Buy a Los Gatos home or real estate investment property

Charming older house in Los Gatos

Charming older house in Los Gatos

Want to buy a Los Gatos home or investment property? This attractive, upscale town has a complex real estate landscape with different zip codes, school districts, neighborhood amenities, architectural styles, and more. Of course you will want to browse the listings, but you need to know much more than the inventory to make a wise decision and protect your investment! This page should help.

Often, Silicon Valley home buyers focus in on Los Gatos due to the excellent public schools, charming and vibrant downtown, Community involvement, and perhaps also that the commute is not too bad for the price and quality of life.

The town is about 10 square miles in size, and it has about 30,000 residents. There are two zip codes “in town”: 95030 and 95032.  The 95033 zip code has a LG mailing address but is actually unincorporated parts of the Mountains.  (Learn more about the zip codes on the Live in Los Gatos Blog.)

Home prices vary tremendously within the town,  even for a similar sized house and lot, which can be confusing to new folks who want to buy a Los Gatos home. The biggest factors in the cost of real estate tend to be the schools, the proximity to downtown, the size and condition of the home, the size and condition of the yard, and of course the exact location.  Homes near freeways, high voltage power lines, busy roads, etc. will be a little more affordable that similar properties without those factors.  Conversely, a house with a view, one that’s “walk to town”, or has an absolutely pristine neighborhood will be more valued by consumers.

Schools tend to be the #1 major driver on housing prices, so let’s discuss it as this is the most confusing element of the home buying puzzle in town.

1. Los Gatos schools

Los Gatos High School on Main Street

Los Gatos High School on Main Street

The town of Los Gatos is not all within the same public school district. This can come as a surprise to people. There are two types of districts in town: the high school district and the elementary and middle school district.

Los Gatos home prices and schools: Homes within the attendance area of Los Gatos High School will generally be more expensive than those within the Leigh High or Westmont High areas. Leigh is usually the most attainable on the valley floor. The exception to this is the LG or Santa Cruz Mountains area – homes there tend to be the most affordable of these areas, especially the more remote sections.

How big is the price divide for homes in and out of the Los Gatos Union School District? There’s no easy answer because often there are multiple factors at play, such as lot size, proximity to downtown LG, to Vasona, etc. It also depends on the available inventory. If I had to guess for a rough estimate only, I’d say anywhere from 20-30% of value.

The school districts serving Los Gatos

Much of the town is in the Los Gatos School District and the Los Gatos Saratoga Joint Union High School District. This includes part of the LG or Santa Cruz Mountains – but only the nearest section.  Students in these areas of attendance may go to Los Gatos High. (They may also apply to go to Saratoga High, though admission is not guaranteed.)

In east Los Gatos, some of the homes belong to the Union School District (part LG, part San Jose) and the Campbell Union High School District.  The high school for this area is Leigh High.

On the northwest side of town, some homes are in the Campbell Union School District and Campbell Union High School District.  The high school for this part of town is Westmont High.

The Mountain communities have their own elementary school district, Lakeside Joint School District, and the children there attend Los Gatos High. Recently they’ve had some strange issues with busing, which you can research a little here.

School Reports: API Scores, SAT Scores, and more – this is important information for homeowners whether they have children who will attend the schools or not because it’s a big factor in resale value. The state has stopped using API scores in recent years, so be advised that the most recent information is unfortunately outdated. Get information on the schools here. As this info is becoming increasingly outdated, more and more home buyers are seeking out alternative sites. A popular one is GreatSchools.org.

If you rent or buy a Los Gatos home, you’ll find that all the public schools in town are good (and some rate as “great”).  Even so, a surprisingly high percentage of Los Gatos children attend private schools.

Finding the correct school of attendance: a source which is usually correct and simple to use is SchoolAndHousing.com. I have found it to miss the mark from time to time, but very rarely.  The best source, of course, is the school district itself: call to ask which schools within that district are assigned to a particular address.

2. The real estate market trends & statistics

 

Key info for Los Gatos home buyers

 

Los Gatos Real Estate Market Trends & Statistics This is an extremely detailed, interactive site which has sales numbers (using sold data) going back monthly until 2001. This is a “must use tool” that will help you to make better financial decisions to protect your real estate investments. This site also includes not just this town, but every city in Santa Clara County – Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Campbell, San Jose, etc. – as well as areas within San Jose like Almaden Valley, Cambrian Park, Willow Glen and so on. Spend some time there and you will be very happy with the wealth and depth of information available on the Silicon Valley real estate market!

d374c5dc be19 4942 ba39 c2c6685d3388 - Buy a Los Gatos home or real estate investment propertyCheck out pending sales of homes, active listings, and recently sold homes automatically on same site as above and view with Los Gatos Market Activity Report (automated, no registration, view listing & sales activity by map anywhere in Santa Clara County) This will give you an approximate idea comparable homes and will give you a sense of a home’s value. But remember: it’s an auto-comp, not human generated by hand. For accurate info, consult your local Realtor for assistance. (And if you aren’t working with someone already, please reach out to me!)

Commentary and more updates: My blog, Live in Los Gatos Blog, in which one of my frequent topics for posting is the housing market. To see a list of these articles on the market, please click here: Los Gatos real estate market by price point and high school district (very helpful since most tools lump all of town in together or separate by zip code, but not by school district) and also Los Gatos real estate market statistics and trends.

3. View the inventory of available homes for sale

(1) Browse listings by price point – this is great for “just browsing” and getting a feel for what your money can buy. Links will take you to my IDX site, DiverseSolutions.

Los Gatos homes under $1,000,000

Los Gatos homes between $1 and $2 million

Los Gatos homes over $2,000,000

(2) View listings by map – a great way to get “the big picture” and to see what homes cost in areas you prefer! This requires no registration (unless you want to “save” information and come back to it later).

(3) Private MLS Search with email alerts as new  homes come on the market (click below)

Sign up for listing alerts

4. Everything else

Where are the town’s boundaries?

The shape of the town is very odd, but more importantly, can lead to confusion when home buying. Have a look:

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94e4d815 8de4 4dbc a2ee d9d105f41a2f - Buy a Los Gatos home or real estate investment propertyTrying to define the boundaries on a web page’s map is beyond challenging because there’s so much zigging and zagging. To the north is San Jose and Cambrian Park, to the west is Saratoga, to the south the pass to Santa Cruz and to the east are Blossom Valley and points “south” on Hwy 85.  Easier, I think, for online purposes is a map with areas generally identified:

Another map issue Los Gatos home buyers should know about is that not every home with a LG mailing address is actually in the town. Most homes are, but some are county pockets (so not served by the town police department and unable to vote in the town elections). And there are a few strange areas where the homes are actually in San Jose or Campbell, but were assigned a Los Gatos mailing address by the post office!  These areas are often unclear on maps, but there are ways to find out where they are (and highly experienced agents are knowledgeable about them too.)

More then just the town’s boundaries, you will want to know where many important boundaries in Los Gatos exist: zip codes, school district borders.  If you do a web search for natural hazard zones, you’ll find out about  unstable soils zones, earthquake fault zones, flood plains, dam inundation zones, and more.

Other links:

Town of Los Gatos official government website – huge portal with a wealth of information
Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce website (great calendar of local events)
The Los Gatos Observer – an online news source all about Los Gatos
Belwood of Los Gatos – a site I host about my neighborhood in east Los Gatos 
Move2SiliconValley.com – another site I host which focuses on relocation

Please also read the rest of this site’s information on home buying  (go to menu and pull down under Buy a Home) and   frequently.

Neighborhoods in Los Gatos

The most comprehensive information on Los Gatos neighborhoods can be found on my Live in Los Gatos Blog, detailing areas such as the historic districts, places that are close to schools and shops, those near downtown and more, plus of course the cost of housing.  Lovely, restored Victorians and other historic homes in historic districts will be extremely pricey, with the Glenridge neighborhood perhaps being the most costly of all on a price per square foot basis.

This town has a myriad of neighborhoods, each with their own histories and personalities. Many are blogged about on “Live in Los Gatos”, and more are coming on regular intervals. Here’s a partial list of regions, subdivisions, historic districts, and neighborhoods in town:

271265f1 a293 4c7a af9d 7f6010fd7cf9 - Buy a Los Gatos home or real estate investment propertyAlmond Grove District, Alta Vista neighborhood, Aztec Ridge, Bella Vista, Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos & Surmont subdivisions, Blackberry Hill, Blossom Manor, BroadwayCameo Park West (a Leep subdivision which is actually in Campbell but has an LG mailing address), Carlton Estates, Civic Center area, College Park, Daves Avenue area, El Gato Terrace (El Gato Road area off Los Gatos-Almaden Road),  Edelen District, English Oaks (on and near Bicknell Road), Fairview Plaza, Forbes Mill area (the original area where the town began), Glenridge (historic, gracious, beautiful old estates), Greenwood area (part Monte Sereno, part county), Harwood Estates, Harwood RoadHeritage Grove, Hicks Road, Hillbrook, Kennedy Estates (newer subdivision off Kennedy Road), La Rinconada and La Rinconada Country Club areas, Overlook Road area, Quito Road area, Roberts Road areas (Roberts is on both sides of Hwy 17), Santa Rosa Heights, Shannon Valley Ranch (new estates on huge lots), Sierra Azule, St. Joseph’s Hill (and Jones Road trail area), StrathmoreSurrey Farms, Town Terrace, Twin Creeks, Vasona Terrace, Vasona Junction, Verde Glen, Vista del Monte, Wedgewood Manor, Westchester Manor and others

Also you may view an entire website dedicated to Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos and Surmont.

Getting started with home buying

No online information can replace the experience and knowledge of a seasoned, experienced, local Realtor. There are lots of agents but not all live and sell here and have many years’ experience to guide you in this very important transaction. I am a Los Gatos resident & Los Gatos Realtor and I can assist you to translate the data into knowledge to make this your best move.

Whether you’re ready to buy now or wanting to buy in the future, I’d be happy to assist you in that process. If you would like a free, one-hour, confidential, no pressure consultation about your real estate plans – your wants, questions, needs, hopes and desires – please call or email me to request an appointment.

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