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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
San Jose, Los Gatos,
Saratoga, Campbell,
Almaden Valley,
Cambrian Park and
Santa Clara County

Real Estate Search

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

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):

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 »

What does “et ux” mean in the preliminary title report?

April 13th, 2014

Et uxOne day you find yourself reading a preliminary title report or other document, such as a deed, relating to a house or other property that you want to buy or sell.  You are understanding most everything and feeling fine until suddenly “et ux” shows up after a name, like George Jone et ux.  What is that, Greek, Latin, ancient English?  A typo, maybe? And what is it doing in your real estate related paperwork?

As it turns out, I did study Latin at Saratoga High School back in the 70s, and I even remember some of it.

Et ux is short for “Et uxor”, or “and wife”.

Today we would normally see people named “Joe Schmoe and Mary Smith Schmoe”, or some other variation with both names provided rather than “Joe Schmoe and wife” (a name plus a role).

Does it ever go the other way?  Not so much, but if you want to turn the tables, the phrase is “et vir” for “and husband”.

Almaden Valley Real Estate Market Conditions

April 12th, 2014

The Almaden Valley real estate market has a very low inventory but sales have picked up speed and that market, which had been a little soft until a few months ago (compared to places like Cupertino).

Another thing, in addition to the low inventory, which can swing the pricing is when homes are selling primarily in one school area (such as Leland) as opposed to another (such as Pioneer).  The best approach is to compare apples to apples, meaning homes in the same part of Almaden – this particular report takes the zip code as a whole (meaning houses that go to Leland, Pioneer, Los Gatos High or Leigh / Branham) rather than just those areas which are in the attendance area of one or another.  So please take the jumpiness of these last couple of months with a big grain of salt.

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):

Median Home Price +20.3% $1,202,500 $1,000,000 +11.9% $1,075,000
Average Sales Price +18.8% $1,245,760 $1,048,940 +5.6% $1,179,510
No. of Homes Sold +162.5% 42 16 +20.0% 35
Pending Properties +10.5% 42 38 -30.0% 60
Foreclosures Sold 0.0% 1 1 0.0% 1
Short Sales Sold N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Active Listings +6.3% 34 32 -33.3% 51
Active Foreclosures N/A 1 0 0.0% 1
Active Short Sales -100.0% 0 1 -100.0% 9
Sales Price vs. List Price -1.4% 103.6% 105.1% +3.0% 100.6%
Average Days on Market -3.2% 15 15 -57.0% 35

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 April 4, 2014
Median List Price:$1,138,534Average List Price:$1,332,522
Total Inventory:38Price per Square Foot:$483
Average Home Size:2,396Median Lot Size:9,062
Average # Beds:3.83Average # Baths:3.22
Homes Absorbed:6Newly Listed:9
Days on Market:45Average Age:12

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

What styles of homes are popular in Santa Clara County today?

April 11th, 2014

What's your home's style>While most of Santa Clara County (and Silicon Valley too) is filled with ranch style homes, there’s more to the South Bay than the typical rambler. Some areas, such as Los Gatos, Willow Glen, and Palo Alto, seem to be a magnet for diverse types of architecture. Our local multiple listing service,, includes the following categories for these varied types of homes.  It’s not a perfect list, of course, as several of them have a few sub types (think Spanish and Victorian especially).  Perhaps rather than Eichler, which is a prominently known mid-century modern home, the category should have been the broader mid-century modern, since there are many which are similar but cannot be attributed to Eichler in particular.  In any event, here’s the list:

Cape Cod
Country English
Modern/High Tech

Today I was wondering which of these types is “in style”, making them sell faster?   Read the rest of this entry »

Campbell Real Estate Market

April 10th, 2014

How is the Campbell real estate market? The numbers are up about 10% from both last month and last year – so good and steady growth. Days on market are down to under 2 weeks. Sale price to list price ratio surged to over 107% – great for sellers, but a nightmare for buyers.

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

Median Home Price +8.9% $872,000 $800,500 +9.0% $800,000
Average Sales Price +10.6% $926,850 $838,130 +15.4% $803,157
No. of Homes Sold +66.7% 30 18 +3.4% 29
Pending Properties -19.4% 25 31 -21.9% 32
Foreclosures Sold N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Short Sales Sold -100.0% 0 1 -100.0% 1
Active Listings 0.0% 21 21 -41.7% 36
Active Foreclosures N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Active Short Sales -100.0% 0 1 -100.0% 7
Sales Price vs. List Price +3.6% 107.3% 103.5% +3.0% 104.1%
Average Days on Market -53.9% 13 28 -37.2% 21

What about the Campbell CA condo market?   Read the rest of this entry »

How to avoid home buyer burnout

April 9th, 2014

home buyer burnoutIn strong seller’s real estate markets, home buyers are faced with enormous challenges to become the winning bid due to multiple offer situations, rapidly rising prices, appraisal challenges or financing difficulties.  Even in a balanced market, many interested home buyers in Silicon Valley do not purchase property within a year of beginning, and some elect to be permanent renters.  My best estimate is that half of those who want to buy a home do not do it within 12-18 months.

Why do able home buyers not buy?  Here are a few things which can be the cause:

  • they get priced out of the market
  • they realize that they cannot easily buy with FHA or VA financing and don’t want to put more down (even if possible)
  • they are too uncomfortable with the terms required to purchase (as is or perhaps few or no contingencies)
  • they get discouraged and they get burned out

Today we’ll address burnout and home buying, and what can be done to mitigate or avoid it.

Read the rest of this entry »

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