Quick Comparative Update on the Real Estate Market in Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga

June 26, 2009

The real estate market in the high-end communities of Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga has not been as hard-hit on pricing as in the entry level and more affordable areas like Blossom Valley and Cambrian Park, but not nearly as many homes are selling in these areas for that reason. Areas with huge (30-40%) price drops are seeing first time home buyers and investors swoop down, some paying “all cash” to get in on the fire sale pricing. That is just not happening in the tonier neighborhoods of Silicon Valley.

The west valley foothill communities aren’t at these kinds of price drops, but if you’re a home seller, you certainly aren’t feeling like the real estate market is doing you any favors. Prices are down in varying degrees, but overall it is a “rollback” in sales prices of several years and the discount is perhaps 20-30% from the peak for most homes (worse for the luxury home market).

The charts below are from Altos Research (with whom I have a subscription) and prices are LIST prices, not sales prices. The black line represents Los Gatos, green is Saratoga, and orange Monte Sereno, and the timeframe for all charts below is the last 12 months. Properties are single family homes only (houses, not condos or townhomes).

Median list price in Monte Sereno, Los Gatos and Saratoga over last 12 months

Monte Sereno tends to have the most expensive homes generally of the three communities, and this small city has been hit the worst with price drops because higher priced homes generally have had the biggest damage done to pricing, and more affordable homes have been less hurt by the price cuts.

Average days on market in Monte Sereno, Los Gatos, and Saratoga over last 12 months

Again, Monte Sereno has the biggest struggle with the longest days on the market. Saratoga is experiencing a better market.  This does not surprise me because I have some homebuyers for that city and we are having a hard time finding much that’s within their budget and meets their needs. In Los Gatos, where I also have buyers (different from Saratoga), we are finding a lot of homes are still priced too high for the market, so the buyers continue to wait.

Percent relisted in last 12 months in Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga

The relisted homes chart is a reflection of how many sellers were unsuccessful the first time around, but the owners really do want or need to sell, so they get the house back on the market.  Sometimes it’s with a new coat of paint and far better staging, sometimes a much better price, sometimes a new agent and brokerage – or maybe all three.

. Inventory last 12 months Saratoga, Monte Sereno and Los Gatos

Inventory levels are climbing in all three of these expensive Santa Clara County areas.  Buyers are having a hard time in most cases because if they’re moving up, it’s difficult to sell the home they already own due to negative equity and it’s also very difficult to get a loan for high end real estate.  If sellers can offer financing, that could be very helpful to a lot of buyers (get professional assistance from your Realtor, CPA and attorney before attempting this, though).

Sellers:

Most often, when a home doesn’t sell, it’s the pricing that is incorrect for the market, though condition (and staging) can have a big impact too. While a few buyers may be willing to pay “top dollar” for a home in average or worse condition, the majority of home buyers will not. Pricing & condition need to be aimed at the bulk of likely purchasers of the property, not the unlikely, rare homebuyer. In this market, when most homes are not selling in Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga, that means staging and pricing aggressively.  If there’s a “better deal” than your home, that’s the one the buyer will choose. In this market, the lowest price and best condition “wins” with a sale.

There are things you can do to increase the odds your home will sell and even make your home sell for more:

  • get the home cleaned, cleared of clutter, and nicely staged (get help and professional advice on this)
  • make the front yard appealing with colorful annuals, nicely trimmed bushes, and a healthy green lawn – if the front yard looks bad, the buyers will not even get out of their car to see inside your home
  • make the home easy to show, use a lockbox, do NOT make showings appointment only through the listing agent or yourself
  • when the home is being viewed by potential buyers, do not be home – your presence will make the buyers uneasy and unable to speak frankly about the house
  • price your home in the lowest 20% of available homes that are similar to yours – all the marketing in the world cannot sell an overpriced home

Buyers:

While the majority of homes are “sitting” and not selling, the best properties are actually selling quite fast. So if something comes on the market that interests you, don’t wait. It may not be there on the weekend for the scheduled open house!

Today’s post is general in nature for each of the towns discussed. The market will vary from one price point to the next, one school district to the next etc. Please contact me for assistance with your own particular situation.
Some homes have been on the market and sellers won’t reduce the listing price but may entertain an offer significantly lower that the list price.  So have your agent inquire or just “write it up” if you like a home.

Jazz on the Plazz 2009 Opening Performance was a Knockout!

June 25, 2009

Dennis Rowland and Full Spectrum Jazz played to a happy & packed audience last night for the opening concert in the Jazz on the Plazz series  at the Town Plaza Park.

Jazz on the Plazz June 24 2009

The music, which played from 6:30pm to a little past 8:30pm, was fantastic. Dennis Rowland is an engaging performer, both when singing and when chatting with the audience.  The Full Spectrum Jazz is an awesome band by itself, but also worked in perfect sync with Mr. Rowland.

The crowd stayed to the end despite some fairly cool winds blowing in through the pass from Santa Cruz, especially after sunset (microclimates: it was warm and nearly windless out in Belwood, so the temp change caught me by surprise – next time, I’ll remember to bring layers).  Loads of booths ringed the periphery, enabling concert attendees to buy a little food (oysters, anyone?), wine or coffee.  Patrons at Willow Street, just on the other side of North Santa Cruz Avenue, got to enjoy patio dining enhanced by great jazz. Not a bad way to take in the music!

Blankets are no longer permitted as they were causing loads of damage to the lawn, and most of the concert goers seemed aware of this and came prepared with soccer-viewing type chairs.  This seemed to actually improve the overall situation as more people fit into the lawn area with chairs rather than a patchwork quilt of towels and blankets.

Many thanks to all the sponsors who make Jazz on the Plazz possible.  See you next week!

For information on the schedule for Jazz on the Plazz, Music in the Park, and Vasona Vibrations (the three free music concert series in Los Gatos), please visit my post with the detailed schedule:Los Gatos Free Music Concerts in 2009: Jazz on the Plazz, Music in the Park and Vasona Vibrations

Beautiful B. E. (Bill) Mason Carousel at Oak Meadow Park in Los Gatos: A Beloved, Haunted Spot

June 23, 2009

W.E. (Bill) Mason Carousel at Oak Meadow Park, Los Gatos (photo by Mary Pope-Handy)The gorgeous W.E. (Bill) Mason Carousel at Oak Meadow Park in Los Gatos is as historically interesting as it is beautiful. It conceals more than a surprise to two.

Built in 1915 in England, the carousel was made of horses from England and Germany (some horses made by a Frenchman too). It was a long voyage to California – it had to be shipped around the horn (the Panama Canal did not yet exist) and then it debuted at the Panama Pacific Expo in San Francisco (which began in 1915). Following the exposition, it toured around with a circus beginning in the 30s for awhile before finding itself in storage in Redwood City for an untold number of years.

Happily, though, the story doesn’t end there. In 1980 the ride was purchased by the town with $50,000 in collected donations, and then it resettled in this sweet spot among Siicon Valley parks. The wooden horses, all hand painted, were lovingly restored over several years by volunteers. Additionally, upgrades were made to the mechanical side too, bringing it up to date. The ride was name after the late Bill Mason, Sr., of the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad fame, and dedicated in 1990.

The carosoul is a great compliment to the park with its train, airplane, open space and play structures, and it’s a huge hit with kids and parents alike. Is is truly “living history” right in our own backyard.

But wait, there’s more!

The lovely merry-go-round is also haunted.

Los Gatos Ghost Tour - Haunted Los Gatos, by Mary Pope-HandyNot to worry, parents, the ghost is benign – in fact, benevolent. Nothing scary happens here and it appears that the ghost simply loves the attraction. Some employees have experienced minor events such as noises without explanation and safety belts all mysteriously appearing latched when they should have been loose, and of course, that sense that someone’s there or someone’s watching when no one is visible.

I was at the park yesterday with Annette Martin, who asked me to introduce her to some of the haunted places in Los Gatos, and this was our last stop. Later this year she’ll share her experiences of this visit in an article or book. Not to spoil her story, I’ll let her tell “the rest of the story” at that time. (But be assured, she didn’t find anything for children or parents to fear.)

Days on Market are Shrinking in Some Segments of Los Gatos Real Estate Market

June 12, 2009

As noted many times in this blog about Los Gatos real estate, the market is varied from one price point and school district, among other things, to the next.

The homes in the lowest price points and “in the schools” seem to be selling faster.  For today’s view into the market, let’s consider homes in Los Gatos, with Los Gatos Schools, with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, priced at under $1,500,000.

The days on market or “DOM” for all pendings is a misleading number of almost 100 days. If the average DOM is 100, buyers can take their time, right?

But let’s have a closer look and sort the results. If we pull the data apart by the date of the sale (when buyers and sellers agreed on price and terms), a different picture of the market emerges. The average DOM now is 1/3 of what it was for the current pendings PRIOR to June 1st!

Street Address Bldg SqFt DOM Pend Date
LAVENDER LN 2727 6 6/8/2009
CHIRCO CT 1605 128 6/8/2009
CAMELLIA TE 1783 5 6/6/2009
BERSANO LN 2324 14 6/6/2009
BOYER LN 2368 18 6/5/2009
NEW YORK AV 1890 95 6/5/2009
GOLF LINKS DR 3200 20 6/4/2009
SHANNON RD 2650 0 6/2/2009
CARLTON CT 2550 87 6/2/2009
LAS MIRADAS DR 1300 12 5/30/2009
CARLESTER DR 1520 284 5/30/2009
LA CANADA CT 1150 35 5/29/2009
LAS MIRADAS DR 1820 135 5/28/2009
CILKER CT 2856 113 5/27/2009
JACARANDA WY 2750 46 5/26/2009
TOURNEY RD 3438 208 5/21/2009
LONGRIDGE RD 1296 6 5/18/2009
MARCHMONT DR 2179 75 5/16/2009
LOMA ALTA AV 1496 42 5/12/2009
CERRO VISTA DR 1706 18 5/9/2009
SHANNON RD 2060 34 5/4/2009

LOMA ALTA AV 1450 249 4/29/2009
QUARRY RD 1890 447 4/28/2009
GARDEN HILL DR 2016 17 4/24/2009
WINCHESTER BL 2665 311 3/23/2009
       
Av DOM all pendings   99.96  
Av DOM since 6-1   41.44  
Ave DOM before 6-1   130.94  

While some homes are not selling too fast, the pace appears to be quickening dramatically. It may be awhile before this is seen in the sold data, but it’s very much a “real time” snapshot of the market activity now.

Sellers, if you get your home into great shape and price it aggressively, you may be able to sell your home so fast that it will shock your neighbors.

Buyers, if you are trying to purchase a home that falls into this segment, it’s important to see homes that interest you quickly now, since they may not last a week or two.

If you’d like more information on data pertaining to your home or the type of home you’d like to buy, please contact me.  We can set up a meeting and go over the information that matches your own situation.

(Numbers by our MLS, MLSListings.com. Data exported, sorted and crunched by Mary Pope-Handy.)

Reminder: Annual Cleanup Program is Tomorrow at 6am!

June 11, 2009

In case you misplaced the mailing or haven’t heard, West Valley Collection & Recycling is collecting an unlimited number of items from your curb at no additional cost for one day only. That day is Friday, June 12, 2009 at 6am.

To see what will and will not be accepted, please see the online version of the mailer:
http://westvalleyrecycles.com/serviceareas/annual-cleanup.html

Happy “Spring Cleaning”!

Los Gatos Free Music Concerts in 2009: Jazz on the Plazz, Music in the Park and Vasona Vibrations

June 09, 2009

For Los Gatos Free Music Concerts Summer 2011 click here

For Los Gatos Free Music Concerts in 2010 please click here

2009 info is below

Summer in Los Gatos is a joy – there’s so much to do, and most of it doesn’t cost a dime, thanks to the generosity of many sponsors. There are three free music concert series in Los Gatos, and together they provide a wide spectrum of musical styles and entertainment. Included are jazz, classical, rock & roll tribute bands, and much more.

Below please find the combined schedule – I have done my best to make it accurate but cannot guarantee anything so please double check with the website for each of the series. If you’re here over Independence Day weekend, you’re in for a double treat as there are 2 concerts on July 4th!

For general information about Music in the Park, Jazz on the Plazz and Vasona Vibrations, please see their websites:

 

Music in the Park Civic Center Lawn
Vasona Vibrations Vasona Lake County Park
Jazz on the Plazz Los Gatos Town Park Plaza (near post office)

Below please find the combined schedule of musical events in Los Gatos as planned with links to the musicians’ websites when possible. Music in the Park will have local talent do lead-in music from 4:15 to 4:45 to get the ball rolling. Please arrive early to the shows to get a great spot!

Vasona Vibrations 6/6/2009 5-7 pm The Avalanche Choir
Vasona Vibrations 6/13/2009 5-7 pm City Rocks
Vasona Vibrations 6/20/2009 5-7 pm Celtic Heart
Music in the Park 6/21/2009 5-7 pm David Martin

Los Gatos Real Estate Closed Sales Statistics for May 2009

June 05, 2009

Countywide, prices are marching upward! It is a HOT seller’s market in the lower price ranges of Silicon Valley, especially if a home is not a distressed sale. Rising prices bring a cooler market in most areas and price points, though.

Los Gatos is a mixed bag too. Lower priced homes “in the schools” are selling nicely. Although it’s more challenging to sell higher priced homes, there are quite a few homes over $2,000,000 which are sale pending. 

Below please find a snapshot of the statistics for closed sales of single family homes in Los Gatos for May 2009:
 

Trends At a Glance May 2009 Previous Month Year-over Year
Median Price $1,012,000 $955,000 (+6.0%) $1,377,500 (-26.5%)
Average Price $1,111,280 $1,035,330 (+7.3%) $1,438,880 (-22.8%)
No. of Sales 20 25 (-20.0%) 36 (-44.4%)
Pending Properties 37 26 (+42.3%) 37 (0.0%)
Active 160 170 (-5.9%) 163 (-1.8%)
Sale vs. List Price 95.6% 95.0% (+0.5%) 97.5% (-2.0%)
Days on Market 55 54 (+0.7%) 27 (+104.8%)

To get the whole story on Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, San Jose and all of Santa Clara County, both condos or townhomes and houses, please visit my online Real Estate Report:

Los Gatos real estate for May 2009

Monte Sereno real estate for May 2009
Saratoga, CA real estate for May 2009
Cambrian Park real estate for May 2009
Almaden Valley real estate for May 2009
Cupertino real estate for May 2009

As always, please remember that the market really is a collection of smaller markets. What’s happening in one part of town or price range may not be happening in your home’s area or price point. Please contact me for assistance in understanding the market you’re most interested in.