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Is that Los Gatos house or townhouse actually a condo?

Is that Los Gatos house or townhouse actually a condo?

Is that house or townhouse actually a condo?When looking to purchase a townhouse, you probably want to ask “is that townhouse actually a condo?” The ownership is an important point for many factors, including the owners’ rights and responsibilities.

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.

Finding out: how to know is that townhouse actually a condo

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 house (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 type of ownership?  It’s seldom possible to know without looking at the Preliminary Title Report.  It may be possible, buried elsewhere in the HOA docs, to learn the ownership type, but the fastest and clearest way is to read the Prelim. If you are planning on buying a home in a Common Interest Development (CID), especially if it is a townhome, read the prelim to learn is the townhouse actually a condo or not.

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

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)



Earthquakes and Real Estate Transactions

Earthquakes and Real Estate Transactions

Original Date of Publication: October 30, 2007

Earthquakes and real estate transactions are not good go-togethers, but it can happen that they may coincide. They did for my husband and me on our first home.

Home in Santa Cruz, CA, after Loma Prieta Earthquake of October 17, 1989. Photo by Jim Handy.

Home in Santa Cruz, CA, after Loma Prieta Earthquake of October 17, 1989. Photo by Jim Handy.

A couple of hours ago, at 8:04pm, Silicon Valley experienced a “moderate” earthquake. The USGS (Unites States Geological Survey) finds it to be 5.6 on the Richter Scale.

My Experience Tonight:

When tonight’s quake happened, I was not at my Los Gatos home, but rather on the campus of Santa Clara University, in the Adobe Lodge, saying goodbye to some friends after a very pleasant evening. We’d attended a Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley’s “Theology in the City” lecture on Muslim-Christian Dialogue, followed by a wonderful reception.


October 1989, photo of baby Brian Handy's stroller in Santa Cruz after the Loma Prieta Earthquake

October 1989, photo of baby Brian Handy’s stroller in Santa Cruz after the Loma Prieta Earthquake.

As we crossed the main room of the Adobe Lodge, sounds like someone stomping on the roof commenced. Then the noise spread. As the roof cackled and groaned, we realized – about the time we started to sense it – that this was an earthquake.

It’s not untypical to hear it before you feel it! By the time my friends and I figured out that this was a seismic event, we were in the foyer. A chandelier swung pretty voilently over the head of one of the guests. We were all frozen in place and I called to the person under the light fixture to move. He didn’t. Finally, I grabbed his arm and pulled at him while explaining why I was tugging. (The biggest danger in earthquakes is from things falling!)

The shaking stopped. We were all fine. The historic adobe building had seen much bigger challenges than this moderate quake.

Immediately after the earthquake, I tried to phone home to check on Jim and the kids – no luck. Tried to call my dad at Belmont Village in San Jose. No go there, either. The cell phone couldn’t get through to anyone. I was worried that cell towers were down. After about 15 minutes, though, apparently the circuits were calm and I got through. They were fine and I could rest at ease. Too many people had the same idea as me and we were all flooding the phone lines with calls to loved ones.

Back to Business:

Earthquakes and real estate transactions – buying and selling real estate after a temblor

Meanwhile I also received an email from some clients who’d like to see the home they’re buying again before removing contingencies. They wanted to make sure nothing had happened to the home during the shake up. Who could blame them?

Buying or selling a home when a big earthquake hits? Not good.In fact, Jim and I were in escrow to buy our first home when on October 17, 1989, we had the devastating, 6.9 “Loma Prieta Earthquake” here. It was two hours after we had done our Final Walk Through on our starter place in the Cambrian Park area of San Jose.

As you might imagine, we did not close on time. But we did close.

With images of the Bay Bridge and other roads collapsed, mountains falling onto highways, and homes burned to the ground from fires caused by broken gas mains, the lender was more than a little nervous. Luckily, the home we were buying was totally empty – so there was no broken glass or other items laying in wait in the new resale wall-to-wall. No damage at all.

But the lender wanted proof, so we had to have all new inspections and a new appraisal. Time and money.


Additionally, the road to the nearby beach community of Santa Cruz, where we’d been renting, was mostly impassable due to landslides from the quake. The moving truck’s alternate route was blocked by collapsed bridges. We closed 2-3 weeks late and a little poorer from extra costs, but glad to have it all behind us.

So what happens if an earthquake strikes in the middle of your sale or purchase?
It depends.

A damaged house from the Loma Prieta Earthquake in Santa Cruz, CA, October 1989. Photo by Jim Handy.If it’s a small or moderate earthquake with no damage, nothing happens. You might double check to verify there’s no damage, but that’s about it.

In a serious quake, with or without damage, the brakes go on! Lenders are always worried about making a bad loan, so they want to verify the condition based not on your word, but based on all the professionals’ estimation of condition.

Who pays for that?

It depends on what the contract says, like always. It can probably be negotiated. But the buyer usually has the right to back out of the deal if spooked.

Why? A little clause in the contract that references “risk of loss” is usually the key. That means if there are any catastrophes before close, the seller is the one who bears the liabilty in most cases. Here’s what one of our locally used contract forms says on Risk of Loss:

“If the Property’s land or improvements are materially damaged prior to Close of Escrow, Buyer shall have the right to terminate this Contract and recover the full deposit. If Buyer elects to complete the purchase, Buyer shall be entitled to an assignment from Seller of all insurance proceeds covering the loss.”

So even if a buyer has removed all contingencies, if a big quake hits, the buyer can back out. If the house burns down from a fire, the buyer may be able to complete the purchase and take the insurance assignment from the seller. And if a lender requires all new inspections, it may be a negotiable cost between buyer and seller.

In conclusion….

Most earthquakes, happily, are small ones. Supposedly they often relieve pressure from the big faults, making large earthquakes less likely or at least less dangerous. That’s the hope, anyway.

Of course, the chance that this is a “pre-quake” and that a bigger one is coming in the next 7 days is about 30%. So we’re on alert.

Scary stuff? Well, a little. The ghosts and goblins of Halloween might spook some people. But for me, a strong earthquake in the middle of a real estate purchase or sale – well, that’s scary!

Happy Halloween, one and all. Be safe!

Simple Rules for Landscaping to Sell Your Home

Simple Rules for Landscaping to Sell Your Home

Colonial house and manicured lawn with words Landscaping to sell your home for top dollarLandscaping to sell your home, or improving the yards’ appearance, makes sense. Curb appeal may make people want to see more, or see the property in person. Good landscaping can effectively expand the usability of the home, too, adding to its apepal.

Today we’ll provide a few simple tips to help maximize a seller’s return on investment or ROI that involve landscaping to sell your home. This is far from comprehensive, but covers often missed, general rules of thumb for sellers to present their home in it’s best l ight.

But let me warn you: I’m going to be painfully, brutally blunt. And that’s how we keep the list short!

Rules for Sellers: Landscaping to Sell

The first rule for “staging your home to sell” is the topic of today’s post and it involves landscaping and curb appeal. The front of the house needs to look great. Seriously. If the front doesn’t look wonderful (or at least respectably appealing), the buyer may never go inside to see how wonderful your home really is. In any market, first impressions are key!

Here’s Mary Pope-Handy’s “Simple Rules for Landscaping to Sell Your Home”:


Los Gatos Luxury Home Market

Los Gatos Luxury Home Market

The Los Gatos luxury home market is faring surprisingly well now, given the strange real estate market that we are currently experiencing with ultra low inventory, interest rate hikes, and the stock market being off after Fitch’s downgrade.

Earlier this year it moved around with extremely low inventory in January and an easier time selling to a whopping 13 months of inventory in March.

Some of the bouncing around is a reflection of the very low inventory and accordingly, very lo numbers of home sales. It’s important to take it with a big grain of salt. The best homes, meaning that they are in good shape, don’t have location issues, and are well priced, continue to sell in 1 – 3 weeks.

For an in-depth article about the Los Gatos real estate market generally (not just the most expensive properties), please check our linked article, which is updated monthly!

Los Gatos luxury home market months of inventory – homes listed for sale at $4 million or more

The months of inventory is the single best gauge to use in deciding how hot or cool the market is. For July 2023 it fell to 2.2 months of inventory, which is a decently warm seller’s market.

Los Gatos luxury homes market data - 95030 95032 4 mil and up months of inventory

Most of the luxury properties in Los Gatos are under $8 million, and that upper level can be much cooler than the $4 – $6 million market.

I tried to pull the same info for the Los Gatos mountains 95033, but kept getting an error message from the MLS that there were too few sales to chart meaningfully.

Altos Charts for homes listed in the top 25% or top quartile for Los Gatos 95030, 95032 and 95033

These will be automatically updated, so check back often for a quick update on the Los Gatos real estate data for this upper tier!

Median list price


Meet the Popular Blossom Manor Neighborhood of Los Gatos

Meet the Popular Blossom Manor Neighborhood of Los Gatos

Lilac Way smaller

A view of Lilac Way in Blossom Manor Neighborhood

Blossom Manor, originally named Blossom Hill Manor, is one of the most sought after Los Gatos neighborhoods as it has great proximity to schools, shopping, parks and the highly acclaimed Los Gatos schools.  There are many gently winding roads, a few very minor hills and some perfectly tree lined streets. It’s a tidy area where homes old and new all tend to be well kept.

Where is the Blossom Manor Neighborhood?

Located in east Los Gatos, Blossom Manor is bordered by Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos Boulevard, Los Gatos Almaden Road, and Longwood Drive.

Below, please find an enhanced map of the area. I added the location of the shopping centers (3 grocery stores between them, many restaurants, coffee places, video rental, Noah’s Bagels, drug store, banks, etc.) and I added the two nearby public schools for this area.

Map of the Blossom Manor neighborhood in Los Gatos, California - also known as Blossom Hill Manor or simply The Manor.

Map of Blossom Manor neighborhood in Los Gatos, CA

There are many shops, stores, and restaurants along Los Gatos Boulevard, and especially at the intersection of Los Gatos Boulevard and Blossom Hill Road, but also at Los Gatos Blvd. For instance, there are three grocery stores all within a few blocks: Nob Hill, Lunardi’s, and Whole Foods are all along the border of The Manor. There’s a great variety of coffee shops (3 of them nearby), eateries (mostly casual), and stores.

Video drive through

A Little History of The Manor