Introducing a Beautiful Willow Glen Neighborhood, “The Willows”

The Willows - home on Brevins Loop in Willow Glen - The Willows near Rubino CircleWillow Glen is one of the most charming areas of San Jose, consisting of many older homes which feature lovely, classic architecture. Most Silicon Valley home buyers treasure the Willow Glen charm and ambiance, but many are seeking newer homes. A fabulous option is “The Willows“.

KB Homes built “The Willows” in 1999 to 2000. It is tucked away at the southernmost tip of Willow Glen, off of Foxworthy Avenue & close to Almaden Expressway, but only about 2.5 to 3 miles from all the action on Lincoln Avenue.

The tree-lined streets are built in something of a loop shape with Rubino Circle being the main access or loop road. Situated on the inner part of the loop are homes with smaller lots that are a little more affordable. The outer part of the circle is built with slightly larger homes on larger lots (but none of the lots are “big”). Sidewalks with soft curbs at the corners accompany the streets and make for a pedestrian-friendly, bike, wheelchair or stroller friendly area. Visit in the early evenings and you will see children and adults walking, strolling, taking dogs for a walk etc. – always a good sign! Because the neighborhood is a bit like an oversized cul-de-sac (no through traffic), it is very quiet in terms of traffic. The area has large street lights, too, making for a safe feeling community.

 

The Willows - Rubino Circle street view
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Rose Garden Homes Tour in San Jose

Each autumn, the St. Martin of Tours School puts on a fabulous tour of lovely homes in San Jose’s Rose Garden neighborhood. While anyone driving through this central San Jose area can appreciate the diverse and beautiful architecture, often the best  features of these homes are found inside.

This year is the tour’s 22nd Anniversary! The homes tour is a large scale fundraising effort for the school. Tours are self-guided with hosts in each home ready to answer questions and share interesting historical facts and stories about the homes. On display will also be floral designs, artwork, and perhaps some treasures. The garden segment of the tour includes the Tea Garden, a spot to sit and enjoy complementary refreshments or a gourmet lunchbox (available to pre-order through October 6th with your tickets). The tour also features a boutique, where 100% of the proceeds will benefit St Martin of Tours School (credit cards accepted!) and a donation drawing.

Tour dates are Saturday, October 14th and Sunday, October 15th from 10am-4pm both days. No children under 12 are allowed on the tour. Come any time within the tour hours to begin, but note that it is recommended that visitors allot about 2 hours to view every home and the tour ends promptly at 4pm.

Tickets are available at the door, online, or through families in the school.

To read about the homes from last year’s tour, and to learn more about this year’s tour, and to purchase tickets, and more please visit the official Rose Garden Homes Tour website.

 

 

Get Tickets!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comparing Almaden, Cambrian, and Los Gatos

Cambrian, Almaden, and Los GatosIf a strong public high school is at the top of your priority list, you may find yourself looking at Los Gatos, Cambrian (area of San Jose), and Almaden (also in San Jose) – scenic areas along the southwest side of Silicon Valley, all of them featuring good to excellent high schools.   I would caution against only judging an area, or a school, by its scores, though – often the culture at the campus, the offerings, and many other things can vary from one school to the next.  Nothing beats visiting in person and talking with students, parents, faculty and staff.

2013 Growth API Scores

Disclaimers aside, scores do matter as an important part of the overall package.  How do the high schools in these areas stack up?  API scores are no longer used, so the numbers below are from the 2013 Growth API scores, the most current year available.

Ranked in order of API score:

Leland High – 889 (Almaden, southern area)

Los Gatos High – 883 (Los Gatos, central + small area in Almaden)

Leigh High – 833 (Los Gatos, east & Cambrian plus little of Almaden)

Pioneer High – 822 (Almaden, northern area & Cambrian)

Branham High – 810 (Cambrian & Blossom Valley)

Westmont High – 796 (Los Gatos, western area plus parts of Campbell and Saratoga)

What is the cost of homes in these areas?

To narrow it, let’s consider the same set of criteria: houses sold in the last 180 days within 1 mile of each high school named, with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 1500 – 2000 SF. (I’m leaving lot sizes out because it’s already a very small pool of homes.) To make it super simple, I’ll just include the price per SF and the average sale price of these houses.

Ranked in order of affordability – average sale price:

Pioneer High – 822 API – average price per sf  $549.17  average sale price  $919,057  (9 houses)

Branham High – 810 API – average price per sf   $588.92 average sale price $969,295   (17 houses)

Leland High – 889 API – average price per sf   $616.04  average sale price  $1,071,250  (4 houses)

Leigh High – 833 API – average price per sf     $686.00  average sale price $1,144,100  (20 houses)

Westmont High – 796 API – average price per sf   $844.00  average sale price  $1,329,500 (8 houses)

Los Gatos High – 883 API – average price per sf   $917.95  average sale price $1,593,556 (9 houses)

Clearly, the market dictates that there are more than high school scores impacting home values (but you already knew that!).

Homes in the Leland High School area are a very good value, if you can find one (there were only 4, so too easy to have an impossibly small pool of choices).

Market drivers – beyond school scores

San Benito Way home in Los GatosDowntown Los Gatos is charming and historic (with loads of beautiful older homes and buildings), it enjoys a vibrant night life and restaurant scene. It’s interesting! It’s “walkable”!  People want to live in a part of Silicon Valley that isn’t just suburban sprawl – hence downtown LG has the biggest draw of all these areas.  It’s not too far from Highway 85 (think Apple) but it’s not boring, like most of San Jose can be.   Many are willing to pay much more to be part of Los Gatos and Los Gatos High School.  A nice townhouse in LG, or a house in Cambrian?  That may be the choice.

Commute times to places like Apple matter a lot, so homes on the west end of Los Gatos, in Campbell and parts of Saratoga in the Westmont HS area see a very high average sale price, even though the API score was less than 800.  Schools matter but they aren’t the only thing that matter. Many home owners believe that the most important part of the education is the parents’ involvement (at home and at school).  Many also have their kids at a private high school. (more…)

Schools, API Scores & Maps of School Boundaries in San Jose’s Almaden Valley

One of the many reasons the Almaden Valley of San Jose is so popular is the wonderful public schools.  Almaden, like the rest of the county, does not have “easy” school district boundaries.  Instead, it’s complicated – Almaden is served by several different public school districts and various schools within one of them. It can be very confusing for home buyers to figure out which areas belong to which elementary, middle and high schools. Today we’ll address this broad topic, looking at both the districts and the individual schools, providing links to both. We’ll include API scores and maps of district and school boundaries too.

Disclaimers about schools of attendance:

First, schools – especially the most popular ones – are sometimes impacted, or full.  If you move into an area it is likely that you can have your students attend the neighborhood school but it is NOT GUARANTEED. For example, if your nearest or assigned school is Williams but it’s full, your child may be assigned to Simonds or some other elementary school. You will remain in the same district but may not have the nearest school. This is particularly a problem when moves happen in the middle of the school year.

Second, sometimes boundaries change between schools in the same district. This usually only happens after a lot of public debate and discussion, but it can happen. (This is also true for some designated natural hazard zones such as flood plains – those maps can and do sometimes change!)

Third, the San Jose Unified Schools in the Almaden Valley did have court-ordered busing from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s to help with desegregation. This practice ended in 1996 and the court order was lifted in 2003. You can read about the history of the San Jose Unified School District online. Although it appears unlikely that busing will happen again, I cannot guarantee that it won’t.

These are the three broad regions and their schools: (more…)

Beautiful Cambrian Home, Large Lot, Alta Vista School, Affordable Price!

Many Silicon Valley home buyers seek a great home with excellent schools and an affordable price – and I have just such a listing to present to you!   Not only that, but additionally it’s located on a very quiet street (no through traffic), it has recently been updated and remodeled, and further, it’s on an over-sized lot!

Just listed this week, the home at 5114 Nerissa Way in San Jose’s Cambrian neighborhood is sure to please!  Here are some of the highlights:

  • 3 bedrooms + small office or hobby room
  • 2 baths – both recently remodeled
    • hall bath features shower/tub combo & big skylight
    • master bath includes stall shower
  • updated kitchen with slab granite countertops, large skylight & breakfast bar
  • living room offers cozy, wood burning fireplace
  • family room open to dining and kitchen & offers back yard and patio access
  • hardwood floors in bedrooms and under carpeting in hallway and living room
  • house is appx 1233 square feet and lot is appx 7500 SF
  • loads of natural light – sunny house!
  • open, flexible floorplan
  • 1 car garage, attached
  • Room to add on to house, possible to make 2 car garage, and room for pool – many possibilities

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St Martin of Tours School’s 15th Annual Rose Garden Home Tour

The St Martin of Tours School’s annual tour of beautiful homes in San Jose’s Rose Garden district is happening this weekend.  It’s a fabulous opportunity to see gracious homes, attractively decorated and remodeled, and to support the school.

If you’re new to Silicon Valley and are unfamiliar with the area, the school (and Church) are close to O’Connor Hospital (which is close to Valley Fair Mall).  The Rose Garden District is close by, surrounding the San Jose municipal park bearing the name of Municipal Rose Garden. It’s considered part of “central San Jose” and has the zip code 95126. This area, along with nearby Shasta-Hanchett, has some gorgeous older homes. Many of the streets are wide and tree lined. This neighborhood is convenient to both major nearby freeways (280 and 880) so is a great commute location. It’s an area with enduring popularity.

 

View Larger Map

For all the details, please see their Rose Garden Homes Tour website.

 

 

 

Buying a Home Based on The School: It Doesn’t Always Work in Silicon Valley

Homebuyers sometimes call or email me, explaining, ˜I want to buy a home so that my child can go to Williams Elementary in Almaden Valley or ˜I want to buy a house and have my kids attend Alta Vista Elementary School in Los Gatos or ˜If I purchase a condo in downtown Saratoga, my son or daughter will be able to attend Saratoga Elementary School.

Usually.

But its not guaranteed. Schools tend to drive real estate values here in highly educated Silicon Valley. But we dont have as much control of this slippery issue as most might think.

It is a big mistake to believe that if you purchase a home in a certain location, you’ll be guaranteed that certain school. Lots can happen.
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