Best High School Rankings for 2017 from U.S. News are out!

Dougherty_Valley_High_School_signAfter analyzing the data from over 22,000 high schools in all 50 States and the District of Columbia, U.S. News & World Report has released their 2017 Rankings. In addition to Public high schools, they also look at STEM schools, Magnet schools and Charter schools, so every high school that exists is covered.

How are the rankings determined? In addition to looking at information supplied by the Department of Education, they look at Advanced Placement data from the College Board. They also look at each high school’s statewide accountability proficiency test results and graduation rate.

They take all this data and analyze it from four distinct angles to determine their final rankings:

  • Students perform better than expected in their state.
  • Disadvantaged students perform better than state average.
  • Student graduation rates meet or exceed a national standard.
  • Students are prepared for college-level coursework.

Below are the rankings for high schools along the 680 corridor in the East Bay, but you can find all the rankings here>>>

Dougherty Valley, San Ramon | #40 in CA | #237 in US

Acalanes, Lafayette | #59 in CA | #341 in US

Foothill, Pleasanton | #61 in CA | #348 in US

Amador Valley, Pleasanton | #66 in CA | #382 in US

San Ramon Valley, Danville | #101 in CA | #585 in US

California, San Ramon | #134 in CA | #804 in US

Monte Vista, Danville | #169 in CA| #804 in US

Some of these rankings may be lower than what you are used to seeing, but with the inclusion of all the non-public schools it has lowered the rankings for the usual public schools we track.  As usual, if you have any questions about East Bay schools, reach out to me at (925) 487-2353 and I’ll get you the answers you need.

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6 Telltale Signs It’s Time to Sell Your Home

Most of us don’t plan on living in our homes forever, but knowing when to put that puppy on the market can be tougher than it seems. You have a relationship with your home and like the Neil Sedaka song – breaking up is hard to do…

AA014330Sometimes, life changes make it obvious: You’re getting relocated to another state, you have twins and it’s clear that one bedroom isn’t going to work, or you suffer some sort of financial hardship that makes keeping the home impossible. So how do you know when it’s time to move on? Our friends at came up with 6 great telltale signs that we’ve expanded on:

1. You’re feeling cramped, and you can’t add on

There can be all sorts of examples of your household suddenly growing – parents having to move in with you, those twins we spoke of above, kids moving back home from college (this is a common one for our friends), you’ve started working from home and you need a separate office.

One option might be to finish an attic or basement, add another room, or even add a whole story to your home. But, of course, that won’t work for everyone. To decide which route to take, check your local building laws and get estimates from two or three contractors. Sometimes adding on won’t increase the value of a home, and you don’t want to make big-time improvements that will bring only a small-time return on your investment.

2. You have too much space

On the other hand, perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed by vacant rooms and silence. Empty Nesters unite! (That’s us haha) It just doesn’t make any sense to have 4 bedrooms and 4 bathroom any longer, and the yard is too big to keep up, and you’re having trouble getting up the stairs to that second story.

Our kids have made it clear that saying goodbye to the family home will be difficult, but at some point our home just won’t make any sense. Unless of course, they want to pay for the electric bill…

3. You’re over the neighborhood

Have a feud going on in the neighborhood that is making life unbearable? Or the neighbor’s dog’s barking is causing you serious loss of sleep, or the HOA just made some unreasonable ruling that is killing your dream backyard remodel.

There can be all sorts of reasons why you’re just done with the area you live in, and one day you wake up and it’s time to go…

4. Remodeling won’t offer a return on your investment

Giving your kitchen or bathroom a face-lift can make your house feel like new again, which might be all you need to decide you want to stay put for years. But that doesn’t mean it’s a financially sound decision.

This really applies if your home is already at the highest price point for similar homes in your area. This could make remodeling a bad idea and you should consider selling it instead.

5. You can afford to sell

Remember, it could very well take some money upfront for you to make money when you actually sell your home, so you need to make sure you have the funds available to prepare your home for sale.

Most sellers need to make some minor improvements such as painting, landscaping, or updating flooring to get a good price on their home. Those costs will come out of your pocket at first, so it’s a good idea to have a cushion before you start.

6. You’re ready to compete

With the Sellers market we have been in (and will continue in for the foreseeable future) it is enticing to offload your home while the market is high. Just remember, if you’re going to be a buyer too then you need to remember that your new home is going to be expensive as well.

There is a good chance your home will sell very quickly if it is in great shape in a great neighborhood, but we’re in a bidding war for homes in great shape in great neighborhoods too. Just keep that in mind – it’s one of the reasons inventory is so short!

Just remember that the best way to make an informed decision is to talk to your Realtor, so if you are considering selling in the next 12 months, contact Carol Sawdey now to discuss your options and explore cost-effective improvements that will increase your home’s value when you do decide to sell.


Posted in Danville, homeownership, Homeselling, Housing Trends, San Ramon, San Ramon Valley | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Latest CA Public High School and School District Rankings are In

There is no question that public schools are a major topic of discussion with the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, but they’re always in discussion when it comes to a family deciding a community to buy a home in.

nicheNiche, a website for researching schools and neighborhoods, used a variety of factors including SAT/ACT scores, student-teacher ratio, the quality of colleges students consider and reviews from students and parents for its ranking. There are multiple rankings of schools to choose from, but what we like about Niche is that they have limited their scope to only schools and neighborhoods and have really developed their algorithms that churn out the results. Speaking of results, here are where some of our local districts and high schools rank:


8. Acalanes Union High School District

13. Pleasanton Unified School District

27. San Ramon Unified School District

37. Dublin Unified School District

52. Fremont Unified School District

62. Castro Valley Unified School District

88. Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District

95. Benicia Unified School District


3. Miramonte High School | Orinda

23. Amador Valley High School | Pleasanton

24. Campolindo High School | Moraga

33. Dougherty ValleyHigh School | San Ramon

47. Foothill High School | Pleasanton

48. Las Lomas High School | Walnut Creek

62. Acalanes High School | Lafayette

87. Monte Vista High School | Danville

91. Dublin High School | Dublin

The home page for the Niche website can be found here>>. Of course, if you want the real scoop from an expert who lives in the East Bay and knows the local neighborhoods and schools like the back of her hand, then you’ll want to reach out to Carol Sawdey at 925-487-2353 or at



Posted in Danville, Dublin, Homebuying, homeownership, Lifestyle, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Schools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Annual Kevin Murphy Blood Drive in San Ramon This Saturday

Live in the East Bay and looking for something worthwhile to do this Saturday, February 18th, 2017? Our dear friends, the Murphy family, are hosting their 8th Annual Pay It Forward Blood Drive as a way to pay forward for the gift of a new heart their son Kevin received.

Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, and approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are used every day. This is a great and easy way to help your fellow human. If you are interested in giving blood go to, click on Schedule an Appointment, and search by zip code 94582.

If you can’t make it on Saturday, you can always browse whats available that is convenient for you and set another appointment. Hope to see you there!


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Carol Sawdey Produces Another Award Winning Year!

We’re extremely proud to announce that Carol has been awarded the prestigious Chairman’s Circle Gold award for her production in 2016. This is the third year in a row that Carol has achieved this high level of success and placed in the top 2% of all Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices agents nationwide in yearly production.

We would like to thank everyone who makes this possible – our wonderful current and past clients, friends and family, referral partners, affiliates, preferred service providers – anyone who plays a part in one of our transactions. We couldn’t do it without you!

“This continues to be a testament to Carol’s hard work, genuine caring and unwavering commitment to her client’s best interests,” said Broker-Owner Gretchen Pearson.

Full Press Release is available <<here>>



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Getting a Mortgage – Should You Pay Discount Points?

The low mortgage interest rates that you find online or in the newspaper aren’t necessarily what you’ll pay when you apply for a loan. Why? Because banks will charge you “discount” points to get the best rate, which adds to the cost of the loan.

Points, or discount points, are expressed as a percentage of the loan amount. The point “discounts” the interest rate, that’s why it’s referred to as a discount point. If your mortgage is $300,000, then one “point” is $3,000. For each point you pay, your interest rate should be reduced by about ¼ percent.

2140642-mediumOn a 30-year mortgage loan at $300,000 and 5.00%, the monthly payment works to $1,610 without any points. Paying one point ($3,000) would reduce the rate to 4.75%, making your discounted payment $1,564 per month.

That’s a reduction of $46.00 per month. Now weigh the cost of $3,000. To get that, divide $46 into $3000. The result is 65. It will take you 65 payments to break even, nearly 5 ½ years. It’s worth it if you’re planning to stay in your home for 5 to 10 years or longer. If not, you’re far better off using the $3,000 to pay down your loan principal or buying furniture for your home.

There’s another way to get the best mortgage interest rate – that’s to have the best credit scores possible. Those with near or perfect credit are considered low risk by banks. As always, consult your financial or mortgage advisor for more information about home loans. Need one of those? We can recommend some good ones for you to check out. Just reach out to Carol at (925) 487-2353 or at and she’ll make an introduction.

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How to Build Family Wealth by 20% over the Next 5 Years

Think you’ve missed out on the opportunity to build housing wealth (otherwise known as home equity) over the next 5 years? Well, it’s time for you to think again!

imagesCurrently, there is over $90 TRILLION dollars in home equity in the U.S. In fact, according to ReverseMortgageDaily, U.S. home equity has continued to grow consistently – including by $726 Million in the third quarter of this year alone. This growth in equity has resulted in the percentage of homeowners with positive home equity growing to 93.7%. This is great news for current homeowners, but you haven’t missed the boat if you are thinking about buying you first home, dream home, upsizing or downsizing.

So on to the good stuff… Over the next five years, home prices are expected to appreciate 3.24% per year on average (within the range considered a “normal” market) and to grow by 21.4% cumulatively, according to Pulsenomics’ most recent Home Price Expectation Survey. If you remember from previous posts, this is a survey of 100 of the leading housing economics experts covering all sides of the market.

So, what does this mean for homeowners and their equity position? As an example, let’s assume a family purchases and closes on a $750,000 home in January. If we look at only the projected increase in the value of that home, how much equity will they earn over the next 5 years?

>>>>>  $143,094  <<<<<

This is the potential growth in family wealth over the next 5 years based only on an increase in home equity due to price appreciation as projected by the Home Price Expectation survey. It doesn’t even take account monthly principal payments.

“Paydown of principal is the second key component of equity building,” according to CoreLogic CEO Anand Nallathambi. “Many homeowners have refinanced into shorter-term loans, such as a 15-year loan, and by doing so, they have significantly fewer mortgage payments and are able to build equity wealth faster.”

The bottom line? In many cases home wealth is the largest component of a family’s overall net worth. Whether you already own a home or not, the next 5 years present the ability to build additional equity you can borrow against in the future.


Posted in homeownership, Housing Trends, Real Estate Market, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment