How is the Monte Sereno Real Estate Market Faring? How Does It Compare to the Los Gatos Real Estate Market and the Market Two Years Ago?

December 27, 2008

Monte Sereno is a lovely, upscale residential community of about 4000 people. It’s located adjacent to the town of Los Gatos and the city of Saratoga, California. There are no businesses in Monte Sereno – just homes, the post office, and the city office building along Highway 9.

Monte Sereno shares some services with Los Gatos, such as police and schools. While Los Gatos has two zip codes, 95030 and 95032, Monte Sereno shares the 95030 zip code with Los Gatos. Some folks mistakenly think that whatever is happening in Los Gatos with the housing market is also reflective of the Monte Sereno real estate market. They are sometimes quite different.

We’ll now look at a few key indicators to see how the Monte Sereno real estate market is doing, and also how it’s doing compared to the same zip code but in Los Gatos. Graphs and stats are from Altos Research, to which I have a subscription (and the right to republish this information), which uses current listing data (list prices, not sold prices, for instance). About once a month I also publish an update which uses information from the solds, and you may see that interactive report at any time by visiting

I. Inventory of Houses for Sale in Monte Sereno

This first graph displays the trend of inventory among houses for sale in Monte Sereno, 95030. The four different lines are for the four quartiles, or price points. Sometimes they behave differently from one another, but here we can see that for much of the last year, inventory rose dramatically among all price ranges.

Monte Sereno Inventory of Single Family Homes for Sale

Next, a comparative look between Monte Sereno and Los Gatos inventory levels of homes for sale. While it makes sense that Los Gatos has more homes for sale (it has more households!) it is interesting to note that the rise of inventory has been more dramatic in Los Gatos than in Monte Sereno.

Inventory of Single Family Homes for Sale in Los Gatos and Monte Sereno, both with zip code 95030

A retrospective: how is inventory in Monte Sereno now compared to two years ago? (The chart says only 95030 but this is just from Monte Sereno.)

Monte Sereno inventory in 2008 compared to 2006.

II. Average Days on the Market of Homes for Sale in Monte Sereno

Below, please see the breakdown by price point, or quartile, of the days on market for Monte Sereno this year. The lowest priced homes did not experience the same degree of a “dip” in the first half of the year that the higher priced homes did. It is interesting to note that the most expensive homes had the greatest improvement for the DOM (Days on Market) early in 2008.

Inventory by price quartile of homes for sale in Monte Sereno

How does this compare to the same zip code in Los Gatos?

Average Days on the Market for homes in Monte Sereno compared to Los Gatos, both with 95030 zip.

The patterns are pretty similar, but it would seem that for most of the year, it has been easier (faster) to sell a house in Monte Sereno than in Los Gatos.

Compared to two years ago, how do the DOM look in Monte Sereno?

Monte Sereno days on the market for 2008 compared to 2006.

As we had suspected, it was much easier to sell a home in 2006 than it has been in 2008. In fact, it looks from this indicator that it is approximately twice as hard to sell a home now, if not more, then in 2006. This has been especially grue in the last quarter of the year.

III. List Price of Homes for Sale in Monte Sereno

Now we’ll turn to the number which home sellers care about the most: price. Below, please see a graph with the median list price by quartile of homes for sale in Monte Sereno this year.

Median List Price of Homes for Sale in Monte Sereno By Quartile

Interestingly, the most exclusive homes have come down the most, while properties in lower price ranges seem to have adjusted downward the least.

How does this compare to what’s happening in the town of Los Gatos?

Median List Price of Homes for Sale in Monte Sereno Compared to Los Gatos

It is commonly known that homes in Monte Sereno are a bit more expensive than those in Los Gatos, so the gap between the two is not surprising. That said, the way each has responded to the market is curious. While Los Gatos home prices (list prices) went down early in the year, they went up in Monte Sereno for the same time frame. In fact, these two graphs are almost completely inverse of each other!

Finally, how does the median list price of homes in Monte Sereno today compare to the list prices of two years ago?

Median List Price of Homes in Monte Sereno this year compared to two years ago.

This is another weird graph which almost looks like a symmetrical inverse from 2008 to 2006. List prices today are higher, on average, then they were two years ago.

In summary, compared to Los Gatos, Monte Sereno is faring better overall. The inventory is lower, days on market are shorter, and list prices remain higher than in Los Gatos. Compared to two years ago, it’s tougher to sell a home (and easier to buy one) in Monte Sereno: inventory is up, days on the market are up – but list prices are up too, an odd twist! In fact it’s an anomoly for most of Silicon Valley, but it does not mean that any one house will necessarily sell for more than it did 2 years ago. The median sales price is the point at which half the homes are selling for more, and half for less. So a higher median list price or sales price may simply indicate that more expensive homes are selling. That seems very likely because with the more expensive homes, buyers are less likely to be dependent on a loan.

For analysis of what’s happening in your neighborhood, or where you’d like to buy a home, please contact me. I’m happy to meet with you and go over your situation in person and in confidence.

The Season of Sharing and An Inspiring Example in Los Gatos

December 23, 2008

The San Jose Mercury News ran a nice piece about a Los Gatos resident who’s doing some big sharing during these difficult times in Silicon Valley. Have a read about Jennifer Krach and how she’s helping – and how you can, too:

Los Gatos mom pledges $100,000 to help families in crisis

Now that’s the true holiday spirit!  Thanks, Jennifer. You are an inspiration!

Are Los Gatos Real Estate Prices Holding Amidst the Financial Meltdown?

December 19, 2008

The Los Gatos real estate market has had a difficult year in 2008. Are things improving now, levelling off, or worsening? What Los Gatos homeowners care about most is value: what’s my home worth now? Today we will look at what list prices are doing among Los Gatos proerties for sale: both single family homes (houses) and condominums and townhomes in both the 95030 and 95032 zip codes.

The data, care of Altos Research, pretty much speaks for itself. The situation varies from one area to the next and one price point to the next. For more detailed information than is presented here, please contact me directly.

I. Broad Overview of Los Gatos homes for sale

First let’s see an overview of list prices for single family homes in Los Gatos by zip code (all price quartiles combined).


Los Gatos single family homes for sale (houses), both 95030 and 95032 zip codes, median list price

Next, same type of data but for Los Gatos condominiums and townhomes for sale (both zip codes, median list price).


Los Gatos homes for sale, condos, both 95030 and 95032, median list prices of all quartiles combined

II. Closer look at houses for sale in Los Gatos

Next we’ll look more closely at single family homes by zip code and by price point or quartile.

Los Gatos houses in the 95030 zip code area by quartile:


Los Gatos single family homes for sale in 95030 by quartile

Los Gatos houses in the 95032 zip code area by quartile:


Los Gatos houses for sale in 95032 area, list prices by quartile.

III. Condominiums and Townhomes for Sale in Los Gatos

Next the list pricing for condos in 95030 by quartile


List prices of Los Gatos condos for sale in 95030 area by quartile.

And finally, list prices of condos and townhouses for sale in the 95032 area by quartile


List prices of Los Gatos condos for sale in 95032 area by quartile.

In summary, it looks as though condo prices have done fairly well overall. In 95030, they are up year over year across the board, and in 95032 they two top quartiles are up. The entry level condos in 95032 appear to have lost value year over year. The reason may be that buyers in these price points are purchasing single family homes outside of Los Gatos instead.

Among houses, the slippage in pricing is fairly slight in both zip codes among the three lower quartiles, but the market difficulties are much more pronounced among the most expensive homes in both of the Los Gatos areas. The Los Gatos luxury market has taken more of a beating than more midrange homes this year? Why is that? There are a number of possibilities, but the bottom line is that if you are a luxury home buyer looking in the west side of Silicon Valley, this may be a great opportunity for you!

Please call or email me if you’d like more information on Los Gatos real estate market conditions.


Why is a Frosty Roof a Good Thing?

December 14, 2008

snowflakeIt was a cold morning here in Belwood of Los Gatos. Our outside thermometer indicated that temps were just over freezing.  Looking down the street when grabbing the newspaper, I saw many roofs with various degrees of frost covering them.

Did you know that in the case of frost on the roof, more is better? On my Valley of Hearts Delight blog today, I present a few photos and explain why you’ll want to check your roof on icy mornings, whether you are buying a home, selling a home, or maintaining one.

To learn more, please read on:
What Can You Learn from a Silicon Valley Roof on a Frosty Morning?


November Los Gatos Real Estate Market Update

November 17, 2008

How’s the Los Gatos Real Estate Market Faring?

There are many ways of viewing the Los Gatos real estate market. One approach includes looking at the homes which are currently for sale, or the “active listings”. Altos Research, to which I subscribe, uses this data in analyzing the state of things for the realty market in various cities, towns, and zip codes. Today we’ll look at these active listings in all Los Gatos zip codes, both single family homes and condominiums, and view the data by price quartile whenever the trends seem quite divergent from one price point to the next.

Los Gatos Real Estate Pricing for Single Family Homes by Zip Code

First, let’s look at Los Gatos houses in the 95030 area. We’ll begin by viewing list prices by quartile.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

Except for the highest priced homes, it seems that asking prices are close to flat in this part of Los Gatos. It doesn’t appear to be a market crash when these numbers are viewed.

Next, let’s see how prices are looking in 95032 among single family homes in Los Gatos:

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

Again, it’s fairly close to flat pricing now (after clear declines earlier this year) except in the most expensive homes, which really constitute the luxury or estate market, which looks to be having steeper declines. The luxury market in both 95032 and 95030 appears to be hurting the most.

And finally, the same type of data but for the Los Gatos Mountains (zip code 95033 – this is a broad area which is not actually in the Town of Los Gatos but instead is county area).

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

Interestingly, the luxury homes in the mountains seem to be holding their own better than those “in town”. It appears that all price points in the mountains are doing approximately the same in this realm.

Los Gatos Real Estate Pricing for Condos and Townhomes by Zip Code

The Silicon Valley condominium and townhouse market is often a little different than the market for single family homes, and this is true in Los Gatos as well as in much of San Jose. Below, please note the more chaotic path that pricing has taken in the Los Gatos condo market this year:

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

And oddly, much different in 95032: Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

Although these two Los Gatos zip codes are quite different from each other, both have been seeing some rises from a low spot earlier this year. The 95030 prices are higher than they were at the beginning of the year in all quartiles. The 95032 prices are higher for the most expensive condos but lower for the bottom two quartiles. I believe that this is because of school districts – the lowest priced condos (except for The Commons, a senior condominium complex) are most all in the Campbell Union High School District rather than in the Los Gatos – Saratoga High School District. (All of 95030 is in the Los Gatos schools area, and perhaps half of 95032 is in the same district and half is in CUHSD instead.)

Inventory of Los Gatos Homes for Sale

Inventory of Los Gatos homes has been rising in most segments of the market. (There are no townhouses or condominiums in the 95033 zip code.)

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

The lowest priced condos in the 95030 part of Los Gatos seem to be getting absorbed decently – inventory has barely risen there at all this year.

Days on Market for Los Gatos Homes for Sale – All Zip Codes

Los Gatos Houses in 95030:

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

Los Gatos Houses in 95032 are seeing declines in the average days on market:

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

And for condos and townhomes in Los Gatos, 95030, it looks bizarre, with lots of volatility and large ups and downs (not unlike the stock market of late):

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

Lastly, Los Gatos days on market for condos in 95032:

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

So what can we say of the general trends in Los Gatos homes for sale? For most Los Gatos homes:

  • inventory is rising
  • days on market are rising
  • the condo market was faring worse earlier this year, but is improving now
  • the single family home market has been sliding this year, but overall, it has not been steep

How does this compare to nearby areas? The “median market action index” combines the key factors to come up with a market pulse (higher is in the sellers favor, and lower is in the buyers favor). If we look at just single family homes in the two Los Gatos areas plus Saratoga (95070) and the Almaden Valley area of San Jose (95120), it looks like “we’re all in the same boat”:

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

The two Los Gatos zip codes are now in the same place. San Jose is doing a little better and Saratoga better still. But the general trends for almost all nearby Silicon Valley real estate markets is a deepening buyers market.

Please call or email me if you’d like to discuss your particular situation.

What Does It Take to Sell Your Silicon Valley or Los Gatos Home in Today's Market?

The Silicon Valley real estate market is very much in the buyer’s favor right now; in Los Gatos, San Jose, Saratoga, Campbell and elsewhere in Santa Clara County, most homes are not sellingat all or only selling after a long time on the market and with several painful price reductions. Prices are falling, year over year, in most of the valley – Monte Sereno appears to be the only possible exception.

In Los Gatos, there are 248 houses and condos currently for sale. In the last month in 95032 and 95030, 21 houses and condos have closed escrow and 23 have gone sale pending in the same timeframe. So the percentage of homes selling is a little under 10%.

The question to ask yourself, if you want to sell your home right now, is “what does it take to sell my Silicon Valley home in today’s market?” You might also ask “how can I get the most money for my home in this market?” What will it take to sell fast and for the best price this market will bear when only ten percent of listed homes are selling in Los Gatos? (It is worse in many other parts of the valley.)

1. Begin By Understanding Market Conditions and Pricing Realities for Your Neighborhood

To maximize your position, it is imperative to begin by understanding today’s Silicon Valley real estate market and the real estate market in your home’s neighborhood. For years we have experienced a seller’s market in which every time a home sold, everyone else’s home rose in value. We could price a little high and the market would catch up sooner or later. But not now.

Now, instead, prices are declining and one of the most important things for Los Gatos home sellers to understand is that they need to get ahead of the curve in pricing and be swift to adjust to changing conditions. ( puts the Los Gatos 95030 zip code as having lost 5% since last month and 95032 as having lost 3% since last month.)

glassesTwo kinds of homes seem to be selling now: completely remodeled homes which are priced well, or homes needing updating and remodeling that are priced at rock-bottom numbers, possibly even below current market value. Average homes with average prices are not selling. Homes priced in the bottom 10-20% are selling. These are the “shiny pennies”. They are the homes in which owners understand that “it’s a beauty contest and a price war”.

There are several places online where you can get real estate market trends in Silicon Valley as well as home values calculated online. These are automatically generated and do not involve an agent’s input. Among them are these:

Silicon Valley Real Estate Report – Recent Listing & Sales Activity (view by map, no registration)

Because precise home valuations involve things that online estimators can’t factor in (like school district, the presence of power lines, proximity to positive or negative things), your best bet will be to talk with a knowledgeable and experienced Realtor, who will factor in current market conditions for your exact neighborhood and type of home (historic, view property, etc.).

(To read more on pricing, please read this article on my main website: Pricing Your Silicon Valley Home Competitively and also Benefits of Realistic Pricing.)

2. Clean, Declutter, and Stage Your Silicon Valley Home to Sell

Buyers respond most favorably to homes in which they can see themselves. Too many of your personal effects and it’s hard for them to see themselves living there. Getting your home sold today requires depersonalizing “your home” and making attractive and easy for buyers to see as “their home”.

BougainvilleaMost of us live in a somewhat cluttered way in our homes and yards, and thinning out the extra stuff that won’t help to sell your home can be difficult both physically and emotionally. If you hire a good agent early on, he or she will assist you in knowing what is best to keep out and what’s best to remove for selling.

Also during this stage, you’ll want to get your home and garden into good shape, whether it’s sprinklers that aren’t working or windows that won’t open. Clean and fix!

Sometimes getting through this stage can be overwhelming. Perhaps you’d like a hand? A resource I have used many times is “At Your Service“, a concierge service at no cost to you. Karin Doll-Nichols runs this helpful company and she can hook you up with a handyman, a landscape person, someone to assist you in downsizing, you name it. My experiences with At Your Service have been very positive, and the prices are competitive too.

(For more information on this topic, please read Staging Your Silicon Valley Home, an article on my main website.)

3. Pre-Sale Inspections Are The Norm in the West Valley Communities of Silicon Valley

If you are serious about selling you home in Los Gatos or anywhere in Silicon Valley, it’s important to also do pre-sale inspections. Depending on what type of home you have (condo, townhome, single family home or large estate), you could need anywhere from two inspections to perhaps a half dozen of them. Most sellers will need to have a pest (or termite) inspection and a home (or property) inspection. (For more information on inspections, please see my post on another blogsite of mine, What Kinds of Inspections and Reports Are Needed For Buying and Selling Homes in Silicon Valley? )

Home inspections often uncover surprises and having pre-sale inspections will enable you to repair or replace defective items, or if they are items you do not want to fix, at least give you the knowledge to counter defects out of any offers that come in. My suggestion is to allow a couple of extra weeks, at least, to do any unplanned repairs prior to the home going on the market. Buyers today are picky but they will write stronger offers if they know the condition of the home they want to buy, and stronger offers still if they feel that any issues are already resolved.

The quality of inspectors you hire can impact your transaction greatly, so I strongly advise that you hire your agent first and get recommendations on good inspectors prior to getting an inspector involved. Good Realtors know many inspectors by reputation or through past dealings and can assist you in hiring those who are reputable, honest, and fair.

Finally. . .

It will be helpful to view things with the buyers perspective to understand what makes them choose one home and leave nine others behind. As a seller, view your property as being in competition with the rest of the homes. Ask yourself which home would you choose? Which one is the best value?

There are many important issues to tackle in order to not just sell your home, but to sell it for top dollar in the current market. Today we’ve addressed the initial areas only – this is just the starting point! Perhaps the best thing you can do is get educated about the process and then hire well. There are hundreds of agents in close proximity so there’s no shortage of choice. You can afford to take your time and be picky about selecting an agent who is knowledgeable, experienced, accessible and who will represent you well every step of the way.

Book - Get the Best Deal When Selling Your Home in Silicon Valley, by Mary Pope-Handy and Ken DeshaiesIf you would like to discuss selling your Silicon Valley home, please call or email me for a free, no cost, one hour consultation. My book, “Get the Best Deal When Selling Your Home in Silcon Valley“, is my gift to you when you meet with me. It’s a highly helpful resource that can get you started in selling your home.



Closed Sales of Homes in Los Gatos: Yes, The Numbers Are Down

November 03, 2008

How is the Los Gatos real estate market doing?

For many homesellers in Los Gatos (and Silicon Valley generally), and for their Realtors, the real estate market is extremely challenging right now. Buyers have been wary for many months already, but now they’re concerned about a recession and job losses, not just the possibility of a real estate sales price that won’t hold its value later. It is a deepening buyers market overall, but especially within the market for single family homes.

So what is happening with Los Gatos home sales?

Inventory is rising among single family homes and condos and townhomes. Right now there are 197 single family homes for sale (it was over 200 last week) and 44 condominiums or townhomes. A year ago, it was 113 houses and 23 condos. A month ago it was 184 SFH and 45 condos, and a year ago October it was 104 SFH and 22 condos.

Sales were down in October. We had a surge of sales in September, but then the meltdown on Wall Street happened and buyers put on the brakes. In Oct 2007 there were 12 condos closed, but in Oct 2008 just 9 (and with far more inventory).  In Oct 2007 there were 17 houses closed, but in Oct 2008 just 13 (and again, more inventory).

Buy a home in Los GatosThe real estate market in Los Gatos is mixed, depending on the type of housing (house, townhouse, mulit family dwelling, mobile home or other), the price point (entry level vs luxury), zip code, school district, and more. Of the 13 homes that closed last month, 3 were over $3 million. Surprisingly, 5 were under $1 million. Most often, the vast majority of sales is between $1 million and $2 mil or $2,5 mil, but the middle seems to be shrinking now. It’s a strange phenomena! Low priced homes are being bought because, I believe, buyers can “get into Los Gatos” at great prices. The luxury home market is often independent of financing, so those homes are still selling fairly well (despite the loss of stock value in Google and Apple) for now. The middle price range, which often represents move-up buyers who do need at least some financing, appears to be the most impacted market right now.


Condos vs Houses: Which Are Selling Better in Los Gatos?

The Los Gatos condo market, which was really struggling earlier this year, has been improving since May. The Los Gatos single family home market, though, is the opposite: it has been worsening steadily since May. The condo market is very small compared to the single family home market, though, so the overall picture is a deepening of the buyers market in Los Gatos.

Below, please find a bar graph that makes these trends clear:  

Absorption rate among condos and single family homes in Los Gatos, CA (Silicon Valley real estate)

The Los Gatos real estate market is made up of many micromarkets. For information on your particular home buying or home selling needs in Los Gatos, please contact me today.