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).
The North 40 communities are filling in the land once full of orchards in the corridor between Highway 17, Highway 85, Los Gatos Boulevard, and Lark Avenue. The project is being built by two companies, including SummerHill, which is doing the first phase, Bellaterra. off Lark and Los Gatos Blvd. This area has the Los Gatos Union School District and the Saratoga Los Gatos Joint Union High School District (Los Gatos High).
Grosvenor also will be building, and Eden Housing, which works on affordable homes, is partnering with SummerHill on less expensive senior housing referenced below.
Bellaterra is providing 253 new housing units in Los Gatos. Per their website, 120 units have been sold so far. SummerHill is a highly regarded and well known name in Los Gatos.
• The Towns – 97 Rowhomes – 2-3 Beds, 1,508-1,974 sq.ft. approx.
• The Flats – 80 Condos – 1-3 Beds, 1,039-2,089 sq.ft. approx.
• The Bungalows – 76 Urban Homes with Yard per Plan – 1-3 Beds, 910-1,999 sq.ft. approx.
Yesterday we took a quick drive through some of the accessible area in Phase 1, Bellaterra, to see how it looks so far. The photos above and below are of the same area in the North 40 but from different positions.
Typical of new construction, we saw many attached homes of 2 and 3 stories. The three story units that we glimpsed did not appear to have any outdoor space, and the rowhouses or townhouses we saw had some balconies, but otherwise we did not see private outdoor space. The website says otherwise, though, so I presume we didn’t see it all.
The Arroyo Grande Garden Hill neighborhood in Los Gatos enjoys one of the easiest Silicon Valley commute locations in Los Gatos. To the best of our knowledge, the area doesn’t have a name, so we are calling it by the major roads that run through it.
Where is the Arroyo Grande Garden Hill neighborhood?
Tucked into the corner of town where the Los Gatos Creek Trail meets Lark Avenue, and Lark abuts Highway 17 is where you’ll find the Arroyo Grande Garden Hill neighborhood. It lies just off Lark Avenue, between Winchester and Los Gatos Boulevard, at the base of the scenic Vasona Lake dam.
It’s a huge plus that it is bordered on one side by the beautiful Los Gatos Creek Trail, which makes a nice path to either downtown Los Gatos in one direction, or Netflix in the other. Virtually every street is graced by trees in the strip between the sidewalk and the road, providing a very pleasant and welcoming feel to the area.
Here there are about 200 houses, most of them built in the late 1950s and originally selling for $20,000 to $30,000. The majority have been remodeled and a few rebuilt, and some just weren’t constructed until much later, so the average year built is 1963. Today you’ll find that these houses are mostly selling a little over $1 million, depending on house size, lot size, remodeling, view, proximity to the high voltage power lines, proximity to busy roads, etc. it goes up from there. This is a “good value area” for the high quality of schools and for many home buyers, that’s the # 1 priority – get into the best schools you can afford.
Most of these properties began modestly – typically about 1200 SF of living space. Today there are a handful of homes at 900 SF and one at over 3,000 SF, but the average home size is 1483 – still quite small by Los Gatos standards. Maybe 25-30% have been added onto. The lot size also varies with the tiniest at 5,000 SF and the largest at 21,000 SF, but typically about 7900 SF for most parcels.
In addition to a faster, less complicated commute (due to the close proximity of both Hwy 17 and Hwy 85), this area has lots more to offer. First and foremost, this neighborhood is served by the Los Gatos Union School District. It’s probably the most affordable, entry level area of houses to get into “the schools”, making it a very popular target of home buyers’ attention.
Los Gatos is very spread out, and includes a strange shape, weaving in and out with county pockets, San Jose, Campbell, and Saratoga. Often, one hears of “Downtown Los Gatos”, “East Los Gatos”, and at times also “West Los Gatos” and much more infrequently, “North Los Gatos”. It should be noted that not every home or street fits into a neat category of what part of town is being discussed. Even so, the question of broad categories arises with the basic question being “where are these places?”
East Los Gatos
East Los Gatos is generally the area east of Los Gatos Boulevard, though many Los Gatans refer to it as east of Highway 17. (Some folks may consider it as relating to school boundaries.) Some of the neighborhoods found in east Los Gatos include these:
- Blossom Manor
- Surrey Farms
- Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont (a contiguous group of subdivisions that stretch from Westhill to Harwood Road)
- Heritage Grove
- Santa Rosa Heights and Aztec Ridge
- Shannon Valley Ranch
- Homes along Shannon and Kennedy out to Hicks
- Alta Vista area
- Loma Vista, El Gato Terrace, and Rancho El Padre neighborhood of Los Gatos-Almaden Road
- Vista del Monte
West Los Gatos
West Los Gatos is the part of town closest to Quito and Pollard Roads. Some of the neighborhoods include:
- Rinconada Hills (gated community)
- Arroyo Rinconada
- Old Adobe area
- Saratoga Highland
- Rio Rinconada
- English Oaks
- Wedgewood Manor
- Cameo Park West (LG mailing address, but actually in Campbell)
North Los Gatos
North Los Gatos is the area close to but north of Lark Avenue. Did you know that the Town of Los Gatos used to have a public school there? It was sold years ago – that land is now part of the lovely JCC.
Downtown or Central Los Gatos and the Historic Districts
Downtown Los Gatos usually designated a few areas – those included are the Downtown Historic Districts, the Civic Center, and areas close to North Santa Cruz Avenue between Highway 9 and Blossom Hill Road. As with everything, this is unofficial! Major roads in this part of town are North Santa Cruz Avenue, University Avenue, Main Street, and Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, also known as Highway 9.
The Downtown Historic Districts are lovely!
- Broadway Historic District
- Fairview Plaza Historic District
- Downtown Historic District
- Almond Grove Historic District
- Glenridge – not designated as an historic district, but many historic homes may be found there
The Civic Center area
- Civic Center area (hills behind also) – Alpine Avenue, Foster Road, Jackson Street, Central Avenue, Oak Hill Way and nearby areas up in the hills behind Main
- Areas close to Forbes Mill and Los Gatos High
- Possibly also the Loma Alta area (and likely also Blackberry Hill and Aztec Ridge, though they are anything but close to downtown)
Not all areas or neighborhoods of Los Gatos are named or labeled
There are many other areas without specific names. Real estate agents tend to dub them by local landmarks (such as “Vasona Park area”) or major roads or hill names (“Jones Road area” or “Blackberry Hill” area). Sometimes there’s a small compound that’s not quite big enough to be called a neighborhood, like Creffield Heights in the San Benito (road area) section of town, which we could probably label as “Central Los Gatos” if we wanted to create a new way of describing some areas of town!