Choosing a Silicon Valley Realtor

Choosing a Silicon Valley Realtor

If you are like most homeowners, you have several concerns when deciding whom to hire to assist you in marketing and selling your Silicon Valley home. You want the process to be as low-stress as possible and as profitable as possible 

How can you help ensure that this will be your experience when selling your home? Probably the most important factor is in whom you hire to navigate you through the process and to represent your interests.  

The Challenge Of Choosing A Silicon Valley Realtor

It is not easy to select an exceptional real estate agent Why not? First of all, this field is saturated, especially in Silicon Valley! In California, the ratio is about 1 agent to every 50 people. In Los Gatos,  there are only 30,000 people (18,000 licensed voters) but 800 to 1000 Realtors (and there are about 40 sales a month in Los Gatos - so you can see that the relationship between sales and agents is way off).

Many of these agents - about half 0 have been in the business less than 5 years, and they have not experienced the kind of market we have today. Very frequently, these new or non-producing agents will attempt to get hired simply by discounting their commission, which of course is attractive to bottom-line conscious sellers. But will they be able to sell your home? In 2006, about 39% of all agents sold NO homes. In 2007 it was about half. It is probably far fewer in 2008. The odds are against the sale of your home. Hiring an agent who is not surviving this market is probably not a good idea. The commission is only paid if your home sells at a price you accept. Better to hire an agent who is knowledgeable and can get you where you want to go: sold and onto your next home.

You can find out how long someone's been licensed by checking the Department of Real Estate's website at California Department of Real Estate's website.

Another thing to watch for, besides new agents or those not selling in this market, is the difference between a "real estate agent" (which is anyone licensed by the state of California to sell real property) and a Realtor, who is a member of the local, state, and National Association of Realtors, and who subscribe to a code of ethics.

 Check the local boards, either Santa Clara County Association of Realtors or Silicon Valley Association of Realtors, to verify that the agent is a Realtor. As mentioned above, Realtors adhere to a higher standard of practice which includes a very important "Code of Ethics". There are many things which the state considers legal that you might find quite objectionable - and that's where the Code of Ethics fits in. Additionally,  if you were to have a problem with a real estate licensee, and his or her broker/manager isn't helping as much as you would like, you can go to his or her local Board of Realtors to complain and get assistance. If the agent is simply a licensee, you'll have to hope that what you object to is actually covered by the state's laws and it is likely to be far harder to get a government response than a board response.  So make doubly sure that your real estate professional is a REALTOR!

Choosing Between Experienced Silicon Valley Realtors

So you have decided to narrow it to Realtors who've been in the business for at least a few years and those who have a proven track record. You have the top third that you're considering. Now how do you refine it further?

Well, it helps a lot to get names by referral. If your friends and relatives and neighbors have had a good experience, chances are that you will, too. Always ask for references - and then check them! A good agent is likely to have a testimonials page available for you to read too. And please make sure that the agent is close enough to service your listing too - an agent who is an hour away is too far to handle the "little but urgent" things that inevitably come up.

Then ask how the agent works....

Some Realtors are lone practioners (plusses are that you will not be handed off to a young assistant, minuses that you may not be able to get your agent as fast as you might get an assistant - which do you prefer?). Others are part of a team. (Some teams are HUGE and the jobs are parsed to segments of the transaction - you may get handed off from one person to the next as you go through the stages of the listing, sale, escrow, and closing.) So ask about things like who covers when the Realtor is on vacation, what the lag time is in responding to emails and voice mails, etc. Some of the mega-agents control most of their own business but are SO busy that they may not get back to you for as many as 8 - 10 hours during the work week, or longer on weekends. Make sure you understand what to expect and if you can live with it!

At this time I am a lone practitioner with an escrow coordinator and a virtual assistant who assists me with some of my online marketing. My clients get all my phone numbers (even my "home phone" though I ask it not be used unless it is urgent). I work 6 days a week but check messages and email 7 days a week. (I'm nicer if better slept and with a day off!) Normally I take Sundays off. Open houses are always covered, so no worries!

I am a bit of an email addict so check it at least 4 times a day, if not more. I do check my office voice mail daily but if it is urgent, I request you call me on my cell phone, 408 204-POPE (408 204-7673). When I do go on vacation, I always inform clients of who's "covering" for me but also continue to check email - I have done this from Japan to Italy. I know that when you hire ME, you want MY help and advice. I am never completely out of touch.

My approach to selling homes is flexible and organized - I am a perfectionist when it comes to your satisfaction, but also in paying attention to the details (because ultimately, they can cost you money if I do not!). I plan ahead and strategize so the whole process is calmer. I combine the latest technologies with traditional know-how to create a sales approach that is comprehensive, highly responsive, and effective. I will help you assess your home's value accurately, prepare your home to sell quickly, and attract a qualified buyer, and assist you all the way through the escrow to closing - and beyond! (The following page, Marketing Your Home, does include a generic version of my marketing plan. Please take a look. You will find me to be very detail oriented.)

The Right Silicon Valley Realtor

Selling your home is a sophisticated undertaking. Finding the right agent is, too. Using superior sales tools and industry know-how, the right real estate agent will ensure that the process of selling your home is as painless as possible, efficient, and profitable, instead of frustrating, time-consuming, and financially disappointing. My goal is do do all of that and a whole lot more. My testimonials and the number of repeat and referral clients tell me I'm on track.

Most importantly, though, I DO put your interests first. I care about ethics and doing "the right thing". I want you to be successful and happy whether you are selling a tiny condo in Blossom Valley, buying a loft in downtown San Jose, exchanging income property in Campbell or selling or buying an estate property in Almaden Valley, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, or Los Altos. My goal is to turn my clients into my raving fans, such that you want to tell all your friends that I can be relied upon to help you 200%.

I will help you make your sale a resounding success in every way: from the pre-sale planning to the staging to the negotiating to the closing. My combination of skill, experience, comprehensive marketing capability, and technological advantages ensure that I can sell your home:


  1. For the hightest possible price
  2. In the shortest period of time
  3. With your comfort and convenience assured

I have the tools to meet the demands of a highly competitive, modern market. But just as importantly, I know that real estate is a highly personal business. I want you to experience a win-win situation and to know that your best interests have been my highest concern.

Mary's Seller Services To save your time, minimize your stress, provide maximum security and help assure you net the greatest possible equity; I will perform the following services for you, the home seller:

1 – Prepare an objective analysis of your home and the current market.

2 – Provide counsel as to your best pricing strategy.

3 – Provide value enhancing home sale preparation advice. (This is quite extensive and includes doing pre-sale paperwork, inspections, staging, and much, much more.)

4 – Supply my name and sign which provides quality professional positioning.

5 – Provide thorough promotion of your home to find your best buyer.

6 – Help assure that your potential buyers are well qualified to purchase your home.

7 – Help identify and communicate your home’s valuable benefits to the potential buyers.

8 – Counsel other agents when showing your home to encourage the prospective buyers to buy now.

9 – Review all offers in detail and provide negotiation representation of your interests.

10 – Provide assistance in obtaining financing to the buyers or their agents as needed.

11 – Coordinate the closing of your sale with other Realtors, lenders, inspectors, appraisers, attorneys, escrow officers, and title insurance companies.

12 – Provide on-going personal communication to keep you informed on the step by step progress of the sale of your home.

13 – Provide post-sale follow-up to assure your total satisfaction.

I may or may not be the person who will directly produce the buyer for your home, but I will be the person who will cause your home to sell and personally represent you in the process.

You can’t get these services from me unless I am your listing agent who is hired to represent your personal interests in the sale of your home.

You have much to gain and little to lose by hiring me. If you don’t receive an acceptable written agreement to purchase your home, you owe me nothing.

Why Sellers Choose Mary

I am not a mega-agent. You will never be treated like cattle. My business is based largely on referrals (and repeat business). Most of the clients who decide to hire me do so because they have family, friends, or aquaintances who have become "raving fans".

I am detail oriented, but above all else, I care about people and about "doing the right thing". Ethics matter to me - a lot! That means doing "due dilligance" with the numbers crunching, looking for "red flags" with the property condition, and paying a lot of attention to the details throughout the transaction. At the end of the day, whether you buy with me or not, whether you list with me or not, it matters to ME that I tell you the truth and that I act with integrity throughout our interactions. Many times I have told people to not buy a particular house or that it was not in their best interests to sell their home. I believe that my actions will come back to me many times over again. This is just living by the Golden Rule, and it's the bedrock of my work ethic.

I play by the rules, but am hardworking and cutting edge and aggressive. I believe in win-win, but not in anyone getting steamrolled. I absolutely believe that if you do your homework and preparation upfront, whether buying or selling, your profit margin will be higher and so I will do my level best to get you to do so. Preparation is the key to your success. It's like what woodworkers say: "measure twice, cut once".

If you are looking for a hardball, go for the jugular, take no prisioners agent, that's not me. I don't believe that our "winning" has to mean steamrolling the other side. And in fact, when someone has been steamrolled, he or she is FAR more likely to sue you later. So whatever profit you thought you were going to have is going to be at jeopardy.

Better to do your work upfront, make a great deal, and leave everyone feeling lucky that they got to buy or sell with you. Happy folks don't sue, they foreward your mail if you were the seller, they can call you to ask for a refresher on the sprinker system if you're the buyer, and everyone lives happily ever after. Win-win. Do your homework upfront and enjoy the best of everything - a great profit, a great buy, a happy rapport when it's all said and done.

Preparation is the very basis of negotiation strategy. When you set the stage properly at the beginning, everything else is almost easy.

When you compare agents, please compare what they do, and not just the fee they charge. Often the better agent will "net" you more!

To continue looking at "value" concepts, please go on to the next page - there I'll discuss Marketing and will share with you my basic Marketing Plan.

Contact Information

Photo of Mary Pope-Handy Real Estate
Mary Pope-Handy
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Road
Los Gatos CA 95030
408 204-7673
408 335-1400
Fax: 408 715-0243

BRE #01153805