The almost short story: quick facts on Mary Pope-Handy, Los Gatos real estate agent and Silicon Valley Realtor:
- Selling homes in Silicon Valley since Feb 1993, 2nd generation Realtor
- Earned many awards for production and service, usually in top 3-5%
- Put a priority on real estate education and keeping current; have a lot of designations for specialized training: Certified International Property Specialist, Certified Residential Specialist, Accredited Buyer Representative, Seniors Real Estate Specialist, and many more.
- Co-authored a book, “Get the Best Deal When Selling Your Home in Silicon Valley” in 2004
- Voted “Best real estate agent in Silicon Valley” in 2011 (San Jose Mercury News readers’ poll)
- Territory served primarily Santa Clara County’s “west valley” area (especially Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell, Cambrian, Almaden and all along the 85 corridor) but have sold virtually everywhere in the county (downtown San Jose, Willow Glen, Santa Clara, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Los Altos) and at times in nearby counties (also sold in Redwood Shores, Livermore, Fremont, Scotts Valley)
- Special focus as a Los Gatos real estate agent on the neighborhoods of this town (found in this LiveInLosGatosBlog.com)
- I have sold small condos to large estate properties, townhomes and multi-family property. (Not mobile homes, not apartment buildings. I don’t do rentals, just sales.)
- My clients come to me either as repeat or referral most of the time, but a substantial number of new home sellers or home buyers find me from my writing as I have a few real estate related blogs
- I like to “give back” to the real estate community and most years do volunteer training of other agents, speak on a panel or teach courses or sessions to my fellow Realtors at conferences, workshops or other venues
- The media likes to interview and quote me (print and radio – thank you KLIV and KRTY 🙂 )
- Personal stuff: I’m a native of Silicon Valley, lived here most of my life and reside in Los Gatos in the Belwood area. I’m happily married to my best friend, Jim Handy (since July 1985) and we have 2 grown kids (Brian, born 1989 and Clair, born 1991) and some hearty fish. (We had a number of pets when the kids were young – 2 black labs, a rabbit and a rat, too.) My educational background prior to selling homes is a BA in religious studies (Gonzaga, 1981) and an MA in systematic theology (JSTB/GTU, 1986) and I used to be a religious educator in Catholic high schools and volunteer hospital chaplain, work I loved. I changed careers for pragmatic reasons: the income is better with selling property. I lived in Italy one year, speak some Italian, love to travel, love to take photos, love to write. And I’m a big fan of the Patriots football team due to a relative throwing the pigskin with them. I love Shakespeare and support our local troupe for the Los Gatos Shakespeare Festival. The first 1% of my commissions goes to support a charity via the Sereno Group One Percent For Good program.
The essay answer on Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor with Sereno Group in Los Gatos
If there is such a thing as a “typical Silicon Valley Realtor” (and I doubt that there is), it wouldn’t be me. Although I grew up in a real estate family in Santa Clara and Saratoga – my mom, Pat Pope, was a very successful, driven Realtor from 1956 to her death in 1996 – and watching how hard she worked, I always swore I’d never do this for a living. (Never swear you won’t do something. The universe loves to prove us wrong.)
Life before real estate
My first interest, as I marched off to college at Gonzaga University in Spokane, and started as an English major, was writing. This was due in no small part to an excellent class I took my senior year at Saratoga High on advanced creative writing, although I had won an award for an essay on the Bicentennial the year before that. In college, I found that memorizing 19th century British poems had little to do with my love of writing, so English as a major didn’t hold me. Instead, I was drawn toward religious studies and majored in that (and there was plenty of religion to take in during my junior year abroad in Florence, Italy with trips to Rome, Jerusalem, Athens and elsewhere), and eventually earned my master’s in systematic theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley in conjunction with the Graduate Theological Union, a consortium of multiple Protestant and Catholic seminaries with special centers for Judaic and Buddhist studies. I was a kid in a candy store and thoroughly loved it.
In the middle of the MA program, I met Jim, who was an engineer, and we married within a couple of years. He’s a real Renaissance man, who like me, loves to travel. We made sure to make this contagious with our children in the years to come! (The photo to the right was of us at Kamakura, Japan, in February of 2004. Jim had a business trip to Tokyo during a school break so we all tagged along.)
For a number of years I taught religion at Catholic high schools in California, but also did various types of ministry as a volunteer, working with folks at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, the Rainbows Program for grieving children at our parish, St. Mary’s in Los Gatos, and other work too. A lot of it actually did help me in my real estate career later, since sometimes people are selling or even buying when there’s an overlay of crisis due to sickness, death, divorce, an unwanted job transfer or job loss, etc. It was surprising to me how much my background enabled me to better assist my clients as my realty career unfolded. After our two kids were born, I stayed home a few years. When ready to make my way back toward a paycheck, the option of returning to my former career didn’t seem like a good one as the income would have been devoured by the cost of quality day care. I always loved seeing houses and decided, after a great deal of thought, to get my real estate license and embrace home selling in the San Jose area, where we were living.
Diving into the real estate world
I got my license in February of 1993 during a slow time in the market (agents encouraged me with “if you can sell something now, you will be successful in any market” and tended to say things like “keep alive until 1995” – when the market was supposed to improve) and I have been selling homes full time in Los Gatos, Saratoga, San Jose and Santa Clara County generally ever since.
Not wanting to do it half-way, I have earned oodles of designations from loads of classes and am a self proclaimed “real estate education junkie”. I have been pretty successful with this career over all. Some years are better than others, and sometimes life throws stuff at you with relatives who are sick or who die…. Every family goes through it. All tolled, usually I’m in about the top 5% for Realtors in this area, some years better and on an off year I may go to about 10%. My goal is not to be the #1 top selling agent in the county. My goal is to make a good living working with great clients. I work to get them the best deal possible on their buying and selling of property here in the Bay Area, to educate, guide and advise them every inch of the way and after the transaction too. (To me, this business is relational and not simply transactional.)
Most of the time, my clients become my friends and refer me enthusiastically. I would far rather take good care of my clients than spend my time hunting for new business (prospecting is job #1 for real estate agents, otherwise we starve).
Writing is my passion so I have a number of blogs (one is even on haunted real estate!). In 2007 I won the Project Blogger Contest for real estate professionals, sponsored by Inman News and Active Rain, and have been named as one of the top real estate bloggers in the country. Additionally I co-authored a book in 1994, “Get the Best Deal When Selling Your Home in Silicon Valley”. This brings me a lot of new business each year as buyers and sellers read my articles and feel like they have a good sense of me.
So I do not door knock, cold call, work open houses to find buyers (when I do an open house, it’s to sell my listing – what a concept!). I stay in touch with past clients and friends, offer to help with their ongoing real estate needs (finding contractors, answering questions about home improvement choices, providing comps to fight property tax increases when appropriate, and much more) and I write. This is how I grow my business, and I am really happy working this way.
In 2011, the readers of the San Jose Mercury News voted me “Best real estate agent in Silicon Valley”. I was thrilled to get that kind of pat on the back. Realtors all tend to say they are #1 for something or other. A lot of it sounds like hot air, doesn’t it? But what’s so nice about this award is that it’s not me pronouncing it about myself, but my fantastic clients.
2016: Personal Income’s list of top 25 real estate blogs.
2016: Coastal Group OC’s list of best Realtor blogs
12 women real estate bloggers
In my free time, I enjoy walks in my east Los Gatos neighborhood (and Belgatos Park), taking photographs, writing, travel, collecting ghost stories, keeping up with family and friends, reading books on a wide range of topics (business books, religion / spirituality, local history, haunted places, travel books and ideas). My wish list for travel places is extensive! If I ever retire, I think I’d like to write a novel, perhaps set in Italy. That would require some research, so living there again would be quite nice. . . .
If you’d like more details on my designations, professional history etc., have a look at my professional profile on my popehandy.com website or see my LinkedIn profile. Want to see a list of my blogs? Here’s a link for all of them: www.PopeHandyBlog.com . Or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest – or just “Google me”. Better still, pick up the phone and give me a call or jot me an email if you are looking to find a Silicon Valley Realtor who will help you to buy or sell your next home or investment property.