A resource for folks living in or moving to Los Gatos, by Mary Pope-Handy


How is the Los Gatos Real Estate Market Now?

May 02, 2008

It remains a buyer’s market in Los Gatos, but not as deep a buyer’s market as in many other parts of Silicon Valley.

Below please find links to reports on the local Los Gatos housing market, broken down by zip code and housing type, current as of April 28, 2008.  One of the most helpful aspects of the Altos reports is that it breaks the activity down by market quartiles, so that the activity in entry level homes, for instance, is differentiated from the luxury home market. Have a look:

Los Gatos Single Family Homes in 95030

Los Gatos Single Family Homes in 95032

Los Gatos Condos and Townhomes in 95030

Los Gatos Condos and Townhomes in 95032

These are care of Altos Research, which uses list prices (rather than sales prices). In a week or so we’ll have the data on solds in Los Gatos from April, care of another subscription I have, the Real Estate Report. Please check back soon to get that information.

When is the Best Time to Buy or Sell a Home in Los Gatos?

April 05, 2008

Sold Sign - Mary Pope-HandyIs there a “best time” to buy or sell a home in Los Gatos, Saratoga, or San Jose?  That’s a question I get a lot. The answer is not so clear as many people would like.

Often we have some seasonally predictable patterns. Let’s look at them.

Winter: inventory tends to be very low in winter (from late November until somewhere between New Year’s, the Superbowl, and Valentine’s Day). Each year it’s slightly different, but in that “dead of winter” (as much as we have it here in The Valley of Heart’s Delight) is usually the time with the lowest number of sales, the best prices for buyers, the most “absorption” for sellers, the best interest rates, but the LEAST inventory to choose from. So you may get a good price as a buyer, but may not have much to choose from. Sellers may have the best odds of selling a home during this time because there are so few homes to choose from, and some buyers are anxious to close during the calendar year for tax or other reasons.

Spring: What’s best for sellers? Most years (but not all) that “best window” is from February through April. On a good year, it may continue into May. Some years, that “best window” for sellers is just a couple of weeks in March. Other years, it moves around and could be earlier, later, longer or shorter. Or just not happen at all. For buyers, spring brings a new influx of inventory and often decent rates. As more buyers come on the market, interest rates tend to creep up most years (a supply and demand issue).

Calla Lily - photo by Mary Pope-HandySummer: Somewhere around June, though, the tide begins to turn and by mid to late summer, sales have slowed considerably and sometimes prices even drop by about August. It varies from year to year. This can be a great time for buyers – lots of inventory to choose from, Interest rates may not be their cheapest, though.

Fall: Many years, there is a second rally (besides the one that happens near March) with a mini flurry of activity between Labor Day and Halloween. That can often be an excellent time to sell or to buy (more inventory than August or November/December).

There are pros and cons to each time on the market for both buyers and sellers. Depending on your home, any time can work. Traditionally, spring is viewed as best for both because there is a good supply of inventory but it doesn’t linger too long. So in some ways, spring is the most balanced market. Any time of year CAN work, though. So do not tie your buying decision soley to something like the school year, the interest rates, or the holidays. Call me if you’d like to discuss your individual situation.

Understanding the Los Gatos Real Estate Market Trends

February 15, 2008

The post below was written in February 2008. To see the most current information on the Los Gatos real estate market, please click here. You’ll get all the posts on Los Gatos homes & housing market (including some posts on Monte Sereno, the Los Gatos Mountains and nearby areas.)

Feb 15, 2008: A few days ago, I did a post about the biggest, most common mistakes sellers make that cause their homes to not sell. The # 1 error is overpricing, and often that’s connected with hiring an agent who tells you what you want to hear instead of what you need to hear (or sometimes it’s the agent not understanding the market and accidentally misguiding the owner).

Are prices rising or falling in Los Gatos? Both! It depends on what part of town, what price point, what school district, you are considering. We don’t have just “one market”. It is imperative to understand the micro-markets to get the pricing right.

So let’s look at “the market” and “the markets”. Let’s have a look at the information that homeowners are using to determine how to price their Los Gatos (or Saratoga, or San Jose) home. Below, see a general view of the “Los Gatos Real Estate Market” for single family homes (very broad, including two zip codes and even more school districts). This is relating to list price, not sold prices.

Los Gatos Median Home Prices, single family homes, last 12 months











Would this help you to understand pricing trends? To a degree, yes it would.

But it would also add a lot of insight to see how the market is performing within zip codes:

Median Price in Los Gatos over last 12 months in the 95032 zip code









As you can see, there is a vast difference in performance between the town as a whole and the 95032 zip code.

Los Gatos median home prices, single family homes, last 12 months, 95030 zip code











What is going on here? Clearly, the 95030 part of town shows rising list prices, while offered amounts in 95032 have been falling. The zip codes are a little different demographically, with 95030 being more expensive and being all within the prized Los Gatos School District. Some of 95032 is in that same district, but some is assigned to the Union School District or the Moreland School District. (Unfortunately my data is not available by schools.)

Another point to consider is the pricing range. Here’s a view of Los Gatos single family homes by listed price quartiles:

Los Gatos Single Family Home Median Prices over last 12 months by quartile










The town overall appears to be “flat”. But is the market really flat?

And let’s see again the quartiles, but this time broken out by zip code:

Median sales prices of single family homes in Los Gatos over last 12 months in 95032










In 95032 you see a distinct slide in the 2 middle percentiles especially, but also in the lowest range of homes.

Now let’s see how things look in 95030:

Median home prices of single family homes in Los Gatos, last 12 months, in 95030











In contrast, pricing are rising across the board in the 95030 area. The highest cost homes have suffered the most volatility in the market.

For months, we’ve heard that we have a “bifurcated market” here in Silicon Valley. We know that homes in east San Jose, south San Jose, and south county are under a huge oppression of short sales and foreclosures. Prices have fallen dramatically. At the same time, homes in Palo Alto and areas closest to it are experiencing a strong sellers market. Los Gatos does not have a ton of short sales or foreclosures, but it does have both a buyers market and a sellers market all at the same time.

The above chart looks like there isn’t much movement, just a slow and gradual upward push…but have a peek along the quartile lines and you’ll see it’s not really flat. Here’s a view of the 1st quartile of each zip code over the last year (I’m not going to run all 4 here, contact me if you want more info about a different price point):

Los Gatos, 95032 median prices of SFH in the lowest quartile over last year

and …

Los Gatos, 95030, median prices of home sales over the last month in the lowest quartile of price ranges

If a home is “in the schools” and has no issues (like high voltage lines, train tracks, busy road, or a disfunctional floorplan), and if it’s priced between one and two and a half million and is priced appropriately, marketed well etc, there’s a good chance it’s going to receive multiple offers.

If a home is NOT in the Los Gatos School District, prices are falling and buyers are probably waiting rather than buying in most neighborhoods.

To complicate matters, we have very few solds to use as comparable properties. If agents and sellers are using “comps” from 6 or 9 months ago (when the last similar home sold), they might be too low in 95030 and too high in 95032 (mostly along school lines, in my experience). It is imperative to adjust for market conditions. For example, if a home was worth $1,500,000 last March (since the charts begin there), it has possibly swung up or down in value by $100,000 t
o $200,000 depending on the area of town.

Warning: if you are in an area where prices are falling and you list your home too high, you may experience the unpleasant phenomena of “chasing the market down”. A Realtor friend of mine from Long Beach, Laurie Manny, did a post on this topic that I highly recommend: “Chasing the Market Down – Are You Guilty?

What is the market in your area of town doing? I would welcome feedback. Are homes selling, and if so, are they going fast? Are they “just sitting” and taking price reductions? What do you see happening in your area, with your type of property? Feedback is posted immediately – please chime in!

(Coming soon – a similar post on condos and townhomes in Los Gatos.)

Los Gatos Real Estate Market Review for December and 2007

January 09, 2008

The numbers are in for December 2007 and the real estate market in San Jose, Santa Clara County, Silicon Valley, and Los Gatos, to name a few areas.

liveinlosgatos chart of los gatos homes prices vs sales - Los Gatos Real Estate Market Review for December and 2007

Cliff notes version: prices are holding, or even going up in areas year over year (this last December compared to the one before). But sales are decidedly down. So again, if most homes are NOT selling, it’s not much consolation that values are rising. It’s a mixed message, but that’s precisely what is happening. A great home in a great area with a great price (low) will sell and for “top dollar”. Anything less, no such luck!

If you would like DETAILED information on San Jose (and by district, such as Almaden Valley, Cambrian Park, Evergreen, Willow Glen, West San Jose, etc.) and the cities and towns that comprise Silicon Valley or Santa Clara County, including Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell, Santa Clara, Los Altos, etc., please visit my just-updated Real Estate Report. You will find monthly and annual information on all of these areas and more. And if you’d like a commentary on how to make sense of it, please download my newsletter, which is 18 pages long and in pdf format:

Right now it’s quiet for many of us on the real estate front – and that is not untypical though I usually am busier in January than I am now! Things often pick up in February just after the SuperBowl. (At my house, we are cheering on the Patriots – you may know that I’m related to the Q there, so we are perhaps biased, but not too much.)

I would say to buyers: prices are NOT going down in the best parts of Santa Clara County. Interest rates are good. Inventory favors you. BUY NOW. Homes are not going down in price while you wait!

And to sellers I would say this: yes, prices are going up, but still most homes are not selling. If you wait, you risk having much more competition in the marketplace. If you’re ready to sell, get your home on the market NOW.

Each situation is different. Please email or call me for specific input and assistance. I do offer a free one hour consultation to prospective clients.

Happy New Year!








Is Now a Good Time to Buy or Sell a Home in Los Gatos?

January 04, 2008

Is January a good month to list your home, or to make an offer on one, in Los Gatos? When is the best time to buy or sell?

In auto sales, it’s said that making an offer on a car the last day of the month, especially if it is a rainy, “slow day”, can result in a good bargain. Is that true in buying a house in Los Gatos too?

Auto sales and real estate sales are not the same, but they can respond to the same economic factors, among others. Predictions for 2008 are very mixed. The weather, though, also impacts sales in both areas.

What about the weather? As I type this, it’s pouring rain, the wind is howling and my power here in Belwood has browned out 3 times in the last 2 minutes. This is not the kind of weather that brings most buyers out to shop! So competition will be less for the best homes. Interest rates, too, often rise in mid-February as demand increases. There’s not a ton of inventory at the moment, but it’s very possible that the “best deal of the year” for getting that condo, townhome or house here in the west valley will be had right now.

No one can say with any certainty whether the realty market will be more or less favorable in a month, but I would say to buyers who are serious about purchasing a home this year: do look now. If you see a home you like, make an offer. And sellers, most of your competition will wait for fairer days. Right now, that’s not much of an issue.

What’s the inventory? And sellers, is this a good time for you? Right now,inventory is low: there are exactly 95 single family homes that are on the market in the 95030 and 95032 zip codes. There are just 22 condominiums or townhouses in the same parts of town. Winter is not usually known as the best season to sell, but there is also far less competition now than there might be later in the year. And buyers who come out to view homes in the middle of January’s weather are usually very serious about writing a contract to purchase a house.

What about pricing? Home sales have been plummeting for 34 solid months. Most homes in most parts of Silicon Valley are not selling. (Believe it or not, even in a hot sellers market, not all homes sell. A percentage are always overpriced, in poor condition, or marketed so badly that they do not procure an offer that goes through.) Los Gatos, and neighboring Monte Sereno, Saratoga, and Almaden Valley, are stronger than many parts of the valley – in large part because of the quality of life in these areas, the low crime, the well-kept neighborhoods, and the great school scores. Those factors make some areas desirable in any market. So while you might find a foreclosure emporium in some parts of Santa Clara County, you won’t find it in this part of the Valley of Heart’s Delight! Short sales and foreclosures pull prices down, perhaps by as much as 10 percent, in areas where those occur. But prices in the town of Los Gatos and the lovely areas adjacent are continuing to rise.

The future of real estate sales in Silicon Valley is a bit uncertain for this new year, perhaps especially since it is an election year. We truly don’t know how long the sales slump here will last. If homeowners need to sell, it is probably best to get the home on the market sooner rather than later since the competition is not very great at the moment. Buyers can gain on this market now by purchasing when no one else is looking and while interest rates are good and before prices rise any more. (I have often heard buyers say “I’m waiting for prices to go down” but in most markets within Los Gatos, they are simply not falling.)

“The Market” is a broad term, and really even within our fair town, there are micro-markets from east Los Gatos to downtown to the areas bordering Monte Sereno, and that is also true as relating to school districts and price points.

Right now – even with this inclement weather – can be a great time to buy and sell in Los Gatos or anywhere in the west valley areas of Silicon Valley.

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

Best regards,

liveinlosgatos marysignaturefirstnameonlyforwebjpg - Is Now a Good Time to Buy or Sell a Home in Los Gatos?

The Condo Market in Los Gatos – How Is It?

December 07, 2007

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:

Los Gatos Condos and Townhomes Closed in November of the years 1998 through 2007

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?

Closed condo and townhouse sales in Los Gatos from January 2007 through November 2007

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).

liveinlosgatos book - The Condo Market in Los Gatos - How Is It?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)!

Best regards,

Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor, CRS, ABR, EPRO, SRES, ASP, RECS, CNHS

Getting a Home to Sell in Any Market

November 27, 2007

Colorful autumn leaves at Vasona Lake County Park, Los Gatos, in November, 2007.

The autumn real estate market has been chilly in places, particularly outside of the Bay Area. The falling leaves are accompanying falling prices in some regions.

Silicon Valley is full of micro climates, or micro markets, so it’s hard to make a blanket statement about “the market”. Some segments are red hot, and others are icy cool. Even within Los Gatos that’s true. We’ve been experiencing the oddly “bifurcated market” for many months now.

What drives some segments into a sellers’ market while others languish? Why do some homes get 5 – 10 offers, and others don’t sell (or even get an offer) despite repeated efforts of seller and agents?

Usually, the leading indicator is (you can guess this) location. (And the main factor that plays into location is schools.) Other significant elements are condition, pricing, accessibility, and finally marketing.

When homes sell today with multiple offers, it’s because all five of these important aspects are right on target. The homes in great condition, in a great location with the best schools, well marketed and with an aggressive price are selling right away and with several bidders.

What You Can Control, What You Can’t in the Sale of a Home:
Location, Accessibility, Marketing, Condition and Pricing

Neither owners nor agents control the location, but every other issue is in their combined control. Let’s look at them.

Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor, Los Gatos, Saratoga, San Jose, and Silicon ValleyAccessibility is key because if the home is difficult to see, folks won’t bother. Sometimes they only have a little window of time, and if they find ithe property on the MLS on a Saturday morning, they may only have Saturday afternoon in which to take a walk through. Don’t refuse a lockbox or require all showings to be “by appointment only”, More qualified traffic means better odds that your home will sell faster and for a better price, whether it’s in Saratoga, Los Gatos, San Jose, or anywhere! Making your home easy to view is the cheapest way of helping improve your odds of selling at a good price!

Marketing is what can help buyers to find your home and to see it in its best light. It’s exposure via the web, the MLS, postcards, good flyers, open houses, networking, print ads, you name it. Some agents, though, ignore marketing! They are trained to only worry about price. It’s true that at the right price, any home can sell in any market. But a good agent doesn’t just want your home to sell, but to sell for the best price & terms in today’s market. It is crucial to get the price right, but it’s extremely important to also correctly address condition and marketing. Poor marketing is a lost opportunity and can cost you money.

A caveat: good marketing cannot sell a home with the wrong price or wrong condition. But for a home that is priced right and staged right, marketing can help sell homes for more (and in some cases create multiple offers instead of getting just one).

Condition is also key! Often a little improvement in the presentation of the home can significantly boost the sales price (fresh carpet and paint, neutralizing, decluttering, storing extra “stuff” are all usually good bets – remodeling a kitchen isn’t). Buyers want an updated home that’s tastefully done. When they see a home in original condition, or worse, it can be hard to see past it (and feels frighteningly expensive to update – it can scare them off). Agents with staging knowledge can be invaluable in helping you to “pick your battles” here.

liveinlosgatos thumb monopoly21 - Getting a Home to Sell in Any MarketPricing is by far the most important element to consider here, and a too-high price is the main cause of homes not selling.

How does this happen?

One way is in the agent selection process. Mr and Mrs Seller interview 3 or 4 agents from 3 or 4 different companies and they hire the one who tells them the highest price. (It does happen, I guarantee you!) If several agents give you a price range that’s fairly close and one is way higher, it doesn’t mean that you should hire the agent with the extremely attractive price because he or she can get it for you. It probably means that the agent is just plain mistaken. Or, to sound cynical, it could be that the agent is trying to “buy the listing”. (That is a term that means telling the seller a high price to get the listing. It is unethical and prohibited by the Realtor Code of Ethics.)

A better approach is to pick the agent and then work out the price together. Unsure on where to put the asking amount? If it’s really tricky, hire an appraiser. It’s worth it.

Sometimes the market changes for the worse as soon as your home goes on the market, and you’re left not knowing what just hit you. This happened in September of 2001 after the attacks and it happened again this September, when the market in the west valley just about came to a standstill.

liveinlosgatos thumb dollar bills - Getting a Home to Sell in Any MarketWhether the change is slow or sudden, it can be hard for sellers to believe that the home is no longer worth what it was a couple of weeks ago and they hold on to the higher price, stubbornly. This is a costly mistake, if understandable. In a buyers’ market, in fact, most homes will never sell because the sellers are futilely holding on to a past memory of what the home used to be worth.

And finally, sometimes, price is the only remedy. Sometimes homes can’t be fixed up, sometimes the hours have to be restrictive due to illness or something along those lines – these both hurt the selling price. But in that case, you can lower the offering amount to compensate and to attract a qualified buyer.

Los Gatos is mostly a “normal” or “level” market. Prices aren’t really rising or falling in most of the town – but in some strata and areas things are moving one way or the other. In a declining market, it’s extremely crucial to price your home lower than the most recenly closed sale. If you price it a little high to have “room to negotiate”, you may find that you have no one with whom to negotiate!

In summary. . . Any home can sell in any market. Right now, despite the doom and gloom you are hearing or reading about, there are local homes selling quickly and with multiple offers. These are homes “without issues”. They don’t back to schools, stores, high voltage lines, freeways or busy roads. They have good schools. They enjoy total remodeling and are priced low to get able buyers attention.

Maybe your home isn’t in the ideal location, with the best school. Maybe it’s not full of granite and high end appliances. Maybe it’s not going to get 9 offers in a week.

liveinlosgatos thumb handshake3 - Getting a Home to Sell in Any MarketBut your home, if you
want to sell it, can probably be accessible, clean and well staged, nicely marketed, and priced right. Even in today’s market, a home with one or more problems can sell within a month if the issues are addressed (by price if nothing else). The hardest one, of course, is price. It’s hard to sell at one price when a home “used to be worth” or “I thought it was worth” something else. Think of it as being like a share of a company in the stock market: some days it’s up, some days it’s down. If a stock is trading at $100 per share one day, it may be more or less the next day. You can always sell that share – if you’re willing to take the market value for it on that day. It’s the same with your home! A good agent will help you maximize that price by educating you on accessibility and condition, and marketing like crazy. But they all fit together, hand in glove.

If you keep those five elements in mind, you can sell your home in any market. This is true in my Belwood neighborhood of Los Gatos, it’s true in the Platinium Triangle of Saratoga, it’s true in San Jose’s Rosegarden area and all over California.

Call or email me if you’d like a personalized consultation on your home and the market in Santa Clara County today.

Mary Pope-Handy
Helping Nice Folks to Buy & Sell Homes Since 1993
“Get The Best Deal When Selling Your Home In Silicon Valley”
408 204-7673 (Cell)


How's the market? search for homes now

The Weather is CoolingAnd So Is the Market

September 28, 2007

In early October, we’ll get a great breakdown of the September market from various sources. Retrospect is always 20/20, they say.

But I’m impatient and want to know NOW what’s happening. I’m seeing a slowdown in market areas that were previously fairly robust.

One way of getting a pulse on the market is to check the amount of homes going under contract. So I did a quick sampling of condos, townhomes, and single family homes that sold (not closed, but went pending) in recent weeks. Here’s what I found:

Aug 30 – Sept 6 (Labor Day timeperiod) – 6 sales (starting inventory of 128)
Sept 7 -13 17 sales (starting inventory of 120)
Sept 14 – 20 16 sales (starting inventory of 115)
Sept 21- 27 12 sales (starting inventory of 125)

Inventory has stayed fairly consistent (bouncing around just a little) but sales have been dropping in the last three weeks. So yes, the market in Los Gatos is cooling overall.

A neat place to see graphs and charts on the housing climate is Altos Research. There’s a widget on the right margin of this blog and if you click on it, it will bring you to their website and give more data on the real estate market.

And in a week or so I’ll have more data still on our changing housing market here in Los Gatos.

How's the real estate market in Los Gatos?

July 05, 2007

glasses - How's the real estate market in Los Gatos?The numbers for June’s real estate closings are in. How does it look?

Overall, things are “OK” in Los Gatos. It is a bit of a buyer’s market, but not a strong one. Certainly things are not nearly as difficult as on the east side of the valley for selling(Alum Rock, Berryessa, south San Jose), where sales have almost ground to a halt. Things are selling in Los Gatos. Just not everything, at every price and every condition. So yes, you can sell, but you have to be serious about it and not just “test the waters” to “see if you can get your price”. Buyers, it’s a pretty decent time to buy. No one is giving away homes in Los Gatos, but serious sellers are willing to negotiate to get their home sold. Don’t be afraid – give it a good shot and you will likely be successful!

In our high-tech, data-driven valley, everyone wants to see the numbers. So below, we’ll view them.

Let’s look at the absorption rate first. This is the number that reflects the “months of inventory” or how long it would take to sell off everything currently listed if nothing new were to come onto the market. If that is not plain, think of it like a bathtub full of water. If we pulled the drain (but did not allow any new water to enter the tub), how long would it take for the water currently there to empty out?

For this absorption rate, I used single family homes in Area 16, which our MLS provider identifies as the Los Gatos area (it’s close to accurate – there are some San Jose homes in area 16 but not many, most are Los Gatos addresses and properly within the town of Los Gatos).  (This number is derived by dividing the current inventory by the number of closed sales for that period.) Obviously, for sellers, a shorter rate is better:

Absorption rate for single family homes in Los Gatos

The absorption rate is better for sellers than a year ago (June 2007 3.3, June 2006, 4). For the National Association of Realtors, anything under 6  months is considered a seller’s market. But in our area, that is an unusually long time so we consider other factors, such as the list price to sales price ratio, etc.

Year over year, things are better than this time last year for sellers. They are also improved over a month ago, though not quite as good as the closeds for April (reflecting sales in March, which was the best month of the year to date for selling).

Another factor to consider is the list price to sales price ratio. This, too, improved noticeably and more closely resembled April’s closings/March’s sales, but didn’t quite match it. With this number, we normally view anything over 100% as a seller’s market. Right now it’s not as good as it was earlier in the year, when the numbers ranged from 98-99%. Compared to many places in the country, this list price to sales price ratio is great. This number indicates that it is not a seller’s market. But it is not a super strong buyer’s market, either.

June 2007         97.57
May  2007        95.75
April 2007         97.88
March 2007       98.42
February 2007   98.91
January 2007     98.54
December 2006  96.27
November 2006   97.26
October 2006      98.7
September 2006  94.83
August 2006        97.4
July 2006            98.24
June 2006           98.7

For this ratio of list price to sales price, the Los Gatos single family home market has slipped from a year ago. This indicator is a bit different than others we’re seeing.

The number of new listings has slowed down, and the total inventory has declined a little bit. Sales are keeping pace. These are keeping Los Gatos from slipping into a true or strong buyer’s market.

                       New Listings    Current Inventory

June 2007         58                      134
May  2007         69                     153
April 2007         73                      136
March 2007       62                      118
February 2007   45                      103
January 2007     54                      100
December 2006  11                       81
November 2006   29                      127
October 2006      46                      144
September 2006  85                      171
August 2006        81                      164
July 2006            67                      166
June 2006           87                      170

Visually, it looks like this:
june 06 to june 07 lg sfh new listing to inventory ratio(1) - How's the real estate market in Los Gatos?

On this front, it is really a much better market for sellers than a year ago as we have about 20% fewer single family homes on the market now as we did then.

 How about the simple number of closed sales? The newspaper keeps reporting that the number of sales are off statewide and countywide. But in Los Gatos, sales for the last 3 months have been close to (and quarte
r over quarter a little higher than) a year ago.

June 2007  &nb
sp;     41
May  2007        33
April 2007         45

March 2007       30
February 2007   29
January 2007     27
December 2006  24
November 2006   31
October 2006      41
September 2006  19
August 2006        35
July 2006            24
June 2006          42
May 2006           36
April 2006          34

Days on Market (or Continuous Days on Market) is not as strong an indicator as the Absorption Rate, but everyone wants to know about these numbers. Let’s look at them next – we will view the CONTINUOUS Days on Market here:

June 2007        37
May  2007        78
April 2007         60

March 2007       65
February 2007   48
January 2007     101
December 2006  82
November 2006   69
October 2006      68
September 2006  80
August 2006        55
July 2006            45
June 2006          46
May 2006           61
April 2006          29

Seems that things are moving around a bit but quarter over quarter, the continuous days on market are longer than a year ago.

In summary, I think Los Gatos is mostly “holding steady”. I do not see a deepening buyer’s market. Nor do I see a quick turnaround back to a seller’s market.

What often happens here in Silicon Valley is that we find ourselves in a ten year pattern in which prices rise (then spike), decline a bit (but not as much as the runup) and then go flat while we catch our breath and wait for it to all begin again. Only in hindsight do we ever really know where we are in the cycle, but it appears to me that we are in the flat, recovery period right now.

The plus to this kind of market is that it is more calm. For people who want to do a move up, this type of market provides enough momentum to sell, but not so much crazy competition that it’s difficult to find a replacement home.

Every home, neighborhood and price range is unique. For specific information on your particular home and needs, please contact me.
Mary Pope-Handy

Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor, CRS, ABR, e-PRO, SRES, ASP, RECS, CNHS
Helping Nice Folks to Buy & Sell Homes Since 1993
Co-Author: “Get The Best Deal When Selling Your Home In Silicon Valley”
Intero Real Estate Services, Los Gatos, CA (Silicon Valley)
408 357-5760 (Direct); 408 204-7673 (Cell); 408 715-0201 (eFax)
www.PopeHandy.com’ www.ValleyOfHeartsDelight.com
www.Move2SiliconValley.com www.SiliconValleySeniorsGuide.com  
emailto: Mary@PopeHandy.com

Time Vs. Money

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:

The Real Estate Report (web based, interactive, clickable links)

The Real Estate Report (printable PDF file)

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.

Mary Pope-Handy

Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at) PopeHandy.com
License# 01153805

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