Merrivale West is a very popular community of 248 townhouses, built by Ditz-Crane in beginning in 1972, in the “West San Jose” area offering beautiful grounds & homes as well as a fantastic commute location and low HOA dues (homeowner association fees).
Where is Merrivale West?
This complex is found near the intersection of San Tomas Expressway and Payne Avenue in the 95117 area of San Jose. The main road running through the neighborhood is Millich, but there are a number of smaller streets with the designation of “square” too (Merrivale Square, for instance). From this location, it’s a quick jaunt to Santana Row (just 2 miles!) or to downtown Campbell. It’s easy freeway access too. The location is one of the main reasons for the popularity of this area.
What does it cost to buy a townhouse in Merrivale West?
Homes vary in size and precise location as well as interior condition. Most properties are selling from about $900,000 to $1.15 million, as of Jan 2024. There have been sales more than 1.1 million and almost to 1.2 million at the peak of the market in Spring 2022, but prices have come down here as well as everywhere else in the valley since that time.
Larger homes, such as the 1368 sf model (2 bed/2.5 bath) generally sell at the higher end of the price spectrum. Overall, though, selection tends to be slim: homes here sell fast, about 7 – 10 days most of the time, and the perpetual desirability of the neighborhood helps to keep values up.
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: thearchitecture of the buildings and the type of ownership.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Does the exterior of a townhouse need to be inspected? If you are in the market to purchase a townhome, you may find that often the home and pest inspector are not including the outside areas such as the walls, foundation, or roof.
If you are preparing to sell your unit, you may be asked if you want to include or exclude the outer walls and features, or if you want a roof inspection done.
First, let’s consider why the inspectors may only inspect the interior of the home.
The reasoning frequently seems to be that the HOA will take care of whatever is on the outer walls or roof, so why bother? That assumption may or may not be accurate.
If the townhouse is held in condo ownership (as opposed to a PUD, in which homeowners own the outside walls, roof and the land under the unit), the HOA likely will take care of exterior damage.
If the townhome is a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, it’s much like a single family home: the homeowner will be responsible for repairs. (HOAs will repaint and reroof all units at the same time for both PUDs and condos, but not fix damaged siding, decks, roofs. It’s imperative to know which one you are buying, and you’ll only know that from the preliminary title report. It’s also imperative to know what the HOA will do regarding repairs, and for that you’ll need to look through the lengthy HOA documents.)
Another consideration is the price of the inspection, which will be less – in most cases – if only the interior of the home is covered by the inspector.
Does the exterior of a townhouse need to be inspected even if it’s a condo?
What is the agent visual inspection, or AVID, and why is it required with home sales in California?
The short answer on the purpose of the AVID
When real estate sales people represent buyers and sellers on residential real estate transactions in CA, they must do a visual inspection of the property as part of their disclosure obligations. In other words, they are required to walk through the property, inside and out, and look carefully at what they sell and advise the parties to the contract of any red flags noticed.
This is required by the state. It is not optional.
If an attentive Realtor walks through and notes something that would make a buyer unhappy to discover after close of escrow, that agent needs to note it on the required form so that any such concerns are disclosed to the home buyer(s).
Video discussing the AVID, or Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure
Where do the agents write up their visual inspection disclosure comments?
Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure, top of page 1
Sometimes the real estate licensees will simply make a few comments on page 3 of the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS). More and more, though, they are completing the separate 3 page AVID (Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure) form instead. It is larger and allows for more thorough list of items noted. Both approaches are permitted by law to fulfill that obligation, though.
Hunting 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: (more…)
1252 Chiapas Terrace, San Jose, CA 95126 PENDING in 7 days with 5 offers!
We are delighted to present our newest listing, 1252 Chiapas Terrace, San Jose CA 95126. This young townhome provides 2 bedrooms plus den, 2 .5 bathrooms, and an open layout with 1667 square feet. It’s full over luxury upgrades, all the features that today’s buyers want, and it’s situated in the gorgeous Altura neighborhood near Santa Clara University. The list price is $989,500.
The Quick Look at 1252 Chiapas Terrace, San Jose:
Altura townhome community built in 2006 by Pulte Homes
2 spacious bedrooms plus den with 2 ensuite full baths, and a powder room on the main floor
Main floor fully open with spacious kitchen featuring stainless steel appliances, gas range with 5 burner stove, granite counters, wood cabinetry and wide breakfast bar with pendant lights above
Washer, dryer, and Fridge all stay
Attached 2 car garage with side-by-side parking
Central air conditioning
Dual pane windows by Milgard
High ceilings, recessed lights, plantation shutters, water softener and so many extras – see the full list at the virtual tour!
1252 Chiapas Terrace, San Jose virtual tour and 3D walkthrough
Please visit the virtual tour: 1252ChiapasTerrace.com for the virtual tour with all photos, a 3D iGuide walk through, and under “details” you’ll find a printable PDF with the floorplan and room measurements, too.
Open house this weekend
We will be hosting an open house this weekend, Sat Feb 4 and Sun Feb 5, from 2 – 4 pm. Please stop by! (Park on Campbell Avenue or at the back of the complex along De Altura Commons.) These homes are very popular, so if you cannot make the open house, please arrange for your buyer’s agent to show you the home soon. It’s very easy for your Realtor to make the appointment with our simple online scheduling system. If you need a buyer’s agent and do not have one, please reach out to me and we can connect you with a Realtor who can show this home to you and represent you should you decide to write an offer.
Buying a townhome in the next year? Here are some pointers to help you get up to speed more quickly.
There are a number of things to ask about and learn to make sure that you are happy with the end result of your townhouse or townhome purchase. There’s tremendous variation in townhomes across Silicon Valley, how well the property is managed, how well the finances are managed, how happy the residents are, and so on.
I’ll put my tips into 3 categories: (1) before you go, (2) things to consider while there, and (3) research if you are serious about a particular property.
Before you go – there may be things that will take the property off of your short list, such as the property condition, HOA finances or rules. There may be natural or environmental hazards that cause you to skip it. Usually these can be learned before you ever visit the property, and they can save you a lot of time.
Things to note or consider while there – some tips on what to perceive while in and near the property.
Deeper research if you are serious about buying a townhome or townhouse
Buying a townhome: a little pre-visit recon
Your real estate agent may help you with this – I do with my buyers and we can sometimes eliminate non-starters with a little research. Most people interested in buying a townhome or condo will check these out upfront:
Maps: Take a look at Google maps and see what can be learned from Google street view and the satellite image, if possible. Street view may provide info on how crowded a complex is and if there’s a parking problem if the townhomes are directly on public streets.
Sometimes there are undesirable buildings or structures right next to the complex you’re planning to visit which may be visible from either the satellite or street view. The negatives usually don’t make their way into the MLS photos, so look at these other views to get a more complete sense of the area. Recently I saw a power sub-station directly next to a unit my client wanted to see. We did visit it anyway, but many home buyers would have skipped it. You can often identify high voltage power lines from the maps, too.
The Google Satellite View will alert you to undesirable neighbors. Recently we saw a unit that backed up to something odd looking – turned out to be a gas station.
Odors: If you are buying a townhome in South County or in an area where farming takes place, be sure to zoom out on the map view to see if the property might be impacted by farm smells. In Gilroy, San Martin, and Morgan Hill, mushroom farms can be smelly if you are downwind. And…garlic happens. In Milpitas and North Valley, there are a number of odors, particularly as you get closer to the bay.
Natural and environmental hazards: you can find out upfront if the property is in a 100 year floodplain, liquefaction zone, near gas transmission lines or near a Superfund site. There are links to maps for almost every kind of hazard out there. For example, the Cal OES My Cal Hazards Awareness site can provide info on liquefaction, flood, quake, and fire zones.
Disclosures: you may be able to get them upfront and skim for the local hazards, expensive repairs needed, etc. Most of the time we can provide these before you see the home. Keep in mind that no condo, townhouse, or house is perfect, and most do need thousands of dollars in repairs, replacements, and upgrades. A good rule of thumb is to budget 1% for a condominium or townhouse.
In person visit – when you visit the townhome
Again, your Realtor should help you to see what’s amiss or what’s a big plus as you go through the grounds and the home. No home is ever perfect (not even new construction), but it’s imperative that buying a townhome you have as full knowledge as possible about it upfront.
Once in awhile, a buyer will not get the value of this input. The majority of buyers, though, appreciate it if their buyer’s agent makes sure they see things upfront, while there together. (more…)
One 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:
Willow Glen is one of the most charming areas of San Jose, consisting of many older homes which feature lovely, classic architecture. Most Silicon Valley home buyers treasure the Willow Glen charm and ambiance, but many are seeking newer homes. A fabulous option is “The Willows“.
KB Homes built “The Willows” in 1999 to 2000. It is tucked away at the southernmost tip of Willow Glen, off of Foxworthy Avenue & close to Almaden Expressway, but only about 2.5 to 3 miles from all the action on Lincoln Avenue.
The tree-lined streets are built in something of a loop shape with Rubino Circle being the main access or loop road. Situated on the inner part of the loop are homes with smaller lots that are a little more affordable. The outer part of the circle is built with slightly larger homes on larger lots (but none of the lots are “big”). Sidewalks with soft curbs at the corners accompany the streets and make for a pedestrian-friendly, bike, wheelchair or stroller friendly area. Visit in the early evenings and you will see children and adults walking, strolling, taking dogs for a walk etc. – always a good sign! Because the neighborhood is a bit like an oversized cul-de-sac (no through traffic), it is very quiet in terms of traffic. The area has large street lights, too, making for a safe feeling community.
“Why isn’t my Silicon Valley townhouse selling?” wonders the home owner. Even in a seller’s market some properties struggle. Real estate agents know why the home (or townhome, or condo) isn’t getting any offers, or worse yet, any traffic at all. In fact, local Realtors who’ve seen it might wonder if the owner of the property has seen the MLS printout at all!
Why isn’t it selling?
Whether your home has been on the market for a while or you’re just about to list it, here are some of the most common culprits to look out for:
Terrible photos (or not enough of them): in our San Jose area MLS we are allowed 9 photos. How many are in your listing?
More on photos: Would it be so hard to turn the lights on in the home when photographing the property? Real estate looks much better when well lit than when dark. Even beautifully remodeled kitchens can look so-so if the lights are not all on! A bright room will make you money…a dark room will cost you!
Is there a video or virtual tour? **
Is the listing syndicated so that buyers can find it on multiple websites?
How is the pricing? Did you price a 2 bedroom townhouse as if it’s a 3 bedroom? That’s a very common but huge mistake! Compare apples to apples – the buyers are doing that, and when you bought your home, you did too! Did you price the home using comps from 6 months ago, or comps from 3 miles away, or a different school district? Huge mistake!
What’s your competition? Luxury homes will almost always take longer than a mid-priced home nearby – they’re in entirely different markets with entirely different demands. You’ve got to know what market you’re in and what buyers will be comparing your home against! If you’re a short sale, you need to be competitive against other short sales. Don’t be satisfied that your home is less expensive than a “regular sale”. They are two entirely different things!
MLS description and comments: Don’t waste this valuable space! What kind of comments are in the precious few words allowed to describe your home in the multiple listing service? I have seen inane things use up that space. It is imperative that the descriptions be strong. For example, not “nice kitchen” (that could mean almost anything), but instead “slab granite countertops” – specifics that buyers want to hear about!
Commission rate: if your townhome is a “regular sale” and everything in your area is selling with a buyer’s agent commission rate offered at 2.5% or 3% but you’re offering 2%, guess what happens? Little or no traffic, that’s what! Remember that agents are selling homes as their livelihood, and while many will overlook a low commission, many others will not. (When I list homes I run the CR of similar homes so that my sellers can make an informed decision on this point.)
There are many reasons why a Silicon Valley townhouse might not sell, but marketing correctly will give you the best odds for success and, in a sellers market as we are in, may bring you a higher sales price. If yours isn’t selling, have a look at the price, the photos, and the description and see if anything is amiss, and check what’s happening with comparable properties in the market. These are the most important areas to consider. Other issues may be at play, but if these are correct your home should sell despite other challenges. (more…)
Christie's International Real Estate Sereno, Los Gatos, CA 95030 408 204-7673 Mary@PopeHandy.com License# 01153805
Clair Handy, Realtor
Christie's International Real Estate Sereno 214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd Los Gatos, CA 95030 ClairHandy@sereno.com License# 02153633
Mary & Clair sell homes throughout Silicon Valley: Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Santa Cruz County. with a special focus on: San Jose, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell, Almaden Valley, Cambrian Park.
Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor ABR, AHWD, CIPS, CRS, SRES Christie's International Real Estate Sereno DRE License #01153805 408-204-7673 email@example.com “Helping nice folks to buy and sell homes in Silicon Valley since 1993”
Clair Handy, Realtor, GREEN Christie's International Real Estate Sereno DRE License #02153633 408-721-6160 firstname.lastname@example.org “Helping nice folks to buy and sell homes in Silicon Valley”
This is the Valley of Heart's Delight blog , covering Silicon Valley real estate - Santa Clara County, San Jose, Los Gatos, Cupertino, and nearby communities in the South Bay Area and lower Peninsula. Find info on neighborhoods, disclosure issues, buyer and seller tips, and housing market conditions in the west valley and most of the county.Please also see my other websites and real estate market statistics site, which are listed in the sidebar, above.
Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES Sereno DRE License #01153805 408-204-7673 email@example.com
“Helping nice folks to buy and sell homes in Silicon Valley since 1993”
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