Home Buying in Willow Glen>Question Details

Iangood, Home Buyer in Mountain View, CA

Condo in Mountain View vs. House in Willow Glen or Cambrian

Asked by Iangood, Mountain View, CA Fri Jul 17, 2009

This will be my first house. I'm 35 and single and tired of living in an apt. I make good money and I have a very stable job. I love this area and want to put down roots here. My price range is $500,000 - 650,000. I currently rent in Mountain View and work in Palo Alto. I really love Mountain View, but I can only afford a condo here. I also like Willow Glen and Cambrian neighborhoods in San Jose and I could afford a house there, albeit a smaller one. I am handy, so a little DIY doesn't put me off. My question is, all things being equal, what makes the most sense financially if I was looking towards upgrading in the future, say about 5 years after buying. Not looking for a flip or investment property, just the one that gives me the best chance of stepping up in the future. I really want a small house in old Mountain View some day. Any guidance is appreciated. Plus, I'm also looking for a realtor, since I obviously have no clue about what I'm doing.

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Patrick Johnson, SRES ’s answer
Hi Langood,

All very valid questions. Since it sounds like you are not able to be where you want to end up right away (your single family home in MV). I would look at an approach that will get you where you want to go as quickly as possible. Property values in Mountain View have not seen the decrease that other areas have seen. Since your ideal single family in Mountain View if out of reach, I suggest looking at single family homes in the Willow Glen and Cambrian areas. You may have greater upside potential, especially if you add a bit of "sweat equity". Also, you would not have the added burden of an HOA ($200, $300, $400, or more per month) that you would with a condo in Mountain View or anywhere else for that matter. Put that saved money aside. Added with your property appreciation from buying in an area that has good fundamentals, you can then look at moving up to Mountain View when the time is right. In the meantime you may find that you like Willow Glen or Cambrian just fine and decide to put down roots.

Hope these thoughts are worth pondering. Please check out my website http://(www.dreamsbytheyard.com) for more information about me. I'd love to work with you if you think we are on the same wavelength.

Enjoy this fantastic weather weekend!

Thanks,

Patrick Johnson
(408) 410-9139
patrick@dreamsbytheyard.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 17, 2009
Iangood,

You have many things to consider here.

I would recommend getting a loan pre approval, which may allow you more flexibility with your price point.

How much upgrading are you intending and comfortable with?

Most Willow Glen and Cambrian homes are 30-40 years old and would likely produce a great buy in the current market.

It is a good idea to get oriented with the lending requirements to ensure that a fixer upper purchase will still qualify with banks in today's lending market.

I am happy to review options with you from the loan perspective as well as recommend an agent to connect you with.

Best,

Eric Nelson
Broker/Senior Mortgage Planner
The Honte Group
enelson@thehontegroup.com

Real Estate Broker - CA. Dept of Real Estate - License #01763070
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 22, 2009
Iangood,

From a builders perspective, I would go for Cambrian Area. I have remodeled some houses in that area and even built some brand new ones.

I think Willow Glen is over rated.
It is not Willow Glen, it is a suburb of San Jose.
I have friends that live now where near to Lincoln Ave, and they tell me the live in Willow Glen.

I think the Cambrian area is your best bet, the lots are huge.
Plus there are a lot of run down houses in that area that need work.
I live in Los Gatos, but really close to the Cambrian area.
If I wasn't in LG, my next area would be Cambrian !
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 21, 2009
Ian:
Buying a single family residence as opposed to condominium, or multi-family unit is the best buy today. Consider the HOAs and the fact that you have shared spaces, you really are buying the interior volume of the dwelling, and sharing some of the amenities with a number of other inhabitants. Single families generally appreciate better due to the fact that they aint making any more land, and you will be paying more for that privelege. you said you can afford up to $650,000. Well, you can acquire a pretty nice 3 bedrooom two bath home in Cambrian or a 2 bedroom one bath in Willow Glen, with private back yard, both nice neighborhoods. I have clients moving from Mountain View to Willow Glen to experience the value added by moving slightly Southward. I am a broker in San Jose, specializing in Willow Glen and would be happy to assist you with your quest, without bias, becasue I also love Mountian View, having lived in the Silicon Valley my entire life.
Terry Kelly
Kelly Properties
408 529-0234
Kellyproperties@Comcast.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jul 19, 2009
Good morning,
All of your questions are sensible and should be part of the process by which you select a Realtor to work with. Get that decision right and these and the many other questions which will arise will be dealt with as part of that partnership.
Many people in your situation are browsing Trulia to see how different Realtors have dealt with other enquiries, as a way to select one or more to interview. You can check out profiles, blogs, web sites, testimonials etc and get a feeling about us without moving from your chair.
Good luck, Bill
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 18, 2009
Hello Ian and thanks for your question.

Regarding your first question, buyers today prefer single family detached housing to condominiums and townhomes due to the fact that, as Patrick noted below, in addition to the mortgage, there is the added cost of the homeowners association assessment. In checking the MLS just now, your price range provides you with 93 different choices in the towns of Sunnyvale (94086), Santa Clara (95051), Cambrian (94124), Willow Glen (94122) and West San Jose (95129)--that's plenty of choices in your price range. Most of the homes are 3 bedroom 2 bath at 1000 square feet or larger, and there are a few that are four bedrooms, 2.5 baths or larger. So given the number of homes available to you in excellent school districts (because the school district really does drive the price of the home), I'd personally opt for the home over the condominium.

If you are prepared to do the leg work and see the homes during open houses, consider working with a facilitator like me who charges a fraction of the cost to buy a home to the seller, which can become a reduction in sales price to you (as the buyer) or a rebate of excess commission to you. Check out my blog for more information on facilitation--many of my clients come from Trulia and all are very happy with the results.

Good luck!!

Sincerely,
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 18, 2009
Hello Langood, Your price range of 500k-650k is putting your monthly payment at approx over $4k per month, and with a hefty downpayment. Have you been preapproved and qualified financially for a mortage payment to see what you want to afford? The first step would be to evaluate your financials to appropriately determine the amount montly mortgage payment that you feel comfortable with. You have set your sights high but why buy a condo when you could afford a single family home in another nice area in Silicon Valley? Explore all your options by first getting prequalified for a mortgage and then go shopping. There are several neighborhoods to consider within a comfortable commute to your job in Palo Alto that won't be too expensive and yet be a viable long term investment. I've spent the past few years working with first time homebuyers almost exclusively and I would be honored to help you as well. Kind regards.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 17, 2009
Hello Iangood,
Sounds to me like you have an idea of what you're doing... you're planning for your future.
Since you like all three locations, why not look in all three to start? After narrowing down your choices, you can decide then. A purchase now gives you a chance of moving up in the future, so long as the values increase. We just don't know what the market will be like in 5 years, exactly.

If you'd like to discuss your home search in more detail, my contact information is below.

All the best,

Rosie Poliquin
Agent
rpoliquin@windermere.com
408-607-9340
DRE # 01705125
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 17, 2009
I think your questions are just the right ones to be asking. Your last statement, though, is probably the most important. Finding a good Realtor, one you like and trust, is one of the most important decisions you can make. They can help guide you through and educate you through all of your questions and maybe ask you some that will actually help get you to where you want to be.
Now, to the specific questions you asked. Traditionally, single family houses have held value and increased in value better than condominiums. If you truly have the time and energy to put some "sweat equity" into a place, you could potentially add tremendous value to a property. With a single family house you can do that to the inside, as well as the outside. With a condo, generally it's just the inside. There has traditonally been a sense of value when you own the land your structure sits on. I think that still holds true today. Generally, with a condo, however, for the same dollars, you'll get more square footage and/or newer. (because you're not paying for the land - that's the tradeoff.) You've picked two great locations in the Willow Glen and Cambrian neighborhoods. I think it's possible you to find the place to call home for the next five years. I don't have a crystal ball, but I think your timing might just be right to move forward.
I'll stop were I started - find a professional, that you like, and let them help educate you and advise you to the right decision. You'll be glad you did! Either way, make a decision to move forward. Waiting on sidelines never moved anyone forward. I wish you great success and a great experience.

Jim Hamilton
2005 President
California Association od Realtors
Alain Pinel Realtors
Broker associate
jhamilton@apr.com
(408) 888-4389 direct
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 17, 2009
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