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


Snapshot of Short Sale Listings in Silicon Valley

April 08, 2008

Short sales are on the rise in Silicon Valley. Note the change of active listings identified as short sales in just the last 13 days! The list below does not include pending sales.

Silicon Valley Short Sales - Data from MLSListings.com (REIL)

Related Posts on Short Sales in Silicon Valley by Mary Pope-Handy:

Are there many short sale listings in the Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga area?

Can a Real Estate Agent Help You to Buy a Distressed Home or Pre-Foreclosure in Los Gatos?

Mini Market Update:The Los Gatos Real Estate Market

March 25, 2008

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.

Understanding the Los Gatos Real Estate Market Trends

February 15, 2008

The post below was written in February 2008. To see the most current information on the Los Gatos real estate market, please click here. You’ll get all the posts on Los Gatos homes & housing market (including some posts on Monte Sereno, the Los Gatos Mountains and nearby areas.)

Feb 15, 2008: A few days ago, I did a post about the biggest, most common mistakes sellers make that cause their homes to not sell. The # 1 error is overpricing, and often that’s connected with hiring an agent who tells you what you want to hear instead of what you need to hear (or sometimes it’s the agent not understanding the market and accidentally misguiding the owner).

Are prices rising or falling in Los Gatos? Both! It depends on what part of town, what price point, what school district, you are considering. We don’t have just “one market”. It is imperative to understand the micro-markets to get the pricing right.

So let’s look at “the market” and “the markets”. Let’s have a look at the information that homeowners are using to determine how to price their Los Gatos (or Saratoga, or San Jose) home. Below, see a general view of the “Los Gatos Real Estate Market” for single family homes (very broad, including two zip codes and even more school districts). This is relating to list price, not sold prices.

Los Gatos Median Home Prices, single family homes, last 12 months











Would this help you to understand pricing trends? To a degree, yes it would.

But it would also add a lot of insight to see how the market is performing within zip codes:

Median Price in Los Gatos over last 12 months in the 95032 zip code









As you can see, there is a vast difference in performance between the town as a whole and the 95032 zip code.

Los Gatos median home prices, single family homes, last 12 months, 95030 zip code











What is going on here? Clearly, the 95030 part of town shows rising list prices, while offered amounts in 95032 have been falling. The zip codes are a little different demographically, with 95030 being more expensive and being all within the prized Los Gatos School District. Some of 95032 is in that same district, but some is assigned to the Union School District or the Moreland School District. (Unfortunately my data is not available by schools.)

Another point to consider is the pricing range. Here’s a view of Los Gatos single family homes by listed price quartiles:

Los Gatos Single Family Home Median Prices over last 12 months by quartile










The town overall appears to be “flat”. But is the market really flat?

And let’s see again the quartiles, but this time broken out by zip code:

Median sales prices of single family homes in Los Gatos over last 12 months in 95032










In 95032 you see a distinct slide in the 2 middle percentiles especially, but also in the lowest range of homes.

Now let’s see how things look in 95030:

Median home prices of single family homes in Los Gatos, last 12 months, in 95030











In contrast, pricing are rising across the board in the 95030 area. The highest cost homes have suffered the most volatility in the market.

For months, we’ve heard that we have a “bifurcated market” here in Silicon Valley. We know that homes in east San Jose, south San Jose, and south county are under a huge oppression of short sales and foreclosures. Prices have fallen dramatically. At the same time, homes in Palo Alto and areas closest to it are experiencing a strong sellers market. Los Gatos does not have a ton of short sales or foreclosures, but it does have both a buyers market and a sellers market all at the same time.

The above chart looks like there isn’t much movement, just a slow and gradual upward push…but have a peek along the quartile lines and you’ll see it’s not really flat. Here’s a view of the 1st quartile of each zip code over the last year (I’m not going to run all 4 here, contact me if you want more info about a different price point):

Los Gatos, 95032 median prices of SFH in the lowest quartile over last year

and …

Los Gatos, 95030, median prices of home sales over the last month in the lowest quartile of price ranges

If a home is “in the schools” and has no issues (like high voltage lines, train tracks, busy road, or a disfunctional floorplan), and if it’s priced between one and two and a half million and is priced appropriately, marketed well etc, there’s a good chance it’s going to receive multiple offers.

If a home is NOT in the Los Gatos School District, prices are falling and buyers are probably waiting rather than buying in most neighborhoods.

To complicate matters, we have very few solds to use as comparable properties. If agents and sellers are using “comps” from 6 or 9 months ago (when the last similar home sold), they might be too low in 95030 and too high in 95032 (mostly along school lines, in my experience). It is imperative to adjust for market conditions. For example, if a home was worth $1,500,000 last March (since the charts begin there), it has possibly swung up or down in value by $100,000 t
o $200,000 depending on the area of town.

Warning: if you are in an area where prices are falling and you list your home too high, you may experience the unpleasant phenomena of “chasing the market down”. A Realtor friend of mine from Long Beach, Laurie Manny, did a post on this topic that I highly recommend: “Chasing the Market Down – Are You Guilty?

What is the market in your area of town doing? I would welcome feedback. Are homes selling, and if so, are they going fast? Are they “just sitting” and taking price reductions? What do you see happening in your area, with your type of property? Feedback is posted immediately – please chime in!

(Coming soon – a similar post on condos and townhomes in Los Gatos.)

The Condo Market in Los Gatos – How Is It?

December 07, 2007

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:

Los Gatos Condos and Townhomes Closed in November of the years 1998 through 2007

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?

Closed condo and townhouse sales in Los Gatos from January 2007 through November 2007

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).

liveinlosgatos book - The Condo Market in Los Gatos - How Is It?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)!

Best regards,

Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor, CRS, ABR, EPRO, SRES, ASP, RECS, CNHS

The Weather is CoolingAnd So Is the Market

September 28, 2007

In early October, we’ll get a great breakdown of the September market from various sources. Retrospect is always 20/20, they say.

But I’m impatient and want to know NOW what’s happening. I’m seeing a slowdown in market areas that were previously fairly robust.

One way of getting a pulse on the market is to check the amount of homes going under contract. So I did a quick sampling of condos, townhomes, and single family homes that sold (not closed, but went pending) in recent weeks. Here’s what I found:

Aug 30 – Sept 6 (Labor Day timeperiod) – 6 sales (starting inventory of 128)
Sept 7 -13 17 sales (starting inventory of 120)
Sept 14 – 20 16 sales (starting inventory of 115)
Sept 21- 27 12 sales (starting inventory of 125)

Inventory has stayed fairly consistent (bouncing around just a little) but sales have been dropping in the last three weeks. So yes, the market in Los Gatos is cooling overall.

A neat place to see graphs and charts on the housing climate is Altos Research. There’s a widget on the right margin of this blog and if you click on it, it will bring you to their website and give more data on the real estate market.

And in a week or so I’ll have more data still on our changing housing market here in Los Gatos.

Los Gatos Real Estate Market Update

September 08, 2007

Los Gatos CA Homes: Inventory vs Sales August 2007In contrast to much of Silicon Valley, the Los Gatos market is continuing to experience appreciation and is a fairly “balanced” market overall.

I. Single Family Homes

Compared to last year, August’s closed sales of single family homes were smaller in number (off 6.5%) but up in price (median up 35.9%, average up 23.7%). Inventory is far lower than last year too – listings were down 26.4% from last year. The lower inventory is helping to keep this market balanced, as opposed to the buyers’ market it is elsewhere.

Los Gatos Homes: Prices vs Sales August 2007Compared to last month, August’s closed sales of houses in Los Gatos were down 6.5%, listings were up 6.2%, and prices were up noticeably (4.8% for the median and 7.2% for the average).

II. Condos and Townhomes

The condo market is somewhat similar in The Cats, with the numbers of listings and sales falling, inventory shrinking, and prices rising.

Compared to last year, the closed sales were down by a whopping 66.7%, listings were down by 23.5%, and prices were up strongly (28.2% median, 15% average). Normally, sales do fall off in August, so we expect to see a month to-month drop, but to see a drop from one August to the next is very noteworthy.

Los Gatos Condos: Inventory vs Sales August 2007Compared to last month, sales of townhomes and condominiums were down 69.2% and listings were up 18.2%. Prices skyrocked though, up 45.7% for the median and 30.1% for the average.

III. Give me the Cliff Notes Version

For both single family homes, townhouses and condos, this summer has been a whole lot better a time in which to sell than the year before. Inventory is down, prices are up. Sales are down tremendously, but fewer homeowners are trying to sell now than a year ago. If you could not sell your home last year, try again – things are much improved! Just make sure your price is realistic and the condition is top-notch.

Los Gatos Condos: prices vs sales Aug 2007Often the Los Gatos market follows a fairly predictable pattern for inventory, sales and appreciation: in January there are more buyers than sellers, and prices get pushed up. This inequality of supply and demand tends to remain (most years) through late spring or into summer as inventory rises.

Some years the balancing point is in May, others in July – it varies. By summer, though, usually there are more listings than buyers and prices quit rising. In the second half of the year, prices may be stable, they may drop slightly, or they may do some dropping in August and rising again between Labor Day and Halloween, when we get a second burst of folks who want to get in before the year ends. Often inventory shrinks in winter and again in late summer. In the first graph above, you can see that pattern roughly played out.

Where are we now? It is early September and if the market follows what is typical (which is what we are seeing now), we will have a very healthy market this month and next. For buyers, there’s usually more selection as houses come on the market. For sellers, there’s a renewed interest among buyers and well-priced, well-staged, and well-marketed real estate sells well. Now is a good time to both sell and to buy in Los Gatos.

If you would like more information on the market (both condos and single family homes in Los Gatos, Saratoga, San Jose and around Silicon Valley), please see my online Silicon Valley real estate market report. Or call me at 408 204-7673 for a private and confidential consultation.


How's the real estate market in Los Gatos?

July 05, 2007

glasses - How's the real estate market in Los Gatos?The numbers for June’s real estate closings are in. How does it look?

Overall, things are “OK” in Los Gatos. It is a bit of a buyer’s market, but not a strong one. Certainly things are not nearly as difficult as on the east side of the valley for selling(Alum Rock, Berryessa, south San Jose), where sales have almost ground to a halt. Things are selling in Los Gatos. Just not everything, at every price and every condition. So yes, you can sell, but you have to be serious about it and not just “test the waters” to “see if you can get your price”. Buyers, it’s a pretty decent time to buy. No one is giving away homes in Los Gatos, but serious sellers are willing to negotiate to get their home sold. Don’t be afraid – give it a good shot and you will likely be successful!

In our high-tech, data-driven valley, everyone wants to see the numbers. So below, we’ll view them.

Let’s look at the absorption rate first. This is the number that reflects the “months of inventory” or how long it would take to sell off everything currently listed if nothing new were to come onto the market. If that is not plain, think of it like a bathtub full of water. If we pulled the drain (but did not allow any new water to enter the tub), how long would it take for the water currently there to empty out?

For this absorption rate, I used single family homes in Area 16, which our MLS provider identifies as the Los Gatos area (it’s close to accurate – there are some San Jose homes in area 16 but not many, most are Los Gatos addresses and properly within the town of Los Gatos).  (This number is derived by dividing the current inventory by the number of closed sales for that period.) Obviously, for sellers, a shorter rate is better:

Absorption rate for single family homes in Los Gatos

The absorption rate is better for sellers than a year ago (June 2007 3.3, June 2006, 4). For the National Association of Realtors, anything under 6  months is considered a seller’s market. But in our area, that is an unusually long time so we consider other factors, such as the list price to sales price ratio, etc.

Year over year, things are better than this time last year for sellers. They are also improved over a month ago, though not quite as good as the closeds for April (reflecting sales in March, which was the best month of the year to date for selling).

Another factor to consider is the list price to sales price ratio. This, too, improved noticeably and more closely resembled April’s closings/March’s sales, but didn’t quite match it. With this number, we normally view anything over 100% as a seller’s market. Right now it’s not as good as it was earlier in the year, when the numbers ranged from 98-99%. Compared to many places in the country, this list price to sales price ratio is great. This number indicates that it is not a seller’s market. But it is not a super strong buyer’s market, either.

June 2007         97.57
May  2007        95.75
April 2007         97.88
March 2007       98.42
February 2007   98.91
January 2007     98.54
December 2006  96.27
November 2006   97.26
October 2006      98.7
September 2006  94.83
August 2006        97.4
July 2006            98.24
June 2006           98.7

For this ratio of list price to sales price, the Los Gatos single family home market has slipped from a year ago. This indicator is a bit different than others we’re seeing.

The number of new listings has slowed down, and the total inventory has declined a little bit. Sales are keeping pace. These are keeping Los Gatos from slipping into a true or strong buyer’s market.

                       New Listings    Current Inventory

June 2007         58                      134
May  2007         69                     153
April 2007         73                      136
March 2007       62                      118
February 2007   45                      103
January 2007     54                      100
December 2006  11                       81
November 2006   29                      127
October 2006      46                      144
September 2006  85                      171
August 2006        81                      164
July 2006            67                      166
June 2006           87                      170

Visually, it looks like this:
june 06 to june 07 lg sfh new listing to inventory ratio(1) - How's the real estate market in Los Gatos?

On this front, it is really a much better market for sellers than a year ago as we have about 20% fewer single family homes on the market now as we did then.

 How about the simple number of closed sales? The newspaper keeps reporting that the number of sales are off statewide and countywide. But in Los Gatos, sales for the last 3 months have been close to (and quarte
r over quarter a little higher than) a year ago.

June 2007  &nb
sp;     41
May  2007        33
April 2007         45

March 2007       30
February 2007   29
January 2007     27
December 2006  24
November 2006   31
October 2006      41
September 2006  19
August 2006        35
July 2006            24
June 2006          42
May 2006           36
April 2006          34

Days on Market (or Continuous Days on Market) is not as strong an indicator as the Absorption Rate, but everyone wants to know about these numbers. Let’s look at them next – we will view the CONTINUOUS Days on Market here:

June 2007        37
May  2007        78
April 2007         60

March 2007       65
February 2007   48
January 2007     101
December 2006  82
November 2006   69
October 2006      68
September 2006  80
August 2006        55
July 2006            45
June 2006          46
May 2006           61
April 2006          29

Seems that things are moving around a bit but quarter over quarter, the continuous days on market are longer than a year ago.

In summary, I think Los Gatos is mostly “holding steady”. I do not see a deepening buyer’s market. Nor do I see a quick turnaround back to a seller’s market.

What often happens here in Silicon Valley is that we find ourselves in a ten year pattern in which prices rise (then spike), decline a bit (but not as much as the runup) and then go flat while we catch our breath and wait for it to all begin again. Only in hindsight do we ever really know where we are in the cycle, but it appears to me that we are in the flat, recovery period right now.

The plus to this kind of market is that it is more calm. For people who want to do a move up, this type of market provides enough momentum to sell, but not so much crazy competition that it’s difficult to find a replacement home.

Every home, neighborhood and price range is unique. For specific information on your particular home and needs, please contact me.
Mary Pope-Handy

Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor, CRS, ABR, e-PRO, SRES, ASP, RECS, CNHS
Helping Nice Folks to Buy & Sell Homes Since 1993
Co-Author: “Get The Best Deal When Selling Your Home In Silicon Valley”
Intero Real Estate Services, Los Gatos, CA (Silicon Valley)
408 357-5760 (Direct); 408 204-7673 (Cell); 408 715-0201 (eFax)
www.PopeHandy.com’ www.ValleyOfHeartsDelight.com
www.Move2SiliconValley.com www.SiliconValleySeniorsGuide.com  
emailto: Mary@PopeHandy.com

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Mary Pope-Handy

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
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special focus on
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and the San Jose areas of
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