Mirassou site construction update

The Preserve Belwood Neighborhood Association has been working to get the Union School District to reconsider the land use at the Mirassou site, and they are making progress. The new proposal is for just 12 homes, and the lot sizes are more in keeping with the neighborhood, 11,000 to 13,000 SF. Robson Homes is the selected contractor. Want to provide your input? Please attend the meeting – details below.

 

Mirassou site new plan for homes - Robson

Preserve Belwood Neighborhood Association’s Mirassou site: USD Feb 12th at 6 pm

Mirassou Site Update sign in field of flowersWe are on the email list for this group. There is a new Request for Proposals by the Union School District. The Preserve Belwood Neighborhood Association sent a reminder note out about the meeting, which will be held on Monday February 12 at 6PM at the Union School District Office (5175 Union Ave, San Jose, CA 95124).

“The next Union School District Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Monday February 12 at 6PM at the Union School District Office (5175 Union Ave, San Jose, CA 95124).  The USD board has received their responses to the RFP for the development of the Mirassou property.  There will be a presentation by the potential developer at this board meeting.  We would like to have a great presence of Belwood neighbors at this board meeting to show our interest in the Mirassou property development.

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All information for USD board meetings can be found at https://www.unionsd.org/about/board-of-trustees.  The final agenda for this meeting will be posted on Friday February 9 at 5PM.”

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Sent out this afternoon regarding tonight’s meeting:

 

1.  Tonight’s USD board meeting will be the standard formal board meeting where the attached slides will be presented.  There is a  public comments part of the agenda, but there will not be an opportunity to interact and get questions answered.
2.  There will be a community meeting on February 22 at 7PM at the Belwood Cabana where Robson will be in attendance to present the plans and interact with the community.
3.  As requested by homeowners, Robson will also meet individually with homeowners who are directly impacted by the development plans to try to work out any concerns.
All information for USD board meetings can be found at https://www.unionsd.org/about/board-of-trustees

Earlier info:
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2023 Closed Sales

In 2023 we had a mixed situation of high and low sales in the community. The low ones were usually on the market a long time or not listed on the MLS with full exposure. Some of the sales below show a DOM or Days on Market of 0. That means they were  under contract before the home was listed on the MLS.

We saw, showed, bid on, and sold within this list. Each sale has a story. Some homes got multiple offers, others had few. Usually there’s a good reason for every result.

Please note that one of the sales was not on the MLS at all. For that, we went to MLS Listings and accessed Realist, which provides sales found both on MLS and also on the county records.

The text is small in the image below, but if you click on it, it will open in a new window and will show the full size. (This is best seen on a tablet, laptop, or desktop rather than a cell phone.)

2023 closed sales in Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos, Surmont, and adjacent areas


Please CLICK the image below for a larger image in a new tab:

Belwood of Los Gatos home sales in 2023, also Belgatos, Surmont, and adjacent areas of East Los Gatos

 

Overall, single family home sales in Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos, Surmont, and attached areas did well overall in 2023, with am average sale to list price ratio of 103.3% and days on market of 31.

Also sold in 2023 was a nearly 11 acre parcel on Surmont Drive and additionally, two duplexes (4 housing units total).

Interested in selling or buying a home in or near Belwood? Please reach out to me! I’ve lived in the area since 1999, have sold several homes here over the years, and am an enthusiastic resident!

 

Los Gatos housing plan update

Housing plan update - the town of Los Gatos has a Seven-Day Public Review of the Draft Revised 6th Cycle Housing Element - person inspecting documentsThe Los Gatos Planning Department sent out the housing plan update, information below. I requested and received permission to repost it here. This is relevant to everyone in town who has any concerns about the California building laws and their impact on new developments, particularly as they relate to the Builder’s Remedy. For our neighborhood, it appears to be connected to the proposed 30 new homes at the Mirassou site.

Housing plan updated: public review of the Housing Element Draft info from the Planning Department

On September 22, 2023, the Town posted online the Draft Revised 2023-2031 Housing Element with modifications in response to the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) Findings/Comment Letter received by the Town on May 30, 2023.

The Draft Revised 2023-2031 Housing Element is available to the public for a seven-day review period prior to HCD re-submittal.  The seven-day public review period runs until 5:00 p.m. on September 29, 2023.  The following items can be viewed on the Town’s Housing Element Update website at: https://www.losgatosca.gov/1735/General-Plan—Housing-Element.

  • Draft Revised 2023-2031 Housing Element – Clean Copy
  • Draft Revised 2023-2031 Housing Element – Track Changes Copy
  • Response Memorandum to HCD’s Findings and Comment Letter

Written comments (including name, affiliation, telephone number, and contact information) can be submitted through September 29, 2023, by 5:00 p.m., by email to HEUpdate@losgatosca.gov or by mail to:

Town of Los Gatos
Community Development Department
110 E. Main Street
Los Gatos, CA 95030

Additionally, the Housing Element Advisory Board (HEAB) will be meeting on September 28, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. to review and discuss the Town’s Draft Revised Housing Element addressing HCD’s findings/comment letter received by the Town on May 30, 2023.  The agenda and staff report is now available on the Town’s agenda center webpage.

 

30 New Homes at Mirassou School

It looks like there will there be 30 new homes built at the Mirassou School site, which until recently housed Mulberry School, per a recent vote at the Union School District office.

The proposed construction came as a surprise to many of us, but the momentum toward this outcome has been moving along in the Union School District, which owns the property at 220 Belgatos Rd, Los Gatos. After much hard work (unknown as it was to the public), Robson Homes has emerged as the partner.

 

Future site of the 30 new homes to be built by Robson - school field as seen on Belvue Drive, Los Gatos

 

Meeting regarding the proposed 30 new homes

Union School District hosted a special meeting to vote on the agreement between Robson Homes and the district on Friday, August 25th @ 4:30p.m. The vote did go through, and the 30 new homes will be built on the grassy lot per the image below.

How could this go through when the neighbors object?

Right now the town’s housing plan has not been blessed by the state. Builders have an advantage, and can utilize the “Builder’s Remedy” to force through projects that might otherwise not have been permitted. Unfortunately, that isn’t the only state regulation that can push this through despite local opposition. It’s a complex network of laws that appear to make it possible for builders and landowners able to build despite CCRs, zoning laws, and the objection of immediate neighbors.

That said, some of the neighbors are objecting and are gearing up for a legal fight.

What is the objection to these units being constructed?

Neighbors object on several points:

  • The majority of the neighborhood consists of homes on appx 8,000 SF lots to 12,000 SF lots, some larger (almost none smaller). These houses and duet homes will be on postage sized lots.
  • Belgatos Road already has too much traffic with the schools and Belgatos Park.
  • The intersection of Belgatos Road and Blossom Hill Road is dangerous now, as the two fatalities this year underscore. Adding probably 60 new cars coming and going to exacerbate this issue.
  • School crowding has been raised as an issue.
  • I haven’t heard, but would expect that the folks living right next to the school yard’s property line will be unhappy about the loss of privacy, increased noise and shadows, and so on.

Where will the residences be built?

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3 New Homes at Harwood and Almond Blossom

Story poles are now up for 3 new homes at Harwood and Almond Blossom at the site of the former Harwood Hills Preschool and more recently, a Spanish language school.  I was told by long time neighbors that this was a tennis court club long ago, but the county records that I can access don’t go far enough back to know if that’s the case or not. What is clear, though, is that the new use will be housing.

This area is not in the Belwood of Los Gatos subdivision and not part of the areas served by the Belwood Cabana.

 

3 new homes at Harwood and Almond Blossom - orange story poles are now up

 

What do we know so far about the 3 new homes at Harwood and Almond Blossom?

 

First, the current property address is 16220 Harwood Road, Los Gatos 95032.  Initially the story poles appeared only in the back corner of the property, but as of yesterday we saw all three sets of story poles in place. The poles were the first that we knew of a project that was being proposed.

Orange story poles for 3 new homes at Harwood and Almond Blossom

 

The three sets of story poles confirm that 3 tall, detached structures are being proposed.  It appears to be 3 two story homes are in the works.
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Flipped or nicely remodeled Los Gatos home for sale?

"Beware" button - warning article on buying a flipped homeWant to buy a house in the Los Gatos neighborhoods of Belwood, Belgatos or Surmont?  There are a few things you should know about properties may be flipped that look “turnkey”, especially as the market heats up or inventory more available.

What is a flipped home?

Some contractors buy homes with deferred maintenance, often “off market”, do some quick remodeling (often without permits) and then put it on the open market as soon as possible. This is what we usually think of with flipped homes.

Also, some sellers quickly improve houses for a fast profit, sometimes when a house has been inherited to maximize their net.  Some regular property owners do this, too, moving out for a quick rehab rather than remodeling for enjoying the house for their own use, often cut corners. These two categories are a spinoff of the contractor-builder flip. We see all of them in our real estate market.

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.

Questions to ask, some things to look for in flipped or similar properties

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

Please note, 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. These are not in the category of flipping, but more like normal refreshing a home to sell.

When does it move from refreshing to flipping? If the kitchen and bathrooms were hastily remodeled in the recent past, you may be looking at a flip of some kind.

  • Look for expensive but less seen areas such as
    • the electrical system (some electric panels may be at risk of fire)
    • furnace (heater)
    • water heater
    • roof, gutters & downspouts
    • drainage system (often needed, seldom there in Los Gatos)
    • back yard landscaping
    • the foundation (always a potential issue in our east Los Gatos neighborhood if drainage hasn’t been properly addressed)
    • insulation in the attic (often minimal)
    • 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.

Finally, check the permits to see if improvements that needed permits and finals obtained them. Click here for the online Los Gatos permit search.

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.

Home fire hardening

With the increase of fires in recent years, California has a new fire disclosure law on the books, AB 39 (2019). In response, the California Association of Realtors has come out with a new home fire hardening form. This is a new advisory and disclosure document combined, “C.A.R. Form FHDS, 5/21 Fire Hardening and Defensible Space Advisory, Disclosure, and Addendum”. It’s intended to help sellers and buyers be more aware of what can be done to make a home more resistant to fire.

Selling a home in a high fire risk zone? Expect these home fire hardening questions

In one section of the document, home sellers are asked if they have made the following alterations:

  1. Eave, soffit, and roof ventilation where the vents have openings in excess of one-eighth of an inch or are not flame and ember resistant.
  2. Roof coverings made of untreated wood shingles or shakes.
  3. Combustible landscaping or other materials within five feet of the home and under the footprint of any attached deck. (Wood chips and mulch may not be a good idea!)
  4. Single pane or non-tempered glass windows.
  5. Loose or missing bird stopping or roof flashing.
  6. Rain gutters without metal or noncombustible gutter covers.

All of us who are near Belgatos Park and nearby open spaces can benefit from improving our home’s safety should a fire breakout nearby. We recently measured our vent screens and found them to be 1/4 inch, so will be improving that. It’s a good list.

There’s a longer article on my main blog. Check it out for more information:
NEW California Disclosure – Home Fire Hardening Disclosure and Advisory

Below there’s also a document from the CA Assn of Realtors on the law. This is a good article with helpful information – I highly recommend it.

 

Related reading:

Los Gatos Fire Risk (Live in Los Gatos blog)

A History of Los Gatos Fires and the Los Gatos Fire Department (Live in Los Gatos blog)

CA Association of Realtors: Home Fire Hardening Disclosure Law, Feb 2021 (the form was updated in May 2021)