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I got a really good deal on a house!

Volcano and house - "I just got a good deal on a house" phone call to momNot long ago I heard someone gleefully say “I got a really good deal on a house!” When I looked up the county records, I discovered that the “good deal” was on a busy 4 lane road. The same kind of joyful exclamation might be made when purchasing next to a high voltage power tower, backing to a grocery store, or adjacent to a freeway onramp.

Guess what? If you buy a property with a major location defect, it will cost less than if you buy it in a quieter, interior neighborhood location. Getting the property for less doesn’t make it a good deal on a house. It just means you bought real estate that is less expensive because it’s an undesirable location. Someday, when you go to sell it, it will also sell for less than nearby homes in better areas.

Beware the “good deal on a house” thinking

Sometimes when home buyers score a great price on their new home it does not have a location defect.  A closer look may reveal, though, that they didn’t look very hard at the disclosure package and there are fundamental issues with the property condition that will be expensive to repair, or that there are expensive items to replace.

Several times in my career, which is sneaking up on 30 years, I’ve worked with clients who were bargain hunters. This probably works better in locations outside of the highly competitive Bay Area and Silicon Valley markets. When these folks decide on a home, as often as not there is something wrong with the property that makes it less appealing to most buyers and therefore attainable for a lower price. Translation: it’s having trouble selling now, and if you buy it, you will have trouble selling it later, too.

The good deal on a house situation often comes down to one of these issues:

  • Location defects. Realtors are notorious for saying “location, location, location” because it is crucially important. Choosing a less desirable one is the #1 mistake made by misguided home buyers looking for a steal of a deal.
  • Land use issue, such as a large lot but almost no backyard or no useable yard (think large hillside lot with steep slope).
  • Living space misallocation, such as having a very small kitchen but a house with 5 bedrooms.
  • Property condition in need of expensive repairs and remodeling

What’s usually the case is that it’s difficult or impossible to fix what is wrong.

Related to this can be the issue of who you hire to assist you when buying a home. Maybe your sister just got her license last month in California and she lives 350 miles away, but if she’s your agent, she’ll give you 75% of her commission back. This is the largest purchase that most buyers ever make, and I would suggest that it’s wise to have the best agent guide and help you, not the cheapest one or the one who gives you a big rebate.

Most home buyers don’t know what to look for in the disclosures, inspections, or in the property condition when viewing the home, and most new licensees don’t, either. Consumers either don’t realize or don’t remember that not all buyer’s agents are equal in their skill set, knowledge, experience, or willingness to really fight for you. Some are just in it for a quick sale.

In short, the buyers looking for a bargain are setting themselves up to make a purchase that may not serve them as well in the long run as if they had made one with the basics in mind.

Next: 3 tips to help you get the best deal in any market.


Vendome neighborhood

Vendome neighborhood sign in San Jose CASan Jose’s Vendome neighborhood is a beautiful pocket in downtown San Jose, not too far from Japantown. Because the area is small, many locals have never heard of it. I had the pleasure of selling one of these gorgeous homes years ago and am enthusiastic on the charm and location of this neighborhood.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • where to find the Vendome neighborhood
  • what homes are like there
  • a little history
  • what it costs to purchase a house in this pocket of downtown

Last summer there was a walking tour offered for this area. I would love to go if it is possible in the future again.


Spanish style house on Ayer Avenue in the Vendome neighborhood

Boasting rights

The streets are scenic and the few dozen homes well cared for, but there’s much more to this area. It enjoys great access to downtown San Jose, to parks,  restaurants, museums, and freeway access. Coleman Avenue also makes for a quick trip to the airport and the light rail stops along First Street (the Japantown / Ayer stop). It also can boast some great historic roots, too.

Where is the Vendome neighborhood?

This area is part of the larger Ryland area, named for Ryland Park on the southern end of the shaded map area. The streets are Ayer Avenue, Rankin Avenue, and Losse Court and they are between First and San Pedro. This area is in the 95110 zip code right near the border with 95112 (which begins at N 1st St). The Losse Ct section is where the Hotel Vendome’s annex used to sit.

Here’s a closer view of the Vendome area:


Vendome neighborhood map and Ryland neighborhood map in San Jose


What are homes like in the Vendome neighborhood?


The Monte Sereno Real Estate Market

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 3,500 residents, there usually are few homes listed for sale or selling, and with small numbers we can get seeming volatility. This article is updated monthly with new data and analysis, so scroll down to read the latest and check back regularly. Here are a few details from the latest market update:

  • There were NO sales in December.
    • All sales data for the month of November is based on just 2 closings. That can skew the data pretty quickly!
  • This city is currently in a seller’s market with low inventory, just 7 available homes at the end of December.
  • Closed and pending sales are also shrinking as we enter the holiday season.
  • As of today, Jan 16, 2023, there are 3 available homes for sale, 2 closed sales, 2 pending sales, and 1 contingent sale in Monte Sereno.
    • One of the closed sales sold at 98% of list price and the other at 97% of list price.
    • The average days on market was 37. One house sold in 10 days and the other took 63 to obtain a ratified contract.

There are ALMOST no condominiums or townhomes in Monte Sereno. As of October 2022, the MLS showed just 6 sales in these two categories in total – and that’s going back to 1998! 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 (an online pdf):

Below is a quick market profile for Monte Sereno. This is updated automatically weekly, so please check back often.


Monte Sereno Altos Real-Time Market Profile


Santa Teresa real estate market

Silver Leaf Park in the Santa Teresa area of San Jose - the proximity of parks will impact the Santa Teresa real estate market for that neighborhood

Silver Leaf Park in the Santa Teresa area of San Jose

How’s the Santa Teresa real estate market? The scenic Santa Teresa area of San Jose is popular as it’s a bit more affordable, offering lovely views of the hills and public schools that seem to be improving over time making the area more desirable. These positives appear to be helping that district hold its value well. Here are a few details from the latest monthly market update for Santa Teresa single family homes (read the full analysis below):

  • Both the single family and condo / townhouse market are seller’s markets, per the December data.
  • For single family homes
    • Average and median sale prices are down both monthly and annually
    • Homes are selling fast with days of inventory and days on market both under 1 month: this is a seller’s market
  • For condominiums and townhomes
    • Average and median sale prices are down both monthly and annually
    • Homes are selling fast with days of inventory and days on market both under 2 weeks: this is a seller’s market

Santa Teresa (our MLS Area 2)  includes a small bit of the 95123 zip code, which is more expensive, but most of that zip code is Blossom Valley, so we will omit it. The 95138 zip code is about half Santa Teresa and half Evergreen (more expensive area), so take those numbers with a big grain of salt. I find the 95119 zip code to be most helpful, but even then, the school district is divided between Oak Grove and Morgan Hill.

Weekly update from Altos Research with a “market profile” of San Jose’s Santa Teresa area, zip code 95119 for single family homes / houses:

When there’s not enough data, the fields will be blank.


Santa Teresa of San Jose 95119 Real-Time Market Profile


Los Gatos Mountains 95033 Real Estate Market

Damp road in a redwood forest similar lo the Los Gatos MoountainsThe real estate market in the Los Gatos Mountains is very different from the “in town” Los Gatos housing market and really deserves its own separate treatment. The mountain area includes areas both in Santa Clara County and also Santa Cruz County, but the data here will reflect only the area within Santa Clara County. Both sides may have a Los Gatos mailing address with the 95033 zip code.

The Real Estate Report for the Los Gatos Mountains is updated each month with the RE Report info, but the Altos Research live chart automatically updates weekly, so please stop by often to get updated information.

Most of the valley is now seeing some calming down in the real estate market. Home prices have been dropping here also.

(If you are viewing this on a mobile device, the table below will scroll if you swipe it.)

Trends at a Glance: Los Gatos Mountains 95033

Check out the Los Gatos Mountains RE Report by using this link.

Market conditions have mixed data points: prices are up (but this is only from 5 sales, so take with a grain of salt) but the sale price to list price ratio is down quite a lot.  The days on market and days of inventory are way up. Some of this may be seasonally normal.


Trends At a Glance Dec 2022 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $1,700,000 (+76.2%) $965,000 $1,600,000 (+6.3%)
Average Price $1,872,000 (+84.9%) $1,012,200 $1,422,860 (+31.6%)
No. of Sales (-50.0%) 10 (-28.6%)
Pending (-36.4%) 11 14 (-50.0%)
Active 17 (+6.3%) 16 (+142.9%)
Sale vs. List Price 95.9% (-6.1%) 102.1% 97.5% (-1.7%)
Days on Market 52 (+52.8%) 34 43 (+22.3%)
Days of Inventory 102 (+119.8%) 46 30 (+240.0%)


95033 Real Estate Market – Los Gatos Mountains

Each week, my subscription to the Altos Research Report for the Los Gatos Mountains is automatically updated. Click on the link to view it, or subscribe if you’d like an update emailed to you regularly. You can also click on the link to check other nearby zip codes. Some of 95120 or 95032 can be in the rural areas, too, so check a zip code map in case the area that interests you is closer to Mt Umunhum, over Saratoga, or some other location.

As of the most recent Altos update this market is a mild seller’s market.


The mountain communities are many and diverse, so issues in one area, such as too much inventory or not enough listings, may be the opposite somewhere else.


Los Altos: Beautiful Silicon Valley Suburb

Los Altos downtownLos Altos is a scenic town, semi-rural, conveniently located, with notably good schools (Los Altos or Cupertino schools). The charming old style downtown enjoys superior restaurants, shops, and is a pleasant place to stroll. The town enjoys a community college and a golf course. Its a great place for pedestrians and cyclists (lots of paths), and is a quick jaunt to both Palo Alto and Mountain View, both very popular peninsula destinations.

There’s a brief history of Los Altos on that city’s website that I found interesting. First, the land that started the community was originally 140 acres purchased from Sarah Winchester. Second, Foothill Expressway used to be a right of way for the Southern Pacific Railroad. The train line ceased operations in 1964, and the expressway was put in. Love local history from the Valley of Heart’s Delight? The Los Altos History Museum is a worthwhile destination.

The zip codes don’t stay within the city’s boundaries. Both 94022 and 94024 can be found in Los Altos and adjacent Los Altos Hills.

Los Altos Real Estate Market Conditions

Below please find first information from Altos Research, and then from the RE Report (I have subscriptions to both). Altos’ data is for the city and by zip codes. It uses list prices and its charts and reports are updated automatically each week. The RE Report uses data for each full month and provides it for the city as a whole and also by four distinct regions or neighborhoods. Both reports offer a subscription option if you click on the links.

The next 3 charts are from Altos Research and they are updated weekly, so check back often!  You can see the weekly report, with even more data, by visiting the link. Subscribe for Los Altos, for one of its zip codes, or anywhere else nearby by first entering the desired zip or city in the “Search Anywhere” button and then clicking on subscribe.

Whole town- both 94022 and 94024






Mountain View CA real estate market trends and statistics

Mountain View CA real estate market trends and statistics on Mary Pope-Handy's Valley of Heart's Delight blogThe Mountain View CA real estate market was stronger than most of the valley in August, especially for single family homes.

Quick summary on the realty market in Mountain View, CA

  • Prices are down month-over-month and also year-over-year for houses, but not condos and townhomes
  • The pace of sales picked up in December as compared to November
  • The sales to list price ratio dropped fairly significantly, but it was based on just 13 closed sales.


Mountain View CA real estate market trends at a glance

First let’s have a look at the Real Estate Report  for residential sales data. (From that link you can also view Palo Alto real estate trends 2022 or any other section of the 3 counties covered.)


Trends At a Glance Dec 2022 Previous Month Year-over-Year
Median Price $2,350,000 (-13.8%) $2,725,000 $2,657,000 (-11.6%)
Average Price $2,470,730 (-15.3%) $2,916,110 $2,831,780 (-12.7%)
No. of Sales 13 (+44.4%) 9 18 (-27.8%)
Pending 35 (-14.6%) 41 28 (+25.0%)
Active 12 (-29.4%) 17 (+50.0%)
Sale vs. List Price 96.6% (-3.1%) 99.8% 115.6% (-16.4%)
Days on Market 38 (-9.0%) 41 16 (+131.9%)
Days of Inventory 28 (-49.4%) 55 13 (+107.7%)


Mountain View CA real estate market trends and data by neighborhood or district