What Is A Plat Map, And What Can You Learn From It?

A plat map comes with your preliminary title report (provided by your title company with maps from the Santa Clara County tax assessor’s office when you purchase or sell a home in California), tucked away at the back and somewhat mysterious with lots of numbers in small print. It holds quite a bit of helpful information if you know what it is you’re seeing. Today we’ll view a sample of one of these – breaking down the plat map shown as a small thumbnail image on the right to more readable parts so that you can learn how to “read” or understand a plat map.

Quick overview of what’s on a plat map

There’s a wealth of information on the plat map. Take a look and see what you can pick out on your own first.



Plat Map of part of the Cambrian area of San Jose




Getting a fumigation? You may want security with that.

Security guards used to be required on site when a home was fumigated in California, but that has not been the case since the 90s.  Seems that some clever bad guys have decided, in Southern California, that this makes a home “easy pickings” (apparently gas masks are not that hard to come by).  Sadly, crime often comes in waves and ideas catch on, so it would be wise for us to be prepared to have this happen here.  The solution is simple: bring back paid security, or stay on site yourself (rent or borrow a motor home, camper etc.)

Check out the news video from Los Angeles’ KABC TV station and see if you don’t agree that having someone there with watchful eyes isn’t a good idea.





What do you want from your home inspections?

Home Inspections Home Sweet HomeWhat is the purpose of a home inspection? Many real estate professionals would say that it is to uncover defects. While that is certainly true, I’d like to suggest that property inspections can be of much broader use than merely learning what’s wrong.  For new home owners, or soon to be home owners, it’s a great chance to learn about all the components of your house, condominium or townhome, and how to maintain it well going forward. 

Whether you are in escrow to purchase the property or you are a new home owner who purchased without inspections (or contingencies), it is wise to take a half day off from work so that you can be present for the inspections and learn about your home and how to maintain it for the long haul.  A good property inspector will not mind your accompanying him or her throughout the property and will explain to you what you’re seeing.  Many times, you will get helpful tips that will not make it into the written report, so bring along a notepad and pen.  You may hear your inspector say “this is fine now, but you’ll need to replace it in about 5 years” or “if you do such and such, this will last a lot longer”.  These are helpful things to know!  Your inspector may also reveal that some items are functioning now but should be watched carefully.  “Check the crawl space when it rains to see….” or “this is probably not an active leak, but no one has lived here for a year, so recheck this in 6 months” or…. you get the idea.

Home inspectors can only see what’s visible, and some bad conditions may be hidden.  In general, though, you want to have a qualified home inspector out every 7 years (and a pest inspector every 3-5) so that if your home is developing any problems, they can be caught and addressed while more manageable.

Further reading on home inspections:

How to prepare for a home inspection in Silicon Valley
Preparing Your Silicon Valley Home to Sell and Return on Investment




Cupertino View Homes

Large Cupertino view home now available!   10387 Amistad Court, Cupertino California

Fabulous 5 bed + den, 4 bath home with lovely valley views from several rooms!  Room to accommodate two or more generations or live in help if so desired.  Lower level includes 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and bonus room or retreat.  Upstairs are the main living areas (living, dining, family, kitchen, nook), master bedroom suite, one more bedroom and a large den or office.  Living room, office, balcony and master all enjoy views.  Good sized, private yard.  Located on quiet cul de sac in lower foothills, a very easy drive.  Best schools, including Monta Vista High School!

Please enjoy a gallery of this fine home, and click to see larger photos.



This property is co-listed

10387 Amistad Court, Cupertino California is co-listed with Mary Tan and George Tan of Coldwell Banker in Cupertino, tel # 408 861-8832.

Please stop by our open house this weekend!

This fine home will be open Saturday, 3/31/2012 from 1:30 – 4:30 (hosted by Mary Tan) and Sunday, 4/1/2012 1:30 – 4:30 (hosted by me, Mary Pope-Handy)

More information on  10387 Amistad Court, Cupertino California – a beautiful view home in the prestigious Cupertino foothills!

We're sorry, but we couldn't find MLS # 81211438 in our database. This property may be a new listing or possibly taken off the market. Please check back again.


Finding Rental Housing in San Jose, Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley

Often I get emails from people asking if I can help them with finding a rental property. For the most part, my practice revolves around listing and selling real estate in San Jose, Los Gatos, and Silicon Valley generally, so my best information is on what’s for sale, not what’s for rent.  Once in awhile I work on rental housing, but not normally, as rental condos or houses through an agent (if they are listed on the MLS) will usually cost you more than homes you find to rent elsewhere.

The best resources I have found for locating rental properties in Santa Clara County are these (I cannot guarantee or warranty your results, but these are starting points for you):

  • Craigslist (link is to the South Bay area)
  • Bay Rentals (they do charge a small fee)
  • ForRent.com (search by city name or zip code)
  • Once you’ve located an area you like – drive around
  • possible – the MLS search – scroll down on left sidebar widget on this blog and pull down the menu under “all property types” and select Rentals OR run similar search by map on my popehandy.com site at this link ~ you must also find “property types” on left side and then locate rentals under that)

The last bullet point might seem silly, but some of the best apartments, townhomes etc. never get listed anywhere other than a sign in the yard.  So if you love Los Gatos, Campbell, Santa Clara or anywhere else, drive it and watch for signs! (Or talk with friends or acquaintances in areas you like – have them keep an eye out for you.)

Perhaps you want to be in a hotel or inn for awhile before deciding where to rent or buy, or while on temporary assignment at a local business or university. You don’t need me to tell you where to stay in a hotel, but if you are moving here with a pet you might want assistance finding a place which will welcome your cat or dog.  Here’s a great resource for finding pet-friendly hotels, motels and inns here: DogFriendly.com’s San Jose (and nearby) City Guide, which includes accommodations, parks, outdoor restaurants etc.

Right now, it seems to be the case that it’s harder to rent a home than to buy one – at least that is the word on the street.  (And it seems that like with the purchase market, the closer you get to Palo Alto, the tougher it is.)  Tougher still if you have pets or smoke.  If you have pets or smoke and find a rental, the cost per month will be higher.




The Willow Glen Area of San Jose – Real Estate Market Update

How is the real estate market in the Willow Glen area of San Jose?  There are multiple ways of viewing it – via price point, school district, proximity to “downtown Willow Glen”, by numbers or percentages of distressed sales (sale type), and many more criteria.  Today we’ll look at the broad market numbers for the MLS “area 10” (all of Willow Glen) and at times just the zip code for San Jose 95125, which covers the majority of the Willow Glen area.  This post will only cover houses or “single family homes”, not condominiums or townhomes.

I ran the months of inventory for homes in Willow Glen (our MLS area 10) by sale type.  Here’s what I found – most of the market appears to have about 4.95 months of inventory, with short sales being considerably longer.  (This may have had different results had I isolated certain school areas or price points – this is a “sweeping view” of the area only.) The National Association of Realtors says that less than 6 months is a sellers market, but for our area, this is fairly “cool” and most sellers would not find the market to be all that much in their favor. (Six months is supposed to be a balanced market.)


Willow Glen Months of Inventory by Sale Type May 2011


It is unusual for there to be so little variation in the MOI, so I double checked but this appears correct. Often bank owned homes or REOs fly off the market.  Odd that it’s not happening here, too.

Next, a selection of statistics and trends in the numbers from my REReport for Willow Glen (click on link for more info) – prices here reflect sold prices (median and average), not list prices:


Trends At a GlanceApr 2011Previous MonthYear-over Year
Median Price$675,000$704,500 (-4.2%)$665,000 (+1.5%)
Average Price$710,516$788,240 (-9.9%)$676,773 (+5.0%)
No. of Sales4656 (-17.9%)41 (+12.2%)
Pending Properties8585 (0.0%)114 (-25.4%)
Active183158 (+15.8%)188 (-2.7%)
Sale vs. List Price97.2%96.5% (+0.8%)98.8% (-1.6%)
Days on Market5771 (-19.9%)51 (+11.4%)


Prices appear down from the prior month but up from a year ago.  That’s good news for Willow Glen home owners, who hope that the worst is now behind us.  Days on market are better than the previous month (but worse than a year ago) and inventory is up from last month but almost the same – just a little less – than a year ago.  It’s a mixed bag. (more…)