How is the real estate appreciation in our idyllic part of east Los Gatos, known locally as the Surmont, Belgatos area or Belwood of Los Gatos neighborhoods?
Since turnover is very low, inventory is always restricted and the demand tends to be strong. Recently I did a breakdown of the sales history of the last 5 years here (see the page under “homes info” on Belwood, Belgatos and Surmont sales history info on this site – link at the bottom of the homes info page or use the inserted link, above). Appreciation here is steady.
Here are a few highlights of the last 5 years of data:
(1) The price per square foot of the sold homes have risen a bit more than 71% since 2003. Here is the year by year breakdown:
2003 – $382/sf (6 houses sold)
2004 – $458/sf (18 houses sold)
2005 – $490/sf (25 houses sold)
2006 – $511/sf (9 houses sold)
2007 – $537/sf (10 houses sold)
(2) The average sales price of the closed sales rose approximately 63% since 2005. (It appears that this number is 68% for all of Los Gatos, which of course includes all types of houses, a different school district, homes with larger parcels, etc.)
(3) It appears that homes in this area near Belgatos Park have nearly doubled in value since 1999 (the year we bought our home). That ratio depends, of course, on some updating being done (so the home isn’t effectively “older” than it was in 1999) and can vary depending on the house. But as a rule of thumb, most properties here have almost doubled since 1999. This is true of most of Los Gatos.
This is a great part of Los Gatos for many reasons, finacial ones included!
First, Describing the “Parts” of Belwood
The Belwood area of east Los Gatos is very popular as the homes tend to sit on good-sized lots, the streets are tree-lined and meandering, a huge park provides abundant outdoor activity and exercize space, and the neighborhood is friendly.
There are actually three neighborhoods within what is typically referred to as simply Belwood, though. This matters because it helps to explain the pricing differences from one part of Belwood to the next. So first, a quick into to this part of east Los Gatos. (See photo slideshow of Belwood/Begatos and our park.)
Surmont is the oldest and is on the part closest to downtown Los Gatos along much of Westhill Drive, Old Orchard Drive, Old Orchard Court, Campos Verde, Surmont Drive, and Surmont Court. It cuts off just before Belblossom Drive. These homes are semi-custom and they enjoy tree-lined streets; some of them along Westhill and Surmont even have views. There were several builders who constructed homes here. Homes are mostly on 10,000 to 15,000 SF lots. These houses often sell for the highest prices because they are larger, custom or semi-custom homes on larger lots and sometimes have views.
The next area was not originally part of Belwood proper so is often referred to as “Belgatos area”. It includes part of Westhill, part of Belblossom, and part of Belvue – leading up to Belgatos Road. Mostly 10,000 SF lots and semi-custom homes.
Belwood of Los Gatos originally encompassed (mostly) the streets between Belgatos Road and Harwood Road, with the cabana in the middle on Belwood Gateway. (The cabana used to be ONLY for this area and the annual dues are mandatory there. Now it is open to all three areas but the outlying sections do not, of course, have mandatory membership or dues – it’s optional there.) These are mostly “Bel” streets, except for Bacigalupi Drive and Jaime Court. Of the three areas, Belwood tends to be the most affordable; it is almost exclusively tract housing (though very nice) and the streets are not quite as tree-lined for the most part. Homes here range, generally, from 1700 SF to 2500 SF, with exceptions (Westhill in this stretch has some larger homes, some may be custom built), and usually sell between 1 and 1.4 million, again with some exceptions.
One notable exception: recently a tiny, 1400 SF house in Belwood with need of many repairs sold for a shockingly low price of $799,000.
Again, Belwood has mostly 10,000 SF lots, but one area – a section of Bacigalupi and Jaime Court – are newer homes on mostly 8000 SF lots, and a few places in Belwood have 12,000 SF lots. So it does vary.
What’s for Sale in Belwood, Belgatos, and Surmont of Los Gatos Today
At this time, there are 3 homes actively on the market in this area of about 500 houses. Two of them are on Westhill and one on Belhaven, and all of them are priced at just a little bit under $1.5 million. (Two have been on the market awile – one of them is “by appointment only”, which can make it very difficult to sell a house). One more home will be coming on the market soon: it is a 3 bed, 2 bath home with 1744 SF and will be offered at $1,150,000. (not my listing but I have been in contact with the agent about it so can fill you in on some details if you’re interested).
Why so few available homes? This is not untypical. While most owners of real estate in Silicon Valley may move fairly often, that’s not the case here. People who move to Belwood (or Surmont or Belgatos) tend to make it their long-term home. They move in but don’t want to leave! Turnover tends to be low.
Need more information on the available homes? Or what has sold in recent years? Please visit the “Homes Info” area of this website. There you’ll see descriptions of each home for sale, plus those recently sold and also some historical information on the second page of that section.
Call or email me if you’d like to discuss buying or selling a home here in Belwood, Belgatos or Surmont. I offer a no-cost one hour consultation to prospective clients.
mary (at) popehandy.com
If you live in Belwood or the Belgatos or Surmont areas of east Los Gatos, you probably have at least a general idea of neighborhood values. Homes here generally sell between 1 and 2 million.
Apparently, not always.
On November 8th, the little fixer at 301 Belblossom Drive, Los Gatos 95032 closed escrow at $757,000.
True, it needed lots of work and could only offer 1430 square feet.
But was it really all that bad?
I don’t think so.
So what went wrong?
The timing was tough – the money supply was tightened up considerably in August and September and that set a difficult tone for the fall.
Right now, the homes that are selling usually are completely fixed up, priced aggressively, marketed well, and are in the best school districts. Eliminate one or more of these and you have problems selling.
This particular sale was a trustee situation, where family members were selling after the death of a parent or relative. In those cases, often the sellers really don’t want to or cannot do improvements. So the homes are sold in less than ideal condition. For buyers with imagination, it’s a great opportunity!
Luckily, this is only one home in the neighborhood, the size is different enough that it will not impact most home sales in the area over the next six months. But for smaller homes in east Los Gatos that are within a mile or so of Beglatos Road and Belblossom, it will create a sting for the next half year. Knowing the circumstances will help any appraisal issues if there’s a sale.
And in time, this too shall pass.
It’s mid-October and inventory is shrinking a bit. A week ago there was one home to buy and one to rent in Belwood – and none in the Surmont or Belgatos areas of the ‘hood. The available ones have been scooped up.
So right now, if someone wants to live in our pretty corner of east Los Gatos, they’ll just have to wait.
Many sellers are hoping that spring will bring better sales prices. If it does, that’s great for people either downsizing or leaving the area.
But for move-up buyers, now might be a better time to sell one home and buy a more expensive one.
Why? Prices are a bit soft now. The listing on Belblossom at $799,000 makes it clear that prices aren’t what they used to be. Buying up, the soft prices make the jump from one home to the other easier – even if you sell the current home for less. The reason is because you save more on the move-up home than you lose on the sale of the current home. The net puts you ahead of waiting ’til it’s a hot market all around.
Call me if you’d like to get a current sense of value for your home.
Intero does have a special “Holiday Marketing Program” that involves no sign, no open houses etc. during the slower days of December. You get far less traffic but it’s all by appointment so only serious buyers come through. It’s a great way to get the jump on the January market. Please call me on my cell at 408 204-7673 to learn more about it.
The Belwood of Los Gatos house on Belblossom Drive was not overpriced in the 9’s, but it hasn’t sold and the price has just dropped like a rock to $799,000. I wish I could buy it myself at that price!
Is this a hint of what is to come?
It might be.
The east side of the Santa Clara Valley and the south county areas have been suffering with a very difficult real estate market these last few months.
Maybe it’s spreading to the west valley communities now too.
For a long time we had a “bifurcated market”. The westside was still hot-hot-hot. Homes in Sunnyvale and Palo Alto were flying off the market. Multiple offers. As is sales. All of that – continuing despite the travails on the poorer side of the San Jose market.
But now it looks like we’re seeing the market stalling out. By early next week we should have the real estate statistics for September, but from my cursory look at homes online and in the MLS in Los Gatos and Saratoga, I see a very noticeable slowdown in sales activity.
In the case of one of my buyer clients, I got an email that he and his wife are going to wait. “The interest rate is .75% higher than I was budgeting”, he lamented.
In a buyer’s market, buyers don’t buy. They wait. They wait for interest rates to improve (by the way, that often happens in the dead of winter) and/or for prices to improve.
I think what is happening now – hindsight is always 20/20 but figuring out the current market is trickier – is that we are caught in a changing tide. I believe that our “neutral” or balanced market is now falling into a stronger buyer’s market.
If that is the case, prepare for more drastic price cuts in Los Gatos and Saratoga and all of Silicon Valley to get homes sold.
That’s what the buyers are waiting for.
Today the typically pleasant, normal September weather returned to Los Gatos after several gloomy and unseasonably cold days took hold of us. It was too nice to stay indoors so in the late afternoon, I grabbed the leash and asked our aging black lab, Bella, if she wanted to go for a walk.
She limps now, but moves fast at the sound of food or the promise of a walk. We were out the door quickly.
After a stroll down Bacigalupi Drive, greeting neighbors and other dog walkers and pedestrians, we returned home to a really beautiful site. The moon was just about full and it was almost exactly between two palm trees straight ahead of me.
Getting Bella inside, I grabbed my Canon Power Shot out of my car and brought it outside, only to find the rechargeable batteries had died.
Got new ones off the charger and snapped a few shots. They didn’t look good in the tiny little window of the camera and I was afraid that the impact would be lost. I took about a half dozen shots and then the batteries died again. Grrr. But I got what I needed.
It wasn’t until I uploaded the pics to my computer that I could see if this would work or not. I think it does come across – though still not as breathtaking as when I saw it “live” today.
Here I think the moon looks so much like a ping pong ball suspended between two palmy paddles.
Another beautiful evening here in Los Gatos.
(This post was also inputted into my Live in Los Gatos blog, which can be found online at www.LiveInLosGatos.com)
Today is Labor Day – it’s many things, but it’s also the end of summer. But it’s not the end of the dry season. In fact, the rains won’t really arrive until November. So between now and then, the fire danger will continue to rise in our hilly, rural areas.
A few days ago, the coastal hills near Stevens Creek Reservoir and the Montebello Ridge over Cupertino (just a little north of Los Gatos) burned fiercely. It took a couple of days and a lot of firefighters to extinguish it.
Now the hills by Mount Hamilton on the east side are ablaze too. We just took a quick drive to the top of Harwood Road to see the enormous plume of smoke rising over the hills by south San Jose.
What does this have to do with Belwood, Belgatos & Surmont? Earlier today, Bella and I took a walk down Bacigalupi Drive and into Belgatos Park, entering on the side, as we do most days. The grassy area there is parched. The path is covered in wood chips and tanbark. And to my horror, I saw two cigarette butts among the wood chips.
Smoking is not illegal in the park, as my husband (the volunteer parks commissioner) reminded me today. But it is very unwise to do it in the tinderbox areas which comprise most of the park.
Should we put a polite request at the entrance to the park that cigarettes are a great danger to the park, to Belwood and to Los Gatos as a whole, and that putting them out in the grassy areas is inadvisable???
To me it’s obvious: fire season and burning objects over dry grass don’t mix. But apparently it’s not obvious to everyone.
Fire season’s not over yet. Let’s hope that common sense prevails and we won’t have any more senseless fires.
Blog: Why Live in the Belwood, Belgatos, or Surmont areas in Los Gatos?
by Mary Pope-Handy, posted 8/22/2007
Jim and I bought our first home in Cambrian Park in 1989, and scrimped and saved, and fixed our fixer ’til we could make a move into a nicer home in a better area in 1999. As a Realtor, there were a couple of neighborhoods I had my eye on, but the one I really hoped we could live in was Belwood.
Luckily for us, a home that fit the budget and the needs came up on Bacigalupi Drive in Belwood of Los Gatos just as our starter home a mile and a half away sold. It had all the “right things wrong” (if everything had been “done”, we couldn’t have afforded it!) It had a great floorplan on a great street with all the rooms we needed (4 bedrooms plus an office, large family room, decent living room, open kitchen – and the dining room was small but has potential). It was not perfect, but no house is. I wished I could have had a larger dining room for our massive family parties (I have a scheme on how I can eventually expand it) and I wish our lot was one of the larger ones (it’s not, the home is newer than most here but also on a smaller lot). Compromise is a big part of home buying. We did, however, get 95% of what we wanted.
And we got great neighbors – fantastic, really. They are all nice, they are quiet, they are wonderful folks.
Why choose Belwood? I had wanted it for the same reason my buyers now want it. It’s close to the hills so is extraordinarily scenic, it has a huge, fabulous park, Belgatos Park. It enjoys a cabana. The streets meander (not straight grids). You see people out and about – walking, jogging, riding bikes, exercizing dogs, and sometimes you even see someone go by on horseback. It’s a real community and it has a nice feel to it.
Folks here take care of their homes. You don’t see a lot of dilapidated cars sitting around. Yards look nice. People are friendly.
In summer, neighbors gather to watch films at the cabana. Folks with little swimmers sign up to be a part of The Dolphins Swim Team.
There’s just a lotthat’s right here in this far corner of Los Gatos.
As for us, I think we’ll be here another couple of decades. We love it here in Belwood.