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 5 available homes at the end of March. That’s slim pickings!
  • There were just 2 closed and 3 pending sales last month, which is slightly below 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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Los Gatos Real Estate Market Trends

Los Gatos real estate market graphic with home near downtownAs of today, April 8, 2024, the Los Gatos real estate market in 95030 & 95032 remains exceptionally strong.

Across the county, first time home buyers are the most active and more entry level prices is the strongest segment.

Los Gatos real estate market statistics for the last 30 days (not a calendar month)

Numbers for today (pulled from the MLS), going back 30 days – these provide a real time snapshot of the Los Gatos real estate market trends:

  • 49 houses for sale today (April 8, 2024)
    • the average days on market for these homes is 48 days
    • 18 of the 49 have been available for 14 days or less – so quite a few are not selling fast!
  • 2 are contingent, 25 are sale pending (no contingencies)
  • 25 have closed in the last 30 days
    • average home size 2,429 SF
    • average lot size 12,938 SF
    • average days on market = 10 (way down from 43 last month and the 48 for active listings!)
    • average sale price  $3,357,520
    • median sale price $3,200,000
    • average sale to list price ratio 109% (up from 104% in mid-March and 101% in early-mid January)

Six of the sold homes were  $4 mil or more. The highest sale price was $5,300,000. Popular neighborhoods for that price point include the scenic Surrey Farms neighborhood.

Trends at a Glance from the RE Report for Los Gatos 95030 & 95032

The numbers below analyze data gathered during the first week of each month and cover real estate statistics from the month prior in Los Gatos 95030 & 95032 (all areas / school districts), or MLS “area 16”. See the full RE Report here.

These numbers never line up exactly with the MLS figures, but the data trends normally line up.  This time around, though, the RE Report numbers seem a bit off. From the data that I pulled directly from the MLS, the average and median sale prices are up both annually and monthly. With the RE Report it appears to be slipping monthly. The RE Report shows 27 sales, and the MLS shows 28. I suspect that the difference is from the missing sale. 

 

Trends At a GlanceMar 2024Previous MonthYear-over-Year
Median Price$3,425,000 (-2.1%)$3,500,000$2,565,000 (+33.5%)
Average Price$3,647,000 (-6.8%)$3,913,630$2,820,590 (+29.3%)
No. of Sales27 (+42.1%)1928 (-3.6%)
Pending31 (+82.4%)1721 (+47.6%)
Active37 (+19.4%)3137 (0.0%)
Sale vs. List Price108.5% (+5.5%)102.8%102.1% (+6.3%)
Days on Market29 (-9.0%)3134 (-14.8%)
Days of Inventory41 (-10.0%)4640 (+3.7%)

 

Further below you’ll find similar charts for houses in the Los Gatos Mountains and also condos and townhomes “in town”.

Los Gatos real estate market statistics: multi year data by month

Here is some Los Gatos real estate market data that I pulled directly from the MLS today.

Inventory of available homes for sale in Los Gatos 95030 and Los Gatos 95032

A quick glance at the last few years suggests that this inventory is still lower than normal, with 2022 (a super overheated Spring) being lower still.

 

Los Gatos SFH inventory - Los Gatos real estate market stats

 

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Santa Clara County Real Estate Market

The Santa Clara County real estate market shows no signs of cooling!

  • Home prices (median and average – both single family homes and condos / townhomes) are both up monthly and annually.
  • Inventory is up compared to the month before, but 28.3% lower than a year ago (per the RE Report).
  • Days on market and days or months of inventory continue falling. It’s a challenging time to be a home buyer.
  • Nearly all stats point to an increasingly hot market, despite rising interest rates.

 

March 2024 sales stats in Santa Clara County

 

Here’s the RE Report summary table. It’s an excellent summary of our Silicon Valley housing market.

 

Real estate market statistics

 

Multi year real estate data charts for Santa Clara County real estate market (single family homes)

PLEASE NOTE: to view any of the data tables / images below in a larger version, just click on them and you will be taken to our blog post, where the images are larger (except for the first one). Still too small? Click on them in the article and a larger still version will pop up. 

Months of Inventory

First, the months of inventory, which is a great overall way to gauge the market, is hotter and hotter.

 

Santa Clara County months of inventory for single family homes

Inventory

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How to get a great buyer’s agent – and keep them

You and your great buyer's agent teamwork graphic - puzzle pieces and 2 peopleA great buyer’s agent can be hard to find and keep. Here’s what to do to enlist the help of one and how to make sure you stick together as a team and get you into your new home.

Summary:

Only a fraction of all interested home buyers actually buy in the year they say that they plan to do so.  For various reasons they decide to keep renting, or move away, or give up, or simply don’t write offers that are selected (they may chronically low-ball)

  • Some home buyers are very serious but also very time consuming, and if it takes them a long time to buy, it can be draining for their real estate agent, and if prices are rising, it can shrink the odds of success.
  • Many Realtors prefer to work with sellers when the market is hot – which it nearly always is in Silicon Valley, since most homes do sell (while far fewer buyers buy).
  • Buyers who want to enlist a strong Realtor will need to be serious about home buying, able and ready (have the money and a pre-approval in place), and loyal as the starting point.  Your real estate licensee may ask you to sign a buyer representation agreement, just as home sellers sign a listing contract. This will be required by law by mid-July 2024.
  • To be taken seriously, when you first contact your agent, DO:
    • share your full name
    • share your real contact info (including an email address that you actually check)
    • specifically what you are targeting
    • how you got their name
    • your timing and anything else important
  • Understand that we agents get many scammers approaching us. Do your best to look authentic. Scammers say “I want to buy a house in your area. Contact me on WhatsApp”.  If you sound like a scammer, your initial approach may backfire so badly that your message gets you blocked in the future. (I get several scammers texting me each week.)
  • If for any reason you haven’t done all of the above upfront, please correct it if needed over time. For instance, if you provided a “junk” email account and never check it, your agent may find your perfect home but not be able to inform you of it if you never look at those emails.
  • To keep your great buyer’s agent on your team, it’s imperative that you allow that Realtor to guide you, whether it’s getting preapproved with a strong lender, deciding on priorities (must have versus nice-to-have list), or moving quickly to view houses, or taking the paperwork seriously – or any other major step. You need to be as motivated as your agent!
    And communicate openly if there’s an issue. I’ve had clients tell me that the pre-approval needs to wait until they’ve been at their new job until a certain date. Whatever it is, ignoring requests given to help you without explaining the backstory won’t be good for your teamwork and could get you fired as a client. (Yes, Realtors sometimes fire their clients.)

    • If you fail to do these things, your agent may not feel like your odds of buying a house are good, or that the stress associated with doing so will be higher than necessary if you stall on taking the proper steps.
    • Put another way, if you hire an agent because of her or his knowledge and track record, but then don’t heed that agent’s professional advice, the relationship may not do well over the long run.  Think of it like a sack race: both people have to be going in the same direction, carefully working together, or it’s not possible to move well (if at all).

Below, we will go over in more detail how to get and keep a great buyer’s agent in a seller’s market or in any market, for that matter.

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Why do you keep losing out on multiple offers?

A crowd running to an open house - many of these losing out on multiple offers

Multiple Offers

Are you losing out on multiple offers? If it’s happened repeatedly, you may be hoping for a lucky break. But luck usually has nothing to do with success.

The real estate market in Silicon Valley is a hot seller’s market, and that means that often there are multiple offers, overbids, and sales with no contingencies. This is often the case with homes that sell in 2 weeks or less. Some buyers may get it on the first attempt, but many are bidding over and over – why do they keep losing out on multiple offers?

Over the course of my career, I have noticed that often there is a consistent “spread” of offers.  Most of the time, there’s a pack or band of offers at about the same level, sometimes 10% or more over list price, then a couple higher that that, and maybe one or two (once in awhile 3) at the top of the heap in terms of both price and terms which are attractive to the seller.

(There’s a video with my commentary on this below.)

Not everyone is losing out on multiple offers: what are the winners doing?

  1. The top offer frequently has the highest price and best terms. They aren’t losing out on multiple offers because no one else was willing or able to write such a high, strong contract.
    • It is 10-20% over list price or more, 25-30% down at least, and has no contingencies for inspection, loan, and most of all, appraisal (the percentage over has to do with whether the home was priced spot on the value or strategically under). Please see the video below for more on these items.
    • The winning offer’s buyers and agent followed directions. Normally that means that they come with all disclosures signed, and the buyer’s agent has even done her or his Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure. They include the proof of funds (all needed) which prove that the buyer can absorb any appraisal shortfall and is prepared to do so.  Sometimes the listing agent asks for a particular contract to be used or a particular summary sheet to be filled out. The best agents do all of that. The 2nd tier offers often are incomplete – the listing agents may or may not circle back and ask about missing items, so it’s important to remember that you only get one chance to make a first impression.
  2. The best offer is also someone who’s been SURE that he or she or they wanted the home from the very beginning and looks ROCK SOLID. NO WAVERING, not a “last minute” offer. Any hesitation on your side will cause the seller to not feel good about your odds of closing the sale. Be consistently interested if you want the sale. A shaky looking buyer may not include their proof of funds. They don’t come across as certain about buying this property and need a few days to see the property again, or show it to their parents, or otherwise confirm the decision to buy. Their agent is not so thorough. If the TDS is not fully signed off, is the buyers’ agent trying to sneak a 3 day right of cancellation into the contract? The best buyer’s offer doesn’t look shaky – it looks dead set on buying the home and has done everything possible to convince the seller of their conviction and competence.
  3. The second best or next runner up is usually strong on terms (at least 25% down, few or no contingencies) but perhaps made an offer price a little under the top value.  Sometimes the next runner up has a good price and mostly good terms, but something is not quite as solid – they didn’t offer to put the deposit into the escrow account the next day, they didn’t check all the needed boxes in the offer, they have a contingency when all the competing bids have none..  If the offers are tied but one buyer has no contingencies and the other has any, that will be the tie-breaker.
  4. Middle of the pack is usually a combination of a price where the home should appraise, a solid down payment, and few or no contingencies. It may be a price that seems “reasonable”. Buyers may feel that it is “a fair offer” or a win-win. Often the fair offers aren’t good enough to take the prize in multiple offers. If you can project what most buyers think a home will be worth, maybe you might want to consider getting ahead of that pack and seeing where the pricing trajectory will take you. The folks in the middle of the pack are usually the ones, together at the bottom, who keep losing out on multiple offers. (They will say things like “we are cautious…)
  5. Bottom offers are under, at, or barely over list price, and include an appraisal contingency as well as others (one for loan or one for property condition). If there’s a rent back, they want their PITI covered.

If you  repeatedly find yourself losing out on multiple offers, try to see your own pattern in this spread.  Is there one thing, or perhaps are there two or more things, you’re just not ready to do?

 

 

What do multiple offers look like to the sellers when receiving an offer? Click to view our post on popehandy.com and take a look at a side by side offer comparison sample.

Why it is so hard

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Surrey Farms neighborhood in Los Gatos

Surrey Farm Neighborhood Los Gatos CA (Silicon Valley)A Los Gatos neighborhood which is “close to town” but feels further out is the highly sought after Surrey Farms area, located off Kennedy Road less than a mile from Los Gatos Boulevard, and less than 1.5 miles to all the local public schools:  Van Meter or Blossom Hill Elementary, Fisher Middle, Los Gatos High. Adjacent to Surrey Farms is the independent Hillbrook School.

About Surrey Farms

There are about 70 single family homes or houses in Surrey Farms, most of them on quarter-acre to half-acre lots, but a handful are on over half an acre, and four are over one acre.  The houses were mostly constructed from the mid 1950s into the mid 1960s, though development has continued since with over 30% of homes built between the 1970s and 2010s.  Original construction was all done in the “ranch style” and consisted of about 2,000 to 3,000 SF in most cases.  Today many have been remodeled, enlarged or even fully rebuilt, and the home sizes are bigger, currently with 50% of them over 3,000 SF and more than 15% over 4,000 SF.

More land is slated to be developed soon, with 12 units (2 story homes) proposed for the 12 acre parcel which is currently under contract with some kind of contingency (it is listed at about $16 million). That’s all that I  know as of right now – things could change.

 

Surrey Farms Gate

 

Regarding the name: folks in Los Gatos do call this subdivision “Surrey Farms”, but I did some research on the county records and it appears that the original name was “Surrey Farm” – singular!  My best guess is that it was a farm or horse ranch by that name prior to the housing being built…but that would take a bit more research that I haven’t yet done.

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Monte Sereno

Monte Sereno Stained GlassMonte Sereno is a small city that sits between Los Gatos and Saratoga. Like its larger neighbors, it includes areas in the foothills and flatlands both. This city includes about 4,000 residents. There are no office buildings, restaurants, or shops here, just homes, the city’s offices and community center, and a few churches. Much of it is close to downtown Los Gatos, though, it is not far for shops and eateries.

Monte Sereno and Los Gatos – a special connection

Monte Sereno and Los Gatos share a police department, parks, library, and several schools in the Los Gatos Union School District and the Los Gatos Saratoga Union High School District.

Public Schools

The school districts in Silicon Valley do not follow city limits, zip code boundaries, or other more seemingly intuitive coverage areas. The reason is that the school district areas were decided long before the final city limits were figured out. Below is a map from our MLS that I’ve doctored a little (darkening some lines and adding texts and arrows) to show how these areas do not really line up in places.

Most of Monte Sereno has Los Gatos Schools, but a pocket with about 150 homes is part of the Campbell Union School District and the Campbell Union High School District. Part of Los Gatos is in this school area of attendance, too (and another area in east Los Gatos has Union Schools).

It is also evident that the boundary lines themselves are quite erratic looking if you follow the green lines around the edges of the city’s limits.

 

Monte Sereno - school district boundary and city limits boundary

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Weather, mother nature and home sales

Without stop signSo many variables impact the real estate market, both here in Silicon Valley but across the country.  Employment, interest rates, the stock market, the availability of real estate inventory, the confidence of the buying public (say, in the wake of a terroristic attack, announced layoffs, or global conflicts like the invasion of Ukraine) all can move the housing market one way or the other. But they’re not the only forces that do.

Weather and natural disasters can likewise have a pronounced effect on a local housing market too.

My Experience: The ’89 Quake

Anyone in the San Jose area in September of 1989 will vividly recall the Loma Prieta Earthquake, which occurred in the Santa Cruz Mountain Range between Los Gatos and Aptos. Jim and I were buying our first home at that time, in San Jose’s Cambrian district, and in fact did our “final walk through” just two hours before the quake hit.

Our closing got delayed as the lender refused to fund the loan until the home was professionally checked out by an appraiser. They’d seen images of the Bay Bridge, homes off their foundations, fallen chimneys and other disastrous structural failures and weren’t taking a chance on any home!

Luckily for us, the property we were in contract for was essentially unscathed. It was not a young home, but built by a respectable builder, and more importantly it was on solid ground. Thankfully the house was fully vacant since we were close to the planned close of escrow, so there was no fallen furniture or broken glass in the carpeting and most everything was visible and easy to check later for damages. We did close, though it was about 10 days later than expected.

For listings not yet sale pending, it was already a slowing market and the beginning of a correction, but the earthquake plunged the market more deeply into the doldrums. At least for awhile.

Weather Forecasting the Market Activity

There are similar stories with markets all across the state, country, and globe after similar disasters. More recently here in California we’ve seen major impacts on various markets after fiercly destructive wildfires. But mother nature can effect the housing market in much more subtle ways as well, no disaster necessary.

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The Heritage Grove Neighborhood in Los Gatos and the Heintz Open Space Preserve

Heintz farmhouseThe 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:

 

 

 

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Check the months of inventory to see if it’s a good time to sell your home!

Months of Inventory explained with an hourglassIs 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.

 

Santa Clara County months of inventory by city in Santa Clara County - single family homes for April 2023

 

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

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