Bella Vista Village is an upscale, fairly young townhome community off of Alberto Way in Los Gatos. These 47 townhouses are close to downtown Los Gatos and offers easy access to Highway 17, Highway 9 (Los Gatos-Saratoga Road), and Los Gatos Blvd (once called Los Gatos-San Jose Road). Alberto Way is a cul-de-sac, so a plus is that there’s no through traffic here.
This whole area is at the doorstep to downtown Los Gatos and there are many things for which residents here may elect to walk or ride a bike rather than take a car. It’s an enormous benefit.
Built in 1997, the first section is Tract 8820 and consists of 34 townhouses on Cuesta de Los Gatos except for 5 on Treseder Ct . This is the area closest to Alberto Way. The second phase, completed in 1998, is Tract 8976 with just 13 homes, all of which are on Maggi Court. In the map at the right, you can see that there are two sections of Bella Vista Village.
What are the homes like at Bella Vista Village?
Because these homes are so young, they are delightfully light, bright and open. They feature double pane windows and are quiet inside, too. Outside, the looks is contemporary Craftsman style. The grounds and exteriors are well maintained and attractive. The private driveways are kept up.
Homes range from 943 SF to 1735 SF, offering 2-4 bedrooms (most are 3) with 2-3 bathrooms. All appear to be 2 story homes, though one was listed as a 3 story in the MLS.
The Charter Oaks townhome community was built in 3 phases between 1972 and 1975, and consists of 101 units on a verdant, green campus. I’m told that the builder was the highly regarded Blackwell Homes. Each townhome enjoys between 960 square feet and 1,760 sf, with the average being 1452. Most are 2 story but there are a few single story homes as well. Lot sizes are small (1,920-3,205 SF, average is 2477 SF) as there is a great deal of common, outdoors space to enjoy.
Los Gatans are drawn to Charter Oaks for many reasons. First, it offers well built homes that are thoughtfully designed in a beautiful setting. The community features include expansive greenbelt areas and a pool.
The location is a huge plus. It is located alongside the Los Gatos Creek Trail, making it an easy walking or bike commute to Netflix, a simple bike ride to Vasona or downtown Los Gatos, or a convenient route for a longer ride, jog, or stroll. To top it off, this area includes the highly regarded Los Gatos Schools and is close enough to the freeways to make commuting less stressful.
Every area has some location challenges. Because it’s close to two freeways, there’s a bit of noise from the highways but it’s not too bad. The other thing to know is that there’s just one road in and out, and trying to turn left from Charter Oaks Drive onto Lark Avenue can sometimes be frustrating as the cars just keep coming and there’s no traffic signal to help there.
Charter Oaks real estate pricing
Homes in Charter Oaks are selling for about $1,000,000 to $1,300,00 as of early 2020. (See my listing at 126 Charter Oaks Circle here.) As with every complex, some areas will sell for more than others. In this case, because the townhomes are fairly close to highway 17, some areas have road noise and will be a little less desirable. Some will have better or lesser views, access to parking, natural light, and so on. The condition and size of the unit have an enormous impact on housing values too, of course.
Which streets are a part of Charter Oaks?
Includes streets are these: Walnut Hill Court, Charter Oaks Circle, Willow Hill Court, Cherry Hill Court, Almond Hill Court, Spruce Hill Court
Most homebuyers and sellers in Los Gatos and Silicon Valley generally are familiar with the terms “condo” or “condominium”, “townhouse” or “townhome” and “single family home”. But what about “patio home”? What type of residence is that? It’s an unknown to many consumers – and many real estate professionals too!
A patio home is sometimes referred to as a zero lot line home. It is a house (not attached to any other home) in which the structure is built against one of the property lines.
In a regular single family home, the building has a few feet on each side between the structure and the property line – that is known as a setback. In other words, you can walk around all four sides of the home without going on anyone else’s property.
That isn’t the case with a patio home. There’s no setback on one side.
A patio home is build up against the property line such that the owner cannot walk all the way around the house without going on someone else’s property.
There are advantages and disadvantages of patio homes. Advantages include more privacy than a townhome or condo would offer, and better use of land adjacent to the home since there aren’t small 5-8 foot side yards, but instead something more sizeable and useable.
Disadvantages include the lack of windows on the side of the home which is built on the property line and the inability to protect the side of the home that functions as a fence or boundary for the neighbors.
By way of example, if the side of your patio home that lines the boundary gets excessive moisture because the neighbors vigorously water their plants and don’t worry about hitting your house, that’s a problem. Additionally, since you cannot see what’s happening without asking the neighbors if you can go on their land to keep an eye on your exterior wall, there’s a risk that the structure could be getting damaged and you’d never know it. So there’s a loss of control and a loss of information that’s intrinsic to this type of home.
Additionally, many patio home communities have an association fee and that also needs to be factored in.
Patio homes tend to be less expensive than standard single family homes. The difference is often in the 5 – 10% range, but it varies with the individual home and the real estate market conditions at the time of sale.
Should you buy a patio home? It’s on a continuum between townhomes and single family homes. It may be the best compromise for you, or it could be a big headache. My thinking, generally, is that if you can buy a single family home for the same amount and same quality, your money is better spent there. But if you’re in the market for a townhome or a duet home (or duplex), this is definitely a step up and worth a little stretch.
If you’ve been house hunting for a turnkey property with highly regarded Los Gatos schools, you’ll be happy to hear about my newest listing at 126 Charter Oaks Circle.
This is a sunny, updated & remodeled 3 bed, 2.5 bath townhouse with approximately 1574 SF in the beautiful Charter Oaks townhome community! It is offered at $1,125,000. A turnkey property, 126 Charter Oaks Circle includes many amenities:
dual pane windows
engineered hardwood floors (less than 2 years old)
newly remodeled hall bath (in 2017)
newly remodeled master bath (in 2017)
ceiling fans in bedrooms
kitchen updated in late 2016 with quartz counters, tile back splash, and stainless appliances and sink.
open concept floor plan
private front courtyard with slate patio and double door entry
master suite includes a deck with greenbelt view
large powder room also accommodates laundry
washer, dryer and fridge all stay
2 car garage
Easy commute location with quick access to both Highway 85 and Highway 17. Enjoy the Los Gatos Creek Trail, which is steps away, or relax at the Charter Oaks community pool.
Fantastic, highly rated Los Gatos Schools: Blossom Hill Elementary, Fisher Middle, Los Gatos High.
From Lark Avenue, turn north onto Charter Oaks Drive, then left onto Charter Oaks Circle. You will see the Sereno Group “for sale” sign near the garage. Please use the guest parking spaces and do not block any driveways when viewing the home.
Los Gatos is the “gateway to the Pacific” from Silicon Valley – and vice versa. Snuggled into the base of the Los Gatos Mountains, this scenic area offers a charming downtown, architecturally interesting homes and commercial areas, a beautiful natural setting and great public and private schools to boot. Housing costs are high here, so many wanting to make the town their home may investigate buying a townhouse or townhome rather than a single family home.
What does it cost to buy a Los Gatos townhouse?
Housing prices for townhomes varies with the school district, walkability, and proximity to downtown or other features such as having a view. And, of course, the size of home, number of beds and baths, the outside space, and its condition will all impact the home prices.
Most of the townhouses are 2 or 3 bedrooms. There are some 4 bedroom homes and once in a blue moon, you may stumble upon a 1 bedroom.
On the low end, it may be possible to purchase a small Los Gatos townhouse for about $500,000 for a 1 bedroom, if you can find it. At the high end, they can soar past $2 million. For the 48 townhomes in sold in the last 180 days, anywhere in Los Gatos 95030 or Los Gatos 95032, here are the average numbers (list price, sale price, square footage, days on market, HOA fee, price per square foot) all together, for the Campbell Union High School District area of town and for the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District part of town:
What I found most surprising is that buying a townhouse “in the schools” is not so much more expensive than one with Campbell or Union Schools.
What are typical HOA dues for townhomes in Los Gatos?
The Home Owner Association or HOA dues are often a shock to home buyers. As you see in the chart above, an average HOA fee paid for the homes sold in the last 6 months was $530. But they are not all so expensive – or so inexpensive.
Where can you find a 1 story townhouse which is only connected to its neighbor at the garage? This description fits many of the homes at Los Gatos Village, a tidy townhome community in east Los Gatos set alongside Los Gatos-Almaden Road.
Built in 1972, these comfortable homes are well designed both inside and out. There are 163 units and of them, 57 have 2 stories and the rest are single story homes.
How big are the interiors and lots of town houses at Los Gatos Village?
These homes are modest in size, ranging from 1015 to 1494 square feet, generally (one home has 1648 SF – I would love to hear how that happened!). They have 2 or 3 bedrooms and 2 baths (there may be a few with 2.5 or 3 bathrooms, but most have 2). The lots likewise have a range between about 1563 SF and 4520 SF. I believe that every one of them has a 2 car garage.
Los Gatos Village is a Los Gatos real estate bargain
Homes in Los Gatos Village represent a bit of a bargain for Los Gatos housing prices as they are available for under $1 million (as of this writing in August 2015). Three sales in the last six months, from the update here in October 2016, have been in the mid $700s to the mid $900s. Dues are in the high $300s but includes quite a lot – painting, roof, beautiful lawn areas, and a pool. The incredibly good pricing might be why turnover is so low. In the last 365 days, there have been just 5 sales, representing a 3% annual turnover. If you see it and like it, buy it fast.
If you want to watch for these properties in your home search, these are the streets in which Los Gatos Village homes are located: Milmar Way, Los Gatos-Almaden Road, Escobar Court, Escobar Avenue, and Camino del Cerro.
The good and the bad
Very very good: Every home and every location has good and bad elements to factor in. Here there’s a whole lot of good – the price point (esp. for the schools), very private townhomes, many barely attached at all and more like “patio homes” than town houses. The floorplans are smartly designed with good use of space and flow. Many enjoy vaulted ceilings. Outside patios are also fairly spacious as townhome living goes. It’s very hard to find a single story townhome, but there are more than 100 of them here! The complex is very scenic with lots of lawn area and graceful sidewalks inviting a good stroll into the neighborhoods nearby.
What newcomers may miss is the very convenient foot bridge where Camino del Cerro would seem to go through but is stopped by Ross Creek with two points of the road which do not actually connect for cars. But people on bike, skateboard, foot, or otherwise motor vehicle free can get across on the pedestrian bridge. This is very convenient if your goal is to get to Alta Vista Elementary School, which is just 1115 feet or so from the other side of the creek.
And in case you didn’t know, Alta Vista Elementary and Union Middle Schoolare both very highly scoring with API scores well into the 900s. This alone is a major draw for homes in this price point!
But wait, there’s more! From this community it’s less than a mile’s walk to nearby Safeway, a coffee shop and all kinds of little stores at The Downing Center at Los Gatos-Amaden Road and Union. I measured about 6/10 of a mile from the front of LG Village to the shopping center. For those who cannot or do not want to drive, this is a pretty sweet location for taking care of the essentials!
Good schools, walkable area, more accessible homes (single story) set in a quiet, campus like setting – Los Gatos Village does have something for everyone and appeals to home buyers of all ages.
The not so good: The pricing and location is so good that you just know there had to be something making this so affordable, and so there is. High voltage power lines cut pretty much through the middle of this pretty community, far closer to the homes than many home buyers would like. And there’s nothing that can be done about it.
One corner of the community is “kitty corner” from the cemetery, the Los Gatos Memorial Park. For some home buyers, that may be a deal killer, but many will not take issue with the quiet neighbors.
These townhomes are older and some have “popcorn” or acoustic ceilings that today’s buyers do not want. If you otherwise like the home, I would suggest not eliminating it from your wish list because of the ceiling. You can hire someone to do it before you move in and it’s not nearly as costly as most Silicon Valley home buyers would think.
Los Gatos real estate, homes for sale and housing prices
Below please find a list of condos and townhouses which are for sale – as of the date of this article being written, none were for sale in Los Gatos Village.
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.