Selling Tips

Tips for Home Sellers

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. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 2,432 sq ft
    Lot size: 43,560 sqft
  2. 5 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,479 sq ft
    Lot size: 12,283 sqft
  3. 4 beds, 4 baths
    Home size: 3,525 sq ft
    Lot size: 20,094 sqft
  4. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,933 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,601 sqft
  5. 6 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,527 sq ft
    Lot size: 13,050 sqft
  6. 4 beds, 4 baths
    Home size: 5,060 sq ft
    Lot size: 2.60 ac
  7. 5 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 3,324 sq ft
    Lot size: 21,401 sqft
  8. 2 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 948 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,319 sqft
  9. 5 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 3,082 sq ft
    Lot size: 14,039 sqft
  10. 4 beds, 4 baths
    Home size: 1,949 sq ft
    Lot size: 10,001 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of Saratoga.
(all data current as of 7/28/2017)

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. 4 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 5,255 sq ft
    Lot size: 5.07 ac
  2. 2 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 416 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,532 sqft
  3. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,084 sq ft
    Lot size: 3,528 sqft
  4. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,177 sq ft
    Lot size: 4,660 sqft
  5. 2 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 900 sq ft
    Lot size: 19.56 ac
  6. 4 beds, 6 baths
    Home size: 4,714 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.60 ac
  7. 4 beds, 6 baths
    Home size: 7,710 sq ft
    Lot size: 2.15 ac
  8. 5 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 7,743 sq ft
    Lot size: 2.04 ac
  9. 4 beds, 6 baths
    Home size: 5,432 sq ft
    Lot size: 17,424 sqft
  10. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 2,574 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.69 ac
  11. 5 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 4,310 sq ft
    Lot size: 18.81 ac
  12. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,763 sq ft
    Lot size: 30,012 sqft
  13. 3 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 2,682 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.94 ac
  14. 1 bed, 1 bath
    Home size: 624 sq ft
    Lot size: 13.69 ac
  15. 5 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 6,217 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.44 ac
  16. 4 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 4,330 sq ft
    Lot size: 24.59 ac
  17. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,725 sq ft
    Lot size: 13,329 sqft
  18. 3 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 1,301 sq ft
    Lot size: 13,329 sqft
  19. 6 beds, 0 baths
    Home size: 6,089 sq ft
    Lot size: 10.95 ac
  20. 1 bed, 1 bath
    Home size: 786 sq ft
    Lot size: 2.03 ac

See all Real estate matching your search.
(all data current as of 7/28/2017)

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

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California

The amount of all cash offers in Santa Clara County has been very high for the last couple of years, and I’ve written about it here.  But what of the luxury market?  At one point, I read that nationwide, 50% of all homes sold at over a million dollars were bought all cash, no loans.  So I thought it might be similar here.

Just now I logged onto to run the numbers for the last 90 days in Santa Clara County.  I ran the numbers with the following criteria:

  • houses, duet homes, townhouses and condos
  • sold within the last 90 days (closed escrow)
  • within Santa Clara County
  • sale price at or over $2,000,000

The number of properties matching this list over the last 90 days was 351 (it was 306 on 5/24/14).

The number of properties matching this list which were identified as having all cash, no loans financing = 108 (it was 111 on 5/24/14)

The percentage of all cash sales identified as such on the MLS for this period is 30.77% (back on 5/24/14, it was 36%).  (For all prices right now, it appears that the average is 16.86% or so. – it was 18% on 5/24/14.)

Disclaimer: for this to be accurate, it requires the listing agent or office admin who closes out the sale on the MLS to accurately represent the financing used.  It is possible that this is off, and the more accurate data could be from the county records themselves. If I can obtain that data, I’ll update this article then.

Back to the ratio of cash sales in the luxury market: why does it matter?  More than anything, it matters because interest rates are rising and this impacts the buyers’ ability to purchase property.  In real estate generally, if interest rates rise, home values are negatively impacted.  We’ll want to see what impact the more expensive loan products have on high end or estate housing, not just here in Silicon Valley, but across the country.

See homes currently for sale in Santa Clara County in the map below:

  1. 5 beds, 0 baths
    Home size: 22,006 sq ft
    Lot size: 8.03 ac
  2. 5 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 4,900 sq ft
    Lot size: 192.00 ac
  3. 7 beds, 0 baths
    Home size: 10,800 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.26 ac
  4. 5 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 7,145 sq ft
    Lot size: 23,522 sqft
  5. 6 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 9,322 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.80 ac
  6. 5 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 7,213 sq ft
    Lot size: 2.90 ac
  7. 0 beds, 0 bath
    Home size: 29,716 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.08 ac
  8. 0 beds, 0 bath
    Home size: 41,250 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.54 ac
  9. 7 beds, 8 baths
    Home size: 5,500 sq ft
    Lot size: 932.37 ac
  10. 5 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 7,326 sq ft
    Lot size: 26,697 sqft
  11. 6 beds, 0 baths
    Home size: 10,489 sq ft
    Lot size: 16.10 ac
  12. 5 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 7,525 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.60 ac
  13. 8 beds, 8 baths
    Home size: 8,300 sq ft
    Lot size: 3.51 ac
  14. 7 beds, 8 baths
    Home size: 12,400 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.12 ac
  15. 6 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 7,044 sq ft
    Lot size: 19,079 sqft
  16. 6 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 8,434 sq ft
    Lot size: 43,560 sqft
  17. 7 beds, 0 baths
    Home size: 8,492 sq ft
    Lot size: 43,124 sqft
  18. 7 beds, 8 baths
    Home size: 6,329 sq ft
    Lot size: 18,935 sqft
  19. 4 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 7,614 sq ft
    Lot size: 42,993 sqft
  20. 5 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 5,015 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.25 ac

See all Real estate matching your search.
(all data current as of 7/28/2017)

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

Drawer and cabinet pulls or hardwareIf you are thinking of selling your home, it can be tempting to tell yourself that it will make no difference whether or not you fix it up prior to marketing it – after all, it’s a seller’s market, right?  This is a costly mistake to make, and it’s far from the truth.

Often, cluttered, tired homes sell for far less than they could with just a little touch up.   Homes with a few inexpensive fix ups can a fantstic return on investment. I’ll name a few today.

Recently I saw the little cabinet handle photographed here.  I remember it from my childhood and if I had to guess, would say it was from the late 1960s to early 1970s.  I’m pretty sure we had the same exact hardware on my parents’ first Saratoga house (a lovely, big, George Day tract home sitting on an acre near West Valley college). I’ve seen these same pulls in Almaden and all over Silicon Valley.

But home buyers in the San Jose area don’t want these relics from 50 years ago.  They want something sleek.  And they don’t want to have to install it themselves after they move in if it can be helped.  Seeing loads of little projects can feel overwhelming.  “It’s too much work”, I’ll hear them say – and that’s before even looking at the disclosures or the inspection reports!  When they think “Silicon Valley real estate”, they want to see something attractive and in today’s styles.

There are many small things that home sellers can do to make a home visually appealling and to give buyers confidence that the home is move-in ready.  In addition to decluttering (it cannot be stressed enough how important this is), providing pre-sale inspections and a complete disclosure package that’s been filled out very thoroughly, there are some simple, fairly inexpensive things that will bring a strong return for your expense and hard work:

  • Fresh paint (get rid of wallpaper in most cases) is almost always needed in every room and at least on the trim outside. Think neutral shades.
  • New carpeting in a neutral shade.
  • If you have hardwood, refinish it or at least get it buffed and cleaned – home buyers love hardwood floors and will pay a premium for them (but don’t install if you do not already have them).
  • Make sure that the entire home is clean, including the windows and the window tracks, the fireplace, the outside spaces, garage, etc.
  • If the cabinets in the bathrooms and kitchen do not look good, consider painting or refacing them, and add new, contemporary looking pulls.
  • If the countertops are old and tired, see about installing slab granite or something more contemporary looking.
  • Got old light fixtures? replace them – the new ones do not have to be expensive, but they lights should not be thirty or more years old
  • Curb appeal matters: buyers do sometimes see a house from the street and decide not to go in. Don’t let that happen to you!
  • The front door, mailbox, and front porch areas need to be clean and inviting – it helps to have colorful flowers near the door, if possible.

Every property will have slightly different needs, but these are the basics.  Staging is a must if the home is vacant!

Want to sell your Silicon Valley home? Please call or email me and we can set up a time to talk (no obligation, of course).


Please also read:
Preparing Your Silicon Valley Home to Sell and Return on Investment

Digging deeper with disclosures (4 minute video of me talking –  a discussion about researching red flags and avoiding problems later)

  1. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,326 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,248 sqft
  2. 3 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 1,360 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,301 sqft
  3. 2 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,152 sq ft
    Lot size: 435 sqft
  4. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,181 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,279 sqft
  5. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,683 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,998 sqft
  6. 2 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,152 sq ft
    Lot size: 435 sqft
  7. 2 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,125 sq ft
    Lot size: 574 sqft
  8. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,360 sq ft
    Lot size: 3,388 sqft
  9. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,716 sq ft
    Lot size: 2,252 sqft
  10. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,206 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,033 sqft

See all Real estate in the Santa Clara community.
(all data current as of 7/28/2017)

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

Questions that the disclosures raiseWhen in doubt, disclose” is the advice that real estate and legal professionals use as a guiding principal in home sales.  And yet many sellers forget or miss things that should be told to the buyer, and some listing agents are a bit sloppy in reviewing their clients’ disclosure paperwork.  It is not uncommon to see questions unanswered or only partially answered.  The home owner may presume that if the disclosure paperwork was done wrong, the Realtor hired to help market and sell the home will catch it.  Would that it were so, but too often, that is not the case.

To avoid problems later, whether small or big, it is best to be thorough and careful while making your disclosure.

Small problems are created by seller (and listing broker) omissions when the paperwork gets kicked back for clarification or to complete the needed response.  Bigger problems are forged when a sale is nearly closed and a new disclosure is made – introducing a brand new 3 day “right of rescission” for the home buyer.  Worse yet is something substantial which is only brought to light after the close of escrow.  At that point, it’s not an inconvenience, it risks being costly and time consuming to resolve it.

The State of California requires that the Transfer Disclosure Statement or TDS be filled out in most realty transactions.  The intention of the form is to help you, the property owner, to disclose anything materially impacting value or desirability.  That’s a tall order to fill, so other forms have been created to supplement the TDS, which has pretty much become Step #1 for disclosing defects and other issues to buyers.

What kind of things are often skipped in the real estate disclosure paperwork?

On the TDS, a very common error involves the question as to whether Continue reading

Licensed contractor neededHome sellers appreciate it when their Realtor takes some of the workload off of their shoulders.  In some places, we are seeing real estate licensees overstepping their professional boundaries, though, and acting as if they are general contractors and overseeing the complete rehabilitation of properties before they go on the market.  Unless those agents are also licensed contractors, they likely are acting illegally, though.

A few years ago, I had a listing appointment in Milpitas with a home owner who felt that my job, as a seller’s agent, would be to get the home ready for market. “I work full time, I cannot supervise all these people coming in to fix up my house,” she said.  I explained to her that I am not a licensed contractor and it would be illegal for me to take responsibility over the plumbers, electricians, and the rest of the trades.  She truly believed that these functions were part of a real estate agent’s job and nothing I said could convince her otherwise, so I told her that I could not work with her in the sale of her home.  Where did her expectation come from?  Most likely, she’d heard stories of other people selling their homes and having the listing agents do the lion’s share of organizing and supervising the fixup-to-sell jobs.

When is a contractor’s license needed?  It’s simple.  Here is a quote from the California State Contractors Licensing Board:

“In California, anyone who contracts to perform work on a project that is valued at $500 or more for combined labor and materials costs must hold a current, valid license from CSLB.”

When in doubt, check with the Contractors State License Board!

What can the Realtor do legally to assist a home owner in preparing a property to sell?

As a listing agent who is not a licensed contractor, I can Continue reading

ConfidenceConfidence is perhaps the most under-appreciated factor in Silicon Valley home buyers and home sellers in getting more of what they want, or being successful at all.

Home buyers who feel confident about the market generally may buy, but when they have a lack of confidence that properties are holding their value, they don’t – even though a “buyer’s market” is often a great time to purchase real estate!

Silicon Valley home buyers who are confident about a particular property are more likely to pay more and to go into the bidding process with fewer contingencies and shorter contingencies, if any at all.  When they lack confidence in a property, the seller’s truthfulness, the listing agent’s professionalism, in the neighborhood or in the real estate market itself, they either don’t bid or they bid low.

Home sellers who feel confident about a buyer and that buyer’s financial abilities are more likely to choose him or her over others.  They want to feel that the buyer can perform, that the sale will close and there will be no “re-negotiation” are more likely to accept that offer than one which is riskier.  Sellers know that when a home falls out of contract, it often sells for less the 2nd time – so they do not want the sale to fall apart.  For that reason, most of them now want offers which are without any contingencies (or perhaps very short ones).

They also want the most money possible, of course, but if it’s neck and neck between the higher price with worse terms or slightly lower price with stronger terms, they will either counter the lower price up a little or they will outright accept the offer with more security of closing.

Often with multiiple offers, there will be a solid “band of pricing” where most home buyers seem to think the value lies.  Then there will be one or two who are higher.  Maybe one will “spike” the price.  But if the spiked price comes with an appraisal contingency, it is really a mirage, an illusion, since the price will likely be renegotiated later.   When listing agents see that kind of spread in prices offered, most of the time they’ll try to get the people with the best terms to move up in price.  It may not go all the way to the spiked price which is laiden with contingencies, but it will probably move in that direction.

What can San Jose area buyers and sellers do to improve their odds of success?  I would say the number one thing is to improve the sense of confidence on the other side of the bargaining table.

What can Silicon Valley home sellers to do enable buyers to feel confident (and to pay top dollar)?

Home sellers can increase the confidence levels of buyers by doing the following: Continue reading

CAR seller disclosure: Seller Property QuestionairreIn this highly overheated seller’s real estate market in Silicon Valley, I’m suddenly seeing many more houses being sold with extensive remodeling and no permits and finalsnone!

Sellers can get away with this in a hot market, meaning that buyers have limited power to walk away from such a home because the inventory is scarce.  But what happens when things cool down to, say, a balanced market?  Suddenly those houses and condos with massive, non-permitted remodeling may lose a lot of their appeal, and  home sellers needing to move just then may pay the price in what pickier buyers will pony up for it.

Some home owners meekly claim to believe that they only need permits if they expand the original footprint of the house.  That’s just plain wrong, and most likely know better, too.

How can you learn about a home’s remodeling history?

First, then, how do you as a home buyer know the situation with the remodeling? Most of the time, San Jose area home sellers provide upfront disclosures and inspection reports, and the answer may be revealed there.

CAR vs PRDS paperwork

We have 2 sets of contracts, disclosure forms, etc. in use here: the Peninsula Regional Data Service, or PRDS, and the California Association of Realtors, or CAR.  Here’s one place where the PRDS forms are far better than the CAR forms.  The CAR seller disclosure, the Seller Property Questionairre, simply asks if the seller is aware of any alterations, modifications, remodeling, replacements or material repairs on the property.  Many sellers are not careful and just mark “no” to every answer, but this is an extremely important question! So buyers, ask yourselves, does everything in this home look unaltered from the time it was built?  Probably not.

The PRDS Supplemental Seller’s Checklist asked for detailed information on what was done, when, and whether permits and finals were obtained.  The first set of questions is for the time the current seller has owned the property, but then it’s asked again regarding prior ownership.  This is so much more thorough!

PRDS SCC alterations and permits


Many municipalities (towns, cities, counties) have online permit history.  It may not always be accurate, which I why I strongly advise home owners to keep a copy of everything, but more often than not it is correct – so it’s a good place for consumers to check.  In San Jose it’s a breeze with  These are things which buyers and sellers investigate, not real estate agents (nor do real estate licensees check the Megan’s Law Database, but consumers should). Continue reading

waterfallEl Niño is coming – at least we ferverently hope so!  The latest news tells us that there’s a 95% chance of an El Niño winter, but not only that, they are expecting it to be a doozy.

What if you need to sell your Silicon Valley home in the middle of the deluge?  It is possible, of course – home buyers need to buy no matter what the weather is like. The trick is to maximize your sales price and minimize inconvenience and risk to everyone involved.  To that end, here are a few tips from my professional experience.  If the onslaught of water does come, the rainy season will likely go from November to March or April, with the spring months being the peak selling season most years.

Some tips for selling your home in Silicon Valley during an extra wet year:

  1. Safety first: if home buyers come in soaking wet, it’s good to have a non-slip mat (as opposed to a towel on slippery tile) for them to step onto with their wet shoes so they don’t fall and get hurt.  If there’s a back door that they might use to view the yard, have a non-slip mat there too.
  2. Related to the first point, if you would like them to remove shoes or put on shoe covers / booties, provide a place to sit so that they don’t get injured in the process of respecting your wishes.  Some home buyers will be wearing laced shoes or boots.  Others may be older or have balance problems.  Do not expect them to be able to stand on one foot while trying to get the covers on.  If you have a covered front porch, a bench there is fine – just have the shoe covers available there too.
  3. Please consider adding an umbrella stand, or a place for umbrellas, on the front porch or the entry hall so that your prospective home buyers are not obligated to carry a wet one through your home.
  4. With heavy cloud cover, even the brightest houses can appear to be dark, so lighting is more important than ever.   Do you have dark areas in the home?  If you have enough lead time, you might consider hiring an electrician to add recessed lights, wall sconces or other fixtures.  Table lamps will not have nearly as large an impact as lights up high, and in some cases the low lighting may make a home feel darker due to the shadows being cast.  The vast majority of home buyers who see a house as light feel much happier about the prospect of living there.
  5. Natural light is important too.  Make sure you open your curtains wide!  Many curtains do not entirely clear the window, so consider adding a pull-back.
  6. Decluttering is extra important during inclement weather, as visitors may be wearing raincoats or holding umbrellas and literally need more space as the pass through rooms.  Make sure that delicate and breakable objects are away from the traffic pattern.
  7. Do occassionally open your home up a bit to let fresh air in so that the house does not become stuffy.
  8. Be sure to run bathroom fans a little longer on rainy days so that humidity does not build up, which may cause odors and lead to mildew.
  9. Keep your house at a comfortable temperature, even if you are gone to work all day.  Home buyers who are uncomfortable will not linger in the house, and if they don’t linger, they won’t buy!  Keep your thermostat set to at least 67 degrees.
  10. Do not burn candles, use scented electronic devices or air fresheners with odors as these are red flags for home buyers – it implies that you are hiding something.

These are the tips specific to rainy, wet, cloudy, dark days – many of them will apply to other conditions, and this is not an exclusive list of what home owners need to do to maximize their sale price and net.

Related reading on this site:  Home selling

Related reading on Home selling tips (multiple articles)

Related reading on my Live in Los Gatos blog:  The race to beat El Niño for home sellers (tips on what to do NOW, before the rain starts)

  1. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,326 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,248 sqft
  2. 0 beds, 0 bath
    Home size: 2,842 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,028 sqft
  3. 2 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 1,000 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,501 sqft
  4. 3 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 1,360 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,301 sqft
  5. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,603 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,145 sqft
  6. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 3,066 sq ft
    Lot size: 11,038 sqft
  7. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,916 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,507 sqft
  8. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 2,432 sq ft
    Lot size: 43,560 sqft
  9. 2 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,351 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,041 sqft
  10. 2 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,140 sq ft

See all Real estate matching your search.
(all data current as of 7/28/2017)

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

PhoneOne area of conflict with real estate professionals can be communication and expectations. The number one complaint to the National Association of Realtors regarding licensee’s behavior involves communication – or rather, the lack of it. Too many realty professionals just don’t keep in touch enough.

That said, sometimes consumer expectations can be out of line.   At times I have run into this with people who are not currently my clients, but strangers to me who may be clients later (“prospects”):

  • people I do not know, texting me questions without even saying who they are
  • folks asking for callbacks or response on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night
  • consumers getting frustrated if they call me, don’t reach me, but don’t leave a message so that I can phone back

Because many Realtors work much more than 5 days per week, some people have the expectation that we are always “on call”.  This is just not true – we are not always waiting by the phone for an incoming inquiry from someone we do not know.  We might be out with clients, working on an offer, preparing for a listing appointment, driving to preview homes, sitting in a signoff or doing any number of other real estate jobs in which we cannot pick up the call or respond to a text.  Training, coursework and continuing education, whether for a day or a week or online also eats into availability.  We might be doing volunteer work with our real estate board or some charitable endeavor.  Or we might be doing something personal that cannot be interrupted, as with a medical appointment.   (See “What do real estate agents do?“)  And just like everyone else, we also do need time off both from physical appointments but also from work email, running comps, and other computer or phone tasks which tend to take up a lot of time too.

A lot of times, the best reglationships happen when there’s been a conversation around availability (yours and theirs both), off time, response time, etc.  Here are some suggestions when you are just beginning to work with someone in real estate.

  1. Most Realtors would prefer that the first interaction not be by text, but instead by email or phone.  If you call, and get your Realtor live and in person, ask if now’s a good time to talk.  Many will pick up the phone not knowing if it will be a 30 second call or a 30 minute one, so do ask – he or she may only have time for the briefest of conversations right then and there.
  2. Do tell the real estate professional your full name (not “Tom from San Jose”), whether you are calling about buying or selling, and why you are reaching out.
  3. For the first call, try to be somewhat concise.  If you want to sell, I need to see your home in person, so telling me the infinite details on floor covering or curtains will not be useful right then – those items can wait.  We never want to cut someone short but if you err on the side of brief, we can always ask you for more details.
  4. If you get a voice mail message, please leave your contact info, the reason for your call, and your return number –  and say it slowly and clearly.  It is really nice if your return number is the same one you call us on.   (Realtors get a LOT of soliciations for web placement, advertising on bus benches and the like, so if you only say “This is Tom from Santa Clara, please call me back”, without anything else, you will sound like a telemarketer to us, and you may not get the call back at all.)
  5. Please allow a few hours for your call to be returned.  Sometimes we have relocation buyers in the car and it’s a marathon day before we have 2 minutes to check messages and return calls.  Most of us will try to get back to you as soon as possible.  I know that I certainly will.
  6. Sometimes, albeit rarely, there’s a lot of phone tag.  That doesn’t need to happen – worst case, set an appointment and talk when you both can clear the time for it.

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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.
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Mary’s other sites & blogs
Valley Of Hearts Delight
Santa Clara County Real Estate,
with an interest in history
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Silicon Valley real estate,
focus on home selling

Silicon Valley Real Estate Report
Silicon Valley real estate
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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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