In the $350,000 price range and based on your desire to have a home that does not require major renovations, in the areas in which you're most interested, you will need to concentrate on homes within either condominium communities or planned developments (attached housing). I am reluctant to use the term "townhouse" because it actually refers to an architectural style akin to what is also called a "row house" on the East Coast, but it says nothing about the type of ownership you would actually buy. In short, when you purchase a condominium, you are purchasing (usually) a "box of air" bounded by the perimeter walls of the building. You own everything inside that "box of air," and the homeowners association owns the building, the land, and the common area grounds. This is why the condominium fees are often so much higher than when the home is located in a planned development. A planned development is a community where the homeowner owns the building, the land or "lot" for that property, and all the items inside the building. The homeowners association may paint or reroof the buildings to keep the appearance uniform, but the homeowner must maintain all of the other components. Because the homeowners association doesn't own the building, the monthly assessments can be a lot lower. Townhomes can be either a condominium or a planned development--your agent should know the difference and be able to explain this to you in greater detail, if not, find someone who can because knowing what you own and how it will affect you and your wallet is essential even before you purchase a property.
Regarding returns on your investment, there are many factors that will influence how valuable a home might be in the future, not the least of which will include: 1) HOA dues and the HOA's overall financial health; 2) the location of the property; 3) school district and school performance; 4) condition of the property, upkeep and improvement; 5) number of foreclosures in the community and if there is any litigation; and 6) economic recovery. On the average, however, know that condominiums (first), planned developments (second) and single family detached homes NOT in a common interest development (third) will decrease and increase in value iin the order in which I've just noted. The greatest fluctuations in pricing will occur on homes with a lower price point, and the fastest recovery in pricing will come to the same group.
As for finding a good home, work with a great Realtor to assist you in your search. Remember to find someone who knows the difference between planned developments and condominiums and who can help you determine the overall investment quality of your home.
Area Pro Realty
Congrats on getting married recently.
Yes prudent to get pre-approved first and now since you are married determine what is it
that you can afford and what the loan costs will be.
Then prudent to go with a Townhouse in Sunnyvale or Santa Clara.
Definitely get the mortgage advice first, so you know how much you can spend and how much money you'll need for the down payment and closing costs. Again, remember that "townhome" can mean condominium or planned development and, typically, it is a bit more desirable to be in a planned development where you own the home and land rather than in a condominium where you'd own only the box of air. And, really, you do own "more" when you own a home in a planned development.
Again, your Realtor should (must) be able to tell the difference and be able to tell you HOW to figure out what you have. Remember, a townhome is simply an architectural "style" and says NOTHING about the most important factor in your purchase--what you own. 9 times out of 10, agents and people in the HOA business get it wrong, so be careful that you know what you're buying and your maintenance responsibilities to the home.
Area Pro Realty
Co-Author: Homeowners Associations: A Practical Guilde for Leadership
For a stater home your on the right track by think about a Townhouse. You will be able to get a little more for your money when buying a townhouse and the living style usually is similar to a home. In that I mean you will typically have a garage and a small private patio/yard area. Though you will have an HOA fee that a home will not but you wont have to do lawn/pool work on the weekend.
Many buyers start with a great town-home in the areas that they want to live in because homes are priced too high in these same spots. If you buy a town-home in a desirable area than you should expect a good return when you go to resell.
Take for example this property below. It is located in one of the most desirable areas with a large park and downtown Campbell all within walking distance. At it's peak town-homes in this area sold for well over these current prices because of their location and desirability.
I wish you luck with your search and life!
All else being equal (same size, same neighborhood), single family homes will cost more but will also retain their value/appreciate more than condos or townhomes. There are other aspects to this that you need to consider as well. Planned development projects will have monthly HOA fees that cover a lot of maintenance that you would have to do yourself or hire a professional for in a single family home, and there can be alteration restraints that don't apply to sfh properties.
Find the best agent/broker you can, hopefully one who understands remodeling costs and/or has resources with appropriate professionals if remodeling is involved to look at options and advise you on the best approach according to your needs and life plans.
Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
Meeting with a mortgage professional is also a part of the process. If your income is within a certain range you may qualify for local programs which may help you buy a bit more.
Congratulations on your new beginnings. Sounds like 2011 is going to be a very exciting year for you.
The advice you have been given by the other realtors is excellent, I would like to add a couple of points,
First off your observation that the SFH homes is spot on, in your price range they most usually need extensive renovations and if they don't you will have VERY stiff competition and a bidding war on that home.
Second as Grace and others have pointed out, you need to work with an agent that will know what to look for in a Townhome and complex so that you are protected, get the area that you want with the best potential for resale value and can provide you the options (such as loans VA? FHA? regular loan? ie: ) that you may need so that you get the most for your money.
I believe any one us realtors who are local and have answered your question can help you achieve your goal.
I have been working mostly as a buyers agent and would be happy to work with you on your goal.
Feel free to contact me with any questions.
At your service,
You are going to be the one that answers the question but I will try to offer some opinions. A SFH will generally offer the highest appreciation and just like you most buyers would prefer that, one fixed up and one close to work. If the old-ness and distance from work is important in your decision that information might be directing you to the townhome.
When you are in a complex with HOA you will be affected by the other owners and in today's market that means are they paying their HOA dues on time? What is the condition of the HOA? How many of the units are rental units?
Congratulations on your marriage! You should start working with an agent so he or she can answer all your questions and concerns in a short time. After one or two appointments, your agent will know what your needs are and show you only the homes that you can afford and are interested in.
I'd be happy to go over all the deals to help you determine what's right for you.
-- David Sciplin
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate
You should look at both the options, and then make a list of top 10 things you must have related to the new house. Then rework the list and mark the 5 must haves for the house. This list should deal with cost of the new home, distance from work, location, condition of the house, amenities in the house. How long you plan to stay in that location (accordingly what kind of school you will need with your child). Once you have been over this list a few time, you will have a better idea of what suits you best. The ultimate decision for your new home is yours. Talk to an experienced Realtor like myself who can help you reach your goal.
It is hard to give you a clear picture in this forum, until you have looked at and compared multiple options.
Part of the answer depends on your lifestyle. Will you want a yard? Do you want a pool that may be offered by living in a complex? Are you looking for good school assignments?
Based on a quick search, I didn't find any detached homes but found about 30 or some condo/townhomes.
If Santa Clara, Sunnyvale area is essential, your options may be limited to townhouse/condos.
Even in San Jose, single family homes are pretty much on the East Side very South. I do not see any in the area of West San Jose.
Many homes in the price range will be older and will also need, at a minimum cosmetic updating.
Let me know if there is more specific information I can help you with.