Although locals refer to the Santa Cruz Mountains as “the hill”, the coastal ranges have seemingly countless hills, peaks, valleys, and gluches winding between the Santa Clara Valley and the beach. Several of the hills and peaks have names (if they all do, I’m not aware of it), one of them being Collord’s Peak, which you can read about at the corner of East Main Street and High School Court. In the image below, there’s a very tall peak, El Sombroso, with a nearer and lower peak in the foreground – that one is Collord’s peak.
It was not possible for me to show both the hills in the distance and the plaque equally well lit, so here’s a closeup of the plaque honoring Victor R. Collord.
Maps can be so intriguing, and they can be a dangerous rabbit hole into which my time somehow disappears if I’m not careful. Today I was viewing a topographical map of Los Gatos when I stumbled upon a place in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Los Gatos (aka the Los Gatos Mountains) with the curious name of Hooker Gulch. That same site is an interactive map with many place names that I never heard of in the coastal range, all of them begging for research. (Click at your own risk.)
Here are a few of odd and fascinating place names in the hills:
Hooker Gulch (also Hooker Gulch Creek, which feeds into the Los Gatos Creek)
And many other “gulch” names: Moody Gulch, Austrian Gulch, Jacques Gulch, etc.
Where is Hooker Gulch?
The steep valley is located near the end of Aldercroft Heights Road (public section of the road), close to Aldercroft Heights, Lexington Hills, and Holy City in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is just south of Old Gold Mine Road.
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?
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 Luxury Home Real Estate Market in Los Gatos & Monte Sereno: today I crunched the numbers from MLS Listings to get the absorption rate or months of inventory for estate properties over $2,000,000 in Los Gatos 95030, Los Gatos 95032, Monte Sereno (both 95030 & 95032), and the Los Gatos Mountains 95033. Monte Sereno is a red hot market for estate properties, while the Los Gatos Mountain areas are not moving a lot of super expensive properties. Have a look below.
Next we’ll look at live charts from Altos Research (to which I have a subscription)
List prices of homes for sale in the topmost price quartile in Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and the Los Gatos Mountains
The market is heating up in Los Gatos as of about 4 weeks ago with new sales commenced. These will not be reflected in the closed sales until early March, so please take the ‘solds’ info below with a grain of salt and keep the changed market conditions in mind!
Below please find the statistics and numbers for house sales in the town of Los Gatos (95030 and 95032), including county pockets, which closed in the month of February 2013. The median price is down both month over month and also year over year. It has been softer in Los Gatos than in many Silicon Valley communities right now.
Trends At a Glance
No. of Sales
Short Sales Sold
Active Short Sales
Sales Price vs. List Price
Days on Market
Inventory is low all over – and Los Gatos is no exception, though inventory did go up a bit countywide from January 2013 to Feb 2013. How bad is it? Off 30% from a year ago (and inventory was low then: Feb 2012 was 86, Feb 2011 was 132 available houses).
Days on market: The figure for February of 88 days on market for sold properties reflects the DOM of houses that closed in February and most likely went into contract in January, or possibly December – both of which were “cooler” times than the shift we saw take place in early February 2013.
How long have the currently available single family homes in LG been on the market?
As of this moment, in 95030 and 95032 combined there are just 76 single family homes for sale. Most haven’t been on all that long, in fact, appx 64% or 2/3 have been on the market for 60 days or less, and exactly half of the available inventory has been on the market for 1 month or less. Let’s see the breakdown in one-month increments of the number of homes in each time bracket.:
How long were the under contract single family homes in LG on the market?
I won’t repeat this level of detail for the Los Gatos houses which are sale pending or under contract (real estate agents: status 3 & 4), but the average days on market for those 17 pending properties is 26 and of these, only 2 were more than 30 days (1 sold with 49 DOM and another 191 DOM). In other words, when homes sell now, they are selling faster than the DOM from the closed sales in February would reveal. This will show up in March’s statistics next month.
Are there multiple offers in Los Gatos, and overbids?
Yes, there are some of each. I did a spot check of the sales for the last 7 days and the last 14 days and in both cases, the average sales price was higher than the average list price. For the last 7 days, there were 8 closed sales, 4 above list, 1 at list price and 3 below.)
Dramatic improvement in the median and average sales price of condos and townhomes in town year over year as well as from the prior month.
Trends At a Glance
No. of Sales
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Short Sales Sold
Active Short Sales
Sales Price vs. List Price
Days on Market
The Monte Sereno real estate market
Monte Sereno houses (no condos in MS) – primarily 95030 but a smattering of 95032 also. There are so few homes in Monte Sereno (just 4,000 residents) that the sales numbers are very easily skewed. Disclaimers aside, here are the Monte Sereno market stats:
A more affordable, but beautiful, place to live is in the coastal foothills over the town of Los Gatos. The communities there are closely affiliated with the town of Los Gatos, if distinct! This area is always tougher to sell, and slower to appreciate. Prices here aren’t much better, and possibly worse off (depending on the area, price point etc.), than a year ago.
Altos Live Charts for Los Gatos 95030 and 95032 plus Los Gatos Mountains 95033 and Monte Sereno Real Estate
Next please enjoy the live Altos charts, which are updated automatically each week – each segment is a little different than the others (and the reports would be more diverse still if we broke these down further, by price quartile – – sign up below if you want these delivered to you via email each week).
As you can see, pricing is stronger in 95030 than in 95032. This may be due to the schools (only a little of 95030 is in the Campbell Union High School District, but a larger portion of 95032 is). The strong Los Gatos schools are a major driver of desireability – but not the only one. Many people want to have the “walk to town” element, even if their kids are in private schools.
Holy City lies about 10 miles south of downtown Los Gatos in the Santa Cruz Mountains along the Old Santa Cruz Highway. It has a colorful past and at one time was a frequent tourist stop on the way to the coast, but when Highway 17 went in, the area was bypassed and today is mostly a ghost town.
With 142 lush and scenic acres, 11 distinct parcels, a house and a glass shop, a running creek, tall redwoods and wide meadows, the area has more than just a little potential – and all of it is for sale. The parcels range from 1/2 acre to 52 acres in size. The house sits on 12 acres. Ducky Grabill, a Realtor in my office, has listed this beautiful and unique property. It is offered at $7,500,000.
Holy City – 21200 Old Santa Cruz Highway, Los Gatos, CA 95033