Home Buying in Sunnyvale>Question Details

Woody, Home Buyer in Cupertino, CA

Townhome vs. condo in South Bay

Asked by Woody, Cupertino, CA Thu Feb 19, 2009

I am looking to down size from a 14 year old Cupertino home. Target will be a townhome or condo in the $600K-$700K price range. This will be my four home purchase, so location is key. Which location in South Bay do you suggest I look and what are the pluses and minuses comparing townhouse vs. condo? Thanks

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Here's a curve ball! If I was downsizing to a condo or townhome, I would buy a duplex. You own everything yet have the lifestyle of a townhome (small yard and not many immediate neighbors). If you were to purchase a condo/townhome at 600k, you could probably get a duplex around 850K for the same amount of cash outlay. You also have someone paying your mortgage and will likely increase your wealth over time.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
A townhome in the Bay Area is typically a 2-story unit but in some complexes there are a few single story townhomes. They usually have a back yard or patio. Some townhomes have rather large back yards that would require some gardening maintenance. No other occupants above or below you. You may have occupants on each side of you or just on one side if you have an end unit. Many townhomes have a garage.

A condo may not have any outdoor space but if you're lucky, it may have a small patio on a first level or balcony if you are on an upper level. You typically have occupants living above or below you and in multiple stories you may be "sandwiched" in between. Condos normally have carport parking - no garage.

I will also note that lending standards on a condo are a bit tougher than a townhome(PUD). However, some townhomes are mistakenly classifed as condos so that's something your lender might scrutinize during the loan process.

Monthly HOA (Home Owner Association or otherwise known as Maintenance Fees) can also be very expensive in both townhome and condo communities. The more amenities like community swimming pools, playgrounds, parks, etc. will add to the cost of those fees. If you would not normally use those amenities, it's better to get into a smaller complex without them and keep your monthly HOA fee low. Those maintenance fees can range from $50/month all the way up to $800/month depending on the complex. HOA fees are not tax deductible.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
To answer the question, I will like to ask you:

1) What is your health condition in general ?
The most of townhomes are 2-story but the condo is just one story. If you don't want to climb the stairs, you can buy condo or 1 story townhouse.

2). Which community do you like?A new down town Sunnyvale & San Jose down condo or San Jose will be great if you like to walk around. There are condo, townhome and duplex near Sunnyvale Seniors Center.

3). What is you time time? Do you need to sell your Cupertino home? Best of luck!

Grace Keng
Web Reference: http://GraceKeng.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
Hi Woody,

After having lived in a single family home for so many years, I think a Townhome(TH) would better suit you. In a TH you are sharing side wall/s but do not have someone living above or below you. Yes location is the key, so I have one TH in mind in the price range you have mentioned that is close to shopping, freeways and in the Cupertino neighborhood, it has 3 beds 2.5 bath, 2 car garage and only shares a back patio wall with another unit, almost like a single family home., the HOA is low too..... and then i can think of a real good Condo too, see both.......and you can make a choice of what feels good to start with.......I live and work at Coldwell Banker, Stevens Creek, in Cupertino, am also a Public Safety Commissioner with the City, and know Cupertino and surrounding Cities very well. Please do contact me 408-7773823, lets talk, there are so many factors to consider. If what I say meets your needs we can work together, if not, i will only wish you the Best! For your price range, there is enough choice in good locations.
Please check out my website and references.......be well and safe, regards,
Nina Daruwalla
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
Hi Woody,

Lots of great feedback for you to mull over. I think everyone has covered the differences between a condo and a townhome. As far as which locations in the South Bay to consider, much of that is dependent on your likes and dislikes. It appears you have lived in the area for some time and have likely developed areas in which you enjoy to shop, dine or relax. Not knowing what you enjoy most, I would consider taking a look at Campbell. Campbell is a great community with a lovely downtown area of shops and restaurants, hiking trails and wonderfuly community activities like concerts on the park and free movie night. In your target price range, Campbell could provide you with many choices.

Please let me know if I can assist you with additional questions.

Wishing you much success,
Web Reference: http://www.AprilTavares.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
The Answer to your question would depend on few key questions.
#1, are you looking to sell this property in a future?
#2, have you ever lived in a condo before?
#3, what is your expected profit return on this transaction if you are looking to sell it?
Townhomes are more popular for specially in the price range you are looking for incase if you decide to sell the property, unless you can get a very luxury/penthouse condo in a very good area and even then your property will have a very limited client database cause it is a condo.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
Hi Woody; Very good questions. I think a great place would be Sunnyvale. But I am bias I was born and raised here. The new downtown is going to be like the Santana row area. With brand new condo's going in. If you don't like that much action there are still great places to live in Sunnyvale. We have a great police force there is little to no majore crimes in our town. Mountain view is another great place to live, close to town is fun. But depending on what your looking for; quiet slow town or action, always something to do. I would suggest going to one of these websites where you can sign up for free and have email alerts sent to you as the knew listing come up. Go to ultimatehomerequest.com and become a VIP member and the site will email you with new listings. I am with Century 21 El Camino in Sunnyvale. We have marketing plans second to none on selling homes. I would hope you would at least come by the office to see what we can do or I can stop by your home for a free availuation and get you a price.
Comparing a Townhouse Vs. Condo; A condo usually comes with a garage. At townhome does not it has parking stalls. Also a Condo owner owns the walls and the ground it is on a Townhouse does not. There are some other factors, you can own a Condo under a fee simple ownership. Fee simple ownership you really need to read the fine print. This would come in the fees for the association and clarify what is and what is not included in these fees. Townhomes may also not have any yard.
Please check me out at ultimatehomerequest.com. Would like to help you find the home of your dreams and get your home sold ASAP. The market is heating up. And rates will be going lower. Give me a call or go to the websites. Any more questions email me directly.
David Rivas
(408) 431-7202 direct
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
Here is the second piece of advice I have, buy in a new development. There are new townhomes and condos all over the bay area right now. KB has a wonderful development in Sunnyvale called Evelyn Glen near downtown, and there is also another KB develoment on Aster in Sunnyvale called Bordeaux. There are several new developments in Mountain View in this price range. If you want an a more urban experience there are a lot of condos in downtown San Jose with dramatic views and in convenient locations.

The reason I say buy in a new development is that right now builders are giving fabulous incentives when you purchase. You can often get a lot of expensive upgrades for little money. I also wrote an article on new construction that may be of interest to you. Go to http://www.marcymoyer.com and click on the link New Construction to read about the pros and cons of these new developments.

Web Reference: http://www.marcymoyer.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
I am going to respond this in 2 separate answers. The first is blog I wrote on the difference between town homes and condos.:

Condo vs townhouse

Condo vs townhouse is an architectural term Condo is like an apartment building. You can have attached neighbors above, below, and your sides. Town homes are like row houses. You only have attached neighbors only on the sides.

Condo vs PUD (planned unit development) is an ownership term. In a condo you own 100% from the unpainted walls of your unit in. You own in common the walls of the building, the land, and any other improvements like a pool, laundry room, parking areas, etc. If there are 100 units in the building then you own 1/100 of the entire common area of the complex.

A PUD is a development in which you own your home and the land that it is on. You own in common with the other owners any common space, such as the roads, common landscaping, pools, etc, that may be part of the development. A PUD can be a single family home or a townhome.
Web Reference: http://www.marcymoyer.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
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