Countywide, prices are marching upward! It is a HOT seller’s market in the lower price ranges of Silicon Valley, especially if a home is not a distressed sale. Rising prices bring a cooler market in most areas and price points, though.
Los Gatos is a mixed bag too. Lower priced homes “in the schools” are selling nicely. Although it’s more challenging to sell higher priced homes, there are quite a few homes over $2,000,000 which are sale pending.
Below please find a snapshot of the statistics for closed sales of single family homes in Los Gatos for May 2009:
As always, please remember that the market really is a collection of smaller markets. What’s happening in one part of town or price range may not be happening in your home’s area or price point. Please contact me for assistance in understanding the market you’re most interested in.
The Silicon Valley real estate market is picking up, but we are primarily seeing that in entry level housing in more affordable areas of San Jose such as Cambrian Park, Blossom Valley, and South San Jose. In Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga, it’s still a tough time for selling a home.
Luxury condos have been hard hit too since people who could buy an upscale townhouse may instead opt to simply buy a house in a less expensive area.
Below please find a graph displaying the aborption rate of both single family homes (houses) and condominiums and townhouses in Los Gatos. This measurement is the relationship between available inventory and homes which sold and closed escrow that month. (For instance, in March in Monte Sereno, there were 36 homes for sale and just one closed escrow – my listing on Francesca Court – so that makes for 36 “months of inventory”.)
Six months of inventory is considered neutral. Less than six months is a sellers market. More is a buyers market. As you can see, we have been in a deep buyers market in Los Gatos for awhile.
What is the opportunity here? This is actually a great time for people to “move up” because the lowest priced homes are moving and the higher priced homes are a bit stalled out.
If you would like more data, I invite you to visit my Silicon Valley Real Estate Report online to get all the stats available for Santa Clara County. Below, please find a few quick links:
The real estate sales numbers are in for Los Gatos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, San Jose and all of Silicon Valley for December 2008 and for the year as a whole.
Santa Clara County Real Estate Report for 2008 (annual report – you may also find on this site the annual reports for Los Gatos, the Los Gatos Mountains, Campbell, Saratoga, etc. as well as quarterly reports and monthly reports – monthly report links found at the bottom of this post).
You already know that things have been bad: money’s hard to borrow, homes are hard to sell, jobs seem to be threatened.
There was some good news to be found, though.
Home sales increased in the second half of 2008, and we expect that to continue
By the end of 2008, the number of sales were up year-over-year from 2007
Prices are down – in some areas prices have “rolled back” two to three years. In other places, it’s closer to four years. This is good news for buyers!
If your downpayment is strong and credit is great you can get a loan and the news for you is great: interest rates are very, very attractive now! FHA loans are reappearing! Sellers are considering carrying second loans!
Banks are finally getting it together for handling REOs and short sales. New divisions are appearing to handle the increased workload.. These sales should be smoother in 2009.
How about our local market in the west side of Silicon Valley?
The upscale communities of Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, Almaden Valley, Cupertino and other foothill areas with good schools did not fare as badly as most of Santa Clara County in 2008, but they are not immune from the prevailing winds, either.
Overall, inventory is up and time on the market is up while the list price to sales price ratio is down.
Please visit my Real Estate Report at www.PopeHandy.ReReport.com for the complete, interactive report for last month, last quarter, or last year – countywide, by city, or by area of San Jose, or click on the following links to see the most recent monthly report for these areas:
We’ll get the exact, hard data for the Los Gatos real estate market in a week or so from MLSListings.com, our MLS provider (formerly known as REInfolink). Meanwhile, though, we can have a look at the closings reported to date and get a feel for how the market is doing.
This month, there were 29 closings, or completed sales, in the town of Los Gatos (zip codes 95030 and 95032) among single family homes and condos/townhomes. Of the 29 Los Gatos homes which sold, 24 were single family homes and 5 were condominiums or townhouses. I was involved in two of those sales – one as the listing agent and one as the selling agent (working with the buyers), both single family homes that were in the $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 price range, and both are in the Los Gatos School District.
How did they homes in Los Gatos do in August?
First, let’s look at single family homes. One sold “off” the MLS, so it’s hard to know how it might have done on the open market. It was extreme in another way – it sold at $5,400,000 – the most expensive closing of the month. Not your typical Los Gatos price, though not unheard of either.
For single family homes in Los Gatos, the multiple listing service, the average “days on market” was 50 and average “collective” or “cumulative days on market” was 71. So typically, it’s taking 71 days for houses to sell in Los Gatos. (My listing, which was on Magneson Terrace, took 66 days to sell – felt much longer for everyone involved, though!) Some homes sold fast (1-10 days) and a few a very long time (longest was 238 days), but most are in the 2-3 month range.
The average list price was $1,915,500 and the average sales price was $1,847,989 among Los Gatos houses. The lowest home sold for $870,000 and the highest for $5,400,000, as mentioned above. Fifteen sold between $1 million and $2 million, 3 below that range and 6 above it
Only 3 of the 24 sold higher than list price. Just 4 sold “at” list price (but of those, 2 were reduced before they sold at list price, so only 2 sold at the original list price) and the vast majority had one or more price reductions prior to selling.
What about townhouses and condos in Los Gatos? There were only five spread between two zip codes which are so far reported as closed in August. Of those, the average Days on Market is 41 (same number for Collective DOM), the average list price is $687,789 and average sales price $676,000.
So it looks like the condo market is faring better than the single family home market in Los Gatos right now, according to closed sales prices.
While pricing appears to be flat by some indicators in July, we have seen many price reductions in homes that appeared aggressively positioned in the market before offers are procured. Buyers are waiting, generally, and prices do seem to be falling somewhat in the under $2 million price range.
The soft real estate market that has been plaguing much of San Jose and Silicon Valley now appears to be impacting the entry level and mid-level homes in Los Gatos.
What can we expect? With an election year, things are always uncertain. Likewise, the interest rate has threatened to rise a bit and if that happens, it will adversely affect home prices for sellers. Think of it like the scales of justice: one side goes down, the other goes up.
Waiting may or may not be a good idea. Prices may go down and interest rates may go up. Or perhaps not – no one knows. As one of my buyer clients said, recently, “prices may go down, but if I wait, it’s like I put my life on hold”. (That buyer is now a homeowner.)
The real estate market in Silicon Valley, including Los Gatos, is comrised of many micro-markets. Please call me for specific assistance in the area where you live or would like to live.
Please have a look at my latest market update for the town of Los Gatos, broken down by zip, for this week. (Data from Altos Research, a subscription service I have. Disclaimer: they use list prices for their reports.) The following links are to pdf files for these reports.
What are the odds that a home in Silicon Valley
will sell right now?
Most of the homes for sale in Los Gatos, San Jose, or anywhere in Silicon Valley are not going to sell this month. In Los Gatos, there’s about a 20% chance than any given home will sell. In San Jose generally, it’s a lot worse than that – it’s about a 13% chance that a home will sell. Here’s a quick look at the numbers for these two areas of Santa Clara County:
Los Gatos Single Family Homes (95030, 95032 zip codes)
Active Listings (For Sale) = 118
Pending Sales (Under Contract) = 23
Closed in Last Month = 18
Months of inventory = 6.5
San Jose Single Family Homes (all areas)
Active Listings (For Sale) = 2921
Pending Sales (Under Contract) = 405
Closed in Last Month = 196
Months of inventory = 14.9
The months of inventory, or absorption rate, is a simple calculation of the number of active listings divided by the number of closed sales in the last month. For Los Gatos, that figure is 6.5 months. For San Jose, it’s a whopping 14.9 months. (The National Assn. of Realtors says that at 6 months or more, it’s a buyers market.)
What is also good to measure, though, is the pending sales against the listing volume. In Los Gatos, you can see that the number of pendings is a little higher than the number of closeds. But in San Jose, it’s more than double! This tells us that the market IS improving. But it’s far from being an easy time to sell. Depending on your area and price point, there’s an 80-90% chance that your home would not sell this month.
How Can A Seller Improve the Odds
of a Home Selling Now?
Prospective Los Gatos, Saratoga, and west valley sellers – what can you do to improve your chances of selling?
Here’s a short list of the most common seller mistakes, things NOT to do:
(1) Hiring an agent based on the list price he or she suggests (going with the highest number) is the biggest and perhaps most common error. A better practice: interview agents, hire someone, and then together work to establish the probable buyer’s value of the home and work out a pricing strategy from there. It’s fine to discuss pricing with the agents you interview, but do not choose your agent based on pricing, but rather on references, marketing, negotiation ability, experience, and other criteria.
(2) Related to #1 above, a common mistake among sellers is pressuring your agent to tell you what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear. Some sellers believe that if they “sell” the agent on the higher value of their home, or the current condition (which might need some changes to net you the most money), the house will sell for more, and sometimes homeowners actually push agents to state their estimated value higher than is realistic. One key job the real estate professional has is to provide you with objective input on your home, both at the time the listing is signed and as the feedback comes in and the market conditions possibly change. Ultimately, only you can assign the list price on your home. Allow your agent to provide you with objective input so that you can make a good decision.
Put another way, sellers often have an inflated view of what their own home is worth on the market (this is true of agents selling their own homes, by the way). And sellers take it personally when they believe a home is worth 10% more than the agent is telling them it’s likely worth. Sellers frequently feel as though the lower price is insulting, and a response spoken or unspoken may be “I’m not going to give away my home”. Agents occassionally do underprice a home, but 98% of the time, if there’s a pricing error, it’s on the high side.
Please remember that your agent is not the buyer on your home, and you are not negotiating a sales price with your agent. You are not on opposing sides of the table. When you hire a Realtor, you are a team and you share the same goal: getting your home sold in today’s market.
(3) Another common error among sellers is simply this: not believing that the market data applies to their home. If the market has corrected X% in the last timeframe, and all the other homes in the area have gone down in sales price, it’s also true that your home has gone down in value in the buyers’ eyes. Home prices or values are not a lot different than those of shares in the stock market. What a share of stock sold for yesterday or last year is interesting information, but it may be totally irrelevant to what that same share will sell for today. Holding on to what the home “used to be worth” is not going to assist you in getting your home into the minority pool of homes that are selling now.
(4) And finally, a very frequently seen seller mistake that causes homes not to sell is in not utilizing their agent’s skills (on pricing of course but also staging, garnering feedback, analyzing the market, etc.).
For example, often Realtors have extra training and experience in staging. Agents know that fresh paint and carpet often will get the seller the most return on the investment, and so will decluttering. Sometimes more is needed in this area too. But sellers don’t always want to hear it. The ultimate sales price of the home is tied to a number of factors, including how well it shows to potential buyers.
Another area to watch out for is feedback. If your Realtor tells you that there’s a problem with the way buyers assess your home (pet odors, cooking or smoking odors, clutter or other issues), take it seriously. You will improve your odds by taking the feedback as useful input (and not as an assault). A great system that I use is HomeFeedback.com; the seller can get both individual responses and compiled statistics of the feedback. Sometimes, sellers take it personally and get upset at their agent for the information offered, even via this type of buyer response. This makes it hard to hear what you need to hear.
Put another way, what you CAN and SHOULD do to sell your home in today’s market:
Hire carefully! (Most agents in the Santa Clara Valley have been licensed less than 5 years and have not been through a market like this. Experience is very important. Check references and be very careful here as it is your single most important decision.) Make sure it’s a full marketing plan, using both web and traditional forms of marketing.
Price carefully and realistically! With the vast majority of homes not selling, it is important to not overprice. This is not the market for “trying a price”. Price it to sell. Price it to be the best value among similar homes.
Stage it! Listen to your agent.
Take feedback seriously. Estimating prices and what needs to be offered to buyers in the way of condition, concessions or other thin
gs in falling markets can be tough. Ask your agent for feedback and take it to heart. Sometimes market conditions are a “moving target” and may require readjusting.
To sell your home in this challenging market for the most money and in the fastest time, the home needs to look great and be priced well and be accessible. Recently I was at a real estate educational seminar and it was put this way: “we’re in a beauty contest and a price war”.
And lastly, only put your home on the market if you are serious about selling. It’s a great time to buy a home in Silicon Valley, but it’s not necessarily an ideal time to sell! Rick Campbell, author of The Real Estate Report, opines that we may be “at or near the bottom of the market”. Of course, if you are “moving up”, the overall is most likely a plus even if you take a hit on the sell side of the equation. So sellers, if you want or need to sell now, make sure that you position your home so that it’s not just listed, it’s sold.
P.S. Buyers, don’t wait. This is about as good as it gets!
For the MOST CURRENT Los Gatos real estate market information, please click on the header above to visit the most recent posts. Each week there will be an update to the housing market in Los Gatos, so return often!
The real estate market for single family homes in Los Gatos is moving more into a buyers’ market. Values may be slipping some, but the big story is the fact that so few homes are selling and closing. Whether you compare November 2007 against other recent months or against other Novembers in the last ten years, sales are clearly, and dramatically, way off.
Let’s take the number of closed sales from November for the last 10 years, then we’ll look at the absorption rate, or “months of inventory” for Los Gatos in recent months.
As is apparent in the graph, closings are at an all-time low for November over the last decade, and in fact is about half of average. This movement is not exclusive to Los Gatos but is being seen all over Silicon Valley; this is the reason there are so many layoffs among lenders, title companies, and real estate offices (in support staff, not commissioned sales people). So even “seasonally”, this is unusual.
Next, let’s look at the “months of inventory”, meaning how long it would take to sell off the current inventory (how many months) if nothing new came on the market and homes continued to sell off at the rate of the closeds for the month. Here, too, the figures show a deepening buyers’ market.(Under 6 months is considered a sellers’ market by the National Association of Realtors, over 6 months a buyers’ market.)
Again, the month to month view is a clear reflection of the slowing market and the reality that fewer homes are selling. The larger the number of months, the harder it is to sell.
Some experts predict that things will calm down in 2008 and we’ll have a flat or normal market, or very slight appreciation at best. Other experts predict a worsening real estate market.
Silicon Valley often marches to the beat of its own drummer. Since we have geographical constraints (two sets of mountains and a bay), a good economy and a housing shortage, I believe things will go fairly flat for most of the valley in the next year or two.
It always comes down to supply and demand. Right now there’s plenty of supply in Los Gatos (about 108 homes). In neighboring Saratoga, though, there are fewer than 75 homes available – so the absorption rate there looks very different. If, in the new year, there are a lot of homes on the market, it will put downward pressure on pricing and homes will sell for less than they’re selling today. If inventory tightens up, that won’t happen.
Tomorrow: the real estate market for condos and townhomes in Los Gatos.