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)
- 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.
A couple of days ago I was visiting a beautiful home for sale on Harwood Court during the Realtor tour or “broker’s open house”. We have hiked the trail from Belgatos Park up to the Santa Rosa Open Space Preserve, which goes just past this house, and I’d always been curious about it. Also, we live not too far below that area in Belwood, so it’s fun to see the neighborhood view from way up top. I took a photograph off one of the back balconies (the view was stunning) and thought my Belwood & Belgatos neighbors might enjoy seeing it too.
Can you make out any landmarks?
Near the top, just left of center, you can see a whitish splotch – those are the buildings in the Wallgreen’s Shopping Center. A little to the right of them and a little closer to where the pic was taken you might be able to distinguish some tall vertical green lines. Those are some Italian Cypress trees growing across the back and side yards of a home on Jamie Court, just off Harwood Road.
Of course, you don’t have to see an open house to enjoy a similar view. Go hiking in Belgatos Park or through the trails at the Heintz Open Space Preserve (or cheat and just drive to the top of Harwood Road or Harwood Court!) and take in the beautiful Santa Clara Valley.
Normally I don’t blog about other people’s listings, and never do it without permission, so the info below is shared with the consent of the listing agent.
Yesterday I stopped into an open house in the Surmont area of east Los Gatos when I was driving home to neighboring Belwood. I suppose it’s like a “bus driver’s holiday” but I love to keep a pulse on the market so like viewing homes…even on my days off.
The house at 115 Old Orchard Drive, Los Gatos seems to be a good value. It offers 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, about 2150 square feet, nice looking pool in back, single story and is priced at $975,000. The home is somewhat updated, but not fully remodeled. Perhaps best of all, it’s got a fabulous location on a beautiful street.
For more information, c;heck out the virtual tour:
This one seems priced on the money, so if you’ve been wanting to live in this beautiful part of Los Gatos, don’t wait!
Listed by Chat Hagood of Coldwell Banker in Willow Glen.
As of late January, 2010, there are no single family homes available in the Belgatos, Belwood or Surmont areas. If you are thinking of selling your home but don’t want to have to do the typical staging and pre-sale work, please contact me. We may have a buyer for your home without having to go through the usual gearing up for the market….
The Los Gatos real estate market has fared better than many other parts of Silicon Valley in recent months, but prices are declining, days on the market area increasing and inventory is climing.
The median sales (sold) price of homes is down about 26% year over year in Los Gatos (95030 and 95032). List prices appear to be flat (see graph below, which is from Altos Research, a subscription I have) but in many price points, homes are being reduced multiple times prior to selling.
The higher priced homes seem to be hurting more than the entry level homes. This is interesting because most of the “correction” we have been seeing is due to the mortgage mess, and a large portion of the very high end homes (more than 3 mil) are not terribly dependant on loans. Many of them are bought “all cash”.
What about our east Los Gatos enclave of Surmont, Belgatos and Belwood? We, too, have rising inventories. At the moment, there are six homes for sale in these three Los Gatos neighborhoods. I can comment a little on these and perhaps it will seem less gloomy when I do.
Two of the six are tenant occupied and difficult to see. They are not being actively marketed except on the MLS (no signs, no ads, no open houses – only the MLS and related web advertising). When homes are hard to see, they are hard to sell. One of them desperately needs a coat of paint and for someone to water the front yard, which has dead grass in it.
Another of the six homes is really large and at the high end of the scale for neighborhood pricing.
That leaves us with three other homes on the market. Every home has some kind of issue, and these three do too, but they are nice enough that they should procure an offer, even if not close to list price.
Having homes on the MLS that don’t sell tends to really hurt the ones that DO want to sell. Bad makes worse.
It’s hard to say. This morning at the Los Gatos – Saratoga Realtors board meeting, one lender said that it hasn’t been this bad since 1981. So it’s a challenging time for sure!
It’s a good time to buy, but buyers need to carefully handle their loan papers to avoid glitches. Selling is doable, but sellers must realize that it’s a price war and a beauty contest. Homes that aren’t in top condition and priced aggressively are going to have a tough time selling.
Please call me or email me if you would like a confidential meeting to discuss your real estate wants and needs. I’m happy to help!
PS Please see also my Live in Los Gatos blog – I do market updates about once a week there.
408 204 7673
Things have been hopping in east Los Gatos.
Over the weekend, the Belwood of Los Gatos community participated in the “Community Yard Sale” that was happening throughout the town of Los Gatos. The cabaña was a busy place with folks selling their wares at what seemed like a good clip. Additionally, neighbors held yard sales in their own driveways and front yards too, as was the case all over this part of Silicon Valley.
The pool is open and swimmers are happy as the heat has been bearing down on us. To see about scheduling a party there (if you are a cabana member), see the Belwood Community’s website.
Real estate update
The real estate market is busy in Belwood, Belgatos, and Surmont too. There are now seven active listings and two pending sales in these three areas. As with other parts of town, not all homes are selling – only the ones perceived as being “the best value” for the money are getting offers and going to closing.
(For more information on the housing market, please click on the Real Estate button above.)
If you’d like information related to your particular Los Gatos or Silicicon Valley home, please email or phone me! I’d be happy to meet with you, view your home and discuss your wants and needs as relating to buying or selling a home.
mary (at) popehandy.com
Not an April Fool’s Day joke – two more homes came on the market this week, so now the total is up to four available in Belwood. (For the skinny on them, visit the Homes Info section of this site.) It makes three on Belridge in the last month!
The range in Belwood homes now is from $1,099,000 for a small (1744 sf) home to $1,729,000 for an extremely large one. And… Rumor is that a 1400 SF home will be offered on the market for $1,100,000 soon. (That does not appear to be in line with “market value” but we’ll see what happens.) There is slight upward pressure on pricing BUT it remains true that most homes are still not selling in Los Gatos.
Homes in Belwood are selling at the same slow pace as most of the rest of Los Gatos.
Homes that are in top condition and priced well with no “issues” are selling decently. Others are sitting. At the moment (3/19) there is only one home available, two which are sales pending, and two more poised to come on the market in the next month or so.
Did you know that you can see the current list of available homes in the Surmont, Belgatos, and Belwood areas of Los Gatos on this website? Additionally, information on the expired listings and the sold and closed listings are here too. Just click on the “Homes Info” tab to stay current.
For weeks, there have been four homes for sale in the Belwood, Belgatos, and Surmont area of Los Gatos. Recently, one of the homes on Westhill went under contract or “sale pending”. It is a contingent sale, subject to the sale of another home – so not ideal by any stretch, but it is a sale.
When a home is sold contingent on the buyer’s selling a house or condo or other real estate, what does that mean?
Often, the listing agent will allow a set timeframe for the buyer to sell his or her property. Also, the Realtor working with the seller will usually include a “release clause” or “kickout clause” to that if a better (non-contingent) offer comes along, the sellers can effectively boot the first buyer out of contract – with some stipulations. Usually it’s a matter of time, like 72 hours to remove the contingency or to sell the home.
Sometimes homes that are “status 2” or contingent sales do go to closing, and sometimes they don’t. In a hot sellers market, homeowners will not ordinarily take a contingent offer. But in a market like the one we have today, sellers will consider any reasonable offer if their home’s been for sale a long time with no other offer.
Essentially, then, there are still four homes that are available to purchase. Two are in Belwood of Los Gatos (one on Belvue, the other on Belhaven) and two into the Begatos/Surmont side, both on Westhill.
And two more homes will be on the market in the next 2-4 weeks. Both of these are larger houses and will have higher price tags. One is in Belwood, and one is very close to Belgatos Park.
If you’re thinking of buying here in east Los Gatos, give me a call or drop me an email and we can talk about the market and the current opportunities afforded by it.
Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor, CRS, ABR, e-PRO, SRES, ASP, RECS, CNHS, ACRE
Helping Nice Folks to Buy & Sell Homes Since 1993
Co-Author: “Get The Best Deal When Selling Your Home In Silicon Valley”
Are homes in Belwood, Belgatos and Surmont selling as well as in other parts of Los Gatos?
For years, I have had a subscription to a numbers-crunching service and provide to my clients a newsletter with the monthly real estate data, trends and statistics for Santa Clara County (San Jose, Saratoga, Los Gatos – and all the towns/cities/districts in the Santa Clara Valley). This is the Real Estate Report and it’s really invaluable.
But it doesn’t break the numbers down by zip code. Recently I began another service, in addition to the Real Estate Report, and this one is through Altos Research. With this service, I can break down the data by zip code, by quartile (price point, 4 ranges), by all kinds of factors.
A couple of days ago, I picked apart the numbers in the Los Gatos real estate market by zip code and quartile by using these new tools. The information is nothing short of amazing. I published my findings in my “Live In Los Gatos” blog under a post titled, Understanding the Los Gatos Real Estate Market Trends.
Here in Belwood-Belgatos-Surmont, we have four homes that are “just sitting”. Some have received price reductions, others not. What is going on?
It usually comes down to a few factors:
- the price is too high (5% or more off)
- the marketing is poor (it’s not on the MLS, there aren’t enough photos, there are no open houses, no internet marketing etc.)
- the access is too restricted (too hard to see the home, by appointment only, through listing agent only , etc.)
- the condition of the home is not acceptable for the price (either the floorplan is dysfunctional, the home is dirty, has odors, is too dated for the list price, etc.)
In Silicon Valley, prices in many areas are declining. In some areas, though (in and near Palo Alto), pricing are rising.
Los Gatos has both the buyer’s market and the seller’s market occurring simultaneously. How can that be?
Simply put, the 95032 zip code is in a buyer’s market, and prices are FALLING, while the 95030 zip code is in a seller’s market, and prices are RISING.
If you want to buy or sell a home or real estate in Los Gatos (or Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Almaden Valley etc.), it is extremely important to understand your immediate market. It is crucial to price it right, stage it right, and market it right to get it sold.
Have a look at my Live in Los Gatos post on the market. It will explain to you, and show you visually, why homes in this highly desireable neighborhood are sitting and not selling. Or call or email me for more information on your price point in all of this!
Thinking of selling your Belwood of Los Gatos (or Surmont or Belgatos) house? Please call me. Or email me. Set up an appointment. Get the true picture of the market so your home can sell and not just be listed.
(This is not intended as a solicitation of any home already listed with a real estate broker.)