The Twin Creeks neighborhood in Monte Sereno (and a small number in Saratoga) enjoys an ideal setting away from busy commercial roads, with gently curving streets graced by creeks, an abundance of trees, and the coastal foothills as its backdrop. It’s a more rural community in that you won’t find sidewalks, curbs, gutters, or many street lamps – if any. Property in this area is impeccably presented, with nicely maintained or updated homes and often gorgeous landscaping. Both homes and land tend to be large, though not in every case.
The neighborhood does not come across as pretentious at all, although of course it is a very costly place in which to buy a home. I think it comes across as more low key because the homes seem proportionate to the land, and many are ranch style rather than something trendy. These lovely houses are in sync with the space around them, so you don’t end up with the McMansion effect. The houses are nice but do not crowd the land.
As with most of Monte Sereno, this charming neighborhood is served by the Los Gatos Union School District (or the Saratoga Union School District for the handful in Saratoga) and the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District.
Heritage Grove is a younger east Los Gatos neighborhood which was developed by Summerhill Homes, a very highly regarded builder in Silicon Valley, in about the year 2000. It sits between the beautiful Heintz Open Space Preserve (with trails to nearby Belgatos Park and other open space) and a mini orchard along Blossom Hill Road between Union and Leigh Avenues. Recently I videotaped the community and think it’s a pretty good introduction to the neighborhood.
A few years back, I wrote about this area extensively, and included a map and slideshow, on another of my blogs (SanJoseRealEstateLosGatosHomes.com). If you’d like more real estate information on the homes there, or the open space trails, please continue to learn more here:
The Town of Los Gatos is about 11 square miles and is comprised of dozens of neighborhoods in various parts of town, with different schools, zip codes, price points, plusses and minuses. Here on the Live in Los Gatos blog there have been many, many real estate articles devoted Los Gatos neighborhoods. Below please find links to neighborhood posts with descriptions and photos, primarily on “Live in Los Gatos” but in some cases on one of my other sites.
(More neighborhoods to come as time permits – I have about 25 on my list. Want your subdivision included? Please email me and I will put it on the To Do list!)
Likely the most misunderstood properties in town are the Los Gatos duet homes. This is some of the more affordable housing for buyers looking to get into Los Gatos schools, so is popular for that reason especially. When offered for sale, they sometimes show up in the MLS as condos, at other times as townhouses, and at other times still as single family homes. If you want to buy one, how would you know where to look? And why is there so much confusion?
What are duet homes?
Let’s start with what a duet home is and is not. A duet home is also known as an attached single family home. Architecturally, it looks a bit like a townhouse, though usually larger, that is only attached on one side. This is not a duplex (which has one owner for both sides and is considered “income producing property” since either one or both sides is rented out). With duet homes, normally there is a different owner for each side.
A duet home is an architectural style, and in most cases it’s like owning a normal house – you own not just the airspace of the structure, but also the exterior and the land beneath it. Naturally, they can be exceptions. In the Cambrian area there are duet style homes which are held in condo ownership – the Lone Hill Highlands HOA. You’ll only know which type of ownership you’re getting if you carefully read the preliminary title report. A buyer’s lender will care which it is – if it’s a planned unit development and not a condo, it is often easier to get the loan as the HOA won’t need to get bank approval.
Tract 9069 – Los Gatos duet homes
The small community of duet homes is named Tract 9069 and is built around a pretty greenbelt area. There’s a bit of grass, some walkways, lovely Japanese maple trees along one side, and a pergola and what appears to be a heritage tree on the side next to the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Sadly, this lovely tract of homes has no name! All three streets serving the two dozen or so properties here have the word Mill in the name – Mill Court, Mill Creek, and Mill Road.
If you want to purchase real estate here, the best best is to watch for streets with Mill in the name. Or do a “map search” on the mls (I have results at the end of this article).
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)?
In 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.
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!
Bella 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.
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.