Monthly Archives: July 2011

Is that east Los Gatos home nicely remodeled or simply flipped?

Want to buy a house in the Los Gatos neighborhoods of Belwood, Belgatos or Surmont?  There are a few things you should know about properties that look “turnkey”, especially as the market heats up or inventory more available.

Home sellers who quickly improve houses for a fast profit, rather than for enjoying the house for their own use, often cut corners.  Whether it’s owners doing a quick makeover or investors remodeling or improving select items, beware! Some of these properties give the impression of being “perfect” but in fact may only have been cleaned up in the most visible areas.

Here are some questions for you to ask or investigate when looking at homes for sale in east Los Gatos, particularly near the foothills :

  • Owners or sellers who prepare the home for the maximum return on investment will probably add fresh paint & carpet (or pull up the carpet to expose the hardwood floors), swap out light fixtures, door and drawer or cabinet hardware, and tidy the front landscaping.  But what about expensive but less seen areas such as
    • the electrical system
    • furnace (heater)
    • water heater
    • roof, gutters & downspouts
    • drainage system (often needed, seldom there)
    • back yard landscaping
    • the foundation (always a potential issue in our east Los Gatos neighborhood if drainage hasn’t been properly addressed)
    • insulation
    • plumbing – has the home been re-piped, or are the old galvanized steel pipes still in the walls and under the house, ready to give up the ghost?
    • condition of retaining walls, if any
    • condition of concrete or hardscape
    • large trees – have they been trimmed, or are they an expense which will fall on you?
  • Is this an investment property (purchased by investors at a foreclosure auction or as a distress sale)?  Or is it a trustee sale where the family or friends inheriting the property are fixing it up for sale (almost like a flipped house)?
    • If it’s a house being sold by investors who’ve fixed it up, how experienced are they?  Some clients of mine purchased an out-of-area house from first time investors.  The kitchen remodel was made such that a full size fridge wouldn’t fit.  Fail!(Some trustee sales are in a similar category as first time investors – this isn’t something they have experience with, most likely.  They may make costly mistakes by either over-improving the home for sale or not fixing the right things. They may or may not be local and have a true sense of market value, too, so may set themselves up with unrealistic expectations.)
  • Were there pre-sale inspections? If so, did the owners or investors do the Section 1 work from the termite report and the health & safety issues called out in the home inspection?  The home inspection (not the termite or pest) should flag any major issues with the foundation, electrical, mechanical etc. systems in the home.  If there’s no home inspection, prepare for surprises in these older homes.
  • In Surmont, Belgatos, Belwood, and all of the east Los Gatos, Cambrian and Almaden hillside areas, water and drainage is an issue, as mentioned above regarding foundations.  Left unchecked, water seeps into the crawl spaces under the houses and can create real havoc as our clay soil expands and pushes on the foundation.  So look at the downspouts and see if they simply dump the water at the base of the house (which you will see most of the time – but it’s not a good idea, usually), or did the owner take the time and spend the money to handle drainage issues well? How’s the grading? Soil and landscaping should slope away from the house so that any water coming down will run away rather than seep into the crawlspace.

Browse neighborhood homes for sale online on this site.  When you visit in person, bring a notepad and jot down concerns or questions.  It is so easy to fall in love with remodeling that’s been done that it may be easy to miss the expensive items not easily seen that may have been ignored.

Need a good, local Realtor?  Call or email me.  I’ve been in real estate a long time (since early 1993), am very accomplished and recently was named “best real estate agent in Silicon Valley” by readers of the San Jose Mercury News.  I’m also a Belwood resident and I know the area and its values well.

Deer on Bacigalupi Drive

Yesterday we were walking our dog, Bella, to Belgatos Park (as we often do) and spotted some deer. Interestingly, we were inside of the park, and they were outside of it!  Below please see some images from those few minutes when they high-tailed it back into the park.

View from inside Belgatos Park - deer on a Bacigalupi front yard!

It was more obvious in person – next see a closeup:

View from inside the park - a closer look

The deer watched us carefully as we approached but eventually decided they needed to head back to the park. In the photo below, you may be able to see one of them on the right side of the road and another deer on the far left by the tree (there were 2 babies but none of the photos show all of them, unfortunately).

Deer crossing Bacigalupi Drive

Here’s a clearer image of two of the deer.

Deer in the road

Back into the park (they went around to the side where the fencing ends to get it).

Two deer in Belgatos Park, Los Gatos

A clear shot of two of the three deer just inside the park again.

Heading out to the open space

Heading back into the open space!

Deer back at home in Belgatos Park, Los Gatos, CA

Away from the fence, the street and the houses, this deer looks to be back where it is most comfortable.

Trails near Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont and Heritage Grove neighborhoods

The town of Los Gatos has a trail map for the Heinz Open Space Preserve and also one for the  Belgatos Park Trails and the Santa Rosa Open Space Preserve Trail.

My husband, Jim Handy, drew out the local trails on Google Maps and this provides a much better sense of what’s where. Enjoy!


View Blossom Hill Trails in a larger map

Beware of rattlesnakes, especially in Belgatos Park and trails!

Caution in the grassSummer time and the rattlesnakes are out, so be cautious when walking or hiking – especially in Belgatos Park or in the nearby east Los Gatos trails of the Heintz Open Space Preserve or Santa Rosa Open Space Preserve. Someone reported to the Belwood Facebook group that there have been 3 sightings in the last 2 days alone.

These rattlers sometimes crawl out from under the brush to sun themselves in an open space. Unsuspecting joggers can land on one and catch its furry in return if not looking.

Stick to the paths! You’ll be less likely to run into not only rattlesnakes, but ticks, poison oak and other unpleasant reminders of your day communing with nature.

Want to learn more about rattlesnakes? The San Diego Zoo’s website has lots of cool facts and photos.

Belwood of Los Gatos July 4th Celebration

The Belwood of Los Gatos community is hosting its annual Independence Day or 4th of July celebration and the details are announced on the Belwood HOA website. (Quick note: A parade begins at Mulberry School (220 Belgatos Road) at 12:15.  The neighborhood festivities run from 1 – 5 at the cabaña.  Read all about it on the Belwood HOA site!)

Please note that since the weather is really hot and dry, the risk of fire danger is high right now.  A sign at Belgatos Park warns that viewing fireworks is strictly prohibited.

Belwood Cabaña is on FacebookGot Facebook? If so, you might consider “liking” the Belwood Cabaña page on Facebook.  They are great at keeping people updated on neighborhood events (this is not my page, btw).  That’s where I first learned that the holiday is being celebrated in traditional fashion.

This website is provided by Mary Pope-Handy, a Belwood resident and real estate agent.

For the HOA site, please visit BelwoodHomes.org


Mary Pope-Handy
Realtor, Belwood resident
BRE License # 01153805
CIPS, CRS, SRES, ABR
Sereno Group, Los Gatos
mary (at) popehandy.com
408 204-7673

Get the Market Stats!