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 is up annually and monthly by well more than double digits
  • inventory of Saratoga houses for sale is way down compared to a more normal December (see inventory table below)
  • the sale to list price ratio moved down to just 100% in January. December and January are usually the softest months of the year, so this is not surprising.

 

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.

Saratoga inventory of homes for sale

With 25 years worth of data to display, I thought the format below would make the most sense. It’s too wide to have all years side by side. We know that inventory is low everywhere. As a benchmark, I checked inventory from 2013 (when the market was truly recovered from the Great Recession) to 2023 and also from 2000 – 2024 (January).

 

Saratoga CA inventory of single family homes for sale 2000-2024 January

 

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 GlanceJan 2024Previous MonthYear-over-Year
Median Price$4,140,000 (+29.7%)$3,192,000$3,500,000 (+18.3%)
Average Price$4,280,580 (+24.9%)$3,427,130$3,640,000 (+17.6%)
No. of Sales14 (-6.7%)15(+100.0%)
Pending(-54.5%)11(-16.7%)
Active12 (-20.0%)1517 (-29.4%)
Sale vs. List Price100.0% (-8.5%)109.3%101.2% (-1.2%)
Days on Market21 (+17.1%)1834 (-38.0%)
Days of Inventory26 (-14.3%)3073 (-64.7%)

 

 

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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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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Saratoga’s Portos-Harleigh Neighborhood

Portos-Harleigh NeighborhoodThe Portos-Harleigh neighborhood is a highly sought after community in Saratoga. Suburban yet centrally located, walkable, and easy access for commuters. Keep reading to learn more about this neighborhood, its homes, the local amenities, possible concerns, and home costs.

Neighborhood Profile: Boundaries and Property Descriptions

This community encompasses a number of streets north of West Valley College, and is named by its most prominent streets: Portos Drive and Harleigh Drive. It’s major borders are Saratoga Ave to the north west, Fruitvale Ave to the west, and Allendale Ave to the south between Fruitdale and Via Alto Ct.

This community lies within the greater Gardiner Park neighborhood (according to NextDoor), which also includes the Saratoga Gardens subdivision, Aspesi / Casa Blanca, and Riverdale communities to the north, and Peremont tract to the east.

It includes multiple tracts and was primarily built up in the 1960s and 1970s, but there are younger homes as well. Kerwin Ranch Ct and the end of Ronnie Wy are two smaller tracts built up between 1987 – 1995. Throughout the neighborhood there have been individual rebuilds over the years.

Most homes are on large, standard lots, but there are a smattering of flag lots as well.

The Average Portos-Harleigh Home

If I pull the data on homes in this mapped area. Here’s what the “average home” would look like:

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Parker Ranch neighborhood

The Parker Ranch neighborhood is found in the low western foothills of Saratoga along the Cupertino border, making it a fantastic commute location for many high tech workers.  With larger homes and lots, it’s easy to stretch out!   The rolling hills make a pleasant vista, or, if you’re in a higher elevation provide beautiful valley views.  The Parker Ranch subdivision boasts highly acclaimed Cupertino schools.  There are many reasons why this is a much beloved area of Saratoga.

Parker Ranch neighborhood home - Beautiful hillside estates, many with views

 

There are just shy of 80 houses and luxury homes in Parker Ranch, so it’s not a hugely populous area, but it is fairly large.  Here are a few quick facts on this scenic subdivision:

  • Range of home size:  2,797-7,500 SF
  • Average SF:  4,517 SF
  • Range of lot size:  22,000-146,361 SF
  • Average Lot:  70,786 SF
  • Years Built:  1900-2013, lots of development in the 1980s

Side note for history buffs: this land was once owned by Painless Parker, the famous – or infamous – dentist. Click on the link to learn more!

 

Parker Ranch neighborhood home - 2 - August 2021

What do homes cost in the Parker Ranch area?

Because there’s an incredible variety in home and lot size, as well as age and condition, it’s not easy to pinpoint the likely price of the neighborhood.  However, as a very broad rule, most homes will currently sell north of $3.5 million.

What are the subdivision’s boundaries?

Map Boundaries:  Streets include Vista Arroyo Ct, Star Ridge Ct, Prospect Rd (pasture only), Picea Ct, Pheasant Ridge Rd, Parker Ranch Rd (major road), Parker Ranch Ct, Farr Ranch Rd (2nd major road), Farr Ranch Ct, Diamond Oaks Ct, Continental Cir, Comer Dr, and Chiquita Ct. To the W and N, the border is Prospect rd. A SW portion borders the Saratoga Country Club. To the S is Mt Eden.

 

Parker Ranch subdivision map - Saratoga, CA

 

Any special issues with Parker Ranch homes?

As with all homes in or near the coastal foothills, there are special challenges that go with the scenic views and abundant open spaces. Water and drainage will be very important to manage here, controlling the flow of the water away from the home and away from crawl spaces takes more work when there are slopes.

There are high voltage power lines running through part of the community, with some homes built very close to both the lines and the towers.

Part of Parker Ranch may hear train sounds. Some of the area may be in unstable soils zone (landslide areas, common west of Saratoga Sunnyvale Road). Most or perhaps all of it is in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, which is a higher risk area for fire, but also means the insurance premiums will be much more expensive.

 

Parker Ranch in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone - Saratoga hazard zone

 

 

Homes for sale in Parker Ranch

 

 

Related Reading:

Saratoga, CA – on the popehandy.com site

 

 

 

The Bellgrove neighborhood in Saratoga

The Bellgrove neighborhood in Saratoga, California, is an attractive, newer subdivision in a convenient location with Saratoga schools. It is highly sought after for all of those reasons.

 

 Bellgrove neighborhood view - tree lined street with sidewalks.

 

Bellgrove neighborhood houses

Most homes and yards are very well tended, even pristine. Only a couple looked like they could use a little paint or get their front yards tidied up a little. This community is really quite beautiful.  Often when communities look this good it’s because of the HOA’s enforcement and the HOA dues. There’s no Homeowner’s Association (HOA) enforcing aesthetics, it’s just the pride of ownership at work.

What will you find at Bellgrove? Here are some key features in this luxury neighborhood.

Quick facts:

  • There are 94 homes in this subdivision
  • The homes were build by Greenbrier in 1996 (date per county records)
  • All of the houses provide 5 bedrooms
  • All of them have 3 full bathrooms
  • All enjoy 3 car garages
  • All are 2 stories – no single story homes available
  • There are 3 floorplans, with the smallest offering 2900 SF and the largest 3139 SF
  • Lots run from 5803 SF to 11,154 SF (the older house, not part of the tract, has just over 18,000 SF)
  • The neighborhood includes a large greenbelt area, a playground, and a par course up against the freeway
  • The Bellgrove neighborhood is within the boundaries of highly desired school districts: the Saratoga Union School District (K-8) and the Los Gatos Saratoga Union High School District

Most homes do not have pools – just 11 of the 94 do.

Most homes are owner occupied – only 7 are rented out.

 

House on Bellgrove Circle in the Bellgrove neighborhood of Saratoga, CA, 95070.

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Check the months of inventory to see if it’s a good time to sell your home!

Months of Inventory explained with an hourglassIs it a good time to sell a home in Silicon Valley? One of the best ways to get a pulse on the real estate market with an eye to selling or buying is with the months of inventory (MOI), also known as the absorption rate. This is the months of supply of housing for sale.

The months of inventory tells us how fast the current inventory of properties will be sold off if sales were to continue at the same rate with no new inventory were to come on the market.

The easiest analogy is with a bathtub full of water. If we added no more water to the tub, and the drain were opened, how much time would it take for the water to be depleted if it continued to empty at the same rate? That’s the question being answered with the absorption rate of inventory.

Or, simpler still, if you have an hourglass that you turn over, how long does it take for the sand to empty from the top (since you cannot add more sand to that end)?

How to calculate the months of inventory or MOI

The way to calculate the months of inventory is simple:  find the current available inventory of homes for sale (not under contract or sale pending), then find the number of homes with that exact criteria which have closed escrow in the last 30 days.  Divide the first by the second and you get the months of inventory. Or, I can just use the stats program on the MLS to generate that number, as I did today.

Earlier I pulled this data from MLSListings.com, our local MLS association (of which I am a member) and I ran the numbers for single family homes (houses and duet homes) in Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose (all areas combined), Santa Clara, Saratoga, Sunnyvale. Separately, I also ran this same query for the City of San Jose by district.

The months of inventory by city or town in Santa Clara County

A balanced market for our area is 2-3 months of inventory (for most of the US it’s 4-6 months). Two months or less is a seller’s market, and one month or less is a very hot seller’s market.

Here’s a look at the months of inventory by city or town in SCC in April 2023 for single family homes.  As you can see, the vast majority of the county is a strong seller’s market, with the only exception being Los Altos Hills.

 

Santa Clara County months of inventory by city in Santa Clara County - single family homes for April 2023

 

Which are the hottest markets?  They’re the ones with the smallest months of inventory -Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Cupertino, Milpitas and many more are well under the 2 month market. A few are a tad higher and in the “balanced market” area, and only one is in a deep buyer’s market.

The months of inventory by area within the City of San Jose

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How do prices compare between Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino and Palo Alto?

Los Gatos Saratoga Cupertino and Palo AltoWhat does it cost to buy a home with really good schools in Silicon Valley? Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino and Palo Alto are all areas with highly regarding public schools and high home prices. These aren’t the only areas with good schools but they are popular “west valley” areas that people may consider if working for Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook or any number of high tech employers.

Los Gatos and Saratoga both have multiple school districts, running from good to very good or excellent. The cost of housing tends to follow the popularity of the district, so for those areas I’m showing the breakdown not just for the whole town of Los Gatos but also by the high school district (Los Gatos-Saratoga or Campbell Union High School District). Same with Saratoga. (The Monte Sereno real estate market is very similar to Los Gatos, but slightly more expensive. Most of Monte Sereno has Los Gatos schools, but a small number of homes are in the Campbell area.)

Cost Comparison: 4 West Valley Communities with Good Schools

Here are the average numbers for single family homes sold in the last 60 days ranging from 1,500 – 2,500 square feet, on a lot between 5,000 and 10,000 SF, with 3-5 bedrooms and 2-3 bathrooms to give a sense of what it would cost to purchase a typical house in these areas. Please note that right now it’s a strong seller’s market, so many (if not most or all) homes are selling for more than the list price.  DOM stands for days on the market.

 

Comparing Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, and Palo Alto Markets 3/27/2023

 

If you are new to Santa Clara County, you may be wondering if this is correct. The cost to buy a home in these areas is what?

  • Los Gatos: approximately $2,000,000 to $2,600,000 depending on the school district and size of the home and condition (more on that below)
  • Saratoga: more on this below, but approximately $2,800,000 to about $3,500,000 depending on the schools, condition, etc.
  • Cupertino: approx $2,600,000 – $3,200,000 (some areas will bring in higher prices and others lower)
  • Palo Alto: approx $2,700,000 – $3,900,000 and any home over 2,000 SqFt (except for one fixer) sold at or over $3.7M

Remember, these prices do not mean that the houses being sold are perfect. Because it is a strong seller’s market, many properties are being sold which need new roofing, extensive pest work, remodeling, perhaps updating of electrical or plumbing systems or more. Many home buyers will need to spend 1-2% on things like termite fumigation, dry rot or roof repairs, carpets, paint, windows and more, and usually this will be done before they move in. So whatever the budget is, buffer it a little bit for both money and time to make it turnkey.

A Closer Look: Los Gatos and Saratoga

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Where are the high voltage power lines?

High Voltage Power Lines Collage

High Voltage Power Lines from around the West Valley.

High voltage power lines are a “location issue” that impacts real estate values, and it sometimes elicits worry regarding safety.

High voltage power lines: how far is far enough?

Something we have spoken about recently with our clients is being far enough away so that if the tower and high voltage power lines were to fall, they’d miss your home and property. In our recent series of atmospheric rivers in January 2023, in San Jose one of these large transmission towers did fall down. It’s rare, but not impossible.

I have not seen a website that can tell us how tall any given tower is, but from what I have read online, it seems that most of them are under 200 feet tall, but some could be higher than that. In most cases, that puts the lines about 4 houses away if the lots are a typical 6,000 SF lot of 60′ across the front and 100′ deep.

We cannot speak to the concerns around potential increased risk of cancer or other problems. Each consumer should research that issue on his or her own.

Where are the high voltage power lines?

High Voltage Power lines - map - CaliforniaYears ago, I painstakingly mapped out the transmission lines from what I knew on the ground and what I could tell from tracing the Google satellite view. (You can find that link near the bottom of this article.)

Today, though, there’s something better than my map available online. The California Energy Commission has a map of the transmission lines that you can view using THIS LINK. Or click on the image at the left.

From the landing page you can zoom in or out. It covers the entire state of California – you might find it interesting to navigate around a little.

Also, a few years ago, PG&E published an interactive map where you can view the location of electric lines (I’ve filtered the imbedded map below to show Electric Transmission Lines in the South Bay), and another map of natural gas pipelines, searchable by address. This doesn’t cover the entire state, but it does cover all of the Bay Area / Silicon Valley.

The PG&E map:

On the map I hand-drew at the bottom of this article I did also include the location of schools. Quite a lot of schools do have transmission lines present.

What other location issues are there to factor in?
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Thanksgiving Interfaith Service in Saratoga

The Thanksgiving Interfaith Service in Saratoga often takes place on Thanksgiving morning. There’s also an annual service in Los Gatos, and that one is anywhere from 2 – 7 days in advance of the holiday.

Both of these welcome everyone to join them in gratitude and prayer. Also in both of these areas, the venue rotates from one house of worship to another each year. In Los Gatos, the interfaith prayer event took place a week before Thanksgiving (you can read about the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service in Los Gatos here).

It was harder to find information online for the similar service in Saratoga this year. I just found this small blurb on the Saratoga Federated Church website:

Saratoga’s Thanksgiving Interfaith Service – November 24, 2022

Thursday, November 24 at 10:00 am at LDS Church at 19100 Allendale Avenue, Saratoga.

And this from the Congregation Beth-David site:

INTERFAITH THANKSGIVING SERVICE IN SARATOGA (OFFSITE/ZOOM)

Thursday, November 24, 10:00 – 11:00 am.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
19100 Allendale Avenue, Saratoga
Join with others for an uplifting service of thanksgiving and community. Rabbi Roller will be delivering the sermon. For those preferring to attend the service on Zoom, please follow this link: https://zoom.us/j/3211896714?pwd=MDB5elUxZlpBNTljOVU2bTVObTl3dz09

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Below is an OLD graphic from 2018 – helpful mainly because it shows which faith communities have been involved in the past.

 

2018 Thanksgiving Interfaith Service in Los Gatos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Does It Cost to Buy a 4 Bedroom, 2 Bath Home in Silicon Valley with Good Schools?

Often I have clients who are interested in purchasing a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home in a good school district in Silicon Valley, particularly in the South Bay and West Valley areas. But what does it cost to buy that “average home”? Tonight I did a study on the MLS of homes that have sold and closed escrow in the last 4 months with these characteristics:

  • single family home (house)
  • 4 bedrooms
  • 2 full bathrooms
  • 1800 to 2200 square feet of living space
  • 6000 to 10,000 sf lot

Disclaimers aside, here are the numbers for select West Valley Communities in the West/South Bay area with good schools.

Cost to Buy 4 Bed 2 Bath Home in Popular Silicon Valley Communities

The first number is the number of sales during that time (more sales = more reliable averages). This one is not in the older charts, but with inventory as low as it has been lately this makes a huge difference. The second number is the average sales price per square foot, the third number is the average sales price, and the last number is the average days on market:

2022-11-3 Average Cost to Buy West Valley Homes 120D 4b-2b West Valley

 

And now a look back to late winter, early spring of 2017…

 

 

What’s changed? A lot! The order has shifted some, showing where demand has increased or decreased. Most noticeably, the prices are mostly up significantly, which is most noticeable in the price per square foot. Cambrian has traveled a good deal up the ladder. Palo Alto and Los Altos were displaced by the sole Saratoga sale, and Blossom Valley of San Jose remains in it’s regular position at the bottom.

The home prices tend to run with school rankings. Previously this was by district API scores.  You can check the 2013, three year average, API scores in Santa Clara County for both the districts and the individual schools online here, however that system is no longer used. So how to people judge? Most buyers use sites like GreatSchools.org when looking for a home with good schools which ranks schools on a scale of 1-10 in a few categories.            (more…)