If a buyer wants to view a property, does the listing agent have to show it to him or her outside of regular open houses? The answer might surprise you! Here’s a quick overview:
- The listing agent and seller decide about showings that the listing agent is expected to do. Does the listing agent have to show it privately, or during open houses, or only on one weekend before offers are reviewed?
- The listing agent will make showings possible for buyer’s agents with instructions on scheduling in the comments that members of the MLS can read.
- In many cases, the real estate licensee working with the home seller will hold the property open for the public on the weekend and sometimes mid-week as well. It may or may not be the listing agent holding it open.
- For safety reasons, many listing agents will not have private showings with buyers whom they don’t know and who aren’t clients of theirs. Realtors are harmed every year in the line of duty.
- For agency reasons, a listing agent who plans to only represent the seller may not want to have an appointment with a buyer who plans to write the offer with someone else.
- There are many other reasons why the listing agent will not personally show the home for sale outside of open house times, but may be able to arrange for the buyers to see it with another agent.
When does the listing agent have to show it?
The most important thing for buyers to understand is that the accessibility of the home for viewings depends upon the agreement, verbally or in writing, between the owner of the property and the agent/brokerage hired to market, negotiate, and sell the real estate as to whether or not the seller’s agent is obligated to show it privately.
It’s not an “on demand” situation where an interested buyer can insist on seeing the property as desired. To make an absurd point, no one would say “doesn’t the listing agent have to show it to me at 10 p.m.?” Without any thought, we know that’s unreasonable.
The 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
Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.
Can a real estate professional help you to buy a foreclosure? There are some nuances to this answer, but in short, it depends. We haven’t had many foreclosures in recent years, but once in awhile we find them popping up here and there.
There are several stages in the foreclosure related sales in California. Often, homes somewhere in this quagmire are listed on our Silicon Valley area MLS or multiple listing service. If a property is listed in the MLS, then yes, we Realtors can help home buyers with a distressed sale purchase.
The stages of foreclosure
- Pre-foreclosure (where payments have been missed and a Notice of Default or NOD has been filed – sometimes these homes are on the market and included in the MLS.
If they’re in the MLS, I can help.
If these properties are for sale, often these are short sales (but short sales are not always in pre-foreclosure – they may not have missed any payments).
- Trustee’s sale, or actual foreclosure on the courthouse steps. This does not involve the MLS or Realtors at all. There is literally no role for the real estate agent here unless you, as the buyer, want to pay the commission (most buyers don’t in this circumstance).
There are some big caveats and warnings!
First, often what’s owed against the home is more than it’s worth and the only way to purchase a home here is to pay off all the debts (so it may not be much of a deal!). Some buyers who “bought” a home actually have only purchased the second deed of trust, not the first, and are left empty handed.
Second, if you buy here, you get NO inspection contingency and must pay cash for the house. End of story – no backing out. Worse, you cannot inspect it ahead of time!
Third, you are likely to be bidding against flippers and builders who can more affordably rehab the home than you or I could do.
There are a lot of risks, so buyer beware!
- Bank owned or REO. REO means Real Estate Owned (by the bank).
These are usually listed on the MLS and if so, I can help you with it. Sometimes banks hold onto them between the trustee’s sale and prior to listing them with a broker. Often this is only for a month or two but sometimes it’s longer. If it’s not on the MLS, it’s very very hard, or maybe impossible, to buy it.
Want to buy a foreclosure? Want professional help to do so?
While it’s not hard to locate homes where owners have missed some payments, it should not be assumed that these houses are either for sale or that the owners have any intention of selling them. In my opinion, it would be harassment if consumers showed up on their doorsteps trying to purchase a house where a payment has been missed.
Most, maybe all, of the residents there would be offended. They may be trying to get a loan modification (it does happen, I’ve known people to work through it that way) or have family & friends helping them to get back on track. If it is not listed in the MLS (which you can find at MLSListings.com – the public portal of our agent multiple listing service), the odds are overwhelmingly against it being available to you.
The short answer to the question “Can a real estate agent help you to buy a foreclosure?” is that the answer is generally NO if it’s an auction on the courthouse steps.
What’s the difference between short sales and foreclosures? What is an auction?
See also these much older articles from the downturn:
So you think you want to buy a Silicon Valley short sale?
Short sales sell but often don’t close: why?
Browse Short Sale Listings & Bank Owned Properties for Sale in Los Gatos
Short sale and REO articles on the Live in Los Gatos blog (old articles)
The odds are good that if you are looking to hire a real estate professional, one of the criteria you seek is “responsive”. Those of us who sell real estate for a living know that consumers want to hear back from us as soon as possible when they call or email (or text, in some cases).
How responsive should your real estate agent be?
- Most real estate agents will return phone calls within a half day regularly, or at the end of the business day worst case scenario
- Some will answer the phone when it rings every time, unless they are with clients or otherwise crunching on something urgent, such as writing or reviewing offers
- For emails, the response times can be similar – often within a few hours, but not more than 24 hours
- When consumers text, the response may be faster since it seems urgent to the recipient. You’ll want to see if your agent wants texts outside of certain hours or not, or if texting should be reserved for things that demand a quick response.
- Some agents may have a dedicated day off and will not return messages until the following day. It’s good to ask ahead of time about how time off is handled.
- Be sure to ask about your agent’s schedule and communication style (when and how they’d like to hear from you). Make sure you let your preferred method be known so you can be on the same page not just for when to communicate, but how!
Responsiveness and phone calls
If not with clients or otherwise tied up, many Realtors (yours truly included) will pick up the phone when called during business hours. (Some won’t. Some do time blocking and return calls at set times, such as between 11am and noon and 4 and 5pm. Those who time block in this way will often put a message on their voice mail explaining when they will call back. Hopefully, that works for the caller!). (more…)
This is going to sound a little harsh, but it is true. Sellers: some, perhaps many of the things which you think are huge selling points are not important at all to today’s home buyers. Most Silicon Valley house hunters do not care about your wet bar. They care even less about your expensive wallpaper, or your pricey and heavy 1970s era curtains, which they probably hate. In fact, many of the improvements you made when personalizing the home for yourself may have cost you a lot of money, but many California home buyers either won’t like them at all or even find them to be a negative. That is often the case with wet bars!
If you’re thinking you’d like to sell your home in 2021, keep reading!
If wet bars and wallpaper aren’t important, what is?
Buyers DO care about your foundation (please, no cracks), your roof (hopefully newer with many years left on it), your plumbing (tell us it’s 100% copper). They care a great deal about updating and remodeling of things seen – bathrooms, kitchen, popcorn ceiling removed – and unseen. Is the electrical really as old as the house? Is the sewer line on its last leg? Did your disclosures mention that rats are a problem? Do you have an issue with water in the crawl space which will eventually wreck the foundation? Does your house back up to a train line, school, freeway, high voltage line or something else undesirable which cannot be fixed? Buyers do care about these types of things. Above all, Silicon Valley home buyers want security. They want a solid house without problems. They don’t want to worry. It is scary enough to buy at all! (more…)
The weekend has rolled around and you are scheduled to see a few homes with your Realtor. What should you expect when house-hunting?
Hopefully, the home will be clean, pleasant, and viewing it will be relatively stress-free. Most of the time, the sellers will not be home and you’ll be free to walk through the property and mentally “try out” the space. How does it feel? Will your furniture fit? Does it work with the way you live?
Sometimes, though, sellers either can’t be gone or don’t understand that it’s best if they can be absent for the viewing. If they sit outside or otherwise give you some space, it should be fine. If they hover, you may get the creeps and want to rush through the house or condo and make a quick exit.
Realtors who’ve been in the business awhile all have stories of what they’ve seen or experienced in a home for sale: stepping in dog droppings, naked homeowners, people in bed, pets who are scary or smelly (a little boy once shoved a baby snake in my face!), residents who are hostile, crazy decor, strange messes, intimates lying around, boudoir photography or other embarrassing decor, bad smells, a huge amount of religious imagery or items for worship, hoarding, or any number of strange and possibly unnerving things.
Luckily, these events are the minority. Most of the time, when a home is for sale in Silicon Valley, it’s clean and well presented. Just be aware that almost anything can happen. So be sure that your agent rings the doorbell, knocks, and pauses before rushing in – even if there’s an appointment. Better to take your time then see more than you bargained for! And pay close attention when walking through homes!
House hunting online
If for some reason you find yourself in a very big hurry to get your Silicon Valley home on the market, you may not know where to begin or how to get it done. Today I’ll give you a quick list of the best things to do, and in order, too!
First, hire a great, full time real estate professional. This Realtor or other sales person will be your partner from the beginning and can give you insight and advice on the best place to spend your time and money for the best return on investment – and which items are the most important in your house or condo’s particular case, given the time restrictions. Your Realtor can also help you with time lines, managing pre-sale inspections (worst case, they can happen after your home is on the MLS), etc. Sometimes home owners begin on their own and make less than ideal choices when choosing paint colors and so on. Since part of the service provided when you sign a listing agreement is good advice, do hire first!
Second, think clean, uncluttered, and “good working order”. The rest of the tips all fall under the broad umbrella of staging – mostly de-cluttering, cleaning, and making sure that things work as intended. Perhaps you won’t be able to make everything immaculate and perfect, but in many cases, with even a few days you can hit the biggest areas fast.
Make a list of everything that needs some kind of minor repair or adjustment. Getting those items fixed will send a message to home buyers that your house or condo is turnkey and not a “fixer”. It may not be conscious, but if home buyers find doors that squeak loudly, doorbells or lights that don’t work, they begin to wonder if there are any big ticket items that are in need of repair or replacement, too. Hire a handyman or contractor as needed so that your home gives the right first impression.
Moving at lightening speed, with the listing signed today and the home on the MLS tomorrow? This isn’t fun, but I’ve done it with sellers at times. In those cases, you may have one frantic 24 hour period. Think of it like you do when entertaining relatives who may go anywhere in your home…
What would you do if you had one hour’s notice before company would be arriving at your doorstep? Here are some quick fixes for the hurry up sale:
- Be armed with large boxes or laundry baskets so you can begin to collect things where are where they do not belong and get them at least generally to where they do.
- Get the floors, counter tops and surfaces almost completely clear. If it’s newspapers, throw them out (show no mercy!). Have a box or basket for each bedroom or room of the house and put the items into the correct basket as you go through the house. For example, you could have one box for the garage, another for the master bedroom, another for the hall bath, etc. Bring all boxes into each room that you are “clearing” and take just one room or area on at a time. You may be moving 6 or 8 boxes or baskets from one room to the next, but it’s a faster way to sort and move things.
- If there’s no time to actually put all of these items away, do what most of us did in college: put the basket or box in the closet. And then close the door. No, it’s not ideal. It’s a quick fix and it will do the job 90-95% of the way. If you’re in a rush, it’s got to be good enough. Ditto that with the garage. If all else fails, put things into the garage. Some buyers may chuckle, but yours will most certainly not be the only house where they see this happen. If you have a truly excessive amount of stuff, get a pod or use a service such as Door to Door, where they bring a container to your driveway, you load it, they then take it away and you get it back when you’re ready to move. (more…)
In Silicon Valley, most of the licensed real estate professionals belong to local, state, and a national trade group. There’s a name for members of these associations, in which dues paying members promise to abide by a code of ethics. Do you know that the name is? You’ll hear various things, even out of members: Realtor, Realitor, Realator, Relator, Reeltur. Which is it? The answer is the first one, REALTOR. It’s two syllables, pronounced Real-tor. (There is no a, e, i, o, or u between the REAL and the TOR parts.)
Also, please note that being a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the California Association of Realtors (CAR) and the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors (SILVAR) is not the same as being licensed. The states issue licenses for real estate sales people, brokers, and other professionals. Realtors are first licensed by the state and then voluntarily join the trade group for the industry. In California, it’s now the Bureau of Real Estate which issues the salesperson or broker licnese. (Please see the related article at the bottom of this post for more on that.)
Looking for a Silicon Valley Realtor? A Los Gatos Realtor? A San Jose Realtor? Please call or email me, Mary Pope-Handy, to chat about your real estate needs, buying and selling a home here in the South Bay area. And please, don’t call me or anyone else Realitor, Realator, Relator, or Reeltur!
Please also see
What’s the Difference between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent or Licensee?
I 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 (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 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.
There are clever, but ultimately unsubstantial, things that real estate consumers might experience in the process of buying or selling a home – or just researching Silicon Valley real estate on the web. Here are a few of the doozies that some people fall for, in no particular order:
(1) Quoting the contract paragraph by number is meant to impress you with the agent’s grasp of the contract, which must be thorough if the thing is memorized like chapter and verse. You might hear something like this: “as it says in paragraph 14 of the purchase agreement”. Perhaps better is not so much the paragraph number, but the nuance, how it matters and perhaps how the alternative contract or paperwork reads on the same subject. I like this better: “The PRDS contract says that any repairs must be done by a licensed contractor. The CAR contract says that anyone may do repairs, even the home owner, as long as it is done in ‘workmanlike fashion’ with comparable quality materials.”
A similar twist may be quoting statistics that aren’t real. “There are 2.3 months of inventory in Campbell right now” may be a made up number. Realtors know that sounding precise makes them sound credible. But is it true? Check it out. (As for me, I am not a walking statistics machine. I have to look it up, or crunch it, to tell an answer. Yesterday a total stranger texted me and asked what the cheapest townhouse or condo in Mountain View is right now. I am not the MLS! I don’t know off the top of my head – and I’m not going to fake it.)
(2) Focusing on less relevant marketing approaches to selling your home may be a way for the potential listing agent to appear better, to seem to “do more”. The most important is price, because a grossly overpriced house will not sell for top dollar even if the print and web marketing are over the top wonderful. The second most important is photos, because they are your first open house – albeit virtual. If the photos are poor, or if every major area or room isn’t shown, whatever is not represented is deemed as bad. Photos of a cluttered, mismatched home will cause buyers to skip your property. That said, some agents will say that they will advertise your home in China, so you should list with them. Well, Chinese buyers are real, but they either come over to buy or they have close family and friends here who will help them buy. And whoever is here can see the listing on the regular channels. Similarly, things like drone photography do not usually improve either the odds of a home selling or the price for which it will sell in most cases. For a luxury property with a lot of land, ok, yes, of course a drone video or photo series would be great. But some agents push the drone angle only because it differentiates them – they’ll provide what other agents don’t want to provide. (Because it doesn’t make sense for most tract homes.) Beware marketing gimmicks.
(3) Combined experience – if you have a team with 4 agents and they each have 2 years’ experience, you might hear this: “we have 8 years combined experience”. Nonsense. You have 4 people with 2 years each.
Alternatively, there may be things which sound like trickery but aren’t. One friend of mine, on the east coast, bemoaned that every time he wanted to buy a house, the listing agent told him that another offer was coming in. “Do they teach you to say that at real estate school?” he complained. No, they don’t teach us to say that. In fact, if it’s not true that another offer is coming in, we may not say so if we are Realtors – it’s against the Realtor Code of Ethics to lie. (Not all real estate agents are Realtors. The state issues the real estate license, but membership in the National Association of Realtors is voluntary.)
Another thing which make some sellers skeptical feeling is the need for staging. “Why should I fill my empty rental house with someone else’s stuff? Buyers can see that it’s a kitchen!” But let me tell you, there are statistics proving that staged homes do sell for more. A good Realtor wants your home to sell for top dollar, wants you to become a raving, lifelong fan, and hopes like crazy you’ll be so happy that you’ll refer your best family and friends to that same Realtor.
As a Silicon Valley home buyer or seller, the best thing you can do for yourself is to hire a great Realltor. Don’t do it because they use slick “closing techniques”, but because they are experienced, knowledgable, capable, honest, and not afraid of hard work. Right now 20% of all real estate licensees have less than 2 years’ experience selling homes in the US. (Source for that statistic: CNBC article.) It doesn’t cost more to hire a great Realtor, so please do your due dilligence and don’t fall for stupid tricks. Go for substance.