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


Cupertino and Los Gatos appear to be most similarly priced, though recently Los Gatos has trended up while Cupertino had a slight softening. Saratoga and Los Altos are much higher and have recently begun to get closer in pricing with Los Altos trending down while Saratoga trended upwards. But this chart only features the median list price, not how much square footage that price will buy. It is interesting to see that the median list price in Saratoga has remained well below that of Los Altos for so long when they were reversed in the summer of 2018.

From this one data point, we cannot tell if all homes are similar, or if only homes in a particular pricing band are getting listed. Please note that the pattern for Saratoga and Los Altos seem to be similar the first half of the year, and then Saratoga switches to resemble the Los Gatos and Cupertino trends, which are usually similar throughout the year. Cupertino appears to have smaller fluctuations than the other three, meaning it probably has a more stable, or at least more predictable, market.

Next is the most affordable tier of housing for each area. Usually that translates into smaller, older homes. And it translates into “what does it cost to get your foot in the door?”

(1A) Median list price of the bottom quartile of all four:


Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research


In this graph for the most affordable units, Los Gatos is well below Cupertino, this time (possibly due to the Los Gatos Mountain market). Saratoga and Cupertino have been neck-and-neck until the start of spring, matching almost perfectly the market shifts though at different price points. Yet again, Los Altos seems to have it’s own trends which don’t match up with the shifts in the other three markets, and sits well above the other three.

And, very interestingly, same data but for the top quartilethe luxury market:


Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research


Here we see Los Altos clearly overtaking the rest in staggering, if uneven, leaps and bounds! And also that Cupertino’s luxury market pricing is significantly lower than the rest (though Los Gatos comes closest). Saratoga and Los Gatos sometimes play the same luxury range, but right now Saratoga has skyrocketed above the Los Gatos market, up to the Los Altos levels. Most intriguing to me is that Los Altos’s top tier has consistently followed such a different pattern than the other areas in recent months, though that city as a whole had less of a swing in the median price chart above in 1A.


(2) Inventory:


Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research


The inventory patterns are pretty consistent over the last year across all four areas. They all follow similar trends, but with different levels of influence. Surprisingly, Cupertino has had consistently the lowest inventory through most of the year, despite it being the highest population area in the charts. Los Gatos has remained the market with the most inventory all year.

(3) Average days on market:


Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

Before we dive into the Days on Market, remember that the most recent data (as of this writing) for this has been frozen and the numbers are inaccurate.

It is really interesting to see the days on market by city or area. Cupertino is not the closest to all of the big industries (though its home to Apple, of course), but it is the a very good value, especially for people who are buying homes based on school performance tests. As others have said, if you’re buying for high school scores, Cupertino offers the most “bang for the buck”. So it’s no surprise Cupertino is selling at the fastest rate. Los Altos is a close second, occasionally going at the same exact rate as Cupertino. Los Gatos and Saratoga are further from the high tech employment centers, and Saratoga can be very pricey – they are experiencing longer days on market.

(4) Median MAI – Market Action Index:

What’s hot on this graph?  Everything is over 30, which is the cutoff between buyers’ and sellers’ market – all of these are sellers’ markets when the areas are taken as a whole:


Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research


The hottest markets are, in order: Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Gatos, and then Saratoga. Occasionally Cupertino and Los Altos or Los Gatos and Saratoga will switch places, but this has been pretty consistent throughout the year.

Bottom quartile (below) – for the most affordable homes, the list prices indicate that the entry level house in Los Altos is not priced much differently than Cupertino. But to remind again, this does not mean that both are 2,000 SF houses!  We’ll look at what your money can buy in these areas a little further down.


Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research


And among the most expensive homes or luxury estates, Cupertino has the “best market” (meaning the most competitive):


Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research


Within those graphs, we can see which markets are hot and where the entry level price point seems to be. But what kind of residential real estate can you buy for that price tag?  Next I’ll share a portion of the weekly report – this part will not be automatically updated, but a moment in time as of May 11, 2020.


Cupertino CA as of May 11, 2020 – what kind of home does the list price reflect? See the Cupertino weekly real estate update HERE


May 2020 Cupertino Altos Report


Around Cupertino, for a 2,300 SqFt property the median price was around $2.4 Mil. Let’s see how that size home compares elsewhere.

Los Altos CA – see the weekly Los Altos report HERE and sign up if you’d like to get it emailed to you each week


May 2020 Los Altos Altos Report


In Los Altos, the second quartile of homes comes closest to this size range, around 2,300 SqFt for upwards of $3.3 Mil.

Los Gatos, CA (all 3 zip codes: 95030 & 95032 – in town, and 95033 – the mountains) – Altos weekly report for Los Gatos HERE


May 2020 Los Gatos Altos Report


In Los Gatos, we’re up again to the second quartile, though it falls a little shy of the 2,300 SqFt marker, with homes of this size selling for a median price of around $1.9 Mil.

Saratoga CA – see the Altos Research weekly report for Saratoga CA 95070 HERE


May 2020 Saratoga Altos Report


Lastly, in Saratoga we do not have a quartile averaging near the 2,300 SqFt  mark. The lowest quartile homes are just under 2,000 SqFt selling at a median of over $2.1 Mil. The next quartile up leaps to an average of 3,000 SqFt for over $2.9 Mil.

Interested in buying or selling a home in Silicon Valley’s west side or nearby? Please call or email me and we can discuss your plans & goals – no obligation.  mary (at) popehandy (dot) com or 408 204-7673







  • Mary Pope-Handy

    Silicon Valley Realtor, selling homes in Los Gatos, Saratoga, San Jose, Silicon Valley, and nearby since 1993. Prolific blogger with a network of sites.

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