Getting a fumigation? You may want security with that.

Security guards used to be required on site when a home was fumigated in California, but that has not been the case since the 90s.  Seems that some clever bad guys have decided, in Southern California, that this makes a home “easy pickings” (apparently gas masks are not that hard to come by).  Sadly, crime often comes in waves and ideas catch on, so it would be wise for us to be prepared to have this happen here.  The solution is simple: bring back paid security, or stay on site yourself (rent or borrow a motor home, camper etc.)

Check out the news video from Los Angeles’ KABC TV station and see if you don’t agree that having someone there with watchful eyes isn’t a good idea.


Pricing in the San Jose Real Estate Markets of Almaden Valley, Cambrian Park and Willow Glen

San Jose is the largest city in Santa Clara County (or Silicon Valley) with about one million residents.  The districts or areas within San Jose vary tremendously in many ways, including their respective real estate markets.

Today we’ll have a comparative look at the median list prices in the housing market in three areas & zip codes of San Jose: Almaden Valley (95120), Cambrian Park (95124) and Willow Glen (95125).  First, how these three areas line up against each other and against San Jose as a whole in terms of the median list prices of homes for sale in the last year.

Please note: the charts below are “live” html and the commentary is appropriate as of today, Nov. 23, 2015  The charts will continue to change and be updated,though, so it’s possible that a year from now the commentary may seem disjointed.  Now you’ll know why!

First, a glance at Almaden, Willow Glen, Cambrian and San Jose genererally.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

Almaden prces took a little dip in mid to late summer, and so did Willow Glen 95125.  Cambrian 95124, though, has been very strong (as I can attest from working with buyers and sellers there recently). San Jose as a whole is close to flat.


San Jose as a whole, by price quartile is next. It is pretty level generally at this time.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research


Next, let’s focus on the Almaden Valley area of town by price quartile also:

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

As we might expect, the least volatile pricing is in the most affordable homes.

Next, Cambrian Park…
Continue reading

What you need to know about the shifting market

What you need to know about the shifting marketIf you read the newspapers about the Silicon Valley real estate market, you may be confused and frustrated.  One article states that the market is cooling, and another points to multiple offers, overbids, and strong appreciation year over year.  Which is it?

The Silicon Valley and Santa Clara County real estate market is a mixed bag right now.  Some areas, and some price points, are super “hot” despite the overall slight slowing. (Last month San Mateo County and Santa Cruz County seemed to be cooler than Santa Clara County.)  But in every market and pricing tier, there may be hot pockets due to schools, commute location, attractive pricing, etc.   Or in some cases, there may be special properties where the seller has done an extraordinary job (and perhaps the listing agent has done an equally good one) and the buying public’s response is stronger than we might otherwise have expected.

As a home buyer, you’ll want to get information relative to the type of property you are trying to purchase and it needs to be drilled down to the hyper local market.  Sometimes even within a zip code, radius of a home, school district, and other criteria, it becomes evident that a particular subdivision may simply command a higher price or sell faster and for a higher sale price to list price ratio than others nearby.  Enlist your Realtor’s help and study the comps, looking for patterns.

As a home seller, it’s crucial to know what is happening both in your own subdivision and in the area closest to your home (within a mile or so).  Ask your listing agent to get you the comps.  See if he or she can network with other real estate licensees to find out the pending sale price of homes near you that have gone under contract, and how many offers there were.   On pricing, it may be tempting to list your home close to the last sale price in the neighborhood, but often a better strategy is simply to list it a little more (in a rising market) than that property’s list price instead.  This is on a case by case basis, so talk with your realty professional about the strategy.

Can you predict the outcome?  Not so much.   It’s not always possible to know ahead of time how many real estate purchase offers may be presented on a home for sale.  Sometimes it looks like 3 or 4 and in the last hours before the deadline the number of bidders can more than double.  Or, conversely, everyone can get cold feet.

What I do see, very clearly, is that the properties which are in better shape (both costmetic and structural) have a higher percentage of buyers who write contracts to those who’ve downloaded disclosures than we find when a house or condo is a “fixer”.  A home that makes buyers feel safe (no surprises coming, major expenses taken care of) will usually increase the demand for that home if everything else is done well too.

For example, if a house has most of the big ticket items done and is pretty much move in ready, perhaps the ratio of offers to disclosures pulled might be 80%. In a home with a mixture of improvements made and those needed the ratio might be 50% (a “typical home”).  And if a house looks like it needs $200,000 worth of work, the figure might be just 30% who write an offer after reviewing disclosures.

Each property has to be assessed on its own merits.  If right now most houses in Cambrian are getting 3-4 offers, don’t assume that any particular house will get the same.  If a home needs a lot of work and is not priced low enough to overcome that condition, it may get few or no offers.  If it’s well staged, well priced, turnkey and worry-free, it may get 10 offers.

Does it matter whether your real estate purchase offer is on a PRDS or CAR contract?

Real estate contracts welcomeIf you are home buying or selling in Silicon Valley, the odds are good that your area is one where the contracts and forms could be either the PRDS set or the CAR set.  Does it matter which one is used?

Weary home buyers who’ve written multiple offers on one set of forms would really prefer to not switch and suddenly need to learn a new set of terms, risks, and benefits that come with each.  The majority of Realtors representing sellers, who are listing agents, will accept offers on either one.  Not all will, though, so it’s important for the buyer’s agent to read the MLS instructions and to communicate with the listing agent ahead of time to make sure.

There are many differences between the PRDS and CAR real estate contracts.  The biggest one is that the PRDS contract by default requires that the property be delivered to the buyer in a certain conditon (unless the As Is box is checked) while the CAR contract is by default an As Is agreement. But there are many other issues too.

These contracts also reference other forms from their same set of documents which will be important to the sale.  For instance, the CAR contract requires that the seller fill out a particular disclosure form along with the Transfer Disclosure Statement:

10 A (4)  Within the time specified in paragraph 14A, (i) Seller, unless exempt from the obligation to provide a TDS, shall, complete
and provide Buyer with a Seller Property Questionnaire (C.A.R. Form SPQ)

The PRDS contract, by contrast, requires the PRDS Supplemental Seller’s Checklist.  They are not interchangeable unless all parties agree in writing to the substitution.

If a seller’s disclosures are all on PRDS forms, it’s easy to infer that the seller or listing agent prefers offers on the PRDS contract OR that adjustments may need to be made to keep the seller from having to fill out yet another form after completing the presale disclosure package. Otherwise, giving a CAR offer on a listing where PRDS disclosure forms have been used puts an obligation on the seller to complete another new disclosure.  At best, this may generate a counter offer from the seller. If your offer is neck and neck with another, this could potentially harm your negotiating position in a multiple offer situation.


Related reading – older articles (the forms have changed a little since these were written):

Did You Know that You Have a Choice in Which Forms Are Used to Buy & Sell Homes in Silicon Valley? (2009, this blog)

What is the difference between the CAR and PRDS purchase agreements? Does it matter which contract is used? (2011, this blog)

The Monte Sereno Real Estate Market

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. In July, for instance, there was only one home sold, and only two this October.

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):

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 higher in the current market, which is a little steep for most folks! By comparing monthly numbers as well as yearly we can see that homes are selling for even more now than before, and most homes are selling very close to list price.

And a look at the data from last month:

Because so few  houses sell per month, it’s volatile and pricing appears to jump around when that’s not actually the case.  I suggest that readers also check the real estate market for Los Gatos to see a larger amount of data.  The Monte Sereno home prices tend to be a little higher but generally follow the Los Gatos trends, so it’s worth while to view this info also to get a more balanced sense of how things are for real estate in MS. Also, for those considering buying or selling, it’s important to look at the actual listings for each and every sale with similar features, size, amenities to get a sense of your home’s particular subset of the market.

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

Cupertino Real Estate Market Trends and Statistics

How’s the Cupertino real estate market?

The real estate market in Silicon Valley can sometimes be a little quirky, so I like to approach this question from a few angles.  In this article I’ll make use of  my charts from Altos Research, which uses listing data (not solds) and is automatically updated every week and also monthly reports from my REReport subscription.  Also I’ll periodically update it with info from the MLS that I have crunched myself or anecdotal stories from those of us “in the trenches”. The article is a bit long but I think much more comprehensive giving the multiple methods of answering the question of how the Cupertino real estate market is faring.

Cupertino median list price of houses by price quartile

Often the real estate market in any given city is very different between the most expensive homes and the most affordable ones.   While many Cupertino home buyers are looking for a short commute, great public schools or strong resale value, some seek a luxury property with a view in the Cupertino hills (either off of Montevina Road by Ridge Vineyards or in other lower foothills).
Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

The last few months have had some ups and downs in pricing, but most segments of the Cupertino real estate market have seen an uptick since the fall.  The luxury market in Cupertino had a typical spring “peak” and is calming now, like much of the market.  Going strong, though, are the bottom half of the pricing tiers. What if we look back more than a year? Combining the quartiles, it seems that there’s been more up than down, but right now we are in a overall appreciating time.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research

Continue reading

Updated and remodeled home for sale in Parker Area of Cambrian

Kitchen and dining at 4431 Esther Drive, San JoseLooking for a great Silicon Valley home to purchase? Yesterday I put a great house on the MLS  and it has what everyone wants: a nicely updated and remodeled home in a good area with strong public schools.  Not only that, it’s offered at $950,000, making it a great opportunity all around.   It’s not easy to find an turnkey home for sale in San Jose with good public schools for under a million dollars – the average sale price in Santa Clara County is sitting at about $1.25 million right now.

Please check out 4431 Esther Drive, San Jose.  It is located in the pretty, one story Villa Cambrian subdivison in the Parker area, close to Union and Highway 85.    Shopping is close (large Safeway on Union at Los Gatos-Almaden and large Lucky’s at Union and Camden), as are restaurants, coffee shops, and loads of other businesses. The 12.5 acre Houge Park is a couple of blocks away.  Freeway access is close, but not so close as to be deafening!  And the schools are top rated: Carlton Elementary, Union Middle, and Leigh High.

Below please find the MLS info – or check out the virtual tour here:

We’ll be open tomorrow, Wed Nov 11th, from 9:30am to 12:30pm, and also Saturday / Sunday Nov 14 & 15, 2015, from 1-4pm. Please stop by!

4431 Esther DR, SAN JOSE, CA 95124 (MLS # 81521971)

(all data current as of 11/29/2015)
Price $950,000
Beds 4
Baths 2 full
Home size 1,395 sq ft
Lot Size 5,932 sqft
Listing provided by Mary Pope-Handy, Sereno Group
Beautifully updated & remodeld Cambrian home! The kitchen features Corian counters & high end stainless appliances (Bosch, Thermador, Vent-a-Hood), reg oven + micro-convection oven, solid surface cooktop. Remodeled hall bath has deep soaking tub. Hardwood floors, dual pane windows, low water landscaping. Also new roof, new water heater, new 200amp electric panel, new carpet in family room, fresh paint, and new vinyl flooring in the kitchen & dining. The Section 1 pest work has been mostly completed.

Property Type(s): Residential, Single Family Home

Last Updated 11/17/2015 Tract n/a
Year Built 1961 Community Cambrian
Garage Spaces n/a County Santa Clara
Total Parking n/a

Additional Details

Number of Full Bathrooms 2 Number of Half Bathrooms 0
Parking Spaces 2 Year Built 1961
Zoning Text R1-8


Additional Listing Info Not Applicable / Not Disclosed
Building Type Detached
Construction Type Wood Frame
Cooling None
Dining Room Dining Bar, Eat in Kitchen, Skylight(s)
Energy Features Ceiling Insulation, Double Pane Windows
Family Room Separate Family Room
Fireplaces Wood Burning
Flooring Carpet, Hardwood, Laminate, Tile
Foundation Concrete Perimeter, Concrete Slab, Crawl Space, Raised
Garage Spaces 2
Garage_Max 2
Garage_Min 2
GarageParkingSpaces Attached Garage
Heating Central Forced Air - Gas
Horse Property No
Kitchen Cooktop - Electric, Countertop - Solid Surface/ Corian, Dishwasher, Exhaust Fan, Garbage Disposal, Hood Over Range, Microwave, Oven - Built-In, Refrigerator (s)
Listing Class Residential
Listing Service Full Service
Lot Description Grade - Level
Roof Composition
Sewer Septic Sewer Connected
Style Ranch
Subclass Single Family Home
Utilities Public Utilities
Water Public
Yard/Grounds Balcony/Patio, Drought Tolerant Plants


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

(view all details for MLS #81521971)

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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.

Mary’s Other Sites

ValleyOfHeartsDelight website
Santa Clara County Real Estate,
and a focus on the past (in process)
Silicon Valley relocation info
Silicon Valley real estate,
focus on home selling

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