By the way, do not blame your realtor since all realtors are licensed to be able to talk about real estate, NOTHING else. They can NOT talk about many things freely by law. e.g. if you ask them about mortgage issues, they will refer licensed mortgage banker to answer questions, if you ask legal issues, they may want you to talk to your lawyer ...etc, or refer one they know to you.
I can talk freely becaues I am not realtor, and not here to make commission from you or any buyers. If you do not feel comfortable with Plainfield, you can also consider this very nice area in Piscataway http://buenavistaatpiscataway.blogspot.com/
I feel comfortable with Plainfield is because we were there often and we passed by Sleep Hollow often, and we know many AT&T colleagues live there ...etc. In fact, Plainfield has lots of wealthy gay families moved in and made the old houses very shine and environment nice. They paid same property tax but have no kids to consume the school resources.
And, do not be afraid of so-called school system. Since many immigrants here are hispanic, their kids speaks Spanish, so in school their grade may not be as good, does not mean teachers are bad. Just like back in 90's when we moved to Piscataway, people said the same bad things about Piscataway, but we have found Piscataway schools are fantastic!
For example, my oldest son just graduated and got the admision to UC Berkeley http://berkeleyhousing.blogspot.com/
one of the best university in the US and in the world. The Chemistry major he got in Berkeley is ranked #1. He also won top in NJ Science League Competition in Chemistry in his year over hundreds of all high schools in NJ. So, you know many school ranking are misleading.
Is my son the exception? no, in fact, his SAT is close to full score but is NOT one of 9 who got full score on SAT. Jennifer Wu got 2400 on SAT I and full score on SAT II, math, biology, chemistry, physics ...etc. going to Princeton Univ. Jolin Wang got admitted to Yale Univ, among others. She also won National Toyota Award that only 100 out of 8000 students from nation got it.
Most of top 10 students of Piscataway went to Piscataway public schools from K to 12. 100% made in Piscataway schools http://www.piscatawayschools.org/pway/site/default.asp
If you buy this great house in Sleepy Hallow at Plainfield, all you need to do for schools is participation, and get to know principal of each school and tell all teachers your goal of you kids and they will get very excited and willing to achieve the high goal you said.
For example, the first day I ment Dr Wango, the principal of Piscataway High School at Open house of high school, when my oldest son was still in 8th grade of Schor School, I told Dr Wango that my son is going to win lots of medals of the school and he is going to go to UC Berkeley. Period. I introduce him to every teacher and every counseler and tell them the same expectation.
When my son went to Piscataway High School on 9th grade and got 100 full score on NJ Science League Biology Completition in Piscataway High School, they knew I am not joking, and I went talk to all teachers every year and share the same goal and encourage them to be the best teachers in NJ or US and share all the tips and suggestions with them.
By the way, do you know there are streets full of brand new stores in Plainfield near downtown own by hispanic people? I found the stores are great and very affordable, and I felt I was back to Costa Rica, just like you visit NYC Chinatown, you feel you are in China. You got lots of diversed culture in different area around Plainfield as well.
The huge new Walkmart, Borders, Target, Home Depot ...etc off Rt 22, all a few miles drive from Sleep Hollow. that is to say you go the same great stores as multimillionaires at the mountain, the other side of Rt 22, but you paid much less mortgage a month. e.g. if you pay $500,000 less on the same great size of house, that is $5,000 different each month. That you can use it to pay off your mortage much earlier.
Along Rt 22 has many auto dealers that you will find very handy when you need to buy cars. e.g. we were just at the Honda Dealer near Plainfield off Rt 22 last night. We saw some great deals and good cars that made us feel great! If you live far away, you may not easily catch the great opportunity. Basically, we are thinking to buy a new 2008 for our freshman son, and the dealer will give us thousands deduction at certain time of the month ...etc. You just need to visit often to catch that moment such as one day sale, without living closely, you can not do enough homework.
If you drive west from Rt 22, about 10+ minutes, you also hig huge Bridgewater Commons Mall that is another fantasy and life style for your family years to come. I can tell you thousands of good places to go from Sleep Hollow Plainfield area and that adds to the value of the community.