Los Gatos real estate market trends and statistics

Los Gatos real estate market graphic with home near downtown

Recent Los Gatos real estate market’s statistics had been pointing to an early spring in terms of the home buying market in the early part of March. Colleagues were reporting busy open houses with serious buyers – and not much inventory to show them.

That being said, a lot has changed since the beginning of March. Many of the Los Gatos real estate market statistics below reflect sales that closed in March but much of the activity for those sales occurred before the shelter-in-place ordinances, the result of which we will likely see better in next month’s analysis. For a better understanding of how Covid-19 is affecting the local real estate market, please check Coronavirus Impact on Real Estate Sales on my other blog.

During the shutdown so far, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) stopped the timer on all Days on Market (DOM). Therefore these numbers will be off beginning from March 17th through around May 17th. In the data below, this will affect any numbers related to the days on market, the absorption rate, and the days of inventory.

What is selling best in LG right now?

Of the 21 single family home sales in Los Gatos in April on the MLS, 9 closed under $2 million (the lowest was $1.365 mil), 5 were between $2 and $3 million, 6 between $3 and $4 mil, and 1 between $4 and $5 mil. The high end price point tends to be at around $3,000,000 and up for this part of Santa Clara County. The vast majority of what sold would not be considered luxury properties, even though in most areas of the U.S. these would be luxury price tags.

For the 14 houses under $3 mil, the average days on market was longer (above 2 weeks), the average list price was $1,926,571 and the average sale price a little higher at $1,975,429. For those transactions, the average living space square footage was 1,881 SF and average lot size 12,612 SF. For this segment of the Los Gatos real estate market overall, it’s a warm seller’s market, though the numbers aren’t as hot as the month before.

Los Gatos real estate statistics at a glance for 95030 & 95032

Next, data from the RE Report for Los Gatos (“in town”), in the Los Gatos Mountains, and for Los Gatos condos (only in town, none in the mountain communities). Below that are the live Altos Research charts, updated automatically each week. Altos uses list prices, not sold prices.

The numbers below analyze data gathered during the first week of each month and cover real estate statistics from the month prior in Los Gatos 95030 & 95032 (all areas / school districts), or MLS “area 16”. See the full RE Report here.

 

Trends At a Glance Apr 2020 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $2,675,000 (+4.3%) $2,565,000 $2,507,500 (+6.7%)
Average Price $2,653,940 (-5.5%) $2,807,500 $2,831,540 (-6.3%)
No. of Sales 25 (+4.2%) 24 26 (-3.8%)
Pending 28 (-12.5%) 32 32 (-12.5%)
Active 51 (+6.3%) 48 85 (-40.0%)
Sale vs. List Price 102.3% (-0.5%) 102.8% 99.7% (+2.6%)
Days on Market (-38.6%) 14 35 (-74.5%)
Days of Inventory 59 (-1.4%) 60 95 (-37.6%)

 

Prices are reasonably stable year over year and month over month with some ups and downs. The number of sales and active listings are up a hair from last month, but inventory is much smaller than a year ago. So the market has definitely stayed hot this spring despite the shelter-in-place ordinance. One area that’s fallen slightly month over month is the sales vs list price which dipped slightly to 102.3%, though it’s still hotter than the 99.7% last year.

Read moreLos Gatos real estate market trends and statistics

Alta Vista neighborhood

Hills proximity to the Alta Vista neighborhoodAlta Vista is a scenic neighborhood which includes homes in both the Cambrian Park neighborhood and the Town of Los Gatos. For many reasons, this area is highly valued and sought after. For this article, we’ll focus on the neighborhood immediately adjacent to the school, not the entire “area of school attendance.”

What makes Alta Vista so attractive? First, it’s convenient. The high performing schools are easy to walk or bike to without crossing any major roads. Almost as close is a good-sized Safeway, a coffee shop, and other stores and eateries at the nearby Downing Center. It’s easy to get to Highway 85 from Union Avenue, too.  As a bonus, the location is popular because of it’s vicinity to Los Gatos with the lower price point of San Jose (for most of the neighborhood).

Second, it’s scenic. Alta Vista has its fair share of visual appeal as well, with many streets lined with beautiful and mature trees, Ross Creek running along one border, and views of the nearby Blossom Hill and coastal range behind it. South of Blossom Hill on the Los Gatos side, it’s not far to the foothills with their trails and parks. Yards and homes are well kept and tidy, as are the streets. Parking near the schools only becomes a problem during school functions a few times a year (and of course at drop off and pickup times).

Simply put, Alta Vista is a scenic neighborhood with great schools and a convenient location. That’s a winning combination.

Blossom Valley Drive home

Above and below: a couple of homes along Blossom Valley Drive.

Another Blossom Valley Drive house

 

Please continue reading for a map of the Alta Vista neighborhood, major landmarks, info on the Alta Vista real estate market, homes for sale in Alta Vista, and more.

Read moreAlta Vista neighborhood

University or Edelen Historic District neighborhood in Los Gatos

This Los Gatos real estate article was originally written in 2007 but updated in late August 2015 and again in March 2020. Some of the photos are from the original post and some from 2015.  – mph

One of the oldest residential neighborhoods in Los Gatos is the Edelen District, also called the University District. Originally a vineyard just north of the town’s school (where Old Town stands today), this residential neighborhood runs alongside the Los Gatos Creek to University Avenue or North Santa Cruz. Streets include University Avenue (south of Highway 9), Miles, Miller, and Edelen Avenues. (For more information on the location, please visit the town of Los Gatos’ statement on the Edelen District, ordinance 2168 on the University/Edelen District).

This officially designated historic area also once included homes downhill (off Miles), along the banks of the Los Gatos Creek. But frequent flooding made that untenable. Now the lower area, by the edge of the Los Gatos Creek, is home to the town’s recycling center, truck yard and car lot as well as the parks department’s building (Department of Parks and Public Works). And it houses the relocated Maria’s Berry Farm buildings too (formerly near Highway 17 and Lark Avenue and moved when Highway 85 was constructed in the early 90’s).

Filled with beautiful Victorian homes, many built in the late 1800s, the Edelen District boasts an incredible proximity to downtown Los Gatos (as does the Almond Grove, but this area is even closer “in”). The streets are tree-lined and delightful looking, and most owners clearly prize their distinctive and historically important homes and have restored and maintained them lovingly. This is a highly prized bunch of Los Gatos real estate!

129 Edelen Avenue, Los GatosFor visitors to the Edelen District, parking is a pain. Most of the area is permit parking only, 24 hours a day. And it makes sense. These residences were constructed largely without garages in mind. The folks who live there need to park at home without competing for space with visitors to Old Town or other downtown draws. To further protect this area from undesired traffic, Miller Avenue is closed to automobile traffic where it intersects with Edelen. Shoppers are therefore not tempted to park illicitly.

There are countless architectural treasures in this area, but let’s have a peek at just a couple so you can get a flavor of the neighborhood. (Thanks in advance to the fabulous book, Los Gatos Observed by Alastair Dallas (not an affiliate link or sponsored ad, I just really enjoyed this book!) and to the Town of Los Gatos for its Hooked on History Project, sponsored by the Los Gatos Library and History Museum).

The home I photographed in August 2015 at the upper right is at 129 Edelen Avenue. It’s a gorgeous Queen Anne Victorian and was built in 1892. Because of the large bushes and trees, it is difficult to get a clear view of the home today framed in one photograph. The “Hooked on History” project of Los Gatos has a wonderful historic photo on its site, with a better view of the house as well as an interesting history of The Skinkle House as it is sometimes called!

130 Edelen, Los GatosDirectly across the street is another gorgeous house, located at 130 Edelen Avenue. It was built in 1886 and has been the setting for a movie featuring Orson Welles (shot in 1970) and a television show. It, too, is a gracious Queen Ann Victorian with lots of splendid detailing. This was the winter residence of John Miles, a founder and developer of this district, and is sometimes called the Miles House.

My suggestion for seeing this historic neighborhood is to park at the public lot behind the newer section of Old Town, stroll down University Avenue to Miller and walk down the street to Edelen. Cars cannot pass through the intersection, but pedestrians can. Enjoy a leisurely walk up the tree lined street and then turn back toward University on Miles Avenue.

Bring your camera!

 

 

Photo slideshow of Edelen Avenue historic homes

 

 

Homes for sale in the Edelen or University Historic neighborhood in Los Gatos

Below please view any homes for sale in this historic Los Gatos neighborhood by map or by list view through the link.

Read moreUniversity or Edelen Historic District neighborhood in Los Gatos

Creffield Heights and San Benito Avenue area

From from San Benito Ave next to Ashler

A charming Los Gatos neighborhood with diverse architecture in the central part of town, if not quite downtown, is the San Benito Avenue area. This neighborhood sits on a gentle hill, a bit of a ridge, and many of the homes in this section of town enjoy lovely views due to the mild elevation. Here, a small road named Creffield Heights starts at San Benito Avenue and slides back into the hill, where the far point of the road stretches into Monte Sereno before looping back into Los Gatos.

The pluses for this neighborhood are huge: proximity to downtown Los Gatos, proximity to Oak Meadow Park and Vasona Lake County Park, the scenic vistas of the hills, the diverse architecture, the well-maintained homes, the highly regarded Los Gatos schools, and much more.

The negatives are few and far between. In some areas, especially some of the streets running between San Benito and North Santa Cruz Avenue, roads are narrow and overcrowded with cars. In some areas, residents may only park on one side of the street. Another issue is the hill itself. Often with hillside properties and neighborhoods, water running off the hill, or under it until it finds level ground, can cause home owners tremendous headaches. See “What To Consider When Buying a Hillside Home in Silicon Valley

Creffield Heights

I’ve been curious about the inviting little pocket of homes for over 20 years – who could resist the signs on stucco which announce the street and neighborhood name with so much dignity? When I checked the county records, I found just 10 residences on this street (and some are flag lots), so it’s a very small community.  Two of the parcels are in the city of Monte Sereno. The home styles and ages are also all over the place, giving each home a unique charm and personality. It’s kind of a funny pocket! Even so, that area has a little more altitude, so some of the views are delightful.

San Benito Ave Area

This area is much larger and includes the Creffield Heights block. Within this neighborhood are 10 units in condo ownership (built 1981), 6 listed as duplexes (built from 1900 – 1998), and 12 Multi Family Units (built 1918 – 1998). Most of the area is occupied by over 200 single family homes built between 1900 and 2019. The average age for these homes is 62 years and the median age is 69 years old. As you might expect, homes here can vary a great deal, for instance they come in a range of 1 – 7 bedrooms, so buyers looking in this area should expect to be flexible and patient. In the past year (as of writing, March 2020) only 4 homes sold in this area and none are currently listed.

Terrain for the San Benito Avenue area

Below please find a terrain map with the very approximate neighborhood boundaries marked. The outlined and blue-filled area of the map is the greater San Benito Avenue area. The bright green marker is for the appx center of Creffield Heights, and the pale green one is where the impressive “Creffield Heights” sign and entrance may be seen (photos below in slideshow).

Photographs of the Creffield Heights and San Benito Avenue neighborhood

Please enjoy some photos I took recently, mostly on San Benito Avenue in Los Gatos

Real estate prices & homes for sale in the San Benito area

This area has so much diversity that it would be very difficult to give an estimate of what it would take to buy a home in this area. Houses vary in age, size, grandeur, condition, view, and lot size. Many smaller homes on smaller lots will sell for between $1.4 and $2 million. Large homes on large lots, perhaps will views, will sell for considerably more. Over the last year (as of March 2020) only 4 homes sold in this area. They ranged from a tiny home (under 1,000 sqft) on a good sized lot (over 6,500 sqft) for only $1,215,000 to an average sized home on a large lot (almost 7,500 sqft) at $2,210,000. This is a “low turnover” area, but homes that come to market generally sell quickly.

Below please find homes for sale by map for this area, and a list of available homes through the link.

Read moreCreffield Heights and San Benito Avenue area

Los Gatos real estate market trends by price point and high school district

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 mild seller’s market, with post-summer cooling 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. 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 cool pockets and some which remain hotter.

 

 

And here’s the same chart with data from last February. You can see that in mid-winter the inventory was smaller and moving slightly slower.

 

2019-2-12 Los Gatos Months of Inventory 1 - 95030 95032

 

Looking back farther, here’s the same info for last November – the overall absorption rate isn’t much different from right now, and inventory and sales are neck-and-neck. Almost exactly a year ago, the market doesn’t look too different.

 

Los Gatos 95030 and 95032

 

And a reference 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.

 

 

Once again, we’ll compare it against last February. While the overall market is moving faster today than in February, here we can see that for homes in the Los Gatos School District were moving more quickly in winter. While the number of sales hasn’t changed much, inventory has gone up in this sector.

 

2019-2-12 Los Gatos Months of Inventory 2 - LGSUHSD

 

From last November, again, not a ton different between then and now.

 

Los Gatos 95030 95032 LG Schools

Read moreLos Gatos real estate market trends by price point and high school district

Do you have a high water table?

How high is the water table at your property? (Why would you care?) In Los Gatos, like Almaden, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, and many other parts of Santa Clara County, there are pockets in which the water table, meaning groundwater, is quite high. This can come with some risks.

What are some of the potential issues with high ground water?

In some cases, that groundwater is at such a shallow level that there’s an actual spring with water bubbling up at times. This can happen particularly in times of heavy rainfall. Should it occur directly under your house and into your crawlspace, that would not be good. Water can cause havoc with foundations, so the standard advice from home inspectors and structural engineers is to divert water away from the house. In most cases, that means correct any faulty grading (the soil around the house should case any rainfall to be directed away from the house), to extend downspouts away from the home, etc. If you have a spring bring water up from underground, that is a whole different approach to the challenge.

Another concern with higher water tables is the possibility of environmental problems spreading from the site of a leaking underground storage tank to nearby neighbors (who would get stuck paying the cleanup). Underground plumes of water can carry chemicals from a spill site to some distance away. That’s why home buyers receive a natural and environmental report which includes contamination sites within one mile of the property they’re interested in purchasing.

How can you learn about your neighborhood’s water table?

It seems like experts have mapped just about everything, and one of those things does include the depth at which first groundwater can be found. Today I was curious about this question and was delighted to find a Valley Water map which lays out the various depths of the water table throughout much (but not all) of the Santa Clara Valley.

How shallow is the water in Los Gatos? Per this map, it appears that:

  • At the intersection of N Santa Cruz and Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, it’s 0 – 10 feet on the northwest corner and 10 – 20 feet on the southeast and southwest corner
  • Much of the Almond Grove area appears to have 0 – 10 ft depth for water
  • Old Town seems to have 10 – 20 feet
  • Los Gatos High and the Civic Center look to have 20 – 30 feet (interesting as there was a cleanup  at the Hotel Los Gatos and the high school from a leak at the Dry Cleaner next to the hotel a few years back)
  • The Town Park Plaza is in the 10 – 20 foot area

Click on the link to the Valley Water Open Data site and scroll around to see your part of town! (Unfortunately there are some big pockets missing.)

 

Image of the Valley Water open data map, including Los Gatos and Saratoga - click on image to visit the Valley Water website
Image of the Valley Water open data map, including Los Gatos and Saratoga – click on image to visit the Valley Water website

Los Gatos homes: class and land use

When scouring the MLS for properties to view,  Los Gatos home buyers would be wise to pay attention to the property class and land use data. A few years back, I discussed a little on this topic with this article: Is that Los Gatos house or townhouse actually a condo? Today I want to focus on the MLS information that Los Gatos home buyers are viewing online, and what to look for to understand these issues better. I’ve taken screen shots from the MLS, so what you see will appear differently on other portals, but the info should be present somewhere on the page if it shows up in our local MLS.

Getting the best data means getting it from a local MLS

First, our MLS, MLSListings.com, cooperates with other MLS organizations around the state. Often, though, when info comes into our system from an outside one, some info is dropped. That can be very frustrating. The most obvious one is the days on market or DOM – it is blank when it’s an out of area MLS entry. Today I was looking for examples of property class, meaning what kind of structure is it, and the land use to share here when I found this one, below:

Class and land use - Land use blank with TH - not MLS Listings

Normally you will find info on the “class” which means the building type, such as a single family  home (if detached, a house, if attached, a duet home), a townhouse, a condominium, a duplex / triplex / fourplex, etc.  Also there should be land use – is it a condo, a PUD, or a single family home? (With condos and townhomes, there’s also a line for “ownership type.)

In the photo above, “Land use” is blank. Not helpful for a home buyer! This one was from a non-MLSListings.com entry. When that happens, you may want to make note of the info you could not find so you remember to chase it down later.

Most, however, will include the land use information, such as the next one:

Land use - townhouse in condo ownership

Many of the townhouses in Los Gatos and nearby are held in condo ownership. That means you do not own the land under the unit, even though it is a townhouse. The owner of this kind of property owns the interior space between the walls and the floor and the ceiling.   The Home Owner’s Association (HOA) has responsibility for the exterior of the structure, the roof, etc. The attic may or may not be community property. In some cases, there is a shared, open attic over all the units. In those cases, only one unit will have an opening to get into the attic.

Read moreLos Gatos homes: class and land use