Meet the Team

Teamwork graphic representing the Mary Pope-Handy Team - cartoons of people in various roles around the spoke of a wheel with the word TEAM at the center of the wheelMeet the Team – Mary Pope-Handy and Clair Handy, a mother and daughter team with Christie’s International Real Estate Sereno.

I, Mary, have been selling homes full time for over three decades. Clair assisted me for years with various clerical and blog tasks, and later did more marketing, article writing, graphic design for some of the post artwork, social media sharing, and real estate errands generally.

In 2021, Clair received her California real estate license to take on a forward facing role in the team and became my junior partner.

We coordinate and do nearly everything together, whether it’s open houses, showings, or marketing efforts, but when there’s a time crunch and we need to be in two locations to accommodate our clients’ schedules, then we divide and conquer.

Learn about the folks supporting our team

Several people, companies, and systems assist us in our work with buyers and sellers in Silicon Valley. Most often, our clients will not see or speak with many of our team members much (if at all), but they are all part of the package, if on the “back end” much of the time. Without them, though, it would be impossible for us to assist our clients in getting their homes bought and sold.
Transaction Coordinator:

We employ a transaction coordinator, Joe Chames (and team) of Serulian Virtual Services, who makes sure that the paperwork is complete when preparing homes to sell or when navigating clients through the sale and escrow period. With a myriad of places to sign and initial and papers not to forget, it’s helpful to have a second set of eyes on the file.

Additionally, other agents also review the file on behalf of Sereno management. When there are legal questions, which can come up from time to time, we have a legal counsel available to make sure that we as agents are walking the straight and narrow. (This is not legal guidance for our clients.) We get answers back within a business day, if not a few hours.

Finally, there are several agents who assist us in some cases (vacation, sickness, family emergencies) as I am part of a Realtor “co op” group in which we support each other when a hand is needed. If you work with Mary and Clair, there are two backup people or groups to make sure you are able to see homes or have things taken care of in case of vacation, illness, or unexpected issue.

We are very well supported on the office or brokerage level. When you hire us, you get a full staff behind us, too.

Our outside specialists

(A) INSPECTORS

Whether buying or selling a silicon valley home or investment property, good inspections are critical. We don’t have one list for buyers and another for sellers – no matter which end of the transaction you’re on, you want excellent information. Surprises tend to sour escrows, so part of the plan in helping you avoid trouble is to avoid surprises. Only with excellent information can you make good decisions and have more control of the way your real estate sale progresses.

1. Home or Property Inspectors. It is crucial that your property inspector be exceedingly well trained, experienced, careful, clear, and through. In California, there is no license for home inspectors. However, there are a couple of trade groups which have a very high standard of practice. One is ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) and the other is CREIA (California Real Estate Inspection Association).

You can find a list of ASHI Inspectors in Santa Clara County at this link. On this list, I’ve had extremely positive experiences with Brett Reeder of Compass Home Inspections especially.

2. Logo for Thrasher Termite & Pest Control in Los GatosTermite and Pest Inspectors. In California, especially in our sub-tropical coastal area of Silicon Valley, termites are an ongoing issue. We have both subterranean and drywood termites and sometimes even dampwood termites – plus boring beetles, carpenter ants, and many other wood destroying organisims.

By far and away, the termite company I prefer to work with (and have work on my own home) is Thrasher Termite & Pest Control. They are located in Los Gatos but serve all of Santa Clara County (and I believe occasionally go into nearby counties – they once helped me with a listing in Scotts Valley, which is in Santa Cruz County).

Thrasher Termite & Pest Control has a great website, or you can reach them by phone at 408 354-9944. I’ve learned a lot from the folks at Thrasher and have shared some of what I’ve learned from them in this blog and others. See also my article on How often should you get a termite inspection?

On the rare occasion that Thrasher is not available, there are other termite companies that I may need to use. Or, if I’m working with a buyer and the seller has pre-sale inspections, there are pest control companies whose work I trust to be ethical and thorough. The Pest Control Operators of California can provide a complete list of who does termite and pest work in the San Jose area, but we maintain a list of probably 10 local providers that we trust.

The State of California has a site, The Structural Pest Control Board, which has great information for consumers and agents alike, including a license lookup feature.

There are more inspectors whom I endorse and work with, but these two categories are the main ones.

(B) TITLE & ESCROW

There are a number of excellent title companies in Santa Clara County. The one that we prefer to work with is Fidelity National Title in Saratoga with Colleen Stevens, our escrow officer, and Tania Cheater, our title rep, to help us.

They are all also financially sound, which is critically important in today’s real estate landscape in Santa Clara County.

(C) LENDERS

We have a short list of about 3-4 lenders I can refer to you. Some specialize in one type of loan or home situation, some another. Please contact me and I can give you a couple of names that are most likely to be a good fit for you.

If you have a particular bank that you want to work with, please don’t just call the toll free number on the website of that institution. Not every loan officer is as good as another. If we don’t have a name of someone for that lender, we will ask around and find you someone who’s got a known track record. This is imperative so that your escrow is one that’s as smooth and headache free as possible.

(D) And More….

Depending on your needs, we have assistance from movers to house cleaners to photographers and full-time stagers. The list is extensive, reflecting my many years in the business! (Licensed & full time since early 1993.) If we don’t have someone already on our vendors  list, we’ll do some research and find some resources for our clients.

 

The Strathmore Neighborhood of Los Gatos

The scenic Strathmore neighborhood of Los Gatos lies close to the foothills, including both Blossom Hill and the coastal range rising behind it.  Homes here in east Los Gatos enjoy that very beautiful backdrop and access to the park and trails, but many other benefits too.

Enduring qualities that make this area highly favored include:

  • scenic area with close proximity to the foothills plus tree lined streets
  • community pool & nearby park
  • strong public schools
  • good location for commuting, shopping, and easy access to downtown Los Gatos

 

Panorama Way adjacent street but to the Strathmore neighborhood of Los Gatos

 

It’s a pedestrian friendly area with sidewalks and tree lined streets, so it is not uncommon to see people out enjoying a stroll, a jog, a bike ride or otherwise taking in the peaceful region.

Additionally, Strathmore residents share a community pool (or cabana) with a neighborhood swim team. As of 2022, dues for the HOA are approximately $400 per year.

One of the biggest draws of all is that on top of these features, kids in Strathmore get to attend highly rated public schools too. The profile on this neighborhood is overwhelmingly positive!

 

 Strathmore 2 story house

 

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Vista del Monte neighborhood in Los Gatos

Vista del Monte MapThe Vista del Monte neighborhood is a gem within the town once known as The Gem City. It enjoys tremendous convenience as it’s close to town, but also is set back far enough that the area is quiet and tranquil. The hills are close in and the roads gently curve, are tree lined, and scenic.

Add to this the highly regarded Los Gatos schools, quick freeway access, and a nearby park and you can quickly see why this area has a big draw!

Many of the homes were built in the 1960s – 1980s. It’s not an historic neighborhood, and the architecture is mostly ranch style. There are a few others, though, such as Colonial, Mediterranean, and others.

Home prices in this corner of town have risen dramatically over the last year and generally are up about 20 – 30% from this time last year. This is all part of the COVID induced buyer frenzy to purchase larger homes with larger lots across the country (and around the world).

 

 

Are you interested in Los Gatos real estate and Los Gatos neighborhoods? Over on my Live in Los Gatos blog, I’ve been reworking articles about the various residential areas of town, digging into the county records for subdivision info, shooting video as I’m driven through various neighborhoods and adding MLS information. Today I completed a whole new article with video on the Vista del Monte neighborhood in east Los Gatos.

Please have a look!

Vista del Monte neighborhood in Los Gatos

Clair and I enjoy getting to know the many neighborhoods here in town. The majority of our posts on the neighborhoods in LG can be found on our Live In Los Gatos Blog, so if you love the town and want more info, that’s the best resource.

Homes for sale & recently sold in the Vista del Monte neighborhood

This will give a sense of pricing, but as of this writing in early 2022, many homes are selling for 10 – 20% ore more over list price.

  • List View
  • Map View
  • Grid View

See all Vista del Monte neighborhood in Los Gatos, California Real Estate.
(all data current as of 5/20/2024)

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

 
 

 

Almaden Music in the Park

Almaden Music in the Park sponsors Mary Pope-Handy and other Sereno agentsMark your calendars!  Please join us for the Almaden Music in the Park series every Thursday in July! The evening hours are 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at Graystone Park.

Here’s the 2018 lineup:

7/5- Rock the Heat
7/12- The Houserockers
7/19- Old Scholl Rock n Roll 
7/26 Long Train Runnin’
Many people bring picnic suppers to enjoy. Layered clothing is often a good idea as sometimes our summer evenings can become breezy or cool.

A few other Realtors at Sereno Group and I are sponsoring the month long event. At our table, under the green awning, we give away water bottles and red vines. Please stop by and say hello! (And if you are one of my blog readers, I really would love to meet you, too!)

 

Almaden Music in the Park crowd July 7 2016

Almaden Music in the Park crowd July 7 2016

 

These musical evenings are open to everyone, without cost to the general public.  In the few years in which I’ve been a co-sponsor, I’ve noticed that the first week is nicely attended, but the audience grows each time and by the last night, it’s a large crowd with loads of dancing.  So don’t wait – go to the first Almaden Music in the Park concert and make as many of them as you can!

Graystone Park address: Camden Ave & Mt Carmel Dr, San Jose, CA 95120. Street parking.

 

 

 

About Mary

Mary Pope-Handy August 2018I am a full-time, second generation, award-winning & enthusiastic Los Gatos real estate agent, serving this town and the county too – a Silicon Valley Realtor. Real estate was my second career after I’d worked happily in the area of religious education (in Catholic high schools) & ministry for several years. Economics necessitated an employment change, and real estate was a natural fit as it really is a “helping profession” and I’d grown up with it. I like to joke that my first words were “raised foundation”.

An area native, I was raised in Santa Clara and Saratoga, graduating from Saratoga High in 1977. As an adult I lived in several parts of the valley, including 10 years in Cambrian Park, and since 1999, in Los Gatos. Over the years I’ve also spent extensive time in Campbell, Almaden, and many parts of the West Valley.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts from Gonzaga University in Spokane (a Catholic university run by Jesuits – in Religious Studies, 1981) and thanks to my parents’ generosity, was able to enjoy a fabulous Junior year abroad at Gonzaga-in-Florence, Italy (1979-1980), which cemented my love of travel and all things Italian. (With some refreshing, I can still manage a simple conversation in Italian – which is fun!) After some teaching, I earned a Master of Arts (in Systematic Theology, 1986) from The Graduate Theological Union/Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

Afterwards I returned to teaching religion in Catholic high schools, a very rewarding career, for a few years, until our children came onto the scene. I did a lot of related volunteer work too, with my favorite being as a volunteer chaplain at Good Samaritan Hospital in the early 90’s. Additionally, I worked in the Rainbows Program at our parish, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Los Gatos. Rainbows is a peer-to-peer ministry/support group for kids suffering from any major loss, such as the death of a parent or divorce.

My husband, Jim Handy, analyzes the semiconductor market. He grew up in many places due to his father’s line of work and speaks French and he too loves to travel; eons ago we honeymooned in Tahiti on Bora Bora where he got to practice his language skills (between their Polynesian French and his Belgian-Swiss-American accent it got interesting at times). We have been very happily married since 1985. Jim was a Parks Commission volunteer in the Town of Los Gatos for years, and even now, long after he’s left, he has his ear to the ground on that topic – I get a lot of interesting information about the town’s doings from him!

Our two children, Brian & Clair, are now adults. Real estate was as inescapable for them, as it had been for me, and when Clair was in second grade she said, “uh oh Mommy, we have termites!” correctly spotting the telltale drywood termite pellets on our hardwood floor; I suspect she was the only second grader with the ability to correctly identify termite activity. She is now licensed and works along side me. So, real estate is a little contagious!

Like their parents, they love to travel and together we’ve been in much of the US, plus parts of Mexico, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Japan. Brian is now a newly minted grad from USC in Los Angeles with his Master of Fine Arts in Interactive Media and Video Games, having graduated after four happy years Loyola Marymount University in LA and prior to that, at Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose. Clair also graduated from LMU in LA and Notre Dame High School in downtown San Jose, she has returned to the South Bay and received her California real estate license to join me in the business.

I hail from a large and loving extended family and it’s a very tight-knit group. In my free time, I enjoy keeping in touch with them and with many old friends (who feel like family) – and actually many friends and relatives become my clients, just as my clients often become my friends. In recent years, that’s meant a lot of time with older family members- something possible with a real estate career.

I try to put a priority on family visits and reunions. (And I have spent a lot of time at relatives’ retirement homes so earned my designation as a Seniors Real Estate Specialist). My siblings & many other relatives come here to visit often and I’m happy that usually they stay at my house. As one cousin said, “sometimes it’s as if you have a revolving door at the front of your house: just the way you like it!”
Mary Pope-Handy
408 204-7673
mary (at) popehandy.com
Realtor, ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES
Sereno Group, Los Gatos
Serving Santa Clara County: Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, Campbell, and San Jose (Almaden Valley, Cambrian Park, Willow Glen) and nearby
California Department of Real Estate license # 01153805

 

Hobbies

Hobbies include enjoying walks in the neighborhood, Belgatos Park, and throughout the San Francisco Bay area – usually with camera in hand and blogging ideas being created! I love to write, hence the huge number of blogs, and wonder if someday I might write a novel. Photography, live music, and travel are all top hobbies too. I often enjoy the Almaden Music in the Park or any of the Los Gatos musical events. In 2016, I was over the moon to hear Andrea Bocelli perform at the SAP center in San Jose.

 

 

 

The Santa Clara County annual real estate market review

How did 2015 end as compared to 2014 for the Silicon Valley real estate market?  It was perhaps not as much appreciation as some may have perceived – and I may be alone, but I think that’s a good thing as realty trends and statistics go.  I’ll explain below.

The Annual Silicon Valley RE Report is in for Santa Clara County (links at the bottom for San Mateo County and Santa Cruz County).  Here you can view the year over year statistics and market trends for the San Jose area.

http://rereport.com/scc/print/Mary.PopeHandySCC.pdf

Santa Clara County home sales and prices –

 

Santa Clara County real estate market - sales, average price, median price of homes sold in 2015

 

As you can see, home sales (solid area)  remain fairly low.  There’s plenty of demand, just not much inventory for it, hence the pretty much steady rise in pricing overall in Santa Clara County.  This is one of the stronger areas in the nation.  (When prices are up, consuemers tend to think that Realtors are always making tons of money. But notice the number of sales!  Many agents are writing offers and not getting them accepted – so are having a tough time just as their buyers are having a tough time with multiple bids.)

Santa Clara County – prices up over 2014 by 6-8% appx

  • Median home prices increased by 7.9% year-over-year to $917,000 from $849,975.
  • The average home sales price rose by 6.4% year-over-year to $1,157,360 from $1,088,090.
  • Personal note: appreciation in this range is fairly sustainable, as compared to the appreciation in 2014, which was closer to 20%.  Double digit appreciation is usually a little worrisome since it often is not sustainable.  My sense is that this is healthier, and probably less susceptible to a “correction” than when prices rise more than 10% per year.  Hence, I think it’s GOOD NEWS that the average appreciation is in single digits.

Santa Clara County by city within the county

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Stunning Saratoga Home with Cottage, Pool, and Spa – 14381 Ravenwood Drive, #ML81547144

Remodeled, expanded Saratoga home with guest cottageLooking for a beautifully remodeled, young-feeling home with fantastic curb appeal, an open floorplan,  a stunning kitchen, and a gorgeous back yard? How about one that features a guest cottage, pool and spa and has energy efficient elements throughout? Would you love to have a neighborhood park on a quiet street just steps from your front door? It’s available now and you can view it this weekend!  13841 Ravenwood Drive in Saratoga will be open tomorrow, Saturday Jan 23, 2016, from 1:30 to 4pm and Sunday, Jan 24, 2016, also from 1:30 to 4pm.  Please stop by!

This lovely property has been meticulously expanded, remodeled, and improved down to the smallest details.  The stucco on the exterior of the house was redone in 2011 to match the addition, which has permits and finals.  The beautiful pool is a salt water pool with solar heating.  The house enjoys solar electricity and an endless hot water tank, newer insulation, and water efficient toilets.  The interior features hardwood floors, coffered ceilings, recessed lights, and crown moulding and baseboard throughout.  Both full baths were remodeled and include floor to ceiling tile.

The front door was custom made and the remarkable entry enjoys a limestone tile floor, tall ceilings with a barrell vault, and at the entry to the living areas you’ll see the open living spaces: living, dining, family rooms and the kitchen’s breakfast bar.

QUICK FACTS

  • Total living space appx 2349 (per plans), including cottage
  • Lot size appx 10,259 (per appraisal)
  • Built in 1955. Permitted & finalled expansion of kitchen and entry, addition of new bedroom, upgrades to both full baths completed in 2011

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How likely are you to find the Silicon Valley home you want in your budget?

Just starting to think about buying a home? If you’re like most people, you’ll be looking at online listings of homes for sale here in Silicon Valley to see what they cost and how they look. Viewing homes for sale and the list prices is a good thing to incorporate in your first steps to assess the cost of home buying, but there are more data points to be used to create a sense of what it will cost to get the kind of home you want (and where you want it), or, coming from the financial side, how much home your money can actually buy.  Misreading the market, or not understanding the odds of success, can lead to frustration and a slower “learning curve”, and that can be expensive in an appreciating market!   Today I spent a few minutes explaining how to get a better handle on home prices in the video below.  I hope it will be helpful to folks in the San Jose – Los Gatos – Saratoga area who are just getting into the market now.

 

 

If you are interested in home buying and looking for a seasoned Realtor to assist you, please reach out to me with an email or a phone call.

 

 

 

Do you have a strategy for buying a home in Silicon Valley?

Home buying in Silicon ValleySilicon Valley is mired in an extraordinarily deep seller’s market, and has been for a couple of years now. Want to buy a home?  No one who understands the market at all will tell you that it’s going to be easy.   If you are serious about becoming a home owner rather than a shopper, it’s time to get serious about what it will take for that to happen.

In a deep seller’s market, it’s very helpful to have a game plan or strategy for purchasing a home.  The best place to begin is with an understanding of your competition and the inherent risks of buying in this climate.

  • Approximately 30% of all sales in this area are “all cash”.  Not all cash buyers are savvy and may make mistakes (such as vastly overestimating the value of a cash offer – sometimes the lowest price comes from a buyer without financing).  All cash buyers need to be educated, too.
  • When homes sell in under 2 weeks and with multiple offers, there’s a very good chance that the winning bid came in with no contingencies for inspection, loan, or appraisal.  Sometimes it’s all cash and non-contingent on the normal items.
  • Most home buyers will have done a lot of research on how to compete in multiple offer situations.  A few years ago I wrote a series of tips and they are still good today.  Major hint: it’s not always only about price or even primarily about price.  The terms matter, and so do a few things which are harder to measure (and can include all sorts of things – even whom you hire to work with you on the purchase).  https://sanjoserealestatelosgatoshomes.com/summary-of-tips-for-multiple-offer-situations-silicon-valley-real-estate-contracts/
  • If you dawdle, you risk being priced out of the market.  Sometimes when beginning to shop, home buyers who are new to the game feel that they have power and can “wait until the market improves”.  The problem is when there is deep scarcity of inventory and a ton of amply able buyers, the prices are going to go up steeply.  If you take a year to buy, most of the time – unless you are extraordinarily lucky – it will cost you dearly.  I have seen buyers wait so long that they basically used up their entire down payment.  Since 2 years ago, prices are up about 25% to 30% in most of Santa Clara County and the San Jose area.  If you have been looking for 2 years, your down payment has been spent.  This is a real case of time versus money.
  • The greatest fear that buyers have when purchasing in a raging seller’s market is that there will be a correction or crash, and they’ll be left with an over-investment   in real estate.  Put another way, they don’t want to overpay and they really do not want to be upside down in their home.  No one wants to overpay.  But right now, many homes that sell will not appraise (many do, but quite a few don’t).

So that’s the starting point – steep competition, a lot of “all cash” and a lot of “no contingencies” – when it comes to homes newly listed and gleaning multiple offers right away. (more…)

Digging deeper with disclosures

Often the extensive Silicon Valley disclosure paperwork answers most questions that a home buyer has, but sometimes not 100%. Here are a couple of thoughts for getting a little more information regarding disclosures on the property and area.