Mary Pope-Handy

Silicon Valley Realtor, selling homes in Los Gatos, Saratoga, San Jose, and nearby since 1993. Prolific blogger with a network of site.

"Multiple offers" - artwork

“Multiple offers”

Recently I have been in quite a few multiple offer situations with my Silicon Valley home buyers (ranging to as many as 15 contracts on a Los Gatos house). Understandably, home buyers do not want to pay more than a home “is worth”. With several buyers all vying for the same property, though, the price is driven up. That’s a seller’s dream and a buyer’s nightmare. Is it possible to pay fair market value, and not more, with multiple offers?

What is fair market value?

With a little research, you may find a few slightly different definitions of fair market value. Most, though, include these elements:

  • Both buyer and seller are reasonably motivated (but not under any undue pressure)
  • Both buyer and seller are well informed and acting in their own best interests
  • The home or property has been given enough exposure such that the market has been tested
  • There are no special concessions that would impact the sale price (such as a year long free rent back, including all the furniture or personal property, the seller carrying the mortgage at a very high or very low rate of interest). Likewise, no other special terms that would increase or decrease the sale price.
  • In other words, fair market value is usually achieved when the buyer and seller have a normal sale, with normal time frames, normal contingencies, normal relationships to one another. Most of the time, this is the result of one offer on the house after a week or two on the open market.

    If a seller or buyer is desperate to sell or buy, you probably won’t see fair market value. Similarly, if a parent sells the family home to a son or daughter, there’s a good chance it will never be a matter of exposing it to the pool of buyers, and the price is likely to be soft. Off market sales may be on the low side, though recently we’re seeing buyers in those circumstances paying more just to secure the property. A buyer who writes an offer subject to the sale of her or his home will be at a negotiating disadvantage, but a seller may accept that bid if the home has been on the market awhile, there is no other competition, and if the sale price is higher than it otherwise would be. (They’ll accept more risk for a higher sale price.)

    With multiple offers, usually there is undue pressure on the buyer to compete with better terms (few or no contingencies, faster than normal sale, buyer picking up more of the seller’s costs) and better pricing. Nearly always, bidding wars will result in a sale price that is more than fair market value. Frequently there’s a “band of pricing” which is above the list price. Most home buyers will fall into that range, and when a home has been listed a little on the low side, this band may represent fair market value. This can be far exceeded if one super motivated person, an outlier, spikes the price.

    In summary, residential real estate sales that take place with multiple offers will usually be with terms that strongly favor the seller and with a price that is above fair market value. It is not usually possible to pay fair market value with multiple offers – most of the time, the property will sell for more than fair market value.

    Silicon Valley buyer and seller advice

    Fiscally conservative home buyers in Silicon Valley will find this a very frustrating and discouraging situation as they write offers for “fair” prices and find them too low each time – and to see prices rising! When that happens, the more offers they write and the longer they take to buy, the more expensive it becomes to purchase anything at all. Today we have the double whammy of rising interest rates, too. My best advice is to find a property in a good location with fixable defects (such as an ugly kitchen, not a location problem, which you cannot change) which has been on the market more than 3 weeks. In that case you will probably have no other competition and can pay what is fair market value rather than an inflated price to due multiple bids.

    Conservative home sellers are sometimes afraid to slightly underprice their property to attract multiple offers. That is understandable, so I would suggest never putting a price on the home that you wouldn’t actually accept. There are many things you can do to get your home to sell fast (within 2 weeks) and which will attract a few buyers. Those aren’t so risky but they do involve some work. If your property looks like “the best deal”, you can be sure that the home buying public will notice. Just don’t undermine yourself by being present at showings, making it too hard for buyers to see your property, or not making the home attractive and risk free to home buyers. I have written many articles on how to attract buyers who will pay top dollar – you can google “pope-handy home seller tips” or start with this piece: How to make people line up and beg to buy your home.

    For more reading:

    On this site: All comps are not equal

    On How much is your home really worth? (Discussion on fair market value vs appraisal value in addition to other factors)

    Santa Clara County is experiencing critically low inventory of homes for sale and it’s at the level of a true inventory crisis. It’s not unusual to see listings decrease in December, but this is more than the normal dip of properties on the market in Silicon Valley. It’s worse.

    This afternoon I ran the statistics on MLSListings, and here’s what I see for available listings of single family homes in Santa Clara County (the greater San Jose area):

    Santa Clara County inventory of single family homes as of 12-7-2016

    Usually the data is taken from the last day of the month, and obviously doing this on the 7th may skew it a little for this month (or maybe not: perhaps it will be lower still!). But check out the year over year figures – what do you see as typical for November or December going back as far as 2002?

    Buyers are jumping on the best properties. I’m finding multiple offers on a wide variety of houses and in all kinds of price ranges and locations, including Morgan Hill, which is often much more sluggish than parts north. (This is not the story of every house on the market, of course. Many are badly photographed, overpriced, hard to see, not clean, or have other issues which make them undesirable to Silicon Valley home buyers. When real estate has an attractive price, is clean and shows well, is nicely marketed, staged, accessible, etc., it will get a crowd of interested buyers. Or at least one!)


    Interest rates and the inventory crisis

    No doubt, interest rates are a huge factor in the low inventory crisis, as they impact buying power.

    If a home buyer could afford a monthly payment of $4000, here’s what happens with different interest rates (assuming a 30  year fixed mortgage):

    $4000 at last winter’s rate of 3.5% = loan amount of $1,002,127
    $4000 payment at today’s rate of 4.125% = loan amount of $928,506
    $4000 payment at a rate of 5% (within a few years?) = loan amount of $838,267

    Rising interest rates may stunt price appreciation somewhat, but you cannot count on it – it does not always happen. Or there may be a pressure downward on pricing, but perhaps not proportional (not enough help for the stretched home buyer).

    Scarcity and multiple offers

    Houses priced aggressively (lower than what the sellers and listing agent think it’s truly worth) to attract multiple offers are getting huge results and overbids. Not every property is selling fast, but on average, homes are going for more than 100% of list price in this area. With multiple offer situations, buyers who succeed in winning are those with larger down payments (more than 20%), few or no contingencies, a high price, and of course offer an As Is sale.

    If you are a home buyer trying to compete in this challenging real estate market, please take a look at this summary article and the six related posts:

    If you are a home owner thinking of selling, now is a great time! The lower the inventory the better your odds are of selling. If you tried selling your property without success this year, please read this article on why some houses or condos don’t sell: Another article on that same topic is on my site: Things which will make a home buyer RUN from purchasing your home

    And back to the first question about inventory: when will it rise? As you study the chart, above, you’ll notice that inventory normally rises in spring and peaks in the summer most years. So, buyers, continue looking and hang on. There will be some new offerings in the new year, and by March we should see a significant uptick. If not, look out – prices will go up even faster. So if you find a home you love now, don’t wait.

    The Santa Clara County real estate statistics for Single Family Homes

     Read the full report for houses and duet homes in Santa Clara County here 

    (NEW! You can also access the stats for San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties from here!)

    Prices are up month over month and year over year after some slight cooling earlier this month. Inventory is up from a year ago but not enough to catch up with the deficit.


    Santa Clara County Stats At A Glance for sales closed in November 2016


    • Median home prices increased by 5.2% year-over-year to $1,010,000 from $960,500.
    • The average home sales price rose by 7.1% year-over-year to $1,297,260 from $1,211,630.
    • Home sales rose by 21.1% year-over-year to 850 from 702.
    • Active listings fell 22.1% year-over-year to 1,531 from 1,965.
    • Sales price vs. list price ratio fell by 0.9% year-over-year to 101.6% from 102.5%.
    • The average days on market rose by 9.2% year-over-year to 31 from 28.

    Compared To Last Month

    • Median home prices slipped by 3.8% to $1,010,000 from $1,050,000.
    • The average home sales price rose by 1.0% to $1,297,260 from $1,283,920.
    • Home sales down by 6.2% to 850 from 906.
    • Active listings dropped 23.1% to 1,531 from 1,991.
    • Sales price vs. list price ratio dropped by 0.2% to 101.6% from 101.8%.
    • The average days on market dropped by 1.4% to 31 from 31.


    Continue reading

    If you’ve been trying to sell your home in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Almaden Valley, Cambrian, or anywhere in the greater San Jose area but haven’t received an offer yet, don’t despair!  With our mild winters, you really can sell real estate any time of year.  And inventory is extremely tight right now, increasing your odds of success.

    In late November and December a lot of folks DO pull their property off the market, and the result is a, even further tightening of inventory across Silicon Valley from the months immediately prior. The ratio between listed and sale pending homes improves dramatically. (The “absorption rate” tends to get better with fewer houses, condos and townhouses listed on the MLS.)

    But you’re thinking: it’s a hassle. It’s the holidays. Is this any time to sell Silicon Valley real estate?

    And you’re right about that. So do it differently.
    Continue reading

    The Saratoga holiday season begins this Saturday, November 26, 2016, with the Chamber of Commerce Holiday Wine Stroll followed by Tree Lighting & Celebration of Light.

    Tickets for the Wine Stroll are on sale now online or by phone for $40 and will be available day-of for $45. The Stroll goes from 2pm to 5pm. Visit the website or call 408-867-0753 for more details.

    The Tree Lighting Ceremony will begin at 5:30pm. For more information, visit the website at

     Tree Lighting Flyer

    1. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 2,500 sq ft
      Lot size: 12,893 sqft
    2. 6 beds, 4 full baths
      Home size: 2,989 sq ft
      Lot size: 14,026 sqft
    3. 4 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 3,497 sq ft
      Lot size: 18,687 sqft
    4. 5 beds, 3 full baths
      Home size: 3,042 sq ft
      Lot size: 43,560 sqft
    5. 6 beds, 6 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 6,427 sq ft
      Lot size: 43,560 sqft
    6. 5 beds, 2 full baths
      Home size: 2,824 sq ft
      Lot size: 3.17 ac
    7. 2 beds, 1 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 1,088 sq ft
      Lot size: 653 sqft
    8. 5 beds, 3 full baths
      Home size: 3,139 sq ft
      Lot size: 8,407 sqft
    9. 4 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 3,914 sq ft
      Lot size: 1.43 ac
    10. 5 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 3,152 sq ft
      Lot size: 13,329 sqft

    See all Real estate in the city of Saratoga.
    (all data current as of 3/22/2017)

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

    When trying to figure out what market value or a fair price is for a property, Silicon Valley consumers will often look at recent sales nearby which they find online, extract an average price per square foot, and then decide that this is likely to be what a house or condo is worth based on those “comps”.

    First factor: the unique real estate itself (how similar are the comps, really?)

    Unfortunately, it’s not that simple to figure out that home’s likely sale price or the probable buyer’s value. Homes are much more nuanced than just the average price per square foot.   Unless the comparable sold property is truly comparable in every way – similar quality of updating or remodeling, similar location, similarly expensive landscaping –  and the timeframe recent, too, you’ll have to try to adjust based on varying factors. (And that’s not easy – it’s an appraiser’s area of expertise. But you may say “those comps had remodeled kitchens, so that may be worth X amount of money”. You would not ignore that big of a difference.) Look at the list of homes below – how much can you tell about remodeling, landscaping, or upgrades from a simple list? Not enough.
    Comps in a Campbell community

    Second factor: speed of sale, number of offers

    The situation surrounding each sale is likewise quite varied.    A property that gets 4 or more offers on day 7 on the market is a different situation than 1 offer on day 43.  If you are writing a real estate contract on a home that is getting multiple offers, it’s not going to help you to compare it to a stale listing that sold with just one offer.  It’s not just comps: it can be the current competition that largely determines the final sale price of that house or condo.
    Continue reading

    21st Annual Rose Garden Homes Tour Oct 15-16 2016

    Each autumn, the St. Martin of Tours School puts on a fabulous tour of lovely homes in San Jose’s Rose Garden neighborhood.  While anyone driving through this central San Jose area can appreciate the diverse and beautiful architecture, often the best  features of these homes are found inside.

    This year is the tour’s 21st Anniversary! The homes tour is a large scale fundraising effort for the school. Tours are self-guided with hosts in each home ready to answer questions and share interesting historical facts and stories about the homes. On display will also be floral designs, artwork, and perhaps some treasures. The garden segment of the tour includes the Tea Garden, a spot to sit and enjoy complementary refreshments or a gourmet lunchbox (available to preorder until October 9th with your tickets). The tour also features a boutique, where 100% of the proceeds will benefit St Martin of Tours School (credit cards accepted!) and a donation drawing.

    Tour dates are Saturday, October 15th and Sunday, October 16th from 10am-4pm both days. No children under 12 are allowed on the tour. Come any time within the tour hours to begin, but note that it is recommended that visitors allot about 2 hours to view every home and the tour ends promptly at 4pm.

    Tickets are available at the door, online, or through families in the school.

    To read about the homes from last year’s tour, and to learn more about this year’s tour, and to purchase tickets visit the official Rose Garden Homes Tour website.

    Get Tickets!Katherine Sullivan is selling tickets (full disclosure: she is a cousin of mine) and she can be reached at


    1. 4 beds, 2 full baths
      Home size: 1,207 sq ft
      Lot size: 5,270 sqft
    2. 3 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 3,104 sq ft
      Lot size: 10,454 sqft
    3. 3 beds, 2 full baths
      Home size: 1,081 sq ft
      Lot size: 5,793 sqft
    4. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 2,186 sq ft
      Lot size: 5,009 sqft
    5. 3 beds, 2 full baths
      Home size: 1,873 sq ft
      Lot size: 6,011 sqft
    6. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 1,408 sq ft
      Lot size: 1,393 sqft
    7. 4 beds, 2 full baths
      Home size: 1,361 sq ft
      Lot size: 6,098 sqft
    8. 3 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 2,235 sq ft
      Lot size: 2,308 sqft
    9. 3 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 1,348 sq ft
      Lot size: 1,350 sqft
    10. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 1,931 sq ft
      Lot size: 6,926 sqft

    See all Real estate in the city of San Jose.
    (all data current as of 3/22/2017)

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

    How's The Luxury Home Market?Luxury home sales are a little sluggish in the west valley areas of Santa Clara County. Right now in Almaden Valley, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga, there are 97 houses for sale listed at or more than two million dollars (just checked, but in the last 30 days only 27 have sold and closed escrow in those same areas and price ranges. For the Almaden – Saratoga region generally, then, there are 3.6 months of inventory in the over two million dollar price range (97 / 27).  That makes it barely a seller’s market, though things have livened up since June. (In the same region, there are 25 pending sales.)

    Next we’ll look at these four Silicon Valley communities separately to see how the luxury market in each one is faring overall.

    Almaden Valley (San Jose, 95120)

    Currently in Almaden there are 8 houses for sale which are listed at or over $2,000,000.  In the last 30 days, just 1 sold (with 1 property pending sale).  That makes for a whooping eight “months of inventory.” That would mean this luxury market is not in a seller’s market. It’s a deep buyer’s market in Almaden Valley among the most expensive real estate offerings for sale. Five to six months is balanced and over six is a buyer’s market. Continue reading

    2510 Yerba Hills Ct, San Jose, CA 951

    A beautifully sun drenched end unit townhouse in the Yerba Buena Villas complex, 2510 Yerba Hills Court features  vaulted ceilings and gorgeous wood laminate floors!

    If you’re looking for a home with a perfect setting, this is it!  In one direction there’s an expansive greenbelt. In another, the lovely east foothills. Sit in your front deck at at this lovely home and soak in the views and the serenity.

    This home has it all, including an open floor plan with tons of natural light.

    Features at 2510 Yerba Hills Ct, San Jose CA 95121

    2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, plus loft, appx 1050 SF. One car garage.  Inside laundry, Air Conditioning, washer, dryer and fridge to stay. Lovely community. Extra parking on the public (non through) street nearby.  Offered at $570,000.

    Stunning wood laminate flooring is found in most of the home (living, dining, kitchen, hall, and bedrooms) provides a beautifully contemporary feel. it also unifies the space, and makes it feel bigger still with the uninterrupted flow.

    The living and dining rooms offer a tall, vaulted ceiling with additional windows near the peak, bathing these rooms in natural light.

    The Master bedroom suite is luxurious and boasts private bath and large walk in closet as well as a big window and a vaulted ceiling.

    A good sized loft gives extra room for an office, playroom, workout or hobby space. It includes a big closet for loads of extra storage, too.

    Nice deck off living areas expands entertaining options and boasts beautiful views of the east foothills in one direction and a large greenbelt area in another. You will love taking in the peaceful scenery from here!

    Extra parking available on nearby Yerba Buena Avenue, too. This home features an inviting gas log fireplace, inside laundry, a one car garage, central air conditioning, and extra storage with oversized closet in loft. Washer, dryer, and fridge to stay with the property.

    Showings to begin Monday Oct 3rd.

    Open Wednesday 10-5 9:30-12:30,  Saturday Oct 8  2-4pm and Sunday Oct 9 2-4pm. Please stop by!


    • Front: 2510 Yerba Hills Court, San Jose CA 95121
      Front: 2510 Yerba Hills Ct., San Jose CA 95121

    2510 Yerba Hills CT, SAN JOSE, CA 95121 (MLS # 81626874)

    (all data current as of 3/22/2017)
    Price $570,000
    Beds 2
    Baths 2 full
    Home size 1,050 sq ft
    Lot Size 1,219 sqft
    Listing provided by Mary Pope-Handy, Sereno Group
    Sunny end unit in Yerba Buena Villas, ideally located with gorgeous views! This home has it all, including an open floor plan with tons of natural light. Stunning wood laminate flooring in most of the home provides a beautifully contemporary feel. The living and dining rooms offer a tall, vaulted ceiling with additional windows near the peak, bathing these rooms in natural light. Master bedroom suite boasts private bath and large walk in closet. A good sized loft gives extra room for an office, playroom, workout or hobby space. Nice deck off living areas expands entertaining options and boasts beautiful views of the east foothills in one direction and a large greenbelt area in another. Extra parking available on nearby Yerba Buena Avenue, too. This home features an inviting gas log fireplace, inside laundry, a one car garage, central air conditioning, and extra storage with oversized closet in loft. Washer, dryer, and fridge to stay with the property. Open 10-15 2-4pm. Please stop by!

    Property Type(s): Residential, Condominium

    Last Updated 11/28/2016 Tract n/a
    Year Built 1988 Community Evergreen
    Garage Spaces n/a County Santa Clara
    Total Parking n/a Walk Score ® 28

    Additional Details

    Number of Full Bathrooms 2 HOA Fee 275
    Parking Spaces 1 Year Built 1988
    Zoning Text APD


    Additional Listing Info Not Applicable / Not Disclosed
    Additional Rooms Loft
    Amenities Misc. High Ceiling, Vaulted Ceiling, Walk-in Closet
    Association Fees Include Common Area Electricity, Landscaping/Gardening, Maintenance - Common Area, Maintenance - Exterior, or Tennis, Pools, Reserves, Spa
    Cooling Central Forced Air
    Dining Room Dining Area in Living Room, No Informal Dining Room
    Family Room No Family Room
    Fireplaces Gas Burning
    Flooring Carpet, Laminate
    Foundation Concrete Slab
    Garage Spaces 1
    Garage_Max 1
    Garage_Min 1
    GarageParkingSpaces Assigned Spaces, Guest / Visitor Parking, On Street
    Heating Central Forced Air - Gas
    HOA Amenities Community Pool, Playground, Sauna/ Spa/ Hot Tub
    Horse Property No
    Kitchen Countertop - Ceramic, Countertop - Tile, Garbage Disposal, Microwave, Oven - Electric, Oven Range - Electric, Pantry Cabinet, Refrigerator (s)
    Laundry Dryer, Washer
    Listing Class Residential
    Listing Service Full Service
    Pool Heated, In Ground, Spa/Hot Tub
    Restrictions Age - No Restrictions
    Roof Concrete
    Sewer Septic Sewer - Public
    Subclass Condominium
    Utilities Public Utilities
    Water Public
    Yard/Grounds Balcony/Patio


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

    (view all details for MLS #81626874)

    St Mary's Country Fair, Los GatosThe St. Mary’s Country Fair is about to begin and will continue through Sunday afternoon – don’t miss it! There’s no admission charge and plenty to do, such as:

    carnival rides
    arts & crafts for kids to do
    giant slide
    talent shows
    food of all kinds
    beverages (including wine, beer & margaritas in the evenings)
    live music & dancing Friday through Sunday (Friday is the Hella Good Party Band and Saturday it’s the Bobby Love and Sugar Sweet Band in the morning and Bentpeter in the evening, and Sunday noontime is the Ruth Gerson Band and Special Guest: Gerson Family Band)

    Sundays usually feature a petting zoo and pony rides too!

    This is the one big fundraiser put on by the school and church each year. All are welcome! The event is held on the campus of St. Mary’s parish church and school, located on Bean Avenue off N. Santa Cruz in downtown Los Gatos.

    Need more information? Please see a post I did on it over at my Live in Los Gatos blog, Mark Your Calendar: St. Mary’s Country Fair Oct 7th – 9th, 2016, 5pm-10pm

    If you happen to be at the fair tomorrow morning, stop by the burrito booth and say hello! I’ll be working there from 10am – 1pm.

    1. 5 beds, 4 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 4,863 sq ft
      Lot size: 16,117 sqft
    2. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 2,514 sq ft
      Lot size: 12,022 sqft
    3. 4 beds, 2 full baths
      Home size: 2,715 sq ft
      Lot size: 1.01 ac
    4. 6 beds, 5 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 5,871 sq ft
      Lot size: 1.16 ac
    5. 4 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 3,472 sq ft
      Lot size: 10,236 sqft
    6. 3 beds, 2 full baths
      Home size: 1,742 sq ft
      Lot size: 9,016 sqft
    7. 3 beds, 2 full baths
      Home size: 2,010 sq ft
      Lot size: 8,450 sqft
    8. 2 beds, 1 full bath
      Home size: 1,000 sq ft
      Lot size: 4.36 ac
    9. 4 beds, 4 full, 1 half baths
      Home size: 3,360 sq ft
      Lot size: 13,939 sqft
    10. 4 beds, 3 full, 2 half baths
      Home size: 5,035 sq ft
      Lot size: 1.92 ac

    See all Real estate in the 95030 zip code.
    (all data current as of 3/22/2017)

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


    by Transposh - translation plugin for wordpress
    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.
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    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
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