Areas & Neighborhoods
Home to some interesting history, the city of Saratoga, California can boast notable people, inclluding Senator James Phelan, Painless Parker, Olivia de Haviland, and Joan Fontaine, as past residents. But this city against the base of the coastal range also has interesting historical places, such as the well known Hakone Gardens, Villa Montalvo, and the Mountain Winery. Less famous but still interesting are the very old Saratoga Springs and the Madronia Cemetery, as well as the downtown area around Big Basin Way.
Some Historic Areas in Saratoga, CA
Saratoga appreciates its history, from the well known to the almost forgotten. All of Silicon Valley should be happy that the city of Saratoga has an orchard which is being preserved as a part of its “living history,” the Heritage Orchard. That park can be found at the corner of Saratoga Avenue and Fruitvale Avenue (appropriate intersection), near the Saratoga Public Library and West Valley College.
An easy to visit but sometimes less well known piece of history involves stretches of streets in Saratoga. One is this patch of Austin Way off Saratoga-Los Gatos Road, and the other is a section of Saratoga Avenue between Sacred Heart Church and the Saratoga Village area.
Austin Way, near the old La Hacienda Inn (now being converted into the new and highly contested Montalvo Oaks subdivision of Monte Sereno) at the border of Los Gatos, Saratoga, and Monte Sereno, features a beautiful, bumpy brick road. It’s a piece of Saratoga’s history that is making its mark on the present. Bricks have been the paving along this stretch of Austin Way for approximately a century and will continue to remain a path to Saratoga of the past for years (maybe centuries) to come.
If you are interested in the history of Saratoga, California, visit the Saratoga Historical Foundation’s museum (located at 20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road in downtown Saratoga) to learn more, get involved, or attending some of their events. Continue reading
Sitting at the base of El Sereno, part of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Monte Sereno is an upscale residential community snuggled between Los Gatos and Saratoga, California. The population is very tiny with about 4000 folks living in Monte Sereno any given time. It is composed of about one and a half square miles. This small city shares many services with the town of Los Gatos (such as schools and police). There are no businesses in Monte Sereno, only homes, the city’s offices, and the post office.
Real estate prices are high in this low-crime city, and while there are some modest homes, there are also some palatial estates featuring extreme amenities.
The geography is mostly flat to gentle hills, with much of it wooded. Redwood trees, oak trees, madrone and many others cluster together in the nooks and crannies of Monte Sereno. There are open places too, of course, with grassy fields. Along Daves Avenue, there are several streets that tie in together with a common horse stable, and it has meandering equestrian trails. Most of those homes are on half acre, level lots, with generous ranch style homes that back to the trails. This is a great neighborhood for horse lovers!
If you have a chance to visit Austin Way behind La Hacienda Restaurant and Inn, you’ll be delighted to find an old brick road, part of the heritage of Monte Sereno. And on the other side of Highway 9 along Austin Way, you’ll see a historic building recounting the city’s agricultural past in Austin Corners.
John Steinbeck once called this area home – but later decided the rural hamlet was too crowded, so moved into the Santa Cruz Mountains to regain his serenity! It is said that he wrote Of Mice and Men while living here.
|Official town website
The Town of Monte Sereno
|History, population, and more on this tiny town which is nestled between Saratoga and Los Gatos.
Wikipedia on Monte Sereno
Cambrian Park is a highly desirable district of San Jose. With close proximity to Los Gatos, Campbell, Willow Glen and Blossom Valley, there’s lots to do within Cambrian itself or very nearby. Cambrian also enjoys good schools, low crime, two newer libraries, two Farmer’s Markets, and a fabulous rec center, the Camden Community Center.
Where is Cambrian Park and how big is it? The 2010 census reported Cambrian Park as having less than 4,000 people. In contemporary usage, though, Cambrian consists of much more than the area known as “Cambrian Village” (which has this small population), and now includes about 75,000 residents in all. The area includes most of the 95124 zip code plus the 95118 zip code (and a little sliver of 95008). (To see a very approximate map of Cambrian Park boundaries, click on this link.) The local Realtor association had something to do with this shift in perception as it mapped out boundaries for Cambrian Park, roughly known in the industry as “area 14” that expanded the original area. Historically, though, Cambrian was really a very vast area including much of Campbell and many areas now falling under different district names. The area is alternately known as Cambrian, Cambrian Park, and Cambrian Village – the latter referring to the area near Union & Camden Avenues.
Related post on Cambrian’s history, areas and map: please also see Cambrian Park: Good Schools, Low Crime, Close to Los Gatos and Campbell
How do you decide where in Cambrian to live? Many aspects of home buying will likely come into play, from schools desired and budget available to the ambiance and practical things you desire such as RV parking, an extra large garage, family room, guest suite, commute issues (proximity to freeways), etc.
I. School Districts of Cambrian Park
Your decision might be influenced by the school district you want; Cambrian Park has three elementary school districts. All are good – Cambrian Park truly has no bad schools – but some are exceptionally high. Some districts may have more offerings for special needs kids or gifted kids – if you have children and are looking at placing them in the local public schools, do your research before you househunt!
- The north side of Cambrian Park (going into Campbell and Willow Glen) has schools belonging to the Cambrian School District (see map).
- The east side of Cambrian Park (going toward Blossom Valley) is part of the territory of the San Jose Unified School District. Schools for all of San Jose are beautifully mapped out by the district – you have to zoom in to see the boundaries around Cambrian but it includes all three local districts so is worth the extra steps!
- The southwest side of Cambrian (and east Los Gatos) is within the boundaries of the Union School District, which also has a helpful map of the borders. The map is a pdf and it is very detailed.
Today we’re looking at the real estate market for houses in some of the “west valley” communities 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!
(1) Median List Price (per Altos Research):
Willow Glen is a very charming, older part of San Jose that seems to beckon to a more gracious time. It is perhaps best known for its historic homes and quaint streets, but it is also highly regarded as a tight knit community with its own, vibrant downtown.
Where is Willow Glen?
Willow Glen is close to downtown San Jose, bordered by Highway 87 to the east, Highway 280 to the north, Southwest Expy, Leigh Avenue, and Bascom Avenue to the west, and Foxworthy Avenue to the south. To the west is Campbell and to the south is Cambrian.
This area is mostly the 95125 zip code, but includes a little of 95124 on the south end.
The public schools are mostly within the San Jose Unified School District, but on the south west side, I believe all within 95124, some are in the Cambrian School District.
The district’s centerpiece is Lincoln Avenue, a street bustling with cars and pedestrians alike. It’s filled to the brim with restaurants and shops and seems to attract a never-ending strea of visitors, especially in summer and during the holidays. Additionally, there are a number of businesses and shops along Meridian Avenue.
The boundaries are not always agreed upon. Google Maps shows a much broader area, extending west all the way to Highway 17 and all the way south to Hillsdale, including parts of Campbell and Cambrian. The Wikipedia page on WG only includes the 95125 zip code.
A little Willow Glen history
Willow Glen began as an unincorporated community at about the time of the Gold Rush, at about the same time as when San Jose was the capitol of California. In 1863 the first school was built to meet the needs of the children there. It became incorporated in 1927 to fend off being annexed into the larger City of San Jose, but had a change of heart and voted to be annexed in 1936 so that the area could be on the city’s sewer system rather than to continue with septic tanks and cesspools.
Willow Glen architecture
Much of Willow Glen was built early in the 1900s and so the homes in the “downtown” area are older and feature classical styles of housing on tree lined streets – Spanish, Craftsman, and some even more venerable and Victorian. That is surely a large part of its charm. On the edges of Willow Glen, the homes are newer and tract. One area, known as Palm Haven, has a myriad of palm trees (both Royal Palm and Fan Palm) and older, diverse architecture surrounding a community park. The original access to Palm Haven from Bird Avenue and the rest of Willow Glen has been blocked off, but the grand old road can still be found easily enough via Clintonia off Riverside. Continue reading
If you love older residential areas with classic architecture and a canopy of street trees, you’ll want to know about the Buena Vista neighborhood in San Jose.
Situated between downtown San Jose and the Valley Fair & Santana Row areas, there’s a lot going on that’s not far away.
Buena Vista neighborhood location
Where is the Buena Vista neighborhood? Roughly, it includes areas north of Hwy 280, south of San Carlos, east of Leigh and west of Meridian. It is considered part of Central San Jose by the local MLS.
The eastern half of the area is in the 95126 zip code, and the western section is in the 95128 zip code.
What are homes like in the Buena Vista neighborhood?
How is the Monte Sereno real estate market? Because the city is small, with just about 4,000 residents, there usually are few homes listed for sale or selling, and with small numbers we can get seeming volatility.
That combined with all that’s happened this March, the data from the last month might not be as good a predictor for the market as it normally would be. Though we’ve begun to see a different market in the April data, we won’t know the full impact for a while. For now you can read more about the Coronavirus impact on real estate sales in my post on the topic.
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.
There are no condominiums or townhomes in Monte Sereno at present (we are watching closely the proposed development at La Rinconada, which is unincorporated as of this writing). One of the major challenges for this city is to ensure that at least some housing units are deemed “affordable.” You can find the city’s housing plan here (a pdf online): http://www.montesereno.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/674
Below is a quick market profile for Monte Sereno. This is updated automatically weekly, so please check back often.
As of the latest update, May 5, 2020, the Monte Sereno market is in a slight seller’s advantage with declining market action.
Altos Research does weekly reports, to which I subscribe. You can see the full weekly report for Monte Sereno HERE and you can click the subscribe button there if you’d like to get it weekly (or navigate to another zip code or city and subscribe to that). Here’s the data on home descriptions per price quartile in the report, updated automatically throughout the month:
It looks like prices have risen dramatically in all but the lowest price tier, though they’ve begun to turn back around again. The top two tiers are well above where they have been since the last peak around late 2017 and early 2018, and the third tier hasn’t seen these numbers since early 2018. Remember, low inventory and fewer sales mean greater swings in data.
Stats for recently closed home sales in Monte Sereno
Here are the quick statistics for the closed sales in the last complete month to give a sense of how things are going with the Monte Sereno real estate market. Sales data comes from my Monte Sereno Real Estate Report. Given that the supply of homes to study is tiny, what can we tell from this data?
It’s true that an average Monte Sereno house is about $2.5-3.5 million, and often higher in the current market – a little steep for most folks!
Monte Sereno Real Estate Market Trends at a Glance:
Sales are up this month, though 4 sales is still a small pool of data to work with – still it’s an improvement over the 1 sale in March and 2 sales in February. Looking back a little farther, sales are double what they were in 2019, but active inventory is only half of what it was a year ago. The market is still hot!
|Trends At a Glance||Apr 2020||Previous Month||Year-over-Year|
|Median Price||$3,242,500 (+47.4%)||$2,200,000||$4,050,000 (-19.9%)|
|Average Price||$3,752,500 (+70.6%)||$2,200,000||$4,050,000 (-7.3%)|
|No. of Sales||4 (+300.0%)||1||2 (+100.0%)|
|Pending||3 (-25.0%)||4||5 (-40.0%)|
|Active||7 (-12.5%)||8||14 (-50.0%)|
|Sale vs. List Price||102.6% (-2.1%)||104.8%||96.9% (+5.9%)|
|Days on Market||5 (N/A)||0||29 (-82.5%)|
|Days of Inventory||51 (-78.9%)||240||203 (-75.0%)|
And the month before:
|Trends At a Glance||Mar 2020||Previous Month||Year-over-Year|
|Median Price||$2,200,000 (+20.4%)||$1,828,000||$0 (N/A)|
|Average Price||$2,200,000 (+20.4%)||$1,828,000||$0 (N/A)|
|No. of Sales||1 (-50.0%)||2||0 (N/A)|
|Pending||4 (N/A)||0||0 (N/A)|
|Active||8 (0.0%)||8||13 (-38.5%)|
|Sale vs. List Price||104.8% (-1.1%)||105.9%||0.0% (N/A)|
|Days on Market||0 (-100.0%)||32||0 (N/A)|
|Days of Inventory||240 (+114.3%)||112||0 (N/A)|
Because so few houses sell per month, pricing appears to jump around when that’s not actually the case. The Monte Sereno home prices tend to be a little higher but generally follow the Los Gatos trends, so it’s worth while to view this info also to get a more balanced sense of how things are for real estate in Monte Sereno. Also, for those considering buying or selling, it’s important to look at the actual listings for each and every sale with similar features, size, amenities to get a sense of your home’s particular subset of the market.
Next, let’s look at the live charts from Altos to see how active listings reflect the market as seen from viewing sold listings.