Los Gatos residential real estate prices are down year-over-year (10-20% for most homes). Los Gatos has mixed indicators – some numbers are better, some are worse. Have we hit the bottom yet? Some say yes, some think that there are further corrections still to come. Inventory is down, which puts pressure on prices. We will know better by mid-February or early March if this will be at all a typical spring home buying season.
Today on my Valley of Hearts Delight blog, I posted a long article on the Monte Sereno real estate market. In places I compared and contrasted it with the Los Gatos & Saratoga markets, so readers of this blog might find that piece interesting as well.
Monte Sereno is a lovely, upscale residential community of about 4000 people. It’s located adjacent to the town of Los Gatos and the city of Saratoga, California. There are no businesses in Monte Sereno – just homes, the post office, and the city office building along Highway 9.
Monte Sereno shares some services with Los Gatos, such as police and schools. While Los Gatos has two zip codes, 95030 and 95032, Monte Sereno shares the 95030 zip code with Los Gatos. Some folks mistakenly think that whatever is happening in Los Gatos with the housing market is also reflective of the Monte Sereno real estate market. They are sometimes quite different.
We’ll now look at a few key indicators to see how the Monte Sereno real estate market is doing, and also how it’s doing compared to the same zip code but in Los Gatos. Graphs and stats are from Altos Research, to which I have a subscription (and the right to republish this information), which uses current listing data (list prices, not sold prices, for instance). About once a month I also publish an update which uses information from the solds, and you may see that interactive report at any time by visiting http:www.popehandy.rereport.com.
I. Inventory of Houses for Sale in Monte Sereno
This first graph displays the trend of inventory among houses for sale in Monte Sereno, 95030. The four different lines are for the four quartiles, or price points. Sometimes they behave differently from one another, but here we can see that for much of the last year, inventory rose dramatically among all price ranges.
Next, a comparative look between Monte Sereno and Los Gatos inventory levels of homes for sale. While it makes sense that Los Gatos has more homes for sale (it has more households!) it is interesting to note that the rise of inventory has been more dramatic in Los Gatos than in Monte Sereno.
A retrospective: how is inventory in Monte Sereno now compared to two years ago? (The chart says only 95030 but this is just from Monte Sereno.)
II. Average Days on the Market of Homes for Sale in Monte Sereno
Below, please see the breakdown by price point, or quartile, of the days on market for Monte Sereno this year. The lowest priced homes did not experience the same degree of a “dip” in the first half of the year that the higher priced homes did. It is interesting to note that the most expensive homes had the greatest improvement for the DOM (Days on Market) early in 2008.
How does this compare to the same zip code in Los Gatos?
The patterns are pretty similar, but it would seem that for most of the year, it has been easier (faster) to sell a house in Monte Sereno than in Los Gatos.
Compared to two years ago, how do the DOM look in Monte Sereno?
As we had suspected, it was much easier to sell a home in 2006 than it has been in 2008. In fact, it looks from this indicator that it is approximately twice as hard to sell a home now, if not more, then in 2006. This has been especially grue in the last quarter of the year.
III. List Price of Homes for Sale in Monte Sereno
Now we’ll turn to the number which home sellers care about the most: price. Below, please see a graph with the median list price by quartile of homes for sale in Monte Sereno this year.
Interestingly, the most exclusive homes have come down the most, while properties in lower price ranges seem to have adjusted downward the least.
How does this compare to what’s happening in the town of Los Gatos?
It is commonly known that homes in Monte Sereno are a bit more expensive than those in Los Gatos, so the gap between the two is not surprising. That said, the way each has responded to the market is curious. While Los Gatos home prices (list prices) went down early in the year, they went up in Monte Sereno for the same time frame. In fact, these two graphs are almost completely inverse of each other!
Finally, how does the median list price of homes in Monte Sereno today compare to the list prices of two years ago?
This is another weird graph which almost looks like a symmetrical inverse from 2008 to 2006. List prices today are higher, on average, then they were two years ago.
In summary, compared to Los Gatos, Monte Sereno is faring better overall. The inventory is lower, days on market are shorter, and list prices remain higher than in Los Gatos. Compared to two years ago, it’s tougher to sell a home (and easier to buy one) in Monte Sereno: inventory is up, days on the market are up – but list prices are up too, an odd twist! In fact it’s an anomoly for most of Silicon Valley, but it does not mean that any one house will necessarily sell for more than it did 2 years ago. The median sales price is the point at which half the homes are selling for more, and half for less. So a higher median list price or sales price may simply indicate that more expensive homes are selling. That seems very likely because with the more expensive homes, buyers are less likely to be dependent on a loan.
For analysis of what’s happening in your neighborhood, or where you’d like to buy a home, please contact me. I’m happy to meet with you and go over your situation in person and in confidence.
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.
We won’t have the March stats (or first quarter statistics) for the Los Gatos residential real estate market for another week or two, but I wanted to provide a snapshot of the realty market to keep you updated.
As of this morning, there were 149 single family homes available (as “status 1”) for sale in the Town of Los Gatos (zip codes 95030 and 95032). There were also 28 pending sales of single family homes (so an 18.7% ratio). As before, approximately one home in five is selling right now.
Breaking it down by price point (but all areas), in the under two million dollar range, there were 86 homes available and 20 pending sale – so a 23% ratio. Homes are selling better in the more moderate price ranges. Looking lower at the up to and under $1.3 million, there were 41 for sale and 8 pending (19.5%).
Looking at just the $1 to $2 million range, there are 25 for sale and 5 pending (20%) in the Campbell Union High School District, and 41 for sale and 13 pending in the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District (30.2%).
The sweet spot in today’s Los Gatos real estate market, then, is the moderately priced house “in the schools”. Any home that is nicely improved, staged, marketed, and above all priced well can sell in today’s market, though – it’s all about positioning for the current market conditions.
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:
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?
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).
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)!
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.