Mold is everywhere, but we don’t always expect to see it.
A few years back, my husband and I went to the Monterey Peninsula for a couple of days to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful time there, but would not return to the hotel where we stayed this time. The worst issue was the mold in the bedroom along the wall and baseboard. I brought it to the hotel’s attention and it was “cleaned”, but I think the issue is far from solved.
Mold and Mildew
Mold is often called mildew, and is seen perhaps most often in bathrooms around the shower, tub, or window. Below is an image of of this substance (tested, verified) in a garage on an outside wall.
First, I should state that mold is naturally occurring and it is not possible to completely eliminate the spores from your home. The question is whether or not what is inside the house is the same kind and density as the mold outdoors, or whether something unusual is harbored indoors.
Mildew needs moisture and the right, mild temperatures to thrive – eliminate the source of water and it will go dormant. Please note that it will not die when the moisture is eliminated – it just goes into a sleepy state. If water is later reintroduced, the spores will spring back to life.
In my experience, the most common place to find mold in the San Jose area tends to be in bathrooms, particularly around older aluminum windows (which tend to be very cold and collect condensation). Mold on these window frames is easily cleaned by using a solution of water and bleach, and it can be prevented by better ventilation and heat, which allows the window frames to dry out. Likewise it’s very easy for it to grow in showers and tub areas due to the high amount of water present. That water needs to be able to evaporate, otherwise you’re inviting it to take hold.
Step 1: find the source of the mold
Find growths on sheetrock, wood or carpeting? First you must discover the source of the moisture. Most likely, there’s a leak somewhere, either a plumbing leak or around a door, window, roof or flashing. (more…)
Cambrian Park neighborhoods are very popular within San Jose. With close proximity to Los Gatos, Campbell, Willow Glen and Blossom Valley, there’s lots to do within Cambrian itself or very nearby. Cambrian also enjoys good schools, low crime, two newer libraries, two Farmer’s Markets, and a fabulous rec center, the Camden Community Center.
Cambrian Park neighborhoods
Where is Cambrian Park and how big is it? The 2010 census reported Cambrian Park as having less than 4,000 people, but it didn’t include all Cambrian Park neighborhoods! In contemporary usage, though, Cambrian consists of much more than the area known as “Cambrian Village” (which has this small population), and now includes about 75,000 residents in all.
The area includes most of the 95124 zip code plus the 95118 zip code. Historically, though, Cambrian was really a very vast area including much of Campbell and many areas now falling under different district names. The area is alternately known as Cambrian, Cambrian Park, and Cambrian Village – the latter referring to the area near Union & Camden Avenues.
How do you decide where in Cambrian to live? Many aspects of home buying will likely come into play, from schools desired and budget available to the ambiance and practical things you desire such as RV parking, an extra large garage, family room, guest suite, commute issues (proximity to freeways), etc.
School Districts serving the Cambrian Park neighborhoods
Your decision might be influenced by the school district you want; the Cambrian Park neighborhoods have three elementary school districts. Most are good to great – Cambrian Park almost no low scoring schools – but some are exceptionally high. Some districts may have more offerings for special needs kids or gifted kids – if you have children and are looking at placing them in the local public schools, do your research before you house hunt!
The north and northwest side of Cambrian Park (going into Campbell and Willow Glen) has schools belonging to the Cambrian School District (see map).
The east side of Cambrian Park (going toward Blossom Valley) is part of the territory of the San Jose Unified School District. Schools for all of San Jose are beautifully mapped out by the district – you have to zoom in to see the boundaries around Cambrian but it includes all three local districts so is worth the extra steps!
The southwest side of Cambrian (and east Los Gatos) is within the boundaries of the Union School District, which also has a helpful map of the borders. The map is a pdf and it is very detailed. (more…)
First time home buyers may have heard the word crawlspace (or crawl space) but not had a good idea of what it refers to – especially if they have only lived in houses built on slab foundations. So let’s touch on it today.
What and the Where?
When homes are built on a raised foundation, also called a perimeter foundation, rather than slab foundation, there’s space between the dirt under the house and the house itself – often 3′ (but not always), sometimes more. Unless the structure is built on a hillside, there won’t be enough height to walk around in that space, hence the need to crawl in the crawlspace.
Most of the time, access to this space is indoors and specifically on the floor of a closet, where there appears to be a flat opening of about 3′ by 3′, sometimes smaller. This can make entry tight. At other times. the access is via the outside, as with the photo at the left (more likely the case in properties built before 1950 in Silicon Valley than in newer properties.)
Here it’s a lot easier for homeowners, inspectors and repair people to enter – but also easier for animals and pests, such as rats, to make their way in. Care must be taken, as with the vent screens, to keep unwanted visitors out!
Auditory learner? Or TLDR, and just want a quick-take? Watch this 1min 46 second video to get the summary:
Monitoring the crawlspace
If your home has a crawlspace, you will want to monitor it.(more…)
Listing syndication matters to buyers and sellers, even if they don’t know it!
What is listing syndication?
Listing syndication refers to the distribution of listings of homes for sale to other websites from the multiple listing service or MLS. The information about the home is input into the MLS for members online, and also for those visiting the MLS directly as guests or those receiving email updates from that system. When it’s sent further, say to Realtor.com for example, that’s syndication.
Put more simply, listing syndication is distributing and displaying listings online.
Today most listings can be found on real estate web portals large and small, including real estate agents’ own websites (we have it, too). On real estate agent websites, that is accomplished through either an IDX feed (Internet Data Exchange) or VOW (Virtual Office Website). The main difference between IDX and VOW is that with the VOW more can be displayed, but it’s behind a login / password wall. The IDX feed shows information without having to register.
Buyers who are getting slammed out of the Silicon Valley real estate market due to low inventory and multiple offers are extremely frustrated. Part of the problem may be the amount of cash in their offer. It can be hard to compete with bids with smaller loan amounts or which are “all cash, no loans”.
The question arises all the time: why isn’t my 20% down offer just as good as the 50% down or the all cash offer? Isn’t 20% down good enough? Or for that matter, why wouldn’t a lower interest rate FHA backed loan be suitable?
All cash is better because there’s less risk
Twenty percent down is “good enough” if there are no other offers. If it’s multiple offers, though, it’s probably not sufficient for most sellers provided that the all cash offers are written with realistic pricing. Right now, about 15% of home sales in Santa Clara County are all cash, and sellers would far rather deal with an offer that includes no finance or appraisal contingencies. For sellers, the fewer contingencies the better and no contingencies is ideal. Particularly now, when we are seeing a very sudden and dramatic upswing in pricing, appraisal contingencies can kill an offer’s chances of success due to the fear of a low appraisal. With all cash, there is no appraisal at all – it’s a slam dunk on that front. (more…)
There’s quite a bit of confusion around the difference between common interest developments (CID) , condominiums, and planned unit developments (PUD). What do these labels mean, and how does anyone know which one is which? Where do townhomes fall in this list? And more importantly, why do they matter?
CID, PUD, and Condo: Ownerships Explained
Part of the confusion stems from the fact that there are two things to consider: thearchitecture of the buildings and the type of ownership.
What is a condominium or condo? A condominium is a type of ownership of the real estate, not an architectural style. Condo ownership means that the purchaser has 100% rights to the unit and a percentage of ownership in the common lands (fractional ownership in common areas). Buyers of a condo are buying the space between the walls (and a fraction of ownership elsewhere).
Condos can architecturally be a unit that resembles an apartment (what we colloquially refer to as a condo), a townhouse, or even a house.
What is a townhouse (or townhome)? A townhouse is a type of building or architectural style, not the type of ownership involved. A townhouse could be a planned unit development (PUD) or it could be a condominium.
Townhouses are often 2 stories and attached on at least one side, but they don’t have to be. They could be one story and they could be detached.
A townhouse that’s a condo can look exactly the same as a townhouse that’s a PUD.
What is a PUD? A planned unit development is architecturally either a townhouse or a house in which 100% of the unit plus the land under it is owned and the ownership of the unit also provides for a membership in the homeowner’s association or HOA. The HOA in turn owns all the common elements (such as private roads and amenities such as a pool, tennis court, parking lots, etc.). With a PUD, homeowners have an easement and rights to use the common area through their HOA membership.
What is a CID? A common interest development, or CID, is a general term meaning the ownership of property in which there are “common areas” such as private roads, a pool, parking, tennis courts, utility rooms etc. These could be condo complexes or home owners associations with houses, townhouses, or other types of homes.
Local examples: In Los Gatos we have some freestanding houses (or properties with the only common wall being at the garage) which are in condo ownership on Ohlone Court. Same with the beautiful Villas of Almaden community. Both have “common areas” and mandatory membership in the home owner’s association.
How can you tell if the townhouse is in a PUD or Condo CID?
Sometimes the info is right in a property profile, which is very easy for most real estate agents to obtain through their preferred title company. More often, though, to be certain of the ownership type it’s necessary to review the preliminary title report.
The Silicon Valley liquefaction zones cover much of the Bay Area and Santa Clara County, but the risks are often not well understood or investigated. We know that this is earthquake country and tremblers are to be expected. But what difference does it make where you live or work – won’t the whole valley be shaking equally?
Well, we’re Realtors, not geologists or geotechnical engineers, but we can share some resources that may help answer these questions and provide avenues for further research on this topic.
What is liquefaction?
Liquefaction refers to the ground becoming liquified, or fluid. It takes 3 ingredients to liquefy land: loose sediment, water, and strong shaking. This loose, saturated soils when shaken to a certain point no longer behave like a solid and can slide, open, and swallow anything above it.
In 2010 and 2011, New Zealand experienced this and it made worldwide news. The Science Learning Hub website states that “During the Canterbury earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011, liquefaction caused silt and fine sand to boil up and bury streets and gardens and caused buildings and vehicles to sink.”
But I never heard about that happening during the 1906 San Francisco quake, or the 1989 Loma Prieta quake in Santa Clara County – that means it’s not a risk here, right? Wrong. The USGS Liquefaction and Sea Level Rise explains that a relatively dry rainy season in 1906 lowered the liquefaction risk, and the 1989 quake happened near the end of the dry season when groundwater levels were at their low point.
Silty, sandy soil will respond very differently to bedrock and clay in the case of extreme shaking. So no, the valley won’t all be shaking equally in the case of a large tremor. Liquefaction hazard zones will likely get the worst of it. That’s why this designation matters so much.
What is a liquefaction zone?
After the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, the Department of Conservation, California Geological Survey created maps to make residents aware of areas in which there are increased risks from earthquake shaking due to landslides or liquefaction and to make sure that construction in those zones have extra investigational requirements to build safely. The liquefaction zones are noted by the state to be more susceptible to dangerous liquefaction in the event of an earthquake. You can learn more about these and related issues at the California Department of Conservation’s website. (more…)
If you’re mulling around a home purchase, it’s a good idea to formulate a plan. Preparing to buy your first home will take some time, even before you see any homes. Just thinking about it can be a little overwhelming!
In this article we’ll share tips for folks interested in buying how to get started:
video discussion of the first three steps
online research (various areas of interest to you)
talk to folks you know who have recently purchased about their experience so that you can learn what to anticipate
talk with a Realtor (or a few of them) and learn how they work
a list of things to consider researching when considering home buying
a list of other resources at the end
Preparing to buy your first home: 3 steps
When preparing to buy your home, slow down, make a plan, do some research online, talk with recent home buyers, and then speak with a Realtor (or two or three).
Once you select a Realtor, he or she can help you to create a path forward. Often they’ll ask you about setting priorities (and as much as possible, for you to rank them), your budget, your tolerance for doing repairs, your desired timing, and a few other things.
The folks who get into the most trouble with a real estate purchase are those who do it spontaneously.
What kind of research should be done when preparing to buy a home?
Does the exterior of a townhouse need to be inspected? If you are in the market to purchase a townhome, you may find that often the home and pest inspector are not including the outside areas such as the walls, foundation, or roof.
If you are preparing to sell your unit, you may be asked if you want to include or exclude the outer walls and features, or if you want a roof inspection done.
First, let’s consider why the inspectors may only inspect the interior of the home.
The reasoning frequently seems to be that the HOA will take care of whatever is on the outer walls or roof, so why bother? That assumption may or may not be accurate.
If the townhouse is held in condo ownership (as opposed to a PUD, in which homeowners own the outside walls, roof and the land under the unit), the HOA likely will take care of exterior damage.
If the townhome is a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, it’s much like a single family home: the homeowner will be responsible for repairs. (HOAs will repaint and reroof all units at the same time for both PUDs and condos, but not fix damaged siding, decks, roofs. It’s imperative to know which one you are buying, and you’ll only know that from the preliminary title report. It’s also imperative to know what the HOA will do regarding repairs, and for that you’ll need to look through the lengthy HOA documents.)
Another consideration is the price of the inspection, which will be less – in most cases – if only the interior of the home is covered by the inspector.
Does the exterior of a townhouse need to be inspected even if it’s a condo?
Simply put, these are when a home buyer and his or her or their agent write up a bid on a proper form such as the PRDS or CAR contracts, but orally or otherwise casually tells the seller or the listing agent of a price that the buyer would offer for the property.
Communication from a buyer or buyer’s agent that the client would like to purchase the property for a particular amount of money.
Sometimes they also include some of the contract terms, such as “all cash offer” or “no contingencies” or “30% down”.
Most of the time, the buyer doesn’t want to spend the time to write it up unless there’s a verbal assurance that the seller will accept the offer.
With a verbal offer (which could be in person, by phone, by email, by text, etc.), there’s no proof of anything – no proof of funds, proof that the disclosures have been reviewed, and so on.
This is a terrible idea, whether you’re a buyer or seller. But why?
Verbal offers are not serious offers
First, there are a LOT of terms in the offer besides just the price. They include things like the loan amount and percentage (80% loan to value ratio or something else), the amount of the initial deposit and when it will go to title, whether the buyer is preapproved or not, the number of days for various contingencies, how long the escrow should be, what personal property should be included, and much more.
Often those terms are extremely important. Consider just one: all cash versus financed! Verbal offers are usually only the price being floated by.
Written offers, not verbal offers, come from committed home buyers
If a home buyer is sincere and serious about purchasing property, he or she will get it in writing and be specific about the myriad of terms that are part and parcel of the agreement. A seller cannot fairly even consider a verbal offer because so many of the terms are simply missing in action. (more…)
Christie's International Real Estate Sereno, Los Gatos, CA 95030 408 204-7673 Mary@PopeHandy.com License# 01153805
Clair Handy, Realtor
Christie's International Real Estate Sereno 214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd Los Gatos, CA 95030 ClairHandy@sereno.com License# 02153633
Mary & Clair sell homes throughout Silicon Valley: Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Santa Cruz County. with a special focus on: San Jose, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell, Almaden Valley, Cambrian Park.
Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor
ABR, AHWD, CIPS, CRS, SRES
Christie's International Real Estate Sereno
DRE License #01153805
“Helping nice folks to buy and sell homes in Silicon Valley since 1993”
Clair Handy, Realtor, GREEN
Christie's International Real Estate Sereno
DRE License #02153633
email@example.com “Helping nice folks to buy and sell homes in Silicon Valley”
This is the Valley of Heart's Delight blog , covering Silicon Valley real estate - Santa Clara County, San Jose, Los Gatos, Cupertino, and nearby communities in the South Bay Area and lower Peninsula. Find info on neighborhoods, disclosure issues, buyer and seller tips, and housing market conditions in the west valley and most of the county.Please also see my other websites and real estate market statistics site, which are listed in the sidebar, above.
Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor
ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES
DRE License #01153805
“Helping nice folks to buy and sell homes in Silicon Valley since 1993”
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