Is There More Value in a Corner Lot, Flag Lot, or Normal Lot?

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. (more…)

Stressed Out Over Silicon Valley Home Values and Sinking Stocks? You Are Not Alone!

There’s a lot for those of us in Silicon Valley to be feeling stressed out about lately. Between the stock market’s wild ride and sinking home values in Santa Clara County (and around the country), it’s a little nerve-wracking. These times are especially upsetting if you’re a senior and plan to retire soon. For years, people looked at their homes with the fond sense of “this is my retirement fund” – or at least a good part of it. Some of that value is now gone.

It’s also stressful for those of us who’ve put money into retirement funds or college savings plans and need it soon. Here in California, the 529 College Savings Plan is an “index fund”. That means it’s a combination of stocks, mutual funds, and bonds. In my house, we have one kid who’s a freshman in college and one who’s a senior in high school, and we’re seeing the 529 Plan shrink right when we need it.

The stock market, the financial crisis and the housing market are bigger than all of us. We are on the verge of a recession, if not already in one now. There’s a lot that’s beyond our control. But what CAN we do to maximize the current situation?

I cannot say what to do about the stock market, though my hunch is that when people advise “buy low”, they are talking about today. I can say something about the housing market in the San Jose area, though, because I’ve got experience with it, both professionally and personally. There are opportunities in this market for those who are able to act on them.

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San Jose Makes Forbes’ List: Top Market for Landlords

Recently I viewed a piece on Forbes.com that said that San Jose was on it’s “top 10” list of good places to be a landlord. Investors, take note!

http://www.forbes.com/2007/09/04/landlord-subprime-realestate-forbeslife-cx_mw_0905bestlandlordmarket_slide_11.html?thisSpeed=15000

Update:  Trulia’s rent vs buy study puts the San Jose area as more affordable to buy than to rent in late Jan 2011.  Check it out!