How Important are Parking Spaces and Garages in Silicon Valley?

Cambrian Park Home, built by LeepMost homes in Silicon Valley come with some type of parking space for cars beyond street parking.  Home buyers want to know that there will be a place for their vehicles (and often their “stuff” too).   Garages and parking are sometimes under-appreciated aspects of evaluating real estate, and sometimes there are parking surprises after the close of escrow, so it will be the focus of today’s topic.

Parking and resale value

Because a real estate purchase is a big ticket item, it is always important to consider the ability to sell it later.  (Always buy with selling in mind!)  Will the property you have or are considering buying be hard to sell  in the future if it is not a red-hot sellers market?  Parking can greatly impact “resale value and overall desirability to a large portion of consumers, who may look at that space as protection for a beloved vehicle, a safety feature, a future hobby room, or many other possibilities.

If you are evaluating a Common Interest Development (CID) condominium, townhouse, or planned unit development home with private roads and parking, there will be some special concerns that may be a little different than if you were purchasing a single family home. We’ll consider both.

General principle:  In all types of housing in the San Jose area, usually the most highly desired type of parking arrangement is an attached garage with direct access into the home and with side by side parking provided (not tandem).  This is not true in all cases but is generally true.  You would not find home buyers interested in historic homes (Victorian, Spanish, Craftsman) wanting a prominent two car garage at the front of the house, commanding the lion’s share of the view from the street. (So don’t expect to see that in Japantown, Naglee Park, or the the Rose Garden areas of San Jose.) But for the typical buyer of the more common ranch style house, the attached garage is expected and appreciated, and if it’s missing it may be a challenge to sell the property later because the property will be appealing to a smaller pool of buyers.

Regarding direct access: garages are not allowed to have a door entering into a bedroom. This is for safety reasons since bedrooms are where residents are most vulnerable, and garages are an area of increased safety risk.
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How to prepare for a home inspection in Silicon Valley

Home Inspections Home Sweet HomeWhat needs to be done for a house, townhouse or condominium to be ready for a home or pest inspection?

Inspections 101

The property inspector will need to be able to see what’s being inspected, of course, so the first and most basic thing to do is to make the home and garage accessible and visible.  For people trying to move, some areas under the roof, such as the garage or a spare bedroom, may be packed full of boxes and other stuff, so this may come as a surprise.  Anything inaccessible or covered up will need to be excluded from the inspection and report, often causing pest inspectors in particular to call for “an unknown further inspection” with a cost for a return visit being levied too.

Room by Room

Because most Silicon Valley homes do not have basements to serve for storage, garages tend to accumulate a lot of stuff.  In some cases, the walls cannot be visible due to built in storage cabinets, work benches, etc.  But for non built-in items, such as boxes, it is best to either move them out of the garage for the inspection or at the very least, place them in the center of the floor so that the inspectors can view the walls, particularly where they meet the floor.  Automobiles should be moved out for the inspection too.

This same principle is also true for the outdoors with anything which might be stacked up against the house under the eaves.  The walls need to be seen.

Indoors, if the property is built on a raised perimeter foundation with a crawl space (not a slab foundation), the access hatch needs to be accessible. (more…)

Finding and creating storage

Pull out wine rack for under staircase

Seen on Realtors board tour: Pull out wine rack for under the staircase

Many of our houses in Santa Clara County are ranch style, tract homes which were built from the 1950s to the 1970s (or ’80s). Often they include one coat closet, normally near the entry area of the home, and one linen closet, usually found close to the hall bathroom.  To the surprise of folks relocating to Silicon Valley from colder climates, we don’t have basements in the majority of houses here.

Where does all of our “stuff” go? That’s what these home buyers are wondering. It is really a critical question in smaller homes with fewer, and tinier, closets.

It is not uncommon to see garages in the San Jose area acting as a catch-all for seasonal decorations, old financial documents that can’t yet be shredded, business files, boxes from the last move which haven’t been opened yet, keepsakes and things that the residents haven’t had time to handle yet…for years at a time.  Guilty here also!  We will not be featured on an episode of “Hoarders”, but our garage also needs thinning out.  In this case, I have real estate files going back until 1993.  Rather, I did.  I have been scanning them, saving to both an external hard drive and to CDs, and shredding them.  So far about 10 boxes are gone.  Only a few more to go (I wish!).

Clutter increases stress for most of us.  Home buyers love built ins and see a future with less clutter when viewing cabinetry in home offices, family rooms, hallways, etc.  It’s a great surprise that assures them of better organization and less clutter in that home.

Most houses, townhouses and condos have places where a little more storage can be squeaked out, or even where wasted space was planned in!  This is especially true for structures with attics (sorry, Eichler and mid-century modern home owners). Here are some possibilities to consider in your own home:

  • A furnace in a closet inside the home may be able to be relocated to the attic, providing another inside closet
  • Water heaters hogging interior closet space could be moved to the garage or a different type of water heater could be installed in the attic. (more…)