EAST BAY, PENINSULA HOME TO BAY AREA’S TOP PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Top-performing public schools are always top of mind for homebuyers with children, and most of the Bay Area’s best ones can be found in Contra Costa County.
A recent SFGate article ranks the top 10 Bay Area communities for public schools on a scale of 100 based on data from Niche.com. Seven of those are in Contra Costa County: Alamo (98.83); Diablo, Danville, Camino Tassajara, and Blackhawk (all 98.90); Moraga (98.91), and Orinda (98.95). West Menlo Park (98.81) and Ladera (98.88) offer the two best public schools in San Mateo County.
But the No. 1 public education in the Bay Area awaits families who can afford to purchase a home in the affluent Alameda County city of Piedmont, which nailed a perfect score of 100. According to MLS data, the median sales price for a single-family home in Piedmont in March was $2.55 million, up 37 percent from March 2015.
BAY AREA COUNTIES OFFER LOW SINGLE-FAMILY RENTAL RETURNS
Despite having some of the highest rents in the U.S., those hoping to become landlords in the Bay Area would do well to steer clear of single-family homes, which aren’t expected to provide large returns this year.
That’s according to RealtyTrac’s Q1 2016 Single Family Rental Market Report, which ranks the U.S. housing markets with the highest and lowest annual gross rental yields. San Francisco offers the second-lowest single-family-home rental returns in the U.S. at 3.4 percent. San Mateo County rental properties are projected to yield 3.6 percent, followed by those in Marin (3.9 percent) and Santa Clara (4.0 percent) counties.
On the other hand, Napa County ranks high on the list of markets with single-family rental-return-growth potential in 2016. With a median sales price of $557,500 in the first quarter, rental properties in Napa are expected to yield 5.1 percent this year.
2016 SHAPING UP AS HOUSING’S BEST YEAR IN A DECADE
The U.S. housing market is projected to enjoy its best year since 2006, though mortgage rates and wage growth are key factors in that prediction holding out.
Citing a new Freddie Mac forecast, the National Association of Realtors reports that housing starts, sales volume, and home prices are on pace to hit their highest levels in 10 years in 2016. Although prices should continue to increase, growth will moderate to 4.8 percent this year. Freddie Mac predicts that the housing market’s momentum should carry over into at least 2017.
Still, the market is not without its challenges. “If wages and incomes do not start rising, then rising interest rates, home prices, and rents will squeeze households and ultimately slow housing markets,” Freddie Mac said.
LESS IS MORE WHEN LANDSCAPING
Homeowners preparing to put their properties on the market this spring may be overhauling their yards to boost curb appeal, and there are few things they shouldn’t do.
A Realtor.com article identifies six common landscaping blunders, with excess being a common thread. Too much mulch can suffocate a tree, while overdoing it on gravel can overheat plant roots. Overcrowding flower beds or using plants that are too large for the space are also not advised.
Other landscape gaffes to avoid: choosing invasive plants, improperly planting artificial grass, and building out a home near tree roots.
(Photo: Flickr/Clover Autrey)