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:
- 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.
- Roof coverings made of untreated wood shingles or shakes.
- 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!)
- Single pane or non-tempered glass windows.
- Loose or missing bird stopping or roof flashing.
- 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.
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)
What’s going on with the real estate market in the Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont, and nearby areas of east Los Gatos? Here’s a quick update of the year to date listings and sales activities, taken from the MLS.
Right now, there are 6 properties for sale in the neighborhood. That’s more than what has been normal in recent years. The stats for these active listings are as follows:
Average list price $2,286,333
Average square footage 2,906
Average lot size 16,194
Average days on market 19
Average price per SF $800.92
Average age 49
There is only one pending sale, and no properties at all in the area which closed in June. We had steady rate of sales closed earlier in the year: three in February, two in March, five in April, two in May.
For those tracking the absorption rate, which is the rate at which homes would sell if no new properties come on the market, this is a bit of a surprise. Zero homes (sold / closed in the last 30 days) divided by 6 active listings = an infinite months supply of inventory. Of course, it is not truly that dire, since there were 2 closings in late May and there’s one pending sale (went into contract June 15), but it does suggest that home buyers may have put the brakes on.
We are seeing this drop in sales activity across the valley in many areas, so it’s not just this corner of 95032.
Is it just a big rise in inventory that is causing the market to stall out a little? In some areas, homes have continued selling at the same pace, but with fewer offers over the last 6 weeks or so. Those areas may not have had as large an inventory jump as we have seen on the east end of Los Gatos.
Here’s a look at the inventory for single family homes for sale in 95032 with Campbell Union High School District (so Leigh or Westmont High) from July 2012 to July 2018.
Inventory is up, but not to an unprecedented degree. There were more in June, and June’s inventory was not too different from most of the recent years (2014 and forward).
A holiday week is often slow, so I would encourage people thinking of selling to not get discouraged. Part of what we are seeing could simply be a seasonal trend – summer is normally a bit of a “slowdown” period in real estate, with things picking back up again in early to mid September. Last year we did not see seasonality at all, as the market was raging hot through December.
If you are interested in buying or selling a home in east Los Gatos or anywhere in Silicon Valley, please reach out to me and we’ll find a time to talk and see if we might be a fit for working together.
The Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos, Surmont, and contiguous neighborhoods in east Los Gatos saw strong appreciation in 2017. With a low amount of available real estate inventory and high buyer demand, properties listed under $2 million often saw multiple offers and good overbids. Over $2 million, the market was cooler, but still not too challenging to sell if done right.
Early 2017 was a bit sluggish, with homes taking longer to sell and recording under list price through February. These homes were priced on the higher end for homes in the area, and they were selling during the typically cooler winter months, both of which might have contributed to the slower turnover. By March the market was heating up again with the large majority selling above list price (likely multiple offers) in under a month through to the end of the year. The three that took longest to sell (from March through November) also sold below list price.
Below is the chart of all home sales in the Belwood & adjoining area listed on the multiple listing service for 2017 organised by date descending oldest to newest. DOM stands for “days on the market”. (There was one off-market or private sale of a 1400 SF house on Bacigalupi for $1,250,000 that is not included. It appears to have been a fixer upper.)
Most challenging to sell are the luxury tier properties offered at $3 million or more. In 2017, the house with the longest days on market was in this category. This is normal for the luxury market in east Los Gatos.
In summary, through most of the year there was high demand and quick turnover for homes in the Belwood area in moderate price points. These fast moving homes provide approximately 3-5 bedrooms and list in the price range of %1.5 to $2 million.
If we remove the luxury tier home, a profile of homes sold in this area in 2017 would be along these lines:
Average list price: $1,719,144
Average sale price: $1,758.263
Average square footage: 2316 SF of living space
Average age of home: 42 years
The last couple of months in 2017, prices began shooting up with the news of Google’s expansion into downtown San Jose. The ripples were felt through Willow Glen, Cambrian, and into Los Gatos. What sold for $1,750,000 in the middle of 2017 is likely to sell for significantly more in 2018.
If you’re interested in buying or selling a home in this beautiful corner of Los Gatos, please reach out to me and we can have a confidential and no-obligation conversation / consultation.
Neighbors often want to see an update on the immediate neighborhood and sale prices of houses that have sold and closed escrow. Here’s a current snapshot of the real estate market in Belwood, Belgatos, and Surmont (and adjacent to the contiguous neighborhood).
View photos and get the details on MLSListings.com here:
In addition to these closed sales, there are 2 in various stages of “under contract”, and there was 1 duplex sold earlier this year, too.
Interested in buying or selling a home in the area? Please reach out to me with an email or a phone call.
Aerial view of the neighborhood and the nearby foothills
Of the homes first listed for sale in the Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos, or Surmont subdivisions in 2015 so far, only one did not selll (it was pulled off after a month, which is about the time when a price reduction would likely be getting discussed). One other is currently under contract (contingencies are in place) and five homes have been sold and closed.
Overall, houses in this neighborhood have gone pending fairly quickly, with the average days on market being a brisk 9 for the five closed sales. Homes sold so far are all selling over list price, and the average amount over is about 3% ($38,000).
(There was one other closing on Bacigalupi in January from a sale in December that I did not include since I was looking for sales that were ratified in 2015, but that home had 2448 SF and closed at $1,525,000 fyi.)
The odds are good that you could sell a home in this area without too much trouble in most cases. In every market, though, there are some homes that don’t sell or do not sell quickly. To learn more about that situation, please visit my Valley of Heart’s Delight blog and read this article:
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. (more…)
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.