Patio Homes or Zero Lot Line Houses in Silicon Valley

Not everyone is familiar with the term “patio home” or “zero lot line” house when searching for Silicon Valley real estate.  Awhile back, a listing agent of such a property called me for feedback and when I told her that my clients did not want a zero lot line home, she didn’t know what I was talking about. She had no idea that this term applied to her listing!

So I thought maybe this topic deserved a little more attention.

 

Patio home or zero lot line diagram

 

What does zero lot line mean?

With most houses, the structure is set into the lot or land such that the property boundaries are at least a few feet away on all sides – often 5 or 8 feet.  One common exception is garages in older parts of Willow Glen, Los Gatos, downtown San Jose, etc., where often these buildings were set directly against the property line on one or two sides.

When a house is right up against the property line, directly on the line, that’s referred to as a zero lot line and is usually referred to as a patio home.  To view that wall, you’d literally have to go onto your neighbor’s lot to have a look.  Although this is not terribly uncommon in dense, urban areas, it’s fairly infrequent in Silicon Valley.

Why are homes designed on zero lot line properties?  The main reason is to increase the density while providing more yard to the home owner.  Rather than having two 8′ side yards, perhaps you’ll have one much larger 16′ yard.

Interestingly, these houses do not always sell for less with the zero lot line – at least not that I have been able to discern. (That’s counter-intuitive….)

How can you tell if it’s a zero lot line house?

It should be disclosed in the MLS as such, but often isn’t (sometimes the listing agent doesn’t even know), so you’ll have to look carefully at the neighborhood and the property to see.  Here are some clues: (more…)