Let’s Connect
Find Mary on FacebookFollow Mary on TwitterRSS FeedFollow Mary on YouTube

Contact Mary
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

Thanksgiving Interfaith Services in Saratoga and Los Gatos 2014

November 19th, 2014

Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and there are interfaith services going on next week which welcome all.

In Los Gatos, the ecumenical service is Tuesday evening at 7:30pm at Congregation Shir Hadash. For more information, please see a post on my Los Gatos blog, Live in Los Gatos:
Los Gatos Thanksgiving Interfaith Service 2014.

In Saratoga, the interfaith service is Thursday morning at 10am at Church of the Ascension,12033 Miller Ave, Saratoga. There’s scant information listed about it online but it was mentioned in the Congregation Beth David site. (See article from 2012 with the various congregations and houses of worship listed: )


Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving! Hope to see you at one of these events!

Warm regards,

New real estate law in California in 2015: purchase price cannot be kept private any longer

November 19th, 2014

Sale price confidentialityEach fall, the Realtor community gets alerted by our Realtor associations about upcoming laws that take effect in the new year.  Recently the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors (SILVAR), of which I am a member, provided us with a list of upcoming changes in the law.

Perhaps the most striking one involves the secrecy of the sale price of real estate sold in California.  It used to be possible to withhold the sales price of a home not just on the multiple listing service (MLS) but on the county records as well.  This was done by putting the transfer tax amount on a separate document, not together with the recorded deed. (However, the truly determined could still learn the sales price via a California Public Records Act request.)  By doing a little math, it was possible to obtain the sale price via the amount of transfer tax paid.

No more.   The documentary transfer tax (DTT) must also be visible as of the new year because of the passage of Assembly Bill No. 1888 (“AB 1888″).  The California Association of Realtors supported this measure “because it increases accessible information about closed sales and transparency in public records.”

Santa Clara County Real Estate Market

November 18th, 2014

The Santa Clara County real estate statistics for Single Family Homes

 Read the full report for houses and duet homes in Santa Clara County here 

(NEW! You can also access the stats for San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties from here!)

Prices are up both month over month and year over year, and home sales are up a little too – some welcome relief for inventory starved home buyers!

Trends at a Glance

Santa Clara County Stats At A Glance for sales closed in October 2014


  • Median home prices increased by 12.9% year-over-year to $869,610 from $770,000.
  • The average home sales price rose by 14.1% year-over-year to $1,147,830 from $1,006,280.
  • Home sales fell by 2.1% year-over-year to 950 from 970.
  • Active listings fell 34.7% year-over-year to 1,675 from 2,566.
  • Sales price vs. list price ratio rose by 0.3% year-over-year to 103.0% from 102.7%.
  • The average days on market rose by 1.3% year-over-year to 28 from 28.

Compared To Last Month

  • Median home prices improved by 2.3% to $869,610 from $850,000.
  • The average home sales price rose by 4.0% to $1,147,830 from $1,104,120.
  • Home sales Up by 4.3% to 950 from 911.
  • Active listings dropped 23.2% to 1,675 from 2,180.
  • Sales price vs. list price ratio dropped by 0.4% to 103.0% from 103.4%.
  • The average days on market increased by 2.3% to 28 from 27.

Read the rest of this entry »

What do you want from your home inspections?

November 17th, 2014

Home Sweet HomeWhat is the purpose of a home inspection?  Many real estate professionals would say that it is to uncover defects.  While that is certainly true, I’d like to suggest that property inspections can be of much broader use than merely learning what’s wrong.  For new home owners, or soon to be home owners, it’s a great chance to learn about all the components of your house, condominium or townhome, and how to maintain it well going forward. 

Whether you are in escrow to purchase the property or you are a new home owner who purchased without inspections (or contingencies), it is wise to take a half day off from work so that you can be present for the inspections and learn about your home and how to maintain it for the long haul.  A good property inspector will not mind your accompanying him or her throughout the property and will explain to you what you’re seeing.  Many times, you will get helpful tips that will not make it into the written report, so bring along a notepad and pen.  You may hear your inspector say “this is fine now, but you’ll need to replace it in about 5 years” or “if you do such and such, this will last a lot longer”.  These are helpful things to know!  Your inspector may also reveal that some items are functioning now but should be watched carefully.  “Check the crawl space when it rains to see….” or “this is probably not an active leak, but no one has lived here for a year, so recheck this in 6 months” or…. you get the idea.

Home inspectors can only see what’s visible, and some bad conditions may be hidden.  In general, though, you want to have a qualified home inspector out every 7 years (and a pest inspector every 3-5) so that if your home is developing any problems, they can be caught and addressed while more manageable.


See also: How to prepare for a home inspection in Silicon Valley

The Monte Sereno Real Estate Market

November 16th, 2014

How is the Monte Sereno real estate market? Because the city is small, with just about 4000 residents, there usually are few homes listed for sale or selling, and with small numbers we can get seeming volatility.  Additionally, some of the properties carry hefty price tags, so reductions in those can really fiddle with the stats overall. Finally, while nearly all Monte Sereno properties are within the boundaries of the Los Gatos Union School District and the Los Gatos – Saratoga Joint Union High School District, a small handful has Campbell schools with the Campbell Union High School District.  Homes in the latter area will sell for a bit less, so sales there will pull the average and median sales price down a little and not give an accurate impression for most of the city’s real estate market.



Closed sales in Monte Sereno in May: prices down from previous month but up from last year

Here are the quick statistics for the closed sales in the last complete month to give a sense of how things are going. Sales data comes from my Monte Sereno Real Estate Report .   Given that the supply of homes to study is tiny, what can we tell from this data?   Read the rest of this entry »

Silicon Valley real estate bidding wars

November 15th, 2014

Return of the real estate bidding warsWhat is a real estate bidding war, and why has it been happening in Silicon Valley?

First, let’s explain what it is.   A bidding war is when multiple home buyers overbid a property that’s on the market and make increasingly stronger offers (improving price and terms) until one of them is accepted by the home owner and the bidding is over.  Sometimes home buyers get a counter offer, but return their response with even more than the seller requested.  At other times, they may not even wait for a counter offer – but up their contract’s purchase price or adjust the terms to make it more desirable to the seller.

Why does this happen?  It is a supply and demand issue.  When there’s not enough supply for the demand, buyers feel desperate – especially if they have offered on many homes and been rejected each time.  With multiple offers, prices get pushed up – and sometimes up and up while the sellers are still reviewing the contracts in front of them.  The process is accelerated (or exacerbated) when multiple offers also become bidding wars.

Digging deeper with bidding wars

When a lot of home buyers want the same property and write purchase offers for it, we have multiple offers.  In some markets, multiple offers come in at or under list price (I have seen this in cooler markets, though not for many years). But when the realty market is an overheated seller’s market, inventory is too low for the demand, prices rise with those multiple bids. Additionally, the terms get so aggressive that buyers often have few, if any, rights.  Remember, it’s always price AND terms – so things like cash versus a loan, larger downpayments, shorter or no contingencies, and things like free rent backs will also impact the outcome.  It is not only price! When the offer process escalates,  we have bidding wars.

How do bidding wars come about?

This can happen intentionally, as when home sellers knowingly under price the property to attract multiple buyers with the hope of bidding wars and the listing agent reveals to each one what has been offered so far to elicit higher & better offers, or it can happen unintentionally, when the owner and agent priced the home in line with the comps and the market, but there’s an unexpected avalanche of interest. (The latter has happened to me when I priced a listing to be exactly in line with the market, but got 20 offers and a lot of overbidding.)   Either way, the result is similar.  Buyers up their price and sweeten their terms to win the deal, and they keep trying until the home is under contract. Read the rest of this entry »

Willow Glen real estate market – San Jose 95125

November 14th, 2014

Willow Glen is perhaps the most charming residential area of the city of San Jose with its old style architecture, tree lined streets and quaint downtown area on Lincoln Avenue and nearby.  For folks working in downtown San Jose, the Willow Glen area (roughly the same as 95125 zip code, though a bit of 95124 is included also) is extremely convenient.  Values are up very substantially over last year, and up slightly from last month – somewhat atypical for the fall.

Click for the complete Willow Glen real estate report with all of the numbers, stats and trends from the closed sales of houses for last month.  Further down in this article you’ll find the Altos Research charts as well.

October Santa Clara County Market Statistics  (for comparison)


  • Median home prices increased by 19.4% year-over-year to $875,000 from $733,000.
  • The average home sales price rose by 23.1% year-over-year to $1,156,090 from $939,186.
  • Home sales fell by 20.9% year-over-year to 929 from 1,174.
  • Active listings fell 42.5% year-over-year to 1,708 from 2,970.
  • Sales price vs. list price ratio rose by 0.4% year-over-year to 103.1% from 102.7%.
  • The average days on market rose by 1.3% year-over-year to 28 from 28.

Compared To Last Month

  • Median home prices improved by 2.0% to $875,000 from $857,500.
  • The average home sales price rose by 4.2% to $1,156,090 from $1,108,960.
  • Home sales Up by 4.5% to 929 from 889.
  • Active listings dropped 13.7% to 1,708 from 1,978.
  • Sales price vs. list price ratio dropped by 0.4% to 103.1% from 103.5%.
  • The average days on market increased by 2.2% to 28 from 27.


The Willow Glen Condo market

And next, of Willow Glen condos:

Read the rest of this entry »