Silicon Valley Real Estate Info
Sitting 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 city’s 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, you’ll 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, you’ll see a historic building recounting the city’s 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
Cambrian Park is a highly desirable district of San Jose. With close proximity to Los Gatos, Campbell, Willow Glen and Blossom Valley, there’s lots to do within Cambrian itself or very nearby. Cambrian also enjoys good schools, low crime, two newer libraries, two Farmer’s Markets, and a fabulous rec center, the Camden Community Center.
Where is Cambrian Park and how big is it? The 2010 census reported Cambrian Park as having less than 4,000 people. In contemporary usage, though, Cambrian consists of much more than the area known as “Cambrian Village” (which has this small population), and now includes about 75,000 residents in all. The area includes most of the 95124 zip code plus the 95118 zip code (and a little sliver of 95008). (To see a very approximate map of Cambrian Park boundaries, click on this link.) The local Realtor association had something to do with this shift in perception as it mapped out boundaries for Cambrian Park, roughly known in the industry as “area 14” that expanded the original area. Historically, though, Cambrian was really a very vast area including much of Campbell and many areas now falling under different district names. The area is alternately known as Cambrian, Cambrian Park, and Cambrian Village – the latter referring to the area near Union & Camden Avenues.
Related post on Cambrian’s history, areas and map: please also see Cambrian Park: Good Schools, Low Crime, Close to Los Gatos and Campbell
How do you decide where in Cambrian to live? Many aspects of home buying will likely come into play, from schools desired and budget available to the ambiance and practical things you desire such as RV parking, an extra large garage, family room, guest suite, commute issues (proximity to freeways), etc.
I. School Districts of Cambrian Park
Your decision might be influenced by the school district you want; Cambrian Park has three elementary school districts. All are good – Cambrian Park truly has no bad schools – but some are exceptionally high. Some districts may have more offerings for special needs kids or gifted kids – if you have children and are looking at placing them in the local public schools, do your research before you househunt!
- The north side of Cambrian Park (going into Campbell and Willow Glen) has schools belonging to the Cambrian School District (see map).
- The east side of Cambrian Park (going toward Blossom Valley) is part of the territory of the San Jose Unified School District. Schools for all of San Jose are beautifully mapped out by the district – you have to zoom in to see the boundaries around Cambrian but it includes all three local districts so is worth the extra steps!
- The southwest side of Cambrian (and east Los Gatos) is within the boundaries of the Union School District, which also has a helpful map of the borders. The map is a pdf and it is very detailed.
The real estate market in the Los Gatos Mountains is very different from the “in town” Los Gatos housing market and really deserves its own separate treatment. The mountain area includes areas both in Santa Clara County and also Santa Cruz County, but the data here will reflect only the area within Santa Clara County. Both sides may have a Los Gatos mailing address with the 95033 zip code.
If you’re interested in learning the Coronavirus’ impact on real estate sales, please read my post on that subject through the link.
The Real Estate Report for the Los Gatos Mountains is updated each month with the RE Report info, but the Altos Research live chart automatically updates weekly, so please stop by often to get updated information.
Trends at a Glance
Due to the pandemic and Shelter in Place regulations, which prohibited visiting occupied homes for sale in April, the number of sales fell through the floor.
(If you are viewing this on a mobile device, the table below will scroll if you swipe it.)
|Trends At a Glance||Apr 2020||Previous Month||Year-over-Year|
|Median Price||$1,072,500 (-29.1%)||$1,512,000||$967,500 (+10.9%)|
|Average Price||$1,072,500 (-28.9%)||$1,508,230||$1,061,290 (+1.1%)|
|No. of Sales||2 (-84.6%)||13||10 (-80.0%)|
|Pending||10 (+66.7%)||6||14 (-28.6%)|
|Active||32 (-5.9%)||34||44 (-27.3%)|
|Sale vs. List Price||97.5% (-1.7%)||99.2%||96.0% (+1.6%)|
|Days on Market||12 (-85.0%)||80||95 (-87.4%)|
|Days of Inventory||464 (+491.4%)||78||128 (+263.6%)|
Sales are down from last month and last year. The days on market info is off as the MLS stopped accruing days as of mid-March (set to re-start in mid-May). It was only on May 4th that it again became possible to show occupied homes for sale, so we’ll need to give this until June to see if the market normalizes.
Each week, my subscription to the Altos Research Report for the Los Gatos Mountains is automatically updated. Click on the link to view it, or subscribe if you’d like an update emailed to you regularly.
As of the most recent update (4/16/2020 at the time of this writing) this market has warmed up lately but may be starting to calm down again. In December, Altos reported that this market was in a slight buyer’s advantage, but now we’ve returned to a slight seller’s advantage again as market activity increases into spring.
Today we’re looking at the real estate market for houses in some of the “west valley” communities along the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains – areas where schools are good, crime is low, residents enjoy scenic views of the hills (or of the valley from the hills, depending on the location) and overall, a highly educated population not too far from Highway 85. This will be a real estate market comparison for Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, and Los Altos.
Of the four municipalities, three are really very similar to each other in several regards. Cupertino has the largest population – about 61,000 people – but Los Altos, Los Gatos and Saratoga are all similarly sized, somewhere between 31,000 residents. The latter three also enjoy a traditional “downtown” area which is popular with pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike. (Monte Sereno has under 4,000 residents, which is so small that the statistics are very easily thrown from month to month, so it is omitted in this quick study.) Of the four, Cupertino, then, is the least similar due to size and lack of a central downtown area for now. This may feel different once the Vallco Mall is redeveloped.
We’ll take a quick look at these areas now in terms of the real estate market trends and statistics for each area, considering just “class 1” (houses and duet homes). The charts used below are from Altos Research, to which I have a subscription, and they will be automatically updated each week.
Please note: the Los Gatos data is probably a little artificially low as it will include all 3 zip codes, meaning also the Los Gatos Mountains, which are quite a bit more affordable than the areas “in town”.
In addition, as of this writing we are in the shelter-in-place phase 1 of the pandemic. This post is updated approximately every quarter or half-year, so we’re just starting to see the results of these changes to the market, but it will take a while to see the full picture. For now you can read more about the Coronavirus impact on real estate sales in my post on the topic.
Also, during the shutdown so far, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) stopped the timer on all Days on Market (DOM). Therefore these numbers will be off beginning from March 17th through around May 17th. In the data below, this will affect any numbers related to the days on market, the absorption rate, and the days of inventory.
Now on with the analysis!
(1) Median List Price (per Altos Research):
This post on the coronavirus impact on real estate sales here in Silicon Valley is updated periodically, depending on unfolding events, so please check back often. Bottom line: sales are down, but the market is heating up now that occupied homes may be shown again. We will have a better sense of the market’s footing by the end of May, since the ability to show occupied properties only began May 4th.
New cases of Coronavirus in SCC are falling
As of right now, May 11, there are 2339 diagnosed cases in Santa Clara County per the county health department’s website. We are averaging about 18 – 19 new cases per day (average of the last week’s worth of data). When we went into the lockdown, it was about the same rate, but had been inching up, while now we are creeping down. The number of hospitalized is also trending down. Check out the county’s website using that link for more info.
There are fewer new cases each week. However, the total numbers are still rising, so people should not get the idea that this is behind us. The opposite is true: we are the very early stages of dealing with the virus, which is likely to be an ongoing problem until we get a vaccine, herd immunity, or exceptionally good treatments which are widely available. The Shelter in Place has been effective in keeping our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
Things are loosening up a little bit
As of May 4, occupied homes can be shown as long as the seller is not present. This is a huge help. Sales fell significantly in April as compared to March (down 9.6%) since most listed homes could not be visited. The previous conditions do still apply, though: only 2 buyers + their 1 agent may be present (no kids, no friends, no parents) and the 2 buyers must already live in the same household. If it is 1 person purchasing the home, then only that one may see the property in person. We are to keep the social distance, of course.
Additionally, the PEAD form must be signed and emailed to the listing agent prior to the showing. As you can imagine, it is full of warnings about seeing homes during the pandemic, and that you should use masks, gloves, booties, etc. In some cases, the listing agents will provide them, but not always.
My sense is that May will be transitional and June more normal, but of course until there’s a vaccine, we’ll need to social distance (so no open houses), wear protective gear, and make most of the home buying work be virtual rather than in person. The cases have slowed, though, and that is encouraging.
The real estate market is warming back up. Notably, inventory is rising. There are 190 single family homes that have come on the market in Santa Clara County since May 4th, and as of this moment, there are 1035 single family homes on the market in this county. That’s a 22% jump in inventory in 7 days.
Real estate agents may ONLY see their home buyers in person during showings (not for a general home buying consultation, for reviewing disclosures, or writing offers). Realtors and other licensees may not see their home seller clients in person at all. No meetings of any kind are currently permitted.
During the Shelter in Place: Can real estate listings, showings, sales, and closings take place now?
The landscape for home sales is complicated and restricted, but far easier than it was prior to May 4th. Serious home buyers and sellers should be able to get their sales through now.
- Real estate agents in Santa Clara County may show homes, but this should be only after everything possible has been done virtually and as a “last resort” per the county
- Real estate agents may show up to 2 people who currently live in the same household, no more
- Paperwork must be signed by buyers before they can view a home (the PEAD advisory regarding the risks of being in a home at this time). Some brokerages are requiring both the PEAD and their own company’s paperwork, too.
Willow Glen is a very charming, older part of San Jose that seems to beckon to a more gracious time. It is perhaps best known for its historic homes and quaint streets, but it is also highly regarded as a tight knit community with its own, vibrant downtown.
Where is Willow Glen?
Willow Glen is close to downtown San Jose, bordered by Highway 87 to the east, Highway 280 to the north, Southwest Expy, Leigh Avenue, and Bascom Avenue to the west, and Foxworthy Avenue to the south. To the west is Campbell and to the south is Cambrian.
This area is mostly the 95125 zip code, but includes a little of 95124 on the south end.
The public schools are mostly within the San Jose Unified School District, but on the south west side, I believe all within 95124, some are in the Cambrian School District.
The district’s centerpiece is Lincoln Avenue, a street bustling with cars and pedestrians alike. It’s filled to the brim with restaurants and shops and seems to attract a never-ending strea of visitors, especially in summer and during the holidays. Additionally, there are a number of businesses and shops along Meridian Avenue.
The boundaries are not always agreed upon. Google Maps shows a much broader area, extending west all the way to Highway 17 and all the way south to Hillsdale, including parts of Campbell and Cambrian. The Wikipedia page on WG only includes the 95125 zip code.
A little Willow Glen history
Willow Glen began as an unincorporated community at about the time of the Gold Rush, at about the same time as when San Jose was the capitol of California. In 1863 the first school was built to meet the needs of the children there. It became incorporated in 1927 to fend off being annexed into the larger City of San Jose, but had a change of heart and voted to be annexed in 1936 so that the area could be on the city’s sewer system rather than to continue with septic tanks and cesspools.
Willow Glen architecture
Much of Willow Glen was built early in the 1900s and so the homes in the “downtown” area are older and feature classical styles of housing on tree lined streets – Spanish, Craftsman, and some even more venerable and Victorian. That is surely a large part of its charm. On the edges of Willow Glen, the homes are newer and tract. One area, known as Palm Haven, has a myriad of palm trees (both Royal Palm and Fan Palm) and older, diverse architecture surrounding a community park. The original access to Palm Haven from Bird Avenue and the rest of Willow Glen has been blocked off, but the grand old road can still be found easily enough via Clintonia off Riverside. Continue reading
If you love older residential areas with classic architecture and a canopy of street trees, you’ll want to know about the Buena Vista neighborhood in San Jose.
Situated between downtown San Jose and the Valley Fair & Santana Row areas, there’s a lot going on that’s not far away.
Buena Vista neighborhood location
Where is the Buena Vista neighborhood? Roughly, it includes areas north of Hwy 280, south of San Carlos, east of Leigh and west of Meridian. It is considered part of Central San Jose by the local MLS.
The eastern half of the area is in the 95126 zip code, and the western section is in the 95128 zip code.