Townhome in Rivermark vs SFH in Cambrian Park

Asked by cr1000, Santa Clara, CA Thu Mar 13, 2014

There's a townhome in Rivermark (3b/3b, 1600 sq.ft) priced at 780k and a single-family home (3b/2b, 1360 sq.ft) in Cambrian Park. Which is a better buy (either as an investment or for living)? In my opinion, Rivermark has a very good elementary school while Cambrian park has decent elementary and not-so-great middle/high schools.

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:


Erica Glessi…, Agent, San Jose, CA
Mon Apr 7, 2014
Actually from these choices, I don't think you can make a Wrong choice. Both have strengths and the feeling of these two different locations is so different that you might need to look at what you seek (personally) from your purchase.

For ease of commute Rivermark stands out for me. Plus with the Superbowl 2016 coming to "Levi's Stadium" the excitement next year in this area of Santa Clara should give real estate a lot of public relations buzz and PR may generate more people interested in an area -- then high demand normally causes prices to go up.

The homes in Rivermark are newer.

Cambrian as the other respondents noted has some exceptional schools. The homes are older (in general).

You can work in Mountain View or Palo Alto and get to work from Rivermark on 237 to El Camino in a heartbeat.

I would say school quality as a stand alone value points to Cambrian. Not that the Rivermark schools aren't wonderful, it's just that if you are seeking to weigh and compare, these are the #s. is a great place to check out the schools that a particular home might feed into, although then you need to go to the district locator to determine exact feeder schools.

Now picture yourself driving home to either place and ask yourself which feels better. Because you do need to live there -- not just "invest" there -- if you are seeking a home for you and/or your family. So how you feel about your own home would carry a value as well. Be sure to drive at the times of day you would normally drive -- not just lunch times or weekends. Because the daily amount of traffic time (for me) is an indicator of quality of life too.

Good luck!

1 vote
Joy Bechdolt, Agent, San Jose, CA
Fri Mar 14, 2014
If you have kids schools can be the most important factor in buying a home (unless you use private schools). Cambrian is known for having very good schools, Santa Clara is not.

The Rivermark area is serviced by 3 elem schools; Don Callejon api 868, Katherine Hughs api 828, and Montegue api 804. Middle schools are Buchser api 804 and Don Callejon (K-8) api 868. High school is Santa Clara api 782.

Cambrian is a big area but most of the elem school apis are high 8xx or low 9xx. Middle schools are Union api 938, Dartmount api 917 and Price Charter api 883 and maybe John Muir api 787. Highs are Leigh api 833, Branham api 810, Pioneer api 822 and maybe Willow Glen api 747.

To accurately find the schools that a home is assigned to see:…
1 vote
Elena Talis, Broker, Palo Alto, CA
Fri Mar 14, 2014
As an investment, SFRs are generally better than condos. The value of land in the crowded Bay Area will be going up while the structure depreciates. In terms of quality of living - it has to be your decision. We all have different preferences and priorities.
Web Reference:
1 vote
The Medford…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Fri Mar 14, 2014
What are your personal preferences? Only you can decide with is better ... for YOU. All of us who answer may have opinions, but you will be the one living there. Go with your gut, not popular consensus. You asked a couple of questions:

Q: Which is a better buy (either as an investment or for living)?
A: There is no way of knowing at this point in time which will be a better investment. No one knows the future. As for living, no one answering this question knows you and your lifestyle. Do you want a rear yard? Do you want pets? Do you like older or newer? How about your commute? These are decisions you will have to make yourself.

Q: Rivermark has a very good elementary school while Cambrian park has decent elementary and not-so-great middle/high schools.
A: Life is not just about schools. Quality of life includes SO many other factors. Keep in mind that as more money flows into Silicon Valley, the quality of schools will go up. As house prices rise, the education level of residents and income levels rise as well, which in turn affects local school scores.
1 vote
Terri Vellios, Agent, Campbell, CA
Fri Mar 14, 2014
That is a personal choice. Do you have children? If so then school scores may be important to you. Are you trying to keep your commute down and one location fits better? Do you want a larger newer home and ok with shared walls and HOA fees? Or do you prefer a single family home with a yard and not HOA fees?

Only you can answer which is better for you. The reality is that both are very desirable and which ever you write an offer on there will be high competition, the market may just dictate which direction you end up.

Have an amazing day!
1 vote
Julie Wyss, Agent, Los Gatos, CA
Wed May 14, 2014
You are considering two very different options. What you choose depends upon your lifestyle and what you personally are looking for in a home.

Cambrian offers great schools, a suburban feel and a home with which you can do what you please inside and out. The town home offers an easy commute and accessibility to shops and entertainment (Mercado, Great America, new stadium, etc.) One is low key, the other much more 'lively'. I'd suggest figuring out what is most important to you and what fits best in your lifestyle.
0 votes
Juliana Lee…, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Sun Mar 23, 2014
If you compare past home values between Cambrian and zip 95054 you will see that they have gone through very similar changes. It would be useless to try to pick one over the other from past growth in home values.
Cambrian home values
Zip 95054 home values

This decision is one which a buyer agent can help you with. While you look at properties your buyer agent learns to see what you value and can point out how different areas and homes match your goals. Surely you've previously found it advantageous to talk over difficult choices with another person. Different people have different needs and goals. There is not one single answer to your question.

What seems to be particularly strong recently is a desire by buyers to live near work. As employment and population increase commutes will probably become worse. Another factor to consider is that yards are becoming smaller and smaller. Trying to find a larger yard in the future could be very difficult.

Juliana Lee
Top 3 agent for 3 years nationwide at Keller Williams Realty, the nations largest
Cell 650.857.1000

Over 20 years experience
Over 1,000 homes sold in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County
Web Reference:
0 votes
Mario Pinedo,…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Fri Mar 14, 2014
I would definitely buy the SFR! But for me, having a real garage, real backyard and extra space is key. Also, you can expand the SFR in the future. There is no possibility of that with the Rivermark TH. Neither property has outstanding schools after elementary. Both neighborhoods are not very school-driven compared to the 85 corridor cities.

If you want to kick around some other ideas, feel free to give me a call.

Mario Pinedo, CCIM
Real Estate Broker & Lender
Keller Williams & CS Financial
BRE Broker 01118365
NMLS 1029116
Cell 415-269-6249
Twitter @mariopinedo
0 votes
, ,
Fri Mar 14, 2014
SFH. HOAs are really just a cash hole and they do nothing. So, best to avoid them if possible. Just send me an email if you have any further questions.

Alex Greer
Loan Officer
NMLS #1056079
0 votes
Thanks for your option. I see that you put it in as a reply not a comment. If you want everyone to see your option you should comment on the question not reply.
Flag Wed Mar 19, 2014
I TOTALLY disagree that HOAs are a cash hole ... when you compare the monthly cost of owning a single family home - especially with a pool - and you factor in ongoing building maintenance, homeowner's insurance, landscaping, energy bills and so on, the monthly costs for a single family home are always higher than the average HOA fees for most developments. In addition, an HOA gets a volume discounts never afforded to single family home owners. As for your tag, "Just send me an email if you have any further questions." - it is a violation of the Community Guidelines.
Flag Fri Mar 14, 2014
Search Advice
Ask our community a question

Email me when…

Learn more