A few years ago I made a study of Google maps, looking at the “earth view” or satellite photographs to locate the high voltage power lines in the west valley and Los Gatos.
There’s an embedded google map below, but for those who would prefer a narrative, here’s a summary of the trail of these lines (deemed reliable but not guaranteed, and not every street is mentioned, this is only a very general description):
These towers and electric lines are fairly parallel to Highway 85 on the west and north side of town, adjacent to Pollard and Wedgewood (near the Rio Rinconada neighborhood) and following both the highway and train tracks immediately.
Heading south, the power line trail courses through the Wimbleton townhousecomplex, moves across Winchester Boulevard near Lark Avenue, and then continues its distancing from the freeway by cutting in further just north of the Vasona Dam (between there and Lark Avenue).
From there, the lines are seen over the the Live Oak Manor Park & play ground, and makes its way down the middle of Blackwell Drive, emerging near Mission Oaks Hospital (a campus of Good Samaritan Hospital nearby), then across Los Gatos Almaden and the Los Gatos Village townhome community.
The trail of the high voltage lines somehow gripped me so much that I ended up tracing it all the way from the hills in Cupertino into Saratoga before Los Gatos, then on through our town and into Cambrian, Almaden, Blossom Valley and Santa Teresa (areas of San Jose for any newcomers). Just to be complete, I tracked them all the way to the substation in Coyote Valley and then up into the Santa Cruz Mountains near Montevina Rd and through the Lexington area. (You can see all of this on my Valley of Hearts Delight blog.)
Below is the embedded map. If for any reason it’s not working, you can see the same info by clicking on this link.
There are several websites which allow consumers to compare and contrast things like home prices, cost of living, crime statistics, and other factors. This morning I was looking on the Neighborhood Scout site and was interested in seeing how various parts of California compared to Los Gatos. The site has several ways of viewing the info, including a color coded map which indicates the crime rate by shades of blue (darkest being the safest). Here are a few areas in the state, including our town.
The Santa Clara Valley Wineries are hosting a passport weekend again Oct 6 & 7 2012 from 11am to 5pm. For $30, it’s a great reason to stop by a number of local, fine wine tasting rooms, including Testarossa, Byington, and The French Cellar (in Los Gatos or LG mountains), Cinnabar, Cooper-Garrod, and Savannah-Chanelle (in Saratoga) and several more.
What’s offered? The website for the association says “Barrel Tasting – BBQs – Winery Tours – Special Discounts – New Releases – Music – AND GREAT WINES!”
Passports can be purchased at any of the participating wineries.
For more information, check out the website (small print indicates that this weekend applies too – initially it looks as though it’s for a similar event in March only).
Also ranking high on the list of big spenders for threads in the US in Santa Clara County are nearby Los Altos (#3), Saratoga (#6) and Santa Clara (#8).
As a region, Silicon Valley is not known for high fashion – or fashion at all, actually (pocket protectors are long gone, but the jokes continue). But step into Los Gatos and it’s a little different… a little more European…. Los Gatos lives in two worlds: its own town, history, events and activities but also the broader, high tech, Sharks loving community of Silicon Valley and the South Bay. And it’s equally comfortable with both.
“The Silicon Valley cities of Saratoga, Los Gatos and Cupertino were once again among the top the 10 cities with the highest median home prices in California during November 2010. Saratoga had a median home price of $1,235,000; Los Gatos, $850,000; and Cupertino, $850,000.”
It is no surprise that these Silicon Valley areas are among the most expensive in the Golden State. Each area has a good number of luxury homes and estates.
Want more info? To check the most current median list price, average list price & other real estate market numbers and trends, please visit my Real Estate Report, which has this data for Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, the Los Gatos Mountains, and all the cities in Santa Clara County plus San Jose as a whole and by area such as Cambrian Park or Almaden Valley. www.popehandy.rereport.com
Today I stumbled upon an interesting demographics tool: a map (and list) showing political donations in the last presidential election by city, particular address, by the donor’s occupation, employer or last name. It’s on the Huffington Post and appears to search nationwide. It is not 100% complete, though. I actually made a donation in the last election but my name and info are not showing up – I believe that this may not have included donations in the last few weeks of the election for tha treason (that’s when I sent my donation in). Anyway, have a look around – it’s interesting!
The real estate market in the high-end communities of Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga has not been as hard-hit on pricing as in the entry level and more affordable areas like Blossom Valley and Cambrian Park, but not nearly as many homes are selling in these areas for that reason. Areas with huge (30-40%) price drops are seeing first time home buyers and investors swoop down, some paying “all cash” to get in on the fire sale pricing. That is just not happening in the tonier neighborhoods of Silicon Valley.
The west valley foothill communities aren’t at these kinds of price drops, but if you’re a home seller, you certainly aren’t feeling like the real estate market is doing you any favors. Prices are down in varying degrees, but overall it is a “rollback” in sales prices of several years and the discount is perhaps 20-30% from the peak for most homes (worse for the luxury home market).
The charts below are from Altos Research (with whom I have a subscription) and prices are LIST prices, not sales prices. The black line represents Los Gatos, green is Saratoga, and orange Monte Sereno, and the timeframe for all charts below is the last 12 months. Properties are single family homes only (houses, not condos or townhomes).
Monte Sereno tends to have the most expensive homes generally of the three communities, and this small city has been hit the worst with price drops because higher priced homes generally have had the biggest damage done to pricing, and more affordable homes have been less hurt by the price cuts.
Again, Monte Sereno has the biggest struggle with the longest days on the market. Saratoga is experiencing a better market. This does not surprise me because I have some homebuyers for that city and we are having a hard time finding much that’s within their budget and meets their needs. In Los Gatos, where I also have buyers (different from Saratoga), we are finding a lot of homes are still priced too high for the market, so the buyers continue to wait.
The relisted homes chart is a reflection of how many sellers were unsuccessful the first time around, but the owners really do want or need to sell, so they get the house back on the market. Sometimes it’s with a new coat of paint and far better staging, sometimes a much better price, sometimes a new agent and brokerage – or maybe all three.
Inventory levels are climbing in all three of these expensive Santa Clara County areas. Buyers are having a hard time in most cases because if they’re moving up, it’s difficult to sell the home they already own due to negative equity and it’s also very difficult to get a loan for high end real estate. If sellers can offer financing, that could be very helpful to a lot of buyers (get professional assistance from your Realtor, CPA and attorney before attempting this, though).
Most often, when a home doesn’t sell, it’s the pricing that is incorrect for the market, though condition (and staging) can have a big impact too. While a few buyers may be willing to pay “top dollar” for a home in average or worse condition, the majority of home buyers will not. Pricing & condition need to be aimed at the bulk of likely purchasers of the property, not the unlikely, rare homebuyer. In this market, when most homes are not selling in Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga, that means staging and pricing aggressively. If there’s a “better deal” than your home, that’s the one the buyer will choose. In this market, the lowest price and best condition “wins” with a sale.
There are things you can do to increase the odds your home will sell and even make your home sell for more:
get the home cleaned, cleared of clutter, and nicely staged (get help and professional advice on this)
make the front yard appealing with colorful annuals, nicely trimmed bushes, and a healthy green lawn – if the front yard looks bad, the buyers will not even get out of their car to see inside your home
make the home easy to show, use a lockbox, do NOT make showings appointment only through the listing agent or yourself
when the home is being viewed by potential buyers, do not be home – your presence will make the buyers uneasy and unable to speak frankly about the house
price your home in the lowest 20% of available homes that are similar to yours – all the marketing in the world cannot sell an overpriced home
While the majority of homes are “sitting” and not selling, the best properties are actually selling quite fast. So if something comes on the market that interests you, don’t wait. It may not be there on the weekend for the scheduled open house!
Today’s post is general in nature for each of the towns discussed. The market will vary from one price point to the next, one school district to the next etc. Please contact me for assistance with your own particular situation. Some homes have been on the market and sellers won’t reduce the listing price but may entertain an offer significantly lower that the list price. So have your agent inquire or just “write it up” if you like a home.