While there are many natural hazards that are commonly discussed in the San Jose area, such as earthquake faults, flood planes, and liquefaction zones, there’s one which comes up frequently on the east coast but is largely ignored here in the Valley of Heart’s Delight. The question is this: is there a radon risk in Silicon Valley  homes?
Radon is a colorless, odorless gas - what is the risk of radon in Silicon Valley homes?

First, though, what is radon?

Per the EPA website, “Radon (chemical symbol Rn) is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium and radium found in nearly all rocks and soils. Radon can move up from the ground into buildings through openings in floors or walls that are in contact with the ground.”

If the idea that a radioactive carcinogenic gas can enter your home or workplace completely unnoticed spooks you, that’s understandable. Thankfully, it is uncommon to find radon at high enough concentrations for concern in Silicon Valley. It’s helpful in that regard that it’s a region with few smokers and few basements, both of which can increase the risk.

That being said, radon can be found all over the world, and similarly, homes high in radon can be found anywhere, though they are more or less common depending on where you are.

So how do you know your radon risk?

Santa Clara County is considered to be a moderate, and not high, radon area. Different geological conditions may make an area more or less prone to high levels of radon gas, though, so even here it is possible to have a radon risk.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Geological Survey have mapped by county the average potential radon levels in the area, divided into three zoning (Level 3 being the lowest and Level 1 the highest average measurement zones) for buildings without radon remediation. Santa Clara County is a Zone 2 area per the map linked to above. Check the map at Berkeley Lab Columbia Univeristy Radon Project page. Areas with the greatest risk, and which suggest remediation, are those in Zone 1. The are counties with predicted average indoor radon screening levels greater than 4 pCi/L.

If you would like to check your home’s radon risk levels, there are two tests you can use to measure indoor exposure: a short-term test and a long-term test, and both are affordable. The short-term test only takes a few days, might cost around $15, and is a less reliable way to get results quickly. Long-term measurements take a year and uses detectors placed one on each living level of the house (so approximately $25 for a single-story, $50 for a two-story home). These are much more accurate, so they are the ones preferred by researchers and home owners, but the results will take longer to reach and the cost is higher.

Worst-case-scenario, you have measured 4+ pCi/L (picoCuries per liter of air), the level at which the EPA recommends remediation. Now what? Prepare to spend a few thousand dollars (a great bargain to keep you and your family healthy). The standard treatment involves the installation of a pipeline and fan system which will pull the seeping gas from the ground beneath your house and redirect it outside where it can disperse safely in the air. The only apparent downside to this procedure (other than the time and cost of installation) is that your heat and air conditioning costs may rise slightly. Check with the experts, though, to get the full scope of both the risk and the remediation impact.

Read more at the pages listed below.

http://stat.columbia.edu/radon/

https://www.epa.gov/radon

https://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/7000018/report.pdf

https://certmapper.cr.usgs.gov/data/PubArchives/radon/georadon/3.html

How’s the Saratoga California real estate market?

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California

This is a fairly comprehensive article on the Saratoga real estate market that will include the live statistics from Altos Research for listed properties (not closed) in Saratoga CA 95070, the closed sale data from the RE Report for last month in Saratoga 95070, and the numbers I crunched for Saratoga – overall and by price point and high school district, since Saratoga has 3 different high school districts, each with an impact on home values.

First, let’s consider the months of inventory by price point and high school district that I crunched using MLSListings.com, our local multiple listing service provider.

The months of inventory is a reference to how fast homes would be absorbed into the market if sales continued at the same pace and no new inventory came onto the market. It’s often referred to as “the absorption rate” – and that can be months of inventory, weeks of inventory, or days of inventory. A “balanced” market is somewhere around 4-5 months for us, though the National Association of Realtors says that 6 months is balanced nationwide. Anything under 3 is a good seller’s market, and under 1 is like saying that homes are “flying off the market.”

(For comparison, please also see a similar article on the Live in Los Gatos blog for the town of Los Gatos – real estate market by price point and high school district.)

Here’s the chart for Saratoga – all price points, all school districts.

And for comparison, here’s the chart from last month:

This month shows a very stable market with minute warming since last month. The overall 1.5 MOI is a hot sellers market showing active Summer conditions. By comparing across school districts you can see how different each area’s individual market can be. The overall MOI for different schools this month ranges from 0.8 to 1.895. Small levels of inventory can create big data swings and can make for less accurate charts. Nonetheless, we can still spot market trends if we know where to look.

 

Continue reading

Leo or Leona - the mascot of Los GatosThe Los Gatos real estate market is varied from one price point or school district to the next, but over all, this is a fairly stable period with some slight warming over the last couple of months. Here are the current numbers, per my Los Gatos real estate report (click on the link for full information).

The Los Gatos Mountains are a distinctly different market and as such are covered in a separate market update, updated less frequently than here, but with live Altos charts for that area.

Los Gatos / Monte Sereno housing values and pricing trends (aka “area 16” for our MLS, zip codes 95030 and 95032)

Do you love Los Gatos, live there now or want to live there? Please also visit the Live in Los Gatos Blog!

Learn about Los Gatos neighborhoods, see photos, videos, pricing information, age of homes and much more! Get frequent Los Gatos real estate market updates, find out about local events, business, see images of the parks, historic buildings, and get to know Los Gatos even better. “Live in Los Gatos” is an award winning blog, also written by local Los Gatos Realtor and resident Mary Pope-Handy – check it out today!

Live in Los Gatos Blog

Please continue reading for info on the Los Gatos condo market, and for real estate market information on Monte Sereno. Continue reading

What does it cost to buy a home with really good schools in Silicon Valley? Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino and Palo Alto are all areas with highly regarding public schools. These aren’t the only areas with good schools but they are popular “west valley” areas that people may consider if working for Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook or any number of high tech employers.

Los Gatos and Saratoga both have multiple school districts, running from good to very good or excellent. The cost of housing tends to follow the popularity of the district, so for those areas I’m showing the breakdown not just for the whole town of Los Gatos but also by the high school district (Los Gatos-Saratoga or Campbell Union High School District). Same with Saratoga. (The Monte Sereno real estate market is very similar to Los Gatos, but slightly more expensive. Most of Monte Sereno has Los Gatos schools, but a small number of homes are in the Campbell area.)

Here are the average numbers for single family homes sold in the last 60 days ranging from 1500 – 2500 square feet, on a lot between 5000 and 10,000 SF, with 3-5 bedrooms and 2-3 bathrooms to give a sense of what it would cost to purchase a typical house in these areas. Please note that right now it’s a strong seller’s market, so many (if not most or all) homes are selling for more than the list price.  DOM stands for days on the market.

If you are new to Santa Clara County, you may be wondering if this is correct. The cost to buy a home in these areas is what?

  • Los Gatos: approximately $1,500,000 to $2,150,000 depending on the school district
  • Saratoga: approximately $1,700,000 to about $2,500,000 depending on the schools
  • Cupertino: approx $2,000,000 (some high schools will bring in higher prices and others lower)
  • Palo Alto: approx $2,700,000 – $3,000,000

Remember, these prices do not mean that the houses being sold are perfect. Because it is a strong seller’s market, many properties are being sold which need new roofing, extensive pest work, remodeling, perhaps updating of electrical or plumbing systems or more. Many home buyers will need to spend 1-2% on things like termite fumigation, dry rot or roof repairs, carpets, paint, windows and more, and usually this will be done before they move in. So whatever the budget is, buffer it a little bit for both money and time to make it turnkey.

To compare, here’s the same chart, following the same criteria, taken in April 2014. See what’s changed:

Market info April 19 2014

 

For people relocating to Silicon Valley from out of the San Jose or Peninsula area, this real estate market can be daunting. There are other areas with good schools which are a bit further from most employment areas which can be an alternative, too. They include the Cambrian 95124 and Almaden 95120 (especially the southern area with Bret Harte Middle School and Leland High School) areas within San Jose.

Finally, in some cases, it may be more affordable to make use of private schools, which are plentiful in the San Francisco Bay area. In some situations it can be financially more affordable to buy outside of the highly competitive areas with the best schools and utilize the private school system. Some of the private schools are religious, some secular, and some with a language focus (bilingual in French, German, Chinese, etc.).

Interested in purchasing a home in one of these fantastic communities?  Please call or email me!  408 204-7673  or mary (at) popehandy.com

  1. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 2,002 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,649 sqft
  2. 1 bed, 1 bath
    Home size: 884 sq ft
  3. 0 beds, 0 bath
    Home size: 2,794 sq ft
    Lot size: 9,051 sqft
  4. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,727 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,711 sqft
  5. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,414 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,305 sqft
  6. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,531 sq ft
    Lot size: 13,939 sqft
  7. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,190 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,050 sqft
  8. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,540 sq ft
    Lot size: 3,301 sqft
  9. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,154 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,409 sqft
  10. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,069 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,993 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of Cupertino.
(all data current as of 8/22/2017)

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

How is the Campbell real estate market?How is the Campbell real estate market? Here are the numbers, but what do those numbers mean? The sales vs list price remains well over 100%, almost 107% this month, and the average days on market remain low at 17 days for the second month in a row. Campbell is in a strong seller’s market.

Further down in this article, we’ll utilize the graphs from Altos Research, which uses list prices, and check out the trends in pricing by quartile in this zip code (meaning 4 groups based on the pricing tier from least to most expensive). Campbell condominiums and townhomes will be considered as well. And finally, a list of homes for sale in Campbell will be found at the bottom of the post.

First, here are some quick stats, care of my RE Report for Campbell:

What about the Campbell CA condo market?

Continue reading

Almaden Valley homes for sale and real estate market conditionsThe Almaden Valley real estate market is still in a stable sellers market. Winter brought about a steep drop in inventory, and summer failed to bring enough new listings to fulfill demand. There must be either a lot more inventory, or significantly less demand, before we see anything close to a balanced market. The Almaden Valley market is noticing minor softening, with homes selling, on average, slightly above list price at 102.6%. Turnover has dropped slightly to an average of 18 days on market (or DOM). This tells us that while there may be a slight warming trend, Almaden Valley is in a sustained, hot sellers market.

Please find the current statistics for single family homes (houses & duet homes) from my Almaden Valley real estate report (click on link for more info).

Almaden Valley San Jose 95120 Real Estate Statistics At A Glance

The data shows a strong sellers market remaining fairly consistent despite increasing inventory over the summer. The best homes will see multiple offers, a response to low inventory and high demand.

Altos Research charts for houses in Almaden (San Jose 95120)

Please note that Altos Research uses list prices of Almaden Valley homes for sale, not sold prices.

An overview:

90-day stats for Single Family properties in
SAN JOSE, CA 95120 as of August 18, 2017
Median List Price:$1,611,554Average List Price:$1,915,971
Total Inventory:27Price per Square Foot:$604
Average Home Size:2,629Median Lot Size:9,959
Average # Beds:4.35Average # Baths:3.16
Homes Absorbed:8Newly Listed:7
Days on Market:37Average Age:37

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

Continue reading

Bel Estos Drive near Carlton and Rosswood in San Jose's Cambrian areaMy Cambrian area of San Jose Real Estate Report was recently published with the updated numbers from the closed sales last month for this part of San Jose (95124 and 95118 with a little of 95008 too). Please click on the link above to see much more information there.

In this district of San Jose, we have been experiencing dreadfully low inventory of homes for sale, and buyers aren’t backing off as much as usual for this time of year – I believe because there is just a whole lot of pent up demand from upwards of two years in a deep seller’s market. What does that mean? Sellers, if you have a problem home, or one not updated or well maintained, this is the time to sell it – buyers have little to choose from so are purchasing properties that need more work than they would bother with in a more balanced market.

Want to learn more about Cambrian Park real estate, the Cambrian district, Cambrian neighborhoods, school districts and zip codes? Please also see this article: Cambrian Park: Good Schools, Low Crime, Close to Los Gatos and Campbell. Cambrian neighborhoods can be located at the menu bar:  Neighborhoods –> San Jose (all areas) –> Cambrian Park (SJ).

Be sure to read to the end to see the live Altos charts too – they are near the end of the article so please keep reading into the next page!

Generally speaking it is still a hot seller’s market and great time to sell a Cambrian home.

 Please see the whole Cambrian Real Estate Report for charts, stats and more.
Other related Cambrian district resources:
Learn about the Cambrian months of inventory, or absorption rate, by elementary school district.

The condo and townhouse real estate market for San Jose 95124 & 95118

money faucet graphicIf you are tired of paying $3,000 per month in rent for a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment and have decided that you want to buy a Silicon Valley home, you may find that it’s complicated and scary as the San Jose area is in a very deep seller’s market. Let’s take a quick look at the major challenges and decisions you’ll face as a potential Silicon Valley home buyer.

Silicon Valley home buyer challenges

Affordability – or the lack of it

The cash challenge - the Lincoln 5 dollar bill as a jigsaw puzzleChallenge # 1: the cost of housing is staggering, whether you are renting or buying, whether you are a first time home buyer or you’ve just relocated from somewhere else less expensive (meaning almost anywhere). Homes under a half million dollars are few and far between, as the newspapers and media have recently announced, and the median price of houses in Santa Clara County is about $1.1 million (and closer to $1.3 million in San Mateo County, less in Santa Cruz County), with the average price being higher still. Of course, condos and townhomes are less pricey, but they will have Home Owner Association or HOA dues to factor in. Same with mobile homes, which nearly always have space rents of $1,000 or more in Silicon Valley. If you want to buy a Silicon Valley home, figuring out “how much house” you can afford when purchasing can be a painful exercise. (Hint: your success in life is not reflected in the size or remodeling of your home here. The odds are good that you will be disappointed when you see how little you can buy.)

How much can you afford in this hyper expensive real estate market?

The old rule of thumb is that a consumer can qualify for a mortgage for 3-4 times his or her annual income. Translation: if you make $200,000 per year,  and don’t have other debt (student loans, car payment, etc.), you may get a mortgage of $600,000 to $800,000 (and then you need the down payment on top of that).  In most parts of Silicon Valley, that means buying a condo or a townhouse, not a single family home.  In addition to the down payment, there will be closing costs, and most likely repairs to the property since in the current market sellers usually aren’t providing section 1 pest clearances or doing other repairs. Cash is crucial.

Challenge #2 if you want to buy a Silicon Valley home: money for the down payment, closing costs, repairs, and reserves – it’s more than you might think.   Pulling together the hefty down payment and other needed money is always hard. In this crazy area, though, most people who want to buy a Silicon Valley home need not just 20% down, but additional funds in order to be competitive with multiple offers. So you may need to be able to throw $200,000 to $400,000 down on  that normal, non-luxury house or townhouse.  Saving that much money is a trick, and many first time home buyers either get help from parents or are cashing in on stock options to pull it off. Most of the time, home prices seem to appreciate faster than buyers can save, so having some sort of boost beyond your own saving power is critical for most.  This has been true for many decades here – both the relatively high cost of housing and the difficulty in pulling together 20% or more for the down payment. (It was true in the late 1980s when my husband and I were trying to buy our first home, too.)  It’s even harder now, though, as 25% is often the bottom amount that will get your offer seriously considered if there are multiple bidders on a home for sale. Continue reading

Bathroom 1960s style (or earlier)Keeping up with the latest trends in home decor and remodeling is a bit like painting the Golden Gate Bridge: by the time you’re done, you need to do it all over again. Styles change, tastes change. How often do you really want to remodel and update your hardware, light fixtures, floor coverings – to say nothing of kitchens and bathrooms? If these items are functional and you like them, there’s no reason to change. Then again, if you’re going to sell your home and want to maximize the return, it might be worth it to do some updating.

The average American kitchen is remodeled about every 17 years – that’s long enough to jump from one trend to the next, one set of materials or colors to the next. If you wait long enough, certain themes actually come “full circle,” not unlike clothes!

To make a point: in the mid 70s, brushed brass was in, and many if not most homes built then in the San Jose, Silicon Valley area were made with brushed brass doorknobs, hinges, drawer pulls, doorbells, you name it. That trend moved to gold, brushed stainless steel and now – full circle – back to brass! Ditto that with colors. “Earth tones” were all the rage in the 70s (olive green, deep brown, tan) and as things moved through the cycles (with a whole lot of white in between), the earth tones have come back again.

Some colors make more infrequent appearances, such as lemon yellow, lime green, bubble gum pink, baby blue….

Let’s just take a look at bathrooms and kitchens for this discussion about colors, materials and being in style. Continue reading

Evergreen area of San Jose (Silicon Valley)The Evergreen area is in the southeast foothills of San Jose and extends north toward Eastridge Mall. It includes a few zip codes – 95148, 95121, 95135, and a portion of 95138 (part is also “Santa Teresa” or “South San Jose”). There’s a lot of diversity in this region – the areas in the flatlands near the Mall, Reid-Hillview Airport, and waterpark are more modest and affordable as compared to the areas further south where you’re more likely to see luxury properties (Hillstone, Bel-Aire Estates,  The Meadowlands, The Ranch on Silver Creek, Silver Creek Valley Country Club and nearby). Pricier areas feature larger lots and houses and valley or hillside views set near the golf courses (Silver Creek Valley Country Club, The Ranch Golf Club, and the Villages Golf & Country Club).

In general, Evergreen is scenic and includes many newer homes and communities. Many people enjoy the relative newness of construction and whole neighborhoods which are young, compared to the rest of Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley as a whole.

Evergreen real estate market for single family homes or houses

You might notice things look a little different. The REReport page has been updated to improve load time and give mobile viewers a better experience. With the update, the Sales At A Glance (the bullet points) section and both Short Sales and Foreclosures have been dropped, but Days of Inventory has been added and if you click the link you will find a new kind of market commentary available. It will take a little while to clean up some quirks in the new system, so some neighborhoods might have information missing, but expect them to return soon! Thank you for your patience.

Please find the full report on my Real Estate Report for the Evergreen area of San Jose.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

Continue reading

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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:
San Jose, Los Gatos,
Saratoga, Campbell,
Almaden Valley,
Cambrian Park.

Let’s Connect

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Please see more icons
at the bottom of the page.

The real estate search

Use the widget below to browse properties which are for sale, under contract (pending) or sold. Want to view only homes which are available now? Use the "find a home" link on the menu above (next to the "home" button).

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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