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 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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Clair Handy and pet rat, PookiePet rats – the kind you buy at the pet store – can make the most adorable friends. Our daughter had one as a pet and a close family member for years.

But rats in the roof, attic, crawl space, walls and landscaping are not so adorable. They wreck havoc and can cause damage to home and health. Wild rats gnaw on wood and wires, and they carry fleas that can spread disease. Bubonic plague is not an issue in Santa Clara County now, but it is in Tahoe and other areas, so it’s a risk to take seriously.

What kind of rats exist here, in The Valley of Hearts Delight?

In Silicon Valley, the predominent type of wild rat is the Roof Rat (also known as the Black Rat or Tree Rat). The Roof Rat’s eat ivy, fruit, pet food, nuts and other goodies found in neighborhoods. They are identifiable because their tail is longer than the head and body together.

A lesser seen rat in the San Jose area is the Norway Rat (also called the Wharf Rat, the Sewer Rat, or the Brown Rat). This rat has a shorter tail and is usually seen in less developed areas, creekbeds, and farm areas, which are rapidly disappearing here in the South Bay.

Recently a neighbor of ours found a dead rat in his yard, and he called The Santa Clara County Vector Control District office to come out and help him identify if there was a problem with rats getting into his home or not, and to shed light on the issue of why this critter recently appeared in his home. The officer came out and performed this service for free, enlightening my neighbor as to access points and providing a helpful brochure about rats and what attracts them.

I’d heard that Italian Cypress trees, juniper and ivy were all bad – that is, that they attracted rats. What I did not realize is how many other things do too.
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house-keyBuying homes in Silicon Valley during a “buyer’s market” takes courage. Doom and gloom grace the cover of the newspaper and online articles. Everyone has a bad story to share about someone else who lost a home, or had a bad experience trying to buy a short sale or distressed property. Perhaps most of all, at work or in social circles, friends and coworkers will advise you “if you wait, you will get it for less”.
This is what always happens in a buyer’s market. Folks who are themselves afraid of taking the plunge talk loudly about why buying a home in San Jose, Campbell, Monte Sereno or nearby is not a good idea right now.
When would all of these people say is the “right time to buy”?
Everyone wants to buy low and sell high, whether it’s in the stock market or in real estate. Timing the exact bottom or exact top is impossible. In fact, we only know we’ve hit it once it’s past. Once the bottom has been identified by the populus, guess what? All the fence sitters jump in. Demand rises faster than supply. Prices go up.
Now may or may not be the right time for you to buy. It may not be the right time to buy certain types of homes in certain areas. An example that comes to mind of what NOT to buy is in parts of the distressed market. Buying in areas & pricepoints where foreclosures are rising would not be my professional advice to anyone. As those numbers swell, prices will be pushed down.

But there are many healthy markets and pricepoints where there’s simply a soft spot in the zone where you want to buy. In recent days I’ve looked at the condo and townhouse market in several upscale parts of the valley such as Los Gatos, Saratoga, and Almaden Valley. For some reason, townhomes and condominiums in these lovely areas are taking a bit of a beating right now compared to the single family home market. This appears to be a nice buying opportunity. Real estate in these west valley neighborhoods is usually beyond reach for many people. Right now, though, you may be able to get your foot in the door.

Additionally, there are some markets in which single family homes are selling very well (especially in Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Mountain View). For Silicon Valley seniors who’d like to downsize, this may be an ideal market. Sell the home in a strong market, buy the retirement condo in a buyer’s market. What more could you want?

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San Jose’s upscale suburb, Almaden Valley, features gorgeous hillside views, great schools, low crime, and consistently nice neighborhoods. Home prices range from a little higher than average to very expensive. How is the real estate market faring in posh Almaden Valley?

Here’s a snapshot view of list prices over the last year in Almaden of both single family houses and condos or town

It is curious to note that condo prices seemed to have an uptick while single family homes had a downtick around March first of this year. Condo and townhouse prices in Almaden appear to be slipping overall since then, while home prices have risen generally, though slipped again a little since July 1st.

Next let’s have a look at asking prices for single family homes, or houses (as opposed to condominiums or townhomes). Below, find the data broken down by quartiles.


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Saratoga, California, is a delightful part of Silicon Valley that boasts low crime, high scores in schools, and strong property values. Today we’ll have a look at the list prices of homes to see what’s happening with the various real estate markets there. How are things faring amid the mortgage meltdown which is impacting most of Silicon Valley?

Here’s a graph of the combined single family home and condominum/townhouse pricing for Saratoga CA real estate – it will give you an overview of the many price points and types of homes combined.
At first glance, it looks like condos and townhomes in Saratoga are falling in value while single family homes are rising in value. Is that the case?list-price-condos-sfh-early-aug-08

Of course, “the market” in Saratoga or anywhere else in Silicon Valley is dependent upon many things, such as exact location, views, school districts, price point – to name a few. It may or may not be as simple as this graph implies. So let’s take a closer look.

The following image shows pricing of active listings in Saratoga real estate among single family homes, broken down by quartiles. As you will note, the highest priced homes have shown the most volatility in this market. March and April seem to have been a low point for pricing.

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Do you like to keep a pulse on the Silicon Valley real estate market? If the west valley communities interest you especially, please sign up to automatically receive (at no cost) a report by zip code for the communities of Los Gatos/Monte Sereno, Saratoga, Campbell, and parts of San Jose close to them: Almaden Valley, Cambrian Park, and Willow Glen.

Simply sign up and the reports will be on their way automatically. You can opt out at any time, of course.

Signup via my Live in Los Gatos blog. The input fields are in the right sidebar.

Whether you are looking to buy a condo, townhome, patio home, or single family home in Silicon Valley, it’s imperative that you revisit the neighborhood multiple times before deciding to buy (or to complete the purchase). This is an important part of your “due diligance” as a home buyer.

Why revisit so many times? Because certain key things may differ from hour to hour or workday to weekend day:

  • – noise levels
  • – the number of parked cars on the street (few is good, many suggests overcrowding)
  • – neighborhood activity (good or bad: people strolling, walking dogs is a good sign – too many yard sales or other activity may not be a plus)

If you visit on a weekday morning or afternoon, the street could be relatively free of cars and other vehicles, but it might be entirely different on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon.

Conversely, if the neighborhood appears consistently appealing, quiet, well kept, and not overcrowded or loud, that’s something to appreciate as you factor in which home to buy. You can usually remodel your own home, but it’s very difficult to do a makeover on the street where you live – so investigate throroughly before you buy, whether it’s in San Jose, Campbell, Saratoga, or Los Gatos. You will be more sure of your decision and happier with the results if you do your neighborhood homework upfront.

Obituary: San Jose attorney John N Pope, Jr (2-27-1930 to 6-29-2008)

Professional Portrait John N Pope Jr attorney at law in San Jose CAAfter a long, valiant battle against lung disease and congestive heart failure, my father, John Pope, died Sunday, June 29th at Kaiser Hospital in Santa Clara. This was somewhat unexpected as recently he had been improving and was downgraded out of the ICU and was awaiting a bed in a yet lower level of the hospital when it seems he got a severe stroke late on Saturday. Prior to his seven weeks there, mostly in the ICU, he had lived at Belmont Village in San Jose, where he had many friends.

John grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, and graduated from Princeton University in 1952 with a BA in history. He married Patricia Buckley in Santa Clara County in August 1954. They were married for 42 years, until her death in 1996. After serving in the US Army in South Korea for nearly two years, he studied at Santa Clara University School of Law and received a license to practice law in January 1959.

He had a private practice in San Jose, doing family law, wills, trusts, estates, and employment law. His law practice included “pro bono” work and he served as a “Judge Pro Tem” as well.

Pat and John PopeJohn and Pat raised three children in Santa Clara and Saratoga. John was very supportive of Pat’s real estate career, which she began in 1956 (when very few women were selling real estate).

John was a creative person who enjoyed delighting young children, particularly with cartooning or doing “magic tricks” involving chocolate coins. He painted a myriad of toy soldiers and enjoyed an extensive collection the sale of which helped to support him in his retirement. He was known within the family for the villages and train sets he set up under the tree at Christmas, which looked amazingly similar to his hometown of Morristown in winter.

Spirituality and his Catholic faith were of utmost importance to him, and it infused the way he worked, raised his family, and met challenges in his life. He had been a very active member of Alcoholic Anonymous, and he credited the support of the group and the grace of God for his 29 years of sobriety.

John’s passions were travel, history, politics, family and faith. When the family was young, John and Pat made many frequent trips to the east coast to see the Pope relatives. The travels later expanded to include Europe, Great Britain, central America, the Virgin Islands, and elsewhere.

John leaves behind 3 children: Stephen Pope (Patti) of Boston, MA, Mary Pope-Handy (Jim) of Los Gatos, CA, and Barbara Pope (Tom) of Greenfield, MA and 7 grandchildren: Michael Pope, Kathleen Pope, Stephen Pope, Brian Handy, Clair Handy, Daniel Morse and Taryn Rose Morse. He is survived also by his sister, Helen Holly (Bo) of Dover, NJ, her children Joan Guarino and John Holly (Meredith) and Joan’s two children, Alexandre and Gabriella. He is also mourned by his brothers-in-law, Fr. Michael Buckley, SJ, and Fr. Thomas Buckley, SJ, as well as by numerous other relatives, friends, and neighbors. He was predeceased by his wife, Pat, in 1996.
There will be a funeral Mass at St. Lucy’s Catholic Church in Campbell on July 9th at 11am, followed by burial at the Santa Clara Mission Cemetary and a reception afterwards. A memorial Mass was held in his hometown of Morristown, New Jersey, on July 2nd as his only sibling, Helen, and her family live nearby and many other relatives were assembled in Cape May, NJ, for a family reunion, when he died.
Donations in John’s honor can be made to ARH Recovery Homes, Inc.
1101 S. Winchester Blvd.,Suite J-220 San Jose, CA 95128 Phone: 408-236-6657 He had been very involved with this alcohol recovery home, at one time serving on its board, and would love to have its good work furthered on his behalf.
 John Pope and bride Patricia Buckley Pope on their wedding day August 1954 Convertible

120 Magneson Terrace, Los Gatos, CA 95032

The Los Gatos real estate market
seems to be improving as more homes are selling now than in recent months. The “absorption rate” has been declining and is now well under the 6 months that differentiates a buyers vs a sellers market. Many are thinking that the worst is behind us.

And if that is the case, now really is the “best time to buy” in Los Gatos, San Jose, Saratoga, or anywhere in Silicon Valley.

Recently I listed a great, sunny home and it will be held open this weekend (Sat 2-4, Aug 9). If you are looking to buy a house in Los Gatos, with the schools and close to shops, stores, banks and restaurants, you will want to know about this home and see it ASAP!

120 Magneson Terrace (off Magneson Loop and Los Gatos Blvd), Los Gatos, CA 95032

Offered at $1,250,000 – New Roof as of late June!!

  • 3 Bedrooms
  • 2.5 Bathrooms
  • Living Room, Dining Room, Study (or Music Room or Library)
  • Lovely Hardwood Floors Throughout (all but bathrooms)
  • Appx 1800 SF
  • Lot Size appx 8700 SF
  • Los Gatos Schools very close by
  • Home situated on a quiet cul-de-sac
  • Air Conditioning & Extra Insulation
  • Laundry Room
  • Attached 2 Car Garage
  • So close to the schools and shops that it’s “walk to”, “bike to”, “scooter to” and for driving, “less than 2 minutes to” – no matter how you get around, this home is close to schools and shops!

Virtual Tour of 120 Magneson Terrace, Los Gatos, CA 95032

A quick introduction to downtown San Jose via YouTube. Downtown San Jose is Sharks Territory (NHL team), home to a diverse number of theaters and museums (including a quilting museum) and a huge variety of shops and restaurants. When the Sharks aren’t playing at the Arena, the Shark Tank becomes a musical venue too.

In summer, fireworks and many events draw large crowds downtown.

In winter, downtown offers Christmas in the Park and a palm tree encircled ice rink as wonderful ways to enjoy the sunny, cool days downtown. The Catholic Cathedral features free musical concerts for all from many groups around Silicon Valley, with each concert performed twice in many of the evenings leading up to Christmas.

There’s loads to do in downtown San Jose!


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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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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'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