Lot Shapes: Standard, Corner, Cul-de-Sac, and Flag (or Key)What kind of residential lots and land will hold value the best in Silicon Valley?  Your choices may include a corner lot, flag lot, cul-de-sac lot, a zero lot line parcel, oddly shaped land boundaries, and standard lots.  If you are concerned about resale value and appreciation, it’s helpful to know what most buyers ordinarily prefer.

Corner and Standard Lots

While some San Jose area home buyers want a corner lot (more light, fewer adjacent neighbors), for most, the extra traffic and noise outweighs the pluses. An issue that home buyers often raise with corner lots involves headlights hitting bedroom or other windows as cars turn. There is some concern about drivers missing the turn and hitting the house, too. (This is also a worry for buyers looking to purchase a home on a busy road.)

The most-desired lot for home buyers, generally, is a normal, interior, standard (rectangularly shaped) lot.

Cul-de-sac Lots

Cul-de-sac lots are also highly valued among many buyers, though not all. With the court location comes a lack of street parking, especially at the end, and a lack of exit routes. A while back I held a listing open in Los Gatos that was on a cul-de-sac and the idea of only one way in or out spooked one buyer who otherwise really liked the location, which was close to Los Gatos schools. Homes at the end of the court also have irregularly shaped lots, and they tend to be harder to utilize as well but offer large backyards. So there are plusses and minuses, especially at the end of the court.

I’d like to add that pie shaped lots, or those with many angles, often seem to have the lot size misrepresented on county records.  Many times I’ve found that a large parcel on a cul-de-sac will be ascribed the same size as nearby plots even if clearly it’s far bigger. The geometry is a headache, but you can use Google Earth to do an approximation of the actual square footage and then check the perimeter against the perimeter found in the Preliminary Title Report. The odds are good that if you get the correct size of the boundary (perimeter measurements added together) on Google Earth, you’ve got the correct lot size. Own a house with such a situation? Bring it to the county tax assessor’s office and get your property’s record updated.

2 Flag or Key LotsKey or Flag Lots

The key or flag lot is usually considered the least desirable location for the majority of homebuyers in Silicon Valley, because those lots are fairly “hemmed in” by other lots all around them. If you aren’t familiar with a flag lot, you can visualize a lot shaped like a flag on the flagpole – the flag itself is the lot, and the pole is the driveway.

All of these generalizations, of course, are dependent on all other things being equal. A flag lot with a great view will be far more desirable than a standard lot with neighbors who don’t keep up their yards! So weigh all of the pros and cons. Keep this tidbit of information as just one of many in your arsenal for determining what adds up to the best investment you can make in today’s Silicon Valley real estate market.

Zero Lot Lines

A zero lot line home means that the house is built right up to the property line with no setback on at least one side. If you drive down a street and notice one side of every building has no windows or doors, you’ve probably discovered such a neighborhood.  I wrote another post on it, which you can find here: Patio Homes or Zero Lot Line Houses in Silicon Valley


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