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

The Evergreen area of San Jose

February 27th, 2015

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 area 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,  The Meadowlands, The Ranch, Silver Creek and nearby) .  The 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 as compared to the rest of Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley as a whole.   Home buying can be a bit easier and a breath of fresh air in this area, as you get a little more for your money here than in many parts of the south bay.  While places in the western parts of Silicon Valley are at new highs in terms of pricing, the housing market is a little calmer in Evergreen.

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.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

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Saratoga, CA, Real Estate Market Update

February 20th, 2015

How’s the Saratoga California real estate market?

This is a fairly comprehensive article on the Saratoga real estate market that will include the live statistics from Altos Research for listed properties (not closed) in Saratoga CA 95070, the closed sale data from the RE Report for last month in Saratoga 95070, and then the numbers I crunched for Saratoga – overall, and then by price point and high school district, as Saratoga has 3 different high school districts, each with an impact on home values.

First, let’s consider the months of inventory by price point and high school district that I crunched using, our local multiple listing service provider. (For comparison, please also see a similar article on the Live in Los Gatos blog for the town of Los Gatos – real estate market by price point and high school district.)  The months of inventory is a reference to how fast homes would be absorbed into the market if sales continued at the same pace and no new inventory came onto the market.  It’s often referred to as “the absorption rate” – and that can be months of inventory, weeks of inventory, or days of inventory.  A “balanced” market is somewhere around 4-5 months for us, though the National Association of Realtors says that 6 months is balanced nationwide.  Anything under 3 is a good seller’s market, and under 1 is like saying that homes are “flying off the market”.

Here’s the chart for Saratoga – all price points, all school districts.  Overall it’s 2.4 months of inventory, which is crazy fast.


And for comparison here’s last month’s chart, which was also a strong seller’s market in the lower price ranges.















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What’s the best time of year for selling your home?

February 19th, 2015

In Silicon Valley, we have pretty decent weather all year, at least most years.  The climate doesn’t make selling your house or condo especially hard at any time, though of course there are seasonal variances and it can be harder to get qualified buyers in during the holidays than on a sunny day in March.

The common wisdom in the San Jose area or the greater San Francisco Bay Area is that February through April tends to be the best time to find or to sell residential real estate, as opposed to late summer or the depths of winter, such as they are.

Often the early months of every year find us with more buyers than sellers.  That is especially the case now, but even in a more normal market, that’s what we see.  That supply and demand situation often causes home prices to rise in the early months of the year.  As the year goes on, more sellers tend to bring their homes to the market as buyers back off.  (Many sellers think that the best time to put a home on the market is summer, but the buyers tend to be more active a bit earlier in the year.)  So as the balance tips a little more in the buyers’ favor, prices frequently either level off or even decline a bit from the peak of spring.

The National Association of Realtors came out with a study that broke it into quarters (for which the Feb – April window straddles both the 1st and 2nd quarters).  Here it’s pretty clear that the 2nd quarter offers the highest median sales price.   Homes which close escrow then (April – June) actually went under contract between March and May in most cases, or approximately 30 days earlier.

Highest median sale price by quarter in Silicon Valley

If the data were presented by month, I believe we’d see that February – April is the best window overall.  Your particular market in Los Gatos, Cupertino, Sunnyvale or elsewhere could be different.  It could also vary depending on price point or school district.

My real time experience is that sales just a little earlier than most sellers expect is the ideal time.  Less competition usually means better pricing for home owners.  (Just recently I had 17 offers on a listing in the Santa Teresa area of San Jose – and it was a February sale.)

Interested in selling your Silicon Valley home?  Please call or email me and we can set up a confidential, no obligation consultation.

Preparing to buy your first home in Silicon Valley

February 17th, 2015

Valley of Hearts Delight + Sereno Group LogoEarly in my career, I had the pleasure of working with a wonderful young woman (let’s call her Ann) who was preparing to buy her first house in San Jose.  Ann was all of about 23 or 24 years old, but she had been saving since she was 16 or 17 years old. So much discipline!  This Silicon Valley native had a clear idea of what she wanted (a house in a good part of Santa Clara County), what she expected (a bigger place that probably would need some work) and her long term goals (get a house and rent bedrooms out to friends and relatives later).

Together, we got her into a 4 bedroom Blossom Valley house with lots of potential.  Ann rented the other 3 rooms out to friends and relatives.  She worked to save the money to buy the property and has labored to make it better over the years.  This was not an impulse buy at all – instead, it was part of a big plan she had since she was a teenager.  I did and do respect her so much: she had a very clear idea both of what she wanted, and what she needed to do to attain it.

How many of us can say the same or have so much discipline and planning?

I have a ton of respect for people who carefully save and plan.  At the other extreme, I worry tremendously about those who make spur of the moment, highly impulsive and seemingly unrealistic decisions.  When or if they ask me for advice, they don’t always like what I have to say, because as a friend or as their Realtor, I need to try to help them to make better decisions. Read the rest of this entry »

What Happens When Inspectors Disagree About the Property?

February 13th, 2015

Silicon Valley home buyers, sellers, and their real estate agents rely heavily on the professional advice, insights and opinions of home inspectors, whether it’s for the property generally (house, townhouse or condominium inspection) or for some other component, such as the roof, foundation, chimney, pool, heater, etc. One of the most frustrating – and sometimes maddening – experiences for everyone involved happens when these inspection reports disagree with each other.

Either extreme is bad, either “calling” something when it’s fine or missing something if it’s not.  Often resolution is accomplished by having yet another inspector come out OR by having the two who disagree meet at the property to sort it out.

Here are some real examples I’ve experienced first hand over the years while selling residential real estate in Santa Clara County:

  1. Over-called: General property inspector called for “further inspection” of heater, roof, or chimney because he said something’s wrong.  Further inspection ordered by buyer or seller, and paid for by consumer – but the professional for that aspect of the home says it was just fine.  Is it fine or not? The home buyer or seller is out some money and one of the two reports says there’s a problem with it but the other says it’s OK.  (This happened a few times where the general inspector “called” things that experts said were in good working order.  For that reason, I had to stop recommending him to my clients and began working with another inspector who wasn’t so over-eager that he called things which were not bad.)
  2. Crawl space nightmare:  many homes have crawl spaces and if yours does, it’s important to either go down there yourself or have someone else do it for you periodically to check conditions there.  My buyers were purchasing a home near Carlton Elementary in Cambrian (Los Gatos border) and the pre-sale pest or termite inspection (the only one available) was from a company with the absolute worst reputation in the valley, and that report said that there was not one thing wrong in a 50 year old house (highly unlikely!).  We ordered new inspections, both home & pest.  Both my inspectors found a lot of damage in the crawl space, amounting to about $10,000 in damage not reported by first inspector.  The seller’s inspector had claimed to go into the crawl but it was evident that either he didn’t go or he didn’t do it thoroughly.  The seller wanted his inspector’s company to do the repairs but we negotiated for a more reputable provider and got it. Read the rest of this entry »

5 things your Silicon Valley buyer’s agent can do to help improve the odds that your offer will be accepted

February 11th, 2015

5 things yourbuyers agent can doHome buyers in Silicon Valley are getting frustrated, discouraged and disheartened as they write offer after offer, only to lose out in multiple bid situations. It’s not just the poor FHA home buyer either – this is happening to those with 20% down and more too.   Yesterday I had about a dozen and a half offers on my cute listing in Santa Teresa, and had the unhappy task of telling all but one of those Realtors that their buyers did not get the house.

What can be done to improve the odds of success?

Usually losing out is a simple case of the best price and terms winning out.  (I wrote a series of articles on how to compete in multiple offers that you can find here.)  At times, though, there’s a bit more nuance, especially if there are two or more bids which are “neck and neck” or nearly tied.  Sometimes the buyer’s agent either does or doesn’t do certain things which can impact how your real estate purchase offer is viewed by the listing agent and seller(s).  Here are 5 important things that the buyer’s Realtor or sales person can do which will help the odds of success:

  1. The agent should read the MLS printout carefully to see if there are any instructions regarding offers.  This one may seem obvious. but too many buyer’s agents just draft the offer and send it in, ignoring information that will probably be useful (such as offer deadline, preferred form - CAR or PRDS contracts, availability of disclosures, the request to call before writing the contract etc.).  Ignoring clear instructions will usually result in creating bad feelings between the parties, and lessen the odds of success.
  2. The buyer’s agent should call or email the listing agent before writing the offer (and after reading the MLS!).  Sometimes there are requirements or just preferences that won’t be known unless contact is made.  Additionally, though, the listing agent will simply want to know about the level of interest and not have any surprises – it’s a courtesy call.  If the relationship between real estate agents is improved, so are the odds of success.
  3. The agent should ask if it is possible to present the offer in person… and be willing to do it, of course.  Many seller’s agents won’t want a live presentation (most would email), however the fact that your agent is willing to spend the time and make the effort to present in person usually speaks volumes about his or her professionalism. It’s also a hint that the agent is a cut above most.  In my real estate practice, several times I beat out other offers by asking if I could meet with the listing agent and sellers to discuss my clients’ offer, and then doing it.   (With my multiple offer situation yesterday, only 3 agents requested to present to me live.  One of them had the winning contract.  Of course, the rest of the package was also super strong – but this one step is a clue to the whole offer strength and commitment.)
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Willow Glen real estate market – San Jose 95125

February 10th, 2015

Willow Glen in San JoseWillow 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.  Here are the charts for the last 2 completed months:

Median Home Price -2.2% $965,000 $986,750 +13.2% $852,500
Average Sales Price +7.1% $1,123,820 $1,049,500 +17.3% $957,948
No. of Homes Sold -31.8% 30 44 -21.1% 38
Pending Properties +3.7% 28 27 -20.0% 35
Foreclosures Sold -100.0% 0 1 -100.0% 1
Short Sales Sold N/A 0 0 N/A 0
Active Listings +44.4% 26 18 -57.4% 61
Active Foreclosures N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Active Short Sales N/A 0 0 -100.0% 3
Sales Price vs. List Price +1.6% 101.9% 100.3% +1.3% 100.6%
Average Days on Market -10.4% 29 33 -24.6% 39

The Willow Glen Condo market

And next, of Willow Glen condos:

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