Help with home values - which home should I buy?

Asked by Ck, San Ramon, CA Thu Oct 18, 2007

I am considering two homes in the area - we love them both - and am wondering (all other things considered equal) which is the better investment... a New 3400 sq foot home on a 7000 sq foot flat lot (KB) in Danville for 1019000 tax rate of 1.25 or a New 4300 sq foot home on a 6000 sq foot flat lot (Centex) in San Ramon (Windemere) for 1098000 tax rate of 1.7 areas are very close to each other..but I've heard that san ramon price per square foot is less than danville...so I'm wondering which is the better buy (there are lots of incentives out there, it's hard to tell when you are or are not getting a good deal)! thank you! CK

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38
Infinity Rea…, , Saratoga, CA
Thu Oct 18, 2007
BEST ANSWER
Im not sure what your major concerns are as far why you are buying and what is most important to you. I would really suggest Danville over San Ramon windermere. Maybe im biased because i lived in danville and still maintain a home there as a rental. That being said, I think Windermere is a beautifully planned community, and i think they are doing a great job with the development of the community. The major downfalls i see besides the prestige of the name compared to san ramon is the huge amount of houses that have been built in the area. The huge development has lead to alot of inventory, and prices in the windermere area, have slid due to investors and buyers bailing out of there new construction purchase after a year or two. With the New builders unloading houses at discounts and the listings of Newer homes that are for sale competing with each other. This i see as a issue, and who knows if the builder will lower more in order to deplete there inventory. Those that bought high are taking losses and there are short sales in the area for comparible homes as the New construction.

The Pros for San Ramon, the easier proximity to the freeways than the danville location if it is the development off tassajara across from blackhawk. The New High School and schools is a positive, but danville also has some the best schools in the area. San Ramon is alot closer to major attractions, besides Blackhawk plaza danville is pretty secluded in that area.

Now for Danville. Tax rate is better, lot size advantage, and overal location of the development is secluded and across from the country club you might as well call it blackhawk. Very nice area. With a smaller developed community danville has more older homes, and not much competition between new homes just built and your new construction. So there are not people unloading a house that was just built ayear ago. To me its a choice of older town feel established community compared to a more new develpng community that hasnt showed its character yet, and yet has proven itself to hold its value.

My other concern is KB vs Centex. This is probably the biggest variable i have not heard much about centex homes, yet have heard some stories about KB. Do you research on the builders. Did you not like the Alamo Creek homes by Shappel. I was close to buying one myself, but chose to move to SIlvercreek due to commute reasons. But i loved the floorplans and the options in those homes, and i have heard always great things from shappel. I know they are a but more, but it might be worth looking at. This is where a realtor comes in handy, and builders in the area welcome realtors to help you make the right decision.

Lastly on a comparison for last mnths last closings, San Ramon held its value a bit better overall. San Ramon with closings 145 avg price $813,000 one month ago $800,000 + 1.63%. Compared to DANVILLE closings 112 avg price $942,000 one month ago $1,000,000 -5.80%. These are just numbers that can be due to many variables, your best bet have a proffesional help you and do your research.

Also did you look at Newly listed properties on the MLS, that are new homes and comparible. San Ramon has some other beautiful areas besides windermere that might compare better to danville but it might not be a new construction.

Hope this helps and good luck.
2 votes
Be-elzebub, , H-E-Double Toothpicks
Thu Nov 15, 2007
A little historical data, albeit personal, may be helpful to you. I happened to have had the opportunity back in 1995 to purchase either a 2300 square foot home in Danville's Tassajara Ranch or a home in San Ramon's Twin Creeks with about 2000 square feet. The Danville home was $319k and the San Ramon home was $267k. So, about $50k difference between the two. Several months back, I checked the same home for Danville selling at $1.0 mil and the same home in San Ramon for $800k. Overall, the Danville property seems like the better deal as for appreciation. But in terms as to convenience, supermarkets, movie theaters, restaurants, freeway access, San Ramon is hard to beat.

I don't like the tax rate in Windemere, I've had two offers on two different homes in Windemere and withdrew both. On $1.0 mil. which is better for you, $12,500/year or $17000/year in property taxes?
I don't know about you, but $4500 buys me a lot of meals out on the town!

Best of all, when they build the City Center in San Ramon, which is modeled after Santana Row in San Jose, San Ramon prices will edge closer to Danville's.
2 votes
Sigorwoz, Home Buyer, Danville, VA
Thu Nov 15, 2007
Buying an older home in Danville with more property will prove to be a better buy and "value". As density increases, buyers are wanting more land. I have friends who bought some of these newer homes and want out badly given there is no privacy and the increase in density is causing additional strain and congestion in the area. They want to move to westside Alamo or Danville and are willing to remodel. These newer homes will always be competing with more newer homes as Tassajara continues building and increasing density and are probably not the nest buy given market conditions.
2 votes
Calbear, Home Buyer, Danville, CA
Wed Nov 14, 2007
CK -- my wife and I were in nearly the exact same situation as you. We were torn between buying a new home in the Centex Chantera neighborhood (San Ramon), the new Lennar development at Monterosso (Tassajara Valley), or going for an older, smaller home on a large lot west of 680 near downtown Danville. My wife loved the floorplan at Chantera, wanted a new home, and we have lots of friends who live in Windemere so she preferred San Ramon. I grew up in both San Ramon and Danville and knew that, at least for me, Danville has more natural scenic beauty, 'character' and town feel. Along with that also, probably better investment wise as well. I wanted to buy a fixer upper on a larger lot near downtown Danville. To make a long story short, we split the difference and ended up moving to the Tassajara Valley -- my wife could get her new home and we could get a Danville address. We ended up at Alamo Creek -- we probably paid a premium over buying at Monterosso, but we felt the Shapell reputation, the community ammenities, the proximity of the new Creekside elementary school (2 blocks away from our new home), and the beautiful architecture of the neighborhood was worth it. The trade-off in lot size didn't bother us. Is it the best time to buy a house right now -- debatable. But for us it was much more than an investment decision.
2 votes
Susan, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Thu Jan 10, 2008
I heard there are tons of foreclosures in Windemere and the homes are not holding their values.
1 vote
Ck, Home Buyer, San Ramon, CA
Mon Nov 19, 2007
Wow, I never expected to get generate so much conversation from this question. First of all, thanks to everyone for your comments and perspective. This is a great website to gather information.

To update you, we chose the home in Windemere -- due to a variety of reasons (first being the market seems more depressed in San Ramon & we felt like we got a better deal & potential upside for long term investment -- with the new mall coming to town and the high school scores due to be released this year (which I'm sure will be great), it seemed like the better investment -- second being that it is definitely a much more "family friendly" community than the danville area we were looking in was. Windemere has everything for children & even though the taxes were higher, we felt the extra 5K a year was well worth it for all the extra conveniences of being close to parks, schools, community center, library, theatre, swimming pool, trails, etc. Everywhere you look there are kids up and down the block (not at all what we found in the danville community we were looking at). It was the little things like that that made the difference -- like the Safeway, that has children's carts and gives kids free samples when you go shopping there vs Draegers / Blackhawk plaza, that is much more upscale, but less child-friendly.

Thanks again to all for your responses!
CK
1 vote
Sigorwoz, Home Buyer, Danville, VA
Mon Nov 19, 2007
I have some friends who have moved to Blackhawk and do not like it. They have small children and do not feel like it is a good neighborhood for them. I have heard that from other families who lived there and then moved to other areas of Danville. The Northridge and Wood Ranch areas of Danville are GREAT family neighborhoods. Have you seen 99 Woodranch Circle?

Susan, I would love to chat live with you about this, as this is my second time living in Danville. I LOVE this area..we just moved back from Thousand Oaks, CA which was a nice family burb. Having owned a home in Tassajara Ranch (up by Blackhawk), we just (last night) bought a FSBO home on westside Alamo and are very excited about it. Where did you move from?
1 vote
Susan, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Mon Nov 19, 2007
Yesterday we looked at a couple properties in the gated community of Blackhawk. I must say this neighborhood is absolutely beautiful, more private than other areas of Danville, close to Blackhawk plaza, and even though it was far from the freeway...this neighborhood might be worth it.

My only concern is the following:

1. Is it a good neighborhood for young families
2. do you have to join the golf club to "fit in"?

My husband liked this area, but was conceerned there were a lot of retirees vs. young families.

Does anyone know why the tax rate is higher in San Ramon? That seems strange.
1 vote
Calbear, Home Buyer, Danville, CA
Mon Nov 19, 2007
Sigorwoz/Susan -- I happen to agree with you regarding larger lot size and privacy. If it were solely up to me, I would prefer to move to westside Danville. We moved from Orinda and westside is very similar in feel. But given that there is always compromise in life -- my wife had some say in the discussion. She is a professional in the commercial land development business and she does have some valid points about new construction / new communities. Buying a new home in itself is a very exciting thing -- everything is built to the latest codes/standards, you can pick out the floor plan/amenities that best fit you and your family, and new homes are very energy efficient / low maintenance. With regard to density, it's a double edged sword -- yes, less privacy but the increased density also provides for a more traditional neighborhood feel and a more 'walkable' community. The park, the school, the new soccer fields, and the aquatic center are all a few minutes walk from our new home. We've seen our new neighbors actually hanging outside chatting and kids playing in the street -- a novel concept here in the Tri-Valley.

Yes, I would probably prefer that our new home sat on an acre. I would also like to be a little closer to the freeway. But my wife loves the new Draeger's and Blackhawk Plaza. (sigh) Oh well, compromise, compromise. Overall we're still very happy with our decision.
1 vote
Infinity Rea…, , Saratoga, CA
Wed Nov 14, 2007
Calbear i also was Very Close to buying a New home in Alamo Creek and was about to buy I think Residence 3 with WIne bar in the Front. But i decided to Leave the area all together. I still think i would be happy if i had bought Alamo Creek. Read my earlier post i think those are the best homes in the Area. But i just got word from a good friend of mine that there is also another option Susan with Energy efficient Homes and are supposed to be also well built. Me i still like the design and ammenities of alamo creek.
1 vote
Susan, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Mon Nov 12, 2007
We looked at Ponderosa Colony yesterday in Danville. The homes were very nice, but for the $$, I would rather buy an older home on a bigger lot in Danville. Privacy is very important to me, and these new homes in Danville have a privacy factor similar to a townhouse. Even less. You can see right into your neighbors windows. I drove through San Ramon to get to Danville, taking Crow Canyon to Camino Tassajara and aesthetically did not seem much different, but I do know downtown Danville is very cute and boutiquey and unique, and everything in San Ramon is a chain. I personally prefer the upscale rustic quality of Danville over San Ramon.

I think San Ramon looks like a suburb "anywhere" in the US., whereas Danville has has some unique features and character which is why I think it retains its value more so than San Ramon.
1 vote
The Harper T…, Agent, Danville, CA
Fri Oct 19, 2007
All things being equal - Danville - if you are asking which would be the better investment in the long term. Windemere is always going to suffer from the sense of a "California subdivision" with large houses on small lots and a homogenous look. Danville has more diversity of style and neighborhood, it is a more prestigious community, and it is #100 on Forbes list of the top 100 most expensive housing markets.

Danville is also one of the two local markets that has been impacted the least by all of the recent upheaval in the housing market. You can get detailed market reports on both Danville and San Ramon via the link below
1 vote
Home Owners…, Home Buyer, San Ramon, CA
Thu Aug 13, 2009
Just be very careful when you buy a new home. Track the records and ask around what have happened in this area and this builder. Many homes have problems for a while, especially after the booming and look at by your self these websites.
0 votes
Rouriel Noub…, Both Buyer And Seller, San Ramon, CA
Sun Jul 13, 2008
Hope CK did not rush into purchasing one of them.
0 votes
John, , Moraga, CA
Sun Jul 13, 2008
You will lose approximately 400K on each over the next 5-10 yrs. Rent a nice large home in either city. No property taxes, no maintenance, no depreciation, no being stuck with a huge illiquid asset. good luck
0 votes
Darrell, Home Buyer, San Ramon, CA
Sat Jul 12, 2008
Neither, please.

You are paying too high for either of them. Hold and see, they will drop about additional 10% by end of year.

Darrell
0 votes
Jed Lane, Agent, Petaluma, CA
Sat Jul 5, 2008
Ck,
It looks like all things being equal and you can't decide based on where you would rather wake up every morning and come home to every night, then try this old trick I was taught years ago. Toss a coin, when the coin falls be tuned into your reaction. Are you happy then thats the one you want. If you are even slightly disappointed you have your answer. You want the other more.
Sometimes in this process we get muddled by facts and figures. There are nabobs on all sides chatering away with what they would do and what you should do. Ask yourself what you want, do it and be happy.
0 votes
Rouriel Noub…, Both Buyer And Seller, San Ramon, CA
Sat Jul 5, 2008
It quickly proof my prediction was wrong. Here is my new one:

2000sf : 600k
2500sf : 700k
3900sf : 800k
4000sf : 900k
0 votes
Rouriel Noub…, Both Buyer And Seller, San Ramon, CA
Sat Jan 19, 2008
My suggestion, you better wait until second half of this year. The house price shall drop another 5-10% in average. Buy a house now is like catching a falling knife. Wait unless you have to buy now.

My prediction, the house price in Windemere shall drops to the following ranges:

2000sf : 700k
2500sf : 800k
3000sf : 900k
4000sf : 1M

Right now there are several REO properties listed and sold at or even below that range. But still many sellers hang on the over hyped 2005 prices. After 6 mons, most listings shall fall back to reality.
0 votes
Melanie Nard…, , San Francisco, CA
Fri Jan 11, 2008
I'd have to agree with Susan, there are more foreclosures and short sales occurring in San Ramon than Danville right now.
0 votes
Ck, Home Buyer, San Ramon, CA
Thu Jan 10, 2008
The schools are excellent in both Windemere and Danville..San Ramon Valley School District is rated #2 in all of California, I believe
0 votes
Cuticuti, Home Buyer, San Ramon, CA
Thu Dec 27, 2007
CK- Just want to see if you have moved into Windemere. Do u have any second thought of buying Danville? are the schools good?
Thanks
0 votes
Susan, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Mon Nov 19, 2007
OMG...I also moved from socal. Marina Del Rey actually. I can see TO being like Danville actually. I cant get over how pretty Blackhawk is w/ all the lovely homes in there, plus the environment is well kept w/o looking "cookie cutter" like other parts of Danville.

Lets definitely talk. How do we do that? Congrats on your house purchase. I hope you got a good deal.
0 votes
Infinity Rea…, , Saratoga, CA
Thu Nov 15, 2007
Once again Susan thanks for the Negative spin, also please do provide me your facts on the 1000's of new homes they are building or was that just a comment to sound more negative than say a 900 hundred homes. Danville has always maintained a strict disciplined development agenda, and i must have missed when those 1000's of homes were approved to be built.

It is best when you speak from a position of Knowledge and Fact, than ignorance and assumption.

I apologize if i am being rude, but when someone takes someones word on this board as influence as to make a decision to there future, i would hope it would be from a factual or knowledgeable point of view as they might have some actual experience or first hand knowledge. Everyone has opinions and i respect those even yours, just please be more correct on facts.

Those 900 Homes will be built between the year 1999-2010. And if you actually read instead of blurted out false facts then you can see that they have a plan, and there are plans to build new commercial as well as preserve open space areas.

http://www.ci.danville.ca.us/default.asp?serviceID1=461&…
0 votes
Susan, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Thu Nov 15, 2007
I was actually shocked when the sales person at Ponderosa Colony showed the the planned development map for Danville. It is maybe 1/20 completed. They are building 1000's more homes up there, and I didnt see any additional shopping centers or roads.

It is hard for me to believe that Danville can maintain its price or prestige with all that new sprawl coming in the next few years.
0 votes
Susan, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Wed Nov 14, 2007
Hey Calbear

Is Alamo Creek near Ponderosa Colony? Are you happy and moved in at Alamo Creek? Do you have noise and privacy issues there? Is your house energy efficient? I would love to hear more about the area. We are looking in Alamo, Lafayette, and Orinda, and it seems like Danville has bigger homes, but with less privacy.
0 votes
Sigorwoz, Home Buyer, Danville, VA
Mon Nov 12, 2007
Danville is ALWAYS a better buy or investment over San Ramon. I have lived in Windemere and Danville and every person I met in Windemere did not like it there and wished they bought in Danville. There is also more price volitility in San Ramon.
0 votes
, , San Ramon, CA
Fri Nov 9, 2007
For new homes, the plot size in Danville and San Ramon are about the same.

Windemere community is nice in the sense there are so many neighbourhood parks; you can casually and easily walk to them < 5 minutes. And not just one. There are many parks. We had also heard that Danville's high schools are tough to take kids to --- like 20~30 minutes trip in the morning and in the afternoon. But this was before the summer, before new Dogherty high school opened up and everyone had to drive their kids to Danville's high school.
0 votes
Richard M. J…, , Sherman Oaks, CA
Tue Oct 23, 2007
Hi CK, what does your gut-instinct tell you.
0 votes
#1, , San Francisco Bay Area
Mon Oct 22, 2007
Danville is absolutely the better location. Also the better for resale when prices turn around again. Even if it is less house... BUY IT!

The only thing I have a problem with is "KB."

KB is Kauffman and Broad. They changed their name to try to improve their reputation. I owned a KB home.

The name change didn't work. The homes are still poor quality. Bottom of the barrel as builders go.
0 votes
Douglas Moore, , 94598
Mon Oct 22, 2007
Less risk- Danville-- going for a bigger potential return with higher risk- Windemere-- you have already received very good counsel so let me just try to be additive to your process--

1. talk to neighbors, especially at windemere-- biggest surprises, check out their favorite and least favorite components of their home purchase...
2. i would be pushing hard on getting the best deals in both locations-- what concessions are each of the sellers willing to give in this buyers market? Push hard especially if you are prequalified and have strong financials.
3. Realize the downside risk of windemere vs the danville home if the market continues to fall off.
4. Lastly-- hey, where do you want to live? community, neighborhood, commute, overall feel of the house?

good luck and make it a great day--

douglas moore
Web Reference:  http://apr.com/dougm
0 votes
Infinity Rea…, , Saratoga, CA
Thu Oct 18, 2007
oops sorry those stats i posted are from # Sold August 2007 August 2006 % Change . Not sept. and one month ago. apologize.
0 votes
Bernard Gibb…, Agent, Danville, CA
Thu Oct 18, 2007
Both homes sound god but the real question you have to answer is which one is right for you rather than which is the better buy. Nobody can say for sure which will be the best investment (the reality may be marginal) but you should be able to tell which home is best for your family. A home is not just an investment. Consider the location, schools, amenities etc. Where will you most enjoy living? That is the one to buy. In either case, a good real estat agent will get you a good deal. Don't take the asking price too seriously!
Web Reference:  http://bernardgibbons.com
0 votes
Pam Winterba…, Agent, Danville, VA
Thu Oct 18, 2007
While San Ramon has had a higher appreciation over Danville, I would consider the Danville address over Windemere. Both are new properties and property taxes will be pretty close. Price per square foot is not an accurate way to determine value. The smaller the home the higher price per square foot. At this time you can majorly negotiate with the builder. I hope you are being represented by a Realtor in the negotiation as they will be able to protect your interest.
Web Reference:  http://pamwinterbauer.com
0 votes
The Hagley G…, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Thu Oct 18, 2007
Oh...I live , work, and play in San Ramon......both are great cities.
0 votes
The Hagley G…, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Thu Oct 18, 2007
Are you working with a Realtor with these builders? If not, if you buy new construction in the future, a Realtor can often help you negotiate the best deal. That being said....

1) Do both builders know you are making a decision betwenn two different homes? Has this offered up any additional incentives?
2) What is the total % they have taken of the original price that they gave you? How long ago was that?
3) And finally.....if you found out that one of the homes sold tomorrow to another bujyer, which of the two homes would you rather that be?

It's a great time to buy. Good luck!
Web Reference:  http://www.cindihagley.com
0 votes
Sylvia Barry,…, Agent, Marin, CA
Thu Oct 18, 2007
Hello Ck:

I personally would go with Danville. A great, very desirable location (a very important word in real estate), a nice sized home on a larger lot.. Tax rate is lower also. There is a good reason why one place in general has lower price per square foot than the other place.

Unless, of course, you need that extra 900 sf for some reason. Check on the location of the house within the development, the floor plan, the surroundings, the amenities that come with the house and the Mello-Roose. How does each house meet your needs (I assume they are similar) Think resale later also.

Sylvia
0 votes
Trish Chandl…, , Sarasota, FL
Thu Oct 18, 2007
CK, Although I am not familiar with your area....the only suggestion I would have for you is to BE SURE you contact the BBB Better Business Bureau and check out both builders you are considering. I would suggest that you go and personally speak to clients who have used both builders and ask them how good they were about coming back during the warranty period for repairs and so on. Many builders will give you a list of clients who are going to say "good things" about them... However, I always advise my clients to do their own research and plenty of it before choosing a builder. Blessings to you! I wish you the best...
0 votes
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