A resource for folks living in or moving to Los Gatos, by Mary Pope-Handy

Home buyer tip

Case study: online home valuation sites

Are you tempted to look at online, auto valuation websites to check Los Gatos real estate values?  Those online home valuation sites (including mine) can be very tempting.  After all, who wouldn’t want a real-time update on home sale prices?

A few times, I’ve had clients or potential clients who relied very heavily on a well known real estate portal for information on “what that home is really worth“.  The trouble, of course, is that the folks running the algorithms haven’t been to that street or to that house.  They don’t know if it’s exquisitely updated or if it’s in a state of ruin.  They don’t know if it seems well loved or if it has terrible odors.  

Usually the portals have a very wide target. One of them claims that they want to be within 20% of the market value 80% of the time.  Let that soak in.  For a million dollar home, that’s  a range of $800,000 to $1,200,000 not all the time but 80% of the time!

More convincing than my saying, “hey, that site is usually way off”, I like to just demonstrate what happens when I plunk a property’s address into a number of these auto valuation sites.  I find the range of estimated pricing to be very compelling.  Please have a look at the wide range of projected values – all for the same home & land!

Online Valuations for the same house

                                       Online valuation sites. (Weiss Analytics is by paid subscription.)

How would you like to own a home worth  $2.6 million and hear that it’s worth $1.6 million from online home valuation sites?  Or what if you put your condo on the market based on this kind of pricing, only to find that it was 20% off?

No, the better approach is to have a relationship with a local Realtor who can help you determine the probable buyer’s value for your home. It’s never going to be one exact price, because each buyer will have different terms, motivation, ability, and so on. If you get a lot of offers all at one, it will shoot the price high. If it takes more than 3 weeks to sell and you get just one buyer, it will be lower.

Online home valuation sites can be fun, but please remember that most of the time, they aren’t very accurate.  Want help knowing if you have enough equity to sell? Please call or email me and we can meet and go over market conditions, the comparable sales, improvements that will give a good return on value, and the marketing needed to obtain your best price so that you can make an informed decision.

Is that Los Gatos house or townhouse actually a condo?

Could this be a condo?Real estate ownership type and architectural styles of homes are not necessarily connected, and this confuses a lot of Los Gatos home buyers.    We tend to think of condos as apartments that people own, for instance.  It’s not that simple.

With condominium ownership, you own the inside of your unit plus a share or percentage of all the common areas (think private roads, pool, etc.). With a condo you do not personally own the land under your unit.  This can come in the form of what looks like an apartment (with other units above, below, on the sides or perhaps back-to-back), a townhouse (think “row house”), at attached home (duet), or even a free standing, detached house.  Any of those can be a condo in the ownership sense.

If you look at a home, how can you tell the typs of ownership?  You cannot do it.  You must look at the Preliminary Title Report to know the ownership type and whether or not it’s a condo.

If you read a preliminary title report, it may say something like this, reflecting a share of ownership of the common areas:

1. THE ESTATE OR INTEREST IN THE LAND HEREINAFTER DESCRIBED OR REFERRED TO COVERED BY THIS REPORT IS:
A CONDOMINIUM, as defined in Sections 783 and 4125 of the California Civil Code, in fee

If it is instead it’s another type of ownership in which the property owner does own both the structure and the land beneath it, the preliminary title report will say something like this:

 1. THE ESTATE OR INTEREST IN THE LAND HEREINAFTER DESCRIBED OR REFERRED TO COVERED BY THIS REPORT IS: A FEE as to Parcel(s) One; AN EASEMENT more fully described below as to Parcel(s) Two  (the easement only if applicable, as with a townhouse community)

There are many reasons why it does matter which type of ownership you have.

Let’s say you have a house that’s in condo ownership and you want to add on into the back yard.  It might be a little more complicated if you do not own that land to begin with!  In some lending situations, it can matter also.

How often do we run into houses that are condos?  Not too frequently, but if you have ever admired the pretty houses on Ohlone Court over by Vasona Lake County Park, you’ve seen some!  In Almaden, there’s a beatuful gated community called the Villas of Almaden – same thing: houses are condos.

More reading:

What Is the Difference Between CID Ownership in a Condo, Townhouse or PUD?

What Is A Plat Map, And What Can You Learn From It?

Mary Pope-Handy

Realtor
ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at) PopeHandy.com
License# 01153805

Selling homes in
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special focus on
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