Saratoga CA Real Estate Market Update

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California - photo for article on the Saratoga CA real estate market

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California

The Saratoga CA real estate market is a strengthening sellers’ market for single family homes :

  • the average sale price rose annually by a hair, and was down month over month
  • inventory in May of Saratoga houses for sale is up compared to the year before, but the same as in April 2024
  • the sale to list price ratio rose to 109.1% in May from 106.8% in April (and 101.2% in May 2023) – a strong seller’s market

How’s the Saratoga CA real estate market?

Saratoga has a diverse real estate market due to a wide range of home prices, square footage, lot sizes, school districts, and more. The luxury tier, generally $4 million and up (but in Saratoga, that’s really still just a house in an expensive part of town) normally moves slower than other price points. Saratoga’s entry level housing is usually the strongest. If the numbers swing wildly at any given month, it could be that more or fewer homes in a particular school district and pricing tier.

To really understand the Saratoga CA real estate market, you’ll need to get hyper local data for that home’s pricing tier, school district, and any other impactful data points.

 

Trends at a Glance for the Saratoga CA Real Estate Market

Here’s a quick overview from the RE Report details below or please view the full data here.

Trends At a GlanceMay 2024Previous MonthYear-over-Year
Median Price$4,037,500 (-4.2%)$4,215,000$3,790,000 (+6.5%)
Average Price$4,235,720 (-6.6%)$4,533,660$4,227,960 (+0.2%)
No. of Sales32 (+77.8%)1828 (+14.3%)
Pending22 (0.0%)2213 (+69.2%)
Active35 (0.0%)3520 (+75.0%)
Sale vs. List Price109.1% (+2.7%)106.3%101.2% (+7.8%)
Days on Market11 (-62.9%)2917 (-35.7%)
Days of Inventory33 (-41.8%)5621 (+53.1%)

Altos Research real estate market data for Saratoga, CA single family homes

Next, a quick glance at the Altos Research market profile for a quick summary of the Saratoga CA real estate market conditions. Altos uses LIST prices, not sold prices, for this chart and the others, below.

Market profile for Saratoga CA 95070

 

Real-Time Market Profile Saratoga, CA 95070

 

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Updating the Campbell Real Estate Market

Tudor style house on graphic that says - How's the Campbell real estate market?How is the Campbell real estate market? Campbell is in a strong seller’s market that continues to outstrip this time last year. This article, updated monthly, offers data and analysis on the residential real estate market within this popular Silicon Valley community. Here are a few details from the latest update on Campbell’s single family housing market:

  • Inventory is growing inch by inch with 18 active listings at the end of May, still just a drop in the bucket! Smaller pools of data can cause more dramatic swings in these statistics, so take these numbers with a grain of salt.
  • The average sales to list price ratio for homes sold last month grew to 111.0% of asking – that’s red hot, and up +4.0% from this time last year.
  • Average and median sales prices are up +9.3% and +9.1% from last year respectively, and dropped -6.9% and -12.8% from the month before.
  • Average time on market sped to just 10 days while market absorption sped to 19 days.
  • Closed sales continued to rise above last month and last year despite lower available inventory year-over-year.

The market in this popular west valley city is red hot overall!

The Campbell, CA Real Estate Market

It’s hard to predict what’s coming next, especially since Silicon Valley real estate is connected to the global economy and many buyers rely on stocks and mortgage loans to finance their purchase. On top of that, we’re emerging from an already wild few years!

If you’re selling a well prepared, beautifully staged, and aggressively priced house, you’ll likely see multiple offers on your home for sale. We’ve been seeing more bidding wars, but not with overbids quite as high as last spring. Competition for homes has undoubtebly waned from it’s peak as buyers financial power shrank with rising interest rates. That said, with even fewer homes being listed this year there’s still far more demand than there is inventory, especially for a move-in ready home!

Desperate and worn out buyers want to get their foot in the door before they are priced out of the market altogether by either climbing interest rates or rising home prices.

Don’t expect a balanced market any time soon – the Bay Area still has a severe housing shortage and buyers are clamoring to get property!

Here’s a quick view of the Campbell real estate market stats from Altos Research, using list prices (not sales price) which updates automatically about once per week:

 

Campbell Altos Real-Time Market Profile

The Altos chart is showing Campbell, CA single family homes in a strong seller’s market with stable, elevated market action paired with perpetually low inventory. Available listings remain well below typical, and these few homes continue to sell quickly.

And now –  here are some quick stats, pulled from the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) through the RE Report:

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Surrey Farms neighborhood in Los Gatos

Surrey Farm Neighborhood Los Gatos CA (Silicon Valley)A Los Gatos neighborhood which is “close to town” but feels further out is the highly sought after Surrey Farms area, located off Kennedy Road less than a mile from Los Gatos Boulevard, and less than 1.5 miles to all the local public schools:  Van Meter or Blossom Hill Elementary, Fisher Middle, Los Gatos High. Adjacent to Surrey Farms is the independent Hillbrook School.

About Surrey Farms

There are about 70 single family homes or houses in Surrey Farms, most of them on quarter-acre to half-acre lots, but a handful are on over half an acre, and four are over one acre.  The houses were mostly constructed from the mid 1950s into the mid 1960s, though development has continued since with over 30% of homes built between the 1970s and 2010s.  Original construction was all done in the “ranch style” and consisted of about 2,000 to 3,000 SF in most cases.  Today many have been remodeled, enlarged or even fully rebuilt, and the home sizes are bigger, currently with 50% of them over 3,000 SF and more than 15% over 4,000 SF.

More land is slated to be developed soon, with 12 units (2 story homes) proposed for the 12 acre parcel which is currently under contract with some kind of contingency (it is listed at about $16 million). That’s all that I  know as of right now – things could change.

 

Surrey Farms Gate

 

Regarding the name: folks in Los Gatos do call this subdivision “Surrey Farms”, but I did some research on the county records and it appears that the original name was “Surrey Farm” – singular!  My best guess is that it was a farm or horse ranch by that name prior to the housing being built…but that would take a bit more research that I haven’t yet done.

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Crawlspace access: What is it? Where is it? Why does it matter?

crawlspace access outside First time home buyers may have heard the word crawlspace (or crawl space) but not had a good idea of what it refers to – especially if they have only lived in houses built on slab foundations. So let’s touch on it today.

What and the Where?

When homes are built on a raised foundation, also called a perimeter foundation, rather than slab foundation, there’s space between the dirt under the house and the house itself – often 3′ (but not always), sometimes more.  Unless the structure is built on a hillside, there won’t be enough height to walk around in that space, hence the need to crawl in the crawlspace.

Most of the time, access to this space is indoors and specifically on the floor of a closet, where there appears to be a flat opening of about 3′ by 3′, sometimes smaller.  This can make entry tight.  At other times. the access is via the outside, as with the photo at the left (more likely the case in properties built before 1950 in Silicon Valley than in newer properties.)

Here it’s a lot easier for homeowners, inspectors and repair people to enter – but also easier for animals and pests, such as rats, to make their way in.  Care must be taken, as with the vent screens, to keep unwanted visitors out!

Crawlspace Video

Auditory learner? Or TLDR, and just want a quick-take? Watch this 1min 46 second video to get the summary:

Monitoring the crawlspace

If your home has a crawlspace, you will want to monitor it. (more…)

University Square neighborhood in Santa Clara

Quiet residential zone sign in the University Square neighborhood near SCUThe University Square neighborhood in Santa Clara is walking distance to Santa Clara University. I grew up there, riding my bike in the forbidden college walkways, and recall my Realtor mother referring to the area as “Little Professorville.” That was a reference to a lovely Palo Alto neighborhood in the shadow of Stanford University. She wasn’t wrong – we knew some professors who walked to SCU each day from that neighborhood, including my grandfather.

Where is the University Square neighborhood?

The neighborhood may not have exact boundaries, but appears to be bordered by Park Avenue on the east, Washington Street on the west, the University to the north, and Newhall Avenue to the south.

The area closest to the campus is fairly congested, both with density of housing and the amount of cars parked everywhere. This is where you’ll see the reminder that it’s a quiet, residential zone.

 

University Square neighborhood in Santa Clara

 

A drive through the area will make it clear where there are tons of cars – and where it’s less congested.

 

Alviso Street in University Square close to Santa Clara University

 

Get past Poplar, though, and suddenly it’s a completely different feel, with almost no cars on the street and homes being spread further apart.

 

Ranch style house in University Square with large picture window facing front

 

The homes found between Washington and Park, and along Alviso Street, are mixed architecturally. Some streets, like Circle Drive and College Avenue, are primarily ranch style houses built from 1955 – 1950 (some of the county records say 1900 – that just means they lost the records and don’t know!). Some of these have been expanded tremendously. The house I grew up in as a child was 1400 square feet, but it’s been added onto a couple or more times and is now more than 3000 SF.

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Saratoga: A Secluded, Classy Corner of Silicon Valley

Saratoga is a highly desirable place in which to live, a great retreat from the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley. Nestled into the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, it is just a few miles to the north of Los Gatos. You can’t miss the scenic beauty!

What is Saratoga known for?

Today, this foothill community is best known as an upscale Silicon Valley suburban city with a quaint downtown, excellent restaurants, top notch public schools, low crime, beautiful hillsides, wonderful shops, and some first class entertainment venues – plus, of course, stunning estate properties.

Exceptional entertainment is abundanthere. Take in concerts at The Mountain Winery (formerly called Paul Masson Mountain Winery) and at Villa Montalvo, two lovely outdoor venues for music, or go wine tasting or horseback riding at Cooper-Garrod off Pierce Road. The younger Saratoga Library is a wonderful place to spend a rainy winter day too.

Saratoga’s history, in brief

Toll Gate in Saratoga 1850This city began as a logging town with two communities – one where The Village is today, and one further into the hills where the loggers lived and worked.

The community had several names:  Toll Gate, McCartysville, and Bank Mills before it became Saratoga. The last iteration was due to the hot springs up the hill from the village.

When logging died down, farming emerged as a major factor in the local economy. Vineyards and wineries were big business in the Santa Clara Valley prior to Prohibition. Some remained after, but not so many.

Fruit and nut orchards were also hugely important locally. In fact, the largest prune orchard in the world was once Hume Ranch, which had 680 acres of prune trees! Today, this area is referred to as the Platinum Triangle.

After World War II, things changed throughout the county. Shifts were seen with Food Machinery Corp becoming FMC, pushing out farming equipment in favor of tanks over time. And the changes were just beginning.

Public schools

The highly regarded schools are a big draw for newcomers to this west valley community.

What’s not so well known is that there are a few school districts which serve the 95070 area:

Like most of the cities and towns nearby, the school district lines do not follow the city boundaries (the school boundaries were set first, when most of the area was unincorporated), so there are several districts within the city of Saratoga, and this can be confusing when people relocate here!

Saratoga neighborhoods

The population of the valley grew, land became more expensive from one set of hills to the other, and open space became housing, particularly from the 60s on. Builders developed small and large tracts that had previously been orchards into suburban neighborhoods.

 

Saratoga neighborhoods map by Mary Pope-Handy and Clair Handy, Realtors

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What Is the Difference Between CID Ownership in a Condo, Townhouse or PUD?

Could this be a condo? Or a PUD? Or neither?Are you considering purchasing a PUD, or wonder how it’s different than a condo? They could look the same!

There’s quite a bit of confusion around the difference between common interest developments (CID) , condominiums, and planned unit developments (PUD). What do these labels mean, and how does anyone know which one is which? Where do townhomes fall in this list? And more importantly, why do they matter?

CID, PUD, and Condo: Ownerships Explained

Part of the confusion stems from the fact that there are two things to consider: the architecture of the buildings and the type of ownership.

  1. What is a condominium or condo?  A condominium is a type of ownership of the real estate, not an architectural style.  Condo ownership means that the purchaser has 100% rights to the unit and a percentage of ownership in the common lands (fractional ownership in common areas). Buyers of a condo are buying the space between the walls (and a fraction of ownership elsewhere).
    • Condos can architecturally be a unit that resembles an apartment (what we colloquially refer to as a condo), a townhouse, or even a house.
  2. What is a townhouse (or townhome)?  A townhouse is a type of building or architectural style, not the type of ownership involved. A townhouse could be a planned unit development (PUD) or it could be a condominium.
    • Townhouses are often 2 stories and attached on at least one side, but they don’t have to be. They could be one story and they could be detached.
    • A townhouse that’s a condo can look exactly the same as a townhouse that’s a PUD.
  3. What is a PUD?  A planned unit development is architecturally either a townhouse or a house in which 100% of the unit plus the land under it is owned and the ownership of the unit also provides for a membership in the homeowner’s association or HOA.  The HOA in turn owns all the common elements (such as private roads and amenities such as a pool, tennis court, parking lots, etc.). With a PUD, homeowners have an easement and rights to use the common area through their HOA membership.
  4. What is a CID?  A common interest development, or CID, is a general term meaning the ownership of property in which there are “common areas” such as private roads, a pool, parking, tennis courts, utility rooms etc. These could be condo complexes or home owners associations with houses, townhouses, or other types of homes.

Local examples: In Los Gatos we have some freestanding houses (or properties with the only common wall being at the garage) which are in condo ownership on Ohlone Court.  Same with the beautiful Villas of Almaden community. Both have “common areas” and mandatory membership in the home owner’s association.

 

 

How can you tell if the townhouse is in a PUD or Condo CID?

Sometimes the info is right in a property profile, which is very easy for most real estate agents to obtain through their preferred title company.  More often, though, to be certain of the ownership type it’s necessary to review the preliminary title report.

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Raised Perimeter and Post and Pier Foundations

I recently published a piece on post-tension slabs, which is more used in new construction, however it’s not the most common type across existing homes in the South Bay. While basements are not often found in the South Bay, crawlspaces are. You’re most likely to encounter raised foundation, known as perimeter or raised perimeter, also called post and pier, foundations.

 

Raised Perimeter and Post and Pier Foundation Compilation 1960s

Still images from historic reels shared by History San Jose showing one of the city’s suburban developments of the 1960s and the installation of this type of foundation. Click to go to the original video on Youtube. Edit: Unfortunately the video appears to have been removed. I’m leaving the link in case it is re-uploaded.

An Introduction to Raised Perimiter Foundations

What is a Raised Foundation, or a Perimeter Foundation?

A raised foundation, perimeter foundation, or raised perimeter foundation is one that supports a structure while lifting it a few feet above the ground level, as the name implies. It is called a perimeter foundation because the exterior walls are held up by a reinforced concrete stem wall, while the body of the house is supported by a post and pier construct. (In earthquake-free parts of the world, the stem wall may be brick or cinder block.) These are all names for the same thing.

This type of foundation is usually only raised around 1-1/2’ – 2’ high, one or two stair steps above ground level. Much taller would make a top-heaviness that becomes less stable against seismic force.

Alternatively, some floors might be set quite low. Two rooms in my single-story house are a step below the rest. They are still raised on posts and piers, but they are distinctly lower than the rest. This is called a sleeper floor. In the crawlspace, this translates to very tight quarters, and I have met professionals who will, and who will not, be able to work in that space.

What about perimeter and slab both in the same house?

If a home is described as having both a perimeter and a slab foundation, most of that time it means that the majority of the house has a raised foundation, but the family room or other room directly behind the garage is on slab. This is very common in Silicon Valley

What is a Post and Pier Foundation?

Post and Pier section of blueprint plus lowered subfloor for tile

Post and pier (or girder) foundation blueprint, including crawlspace access point and lowered subfloor and sleeper floor.

Post and pier, or beam and post foundation, supports a structure by raising it on individual posts distributed evenly beneath a structure. Each pillar of support consists of three parts: the pier, the post, and the beam.

The pier is a vertical anchor set deep in the ground, usually made of concrete (but occasionally other resistant material like steel). The pier rises a few inches above ground level and is attached to a vertical post. The post, or column, is generally foundation-grade treated wood. This post attaches to a horizontal beam, or girder, which directly supports the floor joists. Occasionally, the pier may act as a post and connects directly to the beam, but that is very uncommon in my experience.

These type of foundations can be built without the perimeter wall, but functionally it is very different. You will often see decks built this way, including decks that are attached to homes with a raised perimeter foundation. Without the continuous stem wall the cost to construct is significantly less, but the resulting structure is more vulnerable to the forces of nature, to lateral seismic force, and to pests and wildlife. It also has greater airflow beneath, which is good in places with regular flooding, but provides less insulation from below.

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What is the difference between a duplex and a duet home?

Can you tell the difference between a duplex and a duet home? This is either a duplex or a duet - how will you know which it is?The difference between a duplex and a duet home is not obvious, and many people may think they are the same thing.  Duplexes and duet homes both involve two attached residential units.  But legally and financially, the difference between a duplex and a duet home is huge!

Below we’ll review:

  • Video explanation of the difference between a duplex and a duet home
  • What is a duplex
  • What is a duet home
  • How do you know if a property is one or the other
  • Can the type or classification be changed?

The photo to the right is of a San Jose home I sold a few years back.  You cannot tell from the image, but there is a front door off to the right of the single car garage door, and back around on the left side, near the double car garage door, there’s another front door. There are 2 units. It is a duplex or a duet home?  You cannot necessarily tell by looking!

 

Video explanation of the difference between a duplex and a duet home

 

What is a duplex?

A duplex is a multifamily home, in the same category as a triplex or fourplex, meaning there are multiple living units.  Most of the time, they are attached to each other, but not always. But what is truly distinctive is the way they are bought and sold.  With multifamily homes, such as a duplex, all of these dwellings are sold together. (The units are not sold separately.)
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What is an ADU?

ADU in Los Gatos CA - Living Dining areas - unit over garageWhat is an ADU? This lingo may crop up in housing conversations and leave some hearers baffled, though it’s been in the news quite a lot in recent years.

ADU explained

ADU stands for Accessory Dwelling Unit. In the past, They may have been called:

  • Granny Unit, Granny Cottage, Granny Pod, or Granny Flat
  • In-Law Unit or Mother-In-Law Unit
  • Guest Cottage
  • Carriage House
  • Secondary Dwelling Unit
  • Accessory Dwelling Unit or just Accessory Dwelling

This structure is usually a stand alone, detached building near a primary single family home. It should have its own kitchen, private bath, outside entrance, and a place for a bed (or a Murphy bed or sofa bed, if it’s more like a 1 room studio).

Sometimes, though, the unit is above a garage or attached to the primary home. In 2021 I sold a Los Gatos home that had a guest suite over the garage (see photo above). In short, you could be considering an attached ADU or a detached ADU.

A detached unit cannot exceed 1200 SF of living space. It could be one story, or two!

Junior ADUs

A Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit, often abbreviated to JADU but sometimes called Jr. ADU, is one which is attached and usually smaller in size. The State of California defines them as:

Junior Accessory Dwelling Units … are allowed to be created within the walls of a proposed or existing single-family residence and shall contain no more than 500 square feet. JADUs offer additional housing options. They may share central systems, contain a basic kitchen utilizing small plug-in appliances, may share a bathroom with the primary dwelling, all to reduce development costs.

These are sometimes conversions from large suites or bedrooms in the house and don’t change the overall square footage. The could also be garage conversions.
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