Selling Tips

Tips for Home Sellers

When a home seller remains in the home after the close of escrow, it’s as a tenant or renter – even for a brief period of a few days.  With the shifting role from home owner to new renter, the rules of engagement may not be clear, and expectations may not line up with the addendum for the rent back.   So let’s do a set of what happens during the tenancy period after the sale is done.

Seller rent back True or False questions – which of these statements is true or false for the period when the seller is a tenant?

  1. When escrow closes, the buyers get keys to the home
  2. The seller must be undisturbed by the buyer until moving out
  3. The buyer can do repairs, including fumigation, during the rent back
  4. Prospective tenants may view the property during the rent back
  5. Contractors may enter the property during the rent back
  6. The new owners must give 72 hours notice before entry
  7. To enter the home, new owners must use an official CAR or PRDS “Notice of Entry” form
  8. The new owners may only enter the property if their Realtor is present or if the listing agent is present
  9. If the seller overstays the agreed upon rent back time, there’s a penalty fee that will be charged
  10. If there’s a rent back, buyers may do a walk through both before close of escrow and also at the end of the rent back period.

 

What does the paperwork saySome of these are challenging not just for buyers and sellers, but for real estate agents too. The reason for the confusion has to do with the number of forms involved.  There are 3 different rent back addenda which may be employed in Silicon Valley: 2 options from the California Association of Realtors (CAR) and 1 from the Peninsula Regional Data Service (PRDS).

  • PRDS form RSOAS – Seller Occupancy After Sale Addendum (1 page form)
  • CAR form SIP – Seller in Possession Addendum (1 page form, intended for less than 30 days)
  • CAR form RLAS – Residential Lease After Sale (5 page form, for more than 30 days rental to seller)

Some Realtors only use either CAR or PRDS forms, but I have found that depending on whom you represent, it may be worthwhile to tell the client about the differences between them as they are not exactly the same for all of these questions.

Now let’s go back to our questions and see what the contract & addenda have to say about each one. Continue reading

Beware these 3 real estate gimmicksThere are clever, but ultimately unsubstantial, things that real estate consumers might experience in the process of buying or selling a home – or just researching Silicon Valley real estate on the web. Here are a few of the doozies that some people fall for, in no particular order:

(1)  Quoting the contract paragraph by number is meant to impress you with the agent’s grasp of the contract, which must be thorough if the thing is memorized like chapter and verse.  You might hear something like this:  “as it says in paragraph 14 of the purchase agreement”.  Perhaps better is not so much the paragraph number, but the nuance, how it matters and perhaps how the alternative contract or paperwork reads on the same subject. I like this better:  “The PRDS contract says that any repairs must be done by a licensed contractor.  The CAR contract says that anyone may do repairs, even the home owner, as long as it is done in ‘workmanlike fashion’ with comparable quality materials.”

A similar twist may be quoting statistics that aren’t real. “There are 2.3 months of inventory in Campbell right now” may be a made up number. Realtors know that sounding precise makes them sound credible. But is it true? Check it out. (As for me, I am not a walking statistics machine. I have to look it up, or crunch it, to tell an answer. Yesterday a total stranger texted me and asked what the cheapest townhouse or condo in Mountain View is right now. I am not the MLS! I don’t know off the top of my head – and I’m not going to fake it.)

(2) Focusing on less relevant marketing approaches to selling your home may be a way for the potential listing agent to appear better, to seem to “do more”.  The most important is price, because a grossly overpriced house will not sell for top dollar even if the print and web marketing are over the top wonderful.  The second most important is photos, because they are your first open house – albeit virtual.  If the photos are poor, or if every major area or room isn’t shown, whatever is not represented is deemed as bad.  Photos of a cluttered, mismatched home will cause buyers to skip your property.     That said, some agents will say that they will advertise your home in China, so you should list with them.  Well, Chinese buyers are real, but they either come over to buy or they have close family and friends here who will help them buy.  And whoever is here can see the listing on the regular channels. Similarly, things like drone photography do not usually improve either the odds of a home selling or the price for which it will sell in most cases.  For a luxury property with a lot of land, ok, yes, of course a drone video or photo series would be great.  But some agents push the drone angle only because it differentiates them – they’ll provide what other agents don’t want to provide. (Because it doesn’t make sense for most tract homes.)  Beware marketing gimmicks.

(3) Combined experience – if you have a team with 4 agents and they each have 2 years’ experience, you might hear this: “we have 8 years combined experience”. Nonsense. You have 4 people with 2 years each.

Alternatively, there may be things which sound like trickery but aren’t.  One friend of mine, on the east coast, bemoaned that every time he wanted to buy a house, the listing agent told him that another offer was coming in. “Do they teach you to say that at real estate school?” he complained.  No, they don’t teach us to say that. In fact, if it’s not true that another offer is coming in, we may not say so if we are Realtors – it’s against the Realtor Code of Ethics to lie.  (Not all real estate agents are Realtors.  The state issues the real estate license, but membership in the National Association of Realtors is voluntary.)

Another thing which make some sellers skeptical feeling is the need for staging. “Why should I fill my empty rental house with someone else’s stuff? Buyers can see that it’s a kitchen!” But let me tell you, there are statistics proving that staged homes do sell for more. A good Realtor wants your home to sell for top dollar, wants you to become a raving, lifelong fan, and hopes like crazy you’ll be so happy that you’ll refer your best family and friends to that same Realtor.

As a Silicon Valley home buyer or seller, the best thing you can do for yourself is to hire a great Realltor. Don’t do it because they use slick “closing techniques”, but because they are experienced, knowledgable, capable, honest, and not afraid of hard work. Right now 20% of all real estate licensees have less than 2 years’ experience selling homes in the US. (Source for that statistic: CNBC article.) It doesn’t cost more to hire a great Realtor, so please do your due dilligence and don’t fall for stupid tricks. Go for substance.

Plat Map of Belwood Lane and Belwood Court

Plat Map of Belwood Lane and Belwood Court

Odd shaped lots in older subdivisions are sometimes recorded as having the same amount of land as the smaller, normal rectangular shaped parcels nearby.  I’ve seen this many times – an area with houses on 6,000 SF lots have a few “pie shaped lots” at the end of the cul-de-sac and they are bigger, but for unknown reason are said to have the same 6000 SF lots, even if it’s understating the amount of land.

If you are selling your home, you want credit for the whole lot size.  And if you’re buying one, you’ll want to be on the lookout for undervalued properties which have not marketed the true amount of land in the sale.

Plat maps, lot shapes and area

Plat maps can be a little hard to understand without some deciphering, but one thing that is clear is the length of the sides of the parcel.  If you look along the edge of any lot, you’ll see a number up against it – that represents the distance in feet of that side of the property.

With simple rectangular or square lots, it’s easy for consumers to do the math and see if the lot size represented is correct.  But what happens if the parcel has a more complicated shape? Today we’ll look at this – and a possible solution to double check the figures provided by the MLS, the sellers, the county, or any other source. With irregularly shaped lots, the parcel’s area is very often misrepresented in the records.

With a perfect square or rectangle, the math is easy! Have a look at parcel # 12, circled in red. It has 2 sides with 100′ and 2 sides with 70′ so you simply multiply 100 x 70 to get the lot size of 7000 SF.

If all geometry were only so simple.

Now compare 12 with the other circled parcels:

  • 14 isn’t too bad – 4 sides and almost a triangle (so for estimating, fairly easy)
  • 7 is a flashback to high school geometry with 5 sides and only one right angle
  • 5 boasts 6 sides and is above my pay grade

Odd shaped lots and figuring the true area: software to the rescue

There are pricey real estate programs that can calculate the area of a parcel, but I haven’t had access to them for over 10 years, as most brokerages phased out their subscriptions to it.  Recently, though, I was involved in a transaction in which the parcel my client was buying happened to be irregular, and it seemed to be listed as having a much smaller lot size than it really did.   What to do?

As with all things, I went to Google and did a query for software that could calculate the area of a lot.  And I was in luck – not only did it exist, but it is free.  The name is Google Maps Area Calculator Tool and you can find it here:

https://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-area-calculator-tool.htm

This is easy to work – you go to the page, input an address, zoom into where you can see what looks like the boundary lines clearly (fences, sidewalks as guides) and click from corner to corner.  You can see the little pins where I clicked.  When I did it for the land in question, it looked like this:

Google area measuring tool

Google area measuring tool

Google then provides both the area and the perimeter measurement.  A nice bonus, it’s in both meters and feet.

After that’s done, how would you know if it is correct or not?

We again turn to the plat map and add up the measurements of all the sides of the parcel.  For the # 12 lot we discussed at first, that’s simple – 100 + 70 + 100 + 70 = a perimeter of 340′.  If the Google mapping effort is accurate, the perimeter it produced should be the same, or at least very close.  When the perimeters match up, you have pretty good validation that you are at least close.

Where you can obtain a plat map

For home owners, sellers and buyers, you may be wondering where you can get this plat map.  It is part of the county records for Santa Clara County, and you can see the plat map of any property in this county here:

https://www.sccassessor.org/index.php/property-information/homeowners/property-search

 

When selling or buying real estate in Silicon Valley, it’s important to stay on your toes and not assume that the county records are always correct.  If you read this blog, you know that I have often written about the county, city and town permit files often being incomplete, and sometimes missing entirely.  Homes and land are very expensive here, and the county offices may not always have accurate information, so ideally consumers keep their own, complete records, and check the facts stated about the property they are buying or selling for accuracy.

Related reading:

How to fix incorrect property records in Santa Clara County?

Monte Sereno Building Permit Nightmare (Live in Los Gatos blog)

Heritage Grove in east Los Gatos blends historic and contemporary architecture and landscape together nicely

An old apricot orchard used to line Blossom Hill Road between Union and Leigh Avenues until the 1990s. The former owners, Ralph and Sophie Heintz, lived there in their farmhouse until their deaths, at which time the property was willed to the University of California at Berkeley for eye research.

Sophie and Ralph were interesting people. He ran a small train on their property and was an inventor. She was a ham radio operator.

In 1998, the Heintz land (and house etc.) was sold to Summerhill Homes and a portion developed as housing. That Los Gatos neighborhood is now called Heritage Grove A strip of trees was planted along Blossom Hill Road, reminiscent of the history of the area.  A large section of land was made a permanent open space, now known as the Heintz Open Space Preserve.  This open space connects directly with Belgatos Park, which also connects with the Santa Rosa Open Space Preserve. So the network of trails is quite extensive. (Link to Town of Los Gatos page with pdf files of these three trail maps. Link to Google Maps map of Blossom Hill Trails, drawn by Jim Handy.)

The Heintz’s big, old farmhouse has been renovated and is being lived in.  Ralph Heintz’s old workshop, the Ramohs Laboratory, is preserved with signs explaining the history of the place nearby. Continue reading

Multiple counter offer Word CloudMany Silicon Valley home sellers receive multiple offers on a set day, often 7 to 9 days after the house or condo is first on the market.  What happens if they like a few offers and want to counter them?  One option is to issue a Multiple Counter Offer.  How does that work?

With the multiple counter offer process, the seller decides after one or more of the buyers accepts (or if they counter back and forth, or if one buyer improves his or her offer).  No matter the exact path, the seller ultimately must pick one offer and sign off on it to ratify the sale.   In other words, when a buyer agrees to the multiple counter offer terms, it’s not a done deal.  The owner must sign again to accept and select that buyer. Only then is the contract ratified.

CAR and PRDS multiple counter offer paperwork

We have two sets of contarcts, addsenda, etc. in use in Silicon Valley – the PRDS and the CAR.  The California Association of Realtors (CAR) set is used throughout the state.  The PRDS is employed from about Los Gatos to somewhere south of San Francisco on the Peninsula.  Many areas such as Almaden or Campbell may work with either.

The CAR forms library has a separate document for multiple counter offers. Near the bottom of the page, there’s a place for the seller to sign when selecting a buyer for the sale.  Unless this is signed, the buyer doesn’t have the deal.

CAR Multiple Counter Offer

The Peninsula Regional Data Service (PRDS) form is not separate – it’s the same document used for just a single, binding counter offer.  However, at the bottom, there’s a place to indicate if it is a multiple counter offer.  Here’s how it looks:

PRDS Counter offer and multiple counter offer form

Obviously, it is extremely important to notice whether you’re receiving a regular counter offer or a multiple counter offer.  But either way, it’s clear that the seller must agree to choose one of the willing buyers.  Just pay attention to the details!

Are the price and terms of multiple counter offers all the same?

When a seller responds with a multiple counter offer, the price and terms could be the same for all of the bidders.  Most of the time, though, that’s not the case – the price and terms are not identical between one bidder and the next.  There are many possible reasons for this.

  1. There may be an offer with great terms (
  2. all cash , no contingencies, or?) but a price that’s not quite right.  That buyer may only get a counter based on price.
  3. Another potential buyer may have a strong price but not so hot terms (long contingencies, too many contingencies, less than ideal downpayment or financing).  A good example might be a sky high price with 5% down and FHA backed financing and an appraisal contingency (but money available that the buyer just doesn’t want to put in the down payment).  The seller may only counter out the appraisal contingency.   Other times the offer may be great but the contingencies are just too long, so the seller asks for them to be shortened.
  4. Sometimes all the issues are relatively small, such as whether or not the washer, dryer and fridge stay, or how much to pay for a rent back.
  5. Some sellers approach multiple counter offers the way some high school seniors approach college applications and target a “safety” price, a probably attainable price, and a “reach” price – and put three different numbers out there.
  6. I have seen sellers who were annoyed by rude buyers (or their agents) give the unpleasant people a sky high counter.  (The period before the offer deadline is the courtship, and buyers really need to be on their best behavior with both the seller and the listing agent.)

Anything else to know about multiple counter offers?

Two more things to know:  first, some buyers, when given a multiple counter offer, won’t just say yes or no.  Truly motivated and capable buyers sometimes instead just submit a better offer (redoing page 1 with a larger offer price, for instance).   Don’t assume that you won’t get uprooted, even if the listing agent tells you something leading like “it’s looking good for you” (which shouldn’t happen but sometimes may).  As long as the counter is in play, someone else can come in and get it.

And lastly, a good attitude and looking “rock solid” and sure can sometimes win the bid.  Not every seller does this, but it’s not uncommon for a home owner to take the first multiple counter offer returned with an acceptance.  The reason is that they want to sell to someone who is so sure that there’s no hesitation.

What are your cold feet costing you?It remains a strong seller’s real estate market in Silicon Valley, with many properties selling with multiple offers, but there’s an undercurrent of concern that we are the near the peak of pricing.  That has some buyers nervous (though most will quip that Apple and Google and others are still hiring, and the local economy is strong – so they are not too worried).  For those who are a little nervous, sometimes it turns into cold feet – and it’s costing them.

What we are seeing in terms of cold feet with Silicon Valley home buying:

This undercurrent is not being widely reported but we are experiencing it in our real estate practices as a few things have been taking place.

First, a larger than usual number of transactions have been falling through.  Many of these, though, are not recorded on the multiple listing service, as they take place right after an offer is accepted, so the listing agent and sellers turn to one of the other bidders and put them into contract within hours.  Because they aren’t recorded, it’s impossible to track – but the stories are out there of this happening more now than a year or two ago.

In other cases, offers are written and submitted but withdrawn before they could be countered or accepted.

And in others, buyer agents say that they will be submitting an offer, but on the day of offer presentation, the home buyers back out and the offer is never submitted.

In my experience, all of these things are happening “more than normal” right now.  A lot of it is not easily measurable.

Symptoms of cold feet to come

Home sellers want to feel confident when they accept a contract that it will stick, both because they don’t want the work or emotional upheaval associated with a transaction that falls through, but also because often the best price is the first price.  When a home ‘resells’, most of the time it is for less than the origanlly accepted bid.

For that reason, smart listing agents are looking for the symptoms of cold feet.  They’d rather not get their sellers into contract with nervous buyers who will change their mind about buying the house or condo.

Symptoms of nervousness about the property at an open house:

  • Dominating the listing agent’s time with incessant and low-level questions – best to give most of your questions to your own buyer’s agent, who will help you with them.   It’s good to ask about the home, the reports and so on, but you don’t want to take so much of the Realtor’s time that he or she cannot talk with others there.   Think balance both in terms of the time and the nature of the questions.   You want to present yourself as reasonable and easy to work with.
  • We often say that the longer a buyer stays, the more likely he or she is to write an offer.  This is true, up to a point.  Buyers who come to an open house and stay for 2 hours, or who make 4 or 5 trips to see the house go from looking interested to appearing unsure.

Symptoms of nervousness about the property (your potentially cold feet) when your offer is submitted:

  • Sending in an incomplete offer and supporting documents. If the listing agent requires proof of funds, provide it.  If the disclosures are to be signed, do all of them – not just the cover sheet.  Aim to be thorough, it will present you as serious.  It will also show that you are not a pain to work with, that you and your Realtor can follow directions and that the listing agent won’t have to chase down the paperwork later.  Go the extra mile, it helps!
  • Submitting an offer package “last minute”, without the buyer’s agent giving advance notice that it’s coming.  Related to this is seeing the property and reviewing everything well in advance, but only deciding a few hours before the deadline to actually write, sign, and submit the bid.   The serious buyers who are rock solid are the ones who know early on that they want the property and are committed to it early on.  Their buyer’s agent will let the listing agent know long before offers are due that these home buyers are going to bid on it.  One agent recently told me “my buyers are madly in love with the house” many days before the offer due date.  This makes a big impression on sellers and their agents.
  • If the buyer’s agent needs to call every few days to see how things are looking, it usually hints that the buyers are not too sure or that they will only write an offer if there’s limited competition.  The truly sure buyers plunge ahead despite competing bids or the lack of them.

Want to buy a home?  Try not to come across as skiddish to the listing agent!  Your cold feet may cost you the home, even if your offer’s got the highest price.  Home sellers and their agents want to feel confident that you will close on the sale if your offer is accepted.  Present yourself as serious, capable, reliable, and easy to work with and your odds of success will be increased.  At the end of the day, it is always “price and terms”, but never underestimate the influence that your behavior and your real estate agent’s behavior play into the overall package, because shaky buyers may not close the sale, but home buyers who are rock solid and madly in love with the house will.

Lastly, in an appreciating market, as we have right now, it should be noted that often the next house or townhouse or condo will be more costly or in worse shape than the one you could not decide to get serious about.  Stay nervous too long, and you could ultimately really impact how much home you can buy at all.  Worse yet, take too long and you may price yourself out of the market entirely.

Often the Silicon Valley real estate market takes a bit of a nosedive in December and January, only to make a comeback after the SuperBowl. Just now I ran the stats for the city of San Jose, which is big enough, at about 1 million people, to provide a good sense of the market generally.

Below please find a simple chart reflecting houses sold with the days on market and sale price to list price ratio.  You can see, clearly, that the SP to LP ratio dips noticeably in December & January, and also that the days on market rise.

Even so, how bad was it?  The average DOM was 38 (break-neck speed in any other part of the country) and the average SP to LP ratio fell to “only” 102%.

2016-3-1 San Jose Days on Market and Sale Price to List Price Ratio

 

That was it – that was the “break” that buyers get in winter.  Things are reversing course, as often they do in February, March, and April, and multiple offers with big overbids are again the major story in San Jose and throughout the Silicon Valley region. Just this last week I heard of a home in this valley that got 45 offers.

Home buyers, want to purchase this year?  Your best bet is to be financially well equiped with 25% down or more if you are buying in any of the hotter areas.  This is a nearly impossible market for FHA home buyers or for those with less than 20% down.

Home owners, want to sell this year?  You can maximize your return by doing smart fixes and thorough inspections to make buyers feel confident about purchasing your property.  That confidence can change the game and bring 10 offers where there might have been 5, and with the larger numbers of bidders usually there come also much larger sale prices.

Call me or email me if you would like to discuss working together and getting your best deal in the current Santa Clara County realty market.

Related reading:

Why do sellers care if the offer has a loan or is all cash?

Home selling? Small fixes that make a big, positive difference.

Shopping for what you can afford: how not to depress yourself while house hunting in Silicon Valley

 

Homes for sale in San Jose

  1. 4 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,486 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,751 sqft
  2. 2 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 982 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,176 sqft
  3. 5 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,537 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,015 sqft
  4. 4 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,311 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,276 sqft
  5. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,354 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,015 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of San Jose.
(all data current as of 5/25/2017)

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

Home Sweet HomeFrequently seller clients ask me how many things they ought to be removing in order to maximize their sales price.  It varies, but as a rule of thumb, most people should remove about half to two thirds of whatever is visible on counter tops, book shelves, dressers, etc.

The look you want is as if someone is barely living there.  Keep that in mind.

Of course, you also want to depersonalize.  If Silicon Valley home buyers visit your property and see your sports trophies (or your kids’), your college diploma, your religious decor, photos from your wedding and so on, they will find it irresistible. Instead of looking at the house that is for sale, they look at your personal items – which aren’t!  They’ll try to figure out who you are instead of whether your current home should be their next one.

By clearing out a lot of your accessories and excess furniture, but leaving enough in to show how a room can be used, you’ll enable your potential home buyer to “mentally move in”. Removing distractions can help your house or condo to sell itself. This can be tough when you’re still living there, but if you can decide that now it’s a place you’re selling.  Home will be where you go next, so let go of this current residence as home and you’ll have an easier time with the depersonalizing of your residence.

Often this is the most important step in staging a home for sale: making the space needed for buyers to mentally play out how they would use the space for themselves.

Interested in selling your home? I’d love to hear from you!

To read more about prepping your home for the market, check out a few of the related posts in the links below:

In a hurry? How to quickly get your Silicon Valley home ready to sell

Home selling?  Small fixes that make a big, positive difference.

How to Prepare for Your Open House

Selling Your Silicon Valley Home: Staging & Color

Creating a cheerful, sunny, welcoming environment for selling a Silicon Valley home

See what’s happening in your market:

  1. 2 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,622 sq ft
    Lot size: 566 sqft
  2. 1 bed, 1 full bath
    Home size: 889 sq ft
    Lot size: 261 sqft
  3. 2 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,622 sq ft
    Lot size: 566 sqft
  4. 1 bed, 1 full bath
    Home size: 830 sq ft
    Lot size: 261 sqft
  5. 2 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,622 sq ft
    Lot size: 566 sqft
  6. 0 beds, 1 full bath
    Home size: 661 sq ft
    Lot size: 261 sqft
  7. 1 bed, 1 full bath
    Home size: 899 sq ft
    Lot size: 261 sqft
  8. 2 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,421 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,524 sqft
  9. 1 bed, 1 full bath
    Home size: 904 sq ft
    Lot size: 304 sqft
  10. 9 beds, 3 full, 4 half baths
    Home size: 4,198 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,405 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of San Jose.
(all data current as of 5/25/2017)

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

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.

 

  1. 5 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 3,283 sq ft
    Lot size: 43,560 sqft
  2. 3 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 3,000 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.13 ac
  3. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,400 sq ft
    Lot size: 42,775 sqft
  4. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,686 sq ft
    Lot size: 14,549 sqft
  5. 6 beds, 5 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 5,161 sq ft
    Lot size: 29,403 sqft
  6. 3 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,091 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.41 ac
  7. 3 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,015 sq ft
    Lot size: 15,246 sqft
  8. 5 beds, 4 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 4,699 sq ft
    Lot size: 35,022 sqft
  9. 3 beds, 1 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,242 sq ft
    Lot size: 11,848 sqft
  10. 5 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 3,162 sq ft
    Lot size: 12,980 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of Saratoga.
(all data current as of 5/25/2017)

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

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.

Check out current activity in the Santa Clara County market in the map below:

  1. 2 beds, 1 full bath
    Home size: 416 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,532 sqft
  2. 2 beds, 1 full bath
    Home size: 900 sq ft
    Lot size: 19.56 ac
  3. 4 beds, 4 full, 2 half baths
    Home size: 4,714 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.60 ac
  4. 5 beds, 6 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 7,743 sq ft
    Lot size: 2.04 ac
  5. 4 beds, 4 full, 2 half baths
    Home size: 5,432 sq ft
    Lot size: 17,424 sqft
  6. 4 beds, 1 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,763 sq ft
    Lot size: 30,012 sqft
  7. 5 beds, 4 full baths
    Home size: 4,300 sq ft
    Lot size: 34.11 ac
  8. 5 beds, 5 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 3,964 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,405 sqft
  9. 3 beds, 1 full bath
    Home size: 2,682 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.94 ac
  10. 4 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,904 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,011 sqft
  11. 5 beds, 6 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 7,555 sq ft
    Lot size: 4.38 ac
  12. 5 beds, 4 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 5,588 sq ft
    Lot size: 20,037 sqft
  13. 5 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 4,000 sq ft
    Lot size: 9,975 sqft
  14. 5 beds, 4 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 6,217 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.44 ac
  15. 7 beds, 4 full baths
    Home size: 3,005 sq ft
    Lot size: 3.48 ac
  16. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,296 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,011 sqft
  17. 4 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 3,519 sq ft
    Lot size: 31,798 sqft
  18. 4 beds, 4 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 4,330 sq ft
    Lot size: 24.59 ac
  19. 3 beds, 1 full bath
    Home size: 1,301 sq ft
    Lot size: 13,329 sqft
  20. 3 beds, 1 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,725 sq ft
    Lot size: 13,329 sqft

See all Real estate matching your search.
(all data current as of 5/25/2017)

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

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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:
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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
Active Rain and Inman News.


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