Rental Housing

Real Estate Sucker WantedSometimes it is said that the current owners of the home are the highest bidders on their own property. What does that mean? In a nutshell, it refers to the fact that no one else is going to pay the price that the seller or landlord is asking for that house or condo, so he or she “wins” the opportunity to continue to live there or have possession of it.   Translation: the house did not sell (or get rented out).

In every market, even a red hot seller’s market as we now have in Silicon Valley, there are overpriced homes for sale and for rent.  Some of them may never sell – or take years and multiple listing agents and multiple price reductions before a property changes hands or gets a new tenant.

How do you know if a home is overpriced?

In San Jose right now, the average days on market is 24. In Santa Clara County, it’s 23. If your home has been for sale for 4 weeks and it’s not sold, you’ve probably overpriced it.  Same with rental properties, which are also getting scooped up fast!

Once in awhile, there’s a cause besides pricing behind a property not getting sold or leased.  It could be odors in the home, difficulty scheduling showings (unreasonable restrictions on access to the house), bad neighborhood conditions (eyesores, nuisances, loud music), poor photos on the MLS and marketing, or other marketing problems.  But a good, solid 90-95% of the time, it’s the price.

Every now and then, an upset home owner who wants to sell or lease will call me and other local real estate agents when their property sits untaken, though listed and marketed on the mls.  What do they expect me to do?  They have a listing agent, and I’m not it!  But they personally phone me to see if I have any buyers or renters for their house.  If I did have someone for it, we’d have seen it on the multiple listing service.  If it were a match (meaning also priced appropriately), I’d have shown it.

There are about 15,000 members of our local MLS, and they can all access the listed properties easily.  Are these desperate home sellers going to phone all 15,000 of them in hopes of finding the next occupant for their property?

The thing is, that they are chasing the wrong solution to their problem (and wasting my time or that of any other agent they phone).  Phoning or emailing the members of the real estate community is about as useful as flying a large blimp overhead with an enormous banner about the townhouse or home.  Yes, you will get someone’s attention, but it will be ineffective for moving your property.  You can spend thousands of dollars on marketing, or make phoning Realtors your full time job, but if the price is wrong, it’s all for nothing.

What they need to do, in most cases, is lower the price to where the buyers will be interested.

Otherwise, they’re just fishing for a sucker.  And there aren’t many of those around.

  1. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,659 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,670 sqft
  2. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,137 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,000 sqft
  3. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,236 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,357 sqft
  4. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,880 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,376 sqft
  5. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,624 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,998 sqft
  6. 6 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,020 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,098 sqft
  7. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,697 sq ft
    Lot size: 3,284 sqft
  8. 2 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 903 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,498 sqft
  9. 2 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,142 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,751 sqft
  10. 2 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,274 sq ft
    Lot size: 618 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of San Jose.
(all data current as of 10/18/2018)

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

Here are the headlines from the San Jose Mercury News in mid April 2014:

Home Prices to buy or rent going up April 15-16 2014

Rental article: Bay Area apartment rents set record 4/16/14

Excerpt:  Bay Area apartment rents are rising at nearly double-digit annual rates and have reached record levels, according to a report released Tuesday, prompting some analysts to warn that the region’s economic boom could be choked off by the relentless rise…..  Among the Bay Area’s three largest cities, San Jose had an average asking rent of $2,066 during this year’s January-March quarter, up 10.3 percent from the same period last year, RealFacts reported. Oakland had an average rental rate of $2,187, up 12.3 percent, while San Francisco posted an average of $3,057, up 9.5 percent.

Home buying article:   Bay Area home prices jump year over year

Excerpt:  March marked more than 20 consecutive months of year-over-year price gains for single-family homes in the East Bay, South Bay and Peninsula, according to real estate information service DataQuick, which released a report on March sales Wednesday…. The San Diego-based company said that prices were up 29.2 percent from the previous March in Alameda County to $575,000. In Contra Costa County, prices rose 22.8 percent to $425,000. Santa Clara County gained 20.3 percent to $800,000, and San Mateo County was up 13.2 percent to $860,000.

Whether you buy or rent, prices have been rising dramatically.  When factoring in what housing will cost, include the trajectory of appreciation per month.

  1. 2 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 903 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,498 sqft
  2. 2 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,142 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,751 sqft
  3. 2 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,274 sq ft
    Lot size: 618 sqft
  4. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,441 sq ft
    Lot size: 3,079 sqft
  5. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,912 sq ft
    Lot size: 2,683 sqft
  6. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,650 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,650 sqft
  7. 2 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,644 sq ft
    Lot size: 766 sqft
  8. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,451 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,729 sqft
  9. 2 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,804 sq ft
  10. 1 bed, 1 bath
    Home size: 808 sq ft
    Lot size: 840 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of San Jose.
(all data current as of 10/18/2018)

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

Awhile back, I showed a home for sale along the Los Gatos border with Cambrian Park (area of San Jose) to a buyer couple.  It’s tenant occupied, was pretty much a mess  (and on top of being in disarray was dark – curtains drawn, no lights on etc.) and the person who lived there walked us through the property, telling us things about the owners and the situation that really didn’t make my buyers want to purchase the home at all.  Between the condition of the property and the info-packed narrative, my clients could not wait to leave.   No sale!

How to Sell a Tenant Occupied Property for Top DollarIf you own income property (or rental property) in Silicon Valley and want to sell it, you may be aware that a 1031 tax deferred exchange is something to consider.  What you may not remember to do is to strategize about what to do with your tenants.  How do you get them to be cooperative, responsive to showing requests, permit an open house and keep the place neat? And preferably, to be absent or at least quiet and out of the way when the home is shown?  Or would it be better to wait until the lease is over, and then sell it?  There are pros and cons to each approach, but today we’ll talk about selling it with the tenants still in place.

When residential real estate is for sale, the occupants’ lives are turned upside down.  It’s no small amount of inconvenience and risk to them with the traffic in and out, the calls at all hours, the loss of privacy and on top of everything else, the risk of personal property being stolen.  If you are a homeowner, you are motivated because you will get cash out of the deal at close of escrow.  If you are a renter and the home you’re renting or leasing suddenly goes on the market, there’s not really a “silver lining” built into the scenario most of the time.  That can set the stage for trouble and even financial loss.
Continue reading

Finding Temporary or Rental Housing in Silicon ValleyOften I get emails from people asking if I can help them with finding a rental property. For the most part, my practice revolves around listing and selling real estate in San Jose, Los Gatos, and Silicon Valley generally, so my best information is on what’s for sale, not what’s for rent.  Once in awhile I work on rental housing, but not normally, as rental condos or houses through an agent (if they are listed on the MLS) will usually cost you more than homes you find to rent elsewhere.

The best resources I have found for locating rental properties in Santa Clara County are these (I cannot guarantee or warranty your results, but these are starting points for you):

  • Craigslist (link is to the South Bay area)
  • Bay Rentals (they do charge a small fee)
  • (search by city name or zip code)
  • Once you’ve located an area you like – drive around
  • possible – the mls search – scroll down on left sidebar widget on this blog and pull down the menu under “all property types” and select Rentals OR run similar search by map on my site at this link ~ you must also find “property types” on left side and then locate rentals under that)

The last bullet point might seem silly, but some of the best apartments, townhomes etc. never get listed anywhere other than a sign in the yard.  So if you love Los Gatos, Campbell, Santa Clara or anywhere else, drive it and watch for signs! (Or talk with friends or acquaintances in areas you like – have them keep an eye out for you.)

Perhaps you want to be in a hotel or inn for awhile before deciding where to rent or buy, or while on temporary assignment at a local business or university. You don’t need me to tell you where to stay in a hotel, but if you are moving here with a pet you might want assistance finding a place which will welcome your cat or dog.  Here’s a great resource for finding pet-friendly hotels, motels and inns here:’s San Jose (and nearby) City Guide, which includes accomodations, parks, outdoor restaurants etc.

Right now, it seems to be the case that it’s harder to rent a home than to buy one – at least that is the word on the street.  (And it seems that like with the purchase market, the closer you get to Palo Alto, the tougher it is.)  Tougher still if you have pets or smoke.  If you have pets or smoke and find a rental, the cost per month will be higher.

Finding a home to rent in Silicon Valley can be an enormous challenge.  Most Realtors don’t do rentals (since very few are offered on our MLS), so consumers looking to find rental housing are often doing it on their own.  This can be especially tough if you are relocating to the San Jose area!

Who you gonna call?

In my experience, the best places to find homes to rent, besides literally driving through neighborhoods, is online with Craigslist or via Bay Rentals.  Bay Rentals does charge a fee but they do great work and you will know you’re not getting scammed.

Below you can browse properties offered for rent in Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga.  There aren’t very many of them but it’s a piece of the information puzzle.


  1. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,203 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,881 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of Los Gatos.
(all data current as of 10/18/2018)

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

  1. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,941 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.12 ac

See all Real estate in the city of Monte Sereno.
(all data current as of 10/18/2018)

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

  1. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 2,139 sq ft
    Lot size: 9,748 sqft
  2. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,924 sq ft
  3. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,795 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,000 sqft
  4. 5 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,479 sq ft
    Lot size: 10,232 sqft
  5. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,914 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.05 ac

See all Real estate in the city of Saratoga.
(all data current as of 10/18/2018)

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

PalmsSilicon Valley is home to three great universities (Santa Clara University, San Jose State University and Stanford University), about a half dozen community colleges (Mission, Evergreen, West Valley, Foothill, De Anza, San Jose City, Ohlone,  Canada) plus smaller trade schools or polytechnic colleges for specific career-oriented individuals  (such as Cogswell in Sunnyvale).

Most of the smaller schools do not offer student housing while the larger ones typically do – though it may not be guaranteed for all four years.

If you are a parent of a college student in the San Jose – Santa Clara – Palo Alto area, should you consider purchasing a condo, townhouse or house for your son or daughter?  Does it make financial sense to do so? Over time, would this be a good investment? Would it be best for your son or daughter to skip the dorm scene?             Continue reading


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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)
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 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