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Tina Lam - Real Estate Blog

Residential Realtor for the SF Bay Area - 408.320.5261

By Tina Lam | Agent in San Jose, CA
  • 37° Degrees North in Sunnyvale - Taylor Morrison Townhomes that are on the Map

    Posted Under: General Area in Sunnyvale, Home Buying in Sunnyvale, In My Neighborhood in Sunnyvale  |  January 4, 2012 11:32 PM  |  8,105 views  |  1 comment
    How's this for an interesting community name?  Taylor Morrison just named their newest community in Sunnyvale as 37° North (Thirty-Seven Degrees North).  Located on Duane Road in front of the AMD headquarters and right off the Lawrence Expressway exit off the 101, this future cluster of townhomes must be designed for those who have GPS devices surgically attached.  The wildly imaginative builder even goes as far as to give you the exact GPS coordinates:  37°23'12.92 -121°59'45.95.  Yeah, really.  



    I initially wrote about this community last year when it still went by the project name of Duane Court, which I thought was at least apropos.  Now, the project website is up and a few more tidbits are trickling out.  The featured floor plans confirm the initial proposals for multi-generational living, with three levels and bedrooms on each level.  There are no elevation drawings yet so we'll have to guess at what the project will look like.  

    The initial descriptions are attractive.  You get spacious townhouses of up to 2165 sqft, larger than most single family homes in the area and about 500 sqft larger than the existing Fusion townhome community next door.  All the units have side-by-side 2 car garages, a real luxury for townhomes in the area.   

    At the moment, the development is still most identifiable by the 30 foot tall mount of aggregate piled off the future entrance to the community.  Model homes are scheduled to be available for viewing in spring, so I'll keep tabs on this development for the next 4-5 months.  

    Update (Mar 2012):  The aggregate pile is now gone and foundations are being laid with plumbing already in place.

    Update (Jun 2012):  The lots have been finished and a sound wall on Lawrence is nearly complete.  Construction on the finished pads are starting soon.  

    Update (Nov 2012):  After selling their first releases in a fury, the model homes are finally ready for the grand opening.  Meanwhile, prices have climbed sharply from the $600K range in the first release to the $700K range now.
  • Fair Oaks Townhomes by City Ventures in Sunnyvale

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Sunnyvale, Home Buying in Sunnyvale, In My Neighborhood in Sunnyvale  |  December 9, 2011 2:03 PM  |  8,289 views  |  No comments

    Fair Oaks by City Ventures Residences is one of the smallest new townhouse developments in Sunnyvale.  Offering a very exclusive collection of 34 townhomes, the community distinguishes itself with a focus on a specific niche lifestyle.  

    The Fair Oaks development offers four townhouse floor plans, ranging from 1457 sqft to 1877 sqft.  By themselves, the floor plans and finishes are quite similar to many other new townhouse communities in the area like the Classics, Toscana, and Pepper Lane.  What makes them really standout is that every floor plan has side-by-side garages.  In fact, the smallest plan has a very innovate layout with a 3-car garage; the first I've ever seen for a townhouse.  Usually, smaller plans at other communities only have tandem garages.  While tandem garages serve the basic function of allowing the owner to park two cars, the inconvenience is just too reminiscent of apartment living.  In addition, the plans all come with private patios of 20 feet by 16 feet, all enclosed by a four foot privacy wall.  These two features really help bring a feel of single family residence living to a townhouse community.  


    As an extra bonus, the townhouses at Fair Oaks come with their own 2.15Kw solar systems to reduce both energy dependency and electricity bills.  Along with extensive use of energy efficient appliances and materials, the homes meet LEED Gold efficiency standards.  


    At present, the first two phases have sold out, leaving just about a dozen homes remaining to be released in the third phase in January 2012.  Pricing is comparable to larger communities offering more amenities, but demand has been strong in the area.  The upcoming release will likely be sold out quickly as well.  With a relatively low HOA fee and competitive incentives, Fair Oaks is a great choice for those who prefer more privacy in townhouse living or a chance to know all your neighbors.  

  • Creekside by SummerHill Homes - New Townhomes by Saratoga Village

    Posted Under: General Area in Saratoga, Home Buying in Saratoga, In My Neighborhood in Saratoga  |  December 9, 2011 10:08 AM  |  7,265 views  |  1 comment

    For those looking for their piece of elegant Saratoga living, SummerHill Homes is now offering a rare opportunity to buy a brand new townhouse in their upcoming Creekside townhome community.  Located in a highly desirable lot at the southern tip of the triangle on Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road, the community offers a very limited allotment of just 20 townhouse units across 8 buildings.  As these new townhouses are just steps from Saratoga Village, they have no direct comparables.  Prices start at $1.2 million. 


    SummerHill Homes has been building small, upscale communities all around the Bay Area for 30 years.  For Creekside, the builder appears to want to create a semi-custom experience, offering 13 different floor-plans for just 20 units.  The units are arranged mostly as duplexes, offering plenty of natural light into them.  Floor-plans range from a relatively modest 1992 sqft 3-bedroom to a ponderous 3774 sqft 5-bedroom.  Fittingly for the price point, the townhouses come with upscale finishes and gourmet kitchens.  And, for those tired of ever-escalating utility bills, this community aims to be GreenPoint rated with its long list of energy-efficient green features.

    The development's sales office is scheduled to be ready for public visits in mid-January 2012.  Model homes are under construction now.  As the development progresses, I'll post further updates.  For availability of individual units, please contact me.

  • Celadon Townhomes by Warmington in North San Jose

    Posted Under: Home Buying in San Jose, In My Neighborhood in San Jose  |  November 21, 2011 12:14 AM  |  8,587 views  |  5 comments

    Celadon, the newest townhome community in San Jose, shares a similar story of rebirth with several new home developments in the area.  Built by Warmington Residential, a well-established local home builder, Celadon is a revival of a planned 86-townhouse community originally by Pinn Brothers, another local builder.

    Started in 2007, that development, called Messina Gardens, hit hard times and was halted as the housing market collapsed.  The very first building was completed with 5 model homes.  It sat vacant as the development faced tough competition -- a similar townhouse development directly adjacent on Baton Rouge flooded the market with financially distressed properties.  While 5 buildings were completed, many units fell into financial distress.  Pinn Brothers, owned by Alan and David Pinn, struggled with this development along with multiple failing projects and eventually filed for bankruptcy in late 2010.  



    After a year and a thorough refreshing, Warmington has rebranded the community Celadon and has just started offering townhomes at prices discounted from the original listing prices of Pinn Brothers.  At my initial visit to the community, traffic was brisk despite the inclement weather.  The list prices reflect the realities of the current housing market.  The townhomes range from 1316 to 1809 sqft, with a very practical variety of 2, 3, and 4 bedroom units.  Prices range from the low $400K's to the low $500K's.  

    The floor plans are very similar to those of other current townhouse communities.  The larger plans are identical to the townhomes being offered at Toscana by KB Homes, but priced about $30K-$50K lower.  The smaller plans come with tandem garages and are very similar to those at Pepper Lane by Pulte Homes.  Again, prices are about $20K-$40K lower.  Both discounts against the other communities reflect the typical early release discount offered by builders.  As this first phase sells out, later phases should close the gaps in prices, since Celadon offers access to the same schools as Pepper Lane. 

    Location wise, Celadon is very convenient for commuters into San Jose and major tech companies like Cisco, Intel, and eBay.  With a light rail station right in front of the community, much of the Bay Area is also accessible by rail, especially useful for busy events in San Francisco.  The proximity of the light rail station also means the most desirable units are some of the early phases, a few rows away from North Capital Avenue.  Otherwise, much of the area along North Capital Avenue has been developed with a relative uniform and stable set of townhouse communities, allowing Celadon to blend in with the current established neighborhood.  

    If you're currently looking for a new townhouse in San Jose, Celadon is definitely worth considering.  If you would like additional information or want to know the current discounts and incentives available if I represent you, please contact me for details.

  • Taylor Morrison Townhouses at Duane Court in Sunnyvale

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Sunnyvale, In My Neighborhood in Sunnyvale  |  November 16, 2011 2:59 AM  |  5,976 views  |  No comments

    Almost 5 years after demolishing 5 office buildings in front of the AMD headquarters on Duane Road, Taylor Morrison (formerly known as Taylor Woodrow) has scrapped its plans for a 302 unit condo project and is now building a new 132 unit townhouse community.  Called Duane Court, the new community offers townhouses specifically designed to cater to a fast growing niche of Asian buyers.  Currently, the development is better recognized as the huge mountain of black dirt piled up high by the entrance to AMD and behind a Chevron gas station.  

    Covering the approximately 7.3 acre lot, Duane Court offers  familiar townhouse floor plans with a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor, the kitchen and main living area on the second floor, and bedrooms on the third floor.  With Duane Court, Taylor Morrison is answering the need for extra space of Asian buyers with multi-generation families.  With around 2000 sqft, these townhouses are significantly larger than the more conventional townhouses being built across the street by O'Brien Homes at Fusion.  With the larger floor plans, multiple generations can live together with sufficient independence.  This allows families to accommodate grandparents and relatives for extended visits harmoniously.

    With the population of target buyers growing rapidly in the south bay, demand is expected to be high.  Pricing will likely be higher than the current Fusion townhouse.  Based on the current rate of development, the first model homes should be ready for viewing around June/July of 2012.  A small park in the center of the community is planned.  For more information about this community, please visit our frequently updated blog or contact me.

  • Waitlists and Lotteries Are Back at Popular Bay Area New Home Communities

    Posted Under: General Area in Santa Clara County, Home Buying in Santa Clara County, In My Neighborhood in Santa Clara County  |  November 1, 2011 12:43 AM  |  3,523 views  |  No comments
    Even as new construction figures continue to bounce along the bottom in the rest of the country, sales of new homes are becoming quite brisk in the South Bay Area.  Certain communities with the right floor plans and price points are seeing levels of demand reminiscent of the peaks of the housing boom.  Since many home builders were shell-shocked by the speed of the housing correction, most are only willing to launch modest-sized communities of less than 50 homes.  For the last few years, with credit remaining tight, this cautious approach seemed to be the only prudent way to build and sell new homes.

    At the same time, the large percentage of distressed homes on the market means there are few quality homes available.  As a result, there are actually builders who have had to implement waitlists or lotteries to allocate homes to eager buyers.  Since many buyers are still under the impression that inventory is high and new homes plentiful, this reality comes as a rude awakening.  Instead of being able to buy a new home in a desired location, the buyer may now have to wait long lines and sometimes even camp out for certain lots.  Periodic releases get sold out within days instead of weeks or months.  

    Meanwhile, there are comparable new communities with a glut of new homes available.  But as one community sells out, a neighboring community may find homes that had been sitting around for months all suddenly selling out.  So, more than ever, it really makes sense to have an experienced real estate broker to help navigate the rapidly shifting market to avoid overpaying at some of the more exuberant communities or getting stuck at the bottom of a long waitlist.
  • KB Homes Toscana Offers a Limited Collection of New Townhomes in Rivermark

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Santa Clara County, Home Buying in Santa Clara County, In My Neighborhood in Santa Clara County  |  October 29, 2011 6:04 PM  |  4,986 views  |  No comments
    On one of the last remaining flag lots in Rivermark, KB Homes is building a small community of townhomes called Toscana.  Tucked behind the recently sold-out Mission Place development on Agnew, this collection of 48 townhomes offers 3 spacious floor plans at some of the lowest price per sqft in Rivermark, even lower than older distressed units on the market.  Not surprisingly, demand has been very hot.  The first two phases of 24 townhomes sold out within weeks of their initial release.  

    Plans range from 1650 to 1910 sqft with 3 or 4 bedrooms.  Base pricing is around the mid $500K to low $600K.  While there aren't many guest parking spots available, at least all the units have 2-car garages.  The smallest floor plan comes with a 2-car tandem and the others offer side-by-side garages.  These three-story townhouses have familiar floor plans with the main living area on the 2nd floor and bedrooms on the top floor.  The layout is typical of dozens of others I've seen, but there are a few areas of inefficiency in the use of hallways that make the townhomes seem smaller than expected.  There are a few options available to mitigate that.

    On my tour of the model homes, I saw upscale finishes throughout, with solid slab counters, gleaming banisters, and substantial baseboards and mouldings.  These upgrades really made the townhomes feel much nicer than many comparable developments.  Still, from my past experience with buying and owning homes from KB Homes, the cost of the upgrades can quickly run the total purchase price significantly above the listed base price.  So, choosing the right upgrades will definitely determine which homes get a good return on investment upon resale later.  

    At the moment, another phase is about to be released in the coming weeks.  Completion of construction should be around late summer of 2012.  Unfortunately for most buyers, there's a very daunting waitlist already in place, with twice as many interested buyers as there are townhomes remaining.  In such a competitive situation, even getting the chance to purchase a home is tough, especially for buyers without representation.  While this is not quite a return to the heady bubble days, having an experienced real estate broker represent you is your best bet to get one of the Toscana townhomes at a fair price.  

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