Moving vans and garages stacked with boxes are a common sight in
one Gilroy neighborhood as the first residents in the
housing development known as Oak Commons started making
themselves at home last month.
Gilroy – Moving vans and garages stacked with boxes are a common sight in one Gilroy neighborhood as the first residents in the “lower cost” housing development known as Oak Commons started making themselves at home last month.
Tony and Felinda Cyphers are among the first to make the move to Kipling Street. Married a little more than a year, Felinda sold her condo in San Jose so the couple could own their own home together in Gilroy.
“No matter how small a single family home is, it’s still separate from something else,” Tony said. “You don’t hear people upstairs or the people with music next door.”
Tony, 50, was all too familiar with multi-family housing. As a single dad for many years he and his two sons, now 19 and 22 and out of the house, lived in a variety of complexes.
“We lived in a duplex for about five years and a fourplex for three years,” Tony said. “I could not afford to buy a house because all my available cash as a single income in this valley went to living expenses.”
Tony met his petite wife, Felinda, 42, at Cisco Systems where they both work as technical writers. They married in May 2004 and started looking for a place they could purchase together, but soon found the housing near their workplace was out of their budget.
“It’s $800,000 for a condo,” Felinda said, of the neighborhood near Cisco.
She was searching the internet for homes when she came across the O’Brien Group’s Oak Commons development before the homes were advertised for sale.
The Cyphers picked out their future home on paper. They saw an artist’s rendering of the outside of the homes and looked at floor plans. There were no models available to help interested homeowners visualize their new home until April, after they had already signed all the paperwork and sold off their condo.
“We’ve been living in a hotel in San Jose for two and a half months,” Tony said. “All our stuff was in storage.”
The couple had a chance to see their home a week before move in, a last look to make sure everything was just perfect and all their custom choices, including counter tops and shower doors, were in place.
As one of the first families moving into the development they have plenty to deal with, as construction continues on the 137-lot development and on a new shopping center on First Street.
The price the Cyphers paid for buying their home early on, without any models to view and with construction on 129 more homes continuing, is a major savings over what the homes are selling for in the latest release.
Like the Cyphers, Lindsay and Sam Al-Esawi were among the first to sign up for the homes. They purchased their two-story home for $479,000 – below market-rate.
Oak Commons sales manager Debi Nobrega explained that many housing developments sell the first homes below market value.
“The first buyers that move in are inconvenienced by noise,” Nobrega said. “They have construction traffic six days a week.”
The company releases eight to 10 homes for sale at a time, and with each release the cost goes up about $15,000. The average price of homes in the latest release is $590,000, moving into a range that would have been difficult for the Al-Esawis to afford.
They count themselves lucky that they were accepted in the first release. Lindsay, 27, works in a real estate office in Morgan Hill, and her husband, Sam, 28, works as an engineer at Hospira in Morgan Hill. Lindsay didn’t think about applying for the homes in Gilroy until a friend encouraged her to send in an application.
“As a first time home buyer, we were easily discouraged,” Lindsay said. “I would have taken any of them. A new house is a good investment.”
In their pursuit of an affordable home, Sam said the couple was considering a move to North Carolina. He had put in a request to transfer east.
“The house offer came through first so we decided to stay in California,” Sam said.
Sam, 28, dressed like a college student in shorts, a T-shirt and a ball cap for moving day, said he was happy they are staying closer to Lindsay’s family, who live in the Sacramento area, since they use much of their vacation time visiting his family in Jordan.
“Moving from a duplex, this is a real treat for us,” Lindsay said.
The shared living room and dining room is small, but the couple is saving space with a flat screen plasma television that will hang above the gas fireplace.
“This is perfect for us. Its 1,497 square feet,” said Lindsay, who is not showing yet at 3 and 1/2 months pregnant. “At least the baby will have a nice room.”