How to get a great buyer’s agent – and keep them

You and your great buyer's agent teamwork graphic - puzzle pieces and 2 peopleA great buyer’s agent can be hard to find and keep. Here’s what to do to enlist the help of one and how to make sure you stick together as a team and get you into your new home.

Summary:

Only a fraction of all interested home buyers actually buy in the year they say that they plan to do so.  For various reasons they decide to keep renting, or move away, or give up, or simply don’t write offers that are selected (they may chronically low-ball)

  • Some home buyers are very serious but also very time consuming, and if it takes them a long time to buy, it can be draining for their real estate agent, and if prices are rising, it can shrink the odds of success.
  • Many Realtors prefer to work with sellers when the market is hot – which it nearly always is in Silicon Valley, since most homes do sell (while far fewer buyers buy).
  • Buyers who want to enlist a strong Realtor will need to be serious about home buying, able and ready (have the money and a pre-approval in place), and loyal as the starting point.  Your real estate licensee may ask you to sign a buyer representation agreement, just as home sellers sign a listing contract. This will be required by law by mid-July 2024.
  • To be taken seriously, when you first contact your agent, DO:
    • share your full name
    • share your real contact info (including an email address that you actually check)
    • specifically what you are targeting
    • how you got their name
    • your timing and anything else important
  • Understand that we agents get many scammers approaching us. Do your best to look authentic. Scammers say “I want to buy a house in your area. Contact me on WhatsApp”.  If you sound like a scammer, your initial approach may backfire so badly that your message gets you blocked in the future. (I get several scammers texting me each week.)
  • If for any reason you haven’t done all of the above upfront, please correct it if needed over time. For instance, if you provided a “junk” email account and never check it, your agent may find your perfect home but not be able to inform you of it if you never look at those emails.
  • To keep your great buyer’s agent on your team, it’s imperative that you allow that Realtor to guide you, whether it’s getting preapproved with a strong lender, deciding on priorities (must have versus nice-to-have list), or moving quickly to view houses, or taking the paperwork seriously – or any other major step. You need to be as motivated as your agent!
    And communicate openly if there’s an issue. I’ve had clients tell me that the pre-approval needs to wait until they’ve been at their new job until a certain date. Whatever it is, ignoring requests given to help you without explaining the backstory won’t be good for your teamwork and could get you fired as a client. (Yes, Realtors sometimes fire their clients.)

    • If you fail to do these things, your agent may not feel like your odds of buying a house are good, or that the stress associated with doing so will be higher than necessary if you stall on taking the proper steps.
    • Put another way, if you hire an agent because of her or his knowledge and track record, but then don’t heed that agent’s professional advice, the relationship may not do well over the long run.  Think of it like a sack race: both people have to be going in the same direction, carefully working together, or it’s not possible to move well (if at all).

Below, we will go over in more detail how to get and keep a great buyer’s agent in a seller’s market or in any market, for that matter.

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Campbell’s most affordable homes for sale

Campbell's most affordable homes - image of a house with the words Home Sweet HomeHunting for more Campbell’s most affordable homes for sale? It can be argued that nothing is either inexpensive or affordable, however we want to consider the Campbell real estate options relative to other Silicon Valley communities and their prices. There are always higher and lower priced properties.

Campbell’s most affordable homes: beware the price mirage

Sometimes the lowest listing price of a home on the market is not actually going to be the lowest selling price. It could just be bait. Some sellers and their listing agents vastly underprice  houses, townhouses, and condos on the market in order to get an avalanche of offers. I refer to that as a price mirage – it looks good but isn’t real.

Don’t be fooled be an artificially low list price. Often a quick check of the property on Realtor.com can provide some decent pricing input. The pages for listings usually include a RealEstimate section that features up to 3 auto comp values. These automatic valuations aren’t foolproof, but if a house is listed for $900,000 and the Realtor.com page suggests a value of $1.6 to $1.8, you are put on notice that it may be grossly underpriced.  You can check the other large portals, too, as a reality check on values.

Elements that create opportunity to get more home for your money

Every city, town, and community has more and less affordable pockets and properties. Campbell’s most affordable homes for sale may have one of these elements at play.

The pricing variation often has to do with a few major areas:
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Cameo Park West: Campbell neighborhood with Los Gatos mailing address

Cameo Park West - Leep Homes in Campbell with LG mailing addressThe Cameo Park West neighborhood is located close to where Los Gatos, Campbell, and Saratoga meet. It’s actually in the City of Campbell but has a Los Gatos mailing address. This is a tidy community bordered by Pollard Road, San Tomas Aquino Creek, the Highway 85 freeway, and Rolling Hills Middle School.

The 122 or so homes here were built in 1966 and 1967 by one of the better tract builders in the area, Leep Homes. Houses range from 1380 square feet to 2620 SF, and lot sizes run between 6000 SF and about 12,600 SF. A typical home might have around 1800 SF and be situated on an 8000 SF lot. The houses have thoughtful floor plans and the bedrooms and living areas are usually a good size.

Leep homes tend to have a fairly consistent layout – here are the 1 story home traits

  • most are single story homes
  • front porch with two bedrooms facing the front (sometimes one goes further into the front yard than the other)
  • formal entryway, often with double doors
  • step down living room straight ahead from the foyer (the rest of the house is all the same level)
  • fireplace located on side of living room closest to kitchen – it’s often a two way fireplace
  • kitchen (and sometimes also a family room) just behind the garage
  • laundry in the attached 2 car  garage but close to the kitchen, usually immediately next to the door from the garage to the kitchen
  • bedrooms are all down a hall in the opposite direction from the kitchen.  Just before the master bedroom suite there will be the hall bath (then inside the master suite, the owner’s bathroom and then bedroom)
  • the master bedroom faces the back yard, often leading to a patio shared between the kitchen (family room) and living room
  • central, forced air heat
  • hardwood floors
  • copper plumbing
  • no formal dining room (but plenty of space in the kitchen for eating)
  • sliding glass doors from the master bedroom, the living room and kitchen / family room

Below is a pan of one of the streets in Cameo Park West, taken in 2011.

 

Cameo Park West street in Campbell

 

Strengths and weaknesses of the Cameo Park West neighborhood

It’s very easy to list the strengths of this neighborhood: it’s very clean, well kept, had a good builder, convenient location (close to two schools and only a block or two or three to Safeway and nearby shops). Major shopping is within easy reach at Westgate, El Paseo and nearby (appx 7 minute drive). For those wishing to take Lawrence Expressway, it’s a breeze – just hop onto Quito and it becomes Lawrence, making a lot of commutes simpler, easier and faster. For Los Gatos, this location is closer to places like Apple, Google, and other high tech centers (as compared to downtown Los Gatos or east LG).

The elementary school is Marshall Lane, the middle is Rolling Hills and the high is Westmont. Both the elementary and middle enjoy high scores on the major school assessment websites.

The negatives do not impact everyone, but that said, they do exist. At one end of the neighborhood, there’s super close proximity to Highway 85, to the train tracks and to the high voltage power lines and towers. Those are never a plus.

Many homes along Elwood back up to Rolling Hills Middle School. Is that a negative or a positive? That really depends on your point of view, and some would prefer to back to a school yard than to another house. But most buyers would prefer another location for their home.

What do homes cost in the Cameo Park West area?

Like most of the 95032 zip code, it’s unlikely to find a house for  under $1.5 million there today (if you do, it is likely in “fixer” condition). To be able to purchase one of these homes, be prepared to pay between $1.7 million and $1.8 million in most cases. Of course, it could always be less or more depending on exact location, size and condition of home, plus the marketing situation (is it easy to see, is it clean and without bad odors, has it been fairly updated etc.).

Sorry, but we couldn't find any results in the MLS that match the specified search criteria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Does It Cost to Buy a 4 Bedroom, 2 Bath Home in Silicon Valley with Good Schools?

Often I have clients who are interested in purchasing a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home in a good school district in Silicon Valley, particularly in the South Bay and West Valley areas. But what does it cost to buy that “average home”? Tonight I did a study on the MLS of homes that have sold and closed escrow in the last 4 months with these characteristics:

  • single family home (house)
  • 4 bedrooms
  • 2 full bathrooms
  • 1800 to 2200 square feet of living space
  • 6000 to 10,000 sf lot

Disclaimers aside, here are the numbers for select West Valley Communities in the West/South Bay area with good schools.

Cost to Buy 4 Bed 2 Bath Home in Popular Silicon Valley Communities

The first number is the number of sales during that time (more sales = more reliable averages). This one is not in the older charts, but with inventory as low as it has been lately this makes a huge difference. The second number is the average sales price per square foot, the third number is the average sales price, and the last number is the average days on market:

2022-11-3 Average Cost to Buy West Valley Homes 120D 4b-2b West Valley

 

And now a look back to late winter, early spring of 2017…

 

 

What’s changed? A lot! The order has shifted some, showing where demand has increased or decreased. Most noticeably, the prices are mostly up significantly, which is most noticeable in the price per square foot. Cambrian has traveled a good deal up the ladder. Palo Alto and Los Altos were displaced by the sole Saratoga sale, and Blossom Valley of San Jose remains in it’s regular position at the bottom.

The home prices tend to run with school rankings. Previously this was by district API scores.  You can check the 2013, three year average, API scores in Santa Clara County for both the districts and the individual schools online here, however that system is no longer used. So how to people judge? Most buyers use sites like GreatSchools.org when looking for a home with good schools which ranks schools on a scale of 1-10 in a few categories.            (more…)

Comparing cost of housing in West Valley communities from Palo Alto to Los Gatos to Blossom Valley: what will a 4 bedroom home cost?

Sketch of houseIt can be really challenging for people moving to Silicon Valley to get a sense of real estate prices, and perhaps more, comparing cost of from one town or district to another.

One question I get a lot is this: what does it cost to buy a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house of about 2000 square feet?

So to answer this question, let’s see what houses like this are selling for (4 bed, 2 bath, appx 2000 SF or 185 square meters) and see how the cost looks in one Santa Clara County / Silicon Valley area versus another.

Comparing Costs

Today I compared several areas and cities using this criteria: single family homes of 1800 – 2200 SF, 3-5 bedrooms, 2-3 bathrooms, on lot sizes of 6000 SF to 10,000 SF. Normally I would chart this over the last 2 months, or 60 days, but because of the low inventory causing the sellers market I have expanded the search to the last 3 months, or 90 days, for a better range. Because some areas have had a scarcity of inventory, I’ve added an addition to the chart titled NoS for Number of Sales within the given range.

Here’s how it shakes out in the “west valley areas” along the Highway 85 corridor, most of which are known to have good to great public schools. What areas are most affordable? One way of analyzing this is the “price per square foot” figure. Whenever I update the chart, I re-arrange the order of the cities from high to low based on the price per square foot, although there’s usually minimal movement.

 

Feb 2020 Sales Comparisons

 

Within this range, Campbell only had one sale over the last 90 days, so data for that segment may or may not be a good average. Both Los Altos and Saratoga had no sales within the last 90 days within these criteria, so their searches have been expanded to 0-180 days (or 6 months / half a year) and 0-120 days (or 4 months / a quarter year) respectively to provide data for comparison for this chart. Now that we have the data, let’s analyze it!

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Neighborhoods and homes of Silicon Valley

Whether you call it the San Jose area, Santa Clara County, Silicon Valley, The South Bay, or even the old moniker of “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”, there is a lot to love about living here. I’ve put together a gallery with a taste of the residential communities in and near San Jose, including Almaden, Willow Glen, Cambrian, Evergreen, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Campbell, Cupertino, Santa Clara and more. Sit back and enjoy the photos!

 

 

Annual Egyptian Festival of San Jose

The 7th annual Egyptian Festival of San Jose is later this month, August 22nd and 23rd, in Campbell. It is hosted every year at the St. George and St. Joseph Coptic Orthodox Church. The church is also a great place for those who appreciate architecture, as it is the only church in Northern California which features Coptic architecture.

As with most festivals around the valley, food will be a key feature, and a delicious one! There will be food for carnivores, vegans, and sweet tooth-ed people alike. Entertainment is plentiful with live music and family friendly dance performances. There’s even a movie night! The evening on the 22nd, there will be a classic Egyptian film (English subtitled) shown under the stars. The Kids Zone will have carnival games, face painting, and henna. A Bazaar will sell Coptic goods, souvenirs, Egyptian clothing, and much more. A silent auction will also be held. The church will be open with presentations for those who are interested in learning about the rites and rituals in Coptic Christianity, living in Egypt, or take a class on Hymnology or Iconography, and those who would like to enjoy the architecture.

Less than a mile from the Los Gatos Creek Trail, why not bike over and get your fill of the fun at the Egyptian Festival.

For more information visit the festival’s website. You can also like them on Facebook to hear more about updates and events.

http://www.egyptianfestivalca.com/home/

https://www.facebook.com/egyptianfestivalca

 

 

 

The impact on the growing medical industry in the west valley on home prices

Silicon Valley housing is among the most expensive not just in the U.S., but in the world.  Areas with better schools are more costly still.  So what happens when we see a big increase in a highly paid industry concentrate its efforts in a small corridor?

What is happening with hospitals along the Los Gatos border?

First, let’s have a look at what we see taking place with hospitals and related facilities along the northern end of Los Gatos and into San Jose and Campbell.

Good Samaritan Hospital (in San Jose 95124 along the Los Gatos border) and El Camino Hospital of Los Gatos (“Los Gatos Community Hospital” before 2008) are just about one and a half miles apart as the bird flies, and there’s been a tremendous influx of new medical facilities between them – especially near Good Sam.  Perhaps the most notable is the Stanford Hospital Cancer Center, which can be seen from Highway 85.  A drive through Cambrian, Campbell, or Los Gatos in this west valley area and you’ll also find signs of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Kaiser Hospital medical offices and other more remote entities with a local presence.  This is smart business on their part and can eliminate fighting commute traffic for patients.

But what is it doing, and more to the point, what will it do to our already sky-high housing prices?

This morning I mapped out the local hospitals and a few of the medical centers and offices (link goes to maps on google for this search).  Here’s roughly what the simplified concentration looks like today:

 

Los Gatos, Campbell, and Cambrian border medical concentrations

 

These are just my casual observations and of course there are many other medical office areas not shown – but they are the areas which appear to me to be the most densely populated with cancer treatment centers, physical theraphy sites, surgical centers, rehab facilities, doctors’ practices, etc.

Because many of the adjoining areas are zoned as residential, it’s unlikely that neighborhoods full of homes would suddenly become a doctor’s office, pharmacy, or medical supply stores. (more…)

What Type of Home Can You Get for $1,000,000 in Silicon Valley?

Five years ago I wrote my first post about what you can buy for $1,000,000 in Silicon Valley. This is still a significant question for first time buyers in the area and those wishing to relocate to the Valley, so it’s time for a refresher. Here we will take a new look at some statistical averages for homes that sold between $900,000 and $1,000,000 within the last 90 days, comparing various towns, cities, and neighborhoods. There are two charts, one for single family homes and a second for condos and townhomes. There were some places we looked at that had nothing for sale within our pricing – these are listed below the charts with explanations.

For those of you who are curious the post from 2010 is left at the bottom, and we were in a buyers market at the time – very different from the prolonged sellers market we are experiencing now.

To start off with, here is the chart for single family homes:

 

Single Family Homes for $1 Million
Mountain View
1,079 SqFt
$931.67/SqFt
5,432 SqFt Lot
Age 62
Sunnyvale
1,259 SqFt
$780.20/SqFt
6,054 SqFt Lot
Age 66
Los Gatos
1,647 SqFt
$664.98/SqFt
8,188 SqFt Lot
Age 74
Los Gatos Mountains
2,013 SqFt
$494.50/SqFt
140,266 SqFt Lot
Age 53
Evergreen,
San Jose
2,113 SqFt
$460.43/SqFt
6,828 SqFt Lot
Age 26
Santa Clara
1,429 SqFt
$689.81/SqFt
5,337 SqFt Lot
Age 54
Almaden,
San Jose
1,932 SqFt
$497.88/SqFt
6177 SqFt Lot
Age 43
Willow Glen,
San Jose
1,518 SqFt
$663.86/SqFt
6,414 SqFt Lot
Age 58
Cambrian,
San Jose
1,431 SqFt
$679.98/SqFt
6,754 SqFt Lot
Age 56
Blossom Valley,
San Jose
2,351 SqFt
$406.46/SqFt
6,473 SqFt Lot
Age 28

 

We also searched in Saratoga where there were no homes listed as sold within our criteria. Saratoga is a highly desirable area with most of the homes selling closer to the $2 million marker. For more on the current Saratoga market, check out our market analysis page for monthly updates. Cupertino also returned with no results.

Now on to townhomes and condos:

 

Condos & Townhomes for $1 Million
Mountain View
1,146 SqFt
$821.26/SqFt
1,865 SqFt Lot
Age 26
Sunnyvale
1,745 SqFt
$552.64/SqFt
1,335 SqFt Lot
Age 13
Los Gatos
1,696 SqFt
$576.40/SqFt
1,747 SqFt Lot
Age 42
Evergreen,
San Jose
2,016 SqFt
$468.01/SqFt
1,742 SqFt Lot
Age 16
Santa Clara
1,790 SqFt
$539.11/SqFt
1,874 SqFt Lot
Age 11
Cupertino
1,099 SqFt
$862.03/SqFt
2,251 SqFt Lot
Age 34
Willow Glen,
San Jose
1,954 SqFt
$486.69/SqFt
1,742 SqFt Lot
Age 40
Cambrian,
San Jose
1,535 SqFt
$605.86/SqFt
1,562 SqFt Lot
Age 8
For various reasons there were a number of areas that did not list results for our search criteria. Saratoga, again, does not make the cut most likely for having a higher price point in general. The Los Gatos Mountains are another area not listed, but that is simply because there are no condos or townhouses in that area. Almaden and Blossom Valley, both neighborhoods in San Jose also came back with zero results.
If you found this post helpful or would like more information on a specific area’s market, look through our market reports, many updated monthly, or contact me.

Now, the original post from September 21, 2010:

You’ve heard that prices are a little high in Silicon Valley.  Even with the recession and the “rollback”, this is still true.  So what can you buy for $1 million here?

In Santa Clara County (which is most of “Silicon Valley”), in the last 3 months there were about 50 -75 homes that sold very close to $1 million.  They were spread throughout the county.  Here’s a snapshot of what a million dollar home in Silicon Valley looks like.

(Reminder: these are 2010 figures)

 

Santa Clara County:

Home square footage= 2115
Lot square footage = 10,535
Average price per square foot = $531
Average age = 43 years

San Jose as a whole:

Home square footage = 2560
Lot square footage = 8343
Av price per SF = $409
Average age = 37

Los Gatos:Home square footage= 1810
Lot square footage = 8866
Average price per square foot = $580
Average age = 57 years
Saratoga:Home square footage= 2055
Lot square footage = 10964
Average price per square foot = $483
Average age = 53 years
Campbell:

Home square footage= 2454
Lot square footage = 10,468
Average price per square foot = $418
Average age = 33 years

Palo Alto:

Home square footage= 1278
Lot square footage = 6428
Average price per square foot = $816
Average age = 60 years

Depending on where you live, you can get more or less for your money.  In some areas, a million dollar price tag will get you a townhouse rather than a house, too. In some areas, it’s a luxury home, but in many it’s simply a nice, middle-class home.

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(all data current as of 7/15/2024)

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

 
 

 

 

 

Campbell’s “Skull and Crossbones” House

Here’s a Campbell house which is always in the spirit of Halloween. If it has a name, as homes in Carmel always do, it should be called the  “skull and crossbones house“.

Campbell skull and crossbones house 1 Small

Have you noticed it? Look closely at the porch railing and you’ll spot an unusual design pattern cut into it. This house certainly has personality!

What do you think?  Is this good decor for a home year round?  (And it’s not even Halloween and this isn’t even my haunted real estate blog  since we’re talking decor, not spooks.)

Campbell skull and crossbones house 2