Disclosing death on a property

Disclosing death on a property - woman completing paperwork with image of house in the backgroundDisclosing death on a property is required in California home sales for 3 years after the person passes. The Seller Property Questionnaire asks if the seller is aware of:

Within the last 3 years, the death of an occupant of the property upon the property (yes / no)

(Note to seller: The manner of death may be a material fact to the Buyer, and should be disclosed, except for a death by HIV / AIDS.)

Some points to note regarding this form and disclosing death on a property:

  • The question does not say “in the house” or “in the garage”, but upon the property. Included is anywhere within the property boundaries.
  • If someone died further back than that, the seller is obligated to answer truthfully if a buyer asks if there was ever a death on the property.
  • Oddly, it specifies “an occupant” of the property rather than any death at all. I suspect that any death would be of interest to a buyer, and possibly a material fact. An attorney would be the best person to answer that question.

Deaths from crimes, or which would be a stigma, such as a suicide or murder, should be disclosed even if it’s been more than 3 years since that’s an issue which may materially impact value or desirability. There’s no question on the disclosure forms that asks this. It falls under the general requirement to disclose anything that a buyer may be  seriously concerned about, such as a stigma.

What about disclosing death on a property which is part of a condo complex?

First, it’s important to understand that detached homes, townhomes, and condo units that look like apartments can all be condominiums – condos are a type of ownership. They aren’t an architectural style. The comments below MAY apply to townhomes, or possibly other types of structures, if that home is held in condo ownership.

With condominium ownership, the owner owns the interior airspace of the living area (sometimes also the garage, but sometimes not) and owns a percentage of the common areas of the parcel. The condo owner is a partial owner of the entire parcel or property.

If there’s a death in a condo complex in the common area, will that be shared in the disclosures? It should be, whether the death was inside the unit for sale or anywhere within the common area of the parcel boundaries.
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What Is the Difference Between CID Ownership in a Condo, Townhouse or PUD?

Could this be a condo? Or a PUD? Or neither?Are you considering purchasing a PUD, or wonder how it’s different than a condo? They could look the same!

There’s quite a bit of confusion around the difference between common interest developments (CID) , condominiums, and planned unit developments (PUD). What do these labels mean, and how does anyone know which one is which? Where do townhomes fall in this list? And more importantly, why do they matter?

CID, PUD, and Condo: Ownerships Explained

Part of the confusion stems from the fact that there are two things to consider: the architecture of the buildings and the type of ownership.

  1. What is a condominium or condo?  A condominium is a type of ownership of the real estate, not an architectural style.  Condo ownership means that the purchaser has 100% rights to the unit and a percentage of ownership in the common lands (fractional ownership in common areas). Buyers of a condo are buying the space between the walls (and a fraction of ownership elsewhere).
    • Condos can architecturally be a unit that resembles an apartment (what we colloquially refer to as a condo), a townhouse, or even a house.
  2. What is a townhouse (or townhome)?  A townhouse is a type of building or architectural style, not the type of ownership involved. A townhouse could be a planned unit development (PUD) or it could be a condominium.
    • Townhouses are often 2 stories and attached on at least one side, but they don’t have to be. They could be one story and they could be detached.
    • A townhouse that’s a condo can look exactly the same as a townhouse that’s a PUD.
  3. What is a PUD?  A planned unit development is architecturally either a townhouse or a house in which 100% of the unit plus the land under it is owned and the ownership of the unit also provides for a membership in the homeowner’s association or HOA.  The HOA in turn owns all the common elements (such as private roads and amenities such as a pool, tennis court, parking lots, etc.). With a PUD, homeowners have an easement and rights to use the common area through their HOA membership.
  4. What is a CID?  A common interest development, or CID, is a general term meaning the ownership of property in which there are “common areas” such as private roads, a pool, parking, tennis courts, utility rooms etc. These could be condo complexes or home owners associations with houses, townhouses, or other types of homes.

Local examples: In Los Gatos we have some freestanding houses (or properties with the only common wall being at the garage) which are in condo ownership on Ohlone Court.  Same with the beautiful Villas of Almaden community. Both have “common areas” and mandatory membership in the home owner’s association.

 

 

How can you tell if the townhouse is in a PUD or Condo CID?

Sometimes the info is right in a property profile, which is very easy for most real estate agents to obtain through their preferred title company.  More often, though, to be certain of the ownership type it’s necessary to review the preliminary title report.

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Campbell’s most affordable homes for sale

Campbell's most affordable homes - image of a house with the words Home Sweet HomeHunting for more Campbell’s most affordable homes for sale? It can be argued that nothing is either inexpensive or affordable, however we want to consider the Campbell real estate options relative to other Silicon Valley communities and their prices. There are always higher and lower priced properties.

Campbell’s most affordable homes: beware the price mirage

Sometimes the lowest listing price of a home on the market is not actually going to be the lowest selling price. It could just be bait. Some sellers and their listing agents vastly underprice  houses, townhouses, and condos on the market in order to get an avalanche of offers. I refer to that as a price mirage – it looks good but isn’t real.

Don’t be fooled be an artificially low list price. Often a quick check of the property on Realtor.com can provide some decent pricing input. The pages for listings usually include a RealEstimate section that features up to 3 auto comp values. These automatic valuations aren’t foolproof, but if a house is listed for $900,000 and the Realtor.com page suggests a value of $1.6 to $1.8, you are put on notice that it may be grossly underpriced.  You can check the other large portals, too, as a reality check on values.

Elements that create opportunity to get more home for your money

Every city, town, and community has more and less affordable pockets and properties. Campbell’s most affordable homes for sale may have one of these elements at play.

The pricing variation often has to do with a few major areas:
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Vizcaya neighborhood

VizcayaOne of the prettiest townhome communities in Santa Clara County is Vizcaya, which features a Mediterranean style of architecture in a community that is extremely tidy and well maintained. Driving in, it feels like you’ve just arrived at a resort.

Where is Vizcaya?

The Vizacaya neighborhood is in San Jose just off S Bascom and Curtner Avenues, but is close to the Campbell border and confusingly, has a Campbell mailing address. The community’s streets are Vizcaya Circle, Vizcays Way, and Pescara Court. The location is very convenient, with easy access to shopping, bus lines, and major traffic routes.

What are the homes like at Vizcaya?

Built between 1990 and 1996, these 92 townhomes are younger feeling and tend to have fairly open floor plans and plenty of large windows. The home sizes range between 2396 SF and 2656 SF, but many are so nicely designed that they tend to feel like single family homes.  Lot sizes average around 4,100 SF (pretty big for a townhouse). The parcels range in size from  2480 SF to over 10,000 SF but most are 3000 – 5000 SF.

The homes in the Vizcaya community are condominiums with a townhouse architectural style. (Some townhouses are held in PUD ownership. In some locations, such as Almaden and Los Gatos, there are houses which are condos – or held in condo ownership.) There’s a small pool and spa at the center of the complex for residents to enjoy. The day I took the photos shown in the gallery, below, painting was ongoing next to the pool, so it isn’t shown.

 

 

What does it cost to buy a townhome in Vizcaya?

These upscale properties don’t come on the market too often, but if you are lucky enough to find one available to buy, chances are that it will cost over 1.6 million or a more (as of this writing in 2022).

Vizcaya homes for sale, pending, or sold in the last 12 months:

  • List View
  • Map View
  • Grid View

See all Vizcaya townhome community, California Real Estate.
(all data current as of 6/18/2024)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

 
 

 

 

 

Saratoga Oaks Townhouse Community Near Downtown Saratoga Village

View of street within Saratoga Oaks townhome community in Saratoga, CAThe exquisite Saratoga Oaks neighborhood is nestled between downtown Saratoga and the beautiful coastal foothills, close to the famed Hakone Gardens.  With both pools and tennis courts and a location just a block or so from tony Saratoga Village (click to see slide show), it is resort living in Silicon Valley at its finest. But this is not just a place for retirees who want to downsize, though they are also drawn here – families with kids also move to Saratoga Oaks to make use of the top rated schools.

Which public schools serve this neighborhood?

Saratoga Oaks is within the very highly regarded Saratoga Union School District. Although many other school districts in Santa Clara County assign children in homes to particular schools, Saratoga does not – it is an “open” school district. If there’s space and if the home is within the district, you may be able to chose which of the excellent Saratoga schools you wish for your student to attend. The nearest public school is Saratoga Elementary on Oak Street, but you may find enrollment instead at Foothill Elementary or Argonaut.  The higher level schools are Redwood Middle School and Saratoga High School.  California has transitioned to new school assessment, away from the old 2010 API scores, but you can check the new Saratoga Union School District “Report Cards” here. Additionally, there are two excellent private elementary schools nearby: Sacred Heart (Catholic) and St. Andrew’s (Episcopalian).

Where is Saratoga Oaks?

Saratoga Oaks Townhouse community in Saratoga, CA (map) - click on image to see live Google mapThe Saratoga Oaks community is within the city of Saratoga, California, and is a part of Silicon Valley and what’s locally referred to as “the south bay” area. It can be reached either via Springer Avenue, off of 4th Street in Saratoga or from Springer off of Big Basin Way (aka Hwy 9 or Congress Springs Road). This townhouse complex is literally where the town meets the hills – so it is not at all uncommon to find deer in the open spaces! Click on the map image to go to the live, interactive Google map. (more…)

Los Gatos and Saratoga Condominium and Townhouse Market

Saratoga and Los Gatos are neighbors, but their real estate markets are not the same! Today we’ll consider the condo and townhouse market in these two upscale Silicon Valley areas and view some elements “side by side”. See what you think!

First, let’s have a peek at how fast things are selling. Saratoga & Los Gatos both are at under 3 week for the “days to sell over time”.  Saratoga tends to sell a little better than Los Gatos for condominiums and townhomes, and that’s the case now as well – at least months months, and recently. (Reasons, not sure – perhaps because the location is a little closer to Cupertino and Sunnyvale and the many high tech jobs there.  Or it could be related to the school scores or any number of factors.)

 

Saratoga days to sell over time 2014 - condos

Saratoga days to sell over time 2014 – condos

Los Gatos days to sell over time 2014 - condos

Los Gatos days to sell over time 2014 – condos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s check some other criteria and see how they stack up there. Let’s look at the new listings as opposed to the solds.  How far apart are they? (The closer they are, the “hotter” the market. If the solds are going faster than the new listings are coming on, it’s a red hot seller’s market.)   For most of the last year, Saratoga condominiums have been selling and closing faster than new ones have entered the market, or have tied it, except for March and April.  In Los Gatos, same pattern recently of new listings outpacing sales, and in January the closed sales outpaced new inventory.  But overall, it’s close to a tie or there’s a slight leaning toward new listings rather than sales unless you look back to last fall.  So a little bit cooler of a market in Los Gatos by this standard.

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How is the Santa Clara County condo market?

Condominiums and townhouses in Santa Clara County have enjoyed rapid appreciation and almost perfectly steady improvement in the market in the last 18 months or so.  Today we’ll take a snapshot view of it with a few graphs.  First, let’s consider the average Days on Market (DOM) and the sale price to list price ratio for condos and townhouses in Santa Clara County.

 

Santa Clara County Condos and Townhomes Average DOM & Sale to List Price Ratio July 2 2013

Santa Clara County Condos and Townhomes Average DOM & Sale to List Price Ratio July 2 2013

 

The chart above shows some calming down in the Santa Clara County condo market.  First, it appears that the sale price to list price ratio stopped its wild ascent and has reversed itself some in June 2013.  But also, it seems that the days to sell leveled out (and stopped its decline).  Just to check on the apparent trend, I went to MLSListings and ran the numbers for the closed sales just yesterday and today (July closings).  The average sale price to list price was 106%, a tad lower than what we saw in June.

What about new inventory vs sold homes?  In the chart below, we see that the gap between them widened in June: more inventory, fewer sales (of course the June sales were contracts ratified in May, in most cases).  This also suggests a loosening in the condo market here. It’s not suddenly a buyer’s market, but perhaps we are seeing the beginning of a trend reversal?  Have a look at the chart:   (more…)

Campbell Condo Market Update

How is the Campbell condo and townhouse market?  The answer may well depend on both what part of that market we’re discussing and which data we’re focusing on.

The Campbell Condo Real Estate Market Summaries for Summer 2010

The summaries here are from my Real Estate Report.  Get the most current, detailed report at www.popehandy.ReReport.com.

Campbell condominium & townhouse sales in September 2010

The condo market in Campbell, California has been strengthening.  September 2010 was a good month!

 

Trends At a GlanceSep 2010Previous MonthYear-over Year
Median Price$410,000$375,000 (+9.3%)$377,500 (+8.6%)
Average Price$394,463$359,600 (+9.7%)$350,875 (+12.4%)
No. of Sales1510 (+50.0%)8 (+87.5%)
Pending Properties2126 (-19.2%)25 (-16.0%)
Active3541 (-14.6%)19 (+84.2%)
Sale vs. List Price98.3%96.5% (+1.8%)102.0% (-3.7%)
Days on Market6353 (+18.1%)81 (-22.4%)

August 2010 Condo Sales in Campbell CA

August was slow across Silicon Valley – real estate sales lagged (more than the “seasonal average”)
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Buying a Condominium or Townhouse is a Little Different than Buying a House…Most of the Time!

If you are purchasing a condominum or townhouse in Silicon Valley, you will need to consider a few things more than if you were buying a house that’s not held in condo ownership*.

Like what?

Most of all, with a condo or townhome (or planned unit development) you are buying a fraction of the entire complex as well as your own living space (condo or townhome). Condominium ownership includes a percentage of the community’s property. You will benefit from it, but you also will be responsible for it.

Additionally, there are a lot of  documents to read and understand when purchasing a condominium or town house. You will need to be able to accept the rules, bylaws, financial statements, meeting minutes, articles of incorporation and more.  You will want to read the newsletter (and minutes) carefully to see if there are any “issues” in the complex.  Plan to invest several hours in reading and digesting the information in the 2-3″ stack of papers.

Naturally another difference is that your neighbors will be in very close proximity.  If you are a non-smoker but the neighbor in the unit next door smokes, you may not be too happy about it later.  A few months ago I showed a Rivermark (Santa Clara) townhouse that was just darling but the next door neighbor came out and smoked on the front porch while we were there.  My buyers didn’t want to purchase the home for that reason – they did not want to deal with the smell later. You may have similar concerns about other odors or noises.

Perhaps most important are the financial issues and risks:
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The Condo and Townhouse Market Update in the West Valley for June 2010

The condominium & townhouse market is improving dramatically now.  It is evident both in looking at the stats countywide and in my recent experiences holding open my townhouse listings in Saratoga and Sunnyvale as well as recently participating in the sale of a townhome in Almaden Valley (representing a buyer) – all different areas and price points but all very active.

Here are the numbers for May sales of condos and townhomes for all of Santa Clara  County:

 

Trends At a GlanceMay 2010Previous MonthYear-over Year
Median Price$383,500$345,000 (+11.2%)$310,000 (+23.7%)
Average Price$402,766$378,978 (+6.3%)$355,881 (+13.2%)
No. of Sales434297 (+46.1%)314 (+38.2%)
Pending Properties1,0091,154 (-12.6%)526 (+91.8%)
Active927873 (+6.2%)1,037 (-10.6%)
Sale vs. List Price99.9%100.6% (-0.7%)97.6% (+2.4%)
Days on Market4759 (-20.1%)75 (-37.2%)

 

As you can see, the days on market are shrinking and prices (both median and average) are rising.  A few numbers cut back slightly in May: the sale to list price ratio retreated a little to 99.9% and the pending properties went down a little too.  But the number of sales were up.

The “months of inventory” or absorption rate is a great way to know how much of a buyer’s or seller’s market it is in any given place. Six months is considered balanced, less is a seller’s market and more is a buyer’s market.  Here are the months of inventory for selected communities in the “west valley” area of Silicon Valley – they are all “seller’s markets”, but some are strong and some are approaching balanced:

 

Campbell1.69
Cupertino1.86
Cambrian (SJ)1.86
San Jose1.93
Sunnyvale2.05
Santa Clara2.08
SC County (all)2.14
Almaden (SJ)3.00
Palo Alto3.67
Los Altos4.00
Los Gatos5.13
Saratoga5.25
Willow Glen (SJ)5.71

 

Of course, this is still painting with a broad brush.  The absorption rate for any of these areas may not be accurate for the various price points or school districts that might be found there.  For instance, a large luxury townhouse in Los Gatos which is downtown might be a really different type of market than a small, entry level one bordering Campbell or Cambrian Park.

What everyone’s wondering is if this seller’s market for condominiums and townhouses will continue despite the end of the federal home buyer credit.  To utilize that credit, homes had to be in contract by April 30th.  Most of those should be closed now, or nearing that date at best.  So we’ll really know more as we move into summer. My sense, though, is that what’s driving this market is much more the affordable prices of homes and of loans. The credits are a bonus, but many in Silicon Valley make too much money to be able to use them.

For information on your particular part of the Silicon Valley condo or townhome market, please give me a call or email me!