Silicon Valley home sellers: are your disclosures as complete as they should be?

Questions that the disclosures raiseWhen in doubt, disclose” is the advice that real estate and legal professionals use as a guiding principal in home sales.  And yet many sellers forget or miss things that should be told to the buyer, and some listing agents are a bit sloppy in reviewing their clients’ disclosure paperwork.  It is not uncommon to see questions unanswered or only partially answered.  The home owner may presume that if the disclosure paperwork was done wrong, the Realtor hired to help market and sell the home will catch it.  Would that it were so, but too often, that is not the case.

To avoid problems later, whether small or big, it is best to be thorough and careful while making your disclosure.

Small problems are created by seller (and listing broker) omissions when the paperwork gets kicked back for clarification or to complete the needed response.  Bigger problems are forged when a sale is nearly closed and a new disclosure is made – introducing a brand new 3 day “right of rescission” for the home buyer.  Worse yet is something substantial which is only brought to light after the close of escrow.  At that point, it’s not an inconvenience, it risks being costly and time consuming to resolve it.

The State of California requires that the Transfer Disclosure Statement or TDS be filled out in most realty transactions.  The intention of the form is to help you, the property owner, to disclose anything materially impacting value or desirability.  That’s a tall order to fill, so other forms have been created to supplement the TDS, which has pretty much become Step #1 for disclosing defects and other issues to buyers.

What kind of things are often skipped in the real estate disclosure paperwork?

On the TDS, a very common error involves the question as to whether Continue reading

Campbell Real Estate Market

How is the Campbell real estate market?How is the Campbell real estate market? The numbers are up from last year and down slightly from the month before. But what do those numbers mean? While prices are down and listings are up, which might indicate a calming, the sales vs list price remains well above 100% and the average days on market remains under a month. This indicates that Campbell is still in a strong seller’s market.

Further down in this article, we’ll utilize the graphs from Altos Research, which uses list prices, and check out the trends in pricing by quartile in this zip code (meaning 4 groups based on the pricing tier from least to most expensive).  Campbell condominiums and townhomes will be considered as well. And finally, a list of homes for sale in Campbell will be found at the bottom of the post.

First, here are some quick stats, care of my RE Report for Campbell:

What about the Campbell CA condo market?

Continue reading

Almaden Valley Real Estate Market Conditions

The Almaden Valley real estate market is up substantially both month over month and year over year. Although inventory was rising slowly, there has been a decline as we come nearer the end of summer. There must be either a lot more inventory, or significantly less demand, before we see anything close to a balanced market.

Please find the current statistics for single family homes (houses & duet homes) from my Almaden Valley real estate report (click on link for more info):

Almaden Valley San Jose 95120 Statistics At A Glance


  • Median home prices increased by 17.1% year-over-year to $1,405,000 from $1,200,000.
  • The average home sales price rose by 1.7% year-over-year to $1,369,480 from $1,346,040.
  • Home sales rose by 54.5% year-over-year to 34 from 22.
  • Active listings fell 0.0% year-over-year to 55 from 55.
  • Sales price vs. list price ratio rose by 0.9% year-over-year to 103.8% from 102.8%.
  • The average days on market fell by 20.1% year-over-year to 21 from 26.

Compared To Last Month

  • Median home prices improved by 12.4% to $1,405,000 from $1,250,000.
  • The average home sales price rose by 7.6% to $1,369,480 from $1,273,090.
  • Home sales down by 2.9% to 34 from 35.
  • Active listings dropped 15.4% to 55 from 65.
  • Sales price vs. list price ratio increased by 2.4% to 103.8% from 101.3%.
  • The average days on market dropped by 12.5% to 21 from 24.

Prices are very high for Almaden now, and the best homes are often seeing 5-10 offers, which is the cause.

Altos Research charts for houses in Almaden (San Jose 95120)

Please note that Altos Research uses list prices, not sold prices.

An overview:

90-day stats for Single Family properties in
SAN JOSE, CA 95120 as of October 2, 2015
Median List Price:$1,379,983Average List Price:$1,690,967
Total Inventory:54Price per Square Foot:$572
Average Home Size:2,457Median Lot Size:12,221
Average # Beds:4.04Average # Baths:3.18
Homes Absorbed:8Newly Listed:7
Days on Market:78Average Age:42

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

Continue reading

How much rehabbing of a listing can a Realtor do?

Licensed contractor neededHome sellers appreciate it when their Realtor takes some of the workload off of their shoulders.  In some places, we are seeing real estate licensees overstepping their professional boundaries, though, and acting as if they are general contractors and overseeing the complete rehabilitation of properties before they go on the market.  Unless those agents are also licensed contractors, they likely are acting illegally, though.

A few years ago, I had a listing appointment in Milpitas with a home owner who felt that my job, as a seller’s agent, would be to get the home ready for market. “I work full time, I cannot supervise all these people coming in to fix up my house,” she said.  I explained to her that I am not a licensed contractor and it would be illegal for me to take responsibility over the plumbers, electricians, and the rest of the trades.  She truly believed that these functions were part of a real estate agent’s job and nothing I said could convince her otherwise, so I told her that I could not work with her in the sale of her home.  Where did her expectation come from?  Most likely, she’d heard stories of other people selling their homes and having the listing agents do the lion’s share of organizing and supervising the fixup-to-sell jobs.

When is a contractor’s license needed?  It’s simple.  Here is a quote from the California State Contractors Licensing Board:

“In California, anyone who contracts to perform work on a project that is valued at $500 or more for combined labor and materials costs must hold a current, valid license from CSLB.”

When in doubt, check with the Contractors State License Board!

What can the Realtor do legally to assist a home owner in preparing a property to sell?

As a listing agent who is not a licensed contractor, I can Continue reading

The Cambrian Park Real Estate Market Update

Bel Estos Drive near Carlton and Rosswood in San Jose's Cambrian areaMy Cambrian area of San Jose Real Estate Report was recently published with the updated numbers from the closed sales last month for this part of San Jose (95124 and 95118 with a little of 95008 too).  Please click on the link above to see much more information there.

In this district of San Jose, we are experiencing dreadfully low inventory of homes for sale.  Buyers aren’t backing off as much as usual for this time of year – I believe because there is just a whole lot of pent up demand from nearly two years of a deep seller’s market. Year over year stats tells us sales are up.  What does that mean?  Sellers, if you have a problem home, or one not updated or well maintained, this is the time to sell it – buyers have little to choose from so are purchasing properties that need more work than they would bother with in a more balanced market.

Be sure to read to the end to see the live Altos charts too – they are near the end of the article so please keep reading into the next page!

Cambrian area sales at a glance:


  • Median home prices increased by 10.8% year-over-year to $925,000 from $835,000.
  • The average home sales price rose by 12.9% year-over-year to $973,714 from $862,175.
  • Home sales rose by 1.8% year-over-year to 57 from 56.
  • Active listings fell 13.7% year-over-year to 101 from 117.
  • Sales price vs. list price ratio rose by 1.8% year-over-year to 104.8% from 103.0%.
  • The average days on market fell by 15.3% year-over-year to 18 from 21.

Compared To Last Month

  • Median home prices slipped by 2.6% to $925,000 from $950,000.
  • The average home sales price fell by 4% to $973,714 from $1,014,300.
  • Home sales down by 14.9% to 57 from 67.
  • Active listings increased 7.4% to 101 from 94.
  • Sales price vs. list price ratio dropped by 2.1% to 104.8% from 107.0%.
  • The average days on market increased by 13.4% to 18 from 16.

Generally speaking it is still a hot seller’s market and great time to sell a Cambrian home.  We were expecting a breather, but aren’t getting it – particularly in the areas with Union and Cambrian Schools.

 Please see the whole Cambrian Real Estate Report for charts, stats and more.

The condo and townhouse real estate market for San Jose 95124 & 95118

Here comes the rain, and toadstools too! What to do?

ToadstoolsLawn mushrooms are the bane of gardeners everywhere; we usually refer to these unwanted pests as toadstools.  Toadstools are really the same thing as mushrooms but are often not edible and are poisonous – so we think of toadstools as bad but mushrooms as food.  These members of the fungus family pop up when we get a little moisture, so they are a common sight once a little rain appears, as it just did last week.   They are not harmful if left alone, but people with pets and children may be concerned about these unwanted visitors being ingested, causing sickness or death – so for that reason, it may be advisable to rid your yard of them.

These fungi thrive on decomposing plant matter, whether it’s old roots, sawdust, animal droppings, or a fallen log. Some of the suggested treatments involve getting rid of what they are feeding on. (Remove scat or pet poop.) If that’s not practical, for instance if there’s loads of sawdust under your lawn, neutralizing it with soapy water after aerating the area or apply nitrogen fertilizer or something similar to help.

Do wear gloves when handling them directly Do rake or mow the toadstools to remove them.  Want more info?  Here are a few articles to help:

Mushrooms and Other Nuisance Fungi in Lawns (University of California)

Phishing Attacks Regarding Escrow Wiring Instructions

CautionThere’s a new danger in Silicon Valley home buying: phishing emails with bad instructions on where to wire in funds for escrow.  Home buyers now usually wire in their initial or good faith deposit and also normally wire in the balance of the downpayment a few days prior to the close of escrow.  Bringing in the funds by a cashier’s check is also an option.

Somehow, the bad guys have at times gotten ahold of sensitive information and have sent fraudulant wiring instructions to home buyers.  Similarly, wire fraud has been attempted and directed at real estate professionals.

Please be very careful with all email, but especially anything involving money.  Do not click on attachments if you are not positive who’s sent it to you.  Sometimes the sender’s email address looks almost right but a closer view will reveal it’s not – mouse over it and double check!   Before wiring funds to title, CALL the branch and ask the escrow officer or assistant for specific wire instructions.  Keep them, as you will need them again at the end of the transaction.

Exercize caution with your paperwork and shred sensitive items when you no longer need them.

When in doubt about the authenticity or safety of something, call the title company (the number on the preliminary title report, not a number in an email) and double check everything.  And remember, you can always get a cashier’s check from your banking institution and walk it in.

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Mary Pope-Handy

Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at)
License# 01153805

Selling homes in
Silicon Valley:
Santa Clara County,
San Mateo County, and
Santa Cruz County.
Special focus on:
San Jose, Los Gatos,
Saratoga, Campbell,
Almaden Valley,
Cambrian Park.

Mary’s Other Sites

ValleyOfHeartsDelight website
Santa Clara County Real Estate,
and a focus on the past (in process)
Silicon Valley relocation info
Silicon Valley real estate,
focus on home selling

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