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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

Saratoga California neighborhood map

July 22nd, 2014

Saratoga California neighborhoodsSaratoga, California, is home to some stunning neighborhoods and subdivisions and is one of the most sought after areas in Silicon Valley.

Within this pretty city, have you ever wondered what neighborhood is where?  Perhaps you’ve heard of Saratoga Oaks, The Golden Triangle, Prides Crossing or The Platinum Triangle and had no idea where they were.   While there is some disagreement on select boundaries, the general areas can be identified fairly easily.  The tricky thing is that some of the boundaries are “messy” and at times,  that there’s more than a little overlap!

Today I created a Google map where I hand drew in most of the residential areas’ approximate borders in Saratoga.  I hope that you find it helpful! Click on the map image to the right or use this link to see the live map on Google with a key (you will be able to click on an area and see the neighborhood name, and in some cases, a little local information on it too).

Interested in the Saratoga real estate market statistics?  See the most current data here:

Read the rest of this entry »

Silicon Valley homeowner associations: they’re not all alike

July 18th, 2014

Read the HOA documentsWhat do you think about living in a neighborhood with an HOA, a homeowner’s association?  For many, living within an HOA means a nice, tidy community.  For others, it’s like signing up for Big Brother telling you way too much about what you can and cannot do.

HOAs in the San Jose area vary tremendously in what they can and cannot do, and also in the types of rules which are enforced.

In Silver Creek, in the Evergreen area of San Jose, you can look around and see a vast collection of stuccoed houses with tiled roofing.  So it would not surprise you if your roof needed to be tile there.

At Shadowbrook in the Almaden area of San Jose, houses are much older and were put up in about 1970, so you would expect more diversity, not so “cookie cutter”.  But take a look at the Shadowbrook architectural control policies and it appears that houses in that area must get approval before re-roofing.  A new wood shake roof will be automatically accepted (surprising, given the movement away from wood shake!).  A high end composition shingle roof will be allowed, but lower weight will not.  No mention of the metal roofs which are made to look like shingles, tiled roofs or any other types (foam, flat etc.). So your choices are limited by the HOA.  Is that good or bad?  That depends on what you want.

In some HOAs, you may not wash your car in the neighborhood at all. Want it clean? Take it to a car wash.  In some, you can only have your garage door open when moving your automobile in or out of the garage.  Many have rules about curtains that show on the front side of the home.

Do not assume that all HOAs are equally lax or stringent.  Be especially careful where pets are concerned!  Many tears are shed over this issue.  Buyers or tenants move in only to find out that their beloved pet is not welcome.

Boring as it may seem, the only way to know whether you will find any HOA regulations tolerable is to read them.  Buying or even leasing a home is a big decision and commitment.  Do not be rushed in making your decision about a condo, townhouse, duet home, house or any real estate at all with a Homeowner Association.   Get all of the information – all several hundred pages of it – and put the time in to read, read, read.  You’ll be glad you did.

Related reading

Why are those Silicon Valley HOA dues so high?

Does your HOA have enough in reserves?

Understand the Pros and Cons of Homeowners Associations in Silicon Valley

Buying a Silicon Valley condo? A few questions to ask!

Saratoga, CA, Real Estate Market Update

July 17th, 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.  The market for single family homes has been in a fairly stable band for awhile, but is lower overall.  Does this mean that any particular house has lost value?  Not necessarily.  This represents homes for sale – and it may mean only that the more affordable properties are on the market (perhaps more in the Campbell Union High School District or simply “entry level” houses generally).  Ditto that for the rising median list price of condos.  It could indicate rising home values, or it could point to more expensive townhouses getting listed.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

Let’s now focus in on the data for single family homes in Saratoga, and see if we can get a clearer picture of what’s happening with the Saratoga, CA real estate market.

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

Median Home Price +5.2% $2,152,000 $2,045,500 +16.1% $1,854,000
Average Sales Price +5.4% $2,386,850 $2,265,270 +20.5% $1,980,220
No. of Homes Sold +16.7% 35 30 +9.4% 32
Pending Properties -19.4% 25 31 -37.5% 40
Foreclosures Sold N/A 1 0 N/A 0
Short Sales Sold N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Active Listings -1.6% 60 61 -17.8% 73
Active Foreclosures N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Active Short Sales N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Sales Price vs. List Price -0.8% 105.0% 105.9% +3.9% 101.1%
Average Days on Market -11.1% 23 26 -25.0% 30

It looks like prices are rising in Saratoga, both month over month and year over year. Read the rest of this entry »

Selling a home in one of San Jose’s Almaden Valley neighborhoods? Understand home buyer concerns in 95120

July 16th, 2014

Selling a home in San Jose's Almaden ValleyDo you want to sell your Almaden Valley home? This lovely corner of San Jose has become increasingly popular in recent years.

To maximize the marketing and sale of your property, it is very helpful to understand the motivation of people who are house-hunting in San Jose, 95120, and also to understand their concerns.

The positive aspects of living in Almaden are abundant. Many Silicon Valley home buyers to find the right balance of good schools, scenic neighborhoods, well kept homes, real estate pricing, and open space & trails in this southwestern part of San Jose.  Browse listings of San Jose 95120 homes for sale here (link to a page on this blog).

The concerns vary from one buyer to the next, but may include the following (many related to schools):

  • commute distance (especially in the southern part of the valley)
  • mercury in the soil from the Almaden and Guadalupe quicksilver mines
  • proximity of high voltage power lines in the more northern part of the area
  • the lower scores at Castillero Middle School (as compared to the elmentary schools which are feeders to it) or Pioneer High School
  • school boundaries between the Pioneer and Leland area – will they move as more development takes place in southern Almaden Valley?
  • For the part of Almaden with Los Gatos schools, will the drive be too far, and will there be enough kids in the neighborhood in those same schools?
  • For the neighborhoods in the Campbell Union High School District, will Leigh High remain an option into the future or will Branham become mandatory at some point?
  • Most of Almaden is in the San Jose Unified School District , which had mandatory busing in the past, and not so long ago – will it happen in the future?
  • for some, that there could be too much pressure at the highest scoring Almaden public schools
  • fire danger near the hills
  • wildlife near creeks it may attract (and in other cases, fears around mercury coming to their property in the stream or with the rains)
  • near creeks: wildlife attracted by the water as well as mercury coming down from the hills (one buyer worried about eating vegetables or fruits grown on land near creeks)

And we haven’t yet broached the issues around purchasing older homes, which is what most of the listing inventory is! Read the rest of this entry »

Los Gatos Real Estate Market Trends and Statistics

July 15th, 2014

The Los Gatos real estate market is varied from one price point or school district to the next, but over all, this is a stable period with some appreciation and in many cases, a warm seller’s market (as the sale price to list price ratio indicates).   Here are the current numbers, per my Los Gatos real estate report (click on the link for full information).  The sale price to list price ratio actually rose, and that implies that no value is slipping.


Median Home Price +3.0% $1,580,500 $1,535,000 +10.7% $1,427,500
Average Sales Price -6.2% $1,731,320 $1,846,640 +8.0% $1,602,470
No. of Homes Sold +28.6% 54 42 +3.8% 52
Pending Properties -50.8% 29 59 -31.0% 42
Foreclosures Sold -100.0% 0 1 -100.0% 1
Short Sales Sold N/A 0 0 N/A 0
Active Listings 0.0% 58 58 -37.0% 92
Active Foreclosures 0.0% 2 2 N/A 0
Active Short Sales N/A 0 0 -100.0% 2
Sales Price vs. List Price -2.2% 101.3% 103.6% -0.2% 101.6%
Average Days on Market -3.6% 28 29 -20.9% 35
Please continue reading for info on the LG condo market, and for real estate market information for Monte Sereno and the Los Gatos Mountains too. Read the rest of this entry »

Colorful flowers help to beautifully stage the front yard for better curb appeal

July 14th, 2014

Colorful flowersMost home owners know that staging a home will help to improve the selling price and give a good “bang for the buck” or return. This is even more true for staging the front yard, because usually the first impression comes online with the view of the front of the house. If the photos on the MLS (multiple listing service) and portals such as, Zillow and Trulia do not display a welcoming and appealing exterior from the street, many visitors to those sites often will not bother to check the inside of the house.   (When we real estate agents do virtual tours of our listings with TourFactory, that site sends us traffic reports weekly.  The front image always has the largest amount of traffic by far.)

Anyone living in the Los Gatos, San Jose or Silicon Valley area for the last decade knows that we get droughts – and we’re in a serious one now.  Many lawns look less than green.  What can you do to make the front look desirable when everything is so parched?  Here are a few tips:

  • use automatic sprinklers and set them to go at 4 or 5am, when the watering will do the most good
  • tidy the front yard: coil up hoses, dust or paint the front, sweep the porch and walkways, repair any lifted concrete which could be a tripping hazard, remove any non-essentials from view such as watering cans, toys, projects “to do”
  • consider painting the front door something colorful such as blue or red – talk to your stager about the color choice first!
  • possibly add mulch or tanbark in the planter areas (they will help to keep the moisture in when you water your plants)
  • trim back hedges which are covering any of the windows so that they are below them
  • if you have palm trees, consider trimming the dead “skirt” for a cleaner look
  • if there’s a porch, create a seating arrangement using chairs and a table
  • put colorful flowers near the front door, either along the walkway or in pots near the door (just remember that potted flowers will need frequent watering, so they are not a good choice for vacant property) – if you have enough lead time, plant bushes which flower but are not too “thirsty” – talk with someone at the garden store or research which plants will thrive in your home’s particular micro-climate and which will not require much watering

Get more tips on staging the home and making it look its best in photos here:
Selling Your Silicon Valley Home? Photo Tips for Better Marketing


Almaden Valley Real Estate Market Conditions

July 10th, 2014

The Almaden Valley real estate market is in a period of mild appreciation for most segments (areas, price points) but overall, it has leveled out compared to a few months ago.  Good houses, with the best schools, are still selling quickly and usually with multiple offers and the overbids.  It is not unusual for houses to sell $100,000 over list price if they sell within a couple of weeks.  If you are uncomfortable with few contingencies, overbidding etc., then try to purchase a property which has been on the market for awhile.  Chances are better that your offer will be the only one, and the sale will be more “balanced”.

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 +3.4% $1,230,000 $1,189,000 +21.6% $1,011,500
Average Sales Price +4.2% $1,262,600 $1,211,960 +9.8% $1,150,350
No. of Homes Sold -4.4% 43 45 -14.0% 50
Pending Properties -33.3% 30 45 -37.5% 48
Foreclosures Sold N/A 0 0 N/A 0
Short Sales Sold N/A 0 0 N/A 0
Active Listings -6.8% 41 44 -41.4% 70
Active Foreclosures 0.0% 1 1 0.0% 1
Active Short Sales N/A 0 0 -100.0% 7
Sales Price vs. List Price +1.9% 106.6% 104.6% +2.5% 104.0%
Average Days on Market -0.2% 14 14 -20.7% 18

The month prior:
Read the rest of this entry »