The Monte Sereno Real Estate Market

The Monte Sereno real estate market is similar to Los Gatos, but distinct - Monte Sereno shares many features with Los Gatos but is a distinct cityHow is the Monte Sereno real estate market? Because the city is small, with just about 3,500 residents, there usually are few homes listed for sale or selling, and with small numbers we can get seeming volatility. This article is updated monthly with new data and analysis, so scroll down to read the latest and check back regularly. Here are a few details from the latest market update:

  • With so few sales and listings, Monte Sereno real estate data can swing quite wildly in the charts below so take it with a grain of salt.
  • This city appears to be in a seller’s market with severely low inventory, just 4 available homes at the end of January. That’s slim pickings!
  • There were just 2 closed and 3 pending sales last month, which together are not far off from this time last year.

There are ALMOST no condominiums or townhomes in Monte Sereno. As of Febuary 2024, the MLS showed just 6 sales in these two categories in total – and that’s going back to 1998! And one of those, at least, appears to actually be in Los Gatos. 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 (an online pdf):  http://www.montesereno.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/674

Because this is such a small city and there’s a tiny pool of data, please also have a look at the Los Gatos real estate market post on this site.

Below is a quick market profile for the Monte Sereno real estate market. This is updated automatically weekly, so please check back often.

 

Monte Sereno Altos Real-Time Market Profile

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Saratoga CA Real Estate Market Update

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

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California

The Saratoga CA real estate market is a strengthening sellers’ market for single family homes :

  • the average sale price is up annually and monthly by well more than double digits
  • inventory of Saratoga houses for sale is way down compared to a more normal December (see inventory table below)
  • the sale to list price ratio moved down to just 100% in January. December and January are usually the softest months of the year, so this is not surprising.

 

How’s the Saratoga CA 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 $4 million and up (but in Saratoga, that’s really still just a house in an expensive part of town) normally moves slower than other price points. Saratoga’s entry level housing is usually the strongest. If the numbers swing wildly at any given month, it could be that more or fewer homes in a particular school district and pricing tier.

To really understand the Saratoga CA real estate market, you’ll need to get hyper local data for that home’s pricing tier, school district, and any other impactful data points.

Saratoga inventory of homes for sale

With 25 years worth of data to display, I thought the format below would make the most sense. It’s too wide to have all years side by side. We know that inventory is low everywhere. As a benchmark, I checked inventory from 2013 (when the market was truly recovered from the Great Recession) to 2023 and also from 2000 – 2024 (January).

 

Saratoga CA inventory of single family homes for sale 2000-2024 January

 

Trends at a Glance for the Saratoga CA Real Estate Market

Here’s a quick overview from the RE Report details below or please view the full data here.

Trends At a GlanceJan 2024Previous MonthYear-over-Year
Median Price$4,140,000 (+29.7%)$3,192,000$3,500,000 (+18.3%)
Average Price$4,280,580 (+24.9%)$3,427,130$3,640,000 (+17.6%)
No. of Sales14 (-6.7%)15(+100.0%)
Pending(-54.5%)11(-16.7%)
Active12 (-20.0%)1517 (-29.4%)
Sale vs. List Price100.0% (-8.5%)109.3%101.2% (-1.2%)
Days on Market21 (+17.1%)1834 (-38.0%)
Days of Inventory26 (-14.3%)3073 (-64.7%)

 

 

Altos Research real estate market data for Saratoga, CA single family homes

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

Market profile for Saratoga CA 95070

 

Real-Time Market Profile Saratoga, CA 95070

 

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When a parent, spouse or loved one dies – what do you need to know or do about the house?

Death and Real Estate - Dealing with a Property after A Loved One DiesWhen a parent, spouse or loved one dies and he or she owned a home, there’s a lot for the survivors to do in addition to the very real and painful process of mourning. I have been through this with my own parents (and their house in Saratoga), a great aunt in Willow Glen, and many clients in San Jose, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, and elsewhere in Silicon Valley.

Quick summary of what to do regarding the home first and soon when a loved one dies:

  1. Engage the help of of an attorney and tax professional within the first 30 days or so. Sometimes there are deadlines or goal dates that will help the beneficiaries, and if people take too long to connect with these professionals, some opportunities may close.
  2. Some attorneys are also tax professionals, but most likely these will be different people.
  3. A professional valuation of the home will be needed, usually done by a licensed appraiser, but sometimes a real estate professional can do a market analysis that is acceptable. The home does not have to be empty or cleaned out to have this done.
  4. If you need the names of good tax and legal professionals, feel free to reach out to your real estate agent (or to me, if you are local). Most of us have worked with trust situations and can provide names. Or ask friends and family who’ve recently gone through the same situation and were happy with the people that they hired.
  5. You will need several copies of the certified death certificate. Discuss how many with your tax and legal professional. If you sell or transfer the home, the title company will need it and it will be recorded with the county.

Death, dying, & real estate: where to begin when a loved one dies?

In terms of settling the estate, it is wise to first speak with an attorney and tax professional about the property to find out what is required and advisable.

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Crawlspace access: What is it? Where is it? Why does it matter?

crawlspace access outside First time home buyers may have heard the word crawlspace (or crawl space) but not had a good idea of what it refers to – especially if they have only lived in houses built on slab foundations. So let’s touch on it today.

What and the Where?

When homes are built on a raised foundation, also called a perimeter foundation, rather than slab foundation, there’s space between the dirt under the house and the house itself – often 3′ (but not always), sometimes more.  Unless the structure is built on a hillside, there won’t be enough height to walk around in that space, hence the need to crawl in the crawlspace.

Most of the time, access to this space is indoors and specifically on the floor of a closet, where there appears to be a flat opening of about 3′ by 3′, sometimes smaller.  This can make entry tight.  At other times. the access is via the outside, as with the photo at the left (more likely the case in properties built before 1950 in Silicon Valley than in newer properties.)

Here it’s a lot easier for homeowners, inspectors and repair people to enter – but also easier for animals and pests, such as rats, to make their way in.  Care must be taken, as with the vent screens, to keep unwanted visitors out!

Crawlspace Video

Auditory learner? Or TLDR, and just want a quick-take? Watch this 1min 46 second video to get the summary:

Monitoring the crawlspace

If your home has a crawlspace, you will want to monitor it. (more…)

Why do real estate agents do a visual inspection of the properties they sell?

What is the agent visual inspection, or AVID, and why is it required with home sales in California?

The short answer on the purpose of the AVID

When real estate sales people represent buyers and sellers on residential real estate transactions in CA, they must do a visual inspection of the property as part of their disclosure obligations. In other words, they are required to walk through the property, inside and out, and look carefully at what they sell and advise the parties to the contract of any red flags noticed.

This is required by the state. It is not optional.

If an attentive Realtor walks through and notes something that would make a buyer unhappy to discover after close of escrow, that agent needs to note it on the required form so that any such concerns are disclosed to the home buyer(s).

Video discussing the AVID, or Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure

 

Where do the agents write up their visual inspection disclosure comments?

 

Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure, top of page 1

Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure, top of page 1

 

Sometimes the real estate licensees will simply make a few comments on page 3 of the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS).  More and more, though, they are completing the separate 3 page AVID (Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure) form instead.  It is larger and allows for more thorough list of items noted. Both approaches are permitted by law to fulfill that obligation, though.

 

Why is the AVID required?

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Campbell’s most affordable homes for sale

Campbell's most affordable homes - image of a house with the words Home Sweet HomeHunting for more Campbell’s most affordable homes for sale? It can be argued that nothing is either inexpensive or affordable, however we want to consider the Campbell real estate options relative to other Silicon Valley communities and their prices. There are always higher and lower priced properties.

Campbell’s most affordable homes: beware the price mirage

Sometimes the lowest listing price of a home on the market is not actually going to be the lowest selling price. It could just be bait. Some sellers and their listing agents vastly underprice  houses, townhouses, and condos on the market in order to get an avalanche of offers. I refer to that as a price mirage – it looks good but isn’t real.

Don’t be fooled be an artificially low list price. Often a quick check of the property on Realtor.com can provide some decent pricing input. The pages for listings usually include a RealEstimate section that features up to 3 auto comp values. These automatic valuations aren’t foolproof, but if a house is listed for $900,000 and the Realtor.com page suggests a value of $1.6 to $1.8, you are put on notice that it may be grossly underpriced.  You can check the other large portals, too, as a reality check on values.

Elements that create opportunity to get more home for your money

Every city, town, and community has more and less affordable pockets and properties. Campbell’s most affordable homes for sale may have one of these elements at play.

The pricing variation often has to do with a few major areas:
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What Does It Cost to Buy a 4 Bedroom, 2 Bath Home in Silicon Valley with Good Schools?

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)
  • 4 bedrooms
  • 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:

2022-11-3 Average Cost to Buy West Valley Homes 120D 4b-2b West Valley

 

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 can check 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…)

The Strathmore Neighborhood of Los Gatos

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

 

Panorama Way adjacent street but to the Strathmore neighborhood of 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!

 

 Strathmore 2 story house

 

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A summary of tips for multiple offer situations in Silicon Valley real estate contracts

Dream homes, priced low often spur multiple offer situationsMultiple offer situations have returned to many segments of the Silicon Valley real estate market.  We are hearing about them all over due to the incredibly low inventory. (Check out the San Jose real estate market analysis for the latest, custom stats.)

What Silicon Valley home sellers need to know and do to attract multiple offer situations

If you’re a Silicon Valley home seller, what do you need to know to try to get multiple bids on your home?  What should you beware of?  In short, here’s what needs to happen if you want to attract throngs of home buyers on your home for sale:

  1. The home must be turnkey, either fully remodeled or close to it – it must look like there’s nothing or very little for a buyer to do.  In addition to being turnkey, it must be squeaky clean and well staged! It needs to be comfortable – not too hot, not too cold. You want buyers and their agent to linger longer.
  2. The price must be at or even under market value.  That is, you must be willing to price it aggressively.  Think it’s worth $1,050,000?  You might list it at $999,999 to get in under a major price threshold and to be the very best, most attractive property for the money. Yes, it might be under priced.  Over priced listings get either one offer at best or, more likely, none at all.
  3. The property must be highly accessible. If it is hard to see, you probably won’t get multiple offers (and may get none at all).  (Please see articles on accessibility and on open houses.)
  4. Finally, the property must be well marketed.  This includes a wide range of factors ranging from photographs, text, fliers, signs, and even the commission rate offered to the buyer’s side.

What Silicon Valley home buyers need to know and do to compete in multiple offer situations

If you’re a Silicon Valley home buyer, how do you win out in multiples without giving away all of your rights or overpaying for your house/home? (more…)

Can a real estate agent help you to buy a foreclosure?

San Francisco Victorian Homes - Can a real estate agent help you to buy a foreclosure?Can a real estate professional help you to buy a foreclosure? There are some nuances to this answer, but in short, it depends. We haven’t had many foreclosures in recent years, but once in awhile we find them popping up here and there.

There are several stages in the foreclosure related sales in California.  Often, homes somewhere in this quagmire are listed on our Silicon Valley area MLS or multiple listing service.  If a property is listed in the MLS, then yes, we Realtors can help home buyers with a distressed sale purchase.

The stages of foreclosure

  1. Pre-foreclosure (where payments have been missed and a Notice of Default or NOD has been filed – sometimes these homes are on the market and included in the MLS.

    If they’re in the MLS, I can help.

    If these properties are for sale, often these are short sales (but short sales are not always in pre-foreclosure – they may not have missed any payments).

  2. Trustee’s sale, or actual foreclosure on the courthouse steps. This does not involve the MLS or Realtors at all. There is literally no role for the real estate agent here unless you, as the buyer, want to pay the commission (most buyers don’t in this circumstance).

    There are some big caveats and warnings!

    First,  often what’s owed against the home is more than it’s worth and the only way to purchase a home here is to pay off all the debts (so it may not be much of a deal!). Some buyers who “bought” a home actually have only purchased the second deed of trust, not the first, and are left empty handed.

    Second, if you buy here, you get NO inspection contingency and must pay cash for the house.  End of story – no backing out.  Worse, you cannot inspect it ahead of time!

    Third, you are likely to be bidding against flippers and builders who can more affordably rehab the home than you or I could do.

    There are a lot of risks, so buyer beware!

  3. Bank owned or REO. REO means Real Estate Owned (by the bank).

    These are usually listed on the MLS and if so, I can help you with it.  Sometimes banks hold onto them between the trustee’s sale and prior to listing them with a broker.  Often this is only for a month or two but sometimes it’s longer.  If it’s not on the MLS, it’s very very hard, or maybe impossible, to buy it.

Want to buy a foreclosure? Want professional help to do so?

While it’s not hard to locate homes where owners have missed some payments, it should not be assumed that these houses are either for sale or that the owners have any intention of selling them.  In my opinion, it would be harassment if consumers showed up on their doorsteps trying to purchase a house where a payment has been missed.

Most, maybe all, of the residents there would be offended.  They may be trying to get a loan modification (it does happen, I’ve known people to work through it that way) or have family & friends helping them to get back on track. If it is not listed in the MLS (which you can find at MLSListings.com – the public portal of our agent multiple listing service), the odds are overwhelmingly against it being available to you.

The short answer to the question “Can a real estate agent help you to buy a foreclosure?” is that the answer is generally NO if it’s an auction on the courthouse steps.

Related reading:

What’s the difference between short sales and foreclosures? What is an auction?

See also these much older articles from the downturn:

So you think you want to buy a Silicon Valley short sale?

Short sales sell but often don’t close: why?

Browse Short Sale Listings & Bank Owned Properties for Sale in Los Gatos

Short sale and REO articles on the Live in Los Gatos blog (old articles)