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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.

Make sure that you and your agent see the home before writing an offer

April 28th, 2015

ScissorsA few weeks ago, I had a listing of a house for sale in which my sellers and I received a lot of offers.  Let’s say, for the sake of example, that it was an even dozen.

 This is the kind of market where you really need to try harder if you want to get the home.  You don’t want to cut corners, and you don’t want your real estate agent to cut corners, either.

One buyer couple did come see the property during my open house. (A “blind offer” is when the buyers write offers on homes that they haven’t seen.)  Their agent never did, though.  She did not visit during the 2 open houses and she did not preview at any other time, either.  She did submit an offer on a property which was, for her anyway, “sight unseen”.

Let me tell you, that kind of thing does not impress a listing agent who wants to know that there’s going to be a solid professional on the other side of the transaction.   The listing agent is going to be less enthusiastic about working with someone who seems either unprofessional or lazy or unmotivated to do a good job.  (What kind of advice could she have given her buyers if she never saw it in person, never saw the neighborhood?)

Most of the time, the buyer’s agent’s laziness or lack of professionalism will not obstruct the transaction if the buyer has by far and away the best offer.  However, if it’s neck and neck, that’s the kind of thing that can get your offer eliminated.  Would you want to lose the opportunity to buy because your agent could not be bothered to drive over and take a look and hopefully advise you about what she had seen?

Sometimes when a buyer loses out in multiples, it’s not so much that it’s a bad offer as it is a badly performing buyer’s agent.  Want the house?  Everyone on your team must exert a little more – your buyer’s agent, your lender, and you.  Don’t cut corners.  In an appreciating market, those short cuts are mighty expensive.

More on buying a home in Silicon Valley:

Mistakes that buyers’ agents make which damage their clients’ chances of winning in multiple offers

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

Do you have a strategy for buying a home in Silicon Valley?

A summary of tips for multiple-offer situations in Silicon Valley real estate contracts

In this very competitive market, contingencies will get your offer eliminated

April 25th, 2015

Great price and termsThe Silicon Valley real estate market is intensely competitive, and right now, many properties are getting multiple offers – especially if they are priced aggressively, are in ideal shape, and have a fantastic location either close to great schools or great employment (think Apple and Google particularly).

In the last 10 days, I’ve sold 4 homes.  Three of them were my listings, and one was a buyer sale.  The areas were in central San Jose’s Japantown, San Jose’s Cambrian area, San Jose’s Almaden Valley, and Campbell.  (And in very recent weeks other sales were in Sunnyvale, Morgan Hill and South San Jose – so I have a very “broad view” of the market right now.)

Home sellers know that this is a great time to sell, but it’s not so great if they get their homes sold and then buyers back out.  So they are looking for not just a great price, but also great terms. For most of them, that translates to a fairly fast escrow with few or no contingencies and possibly a (free) rent back.  They want to know that if the home sells, it will close escrow.

A couple of weeks ago I was one of 9 bidders on an Almaden house with the best schools.  My clients had a loan contingency and the listing agents let me know that while our price was close, all the other “close” offers did not have any contingencies – so ours didn’t have a chance.

In one of my four most recent sales, my sellers got 8 offers.  All 8 did have loans but 6 of them had no contingencies for inspection, finance, or appraisal. In my one buyer sale, there were 12 or 13 offers. My buyers got the deal by having a high price and no contingencies.

That’s the kind of market we are in.

If you want to buy a house, I cannot advise you that you should just plunge ahead with no contingencies. I know it’s risky and dangerous, and I will explain to you (if you are my client) why it is.  However, I also know that most homes that sell fast are selling either with no contingencies or very few (short) ones. My preference would be that my buyers would always have their normal contingencies.  It IS possible in this market to have them – but to get them, you need to view homes that have been on the market more than 2 weeks and are not going to get multiple offers.  If you fall in love with a house or condo that’s been on the market for just 3 days, you’re probably going to be in a bidding war and the winner of that war will have gone in with a crazy high price and probably no contingencies.

And I should warn you that this is an exhausting market, particularly for buyers, but for us agents too.  Most do not get lucky enough to be successful on the first buying attempt, but have to make a few runs at it, which can leave them discouraged, heart sick, weary, and scared.  Why scared? Because prices continue to rise.  As one client recently said to me: “No house is perfect, and we could have bought a year or year and a half ago but it felt like overpaying….I  think to get the house you do overpay now, but then you are done, you move in and get on with your life.  If we had bought 18 months ago, when we started looking, it would have been $200,000 less. We have to just do it.”

For further reading:
A summary of tips for multiple-offer situations in Silicon Valley real estate contracts

City of Santa Clara real estate market

April 18th, 2015
The Santa Clara Women's Club

The Santa Clara Women’s Club (old adobe house)

The real estate market in the city of Santa Clara, like the rest of Silicon Valley, is a strong sellers market still   Prices are up strongly from a year ago, and inventory is low.  How low? Below there are charts for the activities in February and March – and if you consider both months, you can see how skimpy the inventory really is compared to “normal”. (The question is begged, “is this the new normal?”)  Further in the article, we’ll check in on the condo market, too.

Here’s a glance at the single family home statistics and trends for closings and listings for last month – updated each month on about the 5th – 10th on my RE Report site for realty stats & trends in Santa Clara:

Median Home Price -1.6% $939,000 $954,500 +10.4% $850,900
Average Sales Price +4.3% $982,112 $941,979 +12.6% $872,107
No. of Homes Sold +58.3% 38 24 -11.6% 43
Pending Properties +31.3% 42 32 0.0% 42
Foreclosures Sold N/A 0 0 N/A 0
Short Sales Sold N/A 0 0 N/A 0
Active Listings 0.0% 25 25 -34.2% 38
Active Foreclosures N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Active Short Sales N/A 0 0 -100.0% 1
Sales Price vs. List Price +2.3% 112.6% 110.1% +4.8% 107.4%
Average Days on Market -0.5% 18 18 +46.6% 12

And from last month: Read the rest of this entry »

Saratoga, CA, Real Estate Market Update

April 16th, 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.  Even though it’s slowed a bit since last month, overall it’s 2.5 months of inventory, and less in most areas, which is crazy fast!



And for comarison, here’s last months chart:







Read the rest of this entry »

Los Gatos Real Estate Market Trends and Statistics

April 15th, 2015

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). Most of the price gains happened last spring rather than in the last month or two.  Here are the current numbers, per my Los Gatos real estate report (click on the link for full information).

Added Feb 20th, 2015:  Please also see this new article on my Live in Los Gatos blog with custom data that I crunched from MLSListings:
Los Gatos real estate market trends by price point and high school district

Los Gatos / Monte Sereno area (aka “area 16″ for our MLS)


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 »

The real estate market in San Jose’s Blossom Valley area

April 15th, 2015

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

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

The Evergreen area of San Jose

April 13th, 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.

Median Home Price -4.5% $800,000 $837,500 -14.1% $931,000
Average Sales Price -4.1% $932,729 $972,423 -7.3% $1,005,830
No. of Homes Sold +42.3% 37 26 0.0% 37
Pending Properties +18.2% 52 44 -3.7% 54
Foreclosures Sold 0.0% 1 1 0.0% 1
Short Sales Sold N/A 1 0 0.0% 1
Active Listings +40.8% 69 49 -17.9% 84
Active Foreclosures 0.0% 1 1 N/A 0
Active Short Sales 0.0% 1 1 -87.5% 8
Sales Price vs. List Price +2.1% 103.0% 100.8% +2.0% 100.9%
Average Days on Market -64.3% 25 70 -16.8% 30

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

Read the rest of this entry »