Sign - Quiet Residential Zone in the University Square neighborhood of Santa ClaraThe University Square neighborhood in Santa Clara is walking distance to Santa Clara University.  I grew up there, riding my bike in the forbidden college walkways, and recall my Realtor mother referring to the area as “Little Professorville“.  That was a reference to a lovely Palo Alto neighborhood in the shadow of Stanford University. She wasn’t wrong – we knew some professors who walked to SCU each day from that neighborhood, including my grandfather.

Where is the University Square neighborhood?

The neighborhood may not have exact boundaries, but appears to be bordered by Park Avenue on the east, Washington Street on the west, the University to the north, and Newhall Avenue to the south.

The area closest to the campus is fairly congested, both with density of housing and the amount of cars parked everywhere. This is where you’ll see the reminder that it’s a quiet, residential zone.

Alviso Street in University Square close to Santa Clara University

Get past Poplar, though, and suddenly it’s a completely different feel, with almost no cars on the street and homes being spread further apart.

Ranch style house in University Square with large picture window facing front

The homes found between Washington and Park, and along Alviso Street, are mixed architecturally. Some streets, like Circle Drive and College Avenue, are primarily ranch style houses built from 1955 – 1950 (some of the county records say 1900 – that just means they lost the records and don’t know!). Some of these have been expanded tremendously. The house I grew up in as a child was 1400 square feet, but it’s been added onto a couple or more times and is now more than 3000 SF.

Hilmar Street is older, mostly built in 1940 with a mix of styles, including Cape Cod, Tudor, and Bungalow. Most of the homes have detached garages, and on the south side of one block, the garages are accessed by an alley! We do not have many areas like that in Silicon Valley, but it makes the front of the home look almost like a movie set. That street is also lined with Cherry trees which explode with blossoms each spring, making a beautiful sight. Here’s a photo I took on February 14th, 2006 of that street.

Hillmar Street Feb 14 2016 with trees in bloom

And one more view, from the same day.

University Square in Santa Clara - Hilmar Street in mid February with the blossoms

The homes here are mostly on 6000 to 9000 sf lots, and range from 1400 to 2500 SF in the majority of cases. There are 2 car garages. In the older houses, the garages will be detached, but in the ranch style houses, they are attached.

Corner house along Alviso Street in University Square neighborhood in Santa Clara

There are sidewalks throughout the University Square neighborhood. Often there’s a sidewalk strip, meaning a space for trees and other landscaping between the street and the sidewalk. Other times, the sidewalk is directly adjacent to the road.

Spread out ranch style house in the University Square neighborhood of Santa Clara

This is not a pretentious neighborhood. The homes are mostly fairly modest, middle class homes. But they are convenient for both the university and for a trip to downtown San Jose via either The Alameda or Park Avenue. There’s a lot to be said for not needing a freeway with today’s congestion! As it is scenic, well maintained, and convenient, it’s also expensive, with home prices running about 20% more than the county average for a single family house.

Hilmar Street is tree lined includes some Cape Cod styled houses

Here’s another lovely home on Hilmar.
Hilmar Street house in University Square

Want to check out the neighborhood some more? Browse the listings of University Square Santa Clara homes for sale here:

Homes for sale or recently sold in the University Square neighborhood in Santa Clara

To see what’s for sale, pending, or recently sold in the University Square neighborhood of Santa Clara, please visit this link:
http://idx.diversesolutions.com/link/447810#-

Italian Family Festa San JoseThe Italian Family Festa San Jose returns for the 36th time this weekend, Aug 27-28.  One big change is that it will be held at a new location this year, History Park San Jose (near Kelly Park).  Hosted by the Italian American Heritage Foundation, it offers free admission, is open to all and offers food, wine, entertainment, a grape stomp, and more.  There’s bocce ball and “bambino” bocce too!

A few words to know:

Hatfesta = party
mangia = eat
bocce = a sport somewhat like lawn bowling, but played on gravel or a hard surface, not on grass

(Hope to see you there – I’ve never been, but spent a year of college in Florence, Italy, and traveled around that bel paese, so really feel like I’m an adopted daughter of Italia…. )

Sorry, pets not allowed (service animals ok). Please visit the festival’s website to get ALL the details!

http://www.italianfamilyfestasj.org/

Italian Family Festa San Jose
August 27, 2016 – 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
August 28, 2016 – 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

NEW LOCATION THIS YEAR for the Italian Family Festa San Jose

History Park San Jose  – the history park’s address is technically on Senter, but the entrance is  actually 635 Phelan Avenue, San Jose, CA 95112
Some photos from the 2015 Italian Family Festa San Jose:

Little Italy San Jose

 

 

The new arch to welcome visitors to Little Italy, the original place where Italian Americans settled locally. Continue reading

The cooling Silicon Valley real estate market is less of a question and more of an acknowledged fact (we wondered about it in June, we are sure now). If so, how can you tell? We need to begin by talking about “the market”.

First, Silicon Valley doesn’t have ONE market. The real estate market in Palo Alto or Cupertino is going to be very different from the realty market in Los Gatos, or the various parts of San Jose, such as Almaden, Willow Glen, Cambrian, or Blossom Valley. Ditto that with price points. It’s a very different “market” for entry level houses than for luxury homes.

But if we’re going to speak in broad, sweeping terms about cooling trends, what do we SEE? What do we HEAR? What’s happening with offers and open houses? These are the ways we measure the real estate climate. Often we in the industry hear the anecdotal evidence long before it’s reported in the paper. If we hear one Realtor friend after the next report quiet open houses, or few or no offers, we know there’s a climate change afoot.

I will tell you that I am hearing these things, which hint to a softer market for home buyers:

  • Houses taking longer to sell in much of Silicon Valley / Santa Clara County
  • Homes selling with fewer offers than 6 or 12 months ago
  • Contingencies for loan, appraisal and inspection becoming more common
  • More price reductions being necessary for than a few months ago
  • Fewer ALL CASH offers
  • Sale price to list price coming down a little

All of these suggest a mellowing of the housing market. Do the numbers line up?

The cooling Silicon Valley real estate market: seasonal fluctuations…

Historically, we do know that the busiest time for home sales is usually February – April. Some years it’s shorter or longer. (One particularly bad year, we had exactly 3 good weeks for selling in March and nothing more.) But what do the numbers tell us?

If we view the sale price to list price ratio, we expect there to be “seasonal fluctuations”. We don’t expect a hot seller’s market in December. Therefore, what’s often most helpful is comparing the same statistics year over year. Let’s do that.  The image below provides the sale price to list price ratio for houses sold in Santa Clara County from Jan 1 2012 through Aug  24, 2016 (the day I grabbed this data). This was taken from the MLSListings.com site for agents (the private MLS).

I love this kind of presentation because it’s so easy to see both month over month and year over year statistics. Take a look at August (so far) for this year compared to the prior months in 2016.  At 101.5% that seems like a fantastic ratio (they would go nuts for this in most of the U.S.). Now compare it to the prior months this year and you can see it’s been coming down since March.  OK, now consider prior years…it’s mostly a very similar pattern. That tells us that “spring is hotter”. We already knew that, but seeing it for most of the last few years pretty much drives the point home.

But let’s compare August 2016 to August 2012- Aug 2015.  That’s a better “apples to apples” comparison. And here it’s very clear that the real estate market in Silicon Valley really IS COOLER than it was in prior years for the same month. Any doubts? Check the same info for July – yes, all hotter until you get to July 2012.  Now June – same as for July. May? Yes, again, hotter for that month in 2013, 2014, and 2015 but not 2012. In retrospect, we now know that 2012 was the year the market ratcheted up for a big, long run.

The cooling Silicon Valley real estate market: Santa Clara County sale price to list price ratio Jan 2011 to Aug 24 2016

Before anyone begins screaming that the sky is falling, let me stop and remind you that we are talking about a sale price to list price ratio for the entire county that is at more than 101%. This is not a buyer’s market – at least not as a county. There are hotter and cooler pockets, yes, for sure.

What we are experiencing is a return to normalcy, a flattening out, less appreciation. We are not seeing price drops at this time.

And you know what? We’ve been expecting it.

You cannot sustain double digit appreciation forever.

The reality of the cooling Silicon Valley real estate market has implications for home buyers and home sellers:

Buyers, GET OFF THE FENCE. Interest rates are good. Buying conditions are reasonable again. Yes, inventory is low, but if you know what you want, you should be able to find it in 2-3 months tops. If you can’t, then you are not being realistic with what you think you can buy for your budget.

Sellers, it’s time to be more aggressive on pricing and adjust your expectations. Yes, your neighbor got 15 offers in February, but it’s not February any more. If you get 1-3 offers, that means you did a great job of staging, pricing, and getting your home marketed. Position your home to sell, and then get it done.

Where will we be in 6 or 9 months? I don’t know. It could be better or worse after the election. My advise is to get on with your life and not try to time it too carefully, because things can happen which none of us could anticipate. If you want or need to buy or sell, make it happen.There will always be political things going on, world events taking place. There is never a perfect time to buy or sell – but there is the time you want to do it. Go ahead.

And please let me know how I can help.

Mary Pope-handy
408 204-7673

Silicon Valley home prices are sky high.  The average price of homes selling in Santa Clara County is about 1.25 million.  Cambrian offers good schools, a reasonable commute to places like Apple in Cupertino, and a nice location near Los Gatos and Campbell with lower real estate prices.  For that reason, it’s become a magnet for smart home buyers over the last 20 years.   If you have the budget for an average Santa Clara County home, how far would it go in Cambrian?  Here’s the data, pulled this week from MLSListings, to answer that question.

Homes in 95118 tend to be younger and bigger than those in 95124, but the 95124 area is generally preferred as the schools are usually better (Union or Cambrian Elementary Districts and Campbell Union High School District vs San Jose Unified schools, though some of these are quite good, too) and 95124 is closer to Campbell and Los Gatos.  However, if someone is commuting to downtown San Jose, 95118 would be more convenient.  The most expensive homes tend to be in 95124 with CUHSD.  One caveat to this data is the very last result, which represents just two home sales and therefore may not be a reliable data point.

See what’s selling in Cambrian now on the map below:

  1. 4 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 1,915 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,185 sqft
  2. 3 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,700 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,013 sqft
  3. 3 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,656 sq ft
    Lot size: 4,225 sqft
  4. 3 beds, 1 full bath
    Home size: 1,196 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,971 sqft
  5. 4 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,124 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,011 sqft
  6. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,549 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,098 sqft
  7. 4 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,876 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,185 sqft
  8. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,030 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,318 sqft
  9. 3 beds, 1 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,400 sq ft
    Lot size: 9,408 sqft
  10. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,240 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,971 sqft
  11. 4 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 1,995 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,011 sqft
  12. 5 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,462 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,056 sqft
  13. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,642 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,751 sqft
  14. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,158 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,535 sqft
  15. 4 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,280 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,793 sqft
  16. 5 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,966 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,011 sqft
  17. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,612 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,621 sqft
  18. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,708 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,098 sqft
  19. 4 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,744 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,706 sqft
  20. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,204 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,842 sqft

See all Real estate in the Cambrian community.
(all data current as of 8/29/2016)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

Evergreen area of San Jose (Silicon Valley)The Evergreen area is in the southeast foothills of San Jose and extends north toward Eastridge Mall. It includes a few zip codes – 95148, 95121, 95135, and a portion of 95138 (part is also “Santa Teresa” or “South San Jose”).  There’s a lot of diversity in this region – the areas in the flatlands near the Mall, Reid-Hillview Airport, and waterpark are more modest and affordable as compared to the areas further south where you’re more likely to see luxury properties (Hillstone, Bel-Aire Estates,  The Meadowlands, The Ranch on Silver Creek, Silver Creek Valley Country Club and nearby). Pricier areas feature larger lots and houses and valley or hillside views set near the golf courses (Silver Creek Valley Country Club, The Ranch Golf Club, and the Villages Golf & Country Club).

In general, Evergreen is scenic and includes many newer homes and communities.  Many people enjoy the relative newness of construction and whole neighborhoods which are young, compared to the rest of Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley as a whole.

Evergreen real estate market for single family homes or houses

Please find the full report on my Real Estate Report for the Evergreen area of San Jose.

Evergreen Stats At A Glance

Year-Over-Year

  • Median home prices increased by 6.2% year-over-year to $607,500 from $571,950.
  • The average home sales price dropped by 0.7% year-over-year to $627,227 from $631,415.
  • Home sales fell by 15.4% year-over-year to 22 from 26.
  • Active listings fell 7.1% year-over-year to 52 from 56.
  • Sales price vs. list price ratio fell by 3.6% year-over-year to 100.7% from 104.5%.
  • The average days on market rose by 112.6% year-over-year to 31 from 15.

Compared To Last Month

  • Median home prices slipped by 3.6% to $607,500 from $630,000.
  • The average home sales price rose by 3.0% to $627,227 from $609,218.
  • Home sales up by 15.8% to 22 from 19.
  • Active listings increased 33.3% to 52 from 39.
  • Sales price vs. list price ratio dropped by 1.1% to 100.7% from 101.8%.
  • The average days on market increased by 40.0% to 31 from 22.

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

Continue reading

Sell in a cooling marketDo you need to sell today, in a cooling market? Many people know that in Silicon Valley, often the best time to sell your home is anywhere from January to May – and after that, the sales begin to slow and sometimes prices fall. This year, that seems to be happening, and more. We are now in early August and it’s definitely a shifting market.

How are you going to sell your home in a cooling real estate market?

Sometimes you have to sell when you don’t really want to. Maybe it’s a divorce, a job transfer, death of a spouse, loss of a job, or maybe even something good – the type of home you’ve been waiting years to buy is now available. But you have to sell first, before you can buy. For better or worse, you need to sell now, when the market is cooling.   What to do?

Understand the pattern. Jump the line.

Information is power.  Learn the market stats and figure out the trajectory. If homes are losing value at the rate of 1% a month and your house isn’t selling, you may need to JUMP the line to get ahead of the curve.  Translation: let’s say it looks like prices are going down .25% per week for a house like yours. If you “hold out” and don’t reduce your price to sell, the gap between what you think your home is worth and what capable buyers will think it is worth may widen. But instead, if you cut your price 1.5%, you may be able to be the first home sold. Wait a few more weeks, and it could be much worse.  The quick way of saying it is to “cut your losses”. In a declining market, the longer it takes to sell, the more you lose. It’s that simple.

 

The Blossom Valley area of San Jose is on the south end of the city and covers the 95123 and 95136 zip codes.  For our MLS, it’s “area 12”.  A more affordable section of Silicon Valley, Blossom Valley has much to offer in addition to more reasonable housing prices.  Many areas enjoy views of the Santa Teresa Foothills or the Communications Hill knolls or even the coastal foothills in the distance, as with the photo below. One corner of it sits alongside beautiful Almaden Lake, too. One corner is located at the crossroads of Highways 85 and 87, making it an easy commute destination for those working in downtown San Jose. And there’s an abundance of shopping opportunities.

Blossom Valley from the Church on the Hill

Much more could be written, but let’s now instead turn to the real estate market there.

First, “live”, automatically updating Altos Charts for San Jose 95123 and 95136 and single family homes (houses and duet homes).  These use list prices, not sales prices.

The median list price of both 95123 and 95136, all prices, single family homes (houses and duet homes, if there are any).

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

Next, the median list price for just the San Jose 95123 area of Blossom Valley, and separated by price quartile:

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

And next, the median list price of just San Jose 95136 by price quartile:

Continue reading

What does a title company do? People helping buyers, sellers, real estate professionals with title and escrow work.What is the function of a title company or title insurance company in real estate purchases or refinances? In Silicon Valley, and the San Francisco Bay Area and northern California generally, title companies perform two specific services:

  • provide title insurance for real estate being bought or borrowed against
  • provide escrow services, acting as the neutral third party which takes in the deposit money and holds it during the escrow period, disbursing all funds when escrow closes and having someone go to the county recorder’s office to record the deeds to complete the sale

Title insurance companies research the title history, find out what recorded easements may exist,reveal any encumbrances (leins, clouds on title, etc.). An escrow officer from the title company is usually the professional with a notary’s license who will sign off home buyers and sellers on the final documents, too.

There are many other services that title companies provide. Many people wonder how to hold title, and while neither your Realtor nor your escrow officer can advise you on how to do so, the title companies all have a little 1 page handout explaining the major concepts for each option on how to hold title.

If you need to sign off on the final documents out of town or even out of the country, the escrow officer and her or his support staff will work with you to coordinate it. (It can be a little tricky if overseas and outside of the U.S.).

If you are selling your house or condo and discover that an old loan that you paid off is still showing up in the preliminary title report, the escrow officer at the title insurance company will work to get it resolved and removed.

The customer service department at title companies can research the chain of title, too. Sometimes it’s quite interesting as the chain brings you back to the time of patents and land grants, with hand written deeds in a style of cursive which is somewhat foreign to us today.

There are many other things that title companies do – big and small – and most of them are “behind the scenes” that few of us ever witness directly, but without which no one would be able to close out sales with the safety net of title insurance which we value so much.

Title insurance can be a confusing concept, but I wrote about it elsewhere on this site.

What Is Title Insurance and Who Pays For It?
What is a preliminary title report? Why does it matter?

Monte Sereno Stained GlassHow 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. This month, for instance, there were only three homes sold and three pending.

There are no condominiums or townhomes in Monte Sereno at present.  One of the major challenges for this city is to ensure that at least some housing units are deemed “affordable.”  You can find the city’s housing plan here (a pdf online):
http://www.montesereno.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/674

Recently closed home sales in Monte Sereno

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?

It’s true that an average Monte Sereno house is about $2.5 million, and often higher in the current market – a little steep for most folks! Prices appear to have dropped considerably compared to a year ago, but with a small inventory large fluctuations are common and not very revealing. Homes have been selling very close to list price for months, though with such low inventory the data can have huge swings without telling us much about the market. This month, for instance, we saw a shift from 107% sales to list price last month to 96.3% of list. But looking at month before last, the market looks much more consistent in terms of sale vs list price and average days on market. The Average Days on Market has increased to 24 days, which, at under a month, is still a very hot market.

And a look at the data from last month:

Continue reading to view live Altos Research charts for Monte Sereno, including by pricing quartile. Continue reading

Morgan Hill land along the Uvas RiverHow’s the real estate market in Morgan Hill?  This article will include data, trends and statistics for both houses and condominiums / townhouses.

For the single family home segment in this “south county” town, prices are mostly consistent year over year and month over month. The sale price to list price ratio has been hovering between 98% and 100% for months. The cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy are usually a bit less in demand than parts of Santa Clara County which are either tech magnets or closer to these big businesses. So while most of the Silicon Valley has a sale price to list price ratio of anywhere from 100% to 110%, it’s generally lower here, making the home buying conditions calmer for weary buyers, though still a sellers market. Below is a chart with basic info, but to see more information, you may click on this link to see the Real Estate Report for Morgan Hill.

Continue reading

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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:
Santa Clara County,
San Mateo County, and
Santa Cruz County.
:
Special focus on:
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Saratoga, Campbell,
Almaden Valley,
Cambrian Park.

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Use the widget below to browse properties which are for sale, under contract (pending) or sold. Want to view only homes which are available now? Use the "find a home" link on the menu above (next to the "home" button).

Mary’s other sites & blogs

Valley Of Hearts Delight
Santa Clara County Real Estate,
with an interest in history

Move2SiliconValley.com
Silicon Valley relocation info

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Silicon Valley real estate,
focus on home selling

Silicon Valley Real Estate Report
Silicon Valley real estate
market trends & statistics

Mary’s Blog Awards

Top 25 real estate blogs 2016
2016: Personal Income's list of top 25 real estate blogs.


Best Realtor blog award
2016: Coastal Group OC's list of best Realtor blogs


The 2009 Sellsius list of top 12 women real estate bloggers
2009: Sellsius list of top
12 women real estate bloggers


Mary Pope-Handy's Live in Los Gatos blog won the 2007 Project Blogger contest, sponsored by Inman News and Active Rain

2007: Mary Pope-Handy and Frances Flynn Thorsen win the Project Blogger Contest for Mary's Live in Los Gatos blog. The contest was sponsored by
Active Rain and Inman News.


Non blog award


Best real estate agent in Silicon Valley from the San Jose Mercury News poll of readers in 2011
"Best real estate agent
in Silicon Valley"

2011 readers' poll,
San Jose Mercury News

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