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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.)