Live in Los Gatos

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

Winter In Los Gatos

February 15, 2007

While the East Coast is buried in snow, we have had a week with more than a little rain – but we needed it so no one dared to complain! Today, however, the sun was out and I wanted to capture a little of Los Gatos on film … er, make that on my digital camera. So here are a few shots from around town.

 

To the left is a sign that recently made its way to the Main Street Bridge (which, by the way,

El Camino Real Bell with Penthouse Apartments in Background. Main St. Los Gatos.was once known as The Hanging Bridge – you guessed it, that’s where lynchings and “justice” were carried out). This sign for The King’s Highway surprised me because The El Camino Real (The King’s Highway) is known in this valley as either El Camino Real, The Alameda, or Market Street. It winds through San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and on up the Peninsula.

So how or why is the sign

here? Well, the Main Street Bridge crosses over Highway 17, which makes its way over to Santa Cruz – and the Mission in Santa Cruz. So I am presuming that because 17 links the missions (Santa Clara and Santa Cruz) that it constitutes part of the historic route and thus won the right to display this cool Mission Trail bell and sign. Below, please find a more telling view of the bell – with the Penthouse Apartments and the famous Cats on the wall to prove the location (no, it’s not photoshopped- honest!) And next to them are some other shots of Los Gatos today. Not bad for winter, is it??

Gateway to Old Town, Los Gatos, on University Avenue.So you can see, there’s no snow, no rain, no frost (OK you can’t see it, but take my word for it). The weather has been in the mid-60s the last few days and when I take our pooch, Bella, out for a walk it seems I find half the neighborhood doing the same thing. This is winter in Los Gatos – where we have 300 sunny days a year and we

North Santa Cruz Avenue and Main Street, Los Gatos seldom get a hard frost. We are just 30 minutes from the beach, but protected from the fog by “The Hill” (seen in the middle photo above, behind the famous Beckwith Building). We’re an hour from San Francisco, 90 minutes from Monterey and Carmel, and 20 or so minutes to San Jose – the safest large city in the US. This area has a very highly educated population, low crime, great schools, wonderful shops and restuarants – and, possibly the supreme highlight – fabulous weather.
Come visit Los Gatos! Enjoy wine tasting, museums, shops, fine dining, and all the outdoors activities. Or just enjoy the Town Plaza Park and watch the world go by, like the people in the photo below. Los Gatos: always a great place to be, but perhaps especially remarkable in winter!


Town Park Plaza, Los Gatos, Feb 15, 2007

 

What's The Market Doing?

January 26, 2007

What’s The Market Doing?

Date: Jan. 26, 2007
Tags: None

Right now in Los Gatos there are 80 properties for sale. They range in price from $15,950,000 to $795,000 (though the one at $795k is actually a San Jose address but is pulled into the “Los Gatos area” by our mls system). The average list price is $2,979,029 and average “days on the market” is 103 (and 193 for “continuous days on the market”). 

The pending sales (whether a contingent sale, a normal sale with inspection & loan contingencies in place, or all contingencies removed and nearly a closed escrow) amount to 35. For these homes, the average “days on market” is 71 (and 104 for “continuous days on market”). The average list price of these pending sales is much lower $1,774,550. (The average lot size, by the way, is about 3/4 of an acre for these homes.)

So what does that mean? Basically it means that homes which are under $2 million are selling much better than the ultra luxury homes which are at or over $2 million, $2.5 million, or more. There has been one recent sale (still pending) of a home listed at $4,795,950 but this is the exception. Every other home sold in January is at or under $2 million.  There are some higher sales between $2 million and $3 million, but they occurred in December, not January.

What’s most hot is what’s more affordable – by Los Gatos standards.  

Los Gatos Appreciation

January 16, 2007

 

Los Gatos Annual Real Estate Trends

SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES % Change from Year Before
Area Year Sales Median Price Average Price DOM New Listings Sales Median Price Average Price New Listings
LG 1998 376 $660,000 $735,738 55 687
LG 1999 391 $730,000 $863,248 66 575 4.0% 10.6% 17.3% -16.3%
LG 2000 337 $925,000 $1,157,133 40 538 -13.8% 26.7% 34.0% -6.4%
LG 2001 232 $925,000 $1,164,241 65 731 -31.2% 0.0% 0.6% 35.9%
LG 2002 309 $955,000 $1,096,678 71 706 33.2% 3.2% -5.8% -3.4%
LG 2003 310 $970,000 $1,113,078 90 717 0.3% 1.6% 1.5% 1.6%
LG 2004 466 $1,165,000 $1,294,057 61 905 50.3% 20.1% 16.3% 26.2%
LG 2005 413 $1,251,000 $1,366,305 56 823 -11.4% 7.4% 5.6% -9.1%
LG 2006 299 $1,359,000 $1,504,811 57 662 -27.6% 8.6% 10.1% -19.6%

Luminarias

December 27, 2006
liveinlosgatos luminarias - Luminarias

Lost Los Gatos Luminarias?

Usually on Christmas Eve, my husband and I take our kids on a drive around Los Gatos after dark to take in the pretty Christmas lights that grace homes, yards, and trees. And each time, we make sure to visit the Vista del Monte neighborhood, where we’re treated to a look at homes with luminarias on Worcester Loop and Worcester Lane. Normally, there are a lot of homes that make a huge effort and put these out.

But not this year. What happened? We saw just three homes – all on Worcester Lane – with luminarias this year.

Perhaps it was too much work, or perhaps they thought no one cared or noticed. But our family certainly did enjoy seeing them! They are so pretty, but also they have a religious relevance, which I particularly appreciate with the commercialization of the feast. To me, it’s a great reminder about what Christmas is really about, and I missed it that most of the homes didn’t do it this year.

And my hat is off to the three homes that did do it. Thank you, we noticed and enjoyed seeing them!

I hope the luminarias will be back next year, like so many other wonderful Christmas traditions.

Affordable Housing in Los Gatos

December 06, 2006

liveinlosgatos wreath - Affordable Housing in Los Gatos

Affordable Housing in Los Gatos

Los Gatos is a pricey town. The average single family home sells for about $1,200,000 (starters upwards of $800,000 and it seems there is no upper limit on pricing for large homes on large parcels). So folks struggling to pay the rent, whether employed or retired, might not consider looking in Los Gatos for a below-market rate place to live. But the town has got some affordable housing, and the details are on the town website.  Visit it and learn about both rentals and purchase programs. 

Also, thinking of purchases, there are some great loan programs out there that can help too: Bank of America has an “Acorn program” with great terms (underwritten by a charity), and also there’s a CAL-FHA loan with even more generous guidelines, and then there are also programs for folks buying into zip codes where prices are depressed.  Interest rates have gone down in the last week or two (which is not atypical for December: remember, it’s supply and demand) and this is a great time to buy at a reduced cost.  I can put you in touch with a lender if you want to investigate any of these options.

Renting or buying, Los Gatos is a wonderful place to live.

Hidden Japanese Garden

Hidden Japanese Garden

Date: Dec. 2, 2006
Tags: None

The Kotani-En Japanese Garden is a well kept secret, because this national landmark is on private land – it is not open to the public. I’m a native and only learned of its existence recently!  Even the plaque is on private land and sites that discuss this fascinating place admonish us to not trespass or disturb the owners.

The Saratoga Historical Foundation lists three local Japanese gardens: the well known Hakone Gardens of Saratoga and the lesser known  Nippon Mura, which is halfway between Saratoga and Los Gatos and is now the site of the La Hacienda, and also Kotani-En, which is located at 15891 Ravine Rd (again, private road, do not disturb occupants or trespass).

The California Office of Historical Preservation’s description of Kotani-en is the best I’ve found, so I will quote it here and give attribution:

NO. 903 KOTANI-EN – Kotani-En is a classical Japanese residence in the formal style of a 13th-century estate with tile roofed walls surrounding a tea house, shrine, gardens, and ponds. Constructed for Max M. Cohen in 1918-1924 of mahogany, cedar, bamboo, and ceramic tile by master artisan Takashima and eleven craftsmen from Japan, Kotani-En represents a harmonious union of art and nature in a two-acre rustic environment. Kotani-En is a prominent example of Japanese landscape architecture in America. “

http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=21522 (lists all landmarks in Santa Clara County)

Favorite Places to Hang Out

December 01, 2006

liveinlosgatos img 0272 - Favorite Places to Hang OutAny time of year, a favorite place of mine to hang out is Old Town Los Gatos. A few years ago it was revamped, and in all honesty, I think it lost a lot of its charm then, but much of it does still remain and despite changes, it’s a great place to be and relax. There is a little bit of large topiary that remains – once there was a huge selection of it – and the outdoor theater still invites people to sit around and visit, if not see a show or hear music these days. It’s my hope that some of the “old” benefits of lingering at Old Town will one day return.

Some things don’t change. The Wine Celler is my favorite restaurant, not just in town, but anywhere. It offers a wonderful menu , including fun things like fondu and cheese boards, a nice variety of wines, and even live music. Additionally there’s patio seating upstairs in nice weather, but always a wonderful interior ambiance in the cellar itself. The people who run The Wine Cellar, the Hauck family, are as nice as the food is good.

I began visiting The Wine Cellar as a teenager and pretty much dragged all my friends there, especially on a weekend night if Gritty and Gravel were playing. (Does anyone know whatever happened to those guys?) I was a “regular” and I often asked them to play Desperado. They humored me. And I kept returning with new people week after week. As it turns out, my better half (Jim, now my husband of 21 years) was there many of those nights too. We would not meet until many years later, but now the restaurant is one our kids like too. I guess it was meant to be!

Another wonderful place in Old Town is directly upstairs, and that’s the local Border’s Books. My family and I are there a lot. I have been joking about buying stock in the place, actually. (I was there yesterday – bought Moving The Chains, a book about my famous cousin that happens to mention both my sister and my brother – and then indulged myself by having a latte in the cafe while skimming through the book for awhile.)

And a nice place to take a friend for a drink after work is Steamer’s. This place has a fantastic wine buyer and I’m only sorry that I don’t remember his name to give him credit – but he’s extremely good at matching the right wine to the right food, he’s friendly, and he’s fun to talk with. Steamer’s has some cool food and a nice atmosphere too.

I miss the outdoor shows in the open air theater. I miss the theater where Borders now stands too. I miss all the topiary that used to grace Old Town. But so much of the old charm remains, and so many wonderful people work the restaurants and shops, that even “progress” did not ruin what may be the very best part of our wonderful town. If you haven’t spent time there, please do. Neat shops, neat people, neat place.

 

Holiday Mailing Tip

November 30, 2006

Holiday Mailing Tip

Date: Nov. 30, 2006
Tags: None

In the spirit of holiday cheer, I’m going to share with you one of my holiday secrets.

Immediately adjacent to Los Gatos is a very small city named Monte Sereno. (“El Sereno” is the name of the large mountain to the right of the pass to Santa Cruz. “El Sombroso” is the name of the large one to the left.) The Monte Sereno Post Office, located on Hightway 9 (aka Los Gatos-Saratoga Road) and Rose Avenue, is usually the best place around during the holiday season when you need to mail a package. This year they have cut back on their hours and it is only open from 9am – 1pm, Monday through Friday. The lines are typically far shorter than at other nearby post office locations, but it is a small office and they don’t take credit cards or do express mail. So go armed with your simple mail and checkbook, and be delighted that the line is half as long as at other PO stations.

Cheers!

 

Los Gatos Annual Real Estate Trends – Single Family Homes

November 26, 2006

Los Gatos Annual Real Estate Trends

SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES % Change from Year Before
Area Year Sales Median Price Average Price DOM New Listings Sales Median Price Average Price New Listings
LG 1997 359 $550,000 $641,487 66 611        
LG 1998 376 $660,000 $735,738 55 687 4.7% 20.0% 14.7% 12.4%
LG 1999 391 $730,000 $863,248 66 575 4.0% 10.6% 17.3% -16.3%
LG 2000 337 $925,000 $1,157,133 40 538 -13.8% 26.7% 34.0% -6.4%
LG 2001 232 $925,000 $1,164,241 65 731 -31.2% 0.0% 0.6% 35.9%
LG 2002 309 $955,000 $1,096,678 71 706 33.2% 3.2% -5.8% -3.4%
LG 2003 310 $970,000 $1,113,078 90 717 0.3% 1.6% 1.5% 1.6%
LG 2004 466 $1,165,000 $1,294,057 61 905 50.3% 20.1% 16.3% 26.2%
LG 2005 413 $1,251,000 $1,366,305 56 823 -11.4% 7.4% 5.6% -9.1%

Los Gatos Real Estate Annual Trends – Condos

November 26, 2006

CONDOS % Change from Year Before
Area Year Sales Median Price Average Price DOM New Listings Sales Median Price Average Price New Listings
LG 1997 120 $307,500 $331,610 38 172
LG 1998 141 $369,500 $371,263 38 202 17.5% 20.2% 12.0% 17.4%
LG 1999 139 $415,000 $401,278 41 185 -1.4% 12.3% 8.1% -8.4%
LG 2000 142 $549,500 $546,117 27 168 2.2% 32.4% 36.1% -9.2%
LG 2001 87 $487,500 $508,365 63 243 -38.7% -11.3% -6.9% 44.6%
LG 2002 148 $507,500 $532,005 65 280 70.1% 4.1% 4.7% 15.2%
LG 2003 159 $529,000 $531,194 90 277 7.4% 4.2% -0.2% -1.1%
LG 2004 169 $563,000 $590,146 41 248 6.3% 6.4% 11.1% -10.5%
LG 2005 163 $650,000 $670,409 36 222 -3.6% 15.5% 13.6% -10.5%

DEFINITIONS

Med. Price
Median Price is that at which 50% of properties sold were above that price and 50% were below.
Ave. Price
Average Price is the sum of all prices divided by the number of sales.
Ave. DOM
Average Days on Market is the average time it took to sell all properties.
Newly Listed
How many properties came on the market in the given time period.

Info by Rick Campbell of The RE Report (a subscription I have)

Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor, CRS, ABR, e-PRO, SRES, ASP, RECS, CNHS
Helping Nice Folks to Buy & Sell Homes Since 1993
Co-Author: “Get The Best Deal When Selling Your Home In Silicon Valley”
Intero Real Estate Services, Los Gatos, CA (Silicon Valley)
408 357-5760 (Direct); 408 204-7673 (Cell); 408 715-0201 (eFax)
www.PopeHandy.com www.ValleyOfHeartsDelight.com
emailto: Mary@PopeHandy.com
Blog: www.LiveInLosGatos.com

 

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,
Saratoga,
Campbell,
and the San Jose areas of
Cambrian and Almaden Valley

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ValleyOfHeartsDelight blog
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especially the West Valley areas

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Silicon Valley relocation info

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