Silicon Valley Real Estate Info

How important are open housesAre open houses important for getting a home to sell, or for getting it to sell at a higher price?

In Silicon Valley, only a small percentage of homes sell directly from an open house visit by a home buyer. Depending on whose statistics you believe, it’s somewhere in the 5% to 10% range. Some would argue for smaller figures than those.

The best home buyers, who are pre-approved and serious enough to be working with a real estate professional and have their own buyer’s agent, can come whenever it suits both their schedules and the home sellers. But that doesn’t mean that all of them do.  Some serious house hunting buyers may be out on their own, without their agent because they don’t want to “bother” him or her too much. I’ve had clients like that myself, and no matter how much I reassure them that I want to show them homes and prefer it, even, they want to mostly look on their own until they are either more serious or have found something they really love.  It is not uncommon for buyers to phone or email me that they’ve seen a house that they want to buy.  This seems to be a growing trend.

Knowing that the best Silicon Valley home buyers do have an agent, don’t necessarily need open houses, there are some who move from this thought to the idea that open houses are without significant value to the home sellers.  Some Realtors would assert that open houses only get neighbors and “Lookie Lous”, that they are only used by the agent to get new buyers and are a waste of everyone’s time. That’s an extreme position and I think it’s mistaken. Continue reading

What's nextIf you have just bought your first Silicon Valley home, you may feel very relieved to have survived the contracts, negotiations, the disclosures, the appraisal and the escrow and made it all the way to closing.  You are a successful home buyer!  You move in, unpack and then…. what? What do you do?

I have a few suggestions.

First, while it’s fresh in your memory, pull out the disclosures and inspection reports and (if you haven’t done this already) make a list of the items you must do and want to do.  I suggest you include at least 3 categories:

  1. Health & safety items
  2. Protecting the house from damage
  3. Lower level items with aesthetic value (decorating and in some cases remodeling)
  4. Ongoing projects you want to remember to do periodically around the house and yard such as changing the smoke detector batteries, cleaning out the rain gutters, doing a “walk around the house” to check for any issues with vent screens, roof tiles etc. (If you have bought a condo or townhouse, this is still important.)

It is too easy to focus on updating to dual pane windows (gratifying since they look nice) and ignoring foundation cracks, electrical problems and termites, so making this type of list will help you to keep on track with the better priorities (1 and 2 as opposed to 3).

Second, pull together all of the expenses you laid out in purchasing your home. Create a file with a spreadsheet of your costs and the receipts that go with it (include a copy of your HUD 1).   This will be helpful in establishing your tax basis and may protect you when you eventually sell the house from paying more taxes than you’re legally required to do.  Go over it with your CPA or Enrolled Agent or Tax Professional as some of them may be deductible on your taxes this year and some may not qualify as related to your tax basis. Continue reading

How’s the Campbell, California, real estate market? There are always micro-markets to follow, narrowing what’s viewed to neighborhoods, school districts, and price point. In general, though, it’s a healthy market for this upwardly trending Silicon Valley city with a quaint downtown, good schools and more affordability than might be expected. For houses, clearly, prices are nudging up!

Each month I have a site specifically producing the Silicon Valley real estate market trends (at least for that part of Silicon Valley which is within Santa Clara County). You can see the report for Campbell houses & duet homes here and the condominium and townhouse report here. Just below, I’ll post the basic numbers/summary, though, for those who want a quick view of the market:

(1) Single Family homes (houses/duet homes) in Campbell:


Trends At a Glance May 2011 Previous Month Year-over Year
Median Price $678,500 $629,944 (+7.7%) $653,438 (+3.8%)
Average Price $698,073 $703,100 (-0.7%) $685,182 (+1.9%)
No. of Sales 24 24 (0.0%) 32 (-25.0%)
Pending Properties 46 40 (+15.0%) 42 (+9.5%)
Active 55 59 (-6.8%) 78 (-29.5%)
Sale vs. List Price 98.6% 98.0% (+0.6%) 100.2% (-1.6%)
Days on Market 55 34 (+62.5%) 28 (+97.8%


Trends At a Glance Apr 2011 Previous Month Year-over Year
Median Price $629,944 $705,000 (-10.6%) $670,000 (-6.0%)
Average Price $703,100 $781,895 (-10.1%) $696,160 (+1.0%)
No. of Sales 24 21 (+14.3%) 15 (+60.0%)
Pending Properties 40 51 (-21.6%) 51 (-21.6%)
Active 59 54 (+9.3%) 71 (-16.9%)
Sale vs. List Price 98.0% 98.2% (-0.2%) 104.8% (-6.4%)
Days on Market 34 31 (+9.4%) 35 (-5.2%)


(2) Condominiums and townhouses in Campbell:


Trends At a Glance May 2011 Previous Month Year-over Year
Median Price $390,000 $419,000 (-6.9%) $457,500 (-14.8%)
Average Price $406,364 $419,125 (-3.0%) $434,838 (-6.5%)
No. of Sales 11 8 (+37.5%) 16 (-31.3%)
Pending Properties 22 23 (-4.3%) 33 (-33.3%)
Active 43 35 (+22.9%) 26 (+65.4%)
Sale vs. List Price 96.0% 93.8% (+2.3%) 97.8% (-1.9%)
Days on Market 81 58 (+37.8%) 42 (+91.2%)


Trends At a Glance Apr 2011 Previous Month Year-over Year
Median Price $419,000 $450,000 (-6.9%) $500,000 (-16.2%)
Average Price $419,125 $418,750 (+0.1%) $465,548 (-10.0%)
No. of Sales 8 10 (-20.0%) 8 (0.0%)
Pending Properties 23 27 (-14.8%) 40 (-42.5%)
Active 35 28 (+25.0%) 29 (+20.7%)
Sale vs. List Price 93.8% 98.7% (-5.0%) 98.5% (-4.7%)
Days on Market 58 83 (-29.5%) 34 (+72.7%)


Campbell Real Estate Market Barometer




Some Silicon Valley homeowners spruce up their yards and gardens in spring and summer with tanbark or mulch. While this is a very common practice, it can be a bad idea if too close to the home’s foundation. Tanbark is simply small bits of wood, and mulch is often no more than shredded wood (sometimes it’s peat moss). Why is that bad?  Wood is the food for termites and piles of tanbark or mulch can hide them as well!

If you have tanbark or wood mulch close to your house now, it’s suggested that you scrape it back away from the house a foot or so. (Check for the mud tubes when you do so.) Otherwise you are inviting subterranean termites to have a feast!

Ask your landscape expert what you might use in lieu of these products in your garden.  Perhaps a peat moss or mushroom mulch, pavers, clean compost topsoil or river rocks can clean up the area closest to your house in stead.




Between Los Gatos-Almaden Road and Ross Creek sits an eclectic east Los Gatos neighborhood, a county pocket, featuring a view of the hills where you can find a little bit of everything.

The homes built on Loma Vista Avenue, Linda Avenue, El Gato Lane and part of Escobar Avenue were first constructed in the 1940s, with many more filling out the neighborhood in the mid 50s.

They were three subdivisions initially:

  • El Gato Terrace
  • the Loma Vista Tract
  • Rancho Padre (Rancho Padre is the one closest to the creek).

(Please note: these are not part of Blossom Hill Manor, which begins on the adjacent Longwood Drive.)


El Gato Terrace, Loma Vista and Rancho Padre areas

Continue reading

Did you buy your house at the peak of the market?

Recently I met with some of my past clients, who purchased their San Jose house close to the height of the market (2005-2007).  In those days it was a hot seller’s market (not unlike many parts of the Silicon Valley real estate landscape today, actually), and buyers routinely purchased their homes “As Is“, meaning no repairs provided by the sellers.  Desperate to get in when prices were appreciating fast, it seemed that most home buyers said “we’ll take care of it after we own it“.

But they forgot.

Actually this didn’t just happen during the peak of the market here in Santa Clara County – there’s always a percentage of consumers who buy As Is to get a better price.  They have good intentions about taking care of the mold, the termites, the roof and whatever else might not be either in good working order or free of infestation.  But once they move in, the “to do list” doesn’t seem to have those items as a high priority, and over time they completely fall through the cracks.

Pull out your old file, find your inspection reports and review them, especially if you are preparing to sell your home

Today I want to encourage you to dig out your old home inspection and pest reports, dust them off, and have a look.  Did you need to address a problem with termites, electrical issues, leaks?  Is there something to take care of with the roof, gutters, dry rot or fungus?  All of those things do not self-correct, but instead grow worse over time.  Continue reading

A week or two ago I stopped by to see a luxury home on the real estate broker’s tour in Los Gatos – a fantastic estate on an enormous parcel with an expansive view over Lake Vasona County Park, the hills and so much greenery.

It was an overcast day with some intermittent drizzle and sprinkles, but clear enough to provide visibility for this infrequently enjoyed vantage. Take in this vista of the lake, the dam and Mount Sombroso in the background which is seldom seen except by a small group of fortunate residents perched on Wild Way.

Vasona Lake from Hillside above University Avenue (Wild Way) - view spot not open to the public

Vasona Lake from Hillside above University Avenue from backyard of residence on Wild Way – view spot not open to the public




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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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