Surmont

The Surmont subdivision is a highly desirable, scenic, low turnover area situated close to the coastal foothills with large trees, gently winding roads, and tidy homes in Los Gatos, California, 95032.

 

Westhill Drive in the Surmont subdivision in east Los Gatos

 

What are homes and lots like in Surmont?

 

Old Orchard at Westhill Drive in Surmont subdivision

 

There are 72 houses in Surmont. I pulled the data shared below from Realist, a program offered to members of the MLS which provides information from the Santa Clara County tax records as well as MLS data.

Typical:

  • 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms
  • 2496 SF
  • 1 story
  • 2 car garage
  • built in 1965
  • 10,000 SF lot
  • ranch style (or modified ranch)
  • slight hillside grade

Most houses are single story, but a few are split level or two story houses. (Average is 1.33 floors.)

These are good sized single family homes with the average house providing about 2500 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 2.5 or 3 bathrooms. The smallest houses are a little more than 1650 SF and the three largest boast more than 4,000 SF.

This is generally an older area, with most houses first built in the early 1960s. The earliest properties were constructed in 1952 and 1955. Four houses were built after 1970, with the newest constructed in 1980. The average year built is 1965.

Most parcels enjoy between 9,000  SF and 11,000 SF of space, but a few are larger: 4 are about a half acre and 1 is 1.5 acres.

This region is gently hilly overall. A few homes on Surmont Drive, Surmont Court, and Westhill Drive have more of a slope than other parts of the neighborhood. Some of those properties have amazing views, too – though most houses in this community do not. Most of the two story houses are hillside homes.
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Harwood Farms – Suburban Ranch Near Belwood

Horse at Harwood FarmsHarwood Farms horse boarding is right in Los Gatos and conveniently close to trails – and home!

It would be easy to miss this cool horse ranch unless you were walking past it while trekking up the hill to the Ridge Trail entrance at Belgatos Park. This beautiful setting is surrounded by luxury homes on Alerche Drive, Harwood Court, Harwood Lane, and Crider Court.

It’s almost out of place as a bit of rural California in an otherwise residential neighborhood. One hint that it’s ahead is the “horse” sign on Harwood Road near Bacigalupi Drive.  Another is the sight of large parcels with split rail fences in front, suggesting the presence of horses not so long ago. In fact, there were some horses downhill of Harwood Farms when we moved into the neighborhood in 1999.

If you overshoot the ranch when driving by and then turn around, you’ll get a sense of the setting and views from a little uphill.

 

View from Harwood Court - Harwood Farms Horse Boarding

 

While south county has many equestrian centers, Harwood Farms horse boarding is one of just a few in east Los Gatos. If you’ve never seen it, it’s worth checking out!

Recently Clair and I visited and were toured around by Frank, one of the owners of the ranch. We were highly impressed and have updated this article with a few images and info from that visit.

 

Horse stalls at Harwood Farms

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Home sales in the neighborhood so far this year

What’s happening in the Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont, and nearby real estate market? Home sales in the neighborhood so far are varied with some fast, some slowly moving! (DOM in the image below stands for Days On Market). Right now there is just one active listing. Use the link to check them out!

Home sales in the neighborhood: summary and link

Please click this link to see the current listings, pending sales, and closed sales over the last 180 days. There are two pending sales right now. The summary is below from the MLS. If you click that image or the link above, you will see the details on the MLS feed. (These are not our listings, but we have seen many and bid with some buyers on one of them.)

 

Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont, and nearby areas - homes sales in the neighborhood and market update

 

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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.

Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont neighborhood

Welcome to our site regarding a beautiful neighborhood in east Los Gatos, including Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos, Surmont, and adjacent tracts & subdivisions. Here I’ll provide ongoing real estate information, some events that are happening in the community, photos of Belgatos Park and other nearby areas, and items of concern to residents in this pretty corner of Los Gatos.

Please note that this is NOT the Belwood Homeowner’s Association website. For the HOA site, and phone numbers for the Cabaña or HOA, for lifeguard jobs, please visit BelwoodHomes.org

Enjoy this slideshow of photos of our scenic neighborhood.

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Harwood Farms horse boarding

Recent sales in East Los Gatos with Leigh High

You’ve probably heard that home prices in Silicon Valley generally and Los Gatos specifically peaked earlier this year and have been coming down significantly since then.

How is the market today in our corner of Los Gatos with Leigh High School? Here’s a breakdown of single family home sales in the last 90 days, broken into 4 pricing tiers, starting with the most expensive homes. (I crunched this myself on the MLS tonight.)

East Los Gatos with Leigh High last 90 days of sales

It’s interesting too note that most homes are about 50 – 60 years old.  Lot size and home size are the main drivers within these parameters. The home’s condition makes a big difference, of course. Properties that are in original or fixer condition will sell for a lot less than those which have been fully or largely remodeled.

If you focus on the sale price to list price ratio, it looks like the hottest segment of this market is in the low $2 millions.

Also curious to me is that the bottom 3 tiers rise in terms of home and lot size and price at an almost predictable pace, while that upper tier is out in the stratosphere by comparison.

Thinking of downsizing?

This info is also interesting if viewed through the lens of someone who may be ready or interested in down sizing. If your home about 2500 SF on a 10,000 SF lot and you’re thinking of “right sizing” to a 1500 SF home on a 6,000 to 8,000 SF lot, how does that shake out? Perhaps your current home would sell for $1.8 to $2 million if all fixed up / remodeled and so on. The replacement home, if you were to stay here in Los Gatos, would be perhaps $1,500,000. After paying off any mortgage balance, closing costs, and capital gains taxes, is such a move worth it? Perhaps not.

If you go across the border to Cambrian for downsizing, that 1500 SF home on a smaller lot will run about $1.3 – $1.5 million today, depending on lot size and condition. Again, that’s probably not a steep enough drop to make it worthwhile for most people after all the other costs are factored in.  Hence, may retirees move to places like Sacramento (or nearby: El Dorado Hills, Roseville, etc.),  San Luis Obispo, or perhaps where grown kids and grandkids live, if they have been priced out of the market here.

Interested in buying or selling a home in east Los Gatos (or anywhere in Santa Clara County)? Please shoot me an email and we can set up a confidential, no obligation consultation.

Please also see:

https://liveinlosgatosblog.com/los-gatos-real-estate-statistics-and-market-trends/

https://liveinlosgatosblog.com/los-gatos-real-estate-market-trends-by-price-point-and-high-school-district/

Nextdoor.com site for Belwood, Belgatos, Surmont, Harwood, Gemini, Alerche and more

Nextdoor map as of Nov 17 2013Update on the Nextdoor.com private intranet for neighbors in the Surmont-Belgatos-Belwood and beyond areas – We launched our site  November 17th, 2011, and 2 months later, got up to 39 people (in 32 households). As of Nov 17, 2013, our 2 year anniversary, it was 317 members in 245 homes (see image at right). We are still growing and now have a roster of 321 neighbors (248 of 567 households) or 44% of households participating. Thank you to all who’ve been active in sharing news and inviting neighbors to join us!

For those who aren’t onboard and are wondering, what is Nextdoor all about?

This is a private, online social network site for neighbors sharing with neighbors things that matter to them. Often this includes issues and concerns that otherwise we wouldn’t know about, whether a problem (break ins, solicitors), a need (babysitters, gardeners, house cleaners), an alert (coyotes spotted, skunk problems) event or other positive happenings.

Many times, this is almost like a virtual “neighborhood watch”.

I do know that people worry about their information being public.  The system requires members to be verified, either by mail (free) or by phone (which requires a one cent charge to a credit card). This is done to insure that everyone in this private site is actually a neighbor – for everyone’s protection.  Also, you don’t have to share your email address or phone number, but of course you can if you choose.

Belwood-Belgatos area on Nextdoor.comThe Town of Los Gatos has embraced Nextdoor as a great way to facilitate communication and major town events are announced on this site also.

On the fence? Log in, have a look and see what you think.  There’s a lot to like about it!

Please check it out:
https://belwood-belgatos.nextdoor.com

And for current members, PLEASE INVITE YOUR NEIGHBORS!  You can do this for free by sending postcards!  Just click on the “invite” button on the top right side. The system will allow you to mail a few cards each month at no cost.

Finally, if you are not within these boundaries but are interested in Nextdoor for your area, just go to Nextdoor.com and input your address. You’ll find out right away if you are within an established neighborhood. If so, join!  If not, perhaps you can begin one there yourself.  It’s a great way to keep in touch.