All posts by Gary & Robert - Sunnyvale Real Estate Experts

Find Your Best City to Buy a Home in the Silicon Valley

Thinking of buying a home in the Silicon Valley but not sure where to start your search? Take a look at some of these top-rated and favorite Santa Clara County cities to discover the perfect place to buy your home in the Silicon Valley.

The Best Places to Buy a Home in the Silicon Valley

best places to buy a home in the silicon valleyIf we look at the overall Best Place to Buy a Home in the Silicon Valley, Los Altos Hills stands apart. Niche.com ranks it as the #1 Best Place to Buy a Home in Santa Clara County AND in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as the #17 Best Place to Buy a House in California. It’s also ranked as the #1 Best Place to Live in Santa Clara County.

Other Top Silicon Valley Cities for Home Buyers

best city to buy a home in the silicon valleyLooking at some of the same rankings by Niche (Best Places to Buy a House and Live in Santa Clara County, Best Place to Buy a House in the San Fran Bay Area), other top cities appearing on the list include Los Altos (#4 for buying and #2 for living, as well as #8 best in the San Fran Bay area), Palo Alto (#5 for buying, #2 for living, and #11 in San Fran), and Mountain View (#7 for buying, #3 for living, and #17 in the Bay Area), as well as Los Gatos, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara.

Other studies, like this one by StreetAdvisor, name cities such as Mountain View, Sunnyvale, San Jose, Milpitas, and Palo Alto among the best Silicon Valley cities.

But Rankings Aren’t Everything…

Sure, rankings like these can give you an overall idea of how cities compare. But what if you’re looking for something specific? Instead of getting an overall view, you might instead consider comparing cities on specific criteria, such as these:

Cities with the Best Schools in the Silicon Valley

cities with the best schools in best places to buy a home in the silicon valleyBeing near top-rated schools are crucial to many buyers. These cities’ school districts rank among the best in the area, as well as the state:

  • Los Altos Hills
  • Mountain View
  • Palo Alto
  • Los Altos
  • Los Gatos
  • Cupertino

Safest Places to Live in the Silicon Valley

safest places in best city to buy a home in the silicon valleyFeeling safe in your neighborhood is definitely an important factor. So, where are the crime ratings the lowest in Santa Clara County?

  • Los Altos Hills
  • Los Altos
  • Cupertino
  • Los Gatos
  • Sunnyvale
  • Palo Alto

Silicon Valley Cities with the Best Shopping & Dining Areas

best shopping and dining in the silicon valleyBeing close to amenities, shopping, conveniences, and entertainment are also important to buyers, both for your own interests, and for your home values. Larger cities, such as San Jose and Santa Clara offer plenty of options and great downtown scenes, but smaller towns, like Palo Alto, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View also have a lot to offer.

Best Access to Convenient Transportation

cities with the best public transportation in best city to buy a home in the silicon valleyIf you’re looking for a convenient way to get to work, or a city with lots of public transit options, San Jose is the winner, hands down. Here, you’ll find access to numerous freeways, as well as public transit that includes Caltrain, ACE, the VTA lightrail, and Amtrak. A close second, Santa Clara also offers access to major freeways and public transit.

Most Affordable Cities in the Silicon Valley

most affordable in best city to buy a home in the silicon valleyAffordability is key to almost everyone, especially home buyers. So, where is your dollar going to stretch the furthest in Santa Clara County?

  • San Jose
  • Sunnyvale
  • Santa Clara
  • Mountain View
  • Milpitas
  • Palo Alto

Searching for Your Perfect Home in the Silicon Valley?

If you’re thinking of buying a home in the Silicon Valley, then it’s time to contact Gary & Robert. As your guides to real estate and lifestyle in Santa Clara County, we’re here to help you explore the area, learn more about relocating to the Silicon Valley, and find your dream home.

12 Month-by-Month Goals for Your New Home

A beige couch in the middle of an open living room.‘Tis the season — for goal planning, that is! Many people spend December reflecting on the year and creating a list of goals to aim for in the New Year, and recent home buyers are no exception.

If you’re thinking about ways to preserve that “new-to-you” feeling in your home and keep the clutter at bay throughout the year, follow our handy month-by-month home organization planner.

January: Clear Out Any Cluttered Spaces

Decluttered spaces can keep your home looking and feeling like new (even if it isn’t). While you’re putting away holiday decorations, take some time to tackle any clutter that has begun to accumulate in catch-all spaces, such as closets, the garage, and any rooms that are still full of half-unpacked moving boxes.

February: Create a Home Organization Plan

A list of things to do each day of the week.Detailed planning is a great way to stay on top of your New Year’s home organization goals. Outline a list of tasks to complete daily, weekly, and monthly. This list can include indoor and outdoor maintenance as well as fun tasks like decorating.

Be sure to pin your home organization plan in a conspicuous space, such as on the refrigerator. You can also lighten your workload by divvying up the tasks to other members of the household.

March: Deep Clean Your Home

Kick off the spring season with a thorough cleaning of your home. In all likelihood, your new home won’t need too much TLC, so just focus on the well-used areas of your house: the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and main entertaining spaces.

April: Show Off Your Green Thumb

A vase of flowers.Take a break this month. You’ve earned it. Instead of cleaning or decluttering, decorate your home with greenery to usher in springtime. Flowers, succulents, and low-maintenance plants look great indoors.

May: Focus on the Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most used spaces in a home. Devote the full month to tackling any clutter issues in the drawers and cabinets, investing in space-saving organizers, deep cleaning the stove, and repairing appliances if necessary.

June: Focus on the Bathrooms

Follow the same plan as you did with the kitchen, but this time focus your cleaning and decluttering efforts on the bathrooms. Dispose of any expired prescriptions or toiletries and consider flushing out your pipes.

July: Organize the “Junk Drawer”

After a few months of living in your home, you may start to notice little spaces that collect a lot of clutter. The so-called junk drawer is often a major aggravation to homeowners. Take some time to try and find a new home for the items that have accumulated in this drawer or space.

You can also come up with clever ways to keep the clutter at bay, or at the very least look intentional. Drawer dividers, wooden trays, and small containers can transform any cluttered drawer into a well-organized space.

August: Organize Mail and Other Documents

An office desk clear of any papers.It’s easy to let papers pile up on the counter or on the desk. First, discard any junk mail that is contributing to the clutter, then sort through the rest of the papers in the pile.

If you don’t have a system in place yet, create a way to effectively manage your mail and other documents, such as a binder or a filing cabinet. Be sure to go through your old documents from time to time and shred what you need to.

September: Reevaluate Your Summer Closets

Now that summer is coming to a close, sort through your wardrobe and figure out what you didn’t wear this season. Consider donating gently used clothes and accessories to a local charity or selling them at a yard sale.

October: Reevaluate Your Organization Systems

A blank piece of paper and a sharpened pencil.Think back to the whole-home organization plan you created in February: Have you been able to keep those resolutions? Are you noticing that you need to complete certain tasks more often than others? Reevaluate your plan and make changes as you see fit.

If you’ve had trouble sticking with your organization plan, take this time before the holidays to pick up where you left off.

November: Pick Through Your Holiday Decorations

As the holiday season approaches and the year winds down, go through your collection of holiday ornaments and other decorations. Keep the ones you use most often and discard any that you have either not used or cannot repair.

December: Focus Once Again on the Kitchen

If you plan to entertain guests for the holidays, focus your cleaning and decluttering efforts once again on the kitchen. This time, instead of devoting all of your time to the drawers and cabinets, turn your attention to the fridge.

Dispose of any expired food, transfer leftovers to smaller containers, and rearrange your shelves to make more room for holiday dinners.

We Can Help with Your Home Organization Goals

Whether you’re thinking about buying a home in 2018 or have just moved in (congratulations!), we’re here to help you with everything you need. Call us and we’ll provide you with even more homeowner tips and resources.

Transform Your Home with These Timeless Seasonal Color Schemes

rainbow of colors on paint swatch samplesNothing can transform a home quite like a simple seasonal color palette. Whether you want to embrace the fall foliage, some holiday whimsy, or a little winter coziness, you can do all that with a few coats of paint and some well-placed splashes of color.

The best part of all? Not only are these color schemes great for seasonal home decorating, they work wonders when staging your home to sell, too! Here are a few irresistible color schemes you can blend into your home this fall and winter.

Down to Earth: Rust Red and Terra Cotta

Connect with nature in the fall season using rich tones of red and brown. For an added touch of earthiness, incorporate natural elements like wood to really pull the look together.

Rustic: Persimmon and Oatmeal

orange wicker couch next to coffee table

Play up the autumn harvest theme with muted orange, shades of beige, and decorative elements like apples and pumpkins.

Cozy: Cream and Espresso

room with wood bed and beige walls

Neutral hues can make your home feel warm and inviting in the chilly fall and winter months. For a fun and functional look, add floor-length window coverings, which will keep the cold out and the coziness in.

Cheerful: Turquoise and White

gray couch with blue decorative pillows

Even if the weather outside is frightful, your home doesn’t have to be! Pair bright shades of blue with white to achieve a relaxing yet cheerful look. On a gray couch (like in the image above), turquoise accent pillows add a fun pop of color to the room’s neutral surroundings.

Small splashes of color here and there can go a long way into decorating a room for all seasons. All you have to do is switch out a few decorations and you’re set for the next season!

Merry and Bright: Snow White and Holly Green

stark white kitchen with greenery

While we typically think of red as a traditional holiday color, you don’t need bold hues to achieve a dramatic and trendy look. Stark white is becoming more and more common in interior design. To achieve this minimalist winter look, paint your space bright white and add pops of color with greenery.

When Selling a Home, Stay Neutral

The art of home staging is all about catering to the buyer. But since home buyers have drastically different tastes in color schemes, staying with a neutral color palette is the best way to appeal to the greatest number of buyers.

Selling Your Home Soon? Let’s Talk!

We’re always happy to share our knowledge of home staging trends, current real estate market conditions, and home selling resources with you. Give us a call and let’s discuss your goals.

What You Need to Know About Low-Maintenance Communities

fallen leaves on a lawn in the winterPicture this: It’s winter. It’s freezing. You still need to clear the last of the leaves from your lawn, but you’re finding every excuse to stay huddled inside your warm home and out of the cold, biting air. More than ever, you’re wishing your yard work would just do itself.

Sound familiar? Maintenance and lawn care can be tedious and exhausting chores, especially on the coldest or hottest days of the year. But there are types of residential developments that take care of these chores for you.

The Many Faces of Low-Maintenance Living

Low-maintenance communities, in general, are neighborhoods that provide services such as lawn care and exterior maintenance through an association fee. In a maintenance-free community, especially, little — if any — maintenance is required on the homeowner’s part.

As is the case with any neighborhood, different communities offer different amenities, especially when it comes to low- or no-maintenance living. So to give you a better idea about what to look for in a low-maintenance home, we’ve come up with a quick guide.

Low-Maintenance Townhome Developments

properties along a wide streetIf you want all the space of a single-family home but don’t mind sharing a wall, a townhouse is a great option for low-maintenance living. Though the amenities many vary from community to community, townhome developments typically provide common area maintenance and landscaping.

Low-Maintenance Condominiums

Think of condos as upgraded rental apartments: you have your own space, you can access community amenities, and you can count on someone else to take care of the most mundane chores.

It’s important to note that condos are a type of ownership: when you own a condo, you own everything within the walls of your home. Unlike with townhomes, you aren’t required to care for the exterior.

In addition, condo associations typically maintain the common areas and provide services like trash removal and pest control. Depending on the association, the community may also provide utilities, phone service, and cable or Internet.

No-Maintenance Residential Communities

house common in a maintenance-free communitySome communities, like 55+ communities, take care of more than just the common areas. True maintenance-free communities may also take care of your home’s exterior maintenance, lawn care, landscaping, and services like trash or snow removal.

Real estate options in these no-maintenance communities can include condos, townhomes, and/or single-family homes.

Where to Do Your Research

If a community has an association, check the rules and regulations to learn about what services the association provides. Not sure where to look? It never hurts to ask a trusted real estate agent.

Want to Buy a Low-Maintenance Home? Let’s Talk

We’re familiar with the types of homes and communities found throughout our area, so we’re more than happy to answer any questions you have. Just give us a call!

The Hidden Horrors of Going FSBO (For Sale by Owner)

piggy bank surrounded by coinsMany home sellers have considered skipping the real estate agent to save on closing costs, but very few have actually succeeded in seeing those savings. There’s a good reason: the average homeowner doesn’t have the rigorous training and real estate knowledge that a licensed agent does.

But just what makes For Sale By Owner (FSBO) such a bad idea? From incessant inconveniences to costly paperwork mistakes, here are a few of the horror stories that FSBO sellers inevitably encounter.

The Daunting Task of Marketing Your Home

It takes more than a “For Sale” sign in your front yard to make buyers notice your home. According to the National Association of Realtors, 95% of buyers use the Internet in their home search.

This means that online marketing — starting with listing your home on the local listings database, sharing your listing to dozens of social media platforms, and advertising your listing on numerous websites with a global audience — is essential to selling your home.

Without an Agent, Home Marketing Isn’t Cheap

This is where it gets expensive: yard signs, newspaper ads, brochures, high-quality photographs, and a professional-looking website — things real estate agents have at their disposal — are your responsibility to finance and maintain when you have to do your home’s marketing yourself.

Incorrect Home Pricing: The Ghosts of Lost Profits

chart of fluctuating home valuesEven after all that marketing, FSBO sellers don’t actually make more money. In fact, many lose money.

The research backs it up: the National Association of Realtors reports that the average home sold with an agent sells for $240,000. FSBO homes, however, sell for only $185,000. What you could save in commission you lose by pricing your home incorrectly or skimping on the marketing.

Without an Agent, Finding the Right Price is Impossible

Part of the problem with a low-dollar sale is the asking price. Real estate agents have more tools and resources, plus an intimate knowledge of the local housing market, so they can spot a wrongly priced listing from a mile away. FSBO sellers, however, have only limited access to home value tools and resources about past sales activity.

The Mountains of Paperwork

stacks of papers in bindersUnderstanding the paperwork involved in a real estate transaction is one of the biggest challenges of selling For Sale By Owner.

After all, the contract isn’t just an agreement about the price; it also includes contingencies (like those for home inspections and financing), the closing date, and other important terms.

Without an Agent, Sellers Can Make Costly Mistakes

The paperwork involved in a home sale can be complicated and full of legal jargon. An oversight could mean a costly mistake or even a lawsuit. Real estate agents, however, have the knowledge and understanding to take care of all the necessary disclosures.

Don’t Become the Next FSBO Horror Story

Sign that says For Sale By OwnerYes, commission is a sizable chunk of change. But so are the hidden fees and lost profits, not to mention the added stress, that come with selling a home by yourself. The best way to save money, save time, and save headaches is to work with an experienced real estate professional.

We’re here to help! Give us a call and let’s talk about the home selling process.

5 Reasons NOW is the Time to Buy a Home in Sunnyvale, CA

Thinking of buying a home in Sunnyvale, CA but want to be sure the timing is right before you invest? Good news for you—now is a great time to get in the real estate game in the Silicon Valley. Here are 5 reasons to buy a home in Sunnyvale.

1. Home Values Are On the Rise.

now is the time to buy a home in sunnyvale because home prices are risingAs a buyer, that means two things. 1. That prices are the lowest they are going to be for a while (so buy now before homes get any more expensive) and 2. That your property value is expected to grow over the next few years. In fact, Zillow predicts as much as a 3.7% rise in property values in Sunnyvale over the next year.

2. Mortgage Rates Are Still Low

now is the time to buy a home in sunnyvale because mortgage rates are still lowBut again, they’re expected to rise—as many as three times throughout 2018. Higher mortgage rates mean higher monthly payments, so once again, invest now while the getting is still good!

3. Sellers Are More Motivated

now is the time to buy a home in sunnyvale because sellers are motivatedSpring and summer are typically considered the “hot” real estate seasons, so sellers placing their homes on the market in fall and winter are usually doing so for urgent reasons, such as relocation for a job. That means they want to get their homes sold quickly, and are often more willing to negotiate on price and closing date.

4. The Competition Has Died Down

An African American couple walking on a residential street, with a young man holding a folder. He is a real estate agent, pointing at a house, talking.Spring and summer home shopping can be a little hectic because it is the real estate hot season. You might fall in love with a house—only to have it snatched up by another buyer before you can even think of making an offer. But fall and winter tend to be a bit more relaxed and give you more time to shop, find, and make reasonable offers.

5. If It Makes Sense for You, Then the Time is Right

now is the time to buy a home in sunnyvale if it makes sense for youThe bottom line is you can’t try to time the market. If you need a home and it makes sense for you in your current situation, then the timing is right. If you’re planning to stay for a while, your finances are stable, and you can comfortably afford a mortgage, then it’s time to consider buying a home.

Thinking of Buying a Home in the Sunnyvale?

If you’re thinking of buying a home in the Sunnyvale, CA, then it’s time to contact Gary & Robert. As your real estate guides to the Silicon Valley, we’re here to help you explore the area, find the perfect home, and relocate with ease.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Living in San Jose

Thinking of moving to San Jose? Well, the good news is, you’ve picked a great spot! San Jose has so much to do, see, and offer, from great entertainment to outstanding employment opportunities to beautiful homes and neighborhoods. Here’s everything you need to know about living in San Jose.

10 Things You Need to Know About Living in San Jose

It’s a great place for sports fans.

attending ice hockey games while living in san joseHockey, soccer, baseball, arena football, even roller derby—we’ve got it all! Cheer on the San Jose Sharks, the Earthquakes, or the Giants along with hundreds of other supportive fans.

Craving a particular flavor? Find it in San Jose.

eat great food while living in san joseAs one of America’s most diverse communities, San Jose has an equally diverse food scene that ranges from top tacos to fantastic pho.

Fresh is better when it comes to food.

eat fresh while living in san joseNot only will you love the diversity of cuisine, you’ll learn to appreciate the focus on freshness, with many restaurants and stores featuring locally-sourced ingredients. And the san Pedro Square Farmers Market is a favorite local event.

There’s always something fun happening.

attend the taco festival while living in san joseDon’t miss out on any of the city’s stupendous events, like the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, the San Jose Flea Market, SubZERO Festival (where art meets tech), or the favorite San Jose Taco Festival, featuring days of taco trucks, masked wrestling, and live music.

The nightlife is hoppin’.

Group of friends at rooftop partyHead to SoFA, the hot nightclub spot in Downtown San Jose to party all night long. Looking for something a little more laid back? We’ve got plenty of relaxed bars and lounges, too.

Art and culture is rich throughout San Jose.

ballet and theatre in san joseFrom the San Jose Museum of Art and The Tech Museum of Innovation to the California Theatre and the San Jose Repertory Theatre, art and science fans alike will rejoice.

It is the high-tech capital of America.

live in the high tech capital of americaIf you’re that person that always has to have the latest apps and gadgets, then you’ll love living in the tech hub of San Jose. You’ll be right in the heart of all the new developments of the tech world—the first to know and test some of the works of America’s best minds. Plus, if you’re tech-minded, the tech jobs are ripe for the taking…

Say good-bye to winter weather.

sunny streets lined in palm trees in san joseAs long as you don’t mind a little summer heat (without the humidity, so it’s really not all that bad), you’ll reap the reward of short, mild winters free of snowy roads, snow-tires, snow-shovels, and all things otherwise snow-related.

The outdoor recreation is phenomenal.

plenty of outdoor activities while living in san joseWith all that warm, sunny weather, it’s good San Jose has so many ways to get outside and enjoy it! Get active with hiking, biking, boating, fishing, camping, horseback riding, and more at favorite local parks like Alum Rock, Coyote Peak, or Almaden Quicksilver County Park. Want a little more of a challenge? Summit Mount Hamilton.

It’s driving distance to some truly amazing places.

driving distance to the beachFrom the towering redwoods of Big Basin Redwoods State Park to the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean, you’re never more than a short drive from some of the best places in California.

Really, it’s no surprise San Jose is a Best Place to Live.

Family Enjoying Cupcakes At Outdoor Summer EventThat’s right—US News & World Report named it the #3 Best Place to Live in America! Why? Job market, quality of life, commute times, unemployment rates, and average salary, just to name a few.

Plus, Livability.com named San Jose a Top 10 City for College Grads, citing great schools, plenty of shopping and dining, diverse culture, lots of outdoor activities, and plenty of things to do. The city has also been named a top city for job growth and opportunity, and a best city for education.

Ready to Come Live in San Jose—One of America’s Best Cities?

If you’re thinking of relocating to San Jose, CA, then it’s time to contact Gary & Robert. As your guides to real estate in the Silicon Valley, we’re here to help you explore the area, learn more about buying a home, and discover the perfect place to live.

6 Reasons Why Owning a Home is Awesome

From personalizing your living spaces to turning a profit when you sell, there are dozens of reasons why first-time home buyers can’t wait to find a home and make it their own. Though there are plenty of benefits of owning a home, here are the six benefits that stand out from the rest.

decorated room in a home

1. You Can Customize Your Space

Whether you want to invest in the latest high-tech home features or paint your walls neon green, owning a home gives you the freedom to do just about anything you want.

cute dog in a backyard

2. You Make the Rules

Unlike with a rental property, where a landlord can dictate what you can and can’t do while living there, living in your own home means you have the freedom to host parties, adopt a pet, plant a garden, you name it. As a homeowner, you are in total control!

calculator next to accounting sheet

3. You Can Take Advantage of Tax Breaks

It’s true what they say: owning a home is an investment. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways that you can reap financial rewards up front. The IRS allows homeowners to deduct mortgage interest, property taxes, and capital gains from their annual taxes.

flowers in a street median

4. You Can Better Invest in Your Community

Eager to make friends with your neighbors? Want to participate in homeowners association meetings? Can’t wait to get involved with community beautification projects or local organizations? When you own a home, you can truly become an important part of the community.

cozy home

5. You Can Put Down Roots

Speaking of getting involved in your community, owning a home also allows you to settle down and establish roots in a home and neighborhood that you love.

increasing heights of coin stacks

6. You Can Earn Money Back When You Sell Your Home

The longer you live in your home, the more equity you build. And if the homes in your neighborhood are appreciating in value, you can earn a significant amount of money back when you decide to sell your home — maybe even thousands of dollars!

Want to Own a Home of Your Own? We Can Help!

Homeownership is a rewarding experience, especially if you have the right tools and resources at your fingertips. If you’re considering buying your first home, give us a call and let’s talk about your plans!

Birdland in Sunnyvale, CA Really Does Have Everything You Need

beautiful birdland sunnyvale homesSearching for a neighborhood that has it all, the perfect place to work, play, and live? Want to be close to all the action, a short drive from work, yet still live in a peaceful suburban paradise? Time to explore Birdland, one of the most popular communities in Sunnyvale, CA!

What Makes Birdland Sunnyvale So Special?

Birdland has it all—location, amenities, and beautiful homes. Situated between Downtown Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and Cupertino, Birdland is just minutes from work or play… in every direction. Top Silicon Valley employers are just a short drive away thanks to easy access to I-280 and Route 82, shopping, dining, and entertainment surround the neighborhood, and there are plenty of outstanding local parks to explore.

comfortable and elegant interiorThe Homes of Birdland

Looking for the perfect blend of luxury and comfort? You’ll find it in Birdland. These single-family homes offer large and modern living spaces along tree-lined streets. Landscaped yards are common, as are enclosed or fenced yards, open floorplans, large entertainment rooms, skylights, fireplaces, stainless steel appliances, and more.

Radnor Park of Birdland

In the heart of Birdland, you’ll find the scenic Radnor Park. It might seem like your run-of-the-mill neighborhood park with ball fields and walking paths, but it’s a little more than that. Here, you’ll also find the Full Circle Farm, which welcomes volunteers to its lovely gardens and strives to provide enriching educational experiences to students. There are even community events to enjoy!

An Unbeatable Silicon Valley Location

Between Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and Cupertino, Birdland is just minutes from everything. In fact, it’s only 10 minutes from birdland locationDowntown Sunnyvale, 10 minutes from Downtown Santa Clara, and 10 minutes from the new Apple Campus. Even San Jose is just a 15-minute drive. Plus, you don’t need to go far to find shopping, dining, and even entertainment in nearby places.

Nearby Attractions & Amenities

Whether you need to stock up on groceries, you’re seeking a retail fix, or just looking for a tasty bite to eat, there are plenty of options just minutes away. You’ll find plenty of stores, restaurants, and businesses in centers like Cupertino Village, Lawrence Station, the Vallco Mall, or the nearby Koreatown. Get outside at local parks like Ortega or Heritage. Practice your swing at the Sunken Garden Golf Course. Even connect with your community at the Sunnyvale Community Center and Library.

Ready to Come Discover Birdland for Yourself?

Does this sound like just the place you’ve been looking for? Then it’s time to contact Gary & Robert. As your guides to all things real estate in the Silicon Valley, we’re here to help you explore the area, learn more about life in Sunnyvale, and find the perfect place to call home.

How Buyers and Sellers Have Lost Thousands of Dollars to Email Scams

laptop and smart phoneEmail scams are as old as, well, email, but as the years go by, these scams have become more and more sophisticated. Recently, several home buyers have fallen victim to specially targeted email scams that attempt to rob them of their closing costs — sometimes up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

These types of scams are devastating both financially and emotionally, especially when your home is involved. But to help protect you from email scams targeting the real estate industry, we have outlined a few tips about what these scams are and how to avoid them.

What Email Scams Are Common?

Though the method through which hackers collect personal or financial information is always changing, there are a few basic types of scams that buyers and sellers should be aware of.

Phishing

fishingThis type of scam attempts to “fish” for sensitive personal or financial information (such as passwords or credit card numbers). Many emails used in recent phishing schemes look legitimate; they may use the name of a trusted company or individual as the sender name, but the email address is slightly different than the company’s or individual’s verified address.

These types of email messages may also ask you to verify information or click on a link, which could install harmful software on your computer.

Wire Transfer Fraud

A specific type of phishing email that has been targeting home buyers recently is one that asks buyers to wire their closing costs to another account. The email typically crafts some urgent scenario, such as a last-minute change in wiring instructions, and urges the recipient to act quickly by wiring the money to the new account. This phishing email has led to home buyers losing thousands of dollars — in some cases, the entire purchase price of the house — to scammers. Unfortunately, the money can’t be returned once it’s gone.

Wire transfer fraud scams are especially dangerous because the emails appear to be sent directly from the real estate agent, the electronic signature company, or the title company. There may not be any misspellings or grammatical errors in the email message (which were surefire signs of a scam in the past), the message itself may be friendly and conversational, and any information related to the real estate transaction may be detailed and accurate.

How You Can Avoid Falling Victim to Email Scams

Now that you know what types of scams have plagued the real estate industry, here are a few tips you can follow to prevent yourself from falling victim to a devastating email scam.

person dialing a phone numberVerify that you received an email from the right person. Ensure that any emails you receive are legitimate by contacting the sender directly. Make sure you look up their phone number instead of clicking on the number provided in the email signature, which may be the scammer’s phone number.

Verify that the email address is legitimate. When you receive emails that appear to be from your real estate agent, title company, or attorney, check to make sure the sender’s email address does not contain misspellings, extra characters, or anything unusual.

Never share sensitive information via email. Your real estate agent will never ask you to send sensitive personal or financial information in an email.

Don’t touch an email that looks suspicious. Never click on any links or download any attachments from an unverified email, even if it looks legitimate. These links or attachments could be malware that will harm your computer.

Always use strong passwords. Use passwords that contain letters, numbers, and special characters, and change them periodically.

Update your antivirus software. Protect your computer from malware by ensuring your antivirus is up to date.

Report suspicious emails. If you receive an email that seems suspicious or is in fact a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission immediately.

Contact Us to Learn More

We’re aware of scams like these, so it’s our goal to keep you informed whether you’re buying or selling a home. Give us a call and we’ll provide you with any additional resources you need!