Foreclosure in Danville>Question Details

Susan, Home Buyer in San Francisco, CA

What is the market like in Blackhawk, Ca right now?

Asked by Susan, San Francisco, CA Sun Dec 16, 2007

It appears there are some excellent deals here right now. It also seems like RE agents "poo poo" this area as being over priced with high HOA's compared with other areas of Danville, Lamorinda etc. I find this surprising because when you drive around this area it is really much nicer than Lamorinda, WC etc.

Just curious what your take is on the area?

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Being a former Blackhawk resident, (we moved because of a work transfer) I can accurately speak to the questions regarding what it's like living in that community. It is true that there are few sidewalks, no street lights, few parks, etc. You should be able to see the community for what it is...a lovely, unspoiled, quiet neighborhood in which to raise a family, be an empty nester or enjoy the grandkids!!! With two country club locations, 3 pools and a variety of activities and groups, you can be as busy, social or secluded as you like!!! We looked at many east bay areas when looking for our home. Blackhawk was consistent in that I knew next to a $million dollar home I wouldn't be looking at a shack. Many areas including Alamo, Orinda, Layfayette, to name a few were just that. That's not what I want to look at when I'm coming home every day. I'm getting the vibe that those who protest the most...Signed Once happy in Blackhawk
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 14, 2008
At this point the outcome of the litigaton is unknown how it will effect the HOA. The litigation is being disclosed to prosepctive buyers. It sounds as if you are very comfortable with the development and what it has to offer, is there any specific information you would like to help you with your decision process?
Web Reference:
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
Pam Winterba…, Real Estate Pro in San Ramon, CA
Many of the homes in Blackhawk were built in the 80's and are in need of an interior face lift as they are dated. The properties in Blackhawk should not be listed in Danville as they are not in Danville as this would be misinformation.

When I referred to old money, this term does not refer to the age of the people but how long the people have come come upon money. New money as in recently acquired and the values that go along with it. I am attempting to be politically correct.

It is an area of supply and demand. Currently the supply is far greater that the demand for homes. It is my understanding there is some current litigation with the HOA there.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
Pam Winterba…, Real Estate Pro in San Ramon, CA
I will attempt to address some of the opinions of "Blackhawk". I am an East Bay California native so it will be from this prospective and this is just based on opinions of others.

Blackhawk was built as an upscale gated community with many CC&R's, rules and regulations. It has had it's share of ups and downs. The people who flocked to this development were of "New Money" and Blackhawk catered to the nuevo riche! It is tucked away and near Mt. Diablo and close enough to conveniences. At one time it was called "Disneyland North" due to it's ambiance.

Many buyers like the feel of Danville, Alamo, Diablo and some prefer the westside of Danville. It all boils down to personal preferences. My guess is some of the "poo poo" comes from the attitude of the occupants.

The development is newer, provides an upscale area and it is pleasant to drive around. Lamorinda has older homes nestled in the hills and attracts many buyers due to their schools. It is very difficult to beat the schools in Lamorinda.

Hope this helps clarify and I would be glad to answer any further questions for you.

By the way there are 45 homes currently for sale in Blackhawk and some really great buys if this is the community you want to live in.
Web Reference:
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
Pam Winterba…, Real Estate Pro in San Ramon, CA
although i've lived in the bay area for a long time, my family hails from chicago. the upscale suburbs of chicago blow the lamorinda, danville, alamo junk that bay area natives worship. most of the bay area shacks were built in the 70s,80s and are lacking serious structural, environmental and safety upgrades. the notion that the schools are good is also mis-guided. to be the best school in the worst state 50/50 doesn't say much. overall, the area is substantially overpriced with snooty owners who are out of touch with reality. DO NOT buy for 5-10 yrs.
good luck
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 10, 2008
The poo poo is not from jealousy. It is just a nice developement that appeals to a particular type of buyer..

Are you talking about the home on 170 Cottonwood Lane in Blackhawk.
Web Reference:
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
Pam Winterba…, Real Estate Pro in San Ramon, CA
I have some friends who have kids that moved to Blackhawk about 18 months ago and DO NOT like it. They feel it is not kid friendly and wished they had bought in another area.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
I agree with Anna, the broker from NY who mentioned that interest rates will not stay this low for long. Once the Federal Reserve stops buying mortgage backed securities, interest rates are predicted to rise approximately 1%.

As for Blackhawk, I work in Blackhawk and have been a resident since 1997. I have found it to be a friendly, fun and beautiful place to live and work. As country club members, there are lots of activities to participate in, from golf, swimming, tennis to joining individual activity groups. You can join as social members only, or as tennis, swim or golf members. Blackhawk Women has culinary activities, a book club, games such as Bunco and Mah-Jong and bus trips to SF to enjoy plays or shopping, etc. Even if you don't join the country club, you will find that Blackhawk has a wonderful feeling of community. As a realtor, when I drive clients through the gates of Blackhawk for the first time, they are awestruck. They always comment on how absolutely beautiful and well-maintained it is.

The real estate market here is just like anywhere else in the east bay. If a home is well-priced it will sell. Prices here have come down substantially making Blackhawk more affordable for people who never thought they could afford to live in a lovely gated community. I think it is the east bay's best value!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 5, 2010
Good luck Susan,

X-Califrornian now in Chicago. You are right, many of the suburbs do look like dumps compared to Chicago, but at least you have the weather.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 15, 2009
Oddly enough, everyone I meet up here from Chicago feels the same way about the bay area. The neighborhoods look like shanty towns and they are not well maintained, but still have inflated values. I think people dont maintain their properties here because they are hippies and stoned all the time.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 10, 2008
Hi Susan, I'll give you the non-RE professional perspective as a 20+ year resident of the East Bay. I've been looking quite intensely along the 680 corridor over that last year as I suspect at some point in the near future it will be a reasonably good time to buy.

Blackhawk has had its ups and downs. If you're a golfer, Blackhawk is a place you'd definitely want to consider with two nice courses. The older of the two underwent a major face lift in 2001.

The age of Blackhawk residents is a little bit older than Danville proper, but not much. Surprisingly, the % of houses with kids is just about the same as in Danville proper. Friends who live there, however, tell me that even with lots of families with kids, Blackhawk just isn't a family friendly community. You'll notice just about no sidewalks. Very few parks. Just not much in the way of kids activities.

There are no public schools in Blackhawk - all the kids go to the excellent SRV schools. There is one private school - Athenian for grades 6 to 12 - in Danville right on the edge of Blackhawk.

Some of the neighborhoods are getting pretty long in the tooth, dating back to the early 80's. You can start to see some places where the owners just haven't kept up with maintenance.

Overall, not as snooty as Diablo (a much older, smaller and more expensive community). If you want family friendly golf living, maybe look at Roundhill too? No question these types of communities command a premium, even as prices are falling, the premium will still be there. So if you're not interested in golf, you might want to look elsewhere.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 18, 2008
I know the difference between old and new money. I find that people with "old money" in areas like Lamorinda and Alamo try to pass off their non-updated 1960's homes that smell like mothballs for far more than what they are worth, and are also more stubborn with their pricing even though their homes are very tacky, and unappealing to new buyers.

I did hear about the litigation with the HOA's, but I am not sure how that would affect buying a home in Blackhawk.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
I dont remember the exact address. I think there are a few available in that price range. Do some people list their home as Blackhawk and others as Danville?

I prefer an area with newer money because the people are younger and keep their properties updated and nice.

What ups and downs has blackhawk had?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
They have a 5 year old and a 2 year old. They now like the Northridge, Wood Ranch, Magee Ranch and some westside areas. They believe the people in Blackhawk (they are in the gates) to be older and it has a more "snotty" conotation which I think is keeping young families out of the area. My friends also came from a very family friendly neighborhood in southern CA (Westlake Village/Thousand Oaks) where we all hung out together and the kids played in the culdesacs.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
There aresome great deals to be had in Blackhawk including some short sales and bank owned properties. Still a lot of sellers who can't get to grips with the reality of the fact that their home is worth much less than it was. I agree with you that the area is really a very nice one. It is very family friendly - check out the holiday light displays at night - and there are great schools. It always seemed funny to me that some agents seem dead set against it. I could never figure that one out.

Bernard G
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 17, 2007
Blackhawk has the best prices right now! You could not live in an area more beautiful than Blackhawk !
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 5, 2010
If you are looking to buy--consider---
Mortgage Rates Low—Credit Rules High

Mortgage levels are at the lowest since the 1940’s but credit scrutiny is stringent. Credit scores are of paramount importance and can and should be repaired if necessary. The low rates are due, in part, to the Federal Reserve’s program of buying 1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities, which is scheduled to conclude in March, 2010, with little likelihood of renewal (according to Fed Leaders). If rates increase to near 6% in the Spring, a $300,000 mortgage would cost $225.00 more a month than current levels. This forecast along with tax credit considerations should motivate potential buyers to act sooner rather than later.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 16, 2009
Prices have not been this low in Blackhawk in many years. Now is the right time to buy in this lovely gated community with two golf courses. With interest rates at historic lows, the combination of low prices and low interest rates can get you into a lovely gated tranquil community. If forclosures are what you are interested in, there are only a few. Contact me,
Jim Parlanti, J. Rockcliff Realtors, at 925.998.3138. We specialize in the Blackhawk area.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 16, 2009
Hi Susan,

Your question, once again, is about Blackhawk. As a Realtor, I live there, work there and play there. The variation in HOA fees are specific to certain neighborhoods. The basic HOA fee is $170 per month which includes the guarded gates, security patrols,and the open spaces. The development is a country club community in a rural setting with shopping nearby. Schools are exceptional as are the many community programs for all age groups.

The upscale market in all areas has slowed and great prices are available. Blackhawk is no exception. Great neighbors are always welcomed.

Dcik Barnes
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 14, 2009
We bought our place in Blackhawk this year -- and cannot say enough great things about the community. Homes are well kept, people are nice, lots of children (it is one of the three communities that feed into Tassajara Hills Elem). Driving this time of the year you will find holiday spirit all over Blackhawk. Our neighbours are people from all backgrounds professionals, business owners, academics, retirees, etc.

We initially considered Orinda and Lafayette -- the former seems too hilly and latter did not have any unique character. Whereas the city of Danville itself prides itself on a small town feel, decent food options and a variety of retail. They also have a fabulous library. There is a emphasis on being nice and decent (something easily forgotten in these fast, changing times).

We love Blackhawk!!

My 0.02$
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 14, 2009
Hi Susan,

I see you are still looking. Lafayette, Orinda and, to some extent, Moraga are all about proximity to San Francisco. The schools are great and the commute to SF is quicker than from Danville/Blackhawk/Alamo, especially during commute hours. My wife and I enjoy trips to SF also but we do not go every day. Unless you work in SF and will be commuting daily, I would put your lifestyle desires first.. Danville/Blackhawk/Alamo have excellent schools and ... perhaps .... the lifestyle you appear to be seeking. Trips to the city on a weekly/monthly basis are not lengthy, especially in non-commute hours. Hope this helps.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 19, 2008
Isnt it a big hassle to get to the city from Blackhawk? My daughter is 5 months old. We plan to expose her to as much city culture as we can. I am also considering Alamo because many parts are just as nice as Blackhawk, but closer to the city. I am also leaning towards Lafayette due to its proximity to SF.

I just think Lafayette for the most part is ugly and run down. It simply is not maintained and their are no rules to force the people there to maintain their properties. I just dont get it when the average price of a home is 1.3MM there.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 19, 2008
Susan, still looking? I'd like to share my personal experience in Blackhawk, because they address your initial concerns. And, yes. Now is the best time to buy here. (I am not a realtor, but have 2 kids under 5 and love the city too.)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 19, 2008
Hi Susan,

This reply may be too late for you to decide on a location to live but for many, it may be the perfect time. As a real estate broker, I've lived, worked and played in Blackhawk for the past 22 years. It's always a great pleasure to show prospective buyers this lifestyle community. If you have any questions about the community, the country club or home pricing, please e-mail me or give me a call. In addition, my website has a Visual Tour of Blackhawk for you to preview including brief descriptions of the two championship golf courses. You will find me a real advocate for this community and the Blackhawk lifestyle.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 9, 2008
Blackhawk is a wonderful community! NOW is the time to buy in Blackhawk! Prices have really come down and the value will always be there! You are right, it is much nicer and you get more for your $'s. It is very safe and a great community. There are many clubs and associations that you can join in Blackhawk, if you are interested. If you would like more information, my number is 925-362-2288.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 28, 2008
We havent bought a house yet, which is good because the prices are finally coming down from what I am seeing. I still think Blackhawk and many parts of Alamo are the nicest parts of the east bay, but my husband and I are pretty active and we like action around us. We need to be close to the city because we like to shop, eat at good restaurants and go to the theater. Unfortunately, Blackhawk just seems to remote...even though it is gorgeous and gated. Why does Blackhawk have to be so far from San Francisco??

We have narrowed down our choices to Lafayette(which still looks like a junkyard to me) and Alamo. I would definitely pick Blackhawk over both places if it had more amenities and was closer to the city.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 14, 2008
Thanks....I drove around the neighborhood and also got the feeling it's not "kid-friendly" No parks, sidewalks, etc.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 22, 2008
Steve - I'm not shill - you can see from previous posts that I'm a RE-profession skeptic, but here's a post from a RE blog with a little market info about Blackhawk.

This RE blog focuses on Alamo, Danville, Blackhawk and close-by communities. Her opinion is similar to mine from several months ago...
"Blackhawk, which has suffered a more severe buyer’s market than the rest of Danville (and the reason I look at it separately), had five homes sell last week, the number of homes pending grew, and the inventory dipped. It’s only a single week, hopefully the trend will continue and the Blackhawk market will improve. You may wonder why Blackhawk homes aren’t selling as well as the rest of Danville…my opinion is that those homes have all reached a certain age and many of them don’t have very large lots. Many do have wonderful large lots, but a great many of them are zero-lot lines or just smallish lots. Land, above all, holds value. As the homes become “dated” they become hard to sell without a large lot to give it value."
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 22, 2008
Susan, Did you end up buying? We are also looking at Blackhawk and thought the neighborhood was gorgeous when comparing homes of similar price in Danville, San Ramon, Pleasanton.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 22, 2008
I agree with you which is why we dont want to buy an overpriced POS in these neighborhoods....especially when the prices are trending downwards. It also seems like many people do not maintain their properties and still want 1MM which is ridiculous.

There is a house in Alamo asking 1.350MM that has dry rot, no garage and other problems. It has been for sale for months.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 21, 2008
Alamo is an interesting market. Broad generalizations here, but you will see the very run down places over the last year at the $900k - $1.1M level. Sometimes these will be right next door to a remodeled place that would go for $2M. Go up just a bit to $1.2M and you'll start to see some decent places that are probably in good structural shape and just need some updating. And then at $1.3, they start to get pretty nice.

Families that want to buy in Alamo are often going to be buyers who don't mind the thought of a fixer-upper - they'll turn a eyesore into a gorgeous place in a year or two. They will like the rural feel, but also like being close to the freeway (though there are some newer Alamo neighborhoods east and far from the freeway too) and downtown Walnut Creek. And they want the larger lots.

Personally, yes, I do think prices will come down in these areas - but take it with a grain of salt when anyone who tells you prices will definitely go up or definitely come down.

I don't want to come off harsh vs. realtors - I've worked with quite a few excellent ones over the years - but just remember that they are salespeople and have a vested interest in convincing sellers and buyers that prices will go up, same with mortgage brokers. One only need to look at the last two years of history of statements from the NAR to see how well they do on economic forecasting for the housing market (summary: pretty badly).

My advice would be to stay on top of the local market conditions with the help of a realtor, but do research yourself as well on local, state and national trends. IMO, there are just too many trends that point to further downward adjustment needed - the number of foreclosures and bank-owned properties in these areas seems to be growing substantially, inventory is high, downward price adjustments on existing inventory is common, many places just never sold last season and are now rentals, and resale house prices are just too much of a premium (vs. historical trends) over rental costs.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 21, 2008
Do you think the prices will come down some more in these areas? I looked at homes in Alamo and they were disgusting. The ones I saw in Blackhawk were nicer for the same price or less even. All the homes have been for sale for a long time.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 21, 2008
We love Alamo. We knew what we wanted in a neighborhood, and it fits us. You, of course, just need to figure out what you want.

IMO, in any of the communities along 680 and 24 you'll find your share of run down places - San Ramon, Danville, Alamo, Lafayette, etc. all have neighborhoods that are 30+ years old. I don't doubt that the lower end of Blackhawk neighborhoods will be just like Roundhill or Crow Canyon Country club in another 10 or so years - you know, long time owners who haven't updated. You can see it already in some of the older and less expensive Blackhawk neighborhoods. You might not see beater cars in the driveways because the CCRs keep some of that in check, but you can walk through and see the interior decorating styles of the 80s ;-) Not trying to dis Blackhawk at all, it's a great choice, but you want to make sure it fits you before you pay the premium. If I was advising a friend, I'd tell them that they should look elsewhere unless they were a golfer, or were able to buy in the top-end parts of Blackhawk.

You are so right, I laugh at some of the utter junk we've seen. $1M+ asking prices for places I'd be scared to spend a night in!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 21, 2008
Thanks Costello. I didnt see any nasty parts of Blackhawk compared to Danville, Alamo, and Lamorinda. There also arent old beater cars in the driveways like the other areas. I was having a fun discussion about "wealthy" areas of the bay area with another transplant from Chicago the other day, and she agreed that many of these areas appear to be a step above (barely) a shantytown.

What I cannot figure out is why people dont have pride of ownership up here. It is so strange that wealthy people dont take care of their properties.

This is why I felt Blackhawk was a nicer community because Im sure the HOA's make people take better care of their properties.

How do you like living in Alamo? We looked near the roundhill country club and it was pretty nice, but again, many old, unkept houses needing a lot of work.

I really dont think kids play in the street anymore like when I was growing up so I am not sure how important it will be to have babies living next door or on the same street, but it would be nice. We are having our first baby.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 19, 2008

FINALLY, it is quite a trek to the freeway. I used to live near Blackhawk. I'd have to guess that from Blackhawk it would take at least 15 and maybe up to 25 minutes to reach 680 at Crow Canyon Road. Maybe a little faster to Diablo Road and 680 depending on where you're talking about.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 18, 2008
Oh, and you're so right about Alamo and Lamorinda (disclosure: I live in Alamo). When I hear "funky westside," I cringe because I know it mean... "the various owners have added on to the house 3 separate time with no regard to how the house functions and there is probably a grave of some original valley resident in the walls of the original building." ;-)

And for how it's referred... Blackhawk is technically not part of Danville, it is unincorporated Contra Costa county (which poses it's own unique issues), but it does share a ZIP code with Danville (94506), so people are lax about the distinction.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 18, 2008
Do people poo poo Blackhawk because they are jelous they dont live there or is there something wrong with the community?

I think it looks so much nicer than the old houses in Lamorinda, Alamo and westside Danville. So many of the homes in those areas are dumps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
There is a house in Blackhawk right now that I saw before Xmas listed at 1,125,000 for 3k sqft w/ nice kitchen and floors, but gets a little street noise from camino tassajara. It is corporate owned and been for sale a long time. The agent said they would entertain all offers so I was thinking about offering 875k.

I just cant decide if i want to live that far from SF or keep renting and wait for prices to go down some more as everyone is predicting.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
They bought their home early summer of 2006 are just a little upside down.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
They are upside down? When did they buy their house?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
I think they will stay for a while since they are upside down on their house. I think they will move when the market recovers. They also wish they had waited to buy given the current state of housing prices. Have you looked off of Lawrence Road? Hidden Valley is also a good area and is close to town and good family community. There is a nice home on Monza for sale.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
Are they going to move out of Blackhawk? Do they feel they overpaid for their house in Blackhawk compared to other parts of Danville?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008

How old are their kids? Where do they wish they bought instead? I thought there were lots of kids in Danville.

Is Blackhawk more like a retirement community?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2008
I really think Blackhawk is one of the nicest neighborhoods in the bay area that I have seen since moving here. Unlike many upscale bay area neighborhoods Ive seen since starting my search, in Blackhawk, all the properties are well maintained, there are no junky cars in the driveways, and the architecture is very nice and distinctive.

Maybe agents dont like it because it is a gated community or it is far from the freeway?

I think it is nicer than Alamo too, but my concern is the property holding its value.

We are also having a baby. Are there many young families in here?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 17, 2007
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