Earlier today I updated my series on Silicon Valley short sales at my Live in Los Gatos blog, where I’ve been tracking the number of active listings in select parts of Santa Clara County which are offered for sale as short sales. Below please find the areas and dates I’ve charted:

3/26/2008 5/18/2008 7/19/2008 9/18/2008
Los Gatos 5 8 7 9
Monte Sereno 1 0 0 1
Saratoga 0 1 4 3
Los Gatos Mtns 3 2 3 0
Cambrian Park 59 63 68 49
Santa Clara 56 63 69 75
Campbell 13 19 23 20
Cupertino 1 1 0 1
Los Altos 0 2 1 0
Sunnyvale 50 58 51 48
Blossom Valley 196 217 190 177
San Jose (all) 1534 1777 1708 1578

To read the entire post, please continue on to Silicon Valley Short Sale Snapshot.

Moving horror stories abound – damaged and lost furniture, huge delays, and final bills that barely reflect the initial estimates are not all that uncommon.

Some of my clients have been the victims of bad moving companies. One couple I worked with here in Silicon Valley did not get enough bids (only 2) and chose the mover based on the low, low price that was quoted. (By the time it was all over, the bill paid was considerably higher than the quote and the amount of work my clients had to do was far higher too.) I had suggested that they take more bids, including from a reputable company that I know and trust, but in the interests of time, they only spoke with two movers which they’d found on their own.

Some other clients of mine had an unlicensed mover not only hurt their furniture in a move a year or so ago, but damage the deck stairs while handling the move. Surprising? I’ve heard of some companies simply hiring day laborers when they find themselves short of hand.

You don’t want that to happen to you!

The California Moving and Storage Association (CMSA) has a number of informative articles on its website that I want to recommend to those planning a move. One is about the low-bidding but unscrupulous bandit movers, and another is about how to select a mover. They wisely advise to be wary of chosing a mover based on an extremely low price. In my fifteen years of selling homes in Silicon Valley, I have found that when most of the bids fall into a range and one is very, very much lower or very much higher, it’s a red flag that something may not be right.

When planning your move, always get at least 3-4 written quotes from reputable companies who are licensed and preferable referred to you by people who have worked with them (in the local branch) or from Realtors such as myself who have had positive professional experiences with them. I am happy to give you the names of companies and individuals I have found to be fair, honest. and trustworthy.My very favorite is Graebel (call Charles Canfield at 408 572-8999 x2935).

For more information on relocating to or from Silicon Valley, please see Move2SiliconValley.com.

school20signSilicon Valley real estate values are driven by many factors, possibly the greatest of which is the quality of the public schools.

A Word About Silicon Valley School District Boundaries

The school boundaries in Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley includes all of Santa Clara County plus a bit of Santa Cruz County, San Mateo County, and Alameda County) are not defined by the city or town boundaries. The reason for this is that the school district boundaries were formed before all of the current city or town limits were finalized. This makes it confusing for everyone, but especially people relocating to the San Jose area.

As an example, let’s look at the Town of Los Gatos and its schools. It would seem that the Los Gatos School District should include all of the Town of Los Gatos and everything within the town limits, but that isn’t the case. Some residents of Los Gatos belong to the Los Gatos School District, others to the Moreland School District (which includes some of Saratoga and San Jose too), and still others to the Union School District (which includes part of the Cambrian Park area of San Jose). Even more complicating is the fact that a small part of Almaden Valley (a district in San Jose) has “Los Gatos Schools”. So you could possibly be in San Jose and attend Los Gatos Schools. That isn’t convenient, either. The people living in that part of Almaden, just off Guadalupe Mines Road, must drive through a section with Union Schools to arrive, some 15 minutes later, at the nearest school in their district!

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wildwood-park-playground-smallerWildwood Park is downtown Saratoga’s quiet getaway spot. Situated on Fourth Street, just off Big Basin Way in Saratoga Village, it’s a stone’s throw to great dining and shops, but borders a pleasant residential neighborhood too. For people fortunate enough to buy or rent a home in the downtown area, the park is a wonderful plus.

What makes Wildwood Park in Saratoga so special? In addition to a nice play structure and an open, grassy area (which you might expect in any city or town park), Wildwood offers a sandy volleyball court, restrooms (many smaller parks don’t) and perhaps best of all, Saratoga Creek. Tall Eucalyptus and Sycamore trees grace this downtown retreat too, so there’s no shortage of shade on warm days.

As a teenager, I attended Saratoga High School (class of 1977) and visited the park with friends or to work on my photographic skills. This is a great location for shooting pictures. What could be cuter than a child or pet by the creek? [Sometimes my girlfriends and I used to watch old movies in the quonset hut theater, The Vitaphone (it was at Big Basin Way and Third) that was then a part of downtown Saratoga’s charm. I wish I had thought to take pictures of that theater when I was downtown – it’s long since gone. Happy downtown Saratoga memories.]

Recently I stopped in to try videotaping the park since I was in the neighborhood on the real estate broker’s tour and literally was on 4th Street already. About 2 weeks ago I got a Flip Video so am learning (critics be gentle!) and hope that these couple of clips give you a sense of the tranquility and beauty of the park if you have not had the pleasure to visit it in person yourself. If you live elsewhere in Silicon Valley, perhaps next time you dine in Saratoga, you can make a side trip to see the quaint little park nearby. It’s a worthwhile visit, especially if you have a camera in hand!

Do you want to buy a Silicon Valley home? If so, there are lots of things to consider and to weigh. You’ll need to decide your budget (get help: hire a good lender), choose your preferred Silicon Valley locations, decide on what type of Silicon Valley home and size you want to purchase.

Let’s say you’ve spoken to a lender, have more than $100,000 saved for a downpayment and closing costs and can afford approximately a $500,000 purchase price. That half a million dollars can purchase you a very decent townhome in a nice area like Campbell, West San Jose or Cambrian Park, or an entry level house in various parts of San Jose such as South San Jose, Blossom Valley, or Santa Teresa (among other areas in Santa Clara County).

Buying Silicon Valley real estate is a huge undertaking and I have loads of information to offer you as a buyer. Another of my websites, DelightHomes.com (PopeHandy.com), has a wide assortment of information helpful to Silicon Valley buyers. I invite you to browse this list and click on some or all of the links. There’s no signing up for any of it – have a look and enjoy.

Here’s a list of some of what you can find there, and each item is a LINK too:

How May I Assist You in Purchasing a Silicon Valley home?
Why buy a home?
Why be pre-approved?
Pre-qualification form

Looking for a home
Evaluating your priorities
Seller abbreviations
Viewing an open house
Home inspection

Making your Silicon Valley home purchase
Loan Do’s & Don’ts

The financing process

The moving timetable
Checklist for moving

Tips for Buyers in Silicon Valley

Of course, please contact me for personalized assistance with your home buying and selling needs in Santa Clara County!

book: Get the Best Deal When Selling Your Home in Silicon ValleyThinking of selling your home in Silicon Valley?  No matter what kind of residential real estate you may own, this book offers guidance that will be a huge help in maximizing your profits from the sale of your home and doing it with the least amount of “hassle” possible!

Written with the consumers’ biggest questions in mind, “Get The Best Deal When Selling Your Home in Silicon Valley” aims to help property owners tackle the enormous task of selling their homes from start to finish. We, the authors, (Ken Deshaies and I, Mary Pope-Handy), address the gamut of topics in this comprehensive book, from how to chose an agent (or whether to “go it alone”), the role of the internet in marketing and selling your home, presenting your silicon valley home in its best light (staging tips, showing tips), selling your property in any kind of market (buyers market or sellers market), how to screen potential buyers and what to expect in the escrow process. The second part of the book discusses buying the next home, avoiding mortgage headaches, provides a moving list and a real estate glossary.

How can you get this book?

The book is available throughout the greater San Jose and Silicon Valley areas in Border’s and Barnes & Noble bookstores. If they run out, it can be ordered for you. Or order it online at Amazon and have it delivered to you at your home.

It is also available directly from me and is a tool I provide to prospective seller and buyer clients. (Although the book is largely about homeselling, the second part of the book is also about home buying.) Call or email me today for your free 30-60 minute consultation and receive this book at our meeting.

Do you love Eichler homes? These mid-century modern abodes will be on tour in Palo Alto on September 6th from 10am – 4pm, courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco! The tour is self guided and includes a dozen homes, some remodeled and some original, in Palo Alto. The $40 (tax deductible) tickets will benefit the great work of Habitat for Humanity.

For more information, please contact Sabrina Pourmand at 650 568-7337 or

cement-cracks-with-grassDo you want or need to sell your Silicon Valley home this year? If so, you ought to take the staging of your home very seriously. Often homeowners hire a Realtor (or other real estate licensee), ask for their advice on preparing the house and yard for sale, and then proceed to disregard all or most of the guidance given.

Why do would sellers hire an agent and then not take the professional advice offered? Especially in THIS market? The result is frustrating for both the homeowner (who will not realize the best possible price) and for the agent (who cannot control the condition, but who is hampered in selling the home because of it).

To be candid, the odds are that you will not be able to sell your home in San Jose, Los Gatos, or Saratoga this year. Countywide, most homes are NOT selling. Actually, let’s look at the numbers for just a moment – you will see that it’s fairly sobering.

Gross toilet in home for sale (Blossom Valley area of San Jose)In the Cambrian Park area of San Jose (zip codes 95124, 95118 and a little of 95008), there are 241 single family homes and condos or townhomes for sale (the “active listings”). In that same district, just 109 are pending sales. This refects about a 45% chance of selling.

In Almaden Valley, an upscale collection of neighborhoods comprising the 95120 zip code area of San Jose, it’s much worse. There are 121 houses and townhouses or condominiums for sale, and a mere 34 which are under contract to sell. The odds here are 28% that you’ll sell.

For Los Gatos (95032 and 95030), it’s 203 available vs 50 pending. Down to 24% opportunity to sell.

Saratoga (95070) has 152 active listings and just 33 pendings, or a 21.7% sales success.
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Door of home on Ayer Drive in Vendome district of Downtown San Jose“How long will it take to sell my home?” This is a perenial question among home sellers in Silicon Valley. Real estate professionals can look at the statistics and, when experienced and active in your local market, tell you what they believe will happen based on the absorption rate and days on market numbers.

We know that the national average is that for approximately every ten showings, a home should get an offer. It may or may not be an offer that results in a sale. Today’s market in the San Jose area is more sluggish than usual, but homes are still selling in many areas within a month if all is right when it’s offered for sale. One thing is for certain, though, and that’s that sellers have to see offers to be able to sell a home, and there are no offers if there’s no qualified traffic.

What kind of traffic is good enough? Three showings a week is decent after the initial flurry of a new listing. There will be more visitors to your property in the first week or two, both in regular showings and in open house visitors who are serious about buying. If you are not getting three showings a week (and it’s not a major holiday, a heat wave, or something along those lines), you have a problem. There are three most likely culprits to the problem: price, conditon, and marketing.

The feedback from showings and open house visitors is of key importance and will help you and your agent to understand the public’s reaction to your price and condition. Agents can ask (without being pushy) questions about how the buyers think or feel about the home. Or ask their agents. (I use a system called HomeFeedback.com that requests feedback by email with a very short 5 question survey. Normally I get about a 65% response rate from agents.) When most of the consumers or agents tell us “the home is dated” or “it needs too much work”, we know it’s an issue. Or perhaps the home is turnkey, but is priced 10% too high. Sometimes the condition issue is fixable but sometimes the only way to address it is in lower, more attractive pricing (when huge renovations appear to be necessary or there’s a time or money issue for the seller).

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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) 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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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

Silicon Valley relocation info

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