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.

Los Altos, CA

Los Altos is a lovely town with everything to offer but affordable housing. It recently made a list of the best places to live in the US (low crime, great schools, quality of life). Theres a vibrant downtown to boot with superior restaurants, shops, and more. Its a great community for pedestrians and cyclists (lots of paths), and is a quick jaunt to both Palo Alto and Mountain View.

Great information from my other site, www.PopeHandy.com.
Community Info on Los Altos
Wikipedia information on Los Altos
Official city of Los Altos website
Los Altos – official government site
The local paper, the Los Altos Town Crier.
Los Altos Town Crier

Several people, companies, and systems assist me in my work with buyers and sellers in Silicon Valley. Most often, my clients will not see or speak with many of them much (if at all), but they are all part of the package, if on the “back end” much of the time.

Assistant:

My daughter, Clair, assists me about half time. She is unlicensed and does not usually interact with my clients.  Most of her work is computer related or errands-running: tagging disclosures for electronic signing, duplicating keys, dropping fliers off to listings, research for my blog posts, help with the monthly newsletter, and driving me while I videotape neighborhoods are some of her tasks.

Within My Brokerage:

At my brokerage, Sereno Group in Los Gatos, my escrow coordinator, Sonia Sisto, makes sure that the paperwork is complete. With a myriad of places to sign and initial and papers not to forget, it’s helpful to have a second set of eyes on the file. Additionally, other agents also review the file on behalf of Sereno management. When there are legal questions, which can come up from time to time, we have a legal counsel available through Ryan Iwanaga, my manager, or Chris Trapani, the CEO of Sereno Group, and we get answers back within a business day, if not a few hours. Finally, there are several agents who assist me in some cases (vacation, sickness, family emergencies). So I’m well supported on the office or firm level. When you hire me, you get a full staff behind me.

Outside Specialists:

(A) INSPECTORS

Whether buying or selling a silicon valley home or investment property, good inspections are critical. I don’t have one list for buyers and another for sellers – no matter which end of the transaction you’re on, you want excellent information. Surprises tend to sour escrows, so part of the plan in helping you avoid trouble is to avoid surprises. Only with excellent information can you make good decisions and have more control of the way your real estate sale progresses.

1. Home or Property Inspectors. It is crucial that your property inspector be exceedingly well trained, experienced, careful, clear, and through. In California, there is no license for home inspectors. However, there are a couple of trade groups which have a very high standard of practice. One is ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) and the other is CREIA (California Real Estate Inspection Association).

There are many good home inspectors in the San Jose area, but my #1 choice is Duane Serrano of Tri Star Home Inspections. Duane is an ASHI member with 15 years experience. I have not found him to either miss or over call issues (I have sometimes had inspectors who say a chimney or roof is bad, have the clients hire more experts, only to find out that it was fine – that aggressive over-calling is expensive, time consuming and upsetting). Duane also provides my clients with suggestions as to solutions and how to make the home last longer with proper care. He gets the reports out, with digital photos, on a same-day basis. Duane’s website is http://www.tristarinspections.com/ or he can be reached by phone at 408 266-2706.

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Yesterday I met with some seller prospects – actually, I consider them clients since I’ve been assisting them, updating them, and giving them staging advice for about six months now. Their Blossom Valley home has been sliding in value and I have been concerned about the situation and trying to get them on the market sooner rather than later since they do want to sell.  A couple of months ago, I told one of them that they’d now have to bring money to closing; I asked if they knew this and if they planned to do it. “I think we’ll be OK” I was told.

But now it’s the middle of March and prices have slid about 10% over the six months we have been chatting about their home sale. They’d told me that they were ready to list so I had spent hours getting comps and stats and trends pulled together as well as the listing paperwork. But I knew the issue of “bringing cash to closing” was the major hurdle.

So that’s where we started. One of them was clear that this was an issue, but one appeared surprised. Before I said the amount, I heard “well we might be a short sale”.

“A short sale?” I was just surprised to hear that idea even floated.

Both of them are very gainfully employed. They want to move, but I don’t see a “have to move” situation. It was clear to me that the short sale concept was not well understood, nor the punishment it brings appreciated.

I guess it sounded like an easy answer. After all, wasn’t everyone else doing it?

Certainly, in this particular area of San Jose, and in this particular price point, a good 80% to 90% of the homes appear to be short sales – and they are dragging values down for everyone else.

Let me briefly explain what a short sale is and isn’t:

(1) What is a short sale?

  • it is usually a pre-foreclosure situation
  • the buyer cannot continue to make the payments and will go into foreclosure if the short sale doesn’t happen (or this will happen in the near future)
  • there is a significant “hardship” (job loss, sickness, death, divorce) causing financial problems
  • the owner wants to sell the home but cannot pay off the lender in full because the home has declined in value – there’s not enough equity
  • it is going to hurt one’s credit badly, but only half as badly as a foreclosure
  • short sales often do not go through – most of the time, they end up becoming full blown foreclosures

(2) What a short sale isn’t:

  • it isn’t a help to people who simply want to upgrade and don’t want to pay off the bank
  • it is seldom an option if you have other assets (like other properties or money in the bank) – the bank will want your money!
  • it isn’t a “get out of jail free” card – there are built in punishments for those who must resort to doing a short sale (trashed credit AND paying taxes on any amount “forgiven”)
  • a short sale is never a happy thing – it is always the lesser of two evils (vs foreclosure)

I explained to these nice folks that it didn’t appear that they would qualify for a short sale (no hardship, no inability to pay the loan etc.).

What options exist for Silicon Valley folks who want to move but have no equity?

Here are a few thoughts:

  • A promise was made to repay the loan, so the obvious first answer is to wait out the market or come up with the cash to buy out of the situation.
  • Walking away:  In some parts of the country, we are again hearing about “jingle mail“, in which owners simply turn in their keys to the bank and walk away. I remember decades ago that happened in Alaska when the market there tanked. Now it’s happening here too.In Sacramento, where some owners bought a home at 50% more than the identical house is selling for now, some folks are first purchasing the new home (same floorplan as current one) at the cheaper rate, then walking away from their old home. In effect, they get a home with half as much mortgage.   No, it’s not very nice. It’s defaulting (a strategic default) on their promise to repay a loan. The lenders could potentially persue them for losses. Will they? I don’t know – this is a crisis of epic proportions!
  • Renting it out: another possibility is to simply rent out the house (rents are rising due to increasing demand) and to move to the next house.

I don’t think anyone now doubts that we are in a recession which is fueled by the housing crisis. For every person who just “walks away” from a house, that’s the recession deepening for everyone. I’m not going to encourage it – it worsens the economy and trashes the borrower’s credit.

Rents are increasing with this crisis. So my suggestion: rent out your house and move on if you can.  Talk to the nonprofit credit counseling agencies. Give it a few years, Then call me when you’re ahead of the market and we’ll sell it for you. Or keep it until you have kids going to college and you can then use it to pay tuition.

Eventually, the market will improve. You don’t have to sell when it’s at a low point.

Thanks for reading this article – I hope you find this Silicon Valley real estate blog to be of help to you!

Please see also these related posts:
Underwater & Considering a Short Sale or Loan Modification?
What is a “Kick Out” Clause?
How Long Does it Take to Buy a Silicon Valley Home?
Short Sales in the West Valley Areas of Almaden, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell, and Nearby
Real Estate Inventory & Sales in Silicon Valley’s “West Valley” Areas of Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell and Cambrian Park
Interested in Buying a Los Gatos Short Sale?
All posts relating to “short sales” on this blog for real estate in Silicon Valley

Which part of the Santa Clara Valley
is seeing all of this foreclosure and pre-foreclosure activity?

Short sales pre foreclosuresDepending on where you live in Santa Clara County, you may be seeing a whole lot of distressed properties on the market – or you may be seeing none at all. This is part of our current “bifurcated market” situation.

Generally, the more expensive areas of Silicon Valley (Palo Alto, Cupertino, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Los Gatos, Almaden Valley and Silver Creek) are not suffering from a huge number of listings in which the sellers are in financial straits.  There are some, though.

It is the less wealthy areas in San Jose (including parts of downtown, the east side, south San Jose, Santa Teresa, Blossom Valley) and the south county cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy) where there is an inundation with short sales – in the lower price ranges especially.

Generally speaking, most short sales, preforeclosures and bank owned homes are priced below $600,000.

How can you tell if a home is in pre-foreclosure?

Homes listed for sale in your neighborhood of San Jose, Saratoga or Los Gatos that are in pre-foreclosure may look like any others available. They may have granite in the kitchen, beautiful baseboard and crown molding, new dual pane windows, and on and on. The sellers may have borrowed and borrowed to improve the property, be unable to make the payments due to job loss, divorce, or other problems, and now be in default on a loan, heading toward foreclosure.

This status usually doesn’t “show” unless you have access to the county records or have a subscription to a service that lets you know the status (and those services are no where near 100% reliable, by the way). Your real estate agent, who should have a subscription to the MLS with full information, can see a report at no cost that shows the foreclosure history.  (Not all pre-foreclosures are short sales.)

What’s a short sale? Being in “pre-foreclosure” means that the seller has missed payments on a loan in which the real estate owned is used as collateral, or security. Let’s say a home is worth $1 million, but the amount in default is a small loan, perhaps of $25,000. If the home is sold, it can pay off the debt in full.

Sometimes, though, a distressed seller bought higher than the home is now worth. When prices fall (and if the owner bought the home with a low down payment especially), selling the home will not be enough to pay off the loan. So again let’s imagine that a house is worth $1 million, but the owners owe $1.1 million on it (and to sell they have to worry about closing costs to boot). By selling the home, foreclosure can be averted – but to do so, the bank will have to agree to not being repaid 100%. This is a “short sale”. (Not all short sales are in preforeclosure, though, as not all home owners of these properties have missed payments on their mortgage.)

We’re seeing a lot of short sales in the entry level markets. In these cases, current owners bought their properties a year or two ago – for 10% or 20% more than those houses are now worth.

In the higher-priced regions of Silicon Valley, it’s less common to see a short sale than it is a straight pre-foreclosure because someone just can’t make the loan payment (due to some new problem like divorce or job loss, or because the adjustable loan went up and the payments are now untenable).

See also:
So you think you want to buy a Silicon Valley short sale?

Short sales sell but often don’t close: why?

Browse Short Sale Listings & Bank Owned Properties for Sale in Los Gatos

Recently I viewed a piece on Forbes.com that said that San Jose was on it’s “top 10” list of good places to be a landlord. Investors, take note!

http://www.forbes.com/2007/09/04/landlord-subprime-realestate-forbeslife-cx_mw_0905bestlandlordmarket_slide_11.html?thisSpeed=15000

Update:  Trulia’s rent vs buy study puts the San Jose area as more affordable to buy than to rent in late Jan 2011.  Check it out!

oak-treeRecently I had a listing in Sunnyvale where an enormous tree graced not only the front yard of my clients’ house, but stretched over a next door neighbor’s yard and even over the neighbor’s roof. We got the home I’d listed sold quickly,  but prior to closing, the neighbor complained about the limbs.

The sellers, wanting to close escrow on time, agreed to trim the large bough that threatened her roof. They only wish that she had mentioned it sooner so that it could have been a “non issue” during the time of the sale. Ideal would have been a request in spring, which is the better, healthier time for trimming a tree.

And more recently, something similar happened in Los Gatos (with a home not for sale). A property manager of a tenant-occupied house showed up on the doorstep of a tree owner whose large tree arches over the fence. The property manager demanded that the tree be trimmed and that the tree owners pay for it. “It is your responsibility,” she asserted. (Interestingly, she showed up with a gardener – not a tree professional – and had no business card so that she could later be contacted about this issue. So it wasn’t the most amicable approach.)

My understanding of laws around trees and property lines was simple: the neighbors can cut the tree if they want to back to the property line, but the tree owners don’t have to pay to cut it unless it is truly damaging or about to damage the others’ property. If the neighbors harm the tree while pruning it, they can be liable for damages.

But just to be sure, I phoned the California Association of Realtors’ Legal Hotline and spoke with an attorney about it. My understanding was correct: the lawyer cited case law and verified that the tree owners can’t prevent the neighbors from trimming the tree if they want and that the neighbors cannot force the tree owners to trim it unless it is truly causing (or immediately threatening to cause) damage.

The property manager was mistaken and out of line.

A friendly phone call and inquiry about tree maintenance goes a long way toward neighborliness. Most tree owners will take good care of their trees and do pruning in spring, and will discuss the timing with their neighbors so that it is convenient for the arborist to also clean up any dropped branches in adjacent yards. Open communication is always helpful for neighbor relations. It helps when requests come in a pleasant way without rushing or pressuring. But that would be true about any issue, whether it’s trees, fences, noice, odors, junky cars or anything else.

(This topic was also addressed on my Live in Los Gatos blog, if you would care to read more about it.)

Recently I’ve had the uncomfortable experience (a couple of times) in which potential clients were overly secretive about their situation. One was in Los Gatos, another in San Jose.

I’m going to be blunt here: it is really hard to help when we, as agents, don’t know what is truly going on. It’s not a whole lot different than keeping important things from your doctor or lawyer. If you want help, it is imperative that you tell your hired professionals what is going on.

For that matter, if you are interviewing agents to list your home or to help you to buy your next home, expect those agents to ask you about your needs and motivation. Hiring an agent (and the agent agreeing to take you on as a client) is a two way relationship. Both sides need to be clear and honest with each other.

Let me give you an example. Years ago, I had some prospects (not yet clients) in Monte Sereno who inquired off and on for years about selling their home. At one point, it became a “hurry up” situation. Luckily, they told me the truth: one of them had been diagnosed as terminally ill. The sick one did not want to saddle the survivor with selling the home after the death.

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Almaden Valley, a district of San Jose with the zip code 95120,  is noted for good schools, low crime, and  beautiful vistas.  It enjoys an historic old downtown & museum where the mercury mining took place, a fabulous golf course and abundant open space with room for hiking, horses and more.

The commute is not bad to downtown San Jose and has gotten better since highway 87 was built (in addition to Almaden Expressway).  Like the Rose Garden, Naglee Park, and Silver Creek, Almaden is one of the more expensive spots on the San Jose real estate landscape.

Home types vary from modest condominiums to fabulous estate homes. A luxury property in this part of Silicon Valley is often newer and may include more land than similarly priced houses or estates in Los Gatos, Monte Sereno or Saratoga. Home buyers looking in the west valley often want to see high end real estate in Almaden Valley as well as other upscale communities nearby.
.

Browse Luxury Homes for Sale in San Jose’s Almaden Valley Neighborhood

Below please view Almaden Valley real estate listings of houses, duet homes and other residential property for sale over $2 million dollars as found on our local MLS.

  1. 5 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 7,004 sq ft
    Lot size: 2.37 ac
  2. 4 beds, 4 baths
    Home size: 4,527 sq ft
    Lot size: 31,877 sqft
  3. 5 beds, 6 baths
    Home size: 4,767 sq ft
    Lot size: 28,797 sqft
  4. 5 beds, 4 baths
    Home size: 3,753 sq ft
    Lot size: 29,228 sqft
  5. 6 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 5,456 sq ft
    Lot size: 23,173 sqft

See all Real estate in the 95120 zip code.
(all data current as of 6/26/2017)

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

 

Thank you for reading this Silicon Valley real estate blog.  Please remember that information found on the web is not the same thing as knowledge. For guidance with buying or selling homes in Silicon Valley, San Jose, Los Gatos and nearby areas, please contact an experienced, ethical, full time Realtor.  If you are searching for a good Silicon Valley Realtor to assist you, please contact me. I’m happy to chat with you by phone or in person for a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation.

Saratoga, CA, has a beautiful assortment of custom esates, many with views. Some are horse property, others include vineyards – or both!  Ranging from sprawling, comfortable ranch to Mediterranean, contemporary, and ecclectic (there is even one castle in Saratoga), there’s no shortage of choice in the Saratoga luxury market.

Below, please find a link to a list of currently available homes for sale in Saratoga, CA, listed over $2,000,000. This link will take you to a site hosted by me for searching available listings, so feel free to browse other areas while there. Enjoy!

Saratoga Homes $2,000,000 and up

Luxury Homes and Estates in the Town of Los Gatos, CA

Los Gatos offers a wide variety of home styles and size, acreage and useage. From small, modest cottages to large estates, there’s something for everyone in Los Gatos. Immediately below, please find the links to available and listed Los Gatos homes for sale offered at two million dollars or more.  These will take you to my other website, PopeHandy.com, and open in a new window.

Los Gatos Homes between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000
Los Gatos Homes between $3,000,000 and $5,000,000
Los Gatos Homes priced over $5,000,000

Browse listed homes in Los Gatos over $2 million

Or, if you prefer, browse all price points within this luxury range in Los Gatos here!

  1. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,196 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,993 sqft
  2. 4 beds, 4 baths
    Home size: 2,581 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,006 sqft
  3. 4 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 4,227 sq ft
    Lot size: 9,901 sqft
  4. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 3,001 sq ft
    Lot size: 11,238 sqft
  5. 5 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 3,086 sq ft
    Lot size: 10,001 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of Los Gatos.
(all data current as of 6/26/2017)

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

Translation

by Transposh - translation plugin for wordpress
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:
San Jose, Los Gatos,
Saratoga, Campbell,
Almaden Valley,
Cambrian Park.
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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

popehandy.com
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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