Right now in Los Gatos there are 80 properties for sale. They range in price from $15,950,000 to $795,000 (though the one at $795k is actually a San Jose address but is pulled into the “Los Gatos area” by our mls system). The average list price is $2,979,029 and average “days on the market” is 103 (and 193 for “continuous days on the market”).
The pending sales (whether a contingent sale, a normal sale with inspection & loan contingencies in place, or all contingencies removed and nearly a closed escrow) amount to 35. For these homes, the average “days on market” is 71 (and 104 for “continuous days on market”). The average list price of these pending sales is much lower $1,774,550. (The average lot size, by the way, is about 3/4 of an acre for these homes.)
So what does that mean? Basically it means that homes which are under $2 million are selling much better than the ultra luxury homes which are at or over $2 million, $2.5 million, or more. There has been one recent sale (still pending) of a home listed at $4,795,950 but this is the exception. Every other home sold in January is at or under $2 million. There are some higher sales between $2 million and $3 million, but they occurred in December, not January.
What’s most hot is what’s more affordable – by Los Gatos standards.
Usually on Christmas Eve, my husband and I take our kids on a drive around Los Gatos after dark to take in the pretty Christmas lights that grace homes, yards, and trees. And each time, we make sure to visit the Vista del Monte neighborhood, where we’re treated to a look at homes with luminarias on Worcester Loop and Worcester Lane. Normally, there are a lot of homes that make a huge effort and put these out.
But not this year. What happened? We saw just three homes – all on Worcester Lane – with luminarias this year.
Perhaps it was too much work, or perhaps they thought no one cared or noticed. But our family certainly did enjoy seeing them! They are so pretty, but also they have a religious relevance, which I particularly appreciate with the commercialization of the feast. To me, it’s a great reminder about what Christmas is really about, and I missed it that most of the homes didn’t do it this year.
And my hat is off to the three homes that did do it. Thank you, we noticed and enjoyed seeing them!
I hope the luminarias will be back next year, like so many other wonderful Christmas traditions.
Los Gatos is a pricey town. The average single family home sells for about $1,200,000 (starters upwards of $800,000 and it seems there is no upper limit on pricing for large homes on large parcels). So folks struggling to pay the rent, whether employed or retired, might not consider looking in Los Gatos for a below-market rate place to live. But the town has got some affordable housing, and the details are on the town website. Visit it and learn about both rentals and purchase programs.
Also, thinking of purchases, there are some great loan programs out there that can help too: Bank of America has an “Acorn program” with great terms (underwritten by a charity), and also there’s a CAL-FHA loan with even more generous guidelines, and then there are also programs for folks buying into zip codes where prices are depressed. Interest rates have gone down in the last week or two (which is not atypical for December: remember, it’s supply and demand) and this is a great time to buy at a reduced cost. I can put you in touch with a lender if you want to investigate any of these options.
Renting or buying, Los Gatos is a wonderful place to live.
The Kotani-En Japanese Garden is a well kept secret, because this national landmark is on private land – it is not open to the public. I’m a native and only learned of its existence recently! Even the plaque is on private land and sites that discuss this fascinating place admonish us to not trespass or disturb the owners.
The Saratoga Historical Foundation lists three local Japanese gardens: the well known Hakone Gardens of Saratoga and the lesser known Nippon Mura, which is halfway between Saratoga and Los Gatos and is now the site of the La Hacienda, and also Kotani-En, which is located at 15891 Ravine Rd (again, private road, do not disturb occupants or trespass).
“NO. 903 KOTANI-EN – Kotani-En is a classical Japanese residence in the formal style of a 13th-century estate with tile roofed walls surrounding a tea house, shrine, gardens, and ponds. Constructed for Max M. Cohen in 1918-1924 of mahogany, cedar, bamboo, and ceramic tile by master artisan Takashima and eleven craftsmen from Japan, Kotani-En represents a harmonious union of art and nature in a two-acre rustic environment. Kotani-En is a prominent example of Japanese landscape architecture in America. “
Any time of year, a favorite place of mine to hang out is Old Town Los Gatos. A few years ago it was revamped, and in all honesty, I think it lost a lot of its charm then, but much of it does still remain and despite changes, it’s a great place to be and relax. There is a little bit of large topiary that remains – once there was a huge selection of it – and the outdoor theater still invites people to sit around and visit, if not see a show or hear music these days. It’s my hope that some of the “old” benefits of lingering at Old Town will one day return.
Some things don’t change. The Wine Celler is my favorite restaurant, not just in town, but anywhere. It offers a wonderful menu , including fun things like fondu and cheese boards, a nice variety of wines, and even live music. Additionally there’s patio seating upstairs in nice weather, but always a wonderful interior ambiance in the cellar itself. The people who run The Wine Cellar, the Hauck family, are as nice as the food is good.
I began visiting The Wine Cellar as a teenager and pretty much dragged all my friends there, especially on a weekend night if Gritty and Gravel were playing. (Does anyone know whatever happened to those guys?) I was a “regular” and I often asked them to play Desperado. They humored me. And I kept returning with new people week after week. As it turns out, my better half (Jim, now my husband of 21 years) was there many of those nights too. We would not meet until many years later, but now the restaurant is one our kids like too. I guess it was meant to be!
Another wonderful place in Old Town is directly upstairs, and that’s the local Border’s Books. My family and I are there a lot. I have been joking about buying stock in the place, actually. (I was there yesterday – bought Moving The Chains, a book about my famous cousin that happens to mention both my sister and my brother – and then indulged myself by having a latte in the cafe while skimming through the book for awhile.)
And a nice place to take a friend for a drink after work is Steamer’s. This place has a fantastic wine buyer and I’m only sorry that I don’t remember his name to give him credit – but he’s extremely good at matching the right wine to the right food, he’s friendly, and he’s fun to talk with. Steamer’s has some cool food and a nice atmosphere too.
I miss the outdoor shows in the open air theater. I miss the theater where Borders now stands too. I miss all the topiary that used to grace Old Town. But so much of the old charm remains, and so many wonderful people work the restaurants and shops, that even “progress” did not ruin what may be the very best part of our wonderful town. If you haven’t spent time there, please do. Neat shops, neat people, neat place.
In the spirit of holiday cheer, I’m going to share with you one of my holiday secrets.
Immediately adjacent to Los Gatos is a very small city named Monte Sereno. (“El Sereno” is the name of the large mountain to the right of the pass to Santa Cruz. “El Sombroso” is the name of the large one to the left.) The Monte Sereno Post Office, located on Hightway 9 (aka Los Gatos-Saratoga Road) and Rose Avenue, is usually the best place around during the holiday season when you need to mail a package. This year they have cut back on their hours and it is only open from 9am – 1pm, Monday through Friday. The lines are typically far shorter than at other nearby post office locations, but it is a small office and they don’t take credit cards or do express mail. So go armed with your simple mail and checkbook, and be delighted that the line is half as long as at other PO stations.