The home buying season is hot and exciting right now, and if you have kids in schools you are most likely eager to get situated before the next school year begins. When it comes to making decisions between communities with strong school communities, choice can be a challenge.
In all of the good school communities right now, home buying is competitive so take care of your basic "offer" etiquette. This means make sure your "proof of funds" to close escrow looks nice and solid on paper. Make sure if you need a lender that your lender is a "direct" lender for the approval paperwork.
When foreclosures hit the real estate community a few years ago, suddenly many times the seller was a "bank." A bank chooses the buyer based on numbers. Agents representing the banks had to require proof of funds; copies of FICO; all kinds of documentation that a bank would use to choose the buyer.
This influenced the entire home buying process in our community. Now in areas like Saratoga, Palo Alto, Mountain View and Cupertino you rarely if ever see a foreclosure. However, the influence of the foreclosure process has made its mark and buyers should align all of their paperwork as though a bank were making the decision.
Next, how do you choose between exceptional communities? I grew up in Palo Alto, and my first real estate position was with Keller Williams in Cupertino. I love Saratoga for the open space and downtown area, and Mountain View is just plain convenient for everything.
How do you decide between great menu choices? It's kind of like deciding between a great steak or a fresh fish or a barbecue chicken when you are very hungry. In some ways, you cannot go wrong in any of these communities. In other ways, you want to get very familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of each as you are choosing between great communities.
I like to help my clients build a wheel and give each "spoke" of the wheel points based on their ' values. I like the wheel to add up to 100. So you might give points for:
- Strength of schools for your child or children
- Location comparative to your work or commute
- Future potential for value, investment
- Size of lot available at your price point
- % over asking price willing to go to get offer accepted
- Condition of home and how much you are willing to update or repair it
I don't just base strength of school on the test scores. I look at the whole school community, and I look all the way through high school even if you have a young child. Then also, you may choose a great house in a lesser school community if you are willing to go for a private school education for your child (or children).
I know, I haven't really said strongly if you should choose one community over the other. I love them all. I will always love Palo Alto. I have a home for sale in Palo Alto right now, not on the MLS. I love Atherton (not even on my list) and have a $6M estate for sale in Atherton also. I love Saratoga, one of my daughter's dear friends lives in Saratoga and would not live anywhere else! And I love the value of education you find solidly across the Cupertino communities. For Mountain View, I love how easy it is to live there, get there, and get anywhere else even San Francisco.
Good luck! Feel free to ask any questions!