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

Nanny cams and Silicon Valley real estate listings & showings

September 15th, 2014

We’ve all heard of “nanny cams” and realize that many homes with babies are equipped with them.  But what about homes for sale in Silicon Valley?  Do many of our local San Jose area listings have nanny cams?  And if so, are they recording audio as well as video?

Today I saw the video below, which is from a real estate attorney in the state of Washington.  Our rules may be different but the prevalence of the nanny cam is something to be considered.  Have a look and listen:

I like her idea that questions and comments should be held until away from the property.  That cannot hurt and may help your position should you elect to present an offer on that property later.

The Cambrian Park Real Estate Market Update

September 11th, 2014

My 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 Cambrian, we are seeing mild seasonal cooling taking place with slight month over month numbers – in many segments, it’s flat, and in others a mild increase or decrease in pricing – but still very decent year over year appreciation.  Low inventory continues to make things difficult for home buyers. (Be sure to read to the end to see the live Altos charts too.)

Sales have been low because inventory’s been low – but you can see a slight uptick in the chart below.

Cambrian Stats At A Glance


  • Median home prices increased by 12.1% year-over-year to $835,000 from $745,000.
  • The average home sales price rose by 16.3% year-over-year to $874,054 from $751,658.
  • Home sales fell by 39% year-over-year to 64 from 105.
  • Active listings fell 49.3% year-over-year to 75 from 148.
  • Sales price vs. list price ratio rose by 1.3% year-over-year to 104.5% from 103.1%.
  • The average days on market fell by 24.2% year-over-year to 17 from 22.

Compared To Last Month

  • Median home prices improved by 3.7% to $835,000 from $805,000.
  • The average home sales price rose by 3.8% to $874,054 from $841,678.
  • Home sales Down by 7.2% to 64 from 69.
  • Active listings dropped 17.6% to 75 from 91.
  • Sales price vs. list price ratio dropped by 0.8% to 104.5% from 105.3%.
  • The average days on market dropped by 3% to 17 from 18.

Here  is the chart version of the data:

Median Home Price +3.7% $835,000 $805,000 +12.1% $745,000
Average Sales Price +3.8% $874,054 $841,678 +16.3% $751,658
No. of Homes Sold -7.2% 64 69 -39.0% 105
Pending Properties -9.1% 30 33 -45.5% 55
Foreclosures Sold N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Short Sales Sold N/A 0 0 -100.0% 5
Active Listings -22.4% 45 58 -51.6% 93
Active Foreclosures N/A 1 0 -66.7% 3
Active Short Sales N/A 0 0 -100.0% 6
Sales Price vs. List Price -0.8% 104.5% 105.3% +1.3% 103.1%
Average Days on Market -3.0% 17 18 -24.2% 22

Read the rest of this entry »

The small things that better real estate agents do that can save or make you money

September 10th, 2014

Best ValueIf you’ve ever looked at my online profile or resume, you’ll know that I’m a sponge for real estate education and that I take a lot of classes and attend a lot of seminars to improve my knowledge and skills.  Yesterday there was a Realtor panel in Los Gatos of top producing agents talking about building their teams, best business practices etc.    There was some good info from all panelists but one Realtor shared a story that I thought was worth conveying here. That real estate agent was telling a story about a Silicon Valley listing that gleaned multiple offers.

The property, located I think in San Jose, was offered at about $500,000.  It was a multiple offer situation and a number of the agents from various brokerages were coming in with contracts for their buyers.  All but one phoned ahead to get a feel for the number of the offers and where the market was.  Offers came in on that $500k listing within a fairly tight band of pricing of $506,000 – $509,000 from the agents who’d taken the time to “check in” with the listing agent.  But one agent, with a discount brokerage which was rebating part of the commission back to the buyer, did not call.  That real estate licensee just sent over an offer for $525,000. That’s right.  The buyer paid $16,000 more than the next best offer.  But hey, those buyers got a rebate of 1 or 2 percent!

Let’s do the math…. Let’s say that they got 1.5% of the 2.5% buyer’s agent commission back.  That translates to $7875 in savings.  But did they really “save” anything?  Not when you consider that their real estate agent didn’t phone the listing agent, didn’t get a feel for where the prices might go, and instead sailed in with far more than was needed to seal the deal. Sure, they “saved” but guess what, they paid way more than they had to in the first part.  So the net proceeds was a loss of far more than they gained.

I have had similar experiences myself when listing homes across Santa Clara County.  The better agents tend to save their clients money.  It’s not just one step in the process where it can happen.  There are many opportunities for doing the right thing, which takes a bit more effort, and taking a shortcut.  As a home buyer, how will you know if your agent is making every effort or not?  Guess what: you won’t.  That’s why you want to hire on reputation or at least a sense of excellence rather than a discount. My husband used to say that in high tech, a lot of managers focus on what is easily measurable.  Rebates can be like that: they are easily measurable.  What is harder to know is what skills, effort, reputation, and good will are worth.  In the case study above, the buyer or buyers were focused on a rebate.  Sure, they got that. But did they have the best representation?  They will never know how much they left on the table.  A better agent would have made a better effort – and saved them money.  But hey, they got the rebate!

Almaden Valley Real Estate Market Conditions

September 7th, 2014

The Almaden Valley real estate market is in a period of leveling off and slight softening for most segments (areas, price points). Overall, it has calmed down a lot compared to a few months ago.  Good houses, with the best schools, in good shape* 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”.

*Some sellers believe that they do not need to make their home “market ready” and are finding less enthusiasm from buyers in these cases.

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 +0.6% $1,227,500 $1,220,000 +24.9% $983,000
Average Sales Price +7.7% $1,417,630 $1,315,770 +35.8% $1,043,950
No. of Homes Sold -7.1% 39 42 -29.1% 55
Pending Properties -22.7% 17 22 -58.5% 41
Foreclosures Sold N/A 1 0 N/A 0
Short Sales Sold N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Active Listings -25.0% 27 36 -50.9% 55
Active Foreclosures N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Active Short Sales N/A 1 0 -80.0% 5
Sales Price vs. List Price -2.5% 101.9% 104.5% -0.7% 102.6%
Average Days on Market +55.8% 26 17 +5.6% 25

and the month before:

Read the rest of this entry »

How’s that water conservation coming? Do you know how to check?

September 6th, 2014

The State of California is in the 3rd year of a serious drought.  There are areas in CA where there is no water going to homes at all unless it’s being trucked in (at a very high cost).  We are all being asked to conserve as much as possible, with 20% being targeted not just in Silicon Valley but in all areas of California.  How are your conservation efforts coming?  Do you know how to check your water usage as compared to a year ago?

If you have San Jose Water, you won’t need to dig into your 2013 water bills to see how you’re progressing with water savings.  The San Jose Water statement comes with a great breakdown so you can see if you’re cutting back as much as you think.   Here’s an example:

water bill historical usage

What’s nice is that the gallons per day is shown, so that even if the number of days varies, you can get a pretty solid sense of use.

In this case, year over year, the family is saving an average of about 137  gallons per day, which is about a 25% savings from the same period a year ago. A lot of it’s coming from more careful use of sprinklers in the yard.  Not bad, but they are trying to improve it more.

What about you?  How much have you been able to cut back as compared to last year?   We can all pitch in!


Saratoga, CA, Real Estate Market Update

September 5th, 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

Also from Altos Research (to which I have a subscription), here’s a look at a glance of what your money can buy you in Saratoga.  (Please click on image to see larger view of it.)

2014 Sept Saratoga by quartile Altos

Let’s now focus in on both the closed and active 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 -2.4% $1,952,000 $2,000,000 +11.5% $1,750,000
Average Sales Price +9.5% $2,572,820 $2,348,770 +39.6% $1,842,780
No. of Homes Sold -27.0% 27 37 -25.0% 36
Pending Properties -40.0% 12 20 -50.0% 24
Foreclosures Sold N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Short Sales Sold N/A 0 0 N/A 0
Active Listings 0.0% 48 48 -36.8% 76
Active Foreclosures N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Active Short Sales N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Sales Price vs. List Price -2.7% 100.6% 103.5% -1.1% 101.7%
Average Days on Market +21.4% 31 26 +43.5% 22
It’s still costing around $2 million for a “typical” Saratoga house – whatever that might look like!
Saratoga CA Real Estate Stats At A Glance

Read the rest of this entry »

Surrey Farms neighborhood in Los Gatos

September 4th, 2014

Surrey Farm Neighborhood Los Gatos CA (Silicon Valley)A Los Gatos neighborhood which is “close to town” but feels further out is the highly sought after Surrey Farms area, located off Kennedy Road less than a mile from Los Gatos Boulevard, and less than 1.5 miles to all the local public schools:  Van Meter or Blossom Hill Elementary, Fisher Middle, Los Gatos High.

There are about 70 single family homes or houses in Surrey Farms, most of them on quarter acre or third of an acre lots, but a couple are much smaller and two are more than an acre.   The houses were first constructed there in the mid 1950s and completed in about 1960.  At that time, they were all “ranch style” and consisted of about 2000 to 3000 SF in most cases.  Today many have been remodeled, enlarged or even fully rebuilt, and the home sizes are bigger, with more than 10% of them over 4,000 SF today.

Regarding the name: folks in Los Gatos do call this subdivision “Surrey Farms”, but I did some research on the county records and it appears that the original name was “Surrey Farm” – singular!  My best guess is that it was a farm or horse ranch by that name prior to the housing being built…but that would take a bit more research that I haven’t yet done.

For now, enjoy the video and map, and if you’d like more information, I have a longer article that you can read on my new Live in Los Gatos blog.  Here’s the link: