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.


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New Season, New House for Steph Curry

Over the past two years, Steph Curry and family have been the poster kids for moving up in size going from a townhome in Oakland to larger homes in Orinda, then Walnut Creek and now Alamo.

Just months after paying $5.77 million and moving into a massive gated compound in Alamo including 5 bedrooms, 8.5 baths with 10,290 square feet and a huge, lavish backyard, they’ve put their Walnut Creek mansion on the market for $3.7 million. It has 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths with 7,520 square feet.

Walnut Creek:

steph-curry-walnut-creek-home    steph-wc-2

The totally renovated kitchen, with two Sub-Zero refrigerators and massive Carrera marble island is where Ayesa Curry’s Food Network show “Ayesha’s Homemade” was filmed. Their daughter Riley’s magical playhouse in the backyard was featured on the TLC reality show “Playhouse Masters” in August. You can see more pictures of it here>>>


steph-alamo-1                    steph-alamo-2

This property is “loaded”. It sits on one and a half acres and features a Finnish style sauna, five fireplaces, billiard room, chef’s kitchen, library, outdoor pavilion with kitchen, an infinity edge pool and formal gardens with a fountain. Wow… and you can see more photos here>>>

Even moving 3 times in two years, the Curry’s have done pretty well for themselves in the real estate market. The Orinda home sold for $1,500,000 more than they paid for it. That’s a nice return in two years, even after renovations they completed.

The Walnut Creek home sale should net them at least $400,000 depending on what it sells for, and that is after spending $400,000 to upgrade the kitchen and a few other items. Yes, real estate has been very, very good to the Curry family…

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Is Your Home Getting Smarter?

In previous posts we’ve touched on some of the ways you can inexpensively add smart features to your home. Most can be controlled from your phone or tablet. These have included:

  • video doorbells
  • wireless security cameras
  • smart thermostats
  • smart lighting

So how popular are these inexpensive, easy to install items that provide both value and security to your home? This information from the California Association of Realtors shows just how popular these features are…


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