You will not find a more family friendly community than Orinda. That is why my wife and I moved here, and why many people aspire to call Orinda their home. This fact makes parent involvement in the community very high. The schools are top-rated, and the kids programs are very well run.
The title of your post says you are seeking a house in Orinda, up to $1m. There are currently 64 properties available in Orinda, and only 21 of them are under $1m. Of those 21, 8 of them are fixers, mostly of the severe condition (3 in the Country Club, 1 in the Claremont area, 1 on Moraga Way, 1 in the Glorietta area, and 1 in the Charles Hill area). Of the 13 left that are not fixers, 4 of them are basically on or very near the busy street of Moraga Way. We are now down to 9 properties. There is 1 in the Claremont area, 2 in the CC, 2 in the El Toyonal area, 1 Townhouse in Orinda Woods, 2 in the Glorietta area, and 1 up in the Crestview area.
What you should know as an under $1m buyer in Orinda is that a desirable property in this price range goes pending VERY fast. 5 properties went pending within the last 2 weeks in under 7 days on the market.
If you are serious about buying in this range, you need to make sure you are up to speed in 2 areas; financing and knowledge of the market. You need the knowledge so when you see a property you like, you know for sure if it is a good investment or not. You need the financing to be in place (underwritten for credit) so you can write an effective offer immediately, which will be accepted.
More properties that fit your parameters will come on the market over the next few months. The good ones are sure to go fast! A good Realtor goes a long way.
The schools are excellent in Orinda (not only public but a huge selection of private). There are also quite a few homes that have been completely renovated. In general, all homes in Orinda are unique as there are few developments done by contractors so you will not find much in the way of tract homes with similar specifications here.
If you are interested in seeing Orinda (and maybe Lafayette - which is also a great town) I would be happy to take you around. You will not be disappointed with the family friendliness or the values. Orinda is a super small growth town, so there will not likely be overbuilding and later declining values as we have seen in many Contra Costa towns where overbuilding has brought down the values, hence then neighborhood environment.
I moved here from the Central Valley - a very small town with family friendly schools and community activities. I feel that I still have that here in Lamorinda. If you want to work with a buyer's agent who works with only 3-4 buyers at a time, give me a call: 510-847-1450. I will help you find a great fit for your family. Right now there are 6 homes in the $900's available and 6 homes in the $800's available. Lafayette has some as well.
I see alot of the same games being played in Mill Valley as I see in Orinda - very - very high asking prices properties on the market for quite some time - and the perception by both sellers and agents that they need to ask the high price because there are people who still think an average sized 3bd 2ba home is worth 1+ mill. Notice no one talks about the property taxes you pay on that home (EVERY YEAR). I would also meet with your financial advisor and discuss what you can afford - loan agents are not financial certified people.
$1,000,000 is alot of money no matter how you slice it -
My wife and I are in the same search mode - but I find that the current properties in Mill Valley and Orinda areas that sold for just 500-600K 10 or so years ago which are now listed close to 2,000,000 are a little out of touch with reality regardless of how nice Orinda is or how good their schools are. It is still on the other side of the hills and behind the tunnel ;-)
If you go to my web site, you'll be able to check out what homes are on the market in Orinda, and also check out the communities as well. Under the communities tab, you'll have access to all the neighborhoods of Orinda. Orinda really does not have any bad neighborhoods. It is a very upscale area.
The homes in Orinda hold their value very well, so I wouldn't be concerned about the value aspect.
If you need any other assistance Mike, don't hesitate to contact me.
Old West Realty Inc.
Danville, Ca. 94506
The areas you mentioned are all very nice. Orinda is a small community so it really comes down to what type home you and your family would like to own. If you need more info or would like me to send you current homes on the market feel free to contact me. I'd be happy to help.