Monte Sereno

Monte Sereno

With the massive housing correction, we saw a rise in real estate inventory which has now begun to subside, and we saw a wave of short sales and bank owned properties begin to roll through Santa Clara County.  In the “West Valley” communities of Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell and Cambrian Park, we have seen the impact of this to varying degrees.

Today I pulled the numbers for these four areas of Silicon Valley to see this history of inventory and pending sales over the last six years to get a year-over-year view of the market.  (Status 1 = homes available, Status 2 = homes under contract with a seller’s contingency, they might be available, Status 3 = sale pending with normal contingencies on the buyer’s side for inspections, financing, and/or appraisal, and Status 4 = all contingencies have been removed.)


What do these numbers reveal to us?
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How can you get the most “bang for your buck” with Silicon Valley homes when schools are your top priority?

Santa Clara County Realtors know that the performance of local schools is often the leading factor which drives housing values. Different families have different wants and needs, so sometimes it’s not all (or just) about the API scores. (On a related note, consumers please note that real estate agents aren’t API experts and we will not have the exact scores of all schools memoriezed, but we do know how to obtain that information online and elsewhere.)

Because school district boundaries are not identical to city boundary lines, often times there’s confusion about which neighborhoods belong to which school. By understanding this small quirk, you may be able to save many thousands of dollars.

For instance, Cupertino Schools are very highly regarded. But you may not have to be in Cupertino to enjoy the benefits of the district! Part of San Jose (in the 95129 zip code) is part of the Lynbrook High School area. Prices are noticeably lower with the San Jose address.

Likewise with the highly esteemed Los Gatos Schools, the boundaries of the district don’t line up with the town’s boundaries. Hard to imagine, but one little corner of San Jose (in Almaden Valley, off Guadalupe Mines Road) actually belongs to the Los Gatos School district. Homes are less costly in Almaden than in Los Gatos, so this is another great bargain if schools are the most important thing to you.

There are less dramatic examples too, such as homes with a Los Gatos mailing address belonging to Saratoga schools, or Los Altos homes being in the Cupertino school area.

Experienced agents, like those of us at Luxor Real Estate Group, know about some of these “fine points” in Silicon Valley real estate and our knowledge can provide you with a distinct advantage in home buying. Please call us today for help in getting started or continuing your homebuying.

The post below was published in November of 2009. For a more current look at the Monte Sereno real estate market, please see:

The Monte Sereno Real Estate Market



monte-sereno-homes-for-sale-median-list-priceThe Monte Sereno real estate market is trickier than most Silicon Valley markets to gauge because it’s so tiny.  With just four thousand residents, there simply aren’t that many homes for sale in Monte Sereno at any given time and there are even fewer solds.

Monte Sereno Real Estate Trends at a Glance

The info below is from my Silicon Valley REReport, which comes out monthly. Click on the link to see the full report on October’s home sales activity in Monte Sereno.

Trends At a Glance Oct 2009 Previous Month Year-over Year
Median Price $1,450,000 $1,641,000 (-11.6%) $1,322,500 (+9.6%)
Average Price $1,450,000 $1,689,750 (-14.2%) $1,322,500 (+9.6%)
No. of Sales 1 (-75.0%) (-50.0%)
Pending Properties 4 (0.0%) (+33.3%)
Active 23 24 (-4.2%) 29 (-20.7%)
Sale vs. List Price 104.6% 97.3% (+7.5%) 95.3% (+9.8%)
Days on Market 9 77 (-88.3%) 81 (-88.9%)

Home Values in Monte Sereno

Sellers often want to know, perhaps more than anything, what is happening to home values. “What’s my house worth?” is a perennial question because the answer can change from month to month.  Buyers want to know what any particular property should be worth – and often do not see eye to eye with sellers on this point.  Hence, few homes go into escrow (or under contract) each month. (The months supply of inventory has averaged 19 months in MS this year – more on that below – which indicates that there’s a bit of a standoff between buyers and sellers. Buyers aren’t buying in the vast majority of cases.)

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The Monte Sereno real estate market tends to be a good indicator of the high end market throughout Siicon Valley or Santa Clara County. While it may not be exactly the same in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Almaden or Saratoga/Los Gatos, it’s often very similar.

Homes at the high end of the price range have taken a beating in the downturn, as would-be buyers – mostly “move up” home buyers – haven’t got enough equity to purchase the next home.  Many are running into problems getting financing too. So without a large amount of money to put down, it’s very difficult for even willing buyers to make the purchase.

Prices have been dropping in Monte Sereno, as they have been dropping everywhere in the San Jose area.  Although we aren’t seeing the deep discounting here that we see in Alum Rock (where most of the houses bought are distressed properties, either short sales or bank owned homes), the rollback in pricing is still painful for home sellers, especially if they were counting on that money for retirement.

Let’s first look at the recent historical data on list prices in Monte Sereno (graphs courtesy of Altos Research, with which I have a subscription). First here’s a view of the median list price of all houses offered for sale in Monte Sereno in recent years:

Monte Sereno List Prices Recent Years
Now, the asking prices in Monte Sereno in recent years broken out by quartile (each segment is 25% of the inventory):

Monte Sereno list prices recent years by quartile

The highest priced homes have shown the most volatility, as you can see by the swings in the top line.  That could be a statistical abberation since each quartile represents very, very few homes.
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The tide is turning for Silicon Valley real estate: fewer listings are coming onto the market and more homes are being purchased by homebuyers anxious to get into a house before interest rates rise and the $8000 first time homebuyer’s credit expires.

The shift is most visible in areas with the most affordability, but even is more upscale, higher priced areas, it’s still a noticeable change.

Today I’ll share with you a series of graphs, by area, of single family homes in terms of new listings, current inventory, and pending sales (sales under contract).  These were created using our mls system (information deemed reliable but not guaranteed).

Here’s the “key” (since if I put it alongside each image it would not fit without making all of it unreadable):

color key

Description of each graph is ABOVE the image.

Almaden Valley (95120 area of San Jose) this is a more expensive part of Santa Clara County, but the market improvement is very clear. Cool market.

Almaden Valley San Jose pending home sales trends

Blossom Valley (95123 and 95136 zip codes, an area of San Jose) – this is a very affordable part of Silicon Valley and has taken a huge hit on the “price rollback”.  But it’s getting better now – note the rise in sales, low number of new homes coming on the market and overall lessening of inventory. Number of pendings is almost the same as the total inventory. Hot market.

Blossom Valley area of San Jose real estate pending trends

Cambrian Park (95124 & 95118 area of San Jose) – trends among listings, inventory, and sales for single family homes. The trend of less inventory and more sales is quite evident. Warm market overall – very hot under $500,000, cool in higher price ranges. (But hot only if prices are deeply reduced.)

Cambrian Park pending sale and inventory trends

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If you are thinking of buying a home in Silicon Valley, there are things you want to know upfront so that you make an informed decision. Because the most important factor is “location, location, location”, and because once you buy a home you can’t change it, you’ll need to know some location-specific things, including:

  • where are the earthquake fault lines?
  • where are the geologic hazard zones, such as liquifaction areas?
  • where are the flood plains?
  • where are man-made things that will negatively or positively impact a home’s value? Things such as
    • train lines
    • freeways
    • high voltage power lines
    • school district boundaries
    • zip code boundaries
    • proximity to entertainment venues

When looking at maps, sometimes these items show up and sometimes they don’t. Realtors and other real estate professionals in the San Jose area often use a Barclay’s Locaide to locate the natural hazard areas. Google maps can help uncover some other areas, but sometimes it raises more questions than it answers. (Last year a Realtor who doesn’t know the Belwood of Los Gatos area too well phoned me to ask what the object showing up in the hills of Belgatos Park was – it is just a covered resevoir, but it was not identified on the map and concerned some buyers. Local knowledge is still very helpful.)

Tonight I spent some time zooming in on Google Maps, using the satellite view, and idenified many of the paths of the high voltage power lines running through Los Gatos and nearby areas, such as Saratoga, Cupertino, Almaden Valley, Santa Teresa, and South San Jose.

Below, please find the fruit of that labor. I do not claim to have tracked all of the high voltage power lines in the west valley area of Santa Clara County, but I think I got many – maybe even most – of them. I hope you find the information helpful!

View Larger Map

Sale Pending!  Under Contract in 24 Days!

I am delighted to have a new listing – wonderful clients, wonderful house! 

Please stop by…

Open This Weekend! Sat/Sun,  Jan 31 and Feb 1  1:30 – 4:00


16125 Francesca Court, Monte Sereno, CA        MLS # 80901346

Offered at $1,865,000

Wonderfully updated home – exquisite blend of traditional/Victorian with contemporary and open style!

4 bed, 3.5 baths (3 bed, 2.5 bath home plus studio apt with full kitchen and full bath) 

Quality craftsmanship in this custom-built home throughout!  Fine features such as hardwood floors, leaded glass windows, tall & classic baseboard, equisite crown moulding, many built-in bookshelves and cabints, and much more!

The kitchen alone is a masterpiece with a huge island, Thermador, Bosch and Sub-Zero appliances, Kohler sinks, cherry cabinets, and slab granite countertops. But that’s not all! The kitchen also includes a bay window, hardwood floors, recessed lights, a lazy Susan, some pullouts, and hardwood floors.

Light dapples through prisms in the leaded, beveled glass in the entryway and Master Bedroom. It is both elegant and understated, refined and warm! The effect, particularly in the master bedroom, is simply breathtaking!


More Information on this Classic Monte Sereno Home


  1. Virtual Tour Link:
  2. Map Link:”>Map to 16125 Francesca Court, Monte Sereno
  3. Link to More Photos of 16125 Francesca Court

Highly regarded Los Gatos Schools

  • Los Gatos High
  • Fisher Middle School
  • Daves Elementary School (likely – depending on space available)
    Open This Weekend

    Sat  Jan 24  1:30 – 4:00   &   Sun Jan 25  1:30 – 4:00

    For more information, please see

    Living History in the West Valley Area of Santa Clara County: Japanese Gardens.  One Is Public, One Is Private, One Is Remodeled Almost Beyond Recognition.

    water-lilies-smaller-shadowI used to joke with my kids, “history isn’t boring, it’s just taught that way“. Local Silicon Valley history is plenty colorful, and some of it continues on today as “living history.”

    Japanese Gardens are part of that “living history” of California. They are lovely, calm places to visit with immense but subdued beauty. Did you know that we have three of them locally on the west side of Silicon Valley? You may have heard of Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, but there are two others on the west side (Los Gatos, Saratoga or Monte Sereno) that you might not know of – even if you have enjoyed a meal at one of them! (Also, of course, there is the well known San Jose Japanese Friendship Garden at Kelly Park.)

    The Saratoga Historical Foundation has a fabulous page about these three places, so I’ll refer you there for more reading: It may not be easy or even possible to see all of them, but if you have never been to a Japanese Garden, go and check them out. You’ll be glad you did.

    Earlier today I updated my series on Silicon Valley short sales at my Live in Los Gatos blog, where I’ve been tracking the number of active listings in select parts of Santa Clara County which are offered for sale as short sales. Below please find the areas and dates I’ve charted:

    3/26/2008 5/18/2008 7/19/2008 9/18/2008
    Los Gatos 5 8 7 9
    Monte Sereno 1 0 0 1
    Saratoga 0 1 4 3
    Los Gatos Mtns 3 2 3 0
    Cambrian Park 59 63 68 49
    Santa Clara 56 63 69 75
    Campbell 13 19 23 20
    Cupertino 1 1 0 1
    Los Altos 0 2 1 0
    Sunnyvale 50 58 51 48
    Blossom Valley 196 217 190 177
    San Jose (all) 1534 1777 1708 1578

    To read the entire post, please continue on to Silicon Valley Short Sale Snapshot.

    California-poppiesSitting at the base of El Sereno, part of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Monte Sereno is an upscale residential community snuggled between Los Gatos and Saratoga, California. The population is very tiny with about 4000 folks living in Monte Sereno any given time. It is composed of about one and a half square miles. This small city shares many services with the town of Los Gatos (such as schools and police). There are no businesses in Monte Sereno, only homes, the citys offices and the post office.

    Real estate prices are high in this low-crime city, and while there are some modest homes, there are also some palatial estates featuring extreme amenities.

    The geography is mostly flat to gentle hills, with much of it wooded. Redwood trees, oak trees, madrone and many others cluster together in the nooks and crannies of Monte Sereno. There are open places too, of course, with grassy fields. Along Daves Avenue, there are several streets that tie in together with a common horse stable, and it has meandering equestrian trails. Most of those homes are on half acre, level lots, with generous ranch style homes that back to the trails. This is a great neighborhood for horse lovers!

    If you have a chance to visit Austin Way behind La Hacienda Restaurant and Inn, youll be delighted to find an old brick road, part of the heritage of Monte Sereno. And on the other side of Highway 9 along Austin Way, youll see a historic building recounting the citys agricultural past in Austin Corners.

    John Steinbeck once called this area home – but later decided the rural hamlet was too crowded, so moved into the Santa Cruz Mountains to regain his serenity! It is said that he wrote ˜Of Mice and Men while living here.

    Official town website
    The Town of Monte Sereno
    History, population, and more on this tiny town which is nestled between Saratoga and Los Gatos.
    Wikipedia on Monte Sereno

    by Transposh - translation plugin for wordpress
    Mary Pope-Handy
    Sereno Group Real Estate
    214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
    Los Gatos, CA 95030
    408 204-7673
    Mary (at)
    License# 01153805

    Selling homes in
    Silicon Valley:
    Santa Clara County,
    San Mateo County, and
    Santa Cruz County.
    Special focus on:
    San Jose, Los Gatos,
    Saratoga, Campbell,
    Almaden Valley,
    Cambrian Park.
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