Did you know that there are some things which your Realtor or real estate licensee/salesperson is prohibited from discussing with you? This is a surprise to many Silicon Valley home buyers.
Fair Housing Laws prevent real estate professionals from telling consumers certain types of information, particularly demographic information, anywhere in the United States. For instance, your agent cannot discuss with you these things:
- where racial groups have the highest concentration
- where people are found by religious affiliation
- where certain languages are spoken or not spoken
- whether or not there are halfway houses for alcoholics or other addicts nearby
- if neighbors are mentally ill
- whether someone died of AID or HIV (not the death, but cause of death)
Many Silicon Valley home sellers want to sell their homes As Is. In the case of short sales, it is likely that the sale will be As Is, and with foreclosed or bank-owned properties, you can be fairly sure that it will be an As Is sale.
But what does that mean, exactly?
As Is means that the home will be conveyed to the buyer at the end of the transaction in the same general condition it was in on the day that the buyers wrote the offer. If the roof has leaks, the crawl space is full of termites, and the appliances do not work, that is how it will be on the day escrow closes.
What it does not mean is that the seller can let the property condition deteriorate. The seller must continue to maintain the home and land in the same general condition. So if the lawn was green and well trimmed, the seller cannot suddenly let the grass die and neglect to mow it. If a baseball breaks a window after the buyer and seller have a ratified contract, the seller must repair it. The condition will not have to be better, but it should not be worse, either, than on the day the buyer and seller agreed on the price and terms of the sale.
The city of Campbell, California, was founded by Benjamin Campbell and local history of the region as “Campbell” goes back over 150 years. His first land purchase there occurred in 1851, and he planted it with grain and hay. This was a busy place during the orchard and fruit canning eras of the valley; it boasted three canneries in what is now the city of Campbell. Situated perfectly along the railroad line to Los Gatos, the Campbell area became a shipping center for the prized produce of The Valley of Hearts Delight.
Interestingly, while the city’s origins go back to the orchard era, Campbell was not incorporated until 1952. As with many other incorporations in Santa Clara County at that time, it was largely as a defensive maneuver against being swallowed up by the fast growing city of San Jose.
Today Campbell has a small town feel while offering a quaint downtown area, good schools, and more affordably priced homes (for our valley, anyway). Crime is low and there’s great community spirit. Downtown Campbell is a destination for many with some excellent restaurants, shops, art galleries and museums. Campbell is also home to several excellent parks and movie theaters and recently became tied in to the light rail system too, making it not just a great place to live, but also a great location for businesses who want to be more “green” and give its employees a better shot at using public transit.
See more articles on Campbell within this blog – the Campbell real estate market, events, photos and much more.
For more information about Campbell, visit the city’s official website at http://www.ci.campbell.ca.us.
Sitting at the base of El Sereno, part of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Monte Sereno is an upscale residential community snuggled between Los Gatos and Saratoga, California. The population is very tiny with about 4000 folks living in Monte Sereno any given time. It is composed of about one and a half square miles. This small city shares many services with the town of Los Gatos (such as schools and police). There are no businesses in Monte Sereno, only homes, the citys offices and the post office.
Real estate prices are high in this low-crime city, and while there are some modest homes, there are also some palatial estates featuring extreme amenities.
The geography is mostly flat to gentle hills, with much of it wooded. Redwood trees, oak trees, madrone and many others cluster together in the nooks and crannies of Monte Sereno. There are open places too, of course, with grassy fields. Along Daves Avenue, there are several streets that tie in together with a common horse stable, and it has meandering equestrian trails. Most of those homes are on half acre, level lots, with generous ranch style homes that back to the trails. This is a great neighborhood for horse lovers!
If you have a chance to visit Austin Way behind La Hacienda Restaurant and Inn, youll be delighted to find an old brick road, part of the heritage of Monte Sereno. And on the other side of Highway 9 along Austin Way, youll see a historic building recounting the citys agricultural past in Austin Corners.
John Steinbeck once called this area home – but later decided the rural hamlet was too crowded, so moved into the Santa Cruz Mountains to regain his serenity! It is said that he wrote ˜Of Mice and Men while living here.
|Official town website
The Town of Monte Sereno
|History, population, and more on this tiny town which is nestled between Saratoga and Los Gatos.
Wikipedia on Monte Sereno
Natural Hazard Reports are included in the disclosures when homes are bought and sold here in Silicon Valley. Those reports will indicate whether or not the property is located in areas with known natural hazards, including
- Flood Plains
- Liquifaction Zones
- Earthquake Fault Zones
- Unstable Soils Areas
But wouldn’t you like to know where those places are before ever writing an offer?
Many Silicon Valley Realtors utilize a tool that combines this natural hazard information with other boundaries that may be of interest to you, such as zip code lines, town boundaries, school district boundaries, district names within San Jose (like Berryessa, Cambrian Park, Evergreen, etc.) and so on. This is the Barclays Locaide and you can buy it online or in Realtor stores in the San Jose area. They arent cheap at just under $60, but they are extremely helpful and worthwhile for having a sense of where the issue areas are in Santa Clara County.
Saratoga is a highly desireable place in which to live, a great retreat from the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley. Nestled into the Santa Cruz Mountains, it is just a few miles to the north of Los Gatos. Its an upscale town noted for great schools, low crime, scenic beauty, fabulous shops and restaurants, and stunning estates. Like most of the valley, this area was largely orchards and also some vineyards & wineries 50 or 70 years ago. In fact, the largest prune orchard in the world was once Hume Ranch, which had 680 acres of prune trees!
Exceptional entertainment is abundant in Saratoga. Take in concerts at The Mountain Winery (formerly called Paul Masson Mountain Winery) and at Villa Montalvo, two lovely outdoor venues for music, or go wine tasting or horseback riding at Cooper-Garrod off Pierce Road. The new Saratoga Library is a wonderful place to spend a rainy winter day too.
Los Gatos is a charming town snuggled into the base of the coastal range between San Jose/Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz, which is on the other side of ˜the hill as locals call it. Its an upscale community with great schools, shopping, restaurants, and community involvement. Diversity abounds in things to do, from sailing, rollerblading and picnicking at Vasona Lake County Park to wine tasting at the Testarossa Vineyards to strolling down the main streets in search of dining or shopping. Every season offers something in this smallish community of 30,000 or so.
The hills help to define Los Gatos. Facing the coastal range and the pass that leads to Santa Cruz, you see El Sombroso rising on the left and El Sereno on the right. Other well known peaks are Loma Prieta (the epicenter of the 1989 earthquake) and Mt.Umunhum, which rises over Almaden Valley (Ununhum was the Ohlone word for Hummingbird). Closer in, Blossom Hill is a small hill in front of El Sombroso over which you drive on Blossom Hill Road. Behind it is the Kennedy-Shannon Road area, which is delightfully remote feeling while really being close in. Near downtown, St. Josephs Hill overlooks Main Street and is the home to the old Jesuit Novitiate, Sacred Heart, as well as Testarossa Vineyards tasting room (formerly the Novitiate Winery).
A sub-tropical climate makes it easy to enjoy events year-round. While palm trees are not native to northern California, they do thrive here! Our annual rainfall is only about 20 a year. If we get cold temperatures, its because the wind happens to be blowing south from Alaska. On those rare cold snaps, it might even snow – to everyones delight since it only happens about once in every decade, and at most will stick to the ground for an hour or two! Los Gatos does have its micro-climates. The pass through which highway 17 runs to Santa Cruz is a low spot that allows the cooler coastal weather to come through can make downtown a little colder, windier and wetter than parts of town to the south of Blossom Hill or toward the Saratoga limit. In summer this can make downtown more comfortable and in winter it can make the outlying areas more so.
Homebuyers sometimes call or email me, explaining, ˜I want to buy a home so that my child can go to Williams Elementary in Almaden Valley or ˜I want to buy a house and have my kids attend Alta Vista Elementary School in Los Gatos or ˜If I purchase a condo in downtown Saratoga, my son or daughter will be able to attend Saratoga Elementary School.
But its not guaranteed. Schools tend to drive real estate values here in highly educated Silicon Valley. But we dont have as much control of this slippery issue as most might think.
It is a big mistake to believe that if you purchase a home in a certain location, you’ll be guaranteed that certain school. Lots can happen.
Be careful what you wish for. The news stories make it sound so attractive – get a home for 10% less than market value. That may happen. Sometimes. The national average for short sales actually closing is extremely low, by some counts as low as 10 or 11 percent.
What about San Jose area short sales? Lets start with the lay of the land in Santa Clara County specifically (Silicon Valley includes Santa Clara County and a bit of Alameda, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo Counties). Some areas are loaded with short sale listings, others have few, if any. The ˜best deals, in terms of low pricing, are going to be in areas with a lot of the short sales because they sell for less and pull property values down, making them more and more affordable. Those are the areas with lower priced homes, generally, the entry level areas.
In places like South San Jose, the south county areas, and Blossom Valley, for instance, most of the entry level homes are short sales. Values are plummeting there.
In places like Cupertino, Saratoga, and Los Gatos, there are hardly any short sales. Virtually none. And home values are rising.
- Licensed, full time since 1993
- Second generation Silicon Valley Realtor
- Education junkie: 8 college real estate courses; multiple professional designations; continuously investing in classes on negotiation, marketing, international real estate, contracts & forms, working with seniors, and countless related real estate topics. Recently completed a negotiation class offered through Stanford University. Designations included CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) and CRS (Certified Real Estate Specialist) as well as SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist) and ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative).
- Specialize in Los Gatos and nearby areas of San Jose’sCambrian and Almaden, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, Campbell – but work throughout Santa Clara County
- Co-author of a book, “Get the Best Deal When Selling Your Home in Silicon Valley”
- Author of numerous blogs, winner of many awards for blogging / writing
- Social media focus as it works with writing – well known nationally for success in this arena
- Top producer: consistently in the top 5%
- How clients find me: repeat and referral business plus new clients from my writing & online presence
I entered real estate full time as a licensed professional and a Realtor (a member of the National Association of Realtors, Calif Assn of Realtors and Silicon Valley Assn of Realtors – these are trade groups with high standards demanded and not all licensees are members) in the first few weeks of 1993. The market was slow and difficult. I cut my teeth on a couple of short sales, never knowing I’d need to do a lot more of them in 2008 – 2010 and beyond.
My mother, Pat Pope, was a Realtor since before I was born and she logged 40 years in the business when she died in 1996. I like to joke that my first words were “raised foundation“. I learned a lot from her and am grateful that we had a few overlapping years. She was a great coach and mentor!
In the course of my career I have worked in several offices (for several brokerages) and know a lot of the local Los Gatos – Saratoga – Almaden – San Jose area agents. This is very helpful with networking. I also racked up a lot of classes, seminars and conferences and truly am an education junkie. In that vein, I also worked to earn a number of certifications and designations, the most prized of which is the CRS, Certified Residential Specialist (which is held by only about 7% of all Realtors) and also the CIPS, Certified International Property Specialist. Many of my clients come from far away lands and I love working with them. I love to write and in 2004 co-authored a book on selling homes in Silicon Valley.
I’m usually somewhere in the top 3-5% for real estate sales and sometimes top 1%. I have won many awards for production and also for service. My main goal is to help my buyers and sellers to be successful and each one matters. For me it’s not a numbers game, it’s people work. Our mutual success is what has put me in the list of top ranking agents.
Because I have been exceptionally successful with my websites and writing, I am often asked to speak on panels about blogging and social media, or to teach at conferences. Public speaking is a lot of fun for me and I’m happy to share what has worked for me in my career.
My real estate sales have centered around the west valley communities of Silicon Valley: Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cambrian Park, Almaden Valley, Campbell, Willow Glen and nearby areas. I have sold all over Santa Clara County (Los Altos, West San Jose, Morgan Hill, Milpitas, Alum Rock, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Santa Teresa, Blossom Valley…) and occassionally have sold in neighboring counties too (at my clients’ request).
The price points and home types I work with range from modest 1 bedroom condos listed at under $200,000 to houses or duplexes to multi-million dollar estate properties. I have sold new homes as well as “resale”. I do not sell apartment buildings, raw land, commercial properties, or mobile homes, but will gladly introduce you to a great Realtor who can help with those.
Today most of my clients come to me either through my blogs and websites or are repeat or referral based. I love meeting my blog readers and often they not only become clients, they become friends.
For more information: To read a complete resume and list of my designations, awards, college level real estate courses and more, please visit my profile on my popehandy.com website: http://popehandy.com/about/
And please also read testimonials from my cients here: