Thanks Bill and Allyson for your advice.
Bill - What I'm looking for is not a jumbo conforming loan and I'm on my way to get pre-approved by a lender. I'm borrowing 417k. I am not looking for a mcMansion. However my requirements are a little on the tough side due to wanting a newer home.
Essentially what I'm looking for is a good neighborhood and what I am considering are: traffic issues, low crime late, close proximity to commuting highways, convenience of supermarkets, good neighborhood demographics. My husband and I have no children, so I am not concerned about schools and I am already aware of the good schools around the area because of my friends but don't need to be in extreme close proximity to schools. What I am mostly concerned with is community. I want to be in a good place and it has to be comfortable, safe and desirable in the long run without the side effects of the club scenes of SJ downtown or the noise of high schools.
Hope this helps. Let me know if I need to provide more details.