The City of Monte Sereno is quite small, with just about 4,000 residents, so the number of houses sold in any given month will always be extremely small.
For that reason, the data may appear to jump around wildly compared to Los Gatos or Saratoga, which each have about 30,000 people living there. Please take these statistics with a tablespoon of salt, and be sure to view the Los Gatos housing market data to get a more accurate picture of what’s happening with Monte Sereno homes (just add a little to the price tag as homes there tend to sell for a bit more than LG properties).
Also, there are only single family, detached houses in Monte Sereno: no apartments, multi unit housing (2 – 4 plex), no duet homes (attached single family homes). That will be changing soon, however, as the old La Hacienda property (formerly an estate, then a hotel and restaurant) at Hwy 9 and Austin Way will likely become incorporated into Monte Sereno and condos or townhomes built there.
Also, this month’s data will show some of the effects of the pandemic on the real estate market, but not all of it, and plenty has changed since March. To learn more about how Covid-19 is affecting the local real estate market, please check Coronavirus Impact on Real Estate Sales on my other blog.
During the shutdown so far, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) stopped the timer on all Days on Market (DOM) for a time. Therefore these numbers will be off beginning from March 17th through around May 17th. In the data below, this will affect any numbers related to the days on market, the absorption rate, and the days of inventory from those months, but current numbers should be accurate.
First up for the market analysis is the Altos Research weekly profile for Monte Sereno (uses list prices, not sales – so the median sale price here is much higher than the median sale price on the solds):
This chart shows a strong seller’s market with declining market action. Prices have been holding steady, inventory is extremely low and shrinking, and days on market are up a hair.
Looking for great schools, more space, and a less suburban environment? Just beyond the borders of the Town of Los Gatos lies a collection of rural communities situated in the scenic Santa Cruz Mountains, or Coastal Range and together there are known as “The Los Gatos Mountains.” This large region sits above Almaden Valley, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, and a bit north of there in Santa Clara County, and just over the summit and toward Scotts Valley, Soquel, and Aptos in Santa Cruz County. As the description implies, it is a sprawling area and within it there are different school districts, views, levels of sunshine, natural hazards such as earthquake faults, and amenities which can all impact housing prices and real estate market trends and the market may be very different from one segment or price point to another.
All of these areas fall under the 95033 zip code and have a Los Gatos mailing address, so they are viewed together. Don’t be confused into thinking that areas in the Los Gatos Mountains are the same as the Town of Los Gatos, though – they are quite different.
95033 Los Gatos Mountains Real Estate Market Update
Unfortunately, my usual resource, the RE Report, has no section for the Los Gatos Mountains. Instead, the analysis I have written below is based off of data collected directly from the MLS over September and to date in October.
In the month of September, 6 homes sold in the 95033 mountain area of Los Gatos. Sale price ranged from $550,000 – $1,950,000 with an average of $1,055,750. Wide ranges like this are not unusual. While lot size is usually larger than in-town properties it can also vary a great deal, as does building age and size. For instance, the highest priced home had nearly 10 times the building size of the lowest priced property. Now let’s compare this with October sales, since we are coming towards the end of the month. This time, the range of sales is between $890,000 – $1,887,500 with an average of $1,330,625. What does this show us? The range is fairly consistent. In the mountain area you can still readily find properties for under $1 million – something we are not seeing in any other Los Gatos market at the moment – but you can also find large properties with big homes selling at what would be the medium to high-end for an in-town home.
What else can we learn from the sold listings in September and October? Well, the listing price tells us a lot. In September, only one of the six homes sold for higher than list, two sold exactly at list, and three sold below list price. In October, one out of four sold above list price and the rest sold for less than listed. Inventory is taking longer to sell as well. Some homes are still selling rapidly with two selling in under a week last September, but many are taking longer; in the same month, one sold that was on market for 204 days. The average days on market for September 62 days and 45 days in October, while most of the South Bay has an average of a month or less. What does this all mean? Buyers are having an easier time in the mountain market. Listings on-market longer are receiving fewer offers, and offers under list price are more regularly being accepted. The fastest selling properties where there is greatest demand and where homes have sold over list are within a range of $1 – $1.3 million, which would be considered entry-level in the rest of town but is mid-priced here.
So what about active listings? There are currently 15 active properties on the market. The most recent listing has been on the market only 4 days, while the longest has been active for 238, with the average being 117 days on market. List price ranges from $550,000 – $5,800,000 with an average list price of $1,863,267. Another way to tell that this market is cooler than elsewhere in Silicon Valley is the number of active vs sold, which shows that there is a lower ratio of demand to inventory in the mountain market.
Although the market is noticeably cooler in the mountains than in town and many other areas around South Bay, the market here is still more active than it usually is. Buyers not wanting to deal with the stress of the strained seller’s market, or who are looking for lower-priced homes and don’t mind the drive and other special concerns with hillside properties will find the Los Gatos 95033 market to be a good option.
Mountain Market Trends by Quartile
Below is a chart taken from the October 2017 Altos Research market update. It divides properties into four price quartiles to show variances in market trend. Surprisingly, the last year has been looking a little backwards with prices rising in winter and falling in spring. This might have to do with the available inventory elsewhere, since we typically see more homes go on market around spring and inventory lessening in winter, giving buyers fewer options. The luxury market bounces around a lot because of the extreme variety of homes in that range.
Live Altos Charts
While I do not frequently update the Los Gatos Mountain market post (there are agents who specialize in the mountain market – I am not one of them, though I have sold a number of mountain homes) the charts below will always be up to date. These are live charts, regularly updated and constantly tracking sales and listings from the MLS.
The median list price of homes for sale in the Los Gatos Mountains 95033 – all price points combined:
The median list price of homes for sale in the Los Gatos Mountains 95033 – showing info by price quartile:
Average days on the market (number of days the home’s been listed for sale on the MLS), all price points combined:
Average days on the market for 95033 by pricing tier – it’s typically erratic as the amount of inventory tends to be small:
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How’s the Real Estate Market in the Los Gatos Mountains 95033?
The Los Gatos real estate market varies by zip code, school district, neighborhood and price point. Today we’ll view it by zip code (95030, 95032 and 95033 – the latter is the Los Gatos Mountains area and is not part of the “town” but has a Los Gatos mailing address and is generally considered Los Gatos if not properly or officially part of the town).
1.) First, let’s look at single family homes and some key stats (coming from Altos Research and will be updated weekly):
the median list price of single family homes in these 3 zip codes in Los Gatos plus the city of Monte Sereno, the total inventory of homes for sale in Los Gatos by zip code, homes absorbed, average list price, price per square foot, median lot size, average age, nad more.
Los Gatos 95030 real estate market data:
Los Gatos 95032 real estate market statistic:
Los Gatos Mountains (not “in town”) 95033 housing market information:
Monte Sereno – not a part of Los Gatos but shares many services, so they are often intertwined:
2) Next, let’s see how some of these real estate statistic look compared to recent months – below please find the MEDIAN LIST PRICE (not sale price) of homes by zip code, separated out by pricing quartile:
95030 is mostly Los Gatos, but some homes will be in Monte Sereno
95032 is 99% Los Gatos and 1% or so Monte Sereno
The Los Gatos Mountains area – 95033 (more remote and usually far, far more affordable than the town of Los Gatos)
It’s early October – many years, we experience an influx of inventory in Los Gatos homes for sale at about this time (between Labor Day and Halloween). Not this year, though. It seems that the uptick in available homes for sale mostly happens in years where it’s a seller’s market. The Los Gatos & Monte Serenoreal estate market, especially in the 95030 zip code, where prices continue to fall, has not been a seller’s market in most price ranges recently. It appears that many homeowners are holding onto their homes for now – probably until the market recovers. My buyers are noticing the lack of inventory too.
(On a side note: I do have buyers looking for a turnkey Los Gatos home with 4 bedrooms, 2 baths and a less than 10,000 sf lot for up to 1.5 million. Nothing currently on the market is a fit for them – if you have a home that might work, or know of one not currently on the market, please let me know. Either zip code or school area is OK.)
Today we’ll have a look at the list prices and inventory for two zip codes, which combined generally make up the area included in the Town of Los Gatos and also the City of Monte Sereno: 95030 and 95032. 95030 is Los Gatos and also Monte Sereno. (There are some funky exceptions: one area with the 95032 zip code out by Pollard and Quito actually belongs to Campbell but has a Los Gatos address for postal reasons. Another area near National and Carlton along the Cambrian border has a San Jose, 95124 mailing address but is actually Los Gatos – same thing, for postal reasons the mailing address is off.)
Another caveat – and a big one – is that today’s study does not include a breakdown by school district. This can be a leading indicator of how your particular neighborhood might be faring. Altos does not use this criteria so I can’t factor it in with this study. On August 24th, I did a post on my Valley of Hearts Delight blog on the Los Gatos Real Estate Market that did include the school district information. This is great data but takes many hours to assemble, so it’s not something I can provide often. But have a look there too – many of the trends are unchanged, even if the exact numbers are different:
The charts below were created by me with Altos Research, to which I have a subscription and the right to publish the charts. Altos uses LIST PRICES in its data fyi.
List prices with both zip codes combined, market separated out by quartile over the last 6 months:
Just 95030 – closer to downtown, usually, than most of 95032, and almost 100% “in the schools”, this is a more expensive place to live than 95032:
Now just 95032:
Now inventory – the upper cluster of quartiles is 95032, the lower one is 95030:
Combining quartiles is a little easier (a quartile is 25% of the market so of course the four tiers will always be about the name in number as each other).
What’s interesting is that although the 95030 zip code is usually more in demand (due to downtown Los Gatos proximity and the famed schools), those more expensive homes have not been getting scooped up by the market quite as fast as the homes in 95032. The latter are more affordable – and affordability is key in most price points. The days on market for Los Gatos homes for sale by zip code and quartile:
Altos provides a “median market action index” (greater than 30 is a sellers market) that is quite interesting – note the huge difference:
Next, by zip code and price quartile. 95030 is “all over the board, with some parts trending downward and others moving upward…
Now for Los Gatos 95032, which seems to be behaving more as a unified group than 95030:
In most of the 95032 price points, the market’s been improving. It’s still a buyer’s market, but until August or September, it was improving steadily.
How’s the market? Really needs to be, “how’s your specific market?” The lowest price points in 95030 are selling well – which has been the case for months. The most expensive homes in 95030 are lagging the most – which has also been the trend. The less expensive homes in 95032 are faring better overall. If we were to break 95032 down by school district (as I did in the post referenced above), we’d find that the homes selling the best are the ones with Los Gatos Schools (not Moreland or Union).
For information on your particular corner of the Los Gatos real estate market or the Monte Sereno real estate market, please contact me. I’d be happy to chat with you – no obligation.
Are home prices rising in Los Gatos? It does appear that way. What is reported, though, may not be what it seems.
Below are the stats for the closed sales in July – they are still off, year over year, considerably, but they are up from the month before.
Los Gatos Single Family Home Statistics – Closed Sales
Trends At a Glance
No. of Sales
Sale vs. List Price
Days on Market
Los Gatos Condominium and Townhouse Statistics – Closed Sales
Trends At a Glance
No. of Sales
Sale vs. List Price
Days on Market
What does it mean?
Clearly, while single family home sold prices are higher than a month ago, this is not the case for condos and townhomes (which have been “beat up” in this market, all over San Jose and also countywide). This is our first clue that “the Los Gatos Market” is again not one unified block, with everyone benefitting equally. Rather, there are micro-markets. Part of the market is advancing strongly – the lower priced homes in the Los Gatos School District – and those homes are selling and appreciating briskly. Other parts of the market, such as the townhouse and condominium market, the luxury market, and the homes not in the Los Gatos school area, are not faring as well. In fact, most homes in Los Gatos are not selling at all, and overall, it is still very much a buyer’s market, but it IS improving.
Below, please see a chart displaying the “market barometer” for Los Gatos. N the gap between the number of properties on the market (168) and those sold (28) – divide the former by the latter to get the “months of inventory”, which is 6 months right now. According to the National Association of Realtors, 6 months is a “balanced market” or a “neutral market”.
How can this be? How is it possible for it to be a neutral market (or in some segments of Los Gatos, a buyer’s market) when prices are rising (and homebuyers are experiencing multiple offers in places)?
It’s not happening in every segment of the Los Gatos market, that’s how. The homes that are selling are doing well. But many – most – remain unsold.
Broad sweep – here’s a view of inventory by Los Gatos zip code (95030 and 95032):
As you can see, inventory is rising among homes in the 95030 part of Los Gatos, but falling among 95032 (often more affordable).
Here’s the 95030 zip code area by price quartile:
And here’s the 95032 part of Los Gatos by price quartile:
Unfortunately, I cannot break out the school district differential with this subscription, but anecdotal information indicates that homes “in the schools” are the ones selling with multiple offers if they are priced low (close to or under $1 million). So I went to the MLS and checked a few numbers myself.
Right now in 95030 and 95032, there are 47 single family homes for sale in the Campbell Union High School District (meaning Leigh High & Westmont High), and 4 closed sales of the same in the last month. That is an 11.75 month supply of inventory.
Right now in 95030 and 95032 there are 159 single family homes for sale in the Los Gatos-Saratoga High School District, with 28 closed sales in the last month, which is a 5.67 month supply of inventory.
Price point aside
, the school district is the driving force.
List prices by zip code in Los Gatos:
Prices are rising more in the 95032 part of Los Gatos than in the less-affordable 95030 part of town. Knowing what we do about the months of inventory, what we see are that the most affordable homes with the schools are the “hot” segment of the market.
What homes are these? The ones where a buyer can get into a single family home for close to a million dollars or less (up to about 1.3 mil max) and enjoy the Los Gatos Schools. Even so, houses must be “turnkey” and priced aggressively.
Homes outside of this parameter – which is most of the Los Gatos real estate market – are struggling.
Please contact me for help in buying or selling a home anywhere in Los Gatos.
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).
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.
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.
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 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).
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
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.
To the left is a photo I took a few weeks back from the far edge of Los Gatos – up on Harwood Road (where you aren’t allowed to park your car so this shot was taken from the window of my automobile). That’s downtown San Jose in the distance. Behind me are the Santa Cruz Mountains, aka the Coastal Range. Across from me, beyond downtown San Jose, you see the eastern foothills. Beyond them, at some distance, is the Central Valley.
This valley, the Santa Clara Valley, was once known as “The Valley of the Heart’s Delight”. Los Gatos lies at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains and is a town you’d need to pass through to get to Santa Cruz and the beach. It s a vibrant part of life in SIlicon Valley, though it has only a little industry (Netflix being the biggest Los Gatos employer and tax generator). Most homes don’t have a great view like this, but many do have views of the hills – and those are lovely too.
How’s the Los Gatos real estate market?
So how’s the market in this very scenic corner of the valley? Well, it depends on your price point. For Los Gatos, the most affordable (i.e., really middle class) housing is going fast. Inventory is low. In fact, in January there were 100 homes for sale (not a lot) and as of this moment, there are just 89. We have 36 homes “pending”. Most of these are not at the high end of the spectrum. Prices in our fair town (not a city, but a town – just to be clear) range from a low of $799,000 to over $15 million for single family homes. By and large, the homes under $1.5 million are flying off the market. But there just aren’t that many buyers for homes over $10 million.
In my own neighborhood, Belwood of Los Gatos, there are about 500 homes and last year about 10 of them sold. This is an exceptionally low-turnover neighborhood. Prices in 2006 averaged about $1,230,000 for a home with about 2400 square feet. Right now there’s exactly one home for sale, it’s not far from the average size but it’s listed at $1,380,000. Will it sell for that much? I have no idea. If it does sell close to that price, we will know that prices are rising again. I cannot wait to see this home myself – naturally I want my home to appreciate in value (that is, until I think about my kids hopefully being in the housing market themselves in 10 years…then I hope it just climbs very, very slowly). You can check out the housing situation in Belwood by visiting my site, www.BelwoodOfLosGatos.com and clicking on the “Homes Info” button, or navigate there directly by using this link: http://www.belwoodoflosgatos.com/more/index.cfm?Fuseaction=more_11917 Historical information for recent years is on the following page, which you can reach at the top of the Homes Info page.
So how’s the market? If you are the owner of a high end home and you need to sell, you will say it’s awful. If you own a nicely updated, well priced middle class home, you would say it’s a market that is great for sellers and a little rough on buyers. If your home is not in great shape or is not priced in the bottom third of its competition, you might be convinced it’s a terribly strong buyer’s market. Truth is, it is close to balanced for most homes. It can be a win-win market, but everyone has to be realistic and be prepared to do a little work. But that would be true for most worthwhile things in life: they tend to need a dose of realism and some effort.