Smart Side of Real Estate

Silicon Valley Real Estate News, Market Trends...having an investor mindset & a look at what makes a house a home.

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics, property investing, and home values to community happenings. In Silicon Valley many people are concerned about making it financially - our focus is to encourage an investor mindset, even for residential real estate, at the same time we cover what makes a house a home.

That’s because we care about the community, your Silicon Valley experience, and want to help you find your place in it.

We also have a little bit of fun here! Our team lead Kelsey Lane has been in real estate 16 years, and this is a forum not only for new clients, yet also for friends, family and the many clients and vendors who have become like friends and family.

Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Jan. 14, 2020

Vision Board Event February 4th

2020's Vision Board Fest

Vision board event San Jose February 2020

Kelsey Lane & Team Real Estate is hosting a fun vision board event in San Jose on February 4th from 5:30-8:30. Come work on your own personalized vision board, and have the opportunity to talk to various coaches for different areas of life! All supplies provided, plus lunar New Year appetizers and soft drinks from our sponsors.

Find your dream, or take those visions you have for 2020 and make a visual collage to keep inspiring you throughout the year!

For example, here are some areas for expressing your vision: dream home, fashion/image, health & wellness, fitness, travel, spirituality, business, income, etc.

We look forward to you joining us and creating your future, the way you want it.

Hosted by Kelsey Lane & Team Real Estate, Keller Williams, DRE# 01390557

(More notes: Free parking. Limited space available for coach vendor tables, by invite only from Kelsey Lane & Team Real Estate. Also regarding children – This is primarily an adult only event however ages 12 and up are welcome to attend with a parent & must have their own ticket.)

Posted in Heart of the home
Dec. 6, 2019

Understanding California Prop 60 and 90

California Prop 60 and 90

California Prop 60 and 90

This blog post just covers the basics, but we wanted to get the word out as much as possible since we think it's one of the best tips for seniors selling their homes. Many seniors in the Bay Area consider downsizing from house to townhouse and staying in their local area, but moving to a cooperating county under California Prop 60 and 90 can also be a great opportunity for keeping your nice Prop 13 tax basis.

The state has made nice provisions for home owners 55 years and older, as options for selling a home in California. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Prop 60 concerns moving within your own county of your county is eligible.
  • Prop 90 involves moving to a reciprocating county (contact your local county offices to inquire)
  • Your new home must be used as a principal residence
  • Your new home must be of equal or lesser current market value than the property you're selling.
  • Owner of record of original property must be at least 55 years of age.

There are other rules too for California Prop 60 and 90 - If you're looking for Bay Area real estate agents who know the market and various good options for your situation, our home selling team would love to answer whatever questions you have. We can also help you with a list of cooperating counties at time of inquiry, as well.

Of course this doesn't help with capital gains, but over time keeping your current tax basis can add up bit by bit and makes for a nice financial boost in retirement years.

Nov. 26, 2019

6 Tips to Ease Holiday Stress

Easing Stress during the Holidays


Silicon Valley is a very stressful place to live on a good day. Add holiday stress on top of that, and it can be extremely tough unless you have a plan. At Kelsey Lane & Team Real Estate it's not just about the financial investment of real estate, it's also about what makes a house a home. As part of our Heart of the Home series, coach Kavita Melwani from The Enlightened Heart helps us with coping strategies for the next couple months:

We are in a time of intense energy. As the days get shorter, holiday decorations start to show up earlier in the stores, and we can feel stress levels rise. Even if you have chosen to do less this year, have chosen to set strong boundaries, there is still the stress of the past, family expectations and even just the frenzy energy surrounding us. Add into the mix the messages we receive through media, social media, and comparison of what others are doing. 

Overstimulation of our nervous system tends to be commonplace during this time of year. We can't control what is going on around us but we can control how we process and handle all of it. If you already have self-care activities as part of your routine my suggestion is to increase whatever works for you.  The first thing that people tend to stop or let go are the very things that destress, ground and center them - such as workouts, meditation, sleeping enough, journaling and/or downtime.

My first tip is: Don't stop taking care of yourself!

Set the intention that although you may not be able to do an hour-long workout, you can go for a walk. Prioritize self-care even if you modify it. 

If that doesn't feel like enough, here are some other suggestions and strategies: 

  1. Say "No" to obligations that don't feel aligned or just feel like too much. During this time of year, there are more social events and expectations and "should's". Sometimes we have been doing things a certain way for so long that we don't even realize that the activity doesn't work for us anymore. My suggestion is to really take a look at your schedule and calendar this year and ask yourself what you have been doing every year just because you have been doing it every year. Can you change how you do this task? Can you eliminate it? Pick one task each week to let go of and leave that space in your calendar for self-care. 
  2. Energetic clearing. When you return home from being in the world, this is a great time for you to transition into the home and your safe place. Take some time to clear your energy with the intention of arriving home and releasing any energy that isn't yours. If you are not sure how clear your energy here are some suggestions. Try one of these or a combination: a 5-minute meditation, a visualization (see yourself leaving the day and energy behind and moving into a relaxed/connected state), or take a dance break.
  3. Protect yourself. When you are out in the world set the intention to be open to receive positive interactions and to send away those that are not beneficial. You can also wear or carry with you a protective crystal. One option is black tourmaline which can repel low-level energy, or a clear quartz crystal.  
  4. Essential oils. You can use a lavender essential oil to calm your senses. Make sure you use a good quality essential oil. Diffuse the oil into your home, rub it on your feet with a carrier oil (coconut/almond or other oil), or just put it on your wrists and smell it throughout your day.
  5. Take a bath. A sea salt bath can serve to detoxify your body and your energy. You can add lavender oil to help with relaxation. 
  6. Spiritual Practices. Spend time connecting with spirit through prayer, drum circles, or using oracle/affirmation cards. I have developed a set of affirmation cards you may find helpful called "The Jewels Inside" using my sister's art. Check them out here


As the holidays approach, it is possible to not only survive but to thrive. I hope these suggestions help you have a more joyous and connected holiday season. If you need some support or would like next year to be the year you make the changes in your life you desire, contact me for a complimentary clarity session. 


Coach Kavita can be reached at

Posted in Heart of the home
Nov. 15, 2019

Kelsey in her car getting coffee: Chat with Fabienne Slama

Kelsey in her car getting coffee - chat with Fabienne Slama

it's always good to take a break from work for a nice collaboration. Fabienne Slama and I had a great time at 1 Oz Coffee in Mountain View talking about our businesses. She knows a lot of Realtors but asked me about what sets me apart - and we talked a lot about her business as well. She helps her clients in a much needed role of removing stress, anxiety, and blocks that hold them back. A true Renaissance woman, Fabienne started as a biochemist and sculptor and now runs a successful coaching business in the valley. 

1 Oz Coffee was the perfect backdrop, and the morning sunlight streaming in paired wonderfully with the coffee. They get their beans from a couple different California roasters and I consulted with the barista for a non-acidic pourover. (they bring the extra in a carafe, too cute.) I'm always on the lookout for cafe's with beans so good they taste amazing black. Fabienne's latte also looked beautiful and delish! 

If you have any local espresso shops you think I should add to my list, or you'd like to grab coffee and chat about our businesses, let me know!

1 oz coffee Mountain View Kelsey chats with Fabienne

Nov. 13, 2019

5 Tips for Decorating for the Holidays

decorating your house for the holidays
With the holidays quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to start thinking about getting ready to decorate!  All the stores are currently stocked with everything you need to design every room in your house.  But don’t wait long, soon the shelves will have less inventory and it's important to get what you need before selection dwindles.  Here are some simple ideas to keep in mind when shopping for decor:   
  • Think of a theme: I usually pick a color scheme such as red and gold, black and white, or pink and white, or a themed tree like a snowman or Santas.
  • More is more: most people don’t purchase enough filler for the trees, ribbon, and decor. Always get more than you think you will need. I always buy in odd numbers like 7 and 9 for everything - if you pick something to fill the tree bigger is also better.
  • Shop at discount stores: Home Goods is my favorite place to find decor for a house when shopping. You can find high quality items for less, however sometimes you can’t find enough when shopping for a certain item so I usually try to hit all stores nearby.  Hobby Lobby is also a great place to shop for tree filler - I usually go there first when starting a new themed tree.  Tuesday Morning is another place to find more upscale items.  Always good to purchase now if you find something you like, then take back the items that aren’t needed. Stores will all run out of stock soon!
  • Don’t forget your entry: The front door is the first place people see when entering your home.  Make sure your door has a wreath or something hanging that matches the theme or colors of your holiday decor! 
  • Set the table: most dining tables should be decorated for the holidays as that is where we share food with family and friends.  Create a centerpiece you can keep on the table while eating.  Use something lower in height on the table, with candlesticks that don't block your view from the person across from you.
Have fun: Put on some holiday music and enjoy putting up your decor with a glass of wine or hot cider!
Guest blogger Kim Cotton is an interior designer in Silicon Valley and is now booking holiday decor sessions. She can be reached at
Many of our clients and friends celebrate various faiths and holidays around the end of the year and beginning of the next. While this particular blog post features Christmas, we honor all traditions equally.
Posted in Heart of the home
Nov. 11, 2019

Flipping Your Own House

Flipping a house - new kitchen

If you're getting your home ready to sell, one option is to take a cue from home flippers who make extra profit off their investments. Often, taking the time to do some repairs and remodeling can make a $50,000, $100,000, or even several hundred thousand difference depending on the home's caliber and location.

An experienced home selling team will have access to reliable contractors and be able to help you secure bids for the project. Seasoned Realtors know instinctively what repairs and remodeling are likely to increase your sales price over selling a home as is- walk through your house, tell the agent what your plans are, and listen to their suggestions. Set a working budget together as a team, and create a list of renovations to be competed. Allow your Realtor to secure several bids for each part of the project, so you can compare them together. In our office, we also rely on the annual Cost vs. Value report (we can provide on request) to give us ROI on various fixes for getting your home ready to sell.

Once you decide on which contractor to use, team up with your Realtor to oversee the contractors' access to the house and their working schedule. The Realtor can keep the contractors on track, marching toward the big day of going on the market.

Make sure to put the icing on the cake and authorize your agent to hire a stager. Builders of new construction hire designers for their model homes for a reason - it pays, and they have tracked it, so why not take a page out of their book?

Once your home is staged to the nines, make sure to allow as many showings as possible. Vacant staged homes receive the highest amount of showings. If you are still living in your home, consider boarding pets for the week of highest traffic and leaving the house when Realtors visit with their clients. (If you can stay somewhere else as well, even better) The more showings you have, the more offers you'll receive, which results in the highest price.

If you don't yet own a house but are hungry to get into the flipping game, consider what I call the Freshman Flip. You can buy a fixer or underloved property, and live in it for a couple years while you work on it and fix it up. By living in it for two years you can mitigate or even possibly avoid capital gains taxation on the sale profit (talk to your CPA).

If you're thinking of selling your home as is or selling your home to an investor, the above home selling tips may make more sense instead as a way you can earn more profit by coordinating the project yourself along with a good Realtor team.

Nov. 9, 2019

Tips for more productive home buying: 7 ways to get a deal

Buying a home in Silicon Valley

Home buyers in Silicon Valley may doubt whether there are still deals to be had or not. Granted, we live in one of the most expensive areas in the world for real estate - so how to shave some off the price?

In Santa Clara County properties are currently selling right around list price - and the sales price to "original list price" ratio is 97%, still pretty close to list. So it doesn't seem like negotiating off of the price is the best way to get a deal.

Here's my take on how to come out financially ahead with your home buying:

Buy during the holiday season December/January

The drawback here is that inventory of available homes is lower during December and January. Most sellers assume that buyers don't want to move during those months. However, any sellers who have their properties on the market are motivated to sell. This can present a possible opportunity for a bargain.

Buy a house that is hard to show

There are different ways that homes become hard to show. Sometimes owners have dogs that need to be removed prior to showings and this is posted on the MLS. Also sometimes the owners are under duress or ill and are only allowing limited showings. Limited showings affect how many people will view the property, thus reducing the amount of competition. Some homes are simply cluttered and unprepared for prime time, even though they are on the market. These are the best opportunities, because if you can look past the owners' stuff to see the potential in the property, you may be the only one that can. Most buyers don't have vision for what a property could become.

Ask your Realtor if they know of off market properties

Homes that aren't on the market will also have less competition. Often home owners who are selling don't want to go through the stress and preparation of putting their property on the market. They may be open to an offer from a capable buyer. We show off market properties regularly, which sometimes result in great finds for our clients.

Look at homes where the deal fell through

Ask your agent to keep on top of deals that have fallen out of escrow. Very often there is nothing wrong with the house - sometimes the current buyer has problems with their financing and can't get together the necessary funding. These sellers are very motivated because they got their hopes up about selling their house. When they do go back on the market, not all buyers are alerted like they would be to a brand new listing. So sometimes it takes the general market awhile to catch on to its updated availability.

Ask your Realtor to proactively find prospective sellers

If you know what exact neighborhood you want to live in - e.g. a radius of 200 homes or less, you could ask your agent to send letters to see if anyone wants to sell. Some agents are even willing to go door to door. Or, perhaps they could send a Facebook ad to a specific zip code. It's worth a try. For this level of service, you'd likely need to sign a buyer-broker agreement which is a good idea anyway. Realtors who have made a commitment to you will be willing to go the extra mile. If you are solely working with one Realtor, closely, they can even call all their industry contacts to find out if they have motivated sellers. Agents even have access to title company demographic information. Through these channels mailings can be constructed to certain subsets of sellers such as owners who have been in their homes for more than 20 years, etc. or homes where divorces have been filed.

Days on market tell the loudest story

Work with your Realtor to review all the homes that have been on the market the longest. There may be something wrong with the house, but it is usually solvable if you have some funds set aside for repairs. And most buyers run from problems - this could be your opportunity. The longer houses have stayed on the market, the more discouraged sellers get. Even receiving a low offer could be a boost for them. There's no harm in trying - most buyers don't have the courage to put in a low offer and if it has been on the market for awhile it's an appropriate time to do so.

Future forecasting

Another way to get a deal is not necessarily in the immediate sense. Sometimes the best deals come from appreciation over time. One idea is to look for listings that have a rentable unit (ADU, granny unit, cottage) on the property - over time these will be come more and more in demand. Another one of my favorite ideas for investing well is to buy nearby a train station. For example, think about how Google is going into down San Jose. Of course downtown is super hot right now, but consider also areas a little further out. the Blossom Valleyarea of San Jose is about a 15 minute drive or 15 minute train drive from downtown. Properties in Blossom Valley near the train station will appreciate very well over the long run since it will be a viable option for technology employees going into downtown San Jose. Or, think about how Bart is now going to Tracy, which has raised property values there. Will it ever to Stockton? Some buyers may decide to place a bet that it will, and if it does, they'll be rewarded in spades.

Nov. 4, 2019

Kelsey in her car getting coffee: Chat with Kavita Melwani

kelsey in her car getting coffee - chat with Kavita Melwani The Enlightened Heart

Kavita Melwani from The Enlightened Heart and I both really wanted to try Bluestone Lane in Los Altos. It's a full table service cafe with espresso drinks, pastries, and many gluten free options. Her golden latte (turmeric and almond milk) looked amazing!

Aside from getting caught up, we also chatted about biz. She helps her clients to ease anxiety and stress & she also works with highly sensitive individuals who are developing their careers and businesses. I always love her perspective.

If you have a local espresso shop you think I should add to my list, or you'd like to talk about how we can help each other, let me know!

Oct. 24, 2019

Retiree home selling series: Tale of two sellers

Retiree couples define their goals for staying in current home or selling

In the first few parts of the series we went over how to either stay in your home during retirement, or possibly rent it out or even sell. Here are two stories of those who decided to sell and embark on their own individualized adventures.

The first...we just closed a transaction locally where the sellers were wanting to move to Washington. The husband loved to garden, yet had developed skin cancer and his wife wished for a less sunny location so he could still enjoy his hobby. They had lived in their home for nearly 40 years, and they had not done any remodeling even when they moved in nor since. Plus, over the years, their belongings had accumulated. Looking at the prospect of moving was daunting to say the least. They hoped we could sell first in its current condition, yet after many private showings potential buyers just weren't biting. The sellers decided since they would be moving anyway, they'd move first. It was arduous and involved packing help and many pods on site. However, it allowed us to set a budget together of fixing up and cleaning the property so that they'd get a more optimal sales price. Many of the vendors and contractors even agreed to take their payment after closing. After about $20,000 the house and grounds were ready for market. Through some unique marketing campaigns, we had 350 visitors come through the open house, got 21 offers, and we sold it for $300,000 over the asking price. This, when we had problems selling it to qualified buyers with private showings just a few weeks earlier. This real life story illustrates how sometimes setting a budget and having your Realtor coordinate contractors for marketing your home well can help you reach your goals.

The second...some sellers simply don't want to be bothered with the hassles of moving, fixing, budgeting, and waiting for the market process to take its course. And that's ok. We met with one retiree seller who pretty much said he'd love to just walk away, wave a magic wand, and have it be done. His plan was to move to the southeast US and find his new adventure. In the end, he elected not to use a Realtor and sell directly to a flipper. They handled the paperwork between them, and the flipper offered him what he wanted as far as terms - he was allowed take only what he wanted from the house and the flipper would haul away the rest. The flipper of course went on to fix up the home and garnered the profit. In this case, though, the seller didn't care about the extra profit; his goal was less stress and he achieved it.

And there are even different approaches than these two; the point is no one way is right or wrong, but it is important to define your goals and what's important to you... as you find your next adventure. 

Oct. 19, 2019

Retiree home selling series: Moving and selling your home

Retiree couple moving, selling, and off to their next adventure

As a retiree working on your future real estate plan, you may be deciding to stay in your house or even keep it and rent it out like we discussed in parts one and two of the series. Here we address the benefits of selling and how it can fit into your overall plan.

Retirees who make the decision to sell prefer to cash out in order to have full access to their equity. This allows them to smoothly make a move or use their finances in order to make different types of investment. Should this be your choice, there are a few options for approaching a sale and your move.
You can of course move to a smaller place like a condo or townhouse locally if you'd like to stay near your current friends or local family. ​You can also move to a similarly sized home in a neighboring community that is less expensive or a dedicated 55 years + retirement community which often sell for less than current market value. These options allow you to keep some of your original leftover equity.
California has also made provisions for retirees that if you move within an allowable county or into a reciprocal county, you can keep your tax basis (Propositions 60 and 90). This only works for those 55 years +, and the property must be of equal or lesser value. Of course these come with a littany of rules, so feel free to schedule a call or meeting with our team to discuss what might make sense for you.
People often ask me if they can buy first before they sell? Sometimes it's possible based on assets and income to buy first and do a near concurrent close with the sale in order to move directly. However, usually what people find is that it's more financially feasible and less stressful to sell first, then buy - because they know exactly how much they have and they don't have the time pressure for finding a new place so they can locate what they really want.
I have a couple stories about two different sellers who sold and moved out of our area that handled it completely differently, which are shared in the last part of the series.


Posted in Home selling