We are in a fortunate situation that we sold our house in MDR, and are renting a month to month place up here so we can take our time to find the right place. I would recommend doing the same so you get the right house for a decent price. The prices will come down in the area. It is already starting to happen. Just be patient, and dont overpay or you will lose your down payment in 12-24 months.
Just as an FYI...Northgate is located up a 30-40 min heavily trafficked street from the freeway and downtown WC. I would avoid the neighborhood if you have to commute anywhere in the morning.
It is true that exposure sells homes and most of the Brokers tours are shut down during Christmas week and During the week of New Years. The local board of Realtors CCRIM tour for Walnut Creek is every Tuesday with the exception of the last two weeks. If someone was thinking of putting thier home on the market I would prefer they wait until the week following New Years so it is fresh for the January 8th Meeting. We have a few homes that meet your description and will be brand new and active starting tommorrow, and on tour for the brokers January 8th 2008.
My husband came from L.A. His family live in Brentwood, Pasadena and Encino; o.k., not like MDR, but also very nice area in L.A., but he loves Marin and would not touch L.A., Sorry.
What you are paying for in the Bay Area is the natural environment, surroundings and quality of life. Coming from my last residence in Indiana, you can image the sticker shock, but whenever I look at my current surroundings, I am amazed at where I am.
If you look at some houses in the link below, you will see a lot of homes are surrounded by hills, trees, views; I did not include the ones with the Bay Views (more expensive). Every time my sister comes to visit, and we drive on one of the bridges, she would comment on the million dollar views and basically say that's why we are paying for what we are paying. .
Yes, we pride ourselves for having buildings that camouflage into the surroundings - my neighborhood just shut down a new development proposal - too modern and does not fade into the environment. The developer was proud for the great new builidng, but we said NO loudly. Yes, anothing thing we like to do is buying up open space or land to preserve. Anothe benefit of being here and why the housing prices are high :-)
Yes...the bay area (outside of SF) is more suburban than MDR and kid friendly. We are leaving the city for the east bay because I am pregnant and my husbands office is out there. You can get a larger house for less up here, but the remodels in general are terrible, in poor taste compared to westside LA in my opinion, and far from the shopping and restaurants of San Francisco (wait till you try to drive across the bay bridge on a friday night...the traffic makes LA look like a picnic) ....plus the upgrades are cheap home depot jobs and they expect 300-400k extra which is ridiculous. You will also notice people dont do much with their yards compared to LA. It is just grass and old trees.
I think people like things looking old and rustic up here, and after being here for awhile, I am getting more used to it. When I first got here, it was really depressing, but now I am seeing it as more charming to make the best of it. I still refuse to settle for a tacky house though.
Any chance you want to move to Marin? Great place, and if you can commute to Novato, we have some outstanding homes in the $1.2M range. Although some are off the market for the holidays, but I am sure I can go through the temporary off market / withdrawn and expired listings also.
If you haven't been here, you should take a drive up - beautiful place, and great schools too!
By the way, for the houses you are looking for - if the market is slower now, I would look at price range higher than $1.2M (maybe $1.3M+ range) and don't be shy about offering lower - seller's motivation has a lot to do with what they will eventually sell for - two of my clients just got great deals on none foreclosure, none short sale homes - the sellers want to move and both of my clients have good position to buy (just like you , enough downpayment, great credit, short close); we asked for it, and we got it.
John, what is the name of your neighborhood, so I can be sure to check it out?
Yes, Susan, I agree with some of your observations about price and size/quality of the homes and share your frustration. But having come from MDR, I am sure you can appreciate we can now get a home with that is more kid-friendly. There is a big difference between Venice High and Acalanes High. Any way you look at it, a 4 BR house in Lamorinda will still be cheaper than a 4 BR house in MDR.
I think the reason why some of the "upgraded" homes don't seem like good "value" to me is because their upgrades, although nice, are not my taste or were poor quality. I am sure the houses are also overpriced due to "upgrades". Does it really cost $600K to redo a kitchen and hardwood floors on a 2000 sq ft home?
I live in Walnut Creek - on the hill east of 680 overlooking the the town. This is a great family area but lacks the sidewalks for strollers. But it's low traffic so you can use the entire street!
If you want to track the market, check out the link to our Market Detail Reports. They are updated every week and have the most detailed information available.
If the Sellers pulled their property, they will most likely put it back on after "Super Bowl Sunday," (which I believe is the first or second week in February). Others may wait to put their home back on around March, April, May. Your agent should look at the "withdrawn" properties and see if any match your needs. If so, your agent can contact the former listing agent or the Seller to see about showing their home. This is at least what I have done for past and current clients in the area. Is your agent from the area or from Marina Del Rey?
For $1.2M you can get some pretty good buys out there, depending on what your parameters are. Yes, you will run into some beat up fixers, as well as some botched remodel projects, but no matter what price range your in, you will run into that. With respect to finding a home with little or no work required, I think it depends on what the property. I have seen some enormous houses priced well below their comps. But those homes have had significant work that had to be done. On the other hand, I have seen some spectacular homes priced well above their neighborhood comps, but the Sellers did all the work and added a lot of "bells and whistles" to the property. Bottomline, it is all relative. Lamorinda has some great neighborhoods, but based on your price range, it may be tight to find a large enough home that will meet your needs. Of course, amongst the three towns in Lamorinda, I think Moraga may be your best bet to find something. Walnut Creek is great as well. And if you look in the Northgate neighborhood or even the Saranap neighborhood (WC address, but LAF. schools), there are some hidden gems within there.
Well the best of luck to you and hopefully you have a great agent that knows the area and that will help you find your dream home!
I have three homes coming onto the market between the third week in January and early March. You will see the numbers increase most significantly in March and April, that is why i want to get my listings out ahead of the crowd.
You should be able to find very good value in your price range and many that are already remodeled enough to walk in and be ready to serve your family's needs. I can think of three homes that might work for you but i cannot interfere with your existing realtor relationship-- good luck.