Home prices in Los Gatos & Monte Sereno: how much home can your money buy?

money blockHow far will your home buying dollar stretch if your goal is to buy Los Gatos real estate or Monte Sereno real estate? Housing prices in these areas are steep, but it’s interesting how different the market is from one price point, zip code, and school district to the next.

Today I spent some time doing the very mundane task of pulling and crunching the data from MLSListings.com to give my readers and clients a sense of the housing market in Los Gatos and Monte Sereno.  I teased it out by zip code and high school district (476 is Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District and 473 is Campell Union High School District).  The 95032 zip code stretches to the far east and far west corners of this area  and if there were more sales I’d want to pull out the west vs east parts of the zip code – but with scant inventory and sales, that just wouldn’t work well right now.

The following statistics reflect Los Gatos and Monte Sereno single family home sales in the last 90 days in the 95030 zip code:

There are very very few homes in 95030 with the Campbell Union HSD, but there are a few and in the last 90 days there were two such sales / closings.  Obviously I cannot break 2 sales into 4 pricing quartiles too well, so left them lumped together – but you can see from the price per square foot that this area is selling incredibly well!

For those who insist on 95030 “in the schools”, the good news is that the real estate market is much softer here than in much of the valley – homes are generally selling at or under list price, rather than over, and they are not selling, on average, with just 10 days on the market or less.  Some do, of course – but most do not.  That makes it a great buying opportunity!

95030

 

Los Gatos and Monte Sereno single family home sales in the last 90 days in the 95032 zip code:

Next let’s look at Los Gatos and Monte Sereno 95032.  MOST of Monte Sereno is in the 95030 zip code, but a portion is not and has 95032 and/or Campbell Union HSD.

For the part of 95032 with CUHSD, the market is actually quite hot with most sales at 105-106% of list price.  Please note that in this grouping, there’s a very big jump in what you get for your money between the under $1 million quartile and the next quartile up – the house size about doubles, actually, but the price does not likewise double.  The next tier up has a far smaller jump, but when I was exporting the date from the MLS I saw that there was a very large clustering of homes sold between about 1.3 and 1.9 million and almost just combined them since an awful lot were sitting right around 1.5 – 1.7 million.  In any event, if you want to live in Los Gatos with about 2500 Square Feet with Leigh or Westmont High, the homes are running about $1.5 to $2 million.  Often they are a little higher on the west side of town as opposed to the east – my best guess is that it’s because that end is closer to pricy Saratoga and is a closer commute to many of the high teck work places.

The 95032 area “in the schools” is popular – you get a more affordable zip code with the famed Los Gatos schools. Interesting that again, this area is not as hot a market as the part of LG and MS with the Campbell Union HSD.  Perhaps that is because the elementary and middle schools are now very comparable, and only the high schools have a gap?  Many buyers are not willing to pay a giant premium for Los Gatos High – though some, of course, are.  (And they will also be happy to be in a location closer to downtown.)

95032

 

So where are the opportunities in this market?

Buyers:  If you want to buy in Los Gatos and get a home with Los Gatos Schoools, the market is not as competitive as the areas further from downtown with Union or Campbell schools. It is not cheaper, but it’s not quite so competitive, and you may not need to give away all your rights just to buy a home. Also, many Silicon Valley home buyers will push themselves to get into a home or school or zip code.  If you are able to get out of the bottom tier and into the 2nd from the bottom tier of pricing, you will find less competition and a whole lot more house for the money in most cases (just check the price per SF).

Sellers: Ovviously it’s a great time to sell a home in Los Gatos and Monte Sereno, and some segments are a whole lot hotter than others.  With the right pricing, staging, pre-sale prep and marketing, a solid home in this area can sell in under a month and often in under 2 weeks.  Home buyers are clamoring to live in Los Gatos and are often frightened by biting off more than they can chew, especially after the last mega recession, so having a good plan to ease buyers’ fears is truly imperative for selling fast and at top dollar (those two usually go together).

Interested in buying or selling a house in Los Gatos or Monte Sereno? Please give me a call or shoot me an email and we can set up a time to talk and see if we might work well together.  I’m a Los Gatos resident and a Los Gatos Realtor, a valley native and I appreciate the nuances of our area and market.

What does a million dollars buy you in Los Gatos 95030, Los Gatos 95032, and nearby areas: Saratoga, Almaden, Cambrian, Campbell, Cupertino?

How far does your money go in Los Gatos, whether 95030 or 95032, and how does that compare to our nearby neighbors of Saratoga, Almaden, Cambrian, Campbell, Cupertino or San Jose, generally? Today I am snagging a chart from my Altos Research Reports which give a good sense of what a million dollars (or other amounts) can get for you in these areas. These charts use LIST PRICES, and remember, the sales prices are often different (frequently more!). Let’s have a look.

Los Gatos 95030

This is the more central part of town, the area closest to downtown Los Gatos and most of it is “in the schools”. Here a million dollars is unlikely to get you a house at all, though it could be something small that needs a lot of work if not in the downtown area…maybe….

Los Gatos 95030 profile of homes by price quartile

 

Los Gatos 95032

Conversely, although about 1/3 of this area is in the Los Gatos Union School District, most of it is not, and this area is usually (though not always) further out so less expensive for both reasons. Interestingly, the high end prices aren’t so far apart between 95030 and 95032 from this vantage, but the gap widens a lot at the bottom quartile. In 95032 a million will get you a small house, most likely in east Los Gatos (west is a little more expensive, usually) – and it will probably need work. Something to note is that all of the elementary and middle schools in Los Gatos, no matter which school district, are high scoring, high performing institutions. The scores do change at the high school level pretty noticeably. But the improving schools in the further out areas of LG, especially in east Los Gatos, is causing the pricing gap to shrink somewhat.

Los Gatos 95032 profile of homes by price quartile

So in Los Gatos, $1 million is unlikely to get you a house, though it may if it is small and not too close in to downtown (or if you are buying land value).

Read moreWhat does a million dollars buy you in Los Gatos 95030, Los Gatos 95032, and nearby areas: Saratoga, Almaden, Cambrian, Campbell, Cupertino?

How does crime in Los Gatos compare to other parts of California?

February 15, 2013

There are several websites which allow consumers to compare and contrast things like home prices, cost of living, crime statistics, and other factors.  This morning I was looking on the Neighborhood Scout site and was interested in seeing how various parts of California compared to Los Gatos.  The site has several ways of viewing the info, including a color coded map which indicates the crime rate by shades of blue (darkest being the safest).  Here are a few areas in the state, including our town. 
 
Neighborhood Scout – Los Gatos info (once there, you can also see various parts of LG with their different crime ratings too)
 
 
California 1 in 243
Santa Barbara 1 in 274
San Jose 1 in 297
San Luis Obispo 1 in 332
Los Gatos 1 in 712
Saratoga 1 in 1900 (one of the safest 100 cities in the US)

Another good resource is Sperling’s Best Places: http://www.bestplaces.net/

Moving to Los Gatos? Some Place Names You'll Want to Know

September 02, 2010

If you are soon relocating to Los Gatos or new to town, you may hear people drop the names of places and feel a little lost.  In some cases, it may be trouble spelling an unfamiliar name, in others that the same place is known by more than one name or that one name has several potential meanings. Here are some place names and local terminology you’ll want to know:

Vasona – also Vasona Lake or Vasona Lake County Park: this one gets a lot of typos when people are trying to find it (I see them via the search terms people use to find this blog), sometimes typing in Verona or Vesona. This park is the largest in Los Gatos, consisting of over 100 acres, directly attached to Oak Meadow (which belongs to the town, while Vasona belongs to the county). The entrance to the park is on Blossom Hill Road close to University Avenue (don’t try to enter off of Lark – that’s a locked gate). More info on both parks. Seeslideshow of Vasona & Oak Meadow Parks here.

The Manor – also Blossom Manor or Blossom Hill Manor: this is a residential neighborhood bordered by Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos Blvd, Los Gatos Almaden and Longwood. Homes in this area are in the Los Gatos School District. (See post and photos of this neighborhood.)

The Boulevard – Los Gatos Boulevard, which is the road that Main Street turns into as it heads towards San Jose.  This is the area where normal shopping happens for many of the town’s residents. It’s where you find grocery stores, drug stores, fast food and other inexpensive restaurants, etc.

East Los Gatos – definitions vary, sometimes referencing everything from approximately Harwood Road to Highway 17, other times Harwood Road to Los Gatos Blvd. (Post on this topic.)

Downtown – usually references Main Street, Santa Cruz Avenue (north or south), University Avenue and areas closest to all of these.  (Usually does not include areas as far as Highway 9, aka Los Gatos Saratoga Road.)  Most of downtown is business related but there are some neighborhoods that are right in downtown too.

The Hill – Los Gatos has tons of hills, but “the hill” actually means the Santa Cruz Mountains and the pass through them.

Blossom Hill – can mean Blossom Hill School, Blossom Hill Park, Blossom Hill Road, or perhaps even the hill which is called “Blossom Hill”. (If you traverse Blossom Hill Road, you’ll drive up a little bit at one stretch between Camino del Cerro and Blossom Dale Drive – at this point you’re up on the base of the hill which is Blossom Hill.)   Yes, it is confusing.

Old Town – shopping center on University Avenue in downtown, once the site of the town’s elementary school. (It’s where you’ll find the Border’s bookstore and a number of nice shops and restaurants.)

In town – a contrast to “in the mountains” or perhaps “in a county pocket” but in the general area of the town of Los Gatos. There are areas with a Los Gatos mailing address but are not actually part of the town of Los Gatos. This is true for all of the 95033 zip code (which is in the mountains and reached via Hwy 17 – some of that is actually in Santa Cruz County and not Santa Clara County) as well as some of the county pockets in 95030 and 95032 (which are mostly “in town”).

The Chart House – people still refer to the old Coggeshall Mansion on North Santa Cruz Avenue by that name, but the Chart House closed several years ago and had other restaurants at that site afterwards. It’s a lovely old Victorian, one of many which initially lined that street but now the only one remaining.  Initially it was a private home, then a mortuary, then a series of restaurants. It has a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in town.  At this writing, it’s available for lease.

The Museum – need to clarify which one because the town has two: an art museum (in the old firehouse on West Main) and a history museum (at Forbes Mill). They do share a website, luckily.

In the Schools – a phrase meaning that homes in a particular area are within the Los Gatos School District. Los Gatos has several school districts, including Union Schools (shared with the Cambrian Park area of San Jose) and Moreland Schools (shared with Campbell).

Almond Grove, Edelen, Glenridge, Fairview Plaza – older residential neighborhoods either in or very near to downtown Los Gatos.  Many of these areas have homes dating back to the late 1800s. (To read about these and other neighborhoods (such as Surrey Farms, Strathmore, Belwood, Heritage Grove and many more), please click on this link for all the neighborhood posts on Live in Los Gatos.)

What’s It Like to Live in Los Gatos?

Los Gatos - aerial view from over Lexington Reservoir
Los Gatos – aerial view from over Lexington Reservoir

What’s it like to live in Los Gatos?  The answer to that depends on who you are, where you live, and what you love to do.  Generally speaking, people who live in Los Gatos have a sense of belonging both to this great town and also to nearby areas such as San Jose & the greater Silicon Valley or “South Bay” communities or the mountain communities if they are in the hills over town in places like Redwood Estates, Chemeketa Park, etc.  The town is very much self-contained, but not insular.

At the core, Los Gatos is a scenic, historic, vibrant community with great affection for culture, entertainment, parks and schools. In many ways, it feels a bit European.  Los Gatos has an artistic flare.  It is not “sleepy”. The town gets 300 sunny days a year and the townsfolk love to be outdoors.  There’s a lot of community involvement and volunteerism.  If you want to help out, there are loads of ways you can do that and get to know your neighbors.

The town enjoys two main commercial areas: the historic downtown area of Los Gatos (Main Street, University Avenue, North Santa Cruz and Los Gatos-Saratoga Road area) and The Boulevard (Los Gatos Blvd, which is what Main Street turns into as it heads north past Blossom Hill Road and Los Gatos Almaden Road).  If you live here, the odds are that you’ll have occassion to visit both fairly often. We’re a place which values history but also embraces high tech.  Netflix calls Los Gatos home, and so does Cryptic Studios (video game company).  There are plenty of grocery stores, including Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Nob Hill and Lunardi’s, plus several small corner markets too. The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce provides a fabulous community calendar and runs several excellent events during the year, including horse drawn carriage rides during the holidays.

Residential areas span the town’s 10 square miles with some charming historic homes in historic districts, but most properties do not have 100+ year old houses. Most neighborhoods are tidy and fairly scenic. The town has some modest condominiums and townhomes as well as smaller single family homes and ranges up to large luxury estates with huge acreage or spectacular views.  Prices run from under $1 to about $5,000,000 for most houses, but once in awhile we find more expensive properties, and as of this writing there have only been 2 over $10 million.

Los Gatos holiday parade
Los Gatos holiday parade

We know how to have fun as a community and enjoy events year round.  In summer, Los Gatos comes together to appreciate 3 free musical concert series, , Fiesta de Artes, and so much more. September brings us Screen on the Green. In winter there are holiday happenings with the light festival at Vasona Park, a tree-lighting ceremony the first Friday in December and a huge holiday parade the next day. Year-round, visiting the Farmer’s Market is as much fun as it is serious shopping (every Sunday morning in front of the post office).

Need some down time? Los Gatos can help you there, as well, as we are brimming with salons and places for pampering and massage.  Or shop yourself happy at our many many stores.  Love expensive cars?We’ve got that too.  We have restaurants ranging world class dining to 50s style hot dog and hambuger joints and everything in between.  We have wine bars and tasting rooms – right in town but also in the Santa Cruz Mountains and neighboring San Jose and Saratoga.   Los Gatos is a wonderful place to spend a quiet weekend for R & R.

Just want to be somewhere that looks unique?  We understand.  So often, you go to Anytown USA and it looks just like everywhere else (especially when you shop).  First, our town, once called the Gem City, is snuggled into the Santa Cruz Mountains – so there’s a gorgeous backdrop.  Second, we care about preserving our historic features, so you will find classic architecture of several kinds in homes and commercial buildings both.  Our scenery is both natural and architectural!

No shortage of cultural things to do in town either. In addition to the music and art & wine festival, we also have two museums combined into one, the NuMu (New Museum) – one for art, one for history.  And maybe the brightest star in the sky for culture right now is our newest project: a great new library for which was recently completed. (The library and history museum have a fantastic project on Los Gatos history, too.)  If you cross the pedestrian bridge between Forbes Mill and Old Town, you’ll find that kids have been encouraged to get artistic (they have painted the walls along that bridge).  Beautiful, professional murals can be found throughout the town.

 

Los Gatos High School, facing Main Street
Los Gatos High School, facing Main Street

The public schools are a very big priority for many people in Los Gatos. The town and the Los Gatos Mountain areas have a few different school districts, with scores ranging from good to great.  There are no bad schools in Los Gatos.  Parents are very involved and care about their kids’ success.  Not every child is in public schools, though: interestingly, about 1/3 of the children in Los Gatos attend private schools either here in town or in a neighboring community.

Los Gatos is a very “fit” place overall – if you like to hike, bike, jog, walk, swim you’ll have ample opportunities, alone or in groups.  Parks & Rec is also vibrant in Los Gatos.  There aren’t many communities where you can have your kids attend a camp and learn to sail, but you can do that here!  There are all kinds of community classes and camps.  Additionally, the town includes many private businesses for fitness (swimming, tennis, weights, yoga, pilates, classes, and more) and the gorgeous Los Gatos Creek Trail beckons.  Horseback riding can be found too – all within Los Gatos. Whether you want to find a personal trainer, work out at the fabulous new JCC complex, sail at Vasona or walk in Belgatos Park or along the creek trail, there are almost infinite options for exercise here, many of those options in scenic places.

Spirituality and religion are also a part of life in Los Gatos for many residents.  The town is home to many faith communities (about a half dozen of which do interfaith activities each Thanksgiving and sometimes more often than that). Many of them have outreach to the community with assistance for the homeless, bereaved, jobless, and many other needs.

Los Gatos is very kid friendly, very seniors friendly, and very dog friendly.  The first two might not surprise you as we have so many events and in many places it’s a “walkable” town which has amazingly good weather.

Kids and Los Gatos

The parks, schools, and myriad of free and low-cost events make Los Gatos a fabulous place for young people. The big town in Silicon Valley, San Jose, was recently named as one of the top 100 cities (ranking # 39 – Fremont, btw, was # 5) in the country to raise kids.

Dogs in the Town of Cats

The dog thing surprises many since the town is Los Gatos, meaning The Cats, and you will see cat logos every
where.  But visit downtown and you’ll find an awful lot of shops and restaurants have places for dogs to be tethered or watered.  At Halloween there’s always a pet parade which benefits the Los Gatos – Monte Sereno Police K9 unit.  And Los Gatos shares a dog park with our neighboring city of Campbell.

Seniors in Los Gatos

Housing:  There are a couple of condo complexes in town which are specifically for seniors.  They are more affordable than “regular” housing.  One is on West Parr Avenue and the other off Alberto Way (The Commons of Los Gatos).

Additionally, there are other types of senior housing too, including independent living (rental), assisted living and nursing. (I wrote a lenghy post on downsizing and retiring in Los Gatos which you might find helpful.)

Entertainment:  Los Gatos has a very active Seniors Center and our Parks & Rec Center features many offerings at low cost too. Many restaurants in town offer special pricing for early bird or senior suppers, so there are plenty of excuses to get out!  If you visit Oak Meadow Park on a Saturday morning, you may be able to watch some older gentleman playing a little Bocce Ball.  They are regular fixtures there!

What are the people like in Los Gatos?

Old and young, area (Silicon Valley) natives, replanted Americans and immigrants all make this place home.  (Many of the newcomers are in high tech, just like the rest of the valley.) Demographics sites like can give you the breakdown by zip code on income, education, etc., but because this is a pricey area, it does tend to attract those who are very well educated and who have professional jobs. Please just google that to find the most current demographics site – my old favorite, ZipSkinny.com, has disappeared.

Some of the well-to-do in town can be identified as such by their cars, clothes and jewelry, but just as often, it’s more like “the millionaire next door”.  Some of the best paid (or best at saving) don’t drive the newest luxury vehicle or wear the biggest diamonds.  So don’t be fooled – the guy in the Honda minivan or the woman in the old Toyota may just be anti-status symbol. (And it can run the other way too: some of those with expensive vehicles, clothes or jewelry may put all their eggs into the appearances basket.)

Several famous people have chosen to make Los Gatos their home. They blend in just like everyone else. You may bump into them at Whole Foods, FedEx Office, the car wash, a community event, the Chocolate Dream Box or anywhere in town.  I’m not going to list them here – most probably prefer to be left alone unless contacted through their websites, and I’m happy to not contribute to their being hounded by star crazy people.   (Los Gatos has been home to many other famous people, and had famous visitors too, in the past.)

Los Gatos is not just for the wealthy – there are many middle class and some economically disadvantaged people here too.

There is not one “Los Gatos Lifestyle”. Some residents may focus their activities on sports, others on wine or coffee bars, still others on a school, church, synagogue or even the town government.   We see a lot of different hobbies and interests, whether it’s volunteerism, art, history, government, business, or sports (to name just a few!).  The beach is only a half an hour away too, so that is also part of the fabric of the community.

To learn more about life in Los Gatos, please read other posts on this blog, view the photos and if you want personalized information, please contact me!

Relocating to Silicon Valley? Consider Los Gatos!

Relocating to Los Gatos?

View more slideshows of Los Gatos & nearby areas