Single Family Homes

How’s the Saratoga California real estate market?

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California

This is a fairly comprehensive article on the Saratoga real estate market that will include the live statistics from Altos Research for listed properties (not closed) in Saratoga CA 95070, the closed sale data from the RE Report for last month in Saratoga 95070, and the numbers I crunched for Saratoga – overall and by price point and high school district, since Saratoga has 3 different high school districts, each with an impact on home values.

First, let’s consider the months of inventory by price point and high school district that I crunched using, our local multiple listing service provider.

The months of inventory is a reference to how fast homes would be absorbed into the market if sales continued at the same pace and no new inventory came onto the market. It’s often referred to as “the absorption rate” – and that can be months of inventory, weeks of inventory, or days of inventory. A “balanced” market is somewhere around 4-5 months for us, though the National Association of Realtors says that 6 months is balanced nationwide. Anything under 3 is a good seller’s market, and under 1 is like saying that homes are “flying off the market.”

(For comparison, please also see a similar article on the Live in Los Gatos blog for the town of Los Gatos – real estate market by price point and high school district.)

For most of the valley, inventory is up, prices are down, days on market are up, and sale price to list price ratio is up. It’s still a seller’s market, but it’s softening. If it continues in this direction, it will become a buyer’s market – but is not there yet.

Here’s the chart for Saratoga – all price points, all school districts. Please notice that the months of inventory is about DOUBLE from four months ago. Translation: it’s twice as hard to sell now as it was in mid-April. At the same time, 3.15 months of inventory is still very decent! Also, though home prices can be quite high, the bulk of properties are under $3 million. It’s challenging to sell homes higher than that amount, overall.


2018-08-17 Saratoga MOI all areas


And from 4 months ago:

2a - Saratoga, CA, Real Estate Market Update


By comparing across school districts you can also see how different each area’s individual market can be. Saratoga with Saratoga schools is a little slower of a market. Why? Most likely because it’s a bit pricier than other areas. This area is about 50% slower than it was a few months ago. The overall MOI makes it seem like Saratoga with Saratoga Schools is a bit sluggish. That’s not really the case in most price points, but at $4 million and up, it is a buyer’s market.


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Plat map sampleA plat map comes with your preliminary title report (provided by your title company when you purchase or sell a home in California), tucked away at the back and somewhat mysterious with lots of numbers in small print. It holds quite a bit of helpful information if you know what it is you’re seeing. Today we’ll view a sample of one of these – breaking down the plat map shown as a small thumbnail image on the right to more readable parts so that you can learn how to “read” or understand a plat map. By the way, this example we’re using is for a lovely San Jose neighborhood in the Cambrian Park district which borders Los Gatos and is near Carlton Avenue, Los Gatos-Almaden Road and Union Avenue.

First have a quick look at the thumbnail image on the right.  You can tell it’s some sort of map with official looking writing in the lower corners.  Perhaps most salient even in the smallest image, one important feature of the plat map is that it provides the orientation of the properties (north/south/east/west).  That info is now readily findable online, but this used to be the easiest way (and most accurate) to answer the question “which way does the home face?” Look at the map, find the parcel and you’ll know its orientation.

Plat Map with part of Esther Drive in San Jose

The plat map also provides the Tract Number (and often the name given by the builder for the subdivision – in this case, Carlton Terrace). Along the right side, you can see the source of this information: the office of the county assessor for Santa Clara County.
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Fabulous opportunity in west San Jose – a beautifully remodeled 4 bedroom, 2 bath house with top Cupertino schools and exquisite English country garden is now for sale, offered at $1,099,000 at 1486 Larkin Avenue, San Jose CA 95129.  This is not just any ranch style home in Silicon Valley, but a lovingly and impeccably updated, remodeled and maintained home on a scenic, tree lined street.  A visit will convince you that this house has been cared for and upgraded with a tremendous level of detail and sophistication.

Top Cupertino schools, all with API scores well over 900!

Schools are a major driver of real estate desirability in Santa Clara County, and nowhere is that more true than in Cupertino and the parts of San Jose which enjoy its schools.  All three educational levels of school enjoy extremely high Academic Performance Index or API scores.

The grammar or elementary school for this property is John Muir Elementary School (API 944).  The middle or junior high school is Joaquin Miller Middle School (API 981) and the secondary or high school is Lynbrook High School (API 943).  All three of these schools are very highly regarded, and in fact prestigious.

Not just a school district – this is a marvelous West San Jose home and yard!

Lest we treat this as though buyers were only interested in schools, let’s talk about this wonderful house too.

The kitchen is an absolute showpiece with a professional grade Viking range, Vent-a-hood, granite counters, ultra hard maple cabinets (painted white), dramatic vaulted ceilings with 2 large, electronically operated skylights, and much more!  Throughout the home you’ll find high quality elements, including dual pane windows, hardwood floors (some under carpeting), remodeled baths, and on and on.  I invite you to have a look at the virtual tour, embedded below, and to read the description on each page.  There’s even more information immediately below that with the MLS information added too.



We're sorry, but we couldn't find MLS # 81217609 in our database. This property may be a new listing or possibly taken off the market. Please check back again.

Cinnabar winery sign (Big Basin Way, Saratoga)

Cinnabar winery sign (Big Basin Way, Saratoga)

In many communities such as Saratoga, Los Gatos, Los Altos, Willow Glen, Campbell and Palo Alto, there is a high premium placed on homes which are close to the downtown area.  Many real estate agents advertise these as “walk to town” but the idea is simple: it’s nearby, you can stroll, skate, ride or bike, wheel yourself and forget the car.

Downtown Saratoga, also called Saratoga Village
, welcomes residents and visitors to a charming, scenic area with fabulous shops, spas, wine tasting venues, restaurants and more.  This part of the city boasts top scoring schools as well as lovely older and historic buildings and a gorgeous park alongside Saratoga Creek. Whether you spend an afternoon or a lifetime in Saratoga, this part of town will call you back again and again!

What do you need to know about buying a house, townhouse or condo in downtown Saratoga?

There are a few points which you are well served to know when purchasing residential real estate in this upscale community. We’ll touch on a few of them here: historic homes, traffic & noise, natural hazards, parking, and special issues with condos, townhouses and PUDs (planned unit developments).

First, this downtown Saratoga Village zone is historic; while not every property is deemed historic, many are and that means that there will be restrictions on remodeling and expansion of single family homes or houses. For instance, original glass in windows may need to remain if you’ve got a Victorian house dating from the 1890s, and expansions may need to be off the back of the home so that the facade keeps its initial look and feel (just examples).  This can be frustrating if you buy a luxury home that “needs work” and you are surprised later. If the house was built before 1950 or so, double check the rules! Continue reading

Contact Mary NowLooking for two Almaden houses for two different buyer families:

I am working with two wonderful cash buyer couples looking for homes to call their own in San Jose’s Almaden Valley district (95120 area). We’ve seen everything listed for sale on the multiple listing service so I’m hoping one of my readers will be able to point us to something not currently online.

Budget is up to appx 1 million in both cases. Both are looking for houses with good floorplans and locations with no big issues (no busy roads, not too close to schools etc.). Decent to large backyard sought – regular lots, no patio homes. Prefer homes that have been maintained but open to distressed properties. Location and layout are more important than the amount of updating & remodeling. Both are exceedingly serious and ready to buy now. Both will be owner occupied properties, not investment homes.

They want similar but not identical homes – 3 to 5 bedrooms (3 + den minimum), 2-3 baths, prefer no pool but will consider one with it….

To read more, please view the entry on my website for details on beds, baths, pool, schools area etc.  Please contact me if you have a home that may be a fit for them!!

How’s the inventory?  This is key to both home buyers and sellers in Santa Clara County. Too little inventory of homes for sale pushes prices up, too much housing inventory pushes them down.  Today we’ll have a look at the county level for the general Silicon Valley trends.  Please understand that smaller areas (zip codes or even subdivisions) can be vastly different from the larger trends.

Our MLS no longer provides much historical data – it only goes back a couple or three years.  My I have a subscription to the Real Estate Report, which stretches back a decade.  The most current report covers January 2011 (February’s numbers will be there by the 10th of March) so I pulled these numbers plus those of the same month for prior years.

Historical inventory data of listings, pendings and solds in Januaries in Santa Clara County

So what is really a “normal” level of inventory for Santa Clara County houses & duet homes on the market?  I would say that anything in the 2000 to 3000 range is fairly normal.  More than that is overheated, less than that is constricted.  (In the early 90s it was many thousands of homes – if I recall correctly, it was over 8,000.)

Right now is not an extreme market in terms of the availability of homes to purchase in the South Bay.  It feels tough because lending standards are stricter, as are appraisals, and because we are all jittery from the market crash and touch-and-go recovery. Sellers feel beat up over pricing and the new “requirement” that homes need to be about perfect to sell (or have the price slashed to an extreme, as they see it).

But the numbers are really not so bad, when you view them statistically.  The inventory is a little low, but still within fairly normal ranges, historically.

Today we’ll look at the ratio & relationship between real estate listings and sales of houses and duet homes in Silicon Valley over the last eighteen months. The goal is to get a sense of the market trends in terms of the overall absorption of homes for sale.  (We’ll give a glance at condo and townhome sales but the focus is on single family homes.) How hard is it to sell a home?  The answer has to do with supply and demand – the number of listings and the number of sales.

In the graphs below, the reddish brown line represents the number of pending sales.  The blue line indicates the number of listings or homes for sale. Put simply, the closer these two lines are together, the hotter the market – that is, the more of a seller’s market it is.  When they are far apart, it’s more cold, more of a buyer’s market.  If the lines cross, it is a wild frenzy (that does happen in one case, as you will see). Below please find the graph for the homes in Santa Clara County overall (all areas).

Santa Clara County listings to sales Jan 2009 to June 2010

Santa Clara County listings to sales Jan 2009 to June 2010

 You can see that these two lines pinch together in about December 2009 to January 2010.  Prices had dropped and investors were swooping in! The  market has cooled since then.

Santa Clara County condo & townhome listings to pending sales March 2008 to June 2010

Santa Clara County condo & townhome listings to pending sales Jan 2009 to June 2010

 For condos and townhouses, all of Santa Clara County:Here the two lines  – or the market – were close together for about 3-4 months.  Buyers understood that condominiums in Silicon Valley were bargain priced, and they responded by buying.Now let’s look at various areas around the county.  We’ll take these in Alphabetical order, beginning with Almaden Valley.

Almaden Valley listings to pending sales March 2008 to June 2010

Almaden Valley listings to pending sales Jan 2009 to June 2010

 As you can see, the market improved but never got as “hot” as in the county generally.  This is because it’s a more expensive area, and most of what was selling in winter consisted of entry level housing.
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In Almaden Valley, like in other parts of San Jose and Silicon Valley, some parts of “the market” are hotter than  others.  The real estate sweet spot appears to be homes priced in either the entry level or move-up markets – but things cool considerably as the homes become more elegant, grand and luxurious.  (This appears to be true across all of Santa Clara County: the most affordable homes are still the hottest segment of the realty market.)

Months of Inventory in Almaden Valley

Here’s how the current inventory and sales breaks down, together with the months of inventory, for the Almaden Valley part of San Jose (95120 zip code). Info from MLS Listings deemed accurate but not guaranteed. The “closed” column represents homes closed (houses & duet homes) in the last month.

Almaden Houses & Duet Homes For Sale Closed Months of Inventory
$900,000 and under 33 21 1.57
$900,000 – $1,200,000 29 22 1.32
1,200,000- $1,500,000 20 2 10
1,500,000- $2,000,000 10 1 10
$2,000,000 and up 10 0

As you can see, up to about $1,200,000 it’s a very strong seller’s market with less than 2 months of inventory. But beyond that price point, it’s suddenly a completely different market and is instead a very strong buyer’s market.

What about distressed property sales in Almaden?

There are almost no bank owned properties currently for sale or recently closed in Almaden – just 1 in the entry level price band which is currently listed for sale.

There are not many short sales in Almaden: right now just 5 for sale: 3 in the lowest of these five price groups, 1 in the 2nd lowest and one in the highest. Closings among short sales are also few in number: 2 in the lowest price point and one in the second lowest.  The absorption rate or months of inventory among short sales was 1.5 in the lowest price point and 1 month in the second lowest. No closings among higher priced homes that were also short sales in the last month.
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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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2016: Personal Income's list of top 25 real estate blogs.

Best Realtor blog award
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The 2009 Sellsius list of top 12 women real estate bloggers
2009: Sellsius list of top
12 women real estate bloggers

Mary Pope-Handy's Live in Los Gatos blog won the 2007 Project Blogger contest, sponsored by Inman News and Active Rain

2007: Mary Pope-Handy and Frances Flynn Thorsen win the Project Blogger Contest for Mary's Live in Los Gatos blog. The contest was sponsored by
Active Rain and Inman News.

Non blog award

Best real estate agent in Silicon Valley from the San Jose Mercury News poll of readers in 2011
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in Silicon Valley"

2011 readers' poll,
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