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Saratoga CA Real Estate Market Update

Saratoga, CA real estate remains in a strong seller’s market with a high volume of sales fighting for a small pool of available inventory. Detailed data and analysis on the current market is available below and updated monthly. Here is the latest snapshot for what’s happening with single family homes in this city:

  • The sales to list price ratio is a fiery hot 109% of asking!
  • Available inventory is persistently low and well below 2020 levels, while pending sales are nearly double last year!
  • Listings are selling lightning fast in an average of only 14 days on market.

How’s the Saratoga California real estate market?

Last year and so far this year have been unlike any others, yet the market remains in the seller’s favor for the Saratoga, CA real estate market. Much of the market strength depends on the price point, school district, and condition – today’s buyers generally prefer recently remodeled homes. (A few years ago, I showed a home that was remodeled in 2010 and my buyers found it to be dated.) In response to this strong preference, many sellers have begun moving out and getting their homes updated prior to going on the market.

That being said, the real estate market today is not the same as it was as of March 2020. While the complete impact of the pandemic won’t be seen for a long time, we can see some of the results in the data and analysis below. To learn more about how Covid-19 has affected the real estate market, please check my post: Coronavirus Impact on Real Estate Sales.

At the start of the shutdown, 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 2020. In the data below, this will affect any numbers related to the days on market, the absorption rate, and the days of inventory for those months. Current numbers are accurate.

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

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California

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

Real-Time Market Profile Saratoga, CA 95070

In the latest update, October 6th, Altos shows a strong seller’s market with a slight increase in market action and low inventory.

Next, let’s turn to the closed sales from last month. This time we’re using data from a subscription service of mine to the RE Report.

Here are the real estate sales statistics for closed sales last month among houses and duet homes (if there are any) in the 95070 zip code (click on link to read the full Saratoga Real Estate Report for houses). Bottom line is that most livable homes in Saratoga will run between $2.5 and $3.5 million if they are mid sized (2000-3000 SF) and in the best schools area (Saratoga or Cupertino). Homes in the Campbell schools area, which have very strong elementary and middle schools, are very rare and generally more affordable, closer to $2 – $3 million (and occasionally lower), but depending on size, condition, and location they can be significantly higher.

Trends at a Glance for the Saratoga CA Real Estate Market

Saratoga had some slight warming in September and remains a hot seller’s market! Prices held stable month-over-month, and remain significantly higher year-over-year. Closed sales grew while pending sales took a dip and available listings remained constant from the last month. Compared to last year, active inventory is persistently low, while closed and pending sales are leaps and bounds above what they were in September 2020. The sales to list price ratio rose to a scorching hot 109% of asking! Properties are selling lickety split with an average of only 14 days on market, just 2 weeks. Limited supply combined with ample demand are propelling the blazing hot seller’s market in Saratoga, CA!

Trends At a Glance Sep 2021 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $3,550,000 (-2.7%) $3,650,000 $3,100,000 (+14.5%)
Average Price $3,889,510 (+0.7%) $3,862,160 $3,509,020 (+10.8%)
No. of Sales 39 (+11.4%) 35 27 (+44.4%)
Pending 43 (-12.2%) 49 23 (+87.0%)
Active 25 (0.0%) 25 41 (-39.0%)
Sale vs. List Price 109.0% (+0.3%) 108.7% 100.9% (+8.1%)
Days on Market 14 (-8.0%) 15 35 (-60.5%)
Days of Inventory 19 (-13.2%) 21 44 (-57.8%)

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Market comparison: Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino and Los Altos

Market comparison: Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino and Los AltosToday we’re looking at the real estate market for houses in some of the “west valleycommunities 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!

Market Comparisons

(1) Median List Price (per Altos Research):

 

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

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How Important are Parking Spaces and Garages in Silicon Valley?

Cambrian Park Home, built by LeepMost homes in Silicon Valley come with some type of parking space for cars beyond street parking.  Home buyers want to know that there will be a place for their vehicles (and often their “stuff” too).   Garages and parking are sometimes under-appreciated aspects of evaluating real estate, and sometimes there are parking surprises after the close of escrow, so it will be the focus of today’s topic.

Parking and resale value

Because a real estate purchase is a big ticket item, it is always important to consider the ability to sell it later.  (Always buy with selling in mind!)  Will the property you have or are considering buying be hard to sell  in the future if it is not a red-hot sellers market?  Parking can greatly impact “resale value and overall desirability to a large portion of consumers, who may look at that space as protection for a beloved vehicle, a safety feature, a future hobby room, or many other possibilities.

If you are evaluating a Common Interest Development (CID) condominium, townhouse, or planned unit development home with private roads and parking, there will be some special concerns that may be a little different than if you were purchasing a single family home. We’ll consider both.

General principle:  In all types of housing in the San Jose area, usually the most highly desired type of parking arrangement is an attached garage with direct access into the home and with side by side parking provided (not tandem).  This is not true in all cases but is generally true.  You would not find home buyers interested in historic homes (Victorian, Spanish, Craftsman) wanting a prominent two car garage at the front of the house, commanding the lion’s share of the view from the street. (So don’t expect to see that in Japantown, Naglee Park, or the the Rose Garden areas of San Jose.) But for the typical buyer of the more common ranch style house, the attached garage is expected and appreciated, and if it’s missing it may be a challenge to sell the property later because the property will be appealing to a smaller pool of buyers.

Regarding direct access: garages are not allowed to have a door entering into a bedroom. This is for safety reasons since bedrooms are where residents are most vulnerable, and garages are an area of increased safety risk.
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The Luxury Real Estate Market in Almaden, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga

How is the Luxury Home Market?Luxury home sales are going like crazy in the west valley areas of Santa Clara County. Right now in Almaden Valley, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga, there are 115 houses for sale listed at or more than two million dollars (just checked MLSListings.com), and in the last 30 days 52 have sold and closed escrow in those same areas and price ranges. For the Almaden – Saratoga region generally, then, there are 2.212 months of inventory in the over two million dollar price range (115/52). That makes it a strong seller’s market. Things have certainly stayed lively since last year. (In the same region, there are 39 pending sales.)

Next we’ll look at these four Silicon Valley communities separately to see how the luxury market in each one is faring overall.

Almaden Valley (San Jose, 95120)

Currently in Almaden there are 12 houses for sale which are listed at or over $2,000,000.  In the last 30 days, 3 sold in that price range (with 2 sales pending). That makes for 4 “months of inventory,” which can be considered a balanced market in many areas though is leaning towards being a seller’s market. That would mean this luxury market has good turnover but is not as strong a market as elsewhere. It’s a close to balanced market in Almaden Valley among the most expensive real estate offerings for sale. Five to six months is balanced and over six is a buyer’s market. (more…)

The Silicon Valley Luxury Home Market

El Sombroso peaking over a bridge at Vasona County Park in Los GatosWhat makes an expensive house in the San Jose area more than just a pricey bit of real estate, but instead a Silicon Valley luxury home? How is high end real estate different from the rest of the market? When is a property not just a home with land, but an estate?

In other parts of the U.S., spending $1,200,000 may fetch a 4000 square foot home, new construction, in an upscale gated community with country club amenities such as a golf course, tennis courts, and more. Here, that same $1,200,000 will procure an entry to mid-level single family home in many parts of Santa Clara County. It won’t necessarily be a Silicon Valley luxury home.

Luxury connotes a combination of qualities, features, and amenities. And it includes pricing (relative to the nearby market), condition, land, design.

Pricing Luxury Homes in Silicon Valley: What Do They Cost?

Expensive Silicon Valley homes are not necessarily luxury homes. Depending on the city or town, the price tag could be higher or lower. For instance, a fabulous house on a large lot in Gilroy’s Eagle Ridge might sell for 1/3 as much as the identical type of home, land and neighborhood found in Saratoga, Monte Sereno, or Los Gatos, or Los Altos, if a similar home happened to be available. Generally, though, luxury homes could cost as little as $1,000,000 or so in some parts of Silicon Valley or in neighboring counties, but in most parts of Silicon Valley, a true estate type property will be valued at $2,000,000 or $3,000,000 or more.  In some areas, such as Palo Alto, that $2 million doesn’t go too far and the home you can purchase at that price tag may need major updating – or it could be “land value”.  For our purposes today, we’ll use $2 million as the bottom number for estate properties, but it may or may not be the case in some areas.

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Graystone and Pfeiffer Ranch Areas of Almaden Valley

With fabulous views, exceptionally high ranking schools and beautiful newer construction, the Graystone and Pfeiffer Ranch neighborhoods in San Jose’s Almaden Valley are perennially desirable.

Recently I was in the neighborhood and took a couple of photos which feature Mt. Umunhum.

 

Pfeiffer Ranch and Graystone area in Almaden

 

And one more:

 

Almaden view of Mt Umunhum

 

The neighborhood also enjoys a park along the creek with a playground to enjoy on days with better weather.

Not sure if you’ve been to this scenic part of San Jose’s Almaden Valley?  Here’s where to find it (this is where I took today’s pictures):

 


View Larger Map

 

Current listings in Graystone:

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Current listings in Almaden Valley:

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(all data current as of 10/19/2021)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

 
 

 

 

 

The Luxury Home Real Estate Market in Los Gatos & Monte Sereno

The luxury homes market frequently behaves very differently than the rest of the real estate market as a whole.  If interest rates jump around, the impact is often far less since the home buyers of estate properties may not be nearly as dependent upon financing.  Many of these fine homes & estates are paid for “all cash”.  (In some cases they do this but later arrange financing, perhaps funding a “charitable remainder” trust rather than a more typical institutional loan.)

How’s the real estate market for high end homes in Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and the Los Gatos Mountain communities?  Defining “luxury homes” is a bit tricky because what constitutes luxury can vary from area to area (check out these estate homes for sale in the Buffalo NY area). For now let’s use prices of $2 million or greater as we first look at the Months of Inventory or Absorption Rate – though in fairness, the luxury price point is a little lower in the mountains.  (Six months is considered balanced by the National Association of Realtor, less is a sellers market and more is a buyers market.)  I first did this study in October of 2012 and will provide those numbers as a window back in time for comparison purposes.

 

Los Gatos area luxury market

 

Monte Sereno is having no trouble selling luxury homes compared to the rest of the Los Gatos area right now.  The Los Gatos Mountains (Chemeketa Park, Redwood Estates, Aldercroft Heights and other areas) struggles with the over $2 million market.

No matter how you look at it, overall it is a seller’s market in the luxury home strata in Monte Sereno and Los Gatos – but not the Los Gatos Mountains. It is not so crazy as the entry level homes, which have a much faster absorption rate, so buyers, take heart!  Three months of inventory is pretty doable and not so far from a “balanced” market here.

Altos charts on the LG area

Next we’ll change gears and use Altos Research and quartiles to evaluate the most expensive listings.  We will look at the top quartile of list prices, the high end listings in Los Gatos (zip codes 95030 and 95032 in town), in the Los Gatos Mountains (unincorporated, 95033) and Monte Sereno (99.9% of which is in 95030 but a tiny sliver has the 95032 zip code).   The charts I’m using are live and will be continuously updated by Altos Research, to which I have a subscription.

List prices of homes for sale in the topmost price quartile in Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and the Los Gatos Mountains

 

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

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Stunning custom Los Gatos view home, easy drive, gated property . . . a unique find & entertainer’s paradise!

Fabulous opportunity to purchase a spectacular view home with a close-in location on gated lot in Los Gatos!  Ideal for entertaining with oversized rooms, most with valley views.

Open Saturday June 15 & Sunday June 16, 2-4 pm – 110 Alerche Drive (off Harwood Road), Los Gatos
110 Alerche Drive, Los Gatos - view at twilight

110 Alerche Drive, Los Gatos – view at twilight

Unique find!  Very spacious, sunny home with open floor plan on gated lot in an easy-to-access location. Nearly all rooms enjoy expansive valley views! Ideal for entertaining!

• 4 bedrooms
• 4.5 baths
• Living space approx. 5,326 SF (per county)
• Lot size approx. 41,382 SF (.95 acre, per county)
• Year built: 1991
• 3 car garage + 2 car carport
• Gently sloping lot with room for pool

SEE VIRTUAL TOUR

Main floor includes
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Luxury Real Estate in Silicon Valley

How is the Luxury Home Market?Silicon Valley features a number of upscale communities that enjoy beautiful estate properties. These luxury homes are not simply large houses, but rather they boast qualities generally not seen in regular residential real estate.

What makes a house a “luxury home”?

A luxury property in Santa Clara County often includes a number of elements that set it apart, such as:

  • price tag: these homes usually sell for more than three or five million dollars (and may be $10 or $20 million or more, though in some cases as low as $2 million – that largely depends on location)
  • close to an acre or more of land
  • house larger than 4000 or 5000 sf
  • the inclusion of “out buildings” such as a guest cottage, gatehouse, etc.
  • views (valley, hill, acreage) or special features of the land (waterfront, riverfront adjacent), a vineyard, or something else special and uniquely beautiful
  • amenities such as a pool, tennis court, racquetball court, gym, sports court or facilities for enjoying other sports & exercise on site
  • specialized hobby or relaxation rooms, as in a darkroom, library, workshop, conservatory, wine cellar & tasting room
  • entertainment centers not commonly found in private homes, like a ballroom, dedicated home theater room for movie viewing, bowling alley, shooting range, or place to practice a golf swing; pool or billiards and “game room”, and ice cream parlor
  • safety tools such as a video surveillance system, electronic gates
  • neighborhood: it is very hard for an expensive house to be viewed as a luxury home if the surrounding properties are not also high end homes

The (main) house itself is qualitatively different too.

Kitchens tend to be the most important room for San Jose area home buyers of all price ranges, and this includes homes that cost upwards of ten million dollars. Usually, kitchens in these homes are designed with a very clear purpose in mind and are done beautifully, though recently in Los Gatos I saw a home listed for about ten million with a kitchen that needs to be completely remodeled. This is very unusual, though.

Most luxury homes features kitchens of one extreme or the other. On the one hand, it may be more industrial in nature if those cooking in it are primarily professional chefs, domestic employees or catering services rather than the homeowner. This is not the kitchen of glossy magazines, it’s not meant to impress anyone for all the maple cabinets, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. This sort of kitchen is functional, not gorgeous, and it may have stainless steel countertops, for instance, alongside the giant gas range. Such a kitchen is usually separate from the living areas and the guests are not expected to visit this part of the home.

Far more commonly found in Silicon Valley is the other end of the spectrum, the kitchen where residents spend most of their time, and it’s meant to impress. Here we see high end materials and appliances in a room viewed as much as art as the meals created in it are. This type of kitchen is often the focal point of today’s upscale or luxury home. The home’s floorplan is “open” to the kitchen – often the kitchen and family room blend together as part of a Great Room. This is a kitchen designed for owners who cook, not those who have servants.
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What should you look for when buying a luxury home in Silicon Valley?

Luxury Home MarketWhat should you look for when buying a luxury home in Silicon Valley? Whether it’s a move-up purchase or a first home, there are a few tips which will be helpful for you to know going into it that will make the whole home buying experience smoother and easier.  We’ll hit on 3 areas: first geography & construction, second hyper local factors that impact market value, and finally qualities or features of the property or house itself.

It’s hard to assign an exact price tag on what constitutes an estate or luxury property, but in and near Silicon Valley, in most regions it’s the $2,000,000 and up price point (it will be less in Morgan Hill, Coyote and Gilroy – and likely more in Hillsborough).

1. Geography and Bay Area Construction: it’s different here!

The first and most important thing to understand is that real estate and housing construction vary from one region of the country (or the world) to the next.  This is true for all types of homes, actually, but perhaps more obvious in the priciest homes. Luxury real estate in Silicon Valley is a little different from similarly expensive homes in other parts of the country due to our climate, soil conditions, and natural hazards, such as earthquakes. What seems mandatory for a high end home (and might be ideal to have elsewhere) could be a problem here, so it’s helpful to literally understand the lay of the land before you get too far along the home buying path. A couple of quick examples:

  • A fabulous home in Boston or anywhere in New England may be built of brick.
  • Here, a brick house is seldom seen because of earthquakes – we need our houses to move and bricks are not usually too good at that!

I mention these two upfront because well intentioned friends and relatives may want to stress the importance of this or that in a property – and it may simply not apply here. (Please see article: Qualify The Advice You’ll Accept When Buying or Selling a Home in Silicon Valley)  If you are non-native to the San Francisco Bay Area, you may have assumptions about construction or architecture that may not work here. Please just be aware of that possibility.

2. Understand the importance of hyper local factors on the market value of a property

Schools can be a main driver for home values in the luxury market as all other segments.  Home buyers may not know that the town or city boundaries are usually irrelevant to school district boundaries. Here are a few examples:

  • In Saratoga  there are 3 high school districts and 4 elementary school districts.  Before buying anywhere in Saratoga, then, you’ll want to know which district is which and where you’re buying.  If you want to utilize private schools, you may be delighted to find that you can buy more house for your money in one area of this lovely city than another.  Or you may want one school area over another for any number of reasons.
  • In Los Gatos there are 2 high school districts and 3 elementary school districts.
  • In the Almaden Valley area of San Jose, there are 3 high school districts and 3 elementary school districts

Often the lesser public school districts will have a lower lid on pricing than the very top districts or schools, so it’s important, when analyzing the pricing of an estate home, to factor in the weight of the school. (more…)