Two or three days ago, I got a phone call from a home owner in another Silicon Valley city who was interested in selling his house. “My lawn is a perfect green, both front and back”, he boasted to me. “My neighbors are letting their lawns get yellow and brown, but not me. If I get a fine, I’ll pay it, but my lawn will be green.”
You don’t hear a lot of that around here these days, luckily.
In fact, the opposite is true – most Silicon Valley neighbors, including folks in Los Gatos, understand that keeping a lawn perfectly green means that you are squandering a resource (unless you are painting your lawn green or have replaced it with artificial turf). In other words, due to our very severe and 4 years long drought, most home owners or tenants believe that it is unethical to water your lawn to the point where it is a healthy green.
That new sense of ethics appears to be helping to get more people onboard. Having slogans like “brown is the new green” isn’t all that motivating. But noticing that yours is the only green lawn on the block might cause some (hopefully most) people to get with the program.
There are oodles of rules about when and how much to water. If you are a San Jose Water Company customer, you can water only twice a week, on set days (homes with even numbered houses, you water Tuesdays and Fridays, after 8pm and before 10am, for 15 minutes per zone max; for odd numbered days it’s Mondays and Thursdays). You are not allowed to hose down sidewalks, driveways, or cars. And water is never allowed to run off. Some of it’s intuitive, but much of it is not.
Get all the San Jose Water Company rules here:
You can report water waste in Belwood, Belgatos, or Surmont to the San Jose Water Company online – see link at the bottom of this article. There’s even an app, DroughtShame, for photographing and turning in offenders. Drought shaming is a way of trying to get neighbors to comply – not sure if it works or not, but it does appear that social change, meaning that most people embrace conservation and letting lawns go, does seem to work.
Big thanks to the neighbors who are doing a good job of conserving. Some of you are ripping out lawn and putting in artificial grass or low water landscaping. Others are allowing once lush greenery to go “California blonde”, as my husband calls it. When we walk the neighborhood and see so many lawns which are barely hanging on, we know that a lot of people really do care about the drought and conservation. No one loves a dead or dying lawn – but it’s a very visible way of doing your part. Thank you.
Water saving plants on the San Jose Water Company’s website
California water wasters beware: Drought Shaming on the rise Article on the San Jose Mercury News
You can report water waste for the San Jose Water Company’s service area online:
Today I’m working on an article for another blog of mine on the topic of saving for a down payment and residential real estate appreciation in Silicon Valley. Long story short, right now, home buyers cannot save as fast as the home prices are going up. For some, the saving effort is to get to 20% down or more. For others, the goal is to buy all cash. In both cases, though, the danger is getting priced out of the market while the would-be home owner is putting away money. For people who wanted to buy 2 years ago but decided to wait and save, that now means either not buying at all or buying in less nice home or area than they were targeting.
This is certainly true for home buyers wanting to get into Belwood of Los Gatos and nearby. Let’s look at our corner of Los Gatos and take a sampling of what has happened since 2000 (a “boom year”) for a typical 2400 square foot house on a typical 9,000 to appx 10,000 square foot lot (in Belwood, Belgatos or Surmont). For this, we will consider homes sold in 2000 and homes sold within the last 12 months. I ran the numbers this afternoon on MLS Listings, our local multiple listing service provider.
1-1-2000 through 12-31-2000: a home of about 2400 SF on a 9,000 – 10,000 SF lot averaged a sale price of $860,000 (prices ranging from a low of $750,000 to a high of $950,000). A 25% down payment would have been $215,000 and the loan amount would have been $645,000, using that average number. Many buyers would have purchased with 20% down, and some with 30% or more, though.
Fast forward to today and the last 12 months leading up to today – approximately 15 years later.
6-9-2014 through 6-9-2015: same sized home and lot averaged a sale price of $1,512,000 (prices ranging from a low of $1,350,000 to a high of $1,660,000). This does not include pending sales, of course – just those which have closed escrow.
Home prices have almost doubled in that time. Continue reading
Enjoy a visual tour through the neighborhood, from east to west: Alerche area, Belwood of Los Gatos neighborhood, Belgatos Park (extensive photos), Belgatos area, and the Surmont subdivision, which includes some view homes.
“Free” is a good price for everyone, and in Los Gatos, there’s an abundance of free music every summer with the three series, each on different days of the week: Music in the Park, Jazz in the Plazz, and Vasona Vibrations (plus the Fiesta de Artes weekend)!. Each year I compile a combined list of these three series in chronological order. I invite you to have a look and print it out! You can find the entire list at my Live in Los Gatos blog:
This afternoon I ran the recent listings and sales in the Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos, Surmont and nearby areas. These contiguous east Los Gatos neighborhoods have extremely low turnover, so not surprisingly, there are few sales!!
It should be noted that larger homes on larger lots usually sell for far less on a price per square foot basis – so it’s not really fair to compare a house on an acre with one sitting on a 10,000 sf lot. Additionally, homes in the $2 million plus range are a very different creature than those closer to $1 million in terms of multiple offers and the sale price to list price ratio. In some cases, though, even these higher end homes get multiple offers and sell for more than the asking price.
Finally, the type in the image below is a little small, but if you click on it, you will get a larger, more readable version.
Believe it or not, it’s time to register your kids for the Belwood Dolphins Swim Team. Registration for the 2015 season will be open February 1st through February 28th for RETURNING SWIMMERS AND NEW SWIMMERS. Please go to the team web site at www.belwooddolphins.com and click the “Registration” tab to register online and to find more information.
If you have any questions about registration, please use the online “contact” form on the Dolphins’ website.
Go Belwood Dolphins!
Stop by the Belwood of Los Gatos cabaña is Saturday between 9am and 4pm this Saturday, November 15th, and take in the annual holiday boutique! Find items for the holidays, including Thanksgiving, to enjoy yourself or to give as gifts. A wide variety of offerings inclue jewelry, baked goods, photographs, Christmas decor, wine art and lighted wine bottles. ALL ARE WELCOME!
Saturday November 15, 2014
Belwood of Los Gatos Cabaña Club
100 Belwood Gateway (cross street Blossom Hill Road)
Los Gatos CA 95032
Has your yard been hit yet? For the last month or two, many Belwood and nearby residents have been awakening in the morning to damaged landscaping, particularly front lawns. One home owner phoned the Los Gatos Monte Sereno Police to complain about his vandalized front yard. But this time, it’s not human caused damage.
On several social media sites, neighbors vent that they have been victims of wild pigs or boars. But that’s not it – at least not for most of us. Boars do far more destruction and they are further in the hills, though perhaps if you are in the east Los Gatos foothills around Santa Rosa, or in parts of Almaden near open space that could be a risk.
Although sometimes the damage is quite extensive, involving a large percentage of one’s front lawn, the guilty parties are usually hungry racoons. Crows may be assisting too, but they don’t create problems on as large of a scale.
They are after a meal in the form of tasty lawn grubs. Grubs find their way into the soil to eat the roots of the grass, and those grubs seem to be the best eating in town for some of the local wildlife.
If that’s not enough, squirrels like to bury food in lawns, too (someone is giving out peanuts in the shell – the squirrels keep burying them in our lawn – I’ve watched them!).
The first photo is of our family’s front yard and it was taken in early September. The second one is of our next door neighbor’s place, and it was taken about a week ago.
Most of the time, the racoons creep out in the middle of the night, but not always. A couple of days ago, our hungry hunters came back between about 6pm and9pm. It must have only barely been dark!
So what can you do about it?
In my real estate practice, recently I showed a home with a lawn grub problem. The home owners there laid down something like a soft plastic chicken wire atop the lawn and similar landscaping. It did seem to work in terms of keeping the critters out, but it may not do anything at all for the grubs which are the Siren call to them.
One grub solution is beneficial nematodes. These are a type of roundworm used to kill the grubs without using pesticides. This approach may work for some but I’m reading comments online that this has not been so successful for many who’s attempted to quash the grubs this way.
There are anti grub pesticides available as well. Sunset Magazine advises that the best thing to do is to dig into your lawn and get some of the grub worms to take to your local nursery to identify the culprit, as different treatments will be more successful with one type of grub than another.
No matter how you treat them, you do want to get rid of the grub worms, as a serious infestation will not only be unsightly, but eventually will kill the lawn.
Halloween is being celebrated at the Belwood of Los Gatos cabana club, Sunday Oct 26th 3- 6pm. Wear your costumes! Enjoy games, prizes, popcorn & seeing everyone in the spirit. Spooky haunted house tours too – in years past they began at 5pm.
Volunteers needed! Here’s how to sign up to help:
Here’s how it works in 3 easy steps:
1. Click this link to go to our invitation page on VolunteerSpot:http://vols.pt/5sWqqD
2. Enter your email address: (You will NOT need to register an account on VolunteerSpot)
3. Sign up! Choose your spots – VolunteerSpot will send you an automated confirmation and reminders. Easy!
Note: VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone.
Real estate sales this year in the east Los Gatos areas including Surmont, Belgatos, Belwood of Los Gatos and homes close to Harwood but within the Los Gatos town boundaries have been small in number due to the extraordinarily tight inventory levels. Below are the closed and pending sales as reported in the MLS for this calendar year so far.
Of the nine closed sales, 5 sold for more than list price – most or all of these were multiple offer situations. The other four had a variety of situations: one was bank owned, one needed several hundred thousand in finishing work (there was no kitchen, there were no bathrooms, etc.). The one on Alerche sold “off market” and “off mls”.
Interested in buying or selling a home in or near this pretty corner of Los Gatos? Please give me a call or send me an email today!