Good News: YSI Met Its Goal and Will Remain Open, Active and Working with Silicon Valley Kids!

February 08, 2009

The Youth Science Institute, which has facilities in Los Gatos at Vasona Lake County Park, in Saratoga at Sanborn Park, and in San Jose at Alum Rock Park, has met its campaign goal of $300,000 and will keep its doors open!

Read more at the YSI website:

How Hard is it to Sell a Los Gatos Home Now?

February 05, 2009

If you read the San Jose Mercury, you’ve seen a rash of articles on the local, Santa Clara County real estate market.  You probably know that although there are a lot of foreclosures in some parts of Silicon Valley, they are being bought up (or “absorbed”) at a fairly decent rate. These homes are more affordable, and buyers are responding. Countywide, about one home in four is selling.

It’s not that easy in the high end marketplaces such as Los Gatos, Almaden Valley, Monte Sereno and Saratoga. In these four areas, only about 8 – 15% of all homes are selling.  (Monte Sereno is a very small area and the actual numbers for January were worse as no homes closed escrow, so technically in January that would be 0%. However, it has improved there in February already.)

My January Real Estate Report is now out and I invite you to view it and input the area and home type you seek to get the most current numbers.

Here’s an image from that report regarding the Los Gatos real estate market which will help to make the current situation more clear:

Market Barometer for residential real estate in Los Gatos, CA in Jan 2009

It is important for homesellers to understand that inventory is rising and sales are falling and that the odds of selling are not in their favor. Only then can they be realistically prepared to do what it takes to sell.

How is it that some of these high end homes are selling now, despite the odds?

  • all of them have been priced aggressively, aiming to be “the best value” for the buyer
  • many of them have been professionally staged
  • most of them are very easy to see (lockbox, call first and then go rather than appointment with seller or appointment with listing agent)

It is very likely that the homes that have sold have been well marketed too, but that is not so easily trackable as there are so many components to consider in that arena.

Today’s post has focused on the Los Gatos real estate market. For more information on the Saratoga real estate market, and a focus on selling luxury homes in particular, please read a blog post I did yesterday on my Valley of Heart’s Delight blog:

If you would like to discuss selling your home in Los Gatos or nearby areas, please contact me for a personal consulatation.

Want A Great Bowl of Clam Chowder in Los Gatos? Visit Willow Street – It's Much More Than Pizza!

January 25, 2009

Willow Street Pizza logoOn Friday I enjoyed a late lunch with a real estate colleague and friend of mine at Willow Street Pizza in downtown Los Gatos.  The food is always good but this time I had a bowl of clam chowder and it was the best I’ve had in years.  

With New England Clam Chowder (the “white” one, as opposed to the red, Manhattan Clam Chowder), there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Sometimes the clams are gritty. Frequently the potatoes disintegrate and the whole soup becomes mushy and too thick.  Perhaps most often, there’s excessive cream or fat in the recipe and the chowder is unpleasantly oily.

The bowl of chowder I was served on Friday, though, was a very pleasant surprise. The potatoes and other vegetables were not overcooked. The soup was very tasty and not overly heavy.  And if I’m not mistaken, there were small, delicious dumplings cooked into the recipe too. The combination was unbeatable as the look, texture and taste were all fantastic.

Willow Street does not have a “soup and salad” combination on the menu, but you can do what I did and order a half or side salad plus a bowl of soup and create your own combo. I ordered a Romaine Gorgonzola half salad with cranberries together with the bowl of soup and it was very filling.  A side salad instead of half salad would have been plenty!

If you enjoy clam chowder, look for it at Willow Street (and other restaurants) on Fridays. Very few places will offer it on any other day of the week. (The reason for this tradition has to do with religion and demographics.  Catholics, who constitute about 20% of the population here in Silicon Valley, used to be prohibited by their church from eating meat on Fridays so many “fish specials” used to be featured on that day. That religious rule was changed in the early 1960s after Vatican II, and  today the “no meat on Friday” rule only applies during Lent. Even so, some continue to keep to the older, stricter standards.)

Willow Street does have good pizza, it’s a kid-friendly restaurant, and the salads and soups are really quite delicious. Don’t let the name “Willow Street Pizza” fool you: there’s much more to the menu then just pizza. In fact, you can browse their menu online and see for yourself at

If you have a favorite, local place to enjoy a cup or bowl of clam chowder, please share it in the comments below!


Youth Science Institute at Vasona Park in Los Gatos Needs Your Support!

January 21, 2009

Youth Science Institute (YSI) needs a little more funding to stay open!
The Youth Science Institute, or YSI, is based in Los Gatos at Vasona Lake County Park, but serves all of Santa Clara County.  It serves about 30,000 children each year across Silicon Valley and is highly regarded, but has been in danger of being shuttered due to a significant financial shortfall of $300,000. It’s down to the wire now and just $20,000 is still needed by the end of January.If you can help, please visit the campaign’s website and donate or make a pledge!

How did the YSI come to be in such a dire situation? Apparently it was due to a combination of things, from fewer signups in the summer programs, not enough donors or donors unable to be as generous as in the past, fewer field trips (due to state budget issuesj etc. 

The YSI had fewer than 200 donors prior to the fundraising campaign. Today that number is over 1000. The public support has been fantastic but a little more help is needed: $20,000 by the end of January.

Please help if you can!

Stunning Monte Sereno Home

January 14, 2009

16125 Francesca Court, Monte Sereno, CA

Sale Pending! Under Contract in 24 Days!

Recently I had the pleasure of listing one of the nicest homes I’ve seen, with a comfortable blend of old style quality craftsmanship and contemporary amenities. It will be open this weekend, and I invite you to stop by!

Some of the basic details on this lovely home:

Home size appx 2971, Lot size appx 9000. Built 1992. Offered at $1,865,000.

4 bed, 3.5 baths. Three car garage. Air Conditioned. Corner Lot. Traditional, Victorian home on the outside, but warm, classic and contemporary on the inside!

MLS # 80901346.

Quality detailing abounds in this home. Here, you’ll find clear, leaded glass windows, hardwood floors, tall & classic baseboards, elegant crown moulding, many built-ins, recessed lights, beautifully crafted mantles (3 total), and more.

The gourmet kitchen is state of the art with Thermador range, fan, oven, warming drawer and microwave oven, Kohler sinks, SubZero refrigerator, slab granite countertops, cherry cabinets and a gorgeous, oversized island, bay window, and hardwood floors. The kitchen is open to the family room and nook and offers access to the rear yard through the family room.

16125 Francesca Court, Monte Sereno, CA details in craftsmanship

The master bedroom suite is breathtakingly memorable! Leaded glass windows surround the bed area and cascade colored light through the panes, which act as prisms. With a vaulted ceiling, two triple closets with organizers, a fireplace and bookshelves and media niche too, there’s nothing lacking in this remarkable room!

The master bath is recently remodeled and includes a large steam shower, vanity with double sinks, many built in cabinets, a high ceiling with mouldings and a skylight or sun tunnel to bring light in all day long.

There’s much more! Please visit for more information. See the slideshow. Visit the virtual tour. Pull up more pics!

Close to downtown Los Gatos. Los Gatos Schools.

Links for more information:

More details at

Link to More Photos of 16125 Francesca Court

Link to Virtual Tour of 16125 Francesca Court (with music)

Map to this home.

Open house notes: I will be holding it open on Saturday Jan 31st 2009 from 1:30 to 4pm, and Sunday, Feb 1st, 1:30 – 4pm, a colleague of mine will be holding it open. Please stop by!


Update for Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga Real Estate Market

January 12, 2009

The real estate sales numbers are in for Los Gatos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, San Jose and all of Silicon Valley for December 2008 and for the year as a whole.

Santa Clara County Real Estate Report for 2008 (annual report – you may also find on this site the annual reports for Los Gatos, the Los Gatos Mountains, Campbell, Saratoga, etc. as well as quarterly reports and monthly reports – monthly report links found at the bottom of this post).

You already know that things have been bad: money’s hard to borrow, homes are hard to sell, jobs seem to be threatened.

There was some good news to be found, though.

  • Home sales increased in the second half of 2008, and we expect that to continue
  • By the end of 2008, the number of sales were up year-over-year from 2007
  • Prices are down – in some areas prices have “rolled back” two to three years. In other places, it’s closer to four years. This is good news for buyers!
  • If your downpayment is strong and credit is great you can get a loan and the news for you is great: interest rates are very, very attractive now! FHA loans are reappearing! Sellers are considering carrying second loans!
  • Banks are finally getting it together for handling REOs and short sales. New divisions are appearing to handle the increased workload.. These sales should be smoother in 2009.

How about our local market in the west side of Silicon Valley?

The upscale communities of Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, Almaden Valley, Cupertino and other foothill areas with good schools did not fare as badly as most of Santa Clara County in 2008, but they are not immune from the prevailing winds, either.

Los Gatos single family home sales graphs - info courtesy of REReport, used by permission (subscriber).

Overall, inventory is up and time on the market is up while the list price to sales price ratio is down.

Please visit my Real Estate Report at for the complete, interactive report for last month, last quarter, or last year – countywide, by city, or by area of San Jose, or click on the following links to see the most recent monthly report for these areas:

Los Gatos Single Family Homes
Los Gatos Condos/Townhomes

Monte Sereno Single Family Homes (there are no condos or townhomes in Monte Sereno)

Almaden Valley Single Family Homes
Almaden Valley Townhomes & Condominiums

Cambrian Park Single Family Homes
Cambrian Park Condos and Townhouses

Campbell Single Family Homes
Campbell Townhomes and Condos

Willow Glen Single Family Homes
Willow Glen Condominiums and Townhouses

(apparently no homes closed escrow in the LG Mountains in December – in Nov there was one and in Oct one)


Homes Sought for Horses

December 28, 2008

I picked this article up thanks to Google Alerts (for “Los Gatos”). Horses are at the wrong end of hardship with this poor economy, and several individuals and agencies are trying to keep these beautiful animals from ending up in the wrong hands. One of them is right here in Los Gatos.

Love horses? Got room and the ability to care for them? Have a look at the article in the Contra Costa Times:  Free to a good home — the horse of your choice. (Scroll to the bottom and find an equestrian do-gooder in Los Gatos.)

As for me, I wish I had room and the budget. I have fond memories of riding horses in south San Jose and at Garrod’s in Saratoga as a kid here. My parents had a home next to a horse ranch, and as a teen I felt like I was in heaven just to see the horses graze each day. For today I’ll have to settle for spreading the word, but I would love to hear more about this from folks involved.