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.

 

 

 

Beware these 3 real estate gimmicks

Beware these 3 real estate gimmicksThere 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.

 

 

 

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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