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Home&Real Estate Home Front PEST MANAGEMENT ... Master Gardener David Peterson will offer a free workshop on “Integrated Pest Management,” or how to have nearly pest-free vegetable gardens without using toxic petrochemicals, from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, at Gamble Garden, 1431 Waverley St., Palo Alto. Topics include organic and natural pest and disease sprays plus cultivation techniques. Information: www. Send notices of news and events related to real estate, interior design, home improvement and gardening to Home Front, Palo Alto Weekly, P.O. Box 1610, Palo Alto, CA 94302, or email Deadline is Thursday at 5 p.m. Tim Foy, left, assured his father Tom Foy, who is retiring after 48 years in the real-estate business, that there will always be an office at Midtown Realty for him. by Carol Blitzer om Foy calls joining Midtown Realty in Palo alto “the best move I ever made.” Now, 48 years later, the almost 83year-old is retiring, leaving the firm that he ultimately acquired from the original five partners in the hands of his son, Tim Foy. Born in Naugatuck, Conn., Tom Foy had no idea he’d be in the realestate business in California for much of his adult life. After graduating from St. Bonaventure University with a major in journalism, he joined the army. His assignment at Fort Lewis, Wash., was his first vision of the West Coast. But his brother had already teased him with the ideas of palm trees and ceramic tiles. After just a few months back home, he headed west, first studying at University of San Francisco, then taking a job as a technical writer at IBM in San Jose. For the next few years, he worked at IBM, then as a foreman for a contracting firm that built churches, then under Fred Maher’s tutelage at Midtown Realty. He almost didn’t get that job. When handed a cup of coffee during the inter4view, he spilled it. But Maher took him on anyway — and Foy’s never looked back. Along the way he married Pat and together they had six children. Their first Palo Alto house was in St. Claire Gardens, followed by several Eichlers in Greenmeadow and finally a home in Crescent Park. It’s a vast understatement to say that the real-estate business has T Veronica Weber RHODIES FROM CHINA ... Don Selcer will share information from his recent trip to the rhododendron areas of China at the next meeting of the De Anza Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14. The group meets in Room 12 of the Hillview Community Center, 97 Hillview Ave., Los Altos. Information: or N Tom Foy looks back at a half century of real estate in Palo Alto Veronica Weber RAINWATER HARVESTING ... Sherri Osaka, Bay-Friendly Qualified Designer and owner of Sustainable Landscape Design, will teach a class on “Rainwater Harvesting” from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, at Common Ground, 559 College Ave., Palo Alto. The class will deal with methods and costs of harvesting and storing rainwater, with information on roof materials, tanks, mosquitocontrol and more. Cost is $31. Information: 650-493-6072 or www. Also online at A MOVER AND SHAKER FREE FABRIC ... Fabmo will have a free designer-fabric distribution from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9, and from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 2423 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View. (Email to make an appointment.) Information: TREE WALK ... Arborist Heather Booty will lead a free tree walk through Crescent Park from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 10. Meet on Lincoln Avenue between University and Hamilton avenues. Expect to see examples of London plane tree, tulip tree, ginkgo, fern pine, saucer magnolia, red horsechestnut, purple-leaf plum and more. Information: www. OPEN HOME GUIDE 52 Tom Foy stands besides his lovingly restored Ford Mustang, parked in the lot in front of Midtown Realty. changed in nearly half a century. When Foy was just learning the business, each week the Palo Alto Board of Realtors would prepare 3-by-5 cards with the address and price, as well as the listing and selling agents. Soon this information was accumulated into books, with the cities (Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Mountain View, for example) listed separately. Today, Realtors check their iPads often for new listings, he said, and the once-a-week walkthroughs of new listings take place once a month. Likewise, a real-estate contract used to be one page; today it’s nine, with tons of disclosures. He smiles when he thinks about showing a property in pre-disclosure days: One seller said, hey, he’ll throw in the large mirror. After the sale was final, they discovered a huge hole in the wall behind the mirror. “(With) all these disclosures now, the buyer gets knowledge,” he added. And the agents have “become more knowledgeable, more professional” with more continuing-education requirements, he said. Foy circles back to how lucky he was to have walked into Midtown Realty. “I’m from a small town. Midtown Realty was making a statement,” he said. “Gradually, we found people who felt the same way we did.” Two of Tom Foy’s children have joined the business, Molly and Tim. Once, Tim remembered, he and his father were representing the buyer and the seller. One asked how it felt negotiating here with his father. Tim pointed out that they were sitting in the conference room around what had been their old kitchen table. “We’ve been arguing over this table for years,” he said. And they completed the deal. “We’ve never really had a significant argument working together,” he added. He attributes that to their agreement: “When you walk in the office, you’re colleagues. When visiting, you’re family and you don’t talk about business. “What goes on at the office stays in the office. What goes on at home stays at home.” Asked what Foy found most satisfying about his real-estate career, he quickly said, “Ninety-nine percent of the time I was dealing with someone who knew my skill, worked with me closely and ended the transaction. “It was fulfilling the dream.” Occasionally, there would be disappointments, such as when a former client chose another Realtor. “I let it go. There’s (always) another one. I never allowed any negativity in the office,” Foy said. Foy attributes his optimistic, can(continued on page 39) ÜÜÜ°*>œÌœ"˜ˆ˜i°Vœ“ÊUÊ*>œÊÌœÊ7iiŽÞÊUÊ œÛi“LiÀʙ]ÊÓä£ÓÊU Page 37

Palo Alto Weekly 11.09.2012 - Section 2

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