoned from the electric tower and have been made so conspicuous in the councils of the body politic before we risk the chances of admitting her to our peaceful realm. We will take the Mercury on probation and if the evidences of peace and good will develop a tendency to reform in these important particulars, we may, at some future time, consider a proposition to admit San Jose as a suburb, providing she will allow us the privilege of attaching to her main sewer to the Bay, or offer some other equally persuasive inducement.

The author sets up the joke right at the start. The News and the Mercury are competing daily papers; the Mercury (based in San Jose) is hawking subscriptions in Los Gatos (home of the News) while condescending to the Town in it’s publications, at least in the author’s opinion. In response the author (presumably from our little Town and proud of it) turns right around and patronizes them back! This article references contemporary issues, from overtly bragging about annexations and reputations, to addressing the desired expansion of public utilities (sewage, in this case), and takes jabs at San Jose’s first attempt at electric street lighting and the “San Jose Electric-Light War”! What a cheeky piece of history!

Surrey Farm neighborhood

Surrey Farm Neighborhood Los Gatos CA (Silicon Valley)

Where is the Surrey Farm neighborhood?

Surrey Farm is located just off of Kennedy Road on a few streets behind a horse fence and gate: Longmeadow Drive, Blueberry Hill Drive, Clover Way, Olde Drive and Twin Oaks Drive. A number of real estate sites incorrectly include nearby streets, reaching as far as Short Road and including part of Marchmont and the Stoneybrook neighborhood. This is not correct.

Is it Surrey Farm or Surrey Farms?

Locally, people refer to this gated looking community as Surrey Farms. But a look at the county records reveals that local custom has morphed the name. The subdivision was originally dubbed in the singular: Surrey Farm, not Surrey Farms. It seems to have been one ranch or farm to start with – so the singular makes more sense. Either way – same neighborhood.

When were the homes built, how big are they, and how large are the lots in Surrey Farm?

Originally a horse ranch, Surrey Farm was built out with homes between about 1955 and 1960, and most began as ranch style homes between about 2000 and 3000 square feet, on lots of about 1/4 to 1/3 of an acre in most cases, though there are some homes larger than 4000 SF situated on parcels of more than one acre now. And over the years, many houses have been remodeled, expanded, or fully rebuilt.

What makes the Surrey Farm or Surrey Farms neighborhood so special?

Part of what is unique about Surrey Farm is the more rural feeling that the neighborhood has. Here you don’t find sidewalks or street lamps. But you do find that a number of the yards continue to use the horse fence as at least part of the landscaping. That’s very refreshing in Silicon Valley, where so many of the residential areas just feel like suburban sprawl. You can look around and imagine it being horse country not so long ago.

Also special is the fact that this area is actually close to downtown Los Gatos but only feels farther away. It’s incredibly quiet in most of the neighborhood. One area does back up to Hillbrook School, so of course the sounds of kids at play or school bells ringing will not reinforce the “out in the country” feel. Overall, though, you look around and see open space and the hills nearby – so you do not feel like this is any kind of urban setting.

 

What are some of the things to know if interested in Surrey Farm (or the Kennedy-Marchmont area of Los Gatos)?

Surry Farm Gate - Los Gatos CAIn this area, you are close to a lot of open space and forested land, and that means wildlife is nearby: possums, skunks, racoons, deer, bobcats, and mountain lions all make their home not too far away. And with the forested land there’s also the danger of wildfire, so it’s important to have a plan and be ready — though quite honestly I have never heard of a fire in this “Kennedy Road area.” A bigger issue than fire is water…..

Water issues in and near Los Gatos

Throughout Los Gatos, Almaden, Monte Sereno and Saratoga, anytime you’re near or in a hilly area, water is an issue. Surrey Farm and the Kennedy Road and Marchmont area is no exception. This area is adjacent to larger hills but is a gently sloped area itself. Water flows down off of the hills, but at times it also flows under the hills, following some sort of impervious rock level, and when the ground flattens out, the water may pop up. Sometimes it’s a spring situation. Other times it’s a “high water table” that may come up during heavy rains, such as we have in an El Niño year. In some cases, the water can emerge under a house (like having it come off of downspouts isn’t a big enough challenge).

In winter, it is not at all unusual to find a wet or muddy crawl space if your home is on or near a hill. Less common, but perhaps more worrisome, is finding it in the middle of summer in a drought year.

Water issues can be mitigated with drainage work, so don’t let a little mud put you off – you just need to know about it going into home buying so that you are prepared and budget it in. It is important to not be surprised, and when house hunting, to be on the lookout for drainage work (and appreciate it when you see it) or the need for it if you see a slope.

 

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See all Surrey Farms neighborhood in Los Gatos, California Real Estate.
(all data current as of 1/19/2021)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

 
 

2020 Local Election for the Town of Los Gatos

Patriot CatIt’s a big election year – are you ready for it?

Registered voters in California will begin to receive ballots in the mail on October 5th – that’s less than 2 weeks away! So let’s have a look at what’s going on in the local, Town of Los Gatos this voting season.

The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce wants to make sure your voice is heard. Their campaign, Vote LG, and it’s web page are set up to answer all of your election questions. Visit that page for a timeline of important dates, links to register online, information on candidates and measures, and most importantly how to vote whether you submit your ballot in-person, by mail, or by drop box.

Another resource for the local election is the League of Women Voters Southwest Santa Clara Valley division which hosts a variety of events for voters. Coming up on October 5th, they will have a non-partisan discussion of the Pros & Cons of the state propositions, county, and local measures that affect this area. Recordings of their past Candidate Forums for this election year are also available online.

Town of Los Gatos Election

This year, voters for the Town of Los Gatos have 3 open seats to fill in the Town Council and 2 Los Gatos specific measures in addition to a few County measures, state propositions, and federal elections to consider. But let’s just focus on the Los Gatos election. Who’s running and for what position?

Read more2020 Local Election for the Town of Los Gatos

Los Gatos Election: Virtual Candidate Forum

Patriot Cat Vote the Los Gatos ElectionIt’s an election year for the Town of Los Gatos! The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce is hosting a virtual seminar for voters to meet the candidates. This is a free event, but you must sign up to receive the link to view. Public questions can be submitted at registration (one question per registration) and all questions will be curated for relevance to the topic of focus:  local business and economy. This is not a town-hall style meeting, but a moderated forum presented in a Zoom webinar.

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

7pm – 8:30pm

For information, changes, and registration, please go to the Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce page for this event, called Candidate Forum or through the URL listed below.

https://www.losgatoschamber.com/events/details/candidate-forum-14798

 

If you missed the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum for the Town of Los Gatos that happened on September 21st and you would like to view it, a recording of the session is available on the LWV Southwest Santa Clara Valley Youtube page through this link.

And remember to cast your vote on November 3rd or sooner!