Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California
Saratoga, CA real estate is a strong seller’s market with double digit appreciation over the last year.
- The sales to list price ratio is a 109.1% of asking, which is a little softer than November and a little stronger than a year ago.
- Available inventory is rock bottom: just 11 houses for sale in December (down from 15 in November and 16 in Dec 2020)
- Days on market were under 1 month: 28 days (versus 16 in November 2021 and 39 in December 2020).
How’s the Saratoga California 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 $3 million and up (but in Saratoga, that’s really still just a house in an expensive zip code) normally moves slower than other price points. Saratoga’s entry level housing is usually the strongest.
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.
Altos shows a strong seller’s market with elevated market action and extremely 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. 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
The usual service we use to help gather this data (the ReReport) is having some issues right now and the numbers aren’t right, so we’re mannually putting togeather a more streamlined version of the chart for this month’s analysis.
Trends at a Glance
|Trends At a Glance
|No. of Sales
|Sale vs. List Price
|Days on Market
|Days of Inventory
Altos Research – list prices for Saratoga CA 95070 (more…)
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.
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!
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. (more…)
Did you know that locals in Saratoga once had a two-day long party to celebrate a road? Those party animals!
Congress Springs Road is the name given to a stretch of Highway 9 as it passes through Saratoga, where it is also called Big Basin Way. East of 35, the road follows Saratoga Creek between the Saratoga Gap Open Space Preserve and Sanborn County Park to the edge of downtown Saratoga, or Saratoga Village, near the intersection with Ambric Knolls Road (as indicated on Google Maps).
The origins of Congress Springs Road (and this portion of 9) came from a committee of private investors in 1863 who wanted to build a road into the Santa Cruz mountains to access the expansive lumber resources around the San Lorenzo River and Pescadero Creek. Constructed between 1865 to June, 1871, the five-year project was a significant engineering feat, built by Chinese laborers through dense forest and undergrowth on steep valley slopes. The final track stretched from downtown to Saratoga Summit and was a road named the Saratoga and Pescadero Turnpike and Wagon Road.
The project was highly anticipated and its conclusion was met with a two-day, overnight celebration. Over two-hundred attended the festivities, where colorful wagons paraded up to the Summit before stopping at a picnic and camp site to spend the night with music, speeches, and a lavish trout dinner before the trek home next morning.
Within a year, the road was collecting tolls ranging from 25 cent to 1 dollar (based on vehicle and capacity), and had an established stage route.
The road was purchased by the county for $5,000 on December 29, 1879 and re-named Congress Springs Road on Feb 2, 1880 after the famous Pacific Congress Springs.
Don’t know this landmark? Saratoga is home to natural mineral springs, about a mile out of town, which have a similar composition to the renown Congress Springs in Saratoga, NY. A resort was built on 720 acres around the springs and opened the summer of 1866. By the 1870s, the resort was the place to be – popular with the famous, wealthy, fashionable, and elite, the resort also bottled and shipped Congress water internationally as a healthy beverage and cure for numerous maladies. The hotel featured private rooms and cottages with lush lawns, hiking, fishing (the Saratoga Creek was abundant with fish), hunting, and picnicking on the grounds, and by 1872, hot and cold mineral baths, connections with the Southern Pacific Railroad, and its own dairy, orchard, and vineyard.
On June 15, 1903, a fire broke out in the kitchen during dinner. Despite attempts to control the fire, the hotel was decimated by the blaze. The hotel was never rebuilt and the resort slowly stagnated until it was diminished to a picnic ground and the property was purchased by the San Jose Water Works and closed to the public in 1942.
So what is left of this many-named mountain road? Portions of it have been widened, re-engineered and paved to be a part of highway 9. Sections of the road were not used to build the highway and have since been repurposed as Saratoga Toll Road and Saratoga Toll Road Trail in Castle Rock State Park. (citation: http://www.trailstompers.com/castle-rock-state-park-trail-runs.html)
Something to clarify is that a “closer in” stretch of this road already had a toll booth on it, and a sign in Saratoga Village marks that one as having begun in 1850 – 1851. The City of Saratoga has a little historical background on that earlier toll road (see http://www.saratoga.ca.us/about/history.asp), explaining that Saratoga began as a saw mill (Los Gatos has a parallel in Forbes Mill), and that
“In 1848, William Campbell set up shop on the banks of what is now Saratoga Creek. His sawmill was destined to be the seed of a new community, but before he could complete it, gold was discovered at the western base of the Sierras, touching off the California Gold Rush and delaying Campbell’s plans.Martin McCarty leased Campbell’s mill in 1850, and began improving access to the site by building a toll road.”
Saratoga California neighborhood map
Want to learn more about Saratoga’s history? Information for this post was collected from a variety of interesting sources, including these:
Signposts II by Patricia Loomis (wonderful book with short articles on local, Santa Clara County history, particular road and place names)
Online archival newspaper resources: http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC19030616.2.35
And online book, Pen Pictures from the “Garden of the World”
For an interesting article on the Springs: http://www.fohbc.org/PDF_Files/Saratogas_BGrapentine.pdf
High Voltage Power Lines from around the West Valley.
“Location, Location, Location!” The most important element when buying or selling a home is the one thing you can’t change – it’s location. Because of that, you’ll need to know some location-specific things, naturally occurring and man-made. Like high voltage power lines.
What about this location?
If you own or are thinking of buying a home in Silicon Valley, here are a few location-specific things you want to know upfront so that you can make informed decisions:
- where are the earthquake fault lines?
- where are the geologic hazard zones, such as liquefaction areas?
- where are the flood plains?
- where are man-made things that will negatively or positively impact a home’s value? Things such as
- train lines
- electrical transmission
- school district boundaries
- zip code boundaries
- proximity to entertainment venues
When looking at maps, sometimes these items show up and sometimes they don’t. Realtors and other real estate professionals in the San Jose area often use a Barclay’s Locaide and various online resources to locate the natural hazard areas. There are other tools to help locate school districts and zoning restrictions.
Google maps can help uncover some other areas, like distance to shops and freeways, but sometimes it raises more questions than it answers. For instance, a years ago a Realtor who didn’t know the Belwood of Los Gatos area too well phoned me to ask what a large object showing up on satellite view in the hills of Belgatos Park was. It is just a covered reservoir, but since it was not identified on the map it concerned some buyers. Local knowledge is still extremely helpful.
Mapping the Grid: High Voltage Power Lines
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. (more…)
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):
The exquisite Saratoga Oaks neighborhood is nestled between downtown Saratoga and the beautiful coastal foothills, close to the famed Hakone Gardens. With both pools and tennis courts and a location just a block or so from tony Saratoga Village (click to see slide show), it is resort living in Silicon Valley at its finest. But this is not just a place for retirees who want to downsize, though they are also drawn here – families with kids also move to Saratoga Oaks to make use of the top rated schools.
Which public schools serve this neighborhood?
Saratoga Oaks is within the very highly regarded Saratoga Union School District. Although many other school districts in Santa Clara County assign children in homes to particular schools, Saratoga does not – it is an “open” school district. If there’s space and if the home is within the district, you may be able to chose which of the excellent Saratoga schools you wish for your student to attend. The nearest public school is Saratoga Elementary on Oak Street, but you may find enrollment instead at Foothill Elementary or Argonaut. The higher level schools are Redwood Middle School and Saratoga High School. California has transitioned to new school assessment, away from the old 2010 API scores, but you can check the new Saratoga Union School District “Report Cards” here. Additionally, there are two excellent private elementary schools nearby: Sacred Heart (Catholic) and St. Andrew’s (Episcopalian).
Where is Saratoga Oaks?
The Saratoga Oaks community is within the city of Saratoga, California, and is a part of Silicon Valley and what’s locally referred to as “the south bay” area. It can be reached either via Springer Avenue, off of 4th Street in Saratoga or from Springer off of Big Basin Way (aka Hwy 9 or Congress Springs Road). This townhouse complex is literally where the town meets the hills – so it is not at all uncommon to find deer in the open spaces! Click on the map image to go to the live, interactive Google map. (more…)
With our 300 sunny days per year in Silicon Valley (at least most years!), golf is a sport enjoyed year round here in the San Jose area. Living near a golf course, or having a golf course view, is highly desirable as it provides scenic open space as well as convenience for avid golfers.
Silicon Valley Golf Homes, Silicon Valley Golf Properties
There are beautiful courses throughout the South Bay Area and it’s possible to find small condos with views of them at fairly affordable prices (Sunnyvale’s Sunken Gardens area is one of them). Today, though, I want to provide a list of homes for sale near golf courses in the foothill areas of Silicon Valley. Many of these will also be luxury homes. So the MLS list of these houses on the market which you can browse includes these areas:
San Jose areas including Evergreen & Silver Creek, Santa Teresa, Blossom Valley and Almaden; Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, Cupertino, and Los Altos.
There are golf courses to be found in other parts of Santa Clara County too (Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and more) – let me know if you are interested in these parts and I can send you a link for searching them for similar residential real estate.
Here are a available or recently sold homes near to golf clubs:
It can be really challenging for people moving to Silicon Valley to get a sense of real estate prices, and perhaps more, comparing cost of from one town or district to another.
One question I get a lot is this: what does it cost to buy a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house of about 2000 square feet?
So to answer this question, let’s see what houses like this are selling for (4 bed, 2 bath, appx 2000 SF or 185 square meters) and see how the cost looks in one Santa Clara County / Silicon Valley area versus another.
Today I compared several areas and cities using this criteria: single family homes of 1800 – 2200 SF, 3-5 bedrooms, 2-3 bathrooms, on lot sizes of 6000 SF to 10,000 SF. Normally I would chart this over the last 2 months, or 60 days, but because of the low inventory causing the sellers market I have expanded the search to the last 3 months, or 90 days, for a better range. Because some areas have had a scarcity of inventory, I’ve added an addition to the chart titled NoS for Number of Sales within the given range.
Here’s how it shakes out in the “west valley areas” along the Highway 85 corridor, most of which are known to have good to great public schools. What areas are most affordable? One way of analyzing this is the “price per square foot” figure. Whenever I update the chart, I re-arrange the order of the cities from high to low based on the price per square foot, although there’s usually minimal movement.
Within this range, Campbell only had one sale over the last 90 days, so data for that segment may or may not be a good average. Both Los Altos and Saratoga had no sales within the last 90 days within these criteria, so their searches have been expanded to 0-180 days (or 6 months / half a year) and 0-120 days (or 4 months / a quarter year) respectively to provide data for comparison for this chart. Now that we have the data, let’s analyze it!
Locals to the San Jose area (Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County) know, and newcomers often do not, that we have micro-climates here. Our weather is mild everywhere, of course – we enjoy a “sub tropical climate” where citrus grows and palm trees thrive – but it varies a lot nonetheless.
What kind of variation exists in Santa Clara County’s weather?
Consider that our terrain is shaped somewhat like a funnel with the San Francisco Bay on the wide end, and the two mountain ranges making up the sides of the funnel, narrowing at its base (near Morgan Hill).
View Larger Map
Together with our funnel shaped valley, the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay are the major influences on our climate. The Santa Cruz Mountains are warmer and wetter than the eastern foothills. The Pacific Ocean brings in the rain, fog and winds pulling storms in from the ocean to the valley. Much of the weather stops at or near the coastal mountains, though, and the influence lessens as you go east such that the east foothills are very, very different from the Santa Cruz Mountains. The areas close to the bay get more breezes than those sheltered by smaller valleys or nooks.
So what are Silicon Valley’s Micro-Climates?
Here are a few basic notes for newcomers: