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.
Looking for a neighborhood with attractive, younger homes that’s still close to everything in Los Gatos? The properties along Ohlone Court fill that bill as the community sits along the Los Gatos Creek Trail, across from Vasona and Oak Meadow Parks, and is equally near to downtown Los Gatos on one side and the main shopping district on Los Gatos Boulevard on the other.
Built in 1996 by Summerhill Homes, a very well respected local builder, the residences on Ohlone Court are relatively young by Los Gatos standards, and feature many elements prized in newer construction, such as open floor plans. It’s a pretty area where the neighbors all seem to care about maintaining their homes and yards nicely, and it enjoys the highly regarded Los Gatos Schools, too.
How’s the terrain? The road climbs from Roberts Road, where it is near the Los Gatos Creek, up a knoll. The top is of course sunny and some homes enjoy fantastic views. Some homes are nearer to the creek and toward the bottom of the hill, where it’s shadier. There’s an easy to miss staircase that allows pedestrians to take a shortcut to access Blossom Hill Road and the parks from the top of the court.
This is not a big subdivision. The 25 properties are mostly single family homes, but there are also a couple of duplexes. And the surprise element is that they are condominiums. That is, although most are houses, they are held in condominium ownership (local Realtors will recognize the same situation from the Villas of Almaden, though that community has the houses show up in the MLS under condos, whereas Ohlone Court appears under single family homes). Learn more on what the different type of ownership means here: What Is the Difference Between CID Ownership in a Condo, Townhouse or PUD?
A few weeks back, I did a “drive through” of the area. My daughter was at the wheel so I could try to capture a sense of the neighborhood for my viewers. Hope you find it helpful.
Every neighborhood has good and not-so-good features. What’s the catch here? It sounds too good to be true! One issue for some buyers is the close proximity of highway 17. Not all homes are impacted, and only a few back up directly to the freeway, but it is noticeable. This is especially true when you’re high up as there’s nothing much to block the noise. One other issue is that some of the homes are in very shady locations at the bottom of the hill. This may bother some people who want sunnier homes. Homes on the side of a hill or at the bottom of a hill sometimes have hill related water issues. These are not insurmountable problems but it’s very important to have good drainage, proper grading, and possibly other elements such as sump pumps to keep the water out from the crawl space.