July 14th, 2014
Most home owners know that staging a home will help to improve the selling price and give a good “bang for the buck” or return. This is even more true for staging the front yard, because usually the first impression comes online with the view of the front of the house. If the photos on the MLS (multiple listing service) and portals such as Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia do not display a welcoming and appealing exterior from the street, many visitors to those sites often will not bother to check the inside of the house. (When we real estate agents do virtual tours of our listings with TourFactory, that site sends us traffic reports weekly. The front image always has the largest amount of traffic by far.)
Anyone living in the Los Gatos, San Jose or Silicon Valley area for the last decade knows that we get droughts – and we’re in a serious one now. Many lawns look less than green. What can you do to make the front look desirable when everything is so parched? Here are a few tips:
- use automatic sprinklers and set them to go at 4 or 5am, when the watering will do the most good
- tidy the front yard: coil up hoses, dust or paint the front, sweep the porch and walkways, repair any lifted concrete which could be a tripping hazard, remove any non-essentials from view such as watering cans, toys, projects “to do”
- consider painting the front door something colorful such as blue or red – talk to your stager about the color choice first!
- possibly add mulch or tanbark in the planter areas (they will help to keep the moisture in when you water your plants)
- trim back hedges which are covering any of the windows so that they are below them
- if you have palm trees, consider trimming the dead “skirt” for a cleaner look
- if there’s a porch, create a seating arrangement using chairs and a table
- put colorful flowers near the front door, either along the walkway or in pots near the door (just remember that potted flowers will need frequent watering, so they are not a good choice for vacant property) – if you have enough lead time, plant bushes which flower but are not too “thirsty” – talk with someone at the garden store or research which plants will thrive in your home’s particular micro-climate and which will not require much watering
Get more tips on staging the home and making it look its best in photos here:
Selling Your Silicon Valley Home? Photo Tips for Better Marketing
July 9th, 2014
The historic Almond Grove neighborhood, or the Almond Grove district, is in or perhaps more properly adjacent to downtown Los Gatos. It is one of only 5 areas named by the town as a “Los Gatos historic district“. The others are the Edelen or University Historic District, the Fairview Plaza Historic District, the Broadway area, and the Downtown Historic District. (I was suprised that the Glenridge area doesn’t enjoy the same distinction – but I’m sure that there’s a good reason for that.)
What sets this neighborhood apart, besides simply having older houses? Why make it a special historic district?
It certainly got off to a good start. The subdivision was first auctioned off in 1887. They began with approximately 40 acres of former almond orchards that was subdivided into 170 lots and by the end of the first auction day, a full 121 of them were sold!! But that’s not it. However, part of it had to do with the background story. Below please find an excerpt from the town’s website.
(Read the entire document here: http://www.losgatosca.gov/documents/8/12/14/almondgrove.PDF )
The town has a long discussion as to why this area is historic. It’s not just the age of the buildings, but also what happened there and who lived there and why they were important to the town.
Almond Grove Los Gatos video
I’ve written much more on my “Live in Los Gatos” blog. To learn more, please read these articles:
The Almond Grove neighborhood in Los Gatos, a scenic & historic district (July 2014)
A Place for Strolling in Los Gatos: Historic Almond Grove District in Los Gatos (May 2007)
July 8th, 2014
Arroyo Rinconada is a charming, smaller townhome community plus one historic house in west Los Gatos along the Saratoga and Campbell border. It is located at the corner of Quito Road and Pollard Road, and adjacent to the much larger Rinconada Hills development. With Spanish style architecture, tiled roofs, curving streets and gentle slopes, and set with a backdrop of trees along the creek, it is very scenic.
There are just 3 streets in this complex: Casa Grande (Big House), Rio Vista (River View), and Sierra Linda (Pretty Mountain or Scenic Hill).
The townhomes were all built in 1984. They are good sized, with 3 bedrooms, 2-3 baths, between 2150 square feet and 2350 SF, attached 2 car garages, all built in 1984. Today, they are likely to sell in the range of $1 – $1.15 million.
The approximately 2600 square foot Spanish style house was built in 1935 and sits atop a knoll on a 55,000 square foot lot. The little road ringing the lot is Casa Grande – appropriately named!
Are there any special facilities?
Arroyo Rinconada has a gate at its opening but does not appear to be in use at this time. The community enjoys the use of a private pool, spa, clubhouse and tennis courts. As of this writing, the monthly home owner dues are a little over $500.
The home owners association has a website which includes a slideshow of the homes and grounds: http://arroyorinconada.org
July 1st, 2014
On Saturday, July 26th, the immensely popular and award-winning Joe Sharino Band will be featured at the Rockin’ in the Mountains event at the Loma Prieta Community Center; proceeds will benefit the Loma Prieta Fire and Rescue.
For more details and to purchase your tickets, please visit:
To learn more about the Joe Sharino Band, go to
June 26th, 2014
Newcomers to the Los Gatos and Monte Sereno areas often have trouble sorting out the local school districts, and whether or not one area has better performing students than another. (In many areas, the school district is firmly tied to the city or zip code. Not here!) My advice is to visit the schools in person, talk with people there if possible, and do a lot of research since school scores do not tell the entire story. That said, they do tell part of it – and they are a simple way to compare side by side.
Today I took a few minutes to compile a list of the public schools which serve the residents of Monte Sereno and Los Gatos (town, not the county areas in the mountains – the Los Gatos Mountain schools score very very well overall) and to note their API Scores for 2013, the most recent year for which we have data. As you can see below, the scores for the elementary and middle schools are really excellent across the board and in all districts, and in many cases the elementary schools in the LG Union School District are not as high as those outside of it. The real difference shakes out at the high school level. (It should be noted, too, that Saratoga High has a score of 938 and residents within the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District can apply to go there, or at least have been able to do so in the past.) *Please click on the image below to see a larger version of it.
Home values are influenced by many factors, one of them often being school scores. Twenty years ago, many Los Gatos residents felt that they had to be “in the schools” to give their children a quality education. Many do still prefer the Los Gatos Union School District, but it’s not as uniformly thought before since the scores in the Union School District have been rising quite a lot in recent years. The part of San Jose (Cambrian) which falls within the Union School District is extremely popular now due to the more affordable price tag with really great schools. Many of them are expecting the scores at Leigh High School to rise in time since all of the “feeder schools” are scoring in the 900s.
June 25th, 2014
How is the Monte Sereno real estate market? Because the city is small, with just about 4000 residents, there usually are few homes listed for sale or selling, and with small numbers we can get seeming volatility. Additionally, some of the properties carry hefty price tags, so reductions in those can really fiddle with the stats overall. Finally, while nearly all Monte Sereno properties are within the boundaries of the Los Gatos Union School District and the Los Gatos – Saratoga Joint Union High School District, a small handful has Campbell schools with the Campbell Union High School District. Homes in the latter area will sell for a bit less, so sales there will pull the average and median sales price down a little and not give an accurate impression for most of the city’s real estate market.
This morning I ran the numbers in MS generally and also by high school district. To get the months of inventory, we divide active listings by the number of homes sold over the last 30 days. As you can see in the charts below, homes are selling (closing) faster than they are coming on. In the Campbell HSD area, there are no recent closings but there is one pending (and I have been told by the listing agent that the pending got 8 offers; similarly, I had a listing on the same street & HSD close escrow about 6 weeks ago and it got 5 offers). It appears that the market is equally healthy in both high school districts.
Closed sales in Monte Sereno in May: prices up about 5% from previous month and over 30% from last year
Here are the quick statistics for the closed sales in the last complete month to give a sense of how things are going. Sales data comes from my Monte Sereno Real Estate Report . Given that the supply of homes to study is tiny, what can we tell from this data? Read the rest of this entry »