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.
What happens when a tree branch goes over the fence and into the neighbor’s yard? This is a question investigated recently here in Los Gatos and I posted about it in my Live in Los Gatos blog. The answers may surprise you!
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)
Open Houses are a near weekly event in Belwood, Belgatos and Surmont – and all of Los Gatos, really!
The town of Los Gatos has a sign ordinance (rule) that the open house signs are supposed to be of the "generic" variety. They may have simple arrows on them, or the words "Open House", but they are not to be personalized. Open House directional signs should not include the agent’s name, the brokerage’s name, or anything else. Additionally, they are not to be the large placard type signs – but the more minimalistic sized ones you see around town.
Each city near Los Gatos has different signage rules, so it can be confusing to agents as to what is allowed where. In Cupertino, NO signs are allowed except on the property itself!
Once I had a listing I was holding open in Cupertino. I was very aware of the sign restrictions, but my listing was a corner lot, so I figured I could put signs on both sides. I placed one directly on the main front lawn of the home (between the sidewalk and the house) and another on the side, between the sidewalk and the street.
To my utter amazement, a code enforcement officer drove up, while my clients looked on from the driveway, and took my sign to his truck and sped away. Apparently in Cupertino, what I did was wrong. The next day I had to go and pay $5 to get it out of hock. I was not a happy agent, and my sellers were very unhappy with their city too. (Wouldn’t he have been a good soul to have just told me to move it 3 feet?)
I wanted to relay this story because the Los Gatos rule about open house signs is really not all that strict. Signs can be green, black, maroon, blue – you name it. But the town doesn’t want a junky look. So no big ads for the agent or the brokerage within the town boundaries.
If you happen to visit an open house where the agent does not know of our ordinance, it’s not a bad thing to nicely let him or her know. It is confusing with each town having different rules, but Los Gatos is wise, I think, in wanting to de-commercialize the open house signage a bit. It makes a prettier town for all of us when the signs used here are the correct ones.
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.
by Mary Pope-Handy, posted 8/23/2007
Is there a problem at Belgatos Park? Wondering whom to phone? Sometimes the gates are locked when they should be opened. The person to call is the Park Ranger, tel 408 399-5760
In this article, you will find important phone numbers, addresses and websites. Please check back often as the list grows, and feel free to make suggestions to me for more. Listed first are things which may be most urgent, if hopefully not needed most often.
Dial 911 in case of true emergency
Community Hospital of Los Gatos 815 Pollard Road, Los Gatos, CA 95032 (off Winchester Blvd between Lark and Camden) tel 408 378-6131
*Good Samaritan Hospital 2425 Samaritan Dr., San Jose, CA 95124 (off Los Gatos Blvd near Hwy 85) tel 408 559-2377
*Closest to Belwood/Belgatos/Surmont and east Los Gatos areas
Garbage: Waste Management/Green Valley Disposal Co.
(until March 2007) 408 354-2100
Power: Pacific Gas & Electric 800 743-5000
To order service 800 483-4000
Repair 800 483-1000
Billing 800 483-3000
Television: Cable TV: Comcast 800 945-2288 http://www.comcast.com
Television: Satellite TV: Direct TV 800 347-3288
Water: San Jose Water 408 277-4036
LOCAL GOVERNMENT & PUBLIC INFO:
Town of Los Gatos: Town Hall, 100 E. Main Street, Los Gatos, CA 95030 tel 408 354-6834 Hours are M-F 8-5 The town website has a myriad of information, such as specific telephone numbers you may need or contacts within certain departments.
Los Gatos Public Library: Tel 408 354-6891 See webpage on town site for oodles of information: http://www.losgatosca.gov/index.asp?NID=831
In Walgreen’s Shopping Center
Los Gatos Pizza (lunch, dinner, parties for kids, sports)
14080 Blossom Hill Rd, Los Gatos, CA 95032.
(408) 358-5545 ***Coupon on their website!***
Tea Garden Chinese Kitchen (lunch, dinner – take out)
14030 Blossom Hill Road Los Gatos 356-0022
Open Mon.- Fri. 11:30 am-9 pm, Sat. 4-9 pm Closed Sunday. Call (408) 356-0022
Gallo’s Italian Restaurant (late afternoon, Dinner)
14180 Blossom Hill Rd Los Gatos CA408 358-3661
Open Sunday and Monday 4-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
4- 10 p.m. Call for catering specials and reservations (408) 358-3661
Kitty-corner from Walgreen’s Shopping Center:
Bangkok Taste Thai Restaurant
1769 Blossom Hill Rd., Los Gatos. (lunch, dinner)
Open for lunch Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., dinner daily until 9
p.m. Call for take-out. (408) 358-2525.
Ernies Wine & Liquor
14140 Blossom Hill Road Los Gatos, CA
Phone: (408) 356-7661
14100 Blossom Hill Road Los Gatos, CA 95032. Phone: (408) 356-2511
Extended Hours Walgreens
1376 Kooser Rd San Jose, CA 95118
(in triangular shopping center at Blossom Hill, Kooser and Meridian) – store faces Kooser
Store tel:(408) 448-0436
Pharmacy (408) 448-2503