When it’s a hot seller’s market, like it is right now in Silicon Valley, it is challenging to be a home buyer.  That means it’s also hard to be a buyer’s agent, since it may require writing many, many offers (and a lot of time and energy) before the clients get into contract.  Since Realtors are usually only paid when a property closes, that means it’s not too hard to go broke if a real estate professional focuses a lot of time with buyers.   In other words, in a market like this, most agents would prefer to work with sellers rather than buyers, because it’s more likely that they’ll make a living.

Home buyers Realtors look for these traitsWhat can you do to increase the odds of finding a great Realtor who will take you seriously, work with you and for you, and give it a good effort even if it’s an uphill battle?  First, let’s understand what a real estate licensee is looking for a client – at least in most cases.  Usually, the savvy agent doesn’t want to waste time with people who are not serious, not ready, or who will not be loyal.  The smart Realtor knows that without these three things, it’s unlikely that they will be able to sell that person a home, or at least not in a reasonable period of time.

Serious home buyers:

Only about half of all home buyers will likely buy in the year they think they might, so it’s important for real estate professionals to try to make sure that they don’t spend months on someone only to have him or her remain permanent renters.  The agent must qualify the client to make sure it’s worth the risk of spending time with him or her.

Clues that the buyer isn’t serious include these:

(1) Comments like “I may have to look at homes for a year or two” or “I may need to write a hundred offers to get the right deal” or “I’m in no rush” indicate that this isn’t a big priority for the buyer (so maybe it shouldn’t be for the agent, either). This buyer is able, ready and probably also loyal – but not serious.  Some, though, will clarify with a time frame and this is a game changer. “My lease is up in July, so ideally, I’d like to get into contract in March, close in April and move in May.  But if I find the right house sooner, I’ll buy sooner.”  That works!

(2) If there are two decision makers, having only one do most of the house hunting and the other showing up at distant intervals often indicates that it’s a priority for one but not both.  Sometimes that’s not the case, but it is a red flag.  Both need to be serious. Continue reading

Last Father’s Day, mid June 2017, we trekked to South County to do some fruit picking and fruit tasting at Andy’s Orchard in Morgan Hill. I highly recommend it, though the website for Andy’s Orchard says that their cherry harvest has been smaller than usual this year. They are again offering this event on Father’s Day 2018, but do check their website (see link below) to make sure that the tour you want is not sold out.

We walked through the orchard during the earliest available time slot since it was a heat wave weekend. The orchard had all kinds of varieties of cherries (I remember one with a funny name, the Black Republicans), but also pluats, nectarines, and a wide number of stone fruits, too. We were encouraged to taste as we went, and had no trouble complying. Many of us had buckets that we filled (and paid for the fruit later). It was so interesting to try one type of cherry after the next and to learn about how the trees are cared for.

Next was the open air tasting station, where we were able to enjoy and compare a huge number of apricots, peaches, nectarines, pluats, apriums, cherries, etc.  Had we known when we walk the orchard how much more food would be there for us, we might all have had a little more restraint. By the time we got to the tasting stations, I was already pretty full and well past the amount of fruit I should have had for that period of time.

Take a look at some of the photos to give you a sense of the vast offerings! What it does not well convey is how delicious the fruit was!

You can learn more about Andy’s Orchard and check out their event schedule at their website: https://andysorchard.com/

Andy's Orchard in Morgan Hill signAndys-Orchard-Morgan-Hill-old-style-fruit-bannerPicked fruitCherries on the tree - an orchard full of many varietiesinfo on Ranier cherriesPicking fruit at Andy's Orchard on Father's Day 2018fruit tasting stations with cherries apricots plums and moreCherry sizerBlack Tartarian cherriesSaylor cherryFlavorosa PluatCotton Candy ApriumJim Handy Father's Day 2017 at Andy's Orchard in Morgan Hill - Father's DayBeauty PlumPegasus NectarineKitren White Apricotgold dust peaches to tasteFruit tasting signcherries on the tree at Andy's orchard (Fruit to ship

The Milpitas real estate market is red hot, one of the hottest in Santa Clara County.  Last month, February 2018, the average sale price to list price ratio of houses or single family homes was a staggering 120.5%.  Only Sunnyvale ranked higher, at 121.5%.  The county average hit 112.4%.

Appreciation year over year is also well past “double digits” with 27.6% for the median sale price and 20.2% for the average sale price of Milpitas houses. The county average for the same period were 27.5% for the median sale price, and 25.4% for the average.

Milpitas Real Estate Market Trends at a Glance

You can always view the most current info on the Milpitas market on my RE Report (it’s updated between the 5th and 10th of each month). Like elsewhere in the valley, the Milpitas market seems to be cooling a bit. I think it is a seasonal fluctuation only, but we’ll have to watch it and see.

Trends At a Glance May 2018 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $1,238,890 (-4.7%) $1,300,000 $992,500 (+24.8%)
Average Price $1,291,110 (+1.6%) $1,270,460 $1,053,540 (+22.5%)
No. of Sales 23 (-8.0%) 25 32 (-28.1%)
Pending 28 (+40.0%) 20 39 (-28.2%)
Active 27 (+68.8%) 16 23 (+17.4%)
Sale vs. List Price 113.3% (0.0%) 113.3% 109.1% (+3.9%)
Days on Market 13 (+39.7%) 9 19 (-32.2%)
Days of Inventory 35 (+89.7%) 19 22 (+63.3%)

 

And a view of last month, for comparison:

 

Trends At a Glance Apr 2018 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $1,300,000 (+7.9%) $1,205,000 $1,095,000 (+18.7%)
Average Price $1,270,460 (-1.0%) $1,282,790 $1,042,590 (+21.9%)
No. of Sales 25 (+25.0%) 20 17 (+47.1%)
Pending 20 (-9.1%) 22 31 (-35.5%)
Active 16 (+60.0%) 10 28 (-42.9%)
Sale vs. List Price 113.3% (-5.4%) 119.7% 108.3% (+4.7%)
Days on Market (+21.3%) 8 (+17.5%)
Days of Inventory 19 (+23.7%) 15 48 (-61.1%)

 

For comparison, here’s a lineup of the Milpitas real estate market statistics side by side with other cities and towns in Santa Clara County. As you can see, prices are a little lower than the county averages, but the sale price to list price ratio is a bit higher.

 

 

Santa Clara County RE Stats

Continue reading

Miramar Vineyards in San Martin sign - 700 pxRecently, my husband and I took a drive to San Martin to visit Miramar Vineyards. We hadn’t spent any time in San Martin in the past, but were generally aware that this South County community was located between Morgan Hill and Gilroy, so were interested in learning a bit more about the area, as well as enjoying some local wines at a place we hadn’t been to in the past.

It was a great choice!

Miramar was a hub of activity, apparently due to live music that was about to begin when we arrived. The folks there told me that they’d only been open two and one-half years so far, but you would not have known it from the crowd that day. The parking lot was nearly full and cars lined the road, too. Like finding a filled-to-the-brim restaurant with people waiting outside, we thought this might be a good sign.

buying wine and paying for wine tasting at Miramar

 

We didn’t wait long to get paid up so that we could do some tasting. The staff moved quickly, assisting customers who were there to buy wine or to pay for wine tasting. They reminded us that if we purchased a bottle of wine, one of the $10 tasting fees would be waived.  Continue reading

Morgan Hill land along the Uvas RiverHow’s the real estate market in Morgan Hill? This article will include data, trends and statistics for both houses and condominiums/townhouses.

For the single family home segment in this “south county” town, prices are up more than 20% year over year and flat month over month. The single family home and condo market are both seller’s markets, but it’s a lot deeper for houses than for condominiums or townhomes.

The cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy are usually a bit less in demand than parts of Santa Clara County which are either tech magnets or closer to these big businesses. So while most of the Silicon Valley has a sale price to list price ratio of anywhere from 100% to 110%, it’s generally lower here, making the home buying conditions calmer for weary buyers, though still a sellers market. Below is a chart with basic info, but to see more information, you may click on this link to see the Real Estate Report for Morgan Hill.

Trends at a Glance for Single Family Homes in Morgan Hill

Trends At a Glance May 2018 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $1,100,000 (0.0%) $1,100,000 $887,500 (+23.9%)
Average Price $1,130,880 (+0.7%) $1,122,850 $908,325 (+24.5%)
No. of Sales 55 (+17.0%) 47 50 (+10.0%)
Pending 59 (-3.3%) 61 80 (-26.3%)
Active 54 (+17.4%) 46 76 (-28.9%)
Sale vs. List Price 104.3% (0.0%) 104.3% 100.4% (+3.8%)
Days on Market 31 (-31.0%) 45 15 (+102.9%)
Days of Inventory 29 (+3.8%) 28 46 (-35.4%)

 

And the numbers from last month:

 

Trends At a Glance Apr 2018 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $1,100,000 (+10.0%) $1,000,000 $760,000 (+44.7%)
Average Price $1,122,850 (-0.4%) $1,126,810 $838,204 (+34.0%)
No. of Sales 47 (+42.4%) 33 24 (+95.8%)
Pending 61 (-12.9%) 70 65 (-6.2%)
Active 46 (+31.4%) 35 80 (-42.5%)
Sale vs. List Price 104.3% (+0.5%) 103.7% 102.4% (+1.8%)
Days on Market 45 (+92.4%) 24 27 (+70.0%)
Days of Inventory 28 (-10.8%) 32 97 (-70.6%)

 

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

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

Like most of Santa Clara County, the wild appreciation of the last 5 to 6 years in Blossom Valley seems to now be slowing, and maybe flattening.  It is possible that we have hit the “peak of the market”, but it’s also possible that this is simply a seasonal pattern. Often in late spring to early summer, we see inventory levels rise while buyers pull back. This can cause home sale prices to quite appreciating, and in some years, prices decline just a little bit. In 2017, it seemed that the normal patterns simply broke, as late in the year – November and December – buying was at a feverish pitch normally reserved for March.

About Blossom Valley

The Blossom Valley area of San Jose is on the south end of the city and covers the 95123 and 95136 zip codes. For our MLS, it’s “area 12.” A more affordable section of Silicon Valley, Blossom Valley has much to offer in addition to more reasonable housing prices. Many areas enjoy views of the Santa Teresa Foothills or the Communications Hill knolls or even the coastal foothills in the distance, as with the photo below. One corner of it sits alongside beautiful Almaden Lake, too. One corner is located at the crossroads of Highways 85 and 87, making it an easy commute destination for those working in downtown San Jose. And there’s an abundance of shopping opportunities.

Blossom Valley from the Church on the Hill

Much more could be written, but let’s now instead turn to the real estate market there.

First, “live,” automatically updating Altos Charts for San Jose 95123 and 95136 and single family homes (houses and duet homes). These use list prices, not sales prices.

The median list price of both 95123 and 95136, all prices, single family homes (houses and duet homes, if there are any).

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

Next, the median list price for just the San Jose 95123 area of Blossom Valley, and separated by price quartile:

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

And next, the median list price of just San Jose 95136 by price quartile:

Continue reading

multipleoffers3 300x170 - Why do you keep losing out on multiple offers?

Multiple Offers

You may have heard that the Silicon Valley real estate market is slightly softer now than it was a a few months ago.  That’s true – at least for most of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties and nearby. In many cases there are now half as many offers as there were in February, March, or April. But it’s still a hot seller’s market, and that means that often there are multiple offers, overbids, and sales with no contingencies.

For my last few listings – which have been in San Jose, Saratoga, Los Gatos, the Cambrian area of San Jose and the Campbell area of San Jose – there’s been a consistent “spread” of offers.   If there were 6 offers, it might look like this:

  1. Best offer frequently the highest price and best terms. It is 10-20% over list price, 25-30% down at least, and has no contingencies for inspection, loan, and most of all, appraisal (the percentage over has to do with whether the home was priced spot on the value or strategically under).  These offers come with all disclosures signed, and the buyer’s agent has even done her or his Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure.  They include the proof of funds and usually also write a nice letter to the sellers about why they want to purchase that home.
  2. The best offer is also someone who’s been SURE that he or she or they wanted the home from the very beginning and looks ROCK SOLID. NO WAVERING, not a “last minute” offer. Any hesitation on your side will cause the seller to not feel good about your odds of closing the sale. Be consistently interested if you want the sale. A shaky looking buyer may not include their proof of funds.  Perhaps they would not sign the disclosures yet or otherwise submit an incomplete package.  They don’t come across as certain about buying this property and need a few days to see the property again, or show it to their parents, or otherwise confirm the decision to buy. Their agent is not so thorough. If the TDS is not fully signed off, is the buyers’ agent trying to sneak a 3 day right of cancellation into the contract? The best buyer’s offer doesn’t look shaky – it looks dead set on buying the home and has done everything possible to convince the seller of their conviction.
  3. The second best or next runner up is usually strong on terms (at least 25% down, few or no contingencies) but perhaps made an offer price a little under the top value.  Sometimes the next runner up has a good price and mostly good terms, but something is not quite as solid.  If the offers are tied but one buyer has no contingencies and the other has any, that will be the tie-breaker.
  4. Middle of the pack is usually a combination of a price where the home should appraise, a solid down payment, and few or no contingencies. It may be a price that seems “reasonable”. Buyers may feel that it is “a fair offer” or a win-win. Often the fair offers aren’t good enough to take the prize in multiple offers. If you can project what most buyers think a home will be worth, maybe you might want to consider getting ahead of that pack and seeing where the pricing trajectory will take you.
  5. Bottom offers are under, at, or barely over list price, and include an appraisal contingency as well as others (one for loan or one for property condition). If there’s a rent back, they want their PITI covered.

If you’ve been writing offers and not succeeding, try to see your own pattern in this spread.  Is there one thing, or perhaps are there two or more things, you’re just not ready to do?

Why it is so hard

Continue reading

The Monte Sereno real estate market is similar to Los Gatos, but distinct - Monte Sereno shares many features with Los Gatos but is a distinct cityHow is the Monte Sereno real estate market? Because the city is small, with just about 4000 residents, there usually are few homes listed for sale or selling, and with small numbers we can get seeming volatility. Last January, for instance, there was only one home listed and none sold!

There are no condominiums or townhomes in Monte Sereno at present (we are watching closely the proposed development at La Rinconada, which is unincorporated as of this writing). One of the major challenges for this city is to ensure that at least some housing units are deemed “affordable.” You can find the city’s housing plan here (a pdf online):
http://www.montesereno.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/674

Recently closed home sales in Monte Sereno

Here are the quick statistics for the closed sales in the last complete month to give a sense of how things are going with the Monte Sereno real estate market. Sales data comes from my Monte Sereno Real Estate Report. Given that the supply of homes to study is tiny, what can we tell from this data?

It’s true that an average Monte Sereno house is about $2.5-3.5 million, and often higher in the current market – a little steep for most folks! With 11 active, 6 pending, and 4 sales this past month, low data makes it hard to get the most accurate market information. During times like this, it’s more important to look at the trends over multiple months than to base your understanding of the market off a single month, and to compare with similar, nearby markets such as Los Gatos.

Below are the charts from the last two months. Overall, the market is this part of the valley is mostly flat month over month, but up double digits year over year.

Trends At a Glance May 2018 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $4,075,000 (+1.6%) $4,011,500 $2,663,000 (+53.0%)
Average Price $3,800,000 (-5.3%) $4,011,500 $2,663,000 (+42.7%)
No. of Sales (+100.0%) 2 (+100.0%)
Pending (+100.0%) 3 (+20.0%)
Active 11 (+10.0%) 10 17 (-35.3%)
Sale vs. List Price 99.1% (-9.0%) 108.8% 96.0% (+3.2%)
Days on Market 23 (+102.2%) 12 35 (-33.6%)
Days of Inventory 83 (-43.1%) 145 255 (-67.6%)

 

And a look at the data from the previous month for the Monte Sereno real estate market:

Trends At a Glance Apr 2018 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $4,011,500 (-30.8%) $5,800,000 $2,878,750 (+39.3%)
Average Price $4,011,500 (-30.8%) $5,800,000 $2,878,750 (+39.3%)
No. of Sales (+100.0%) 1 (0.0%)
Pending (+200.0%) 1 (+200.0%)
Active 10 (+42.9%) 7 (+25.0%)
Sale vs. List Price 108.8% (+12.6%) 96.7% 95.3% (+14.2%)
Days on Market 12 (-84.0%) 72 37 (-68.5%)
Days of Inventory 145 (-31.0%) 210 116 (+25.0%)

Continue reading to view live Altos Research charts for the real estate market in Monte Sereno, including by pricing quartile. Continue reading

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

Translation


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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.

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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 of 2018 by RentPrep2018 RentPrep.com's list of top 25 real estate blogs to follow


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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