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Mary Pope-Handy
Realtor
ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at) PopeHandy.com
License# 01153805


Selling homes in
Silicon Valley
:
San Jose, Los Gatos,
Saratoga, Campbell,
Almaden Valley,
Cambrian Park and
Santa Clara County

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What’s most important to home sellers: highest price, fast close, all cash, no contingencies, pre-approved loan or what?

April 22nd, 2014

When home sellers receive multiple offers on their property, they get to prioritize what they want most. Is it all cash, the highest price, the fastest close of escrow, or no contingencies? This 45 second video of home sales in 2013 may surprise you!  (Per the California Association of Realtors – so apparently home sales in CA.) When writing your real estate contract, it’s good to keep this info in mind – too often, cash buyers in particular don’t appreciate that most sellers are after the #1 item listed in this quick video.

How do prices compare between Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino and Palo Alto?

April 20th, 2014

What does it cost to buy a home with really good schools in Silicon Valley? Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino and Palo Alto are all areas with highly regarding public schools.  These aren’t the only areas with good schools but they are popular “west valley” areas that people may consider if working for Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook or any number of high tech employers.

Los Gatos and Saratoga both have multiple school districts, running from good to very good or excellent.  The cost of housing tends to follow the popularity of the district, so for those areas I’m showing the breakdown not just for the whole town of Los Gatos but also by the high school district (Los Gatos-Saratoga or Campbell Union High School District).  Same with Saratoga.  (The Monte Sereno real estate market is very similar to Los Gatos, but slightly more expensive. Most of Monte Sereno has Los Gatos schools, but a small number of homes are in the Campbell area.)

Here are the average numbers for single family homes sold in the last 60 days ranging from 1500 – 2500 square feet, on a lot between 5000 and 10,000 SF, with 3-5 bedrooms and 2-3 bathrooms to give a sense of what it would cost to purchase a typical house in these areas.  Please note that right now it’s a strong seller’s market, so many (if not most or all) homes are selling for more than the list price.  DOM stands for days on the market.

Market info April 19 2014

If you are new to Santa Clara County, you may be wondering if this is correct.  The cost to buy a home in these areas is what?

  • Los Gatos: approximately $1,200,000 to $1,675,000 depending on the school district
  • Saratoga: approximately$1,500,000 to about $2,000,000 depending on the schools
  • Cupertino: approx $1,700,000 (some high schools will bring in higher prices and others lower)
  • Palo Alto: approx $2,700,000

Remember, these prices do not mean that the houses being sold are perfect.  Because it is a strong seller’s market, many properties are being sold which need new roofing, extensive pest work, remodeling, perhaps updating of electrical or plumbing systems or more.  Many home buyers will need to spend 1-2% on things like termite fumigation, dry rot or roof repairs, carpets, paint, windows and more, and usually this will be done before they move in.  So whatever the budget is, buffer it a little bit for both money and time to make it turnkey.

For people relocating to Silicon Valley from out of the San Jose or Peninsula area, this real estate market can be daunting.   There are other areas with good schools which are a bit further from most employment areas which can be an alternative, too.  They include the Cambrian 95124 and Almaden 95120 (especially the southern area with Bret Harte Middle School and Leland High School) areas within San Jose.

Finally, in some cases, it may be more affordable to make use of private schools, which are plentiful in the San Francisco Bay area.  In some situations it can be financially more affordable to buy outside of the highly competitive areas with the best schools and utilize the private school system.  Some of the private schools are religious, some secular, and some with a language focus (bilingual in French, German, Chinese, etc.).

Interested in purchasing a home in one of these fantastic communities?  Please call or email me!  408 204-7673  or mary (at) popehandy.com

One of the happiest places in the U.S.: the San Jose, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara metro area – Silicon Valley!

April 18th, 2014

State of American Well Being - San Jose - Sunnyvale - Santa Clara ranks 5th in U.S.MSN real estate tends to feature real estate news in bite-sized slide shares with images (and links for home buyers to search properties listed for sale on Realtor.com). A new study, more complicated and comprehensive than would normally be published for consumers to digest,was summarized there from Gallup and Healthways Well-Being Index, known as The American State of Well Being study, a poll of 178,000 people in 2013 across the country.  The distilled info is broken down by state, metro area or city and also by congressional district.  San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara (the metro area in Santa Clara County, what we would call Silicon Valley) came in quite strong!   MSN picked it up, condensed the info and provided a list displaying a sample of homes for sale in the  10 happiest cities in the U.S., which you can read online here.

Not surprisingly for residents of The Golden State, California landed three of the ten spots.  Cites or areas named as where people are the happiest ones in the United States are:

  1. Provo, Utah
  2. Boulder, Colorado
  3. Fort Collins, Colorado
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
  5. San Jose, California
  6. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  7. Naples, Florida
  8. San Luis Obispo, California
  9. San Francisco, California
  10. Lincoln, Nebraska

Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County and the San Jose area still are “The Valley of Heart’s Delight“, at least that’s how it seems when the locals are polled!

Because the San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara area is a “metro” area, it would seem to include these nearby towns and cities:  Los Altos, Palo Alto, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, Cupertino, Mountain View, Campbell, Los Altos Hills and other parts of Santa Clara County.  Congrats to the whole South Bay region!

To learn more about this study and its results, please click on the Gallup-Healthways link above.

Silicon Valley home prices, rental prices both rising rapidly

April 17th, 2014

Here are the headlines from the San Jose Mercury News in mid April 2014:

Home Prices to buy or rent going up April 15-16 2014

Rental article: Bay Area apartment rents set record 4/16/14

Excerpt:  Bay Area apartment rents are rising at nearly double-digit annual rates and have reached record levels, according to a report released Tuesday, prompting some analysts to warn that the region’s economic boom could be choked off by the relentless rise…..  Among the Bay Area’s three largest cities, San Jose had an average asking rent of $2,066 during this year’s January-March quarter, up 10.3 percent from the same period last year, RealFacts reported. Oakland had an average rental rate of $2,187, up 12.3 percent, while San Francisco posted an average of $3,057, up 9.5 percent.

Home buying article:   Bay Area home prices jump year over year

Excerpt:  March marked more than 20 consecutive months of year-over-year price gains for single-family homes in the East Bay, South Bay and Peninsula, according to real estate information service DataQuick, which released a report on March sales Wednesday…. The San Diego-based company said that prices were up 29.2 percent from the previous March in Alameda County to $575,000. In Contra Costa County, prices rose 22.8 percent to $425,000. Santa Clara County gained 20.3 percent to $800,000, and San Mateo County was up 13.2 percent to $860,000.

Whether you buy or rent, prices have been rising dramatically.  When factoring in what housing will cost, include the trajectory of appreciation per month.

Buying in a seller’s market? Do not expect a perfect house or condo!

April 16th, 2014

Buy less than you can affordIf you are purchasing a home in a seller’s real estate market, as is the case in the San Jose area today, you may be horrified to learn that the successful bidders are those who write contracts far above list price, include few or no contingencies for loan, appraisal, and inspection, and of course take the property in “As Is” condition.

Because inventory is about half of normal, home sellers can do very few repairs and will still garner multiple offers if the home looks good, is priced attractively and marketed well.  Often there’s fresh paint and new carpets, and frequently these properties are nicely staged too.  The pre-sale home inspections – which you should read carefully prior to submitting  your contract – for property, pest, roof, chimney etc. may reveal that work is needed, such as tenting or fumigating for drywood termites, repairs in bathrooms for dry rot, plumbing, heating or roofing at the end of their usable life.

Planning to purchase a Silicon Valley home soon? In this climate, home buyers absorb the costs to make the home move in ready in most cases.  How much does that cost?  As a rough estimate, set aside about 2% of the home’s value for repairs.  In some cases it will be less, and others more.  For instance, if you set your sights on a home with a pool but plan to remove and re-landscape it, you’ll want to budget in that cost as well.

Ideally, you will be purchasing below what you can truly afford or are qualified for.  Where problems happen the most is when buyers look to the top of their range, then have to bid higher still, and finally get stuck doing repairs as well.  Aim lower at the very beginning so that you are factoring in everything which will make up the true cost to purchase – count the overbids and repairs as part of your formula.  If you qualify for a $1 million purchase, try to look at homes priced closer to $800,000.  Often those houses are selling at 10-15% over list price (more in places like Cupertino, Palo Alto and less in areas such as Blossom Valley, Morgan Hill).  If you can comfortably use this strategy, you will not be as likely to get home buyer burnout or quite so stressed with the final outcome.

Photos of your furniture or wall will not make buyers want to purchase your home!

April 15th, 2014
Photograph things which stay with the home

Photograph things which stay with the home

Silicon Valley home buyers shop for their new house online first, and the most important element in their shopping (once price, size and location are considered) is the property condition.  That translates to this: photographs are extremely important!  After price, I would say that photos are the most important element of marketing a home for sale today.

In the past, I have ranted a little about agents who take or use poor quality photos, ones which are dark, blurry, involve clutter (such as cars in the driveway) etc.  Some listing agents are very sloppy, and their clients do not seem to notice, incredibly.  Even if the condominium is “distressed”, that doesn’t mean that the photos need to be!

Even when the images are clear and well illuminated, though, there’s a tendency of agents or home owners (who sometimes provide the photography) to include scenes which are pretty, but not relevant.

I’m talking about your piano, your bed against the wall, or that inviting leather chair and ottoman with a reading lamp in the corner.  None of these appealing pieces of furniture will stay with the house, and home buyers know it.  A wall is a wall…. And that means it’s not a helpful shot in terms of marketing your home.

Home buyers want to see the kitchen, the bathrooms, windows and doors. Closeups of tile work, leaded glass windows or an amazing front door work well, because these items all stay. They would like to get a sense of every major room and area in the house – but not your decor!  If the focus of the photo is on your sleigh bed or giant hutch against a long wall in the dining room, the mark is missed.

Most professional photographers will show how a room is used, so a dining room shot will include the furniture.  But the image will usually show more than furniture and walls – it will normally also display the light fixture, the flooring, doors or windows – all of which stay.

Saratoga, CA, Real Estate Market Update

April 14th, 2014

How’s the Saratoga California real estate market?

As always, “the market” is really several micro markets even within the same geographical area.  Let’s start with the broad view of how the real estate market is for the single family home (houses and duet homes) market as opposed to the condo & townhouse market in the same city.  So first, let’s look at the a graph displaying the overview of the median list prices for condominiums and single family homes in Saratoga – all price quartiles combined.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

The single family home prices are rising, while condo prices are falling.  Here we see two very different markets at work.  Oversimplified, it appears good for one market, bad for the other. Now let’s dig deeper and see.

Here are the real estate sales statistics for closed sales last month among houses in the 95070 zip code (click on link to read the full Saratoga Real Estate Report for houses):

TRENDS AT A GLANCE MAR 2014 PREVIOUS MONTH YEAR-OVER YEAR
Median Home Price +3.9% $2,035,000 $1,959,000 +27.2% $1,600,000
Average Sales Price -13.0% $1,995,300 $2,294,000 +20.4% $1,657,650
No. of Homes Sold +68.8% 27 16 0.0% 27
Pending Properties +38.1% 29 21 -32.6% 43
Foreclosures Sold N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Short Sales Sold -100.0% 0 1 N/A 0
Active Listings +13.0% 61 54 +3.4% 59
Active Foreclosures -100.0% 0 1 -100.0% 3
Active Short Sales N/A 0 0 -100.0% 2
Sales Price vs. List Price +2.6% 106.1% 103.4% +1.3% 104.7%
Average Days on Market -36.8% 27 43 -2.1% 28

Year over year, housing prices have risen considerably, and even month over month, prices are rising in Saratoga. Read the rest of this entry »

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