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.
Broker/Senior Mortgage Planner
The Honte Group
Real Estate Broker - CA. Dept of Real Estate - License #01763070
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!
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 !
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.
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
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.
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty
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,
DRE # 01705125
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.
California Association od Realtors
Alain Pinel Realtors
(408) 888-4389 direct