The Heritage Grove neighborhood in Los Gatos had an interesting beginning. An old apricot orchard used to line Blossom Hill Road between Union and Leigh Avenues until the 1990s. The former owners, Ralph and Sophie Heintz, lived there in their farmhouse until their deaths, at which time the property was willed to the University of California at Berkeley for eye research.
Sophie and Ralph were interesting people. He ran a small train on their property and was an inventor. She was a ham radio operator.
In 1998, the Heintz land (and house etc.) was sold to Summerhill Homes and a portion developed as housing by Summerhill. A few of the homes higher up in the neighborhood were built by different builders. That Los Gatos neighborhood is now called the Heritage Grove neighborhood.
A strip of trees was planted along Blossom Hill Road, reminiscent of the history of the area. A wonderfully large section of land was made a permanent open space, now known as the Heintz Open Space Preserve. This open space connects directly with Belgatos Park, which also connects with the Santa Rosa Open Space Preserve. So the network of trails is quite extensive. (Link to Town of Los Gatos page with pdf files of these three trail maps. Link to Google Maps map of Blossom Hill Trails, drawn by Jim Handy.)
In 2015, we did a video drive through of the Heritage Grove neighborhood. Please take a look:
Is 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.
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
As of today, May 10, 2023, the Los Gatos real estate market in 95030 & 95032 is showing slight signs of cooling as inventory is rising while there’s a slight falling off of closed sales. Many homes are still selling quickly, but some languish on the market – mostly if they started overpriced or have a location defect. Overall, it’s a slight seller’s market.
Stats from the MLS for Los Gatos 95030 and Los Gatos 95032
Here is some Los Gatos real estate market data that I pulled directly from the MLS.
More homes are coming on the market – but it’s still below what we typically see for April.
Number of sales in LG 95030 and 95032
Tiny drop in sales in April as compared to the month before.
Looking forward to those fabulous free summer concerts? So am I! This year we’ve combined the schedules of different Los Gatos music festivals: Music in the Park, Jazz on the Plazz, and Fiesta de Artes, as well as some single-day events in a post on my Live in Los Gatos blog. Not all schedules are published, and remember to check the festival web sites for rules, schedule changes, and directions.
What 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.
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.
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?
Years 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 usingTHIS 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? (more…)
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).
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.
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)
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:
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 cancheck 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…)
Mount Umunhum sits high on the Santa Cruz Mountain range, and from there you can enjoy spectacular views. Looking inland, there are vistas of San Jose & most of Santa Clara County, on a clear day even as far north as San Francisco from Mt. Umunhum. Turning toward the Pacific Ocean, from Mount Umunhum’s heights you can see Santa Cruz and Monterey on a fogless day.
This gorgeous peak is part of the mid-Peninsula’s open space holdings, specifically the Sierra Azul Open Space.
Visiting Mount Umunhum
The park is open from a 7 a.m. to about a half hour after sunset (but the gate closes at sunset) per the Sierra Azul Open Space website. The parking lot is not big (just 60 spaces) and it can fill up early on weekends.
It may be warm on the valley floor, but the weather can be quite different, windy and cold, at the summit. Bring layers!
Also, the road up there weaves and winds. If anyone in your party gets motion sickness, you may want that person in the front seat or driving if possible.
The main entrance to the park is at the end of Mt. Umunhum Road, approximately 5.3 miles from the intersection with Hicks Road. There are other places to access the park. You can find all of them on the park’s website under Know Before You Go.
My family and I visited Mount Umunhum on a cold and windy November day in 2017. The views were breath-taking.
For those not able to visit in person, the video below provides information on the work that’s gone into making it available to all of us.
The scenic Strathmore neighborhood of Los Gatos lies close to the foothills, including both Blossom Hill and the coastal range rising behind it. Homes here in east Los Gatos enjoy that very beautiful backdrop and access to the park and trails, but many other benefits too.
Enduring qualities that make this area highly favored include:
scenic area with close proximity to the foothills plus tree lined streets
community pool & nearby park
strong public schools
good location for commuting, shopping, and easy access to downtown Los Gatos
It’s a pedestrian friendly area with sidewalks and tree lined streets, so it is not uncommon to see people out enjoying a stroll, a jog, a bike ride or otherwise taking in the peaceful region.
Additionally, Strathmore residents share a community pool (or cabana) with a neighborhood swim team. As of 2022, dues for the HOA are approximately $400 per year.
One of the biggest draws of all is that on top of these features, kids in Strathmore get to attend highly rated public schools too. The profile on this neighborhood is overwhelmingly positive!
Christie's International Real Estate Sereno, Los Gatos, CA 95030 408 204-7673 Mary@PopeHandy.com License# 01153805
Clair Handy, Realtor
Christie's International Real Estate Sereno 214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd Los Gatos, CA 95030 ClairHandy@sereno.com License# 02153633
Mary & Clair sell homes throughout Silicon Valley: Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Santa Cruz County. with a special focus on: San Jose, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell, Almaden Valley, Cambrian Park.
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