Once you have visited Los Gatos – the charming architecture, the backdrop of the hills, the vibrant downtown, the great schools, and all the trees and parks – you may want to call it home. I sure did. But the town is expensive and for some it may be out of range. What if you love Los Gatos, but it’s not affordable? There are nearby areas that may work, so I’ll mention them here. They are all discussed in depth at my Valley of Heart’s Delight blog and mentioned in my Move2SiliconValley or popehandy blogs too – the links will be to any of my own sites. For people relocating to Silicon Valley especially, where “sticker shock” is a normal part of the welcome package, these other areas which are a little less pricey might be helpful.
A little further southeast than Los Gatos, the Almaden Valley is a very scenic suburb with the Santa Cruz Mountains on one side and the Santa Teresa Foothills on the other. There’s no “downtown”, however you’ll find a large shopping center with a remodeled Safeway, banks, Starbucks, etc., along Almaden Expressway. This area features the New Almaden neighborhood, which is where the area began with mercury mining operations long ago. Almaden real estate market post
On the north and northeast side of Los Gatos sits the Cambrian area of San Jose (which has 2 zip codes, but the part adjacent to LG is 95124). The Union School District serves both part of Cambrian and part of east Los Gatos. There’s a noticeable price drop going into Cambrian, but the hills and the town of LG are still close. Very good schools and a good “bang for your buck” in terms of what you get in education for the price of the home. Cambrian real estate market statistics
Willow Glen is closer to downtown San Jose than to Los Gatos, but it has much of the charm that LG is known for, includes a lovely downtown area with its own identity, and boasts some of the most scenic streets in all of Silicon Valley. The public schools are generally not a drawing factor. Willow Glen real estate market article
Campbell is probably the most happening city in Santa Clara County right now in terms of home buyer popularity. Campbell provides a lovely downtown, light rail access to downtown San Jose and beyond, a great parks system (especially along the Los Gatos Creek Trail), unusually good shopping, and in some areas really excellent schools. This is a “closer in” location than Los Gatos or Almaden, so it’s an easier commute for that lower price, too. Campbell housing market trends and stats
The 95033 zip code covers a lot of land in Santa Clara County and Santa Cruz County too. Part of it is just beyond the Los Gatos town border, but the majority of it is quite a bit further. School scores are high, air is clean, trees are everywhere and valley views (or in the next county over, Monterey Bay views) are not uncommon. The prices are much better than in town, but the tradeoff is that you have to deal with Highway 17 every day, plus some issues that are particular to the mountains, beach traffic, etc. Please also see this article on the Los Gatos Mountains or Santa Cruz Mountains And on the market – Altos Live RE Market Charts for the LG or Santa Cruz Mountains area
Newcomers to Los Gatos often wonder why there are some houses for sale at low, low prices in the Los Gatos hills. Given how expensive most of the town is, why are some so affordable (or evencheapby local standards)?
The mountain areas of Los Gatos:
Los Gatos is nestled into the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains. “In town” refers to incorporated areas with the 95030 and 95032 zip codes. “In the mountains” means unincorporated, usually accessed only by highway 17 as the main road, and using the 95033 zip code. These mountain areas are more affordable (there are several communities within the mountains, including Redwood Estates – often distinguishing Upper and Lower, Chemeketa Park, Holy City, Aldercroft Heights on the Santa Clara County side of the summit).
The foothills of Los Gatos:
Additonally, though, Los Gatos has quite a few foothills and homes in those areas often do not have the telltale 95033 zip code; depending on how far into the hills these houses are, they can also be less expensive. (Please read more about Los Gatos zip codes here.) Homes “close in” but on foothills will not be less expensive, though – often they are more!
What can make both the mountain community homes and the foothill location homes more reasonably priced is often a combination of the following elements, which are usually viewed as negatives by most consumers: Continue reading
March 06, 2007
The statistics from February have been crunched now, and we’re finding that the Silicon Valley real estate market is strengthening. Here are the links, if you’d like to review the data yourself:
Interestingly, San Jose is not doing as well as much of the valley, apparently because the entry level housing is so out of whack with incomes that it is difficult for folks to get a toe in the door.
The California Association of Realtors reports that the most expensive median home sales price in the state for January 2007 is none other than our own Los Gatos, beating out the usual suspects of Santa Barbara, Laguna Nigel, etc. (of course they were also on the list of the 10 most expensive cities for January 2007). What does this tell us? Most of all, that we live in a very highly desireable area – and even when the housing market scares folks a little, they are still willing to risk it in buying here.
I think something else is going on, too. There’s an old adage that really, really applies to successfully selling a home in today’s real estate market: Time vs. Money. I think our sellers in Los Gatos are pretty wise overall. Most of them read up on the market and they understand that buyers now want “turnkey” homes, not fixers. So rather than put a house on the market that needs work, most of them are painting, scrubbing, planting, inspecting, and preparing their homes well in advance of selling them. And it’s working. The nice homes are the ones that the buyers want, and they go fairly fast. The homes that are selling are both priced appropriately and they are put on the market in great shape.
So instead of marketing a half-ready home, and then playing catchup with the condition and the price, sellers in Los Gatos who sell (and not just list) their homes are doing the work upfront. They put in the time and effort, and in return, they get a faster sale at a higher price. They understand that “time vs. money” really applies today more than in any other market we’ve had in recent history.