General Area in Los Gatos>Question Details

Supershick, Home Buyer in California

Why are home prices in Los Gatos so high? Status? Schools? Safety? Things to do? Community?

Asked by Supershick, California Wed Jul 22, 2009

I personally live in LG but haven't really put my finger on why housing is so high here. My general thought is luxury status. It's the community and people that can influence the market. Schools? LGHS isn't SUPER stellar, as compared to say Saratoga, Lynbrook, or Monta Vista. Things to do? If only running and biking and shopping boutiques were your thing, then sure. What makes LG tick as a housing market? I'm not bashing on Los Gatos. I love LG. I've lived in LG for 25 years. I'm just wondering why can Los Gatos command such a high price. Maybe it's a dumb and ignorant question but I want to gain a better understanding so that maybe I can decide on an area I want to buy my first house in.

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14
Ron Thomas’ answer
Did you ever hear the old "saw" location, location, location!

Well there's another old saw that goes; "supply and demand"

There is no mysterious force or some mefarious plot;
the answer is that a lot of people want to live there!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 7, 2012
Affluence.
Medium income is about $120K per household.
When you have many affluent residents call it home, the price of homes should reflect their income.e low.

That enables students to perform better at school. The academic index of 951 (grade school), 931(Fisher Middle), Saratoga High(938) and LG High (883) are not easy to find.

Last but not the least is the historical heritage of the town and downtown stores. How many towns
in SF Bay Area can you find another town like LG?

Sam Shueh
Keller Wms Realtor
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 30, 2014
Los Gatos is desirable for many reasons. Location, history, and undeniable small town charm are all things Los Gatos offers as well as key commute corridor accessibility, great climate, good schools, a lively downtown, accessibility to Santa Cruz area and a wide variety of outdoor activities and a multitude of architectural styles. LG has a lot to offer and as such, it continues to draw home buyers and command high values.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 24, 2014
In the Silicon Valley, schools and proximity to high tech jobs are the main value drivers.

As buyers are priced out of Palo Alto, Cupertino, and Saratoga (close to jobs and great schools) they start looking at Los Gatos as the next closest city with excellent schools and lower prices.

Los Gatos also has a great downtown and active small town community atmosphere. Having the mountains and lake nearby is also a benefit for those that are active outdoors with many biking/hiking trails and water activities.

For buyers looking for even more of a bargain in pricing and who are willing to add 10 minutes to their commute, the Los Gatos Mountains offer Buyers larger homes on larger lots or acreage for a much lower price all while maintaining the excellent Los Gatos Schools.

As a Los Gatos native for over 35 years and having lived and travelled all over the world, I can't think of a nicer place to live. If you have any more Los Gatos questions feel free to contact me.

Travis Bertelsen
Pertria Real Estate Investments
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 13, 2013
I'm just a renter who lives in LG but has been unable to buy because of the high cost. All the comments are correct, but I see an additional factor. When you couple all of the great things about LG with buyers who make an insane amount of money either through IPOs or bonuses or selling a company - those people can afford not to care about the final price of a house - those people can come in with an offer above asking price in order to secure the property they want. Almost everyone I know has been able to buy here because of some big payoff at work. If you work a typical secure job without big payoff potential, you could not possibly afford to purchase here. If you move into CA from another state, even with equity from the sale of a home (at least these days when home values are not increasing very much, if at all, in the rest of the country), the downpayment required to buy a $ 1+ million home is more than most could come up with.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon May 7, 2012
Good schools & safety do keep prices up in a community & that in turn gives it "status". Availability of jobs in close proximity help a bunch & clean, beautiful environment. as well. That is probably why you already love it there, right? It's kind of the same in my little town in Solano County, Benicia. If you're not committed to staying in South Bay area, you should check us out. I'd be happy to meet you & show you around if you don't know anyone here.

Regards,
Ginger Kelley

Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 5, 2009
granted Saratoga is the same way. Some people feel it is even a better place to call it home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 30, 2014
We have been living in Los Gatos for the past 15 years and can't dispute the fact that home values are high compared to nearby cities. But it's the quality of life, safety, school and the wonderful neighbors that make it worthwhile.

Here's an example of what I mean. Dick & Terri Anderson are our neighbors in Los Gtaos and they have set up a wall of fame for ALL the neighborhood dogs who can stop by and get a treat!! Show me any other town where there is so much commitment to the neighborhood and love of community.

There are days that we have left the front door fully open and only to return and find nothing disturbed or stolen.

For these reasons alone we are sold on Los Gatos.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 21, 2014
Hi SS,

This is the first question I am answering here as your question intrigued me; May I ask what you believe too high is or what have you been looking for that you can't find in a price range that may be reasonable to you? Maybe there is possibility to find a home within the range that is comfortable for you. I am a Broker and have lived and sold homes in the area through MLS and as private transactions and agree with all of the answers, but it really gets down to what your needs are and what makes you happy. Sometimes private sales can be a way to go. Good Luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 9, 2009
Hi Super,

The answer to your question about why Los Gatos is pricey can be answered by the oldest real estate adage around: location, location, location.

The "west valley" communities command higher prices than those toward the center of Santa Clara County. Communities along the base of the coastal range, especially those with a beautiful hillside view or valley view, get higher prices if the home is still close to town and not "remote".

As a whole, the prices in Los Gatos are less than those in Saratoga and more than those in Almaden Valley. Why? Los Gatos is more convenient than Almaden (#1 objection to Almaden Valley being that the commute is too far for some). School scores are a little better in Saratoga and it's closer to Palo Alto, the Peninsula etc. Los Gatos seems appropriately priced when viewed against its nearest, similarly sized neighbors. I think a better question to ask is "why is Monte Sereno so much more expensive than Los Gatos?"

Los Gatos is really not so expensive when you consider what a resident here gets to enjoy:

-good to great schools
-a vibrant downtown, with great shops, dining, 2 museums, wine tasting
-incredibly community involvement, high number of volunteers, free concerts, holiday parade, etc.
-fabulous parks, hiking trails, equestian trails, places for mountain biking
-proximity to Santa Cruz and the beach & downtown San Jose too
-easy freeway access for commuters
-charming, varied architecture, some historical (both commercial & residential)
-a sense of history, which is appreciated and promoted at the history museum & annual events

Los Gatos has several "markets", each with different pricing and desireability. Downtown Los Gatos (in the Edelen, Broadway, Fairview Plaza and Almond Grove areas, for instance) enjoys beautiful older homes and a "walk to town" proximity that makes these homes ultra-expensive on a per square foot basis.

Homes in Blossom Hill Manor (aka Blossom Manor or just "the Manor") are close to grocery stores, shops, prized Los Gatos schools, and Blossom Hill Park.

Head further away from the center of town in any direction and the school district changes. Moreland Schools (on the Campbell/Saratoga border) or Union Schools (on the Cambrian Park border) are good but will not command the same price tag as homes attached to Los Gatos High School. The same square footage may cost half as much in these areas as in downtown Los Gatos. I just did a quick peek on the mls between the two high school districts. In the last 3 months, the average home of 3 beds or more, 2 baths or more and 1500 - 2000 SF sold for an average of $479 per SF among homes with the Campbell Union HS District, but $640 among those with Los Gatos High School.

So it IS possible to live in Los Gatos and pay a premium, or to live in Los Gatos far more affordably. For information on specific Los Gatos neighborhoods, please see my Live in Los Gatos blog's "Neighborhoods" category:

Los Gatos Neighborhoods : http://www.realtown.com/LiveInLosGatos/blog/los-gatos-neighb…

More links elaborating why Los Gatans love to live here:

Los Gatos History: http://www.realtown.com/LiveInLosGatos/blog/los-gatos-history
Los Gatos Events: http://www.realtown.com/LiveInLosGatos/blog/los-gatos-events

Finally, link to posts related to homes for sale and the housing market in (and very near to) Los Gatos:
http://www.realtown.com/LiveInLosGatos/blog/los-gatos-homes
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 24, 2009
Hello Super and thanks for your question.

To understand how and why Los Gatos first started and then later catered to those in the upper eschelons, one needs to know the history of Los Gatos. Los Gatos was, for many years, the location of summer and weekend homes and ranches of the rich and wealthy that lived in San Francisco. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many San Franciscans would travel from their homes in the City, down the bay and land in--of all places--Alviso, California. They'd get off and travel to their "mountain homes" in Los Gatos. Remember the "flat lands" of Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara were--back then--farming communities and the rich and powerful bulit homes where it was expensive and infeasible to build, which was on mountains and steep hills. Some of the oldest homes in Los Gatos are over 100 years old and situated on mountain tops in what used to be the "country."

Later, wealthy San Franciscans moved to Los Gatos permanently as more industry moved southward along the bay. These first San Franciscans became the wealthy founders and first families of Los Gatos, and it is what attracted other individuals of wealth and power to the area. Many Los Gatos residents have family roots that reach back more than five generations in the same town, and I find that Los Gatans tend to be highly loyal of their town--much as denizens of Saratoga, Los Altos and Palo Alto prize and appreciate their "small town in the midst of a big city" feel with the quaint boutiques and antique stores.

Of course, now, the demography of the town--and buyers in general--is shifting. Homeowners today no longer prize the hilltop homes that once connoted status and power. In fact, living in the hills is considered more of a nuisance than of a prized and cherish dream. Elder Los Gatans are moving away to more densely populated towns with good and easily accessible medical care, so as I travel through Los Gatos now, it is definitely a vastly different place than it was in the 70s and the locals were largely older Caucasians.

Los Gatos will still have its loyal residents and remembering its history will help you understand its present. For more information about Los Gatos, and really fascinating stuff too, check out the Los Gatos historical musuem near downtown at the brige.

Sincerely,
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
San Jose, CA
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 22, 2009
I've tried to figure it out myself...having lived here a long time myself...went to LG high in 1959 but graduated from Saratoga High. Los Gatos was a much more happening place than-Saratoga as it is now. Look at Willow Glen prices, though...the schools there are not stellar but prices are high as well.
I love the small town feel of LG and proximity to the beach. The weather is UNBEATABLE and I say that as a world traveler. It's a physically beautiful place in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains....other towns are not so close to the hills. Where's the charm of Cupertino, for instance...and the prices there are higher.I'll take Los Gatos.....
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 22, 2009
Hello Supershick, here's a simple answer to your 5 headline questions ...
Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes !
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 22, 2009
Hi Superschick,

When you take a look at what makes a community work it is several factors. Yes Saratoga and Cupertino have better schools in regards to API scores, but LGHS is still amont the upper escalon as far as High schools go in Santa Clara Valley. Take a look at the downtown areas, Cupertino is more a bedroom community with multiple pocket areas for shopping and no real dwontown, Saratoga's Downtown is going thru a transition, Campbell and the Willow Glen areas have great downtowns like Los Gatos does, but not all their schools compare to Los Gatos's. Los Gatos is still a town with a small town feel, where the community as a whole is very supportive of the town and its activities,couple that with a low crime rate, wonderful location and you can see that when you look at the whole package Los Gatos is hard to beat.
Web Reference: http://www.mikemoresco.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 22, 2009
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