Sunday, January 29, 2012

Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Campbell/Moreland Homes in Good School Districts yet priced below $585k

Many buyers in the South Bay want single-family homes with a good combination of convenient location, good schools, and reasonably low price. With those 3 elements in mind, I've put together a list of Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Campbell/Moreland Homes with good schools priced below $585,000.

Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and Campbell are 3 cities that are conveniently located approximately the center of Silicon Valley. These centrally-located cities have easy access to a large variety of high-tech jobs in the valley. Sunnyvale and Santa Clara are the most convenient. If you buy a house in Sunnyvale, you and your spouse will both be able to commute easily whether you work at a software company in Mountain View, a semiconductor company in Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, or a networking company in Milpitas.

As of Sunday January 29th, here are the listings available in Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and Campbell/Moreland with API over 800 and price below $585,000:

Santa Clara (2 listings)
1746 Oswald Place 95051 <-- Northwest of San Tomas Expwy & El Camino Real
3 bed, 2 bath
1283sf house, 5670sf lot
Bowers Elem (API 830)
Juan Cabrillo Middle (API 756)
Adrian Wilcox High (API 777)
Pros: Larger house
Cons: Lower API at a higher price

2344 Augusta Place 95051 <-- Northwest of Monroe St & Bowers Ave
3bed, 2bath
1034sf house, 5500sf lot
Bracher Elem (API 894)
Juan Cabrillo Middle (API 756)
Adrian Wilcox High (API 777)
Pros: Higher API at a lower price
Cons: Smaller house

Sunnyvale (2 listings)
836 Dwight Ave 94086 <-- Northeast of N. Fair Oaks Ave & E. Kifer Ave
3bed, 2bath
1176sf house, 5000sf lot
Ellis Elementary (API 811)
Sunnyvale Middle (API 843)
Fremont High (API 767)
Pros: 102sf larger than Fair Oaks; 2bath instead of 1bath
Cons: Closer to Home Depot and other commercial/industrial. Farther from El Camino Rea.

433 S. Fair Oaks Ave 94086 <-- South of E. Evelyn Ave. North of Old San Francisco Rd
3bed, 1bath
1078sf house, 5661sf lot
Ellis Elementary (API 811)
Sunnyvale Middle (API 843)
Fremont High (API 767)
Pros: In a more residential neighborhood than Dwight. Closer to El Camino Real. Farther from Home Depot and other commercial/industrial.
Cons: Busy street. 102sf smaller than Dwight; 1bath instead of 2bath

Campbell (4 listings)
4874 Bannock Circle 95130 <-- Northeast of Westmont Ave & Quito Rd
3bed, 1bath
1045sf house, 6262sf lot
Forest Hill Elementary (API 931)
Rolling Hills Middle (API 909)
Westmont High (API 788)
Pros: Excellent schools for this price range
Cons: Only 1bath. Only 1045sf.

600 West Parr Ave, Los Gatos 95032 <-- North of Hwy85 & S. Winchester Blvd
3bed, 1bath
1277sf house, 9000sf lot
Capri Elementary (API 867)
Rolling Hills Middle (API 909)
Westmont High (API 788)
Pros: 232sf larger than Bannock Circle. Big 9000sf lot.
Cons: Only 1bath.

180 Friar Way, Campbell 95008 <-- North of San Tomas Expy & S. Winchester Blvd
3bed, 1bath
1376sf house, 8100sf lot
Capri Elementary (API 867)
Campbell Middle (API 737)
Westmont High (API 788)
Pros: 331sf larger than Bannock Circle. Big 8100sf lot.
Cons: Campbell Middle is not as good as Rolling Hills Middle. Only 1bath.

1641 Fruitdale Ave, San Jose 95128 <-- North of Fruitdale College. Between S. Bascom Ave & Meridian Ave
3bed, 2bath
1651sf house, 7744sf lot
Sherman Oaks Elementary (API 845)
Monroe Middle (API 778)
Del Mar High (API 720)
Pros: Large house. Large lot. Low price
Cons: Sherman Oaks API 845 not as high as Forest Hill API 931.

Moreland (1 listing)
135 North San Tomas Aquino Rd <-- Between W. Campbell Ave * Hamilton Ave
3bed, 2bath
1247sf house, 6000sf lot
Gussie M. Baker Elementary (API 903)
Moreland Middle (API 851)
Prospect High (API 772)
Pros: All 3 schools (Elem, Middle, High) scored higher API than Fruitdale Ave.
Cons: Busy road.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Stocklmeir expects to have enough space to accomodate all incoming kindergarteners

For the upcoming 2012-2013 school year, the CUSD expects everybody to get in. Stocklmeir has boosted its capacity to 8 kindergarten classes x 33 students per class. That's up from the previous total of 5 kindergarten classrooms x 33 students per class. Luckily, they have maintained the classroom sizes to 33 students per class.

Kindergarteners only go to school for half days. That helps because then schools can accomodate the kindergarteners in two sessions - morning and afternoon. (The morning and afternoon sessions overlap for approximately 40-60 minutes.)

The district expects 300 families to register for Stocklmeir. Most likely the numbers will work out because movement occurs. A certain percentage of parents will opt for another neighborhood school, such as Regnart, through open enrollment.

Nevertheless, the Cupertino Union School District will still hold a lottery for Stocklmeir for the reasons mentioned in my other blog post.

Stocklmeir's lottery system means parents don't have to camp out

The Cupertino Union School District will be running a lottery system for spots in Stocklmeir Elementary. Some people don't like to hear the word lottery for such an important issue, but the reason for the lottery makes sense. If the school district had offered spots on a first-come, first-served basis, then we'd see a long line of parents camping outside the office to ensure their kids got it. With kindergarten spots offered to Stocklmier Elementary through a lottery, all parents have an equal shot at getting their child in as long as they pick up their registration packet on time within the registration window of Jan 30th – Feb 16th. Parents don't gain any advantage by camping out for early registration.

Ramifications if you lose the Cupertino Union School District's Stocklmeir Elementary Lottery

The Cupertino Union School District (CUSD) will once again hold a lottery for kids entering kindergarten for families who live within the boundaries of Stocklmeir Elementary School.

However, this is no cause for alarm. The CUSD expects all (or at least most) of the students to get into Stocklmeir.

The unlucky parents whose kids don't get into Stocklmeir through the lottery have other options that aren't that bad.

They can apply to other elementary schools within the Cupertino Union School District. What distinguishes Cupertino from some other top school districts is that ALL the schools within the Cupertino Union School District are highly ranked. If you don't get into one high ranking school, you will find a place in another high ranking school. (Contrast this to Fremont Mission San Jose where if you don't get into Mission San Jose, you suffer a rather steep drop down.)

Surprising, other top elementary schools do have openings. Regnart Elementary (API 976) has an even HIGHER ranking than Stocklmeir (API 966), but does often have openings because most families cannot afford to buy a house in Regnart Elementary neighborhood.

Even if you don't get into Regnart Elementary (API 976)or any other alternative school, the "overflow school site" fallback this year for kids who don't get into Stocklmeir Elementary (API 966) is John Muir Elementary (API 944), a very good school in it's own right. If your child ends up having to go to John Muir, your child will get free transportation from Stocklmeir to John Muir. CUSD will provide transportation for you since they realize you would be inconvenienced by the extra driving distance.

Parents who didn't get into Stocklmeir are put on a waiting list. If and when space opens up at Stocklmeir, the CUSD will notify the next family on the waiting list and give them the option to either stay at their childs current kindergarten class (e.g. John Muir) or move to Stocklmeir.

However, as mentioned in my other blog post, for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year, the CUSD expects everybody to get in.

Buying at courthouse steps to flip for profit

When you camp outside Best Buy the overnight before Black Friday with the hope of getting a couple hundred discount on an iPad, you have to weigh the risks and opportunity cost of your time vs. the potential discount. The same goes for buying a property at trustee sale on the courthouse steps. You need to take into account your risk and your time in trying to get a potential good deal that might not end up a good deal.

A recent home in a good school district didn't show up in traditional real estate searches because it was not put on the traditional market and instead bought at the riskiest phase of the foreclosure process, the auction at the courthouse steps. When you buy real estate at auction, you don't have title insurance and you risk owing unknown liens (IRS, etc.) on the property. Also, you have to bid higher than what the bank thinks it is worth to get it. The bank won't let you get it at a bargain. If they think your bid would be too good of a deal, they outbid you and take over that property for themselves.

Here are the risks when buying at the courthouse steps:
Homes aren't guaranteed to have a clear title
--The house might have liens
--IRS tax debt owed to the US government
--Property tax owed to the county government
--No title insurance to protect you and make sure the title is clear
--Without the legal proceeding of foreclosure, all subordinate liens remain
--Home-equity loans
--Construction liens
Inside condition of the house not guaranteed
--No guarantee the current occupant will move out peacefully
--Might need to negotiate to get occupant out

Here's the time you have to invest:
--Need to do a huge amount of research and due diligence
--You won't be protected if you miss something.
--Have to go to the county courthouse typically a weekday morning.
--Takes time from your other money-making endeavors, such as your JOB :-)
--Bidders must go to the trustee sale flush with CASH.
--You must make a sizable deposit or pay the entire sum on the spot.

Even after buying, the flipper has much work to do:
--Need to fix/repair/renovate. Costs time and money.
--The selling time may not be as quick as hoped.
--The property could sit on the market.

It's safer and better to buy the properties in the REO phase because then you'll have title insurance to protect you from liens on the property.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Detailed breakdown of Campbell Union School District Elementary School Boundaries

Click the hypertext for a detailed map of the Campbell Union elementary school attendance area boundaries.

However, since the street detail of the map is hard to read, I've provided a verbal description of the street boundaries of the top elementary schools within the Campbell Union School District, starting from highest API to lowest API (based on 2011 API rankings):

1. Marshall Lane (API 953)
Marshall Lane is the furthest southwest of the Campbell Union School District Elementary School Boundaries. The majority of the Marshall Lane region is southwest of Hwy 85. In fact, Hwy 85 is the northeastern boundary line of the Marshall Lane region from Quito Rd southeastward to Pollard Rd.

West of Quito Rd, the Marshall Lane region reaches northward just enough to include Devon Ave and westward just enough to include Montrose St.

Northeast of Pollard Rd & Hwy 85 a staircase pattern defined by east on Pollard Rd, north along Harriet Ave, east along W. Hacienda Ave, north along Archer Way, east along Westmont Ave then turning back south on S. San Tomas Aquino Rd and continuing southeast along the east part of Pollard Rd down to where it almost touches Hwy 85 again.

2. Forest Hill (API 931)
Forest Hill is contained on the west by Quito Rd and on the east by S. San Tomas Aquino Rd. The southern edge of the Forest Hill region starts at the northern edge of Marshall Lane region (see above). The northern boundary of Forest Hill starts at Quito Rd and Baylor Ave then staircases eastward along Baylor, southward along Villanova Rd, east along Vanderbilt Dr, then roughly continues along S. San Tomas Aquino Rd.

3. Capri (API 867)
Capri is northeast of Marshall Lane and east of Forest Hill. Capri extends from Hwy 85 at its southernmost point up to W. Campbell Ave at its northernmost boundary.

4. Sherman Oak (API 845)
Sherman Oaks is a triangular slice of pie region north of Southwest Expwy and east of S Bascom Ave. Its northern boundary is roughly defined by Hwy 280, except that it juts a little north of Hwy 280 just northwest of San Jose City College. This extra piece starts at S Bascom Ave and Scott St, heads east on Scott St, south on Rutland Ave until it hits Parkmoor Ave.

5. Castlemont (API 824)
The Castlemont region is just WSW of the Sherman Oaks wedge-shaped region. Castlemont is bounded on the west by S. Winchester Blvd and on the east by S. Bascom Ave.

The remaining schools with lower API, which I will describe in less detail are:
6. Lynhaven (API 802)
Lynhaven is northwest of Castlemont.

7. Rosemary (API 771)
Rosemary is southwest of Castlemont.

8. Blackford (API 763)
Blackford is east of Sherman Oaks region and Castlemont region.