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

real estate

What's happening with the North 40 in Los Gatos?

On Tuesday evening, the Los Gatos Town Council took a look at the North 40 development proposal. Needless to say, with this being the last large open space in town, what to do next is controversial. A couple of developers have ideas on what should be there – but the townsfolk aren’t really in accord. There are concerns about traffic, over crowding at schools which are already struggling, plus the concern about the simple fact of disappearing open space.

At stake Tuesday night was the Environmental Impact Report, which had to be approved for the project to move ahead.

As the EIR was not well supported, a motion was made to delay the decision while more information was gathered and that motion passed 3-2. Read more on the San Jose Mercury News website (at least for now – the articles do not stay up forever).

http://www.mercurynews.com/los-gatos/ci_26555516/los-gatos-town-council-votes-postpone-certification-eir

What does a million dollars buy you in Los Gatos 95030, Los Gatos 95032, and nearby areas: Saratoga, Almaden, Cambrian, Campbell, Cupertino?

How far does your money go in Los Gatos, whether 95030 or 95032, and how does that compare to our nearby neighbors of Saratoga, Almaden, Cambrian, Campbell, Cupertino or San Jose, generally? Today I am snagging a chart from my Altos Research Reports which give a good sense of what a million dollars (or other amounts) can get for you in these areas. These charts use LIST PRICES, and remember, the sales prices are often different (frequently more!). Let’s have a look.

Los Gatos 95030

This is the more central part of town, the area closest to downtown Los Gatos and most of it is “in the schools”. Here a million dollars is unlikely to get you a house at all, though it could be something small that needs a lot of work if not in the downtown area…maybe….

Los Gatos 95030 profile of homes by price quartile

 

Los Gatos 95032

Conversely, although about 1/3 of this area is in the Los Gatos Union School District, most of it is not, and this area is usually (though not always) further out so less expensive for both reasons. Interestingly, the high end prices aren’t so far apart between 95030 and 95032 from this vantage, but the gap widens a lot at the bottom quartile. In 95032 a million will get you a small house, most likely in east Los Gatos (west is a little more expensive, usually) – and it will probably need work. Something to note is that all of the elementary and middle schools in Los Gatos, no matter which school district, are high scoring, high performing institutions. The scores do change at the high school level pretty noticeably. But the improving schools in the further out areas of LG, especially in east Los Gatos, is causing the pricing gap to shrink somewhat.

Los Gatos 95032 profile of homes by price quartile

So in Los Gatos, $1 million is unlikely to get you a house, though it may if it is small and not too close in to downtown (or if you are buying land value).

Continue reading

Listing Agreement, Purchase Agreement Forms: Consumers, You May Have a Choice in Silicon Valley

Real estate forms and contracts PRDS and CARMost consumers don’t realize that there are two sets of real estate forms used by Realtors and other real estate professionals in Silicon Valley and nearby areas. The California Association of Realtors provides the paperwork found throughout most of the state (“CAR forms”). The Peninsula Regional Data Service authors a more local set (“PRDS forms”); these are seen from Los Gatos, Saratoga and Cupertino up through the Peninsula to just south of San Francisco. The logo of one or the other will be displayed so you’ll know which one you’re looking at. By the way, real estate brokerages often have their own paperwork too, whether it’s a final walk through form, an explanation about something such as arbitration, disclosures they don’t believe are adequately covered elsewhere (such as one regarding parking and storage for use with condominium and townhouse purchases).

Did you realize that the CAR and PRDS contracts, addenda, disclosures and forms are a little different from each other, and each provides different protections and “teeth”?

Here are a couple of the key differences within the purchase agreement between buyer and seller:

  • The CAR purchase agreement is an “as is” form; the PRDS purchase agreement states that the home will have certain basic conditions met (no termites, no leaks, no broken glass, all systems functional)
  • The CAR purchase agreement allows repairs to be done by a handyman; the PRDS form requires that repairs be done by a licensed contractor
  • One has more penalties built in for defaults; one allows the seller to cancel more easily on a buyer who’s not performing
  • Using a “contingent offer” addendum (for the sale to be contingent on the sale of another house)? The CAR permits a protection period before the seller can use the “kickout clause”, but the PRDS does not
  • The listing agreements vary too – one protects the agents’ position better than another.

There are pros and cons to each of these sets and individual forms. When you go to list, sell, or purchase a home, be sure to discuss the plusses and minuses of each with your agent. One set is not 100% better for you as a buyer or a seller. There are clauses in each, though, which may protect your interests best. Continue reading

East Los Gatos, West Los Gatos

Regions of Los Gatos: East, West , North, Civic Center, HistoricLos Gatos is very spread out, and includes a strange shape, weaving in and out with county pockets, San Jose, Campbell, and Saratoga. Often, one hears of “Downtown Los Gatos”, “East Los Gatos”, and at times also “West Los Gatos” and much more infrequently, “North Los Gatos”. It should be noted that not every home or street fits into a neat category of what part of town is being discussed. Even so, the question of broad categories arises with the basic question being “where are these places?”

East Los Gatos is generally the area east of Los Gatos Boulevard, though many Los Gatans refer to it as east of Highway 17. (Some folks may consider it as relating to school boundaries.) Some of the neighborhoods found in east Los Gatos include these:

  • Blossom Manor
  • Surrey Farms
  • Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont (a contiguous group of subdivisions that stretch from Westhill to Harwood Road)
  • Strathmore
  • Heritage Grove
  • Santa Rosa Heights and Aztec Ridge
  • Shannon Valley Ranch
  • Homes along Shannon and Kennedy out to Hicks
  • Alta Vista area
  • Loma Vista, El Gato Terrace, and Rancho El Padre neighborhood of Los Gatos-Almaden Road
  • Vista del Monte
  • Hillbrook

West Los Gatos is the part of town closest to Quito and Pollard Roads. Some of the neighborhoods include:

  • Rinconada Hills (gated community)
  • Arroyo Rinconada
  • Old Adobe area
  • Saratoga Highland
  • Rio Rinconada
  • English Oaks
  • Oakwood
  • Wedgewood Manor
  • Cameo Park West (LG mailing address, but actually in Campbell)

North Los Gatos is the area close to but north of Lark Avenue. Did you know that the Town of Los Gatos used to have a public school there? It was sold years ago – that land is now part of the lovely JCC.

Downtown Los Gatos usually designated a few areas – those included are the Downtown Historic Districts, the Civic Center, and areas close to North Santa Cruz Avenue between Highway 9 and Blossom Hill Road. As with everything, this is unofficial! Major roads in this part of town are North Santa Cruz Avenue, University Avenue, Main Street, and Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, also known as Highway 9.

The Downtown Historic Districts are lovely!

  • Broadway Historic District
  • Fairview Plaza Historic District
  • Downtown Historic District
  • Almond Grove Historic District
  • Glenridge – not designated as an historic district, but many historic homes may be found there

The Civic Center area

  • Civic Center area (hills behind also) – Alpine Avenue, Foster Road, Jackson Street, Central Avenue, Oak Hill Way and nearby areas up in the hills behind Main
  • Areas close to Forbes Mill and Los Gatos High
  • Possibly also the Loma Alta area (and likely also Blackberry Hill and Aztec Ridge, though they are anything but close to downtown)

Not all areas or neighborhoods of Los Gatos are named or labeled

There are many other areas without specific names. Real estate agents tend to dub them by local landmarks (such as “Vasona Park area”) or major roads or hill names (“Jones Road area” or “Blackberry Hill” area). Sometimes there’s a small compound that’s not quite big enough to be called a neighborhood, like Creffield Heights in the San Benito (road area) section of town, which we could probably label as “Central Los Gatos” if we wanted to create a new way of describing some areas of town!

Union School District Pricing: How Much More to Live in Los Gatos than San Jose?

Alta Vista and Carlton attendance areas for Los Gatos and Cambrian area of San JoseIf you’re interested in buying a home in the Union School District, which straddles the Los Gatos and Cambrian area of San Jose border, you may be wondering what the real estate price difference is between homes in San Jose 95124 vs properties in Los Gatos 95032.

The Carlton Elementary School area of attendance, and even more the Alta Vista Elementary School area, offers the opportunity to own a home in either zip code, so seeing the pricing delta isn’t that hard. What is harder is ascertaining what ratio or range of ratios you might find when house hunting in these neighborhoods.

For single family homes sold in the last 30 days in either the Carlton or Alta Vista areas, here’s the breakdown (disclaimer, 17 homes sold & closed total for both LG and SJ in that time):

In Los Gatos:

  • average list price$1,690,429
  • average sale price $1,733,555
  • average square footage of the home 2530
  • average lot size 19,486
  • average days on market 42

In San Jose (same schools area):

  • average list price $926,990
  • average sale price $992,100
  • average home SF 1575
  • average lot size 7815
  • average days on market 21

Here the gap in pricing looks huge. But is it? Homes and land are both bigger in Los Gatos. Biggest takeaway to me is this: in general, if you want a bigger home on a larger lot, Los Gatos is probably going to be your town. Buying “just the schools” and fine with a smaller house? San Jose provides a more affordable means to get into the schools.

Are there SIMILAR houses and lots to compare the true price differential between San Jose and Los Gatos with the same schools?

Everyone wants to make it a simple, easily measurable “cost” for living in Los Gatos, and I get asked about “apples to apples” between San Jose and Los Gatos? That is something that’s tricky for a number of reasons. But let’s try anyway. Continue reading

The Almond Grove neighborhood in Los Gatos, a scenic and historic district

Map of the Almond Grove historic district in Los GatosThe Town of Los Gatos is home to many lovely neighborhoods with historic homes (Broadway Area Historic District, Fairview Plaza and others), but perhaps none is so quaint or popular as the Almond Grove. (See video drive through this neighborhood near the bottom of this article.)

Location, location, location: the Almond Grove’s got it

The location itself could be very compelling alone as the Almond Grove neighborhood is as much “in town” as “walk to town” with so many activities and opportunities happening along North Santa Cruz Avenue, Main Street and University Avenue – all a stone’s throw away. Quite vibrant, downtown Los Gatos enjoys an inordinate amount of restaurants, shops, coffee houses, bars, places to dine , taste wine, stroll or take in a film. It’s also home to free musical concerts in the summer, a parade in December, a gorgeous new public library, a Farmer’s Market every weekend and many other events year round. Finally, the Almond Grove is set near two parks, Bachman Park and the Los Gatos Town Plaza, so there’s a good amount of open space nearby too. There’s something for everyone!

Traditionally designed neighborhood with good community results

105 Tait Ave Los Gatos (Almond Grove district) built appx 1890The allure of the Almond Grove is more than convenience, though. There’s an old time friendliness that seems to come with the big, welcoming front porches on so many of the older houses. Dwellings are also set closer together than one might find in suburbia, too. Rather than live so much in the privacy of the backyard, there’s an invitation implicit with this combination of close neighbors and a front porch that seems to underscore that residents are part of the neighborhood community and a bit less secluded.

The Almond Grove displays that sense of community from October to January especially, when it steps out as the best decorated corner of Los Gatos with a huge percentage of participation in the effort. Halloween is a great example. People’s enthusiasm is evident in by the beginning of October as props come out for the spookiest day of the year. Sometimes even in September, “Land of the Giant” sized spiders begin to appear, life-sized ghosts start to swing from porches and trees, the normally tidy and trim picket fences become smudged with spider webs, and every manner of Halloween decor drapes the district. On Halloween night, the Almond Grove district becomes positively overrun with enthusiastic kids from all over Los Gatos. I’ve been told that some homes get as many as 1,000 trick or treaters on Halloween night there. Continue reading

Quick look at the Los Gatos real estate market

May 05, 2014

The Los Gatos real estate market is very healthy, with a strong sale price to list price ratio. As with the rest of Santa Clara County, inventory is extremely low, and that is pushing prices up. Today we’ll get a view of the market using just a few charts, but please click on the links for more info (or call, email or reach out to me if you’d like an appointment to discuss your segment of the market in particular).

First, a chart from my Los Gatos Real Estate Report (click on the link for more information).

Los Gatos Single Family Homes

Trends At A Glance Jan 2014 Previous Month Year-over Year Median Home Price +23.7%$1,770,000 $1,431,000 +13.8%$1,555,000 Average Sales Price +34.8%$1,920,450 $1,424,850 +12.6%$1,704,850 No. of Homes Sold -17.4%19 23 +46.2%13 Pending Properties +31.8%29 22 +61.1%18 Foreclosures Sold N/A0 0 N/A0 Short Sales Sold N/A0 0 N/A0 Active Listings +2.1%48 47 -7.7%52 Active Foreclosures N/A1 0 N/A0 Active Short Sales -66.7%1 3 N/A0 Sales Price vs. List Price +0.8%101.1% 100.3% +1.7%99.4% Average Days on Market +136.6%74 31 +118.6%34 – See more at: http://popehandy.rereport.com/market_reports?formSubmit=1&searchtype=search&emailtype=search&period=1&report_description=Santa+Clara+County%2C+All+Cities%2C+All+Neighborhoods&area=15&cities=3048&locations=&yearmonth=2014-1&proptype=1&get_report=#sthash.H93BlIu0.dpuf
Trends At A Glance Jan 2014 Previous Month Year-over Year Median Home Price +23.7%$1,770,000 $1,431,000 +13.8%$1,555,000 Average Sales Price +34.8%$1,920,450 $1,424,850 +12.6%$1,704,850 No. of Homes Sold -17.4%19 23 +46.2%13 Pending Properties +31.8%29 22 +61.1%18 Foreclosures Sold N/A0 0 N/A0 Short Sales Sold N/A0 0 N/A0 Active Listings +2.1%48 47 -7.7%52 Active Foreclosures N/A1 0 N/A0 Active Short Sales -66.7%1 3 N/A0 Sales Price vs. List Price +0.8%101.1% 100.3% +1.7%99.4% Average Days on Market +136.6%74 31 +118.6%34 – See more at: http://popehandy.rereport.com/market_reports?formSubmit=1&searchtype=search&emailtype=search&period=1&report_description=Santa+Clara+County%2C+All+Cities%2C+All+Neighborhoods&area=15&cities=3048&locations=&yearmonth=2014-1&proptype=1&get_report=#sthash.H93BlIu0.dpuf

The Los Gatos Condominium and Townhouse Market

Next, the same information but for Los Gatos condos and townhomes:

Los Gatos condominiums and townhouses

 

Los Gatos housing market: months of inventory by high school district and price point

April 02, 2013

Sorting out the local Los Gatos real estate market can be a bit tricky, as there are so many variables that can throw the analysis.  Among them we have to consider school district, price point, sometimes zip code, proximity to downtown, proximity to positive and negative issues, condition of property and more.  As one agent says, it’s a patchwork quilt!

Today let’s just have a view by homes in Los Gatos 95030 and 95032 by school district and price point, since I believe those are the two main drivers of our residential real estate market.

First, let’s consider the town as a whole or on average. As of right now, there are 65 houses or duet homes for sale.  There are 22 which have sold & closed escrow in the last 30 days.  65/22 = 2.95 months of inventory. Not bad! Five or six months is a balanced market, less is a seller’s market – so right now there’s stronger demand than supply.

Los Gatos real estate - months of inventory by high school district

Please view the rest of this article on the Valley of Heart’s Delight blog!

Blossom Hill Manor Real Estate Market

February 16, 2013

Map of the Blossom Hill Manor neighborhood of Los Gatos (east Los Gatos)The Blossom Hill Manor (aka “the Manor” or “Blossom Manor”) is a very highly sought after neighborhood with its close proximity to the highly regarded Los Gatos schools, parks, shops, grocery stores and major transit routes.  Homes there are well maintained, many streets are tree-lined and there’s a good amount of community spirit and involvement in this close-in area.

The real estate market in Los Gatos has been steadily improving since the low point in about 2009, but there’s a great deal of variation from one area, price point, school district, age and condition of home to the next.  The “fixer” market is different from the luxury market. 

What of the Manor? How are prices today compared to the peak in about 2007?  Are home values at or near the high point? 

The short answer is this: not yet, but getting there.  Many of the indicators show consistent appreciation, a buyer population that wants homes there faster than they can come on, and generally very favorable selling conditions.  It is not yet a crazy, overheated market – but if the shortage of inventory continues (today there are NO homes for sale except one which is already sale pending in Blossom Manor) and demand continues, it may go that way.

Today I spent most of the day researching the market for this pocket of Los Gatos, and I pulled the stats going all the way back to 1998 to get the 10,000 foot view.  Please find that detailed article on my Valley of Heart’s Delight blog:
Blossom Manor neighborhood of Los Gatos

How much more does it cost to buy a Los Gatos home with Los Gatos Schools?

February 16, 2012

What is the impact of schools on home values in the Town of Los Gatos?Los Gatos home buyers often ask the question of what the ratio is for prices of houses with “Los Gatos Schools” as opposed to those with Union or Campbell Schools. In other words, how much more costly is real estate if the property feeds to Los Gatos High School? Although there’s no tidy, easy rule of thumb that will uniformly apply, often the answer is in the 10-20% range. It can be more or less, though.

Part of the trickiness of coming up with an easy answer about the impact of the school district on home values is that there are other significant variables too. Here are a few:

  • Proximity to the downtown area or other highly desireable places, such as schools, parks, shopping, restaurants or coffee shops
  • Pricing tier: the easiest to compare are smaller houses on smaller lots which are about the same distance to schools, parks etc. – much harder are luxury homes because often there is a wide range of lot size, view, useability, amenities, etc.
  • Home type: almost impossible to compare tract housing in the newer parts of town with the older, historic and architecturally distinctive construction in the older areas of town

Sample comparison of fairly similar home types and lot sizes in Los Gatos

All that said, today I compared sales of houses in just 95032 (since much of 95030 is close to downtown and most of 95032 is not) to remove the “walk to town” variable. I pulled up properties that hae sold in the last 120 days that were between 1200 and 2200 square feet, on lot sizes close to 8,000 SF. All were in east Los Gatos and pretty close to within a mile’s range, straddling the border of the school district boundary – so pretty equal in distance to shops, Vasona Park etc. though those “in the schools” were a little closer. Here’s what I found for this sampling of Los Gatos properties:

The houses in the Union School District which feed to Leigh High School:

  1. 3 sales
  2. Average house size = 1936 SF
  3. Average lot size = 7970 SF
  4. Average sales price = $903,367
  5. Median sales price = $870,000
  6. Average price per square foot = $474

The properties in the Los Gatos Union School District which feed to Los Gatos High School:

  1. 5 sales
  2. Average house size = 1724 SF
  3. Average lot size = 8392 SF
  4. Average sales price = $1,028,000
  5. Median sales price = $1,000,000
  6. Average price per square foot = $592

On a price per square foot basic, buying “in the schools” is about 20% more. The difference is less when comparing the median and average sales price (10% and 13%), but it needs to be understood that the home sizes are smaller by about 11% too – so it’s not just 10-13% more expensive for this sampling of properties.

How much better are the schools in one district over the other? If considering API scores, which I would not suggest using exclusively (but it is easily measured), the differences are not so great at the elementary and middle school levels. Where it’s pronounced is the high school level. Have a look – I pulled these numbers from the Santa Clara County API page for all schools in the county. There was no update for Union Middle School so I used the year prior (Dartmouth Middle is in the same school district and situation – the last year it recorded, the number was 900 exactly). I did not compare all schools, just those on the border closest to those “in the schools”.

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Mary Pope-Handy

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

Selling homes in
Silicon Valley, with
special focus on
Los Gatos 

and nearby areas,
including
Monte Sereno,
Saratoga,
Campbell,
and the San Jose areas of
Cambrian and Almaden Valley

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