When scouring the MLS for properties to view, Los Gatos home buyers would be wise to pay attention to the property class and land use data. A few years back, I discussed a little on this topic with this article: Is that Los Gatos house or townhouse actually a condo? Today I want to focus on the MLS information that Los Gatos home buyers are viewing online, and what to look for to understand these issues better. I’ve taken screen shots from the MLS, so what you see will appear differently on other portals, but the info should be present somewhere on the page if it shows up in our local MLS.
Getting the best data means getting it from a local MLS
First, our MLS, MLSListings.com, cooperates with other MLS organizations around the state. Often, though, when info comes into our system from an outside one, some info is dropped. That can be very frustrating. The most obvious one is the days on market or DOM – it is blank when it’s an out of area MLS entry. Today I was looking for examples of property class, meaning what kind of structure is it, and the land use to share here when I found this one, below:
Normally you will find info on the “class” which means the building type, such as a single family home (if detached, a house, if attached, a duet home), a townhouse, a condominium, a duplex / triplex / fourplex, etc. Also there should be land use – is it a condo, a PUD, or a single family home? (With condos and townhomes, there’s also a line for “ownership type.)
In the photo above, “Land use” is blank. Not helpful for a home buyer! This one was from a non-MLSListings.com entry. When that happens, you may want to make note of the info you could not find so you remember to chase it down later.
Most, however, will include the land use information, such as the next one:
Many of the townhouses in Los Gatos and nearby are held in condo ownership. That means you do not own the land under the unit, even though it is a townhouse. The owner of this kind of property owns the interior space between the walls and the floor and the ceiling. The Home Owner’s Association (HOA) has responsibility for the exterior of the structure, the roof, etc. The attic may or may not be community property. In some cases, there is a shared, open attic over all the units. In those cases, only one unit will have an opening to get into the attic.
One of the more confusing areas in Los Gatos may the Alberto Way. Most of the condominiums along that street in Los Gatos are part of The Los Gatos Commons, a senior complex that’s fairly large. (To read more about senior housing in the area, please see my post on it here.)
As with most senior housing, the units at The Commons are more affordable than the majority of Los Gatos condos. The Commons was built in 1978 and requires that at least one resident be 55 years of age or more. As of 2018, you may be able to purchase a tiny 1 bedroom in the Commons for under $700,000.
A smaller condo community just a little closer to Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, and on the opposite side of Alberto Way, is Pueblo de Los Gatos. These homes are a little further away from Highway 17, are a little quieter, and are not senior housing. They tend to sell for a little more than the homes across the way. There seems to be about a 5% to 10% difference in price, most of which may be attributable to freeway noise, but part of it to the “senior community” status. This property was developed in 1970, so is actually a little older than the Commons.
Pueblo de Los Gatos consists of 53 units. Of these 53 condo units, 1 of them is a 3 bedroom (unit # 1, which also has a large 2 car garage), 44 are 2 bedroom units, and 8 are 1 bedroom units. Except for unit # 1, the rest of the homes in this community have carports. For many home buyers, these properties offer a more affordable way to get into the Los Gatos Union School District than might otherwise be possible.
Additionally, there is a small townhouse complex on the same side of the street as the Los Gatos Commons. These are also not senior communities.
What is the fastest way to tell them apart? The easiest way, without even clicking on a link, is to spot the address. If there’s a letter as part of the unit number (as in A100 or B202), it’s part of The Commons. If there’s no letter, as in #7, it’s part of the Pueblo de Los Gatos. Of course, there are other townhomes in the immediate area, too – but these are the largest communities.
Both of these are in close-to-downtown Los Gatos locations. If you’re in the market for Los Gatos real estate and would like to live close in, this is a great street to check out.
Los Gatos Commons homes for sale (55+)
Condos in the Los Gatos Commons (a senior community) which are for sale or pending sale right now. (If nothing shows, then nothing is on the market there at the moment.)
The spring home buying season (or spring home selling season) is usually pretty good in Los Gatos, with April being one of the best months. How was this year? And how was it in relation to recent years in the 95030 and 95032 zip codes of Los Gatos?
I ran the numbers myself – so every effort was made for accuracy but it’s not guaranteed – and also ran them in recent years dating back to 1998. Additionally I provided the “average” so see how this year actually compares.
For April 2010, there were a total of 40 houses, duet homes, condominiums and townhouses which closed escrow between April 1 and April 30, about 7% off the 13 year average of 43. The breakdown was 31 houses or duet homes (close to average) and 9 condos or townhomes (30% fewer than average). So this view shows that it’s a mixed real estate market with trend improving for houses for sale more than condominiums.
A look at last year shows a lot of improvement for houses sold. And a look at the year before that, 2008, also shows marked improvement for houses on the market in Los Gatos. Not so true for the condominium and townhouse sales, though. Those sales continue to lag. The condo market has been hurting throughout Silicon Valley because home buyers can now afford to buy a house and that’s their preference, most of the time.
If you are thinking of buying or selling a Los Gatos condo or townhouse, it’s helpful to know what the market’s doing – that is, what are the Los Gatos real estate trends and statistics for the condo market.
Today we’ll have a look at the Los Gatos condo market in terms of pricing, inventory, and days on market. We will study Los Gatos as a whole and broken out by zip code, and also by price quartile too. The data below is via Altos Research, to which I am a subscriber & so I have the right to use the charts & graphs here. (Note: Altos Research uses list prices, not sold prices.) The charts I’m uploading will automatically update, so if you pull up this post long after it’s been written, the charts will still be “live” and should be accurate.
First, the pricing trends for condos and townhomes in 95030 and 95032 combined (so all of Los Gatos together) over the last year, and separated by quartile:
Generally, it’s been a year of some increases but overall decreases in list prices year over year (as of late October 2009).
Following, the two zip codes separated, but the quartiles combined:
Interestingly, the 95030 part of Los Gatos was dropping this time last year (10-2008) while the 95032 market was mostly improving. I suspect that this is due to the cost of living: 95032 is simply less expensive.
Getting more specific: now see Los Gatos 95030 condos and townhomes, broken out by price quartile:
Fascinating to see what happened with the group that had been the second quartile and ended up at the bottom! The deepest decines in value (or pricing) have come in the highest price ranges. This is true in Saratoga and other high-end markets around Silicon Valley and in parts of San Jose (such as Almaden Valley) too.
Same pricing info but for Los Gatos 95032:
The 95032 patterns seemed to follow a more understandable path than 95030.
Next, inventory – the available townhouses and condominiums to buy in Los Gatos (both zips combined)over the last 12 months:
Inventory for 95030:
And inventory for 95032:
Now, we’ll look at the average Days on Market. Things are really interesting here as we view all of Los Gatos by quartile.:
And again, we’ll drill down to the zip code & quartile view of the Los Gatos condo and townhome market as we consider the average days on market:
In the 95030 part of Los Gatos, interestingly, the least expensive condos are taking the longest to sell. Why might that be the case? Here’s my hunch: most of this zip code is “in the schools” (enjoying Blossom Hill Elementary, Van Meter Elementry, or Daves Avenue School as well as Fisher Middle School and Los Gatos High). The least expensive homes often fall into one of two categories: seniors housing (Alberto Way, the Los Gatos Commons) or small, entry level condos with only one bedroom. Neither of these would require the highly regarded Los Gatos Schools.
Conversely, in the 95032 part of town, it’s the most expensive townhomes and condos that are taking the longest to sell. A possible reason is that people who can afford a high end condo can also afford a single family home – and right now, the houses have come down so much in price that they are not as out of reach as they were in the past. Most likely, homebuyers are preferring to buy a house (perhaps in Cambrian Park or Willow Glen) rather than a costly condo.
Even more data:
I just ran a little more info off of MLSListings.com, our MLS provider here in the San Jose area, and see that in Los Gatos (both zip codes) 26 condos and townhomes sold & closed in the last month, and there are 132 available today. That means there are 5 months of inventory, which is just a little into the seller’s market territory.
95030 – 51 available, 6 sold in last month = 8.5 months of inventory – av sales price = $1,301,667
95032 – 81 available, 20 sold in last month = 4.05 months of inventory – av sales pr = $1,068,360
Very very interesting that it’s approximately twice as easy to sell a condo in 95032 than in 95030. In most of Santa Clara County, the most affordable homes are the ones selling the best. That general trend appears to be in full swing here in Los Gatos among the townhouse and condo market too.
If you’d like to sell or buy a Los Gatos condo or townhouse, please contact me. I’d be happy to have a confidential, no obligation conversation with you about your wants, needs and plans.
Although it can be a bit of a challenge to sell a condominium or townhome in Los Gatos, it’s not impossible if the pricing, staging, and marketing are all correct.
The Condo and Townhome market in Los Gatos is a mixed bag. Values are holding and appear to even be rising slightly, the “days on market” are short (a mere 14 days in November), and the list price to sales price ratio is amazing at over 101%. But just as with single family homes, the number of sales is way down.
Is this seasonal or is it “the market”?
One way to check against a seasonal fluctuation is to look at all recent Novembers and see how this one compares. Let’s have a look:
As you can see, the 5 closings in November is the least number of sales over the last decade. Sales are way, way off. And, like with single family homes viewed the same way (see yesterday’s post), it’s about half of what’s average.
If we look at the months of inventory, or the absorption rate, does it look any better?
The condo market remains under 6 months of inventory, which is the point at which the National Association of Realtors would say it moves from being a sellers’ market to a buyers’ market. These numbers are much better than those for the single family home market in Los Gatos (which had 8.79 months of inventory for November – and those numbers appear to be rising steadily, wheras these numbers are up and down so they appear less predictable).
As of today, there are 5 pending condos or townhouses in Los Gatos (zip codes 95030 and 95032) and a total inventory of 26 available townhomes or condominiums in town. So approximately 20% of the homes on the market are selling. Those that do sell, sell fast and apparently for a great ratio.
But that leaves 80% of the homes that aren’t selling at all. So all the good news about “fast days on market” and “great list price to sales price” is not very heartwarming to that 80% whose homes don’t seem to want to sell.
In a market like this one, buyers are passing up homes (whether houses or lofts or anything else) with “issues” like busy roads, deferred updating, and of course especially overpriced homes. The property which is fixed up, in a superior location and priced aggressively – the gem, the deal – is selling fast.
This is not a market to see if you can get a price. It’s a market for people serious about putting a home in top condition on the market, and pricing it to attract a buyer who’s frankly looking for a good deal. Your home needs to be that good deal to sell right now.
Will it be better in the spring? Possibly. The market is really not bad now. There are always overpriced homes in less than ideal locations and with less than perfect condition that don’t sell because the price isn’t low enough to compensate for the problems. So don’t let the failure of some properties worry you about yours. Just get it in the right shape and price it for what today’s market will bear (not what you want it to be worth, not what you need, not what someone else told you it is worth).
If you are buying another home after selling the condo or townhome, you are in luck. The market gets softer as you move up the ranks, and there’s a good chance you will make up for any felt loss on the next purchase. But hurry. No one knows whether it will suddenly become a different kind of market in the new year!
Call me if you’d like to chat about your real estate needs. I’m around and working through the holidays with just a couple of days off near Christmas – and I have time to visit with you and strategize to help you get the best deal when selling your home.
Wishing you and yours a very Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year (and anything else you might be celebrating in these days)!