Homes & Housing Market
The Los Gatos real estate market for single family homes is a sellers market as a whole, but this varies depending on many factors. A particular home’s market will be impacted by things such as the pricing tier (the luxury market is a colder market, while homes under $2 million are generally a hot commodity), the school district, condition of the property, whether it is remote or convenient (in some cases), etc.
First, here’s a glance at the Altos Research profiles by the Los Gatos zip codes: 95030 and 95032 are “in town” and 95033 is in the Los Gatos Mountains. The last profile refers to the averages of all 3 zip codes. These are updated automatically every week – so check back often, it will always be current! Also, I’ve provided links to each of the 3 zip codes reports. Within those weekly reports are great data points, my favorite being the info of what size home and number of beds and baths you’re likely to find per price quartile. Check it out!
Altos Research Profiles of Los Gatos single family homes by zip code
A link is provided to the full weekly report for each zip code. It will bring you to the page for single family homes (houses and duet, or single family attached, homes), but from there you can click on a tab and view the same type of data for condominiums and townhouses if any data exists for them.
Close to downtown – 95030 (read the full weekly report for Los Gatos 95030, which is automatically updated, here):
Primarily East, West, and North Los Gatos (view the Altos Research report for Los Gatos 95032 HERE):
The Los Gatos Mountains / Santa Cruz Mountains – 95033 (see the full 95033 weekly report here, no condo or TH in these areas):
All 3 Zip Codes combined
Los Gatos real estate statistics and trends from the RE Report
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.
Los Gatos Trends at a Glance for 95030 & 95032
The market has been leveling off in Los Gatos, with pricing improvement as compared to May, but still off a year ago. The sale price to list price ratio in June was a smidge higher than May.
Trends at a Glance
|Trends At a Glance||Jun 2019||Previous Month||Year-over-Year|
|Median Price||$2,600,000 (+5.7%)||$2,460,000||$2,800,000 (-7.1%)|
|Average Price||$2,745,390 (-1.6%)||$2,788,930||$2,834,730 (-3.2%)|
|No. of Sales||31 (-16.2%)||37||39 (-20.5%)|
|Pending||41 (-4.7%)||43||43 (-4.7%)|
|Active||90 (+15.4%)||78||69 (+30.4%)|
|Sale vs. List Price||101.4% (+0.3%)||101.0%||101.9% (-0.5%)|
|Days on Market||24 (+8.2%)||22||18 (+31.1%)|
|Days of Inventory||84 (+33.1%)||63||51 (+64.1%)|
Thinking of selling your home? One of the first questions a potential home seller has is this: “what’s my home worth?”
Real estate professionals will establish the probable buyer value (do a market analysis) by comparing your home to others like it which have sold recently and perhaps also those which are currently under contract (sale pending). These similar homes are called comps (for comparable listing, pending, or sale). They factor in market conditions as well (buyers market, sellers market, inventory shortage or excess).
What is an ideal “comp”? It is a sold home that is:
- recent (within at least 6 months, but preferably 3, similar market conditions)
- nearby (same zip code/town, within a mile is best, same schools, within same complex or subdivision is ideal)
- similar type of location (interior lots vs one backing to a freeway, school, high voltage lines)
- like condition (similar amount of updating/remodeling)
- if the subject property has an added family room, the best comp would also have an added family room (original square footage usually sells for more on a price per SF basis than added living space, and additions made without permits and finals are worth less than square footage with permits / finals)
In a tract subdivision or condo complex with many recent sales, this can be easy. If the subject property is very similar to several recently closed sales except for either the level of improvements or the lack of them, an adjustment would be made only for the condition. In my experience, the same tract house may have a range of 10% – 15% of value between completely original and not well maintained to thoroughly remodeled with high quality appliances and upgrades. (Most homes are somewhat updated. Few are either entirely or original, or even more rare, completely run down.)
Let’s do an example of a tract home in which there are several sales nearby of the same floor plan in recent months. And let’s say that a typical home there, somewhat updated, sells for $1,000,000 just to use a round number. The numbers could break down along these lines:
- typical sale, moderately updated $1,000,000
- same floor plan, mostly original condition $900,000 – $950,000 “depending” (very original to run down could go lower, depending on market conditions)
- same floor plan, remodeled, turnkey $1,050,000 – $1,100,000 “depending” (“stunning remodel” could go higher depending on market conditions)
The range of values is often 10% on the same street, but it could be as much as 15% or 20% or more if you have a difference of more than just condition (lot size, precise location, view, a change in market conditions between one sale and the other). As an example, if all the comparable properties were “all original” and your home is “somewhat updated”, it’s likely that your home will sell for 5% more than the others did because of your updates. The range between “all original” and “stunning remodel” is not usually more than 20%.
It is much, much more difficult to establish market value for a home when there are no good comps. Sometimes the property being evaluated is extremely different from those sold recently & nearby.To establish a probable market value, it again will be a matter of adjustments, but when there are no good comps, a lot of adjustments must be made. Real estate professionals will adjust up and down for condition, location, the market’s behavior etc. Continue reading
What is an easement? In a nutshell, it is the right to use someone else’s property for a particular purpose.
Common types of easements
The most common types of easements in Silicon Valley are ones we can’t easily escape: they are for power, water, perhaps phone lines. The utility companies have a right to go onto your land to get to the power or telephone lines in your backyard. They have a right to go there and do not need your permission, generally speaking, if the need arises. Pacific Gas & Electric can trim the trees under the power lines with or without your permission, but they will notify you that they are doing it.
Unless it’s an emergency, the utility companies don’t go on your property without advance notice.
For the owners of townhouses held in PUD ownership (not condo), the land on which the townhouse sits is owned and not just the airspace inside the unit. If there are private driveways to get to the home, normally that access is via an easement that the townhome owner has over the other parcel (the private driveway).
Less common easements
Easements can be given by the landowner to the person or organization that wants to use it too. This can be done for charitable reasons (such as access to a park being donated) or for a private road or driveway to a parcel that needs to be able to come and go over that road (often for payment of cash). F
For instance, the right to use a driveway or private road from one parcel to access another might be a great convenience to the person who wants the easement (it might be a much shorter route home than another alternative, or it may be the only possible access to that land). The Santa Cruz Mountains and the hilly areas of Los Gatos and Monte Sereno have many areas where this type of easement is in use. With shared driveways or private roads, there is normally a private road agreement in place to spell out how repairs are paid for and by what percentage. Some communities collect money annually to fund these driveways or roads, and others do not.
As a charitable example, an easement might be granted by a property owner to the general public to have a shortcut to a park or trail. In this case, the landowner might close the access off once a year and also post a “right to pass by permission” type of notice so that this easement is as a temporary gift and not a permanent loss of rights of the landowner. (An interruption in the use of the easement to make sure it’s still voluntarily given and not taken as a permanent right.)
In my career, I’ve seen odd easements. The strangest one was allowing a neighbor to place an above ground pool on the next door neighbor’s property.
How to learn about recorded easements
When buying or selling a home, easements will be listed on the preliminary title report. Normally these are simply the utility easements. Not every easement is recorded, though, so do not rely on the preliminary title report for assurance that there are no easements. Home or landowners must pay attention to the use of the land and be aware of any risk of the formation of prescriptive easements. Home buyers should check the land too and see if it appears that the property is being used by others.
Some title companies will automatically provide a color coded easement map. If you feel you aren’t sure about your home’s easement situation, you can request this. With complicated easements, it can be a big help to get a general sense of where the easements are located. Below is part of a color coded easement map – there would also be a “key” telling you which color is for what type of easement.
A “prescriptive easement” is one that happens by accident as far as the landowner is concerned. In this case, others openly and notoriously used the property owner’s land without interruption (as a shortcut, a driveway, etc.) for a period of years without the owner objecting or preventing that use. Eventually, the right to use the land for those purposes can become permanent. To form a prescriptive easement, the use must be open, notorious, for a period of years, and uninterrupted.
Near Village Lane in Los Gatos, there are some shops that sit along a walkway between Village Lane and the public parking lot (in the old train line area). The owner of the shopping center has placed a plaque in the aggregate walkway to make sure that the visitors know that this access is by permission (intending that it can be revoked at any time). This is important to keep the future use of that land in the owner’s hands. Imagine if in the years to come these owners wanted to tear down the current buildings and put in one large two or three story building with no walkway between Village Lane and the parking lot. Could the public object to the removed access? Perhaps. Will the notice in the ground prevent that from happening? That is up to the attorneys and judges to decide.
To give another example of trying to prevent a prescriptive easement, there were two homes in Cambrian Park with fences and gates – we’ll call them lots A and B. The the fence for Lot A extended further toward the street than that of Lot B. And the gate for Lot A opened not onto its own front yard, but onto the front yard of Lot B. (The gate was at a 90 degree angle to where it should have been.)
If the homeowner of Lot B did not object, but allowed the folks in Lot A to go through their gate and onto the land of Lot B for a period of time, it would become a prescriptive easement.
What to do? The only thing to do to prevent the prescriptive easement being formed is to object and to request (insist upon) the gate being removed or rebuilt such that no one had to cross onto Lot B anymore. Hopefully that would not require legal action. But to allow someone to cross your property without objection for a period of years is to invite the formation of a permanent prescriptive easement.
Could anything be worse for a homeowner than a prescriptive easement?
What is adverse possession?
Adverse possession happens when a prescriptive easement is in place AND the person trying to gain access of the land permanently also pays the property tax for that parcel for a period of years. It is a legal way to take someone else’s property in California.
The inventory of single family homes for sale in Los Gatos 95030, 95032, and 95033 (the mountains) has not been lower in recent memory. This morning I pulled the data and saw that we now have a critically low inventory of homes for sale in Los Gatos. Here are the numbers so that you can see what a more typical month in the Gem City of the Foothills looks like.
Of that low inventory of just 66 homes, which part of Los Gatos are they in?
Los Gatos 95030 (MLS area 16, excluding Monte Sereno) – 16 single family homes for sale
Los Gatos 95032 (MLS area 16, excluding Monte Sereno) – 34 single family homes for sale
Los Gatos Mountains 95033 (MLS area 23) – 13 single family homes for sale
PLUS one in the Morgan Hill / Gilroy area of the Los Gatos Mountains (MLS area 1) and 2 in the Saratoga area (MLS area 17)
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 all the stats 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).
More commentary below, near the end of the post. – Next, the data.
Altos Research weekly profile for Monte Sereno (uses list prices):
Trends at a Glance from the RE Report:
|Trends At a Glance||Mar 2019||Previous Month||Year-over-Year|
|Median Price||$0 (-100.0%)||$2,675,000||$5,800,000 (-100.0%)|
|Average Price||$0 (-100.0%)||$2,675,000||$5,800,000 (-100.0%)|
|No. of Sales||0 (-100.0%)||2||1 (-100.0%)|
|Pending||0 (N/A)||0||1 (-100.0%)|
|Active||13 (+116.7%)||6||7 (+85.7%)|
|Sale vs. List Price||0.0% (-100.0%)||97.3%||96.7% (-100.0%)|
|Days on Market||0 (-100.0%)||8||72 (-100.0%)|
|Days of Inventory||0 (-100.0%)||81||210 (-100.0%)|
And from February 2019:
|Trends At a Glance||Feb 2019||Previous Month||Year-over-Year|
|Median Price||$2,675,000 (N/A)||$0||$3,225,000 (-17.1%)|
|Average Price||$2,675,000 (N/A)||$0||$3,686,880 (-27.4%)|
|No. of Sales||2 (N/A)||0||4 (-50.0%)|
|Pending||0 (-100.0%)||1||0 (N/A)|
|Active||6 (+100.0%)||3||5 (+20.0%)|
|Sale vs. List Price||97.3% (N/A)||0.0%||96.4% (+0.9%)|
|Days on Market||8 (N/A)||0||9 (-13.5%)|
|Days of Inventory||81 (N/A)||0||34 (+140.0%)|
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 I 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 shows a slightly weakening market, likely in what is a typical seasonal pattern. It is a bit of a mixed market when looking at the town as a whole, but less so when viewed by high school district or price point. February is often a time when markets heat up considerably. We’ll see when the month is over, but already in many parts of Santa Clara County, the real estate market is returning to seasonal patterns with some very hot pockets.
Same info for last November – the overall absorption rate isn’t much different now, but there are a lot few sales happening.
From mid-late June:
And from April, when the market was red hot:
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).Houses for sale with Los Gatos schools tend to be more pricey than those in neighboring school districts. This isn’t just the schools, but is also a function of being closer to downtown Los Gatos. The lowest priced homes in this area are seldom listed for less than $1 million.
From last November, again, not a ton different between then and now:
Most homebuyers and sellers in Los Gatos and Silicon Valley generally are familiar with the terms “condo” or “condominium”, “townhouse” or “townhome” and “single family home”. But what about “patio home”? What type of residence is that? It’s an unknown to many consumers – and many real estate professionals too!
A patio home is sometimes referred to as a zero lot line home. It is a house (not attached to any other home) in which the structure is built against one of the property lines.
In a regular single family home, the building has a few feet on each side between the structure and the property line – that is known as a setback. In other words, you can walk around all four sides of the home without going on anyone else’s property.
That isn’t the case with a patio home. There’s no setback on one side.
A patio home is build up against the property line such that the owner cannot walk all the way around the house without going on someone else’s property.
There are advantages and disadvantages of patio homes. Advantages include more privacy than a townhome or condo would offer, and better use of land adjacent to the home since there aren’t small 5-8 foot side yards, but instead something more sizeable and useable.
Disadvantages include the lack of windows on the side of the home which is built on the property line and the inability to protect the side of the home that functions as a fence or boundary for the neighbors.
By way of example, if the side of your patio home that lines the boundary gets excessive moisture because the neighbors vigorously water their plants and don’t worry about hitting your house, that’s a problem. Additionally, since you cannot see what’s happening without asking the neighbors if you can go on their land to keep an eye on your exterior wall, there’s a risk that the structure could be getting damaged and you’d never know it. So there’s a loss of control and a loss of information that’s intrinsic to this type of home.
Additionally, many patio home communities have an association fee and that also needs to be factored in.
Patio homes tend to be less expensive than standard single family homes. The difference is often in the 5 – 10% range, but it varies with the individual home and the real estate market conditions at the time of sale.
Should you buy a patio home? It’s on a continuum between townhomes and single family homes. It may be the best compromise for you, or it could be a big headache. My thinking, generally, is that if you can buy a single family home for the same amount and same quality, your money is better spent there. But if you’re in the market for a townhome or a duet home (or duplex), this is definitely a step up and worth a little stretch.
What do we expect for the 2019 real estate market?
It’s all about supply and demand. Right now, demand is decent and supply is low. Here’s a look at the inventory of single family homes for sale in recent years by month, first in town and then for the county.
Inventory of single family homes for sale in Los Gatos 95030 & 95032 from Jan 2012 – Jan 2019:
In town (not including the Los Gatos mountains area), Los Gatos has extremely low inventory. I ran the numbers and this is lower than any other January since 2002, the longest back that the MLS will let me go. Locally, that bodes well for those looking to sell in Los Gatos. (Currently there are NO homes for sale in the Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont, or nearby areas of LG.)
What about the broader area? Most of the county has looser inventory than we do in LG. Have a look:
Inventory of single family homes for sale in Santa Clara County Jan 2012 – Jan 2019:
I think it is really important to view this month’s inventory for the county not just in relation to January 2018 (“inventory is up 8% from last year, oh no!”) but in the context of all the recent years since we’ve been in recovery from the Great Recession. Yes, inventory IS up from last year for Santa Clara County, when the first 6 months of 2018 saw prices shooting up like a geyser due to highly restricted inventory and ongoing demand. Most of 2017 and early 2018 were off-the-charts into overdrive. From early 2012 through 2016, we had a market that was appreciating at a good pace – too fast for some buyers, who opted to become permanent renters rather than to participate. Current inventory levels are very low relative to 2012 and later.
A return of some of the normal patterns?
Inventory Los Gatos 95030 & 95032 2016-2019
Inventory tends to rise throughout the first half of the year, so I am expecting that to happen again in 2019. To the left, see a chart displaying the inventory of homes for sale in Los Gatos 95030 & 95032 from Jan 2016 to today. This is a pattern we usually see – though of course, it’s not a rule, and it can change.
Prices also tend to rise in the early part of the new year as inventory does not keep pace with demand, and I see no reason why that would not happen again.
Equally important is to understand that in the 2nd half of any given year, prices often soften. Home sellers sometimes believe that “summer is the right time to sell”, so get their homes on the market then. But activity from buyers slackens after the spring buying season, so in many years, inventory is higher than demand – so prices level off or even decline.
In 2018, prices in LG and the county did decline dramatically from the spring peaks, perhaps in the 12-15% range, generally.
Economists tell us that they expect the first half of 2019 to be decent to good, but not as wild a ride as early 2018. (Milder appreciation, 3-5%?) Some believe that the second half of 2019 will be much softer. A real estate correction is expected sometime between now and 2-3 years from now. We do believe that locally, in Silicon Valley, we are at or near the top of this real estate cycle. For those wishing to sell and move out of the area, 2019 could be a good year in which to do that. It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact top or bottom of the market, though. That is something we only know when it’s passed, just like with the stock market.
One 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.)
Sorry, but we couldn't find any results in the MLS that match the specified search criteria.
All Alberto Way area homes for sale
This includes properties on Alberto Way as well as Maggi Court
- List View
- Map View
- Grid View
See all Alberto Way.
(all data current as of 7/21/2019)
Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.
Los Gatos is well known for having beautifully maintained historic properties and neighborhoods. Not every older house is historic, and not every structure that looks like a Victorian hails from that era. So – how old are homes in Los Gatos?
One of my tools a a member of the National Association of Realtors is the Realtor Property Resource, or RPR, report generator. This last week I’ve been seeing what it can do. One interesting angle is the “heat map” function, which can be used in a few ways , including to shed some light on the age of houses or properties in town.
Unfortunately, I could not see if there was a way to eliminate the homes for sale, so they are scattered throughout the image. You can also see the unincorporated pockets within town as islands within the town’s boundaries.
Viewing this heat map, which displays the ages of homes and neighborhoods in Los Gatos, we can get a sense of where and when the town expanded.
Have a look – the whitest patches are the oldest homes, and the closer you get to a deep red, the newer they are:
For most of Santa Clara County, or Silicon Valley, a 20 year old home is “young”. On the map above, you can see that the Heritage Grove subdivision in east Los Gatos (just off Blossom Hill Road) shows up as a warm red. It was built in 2000 – almost brand new by local standards!
Conversely, there are a great many white spots near downtown, as well as off Los Gatos Boulevard. There would have been many more, particularly east of the Los Gatos Creek, were it not for the fires that devastated downtown in the late 1800s and early 1900s. (See also “Los Gatos Fires and the Los Gatos Fire Department“, also on this site.)