This photo is of a home that was for lease last year in Montclair. The house is constructed from an old water vessel.
Montclair is a coveted neighborhood locally known for having an "in the country" style of living. With its charming village, walking trails and proximity to both nature and highways into San Francisco, downtown Oakland and Walnut Creek, its no wonder why it is one of the prime places to live in the city of Oakland. After reviewing the recently sold properties in the area, the price per square foot, the days the properties were on the market and the overall condition of the homes in the vicinty, I can honestly tell you that there is no true formula to determining value. But here goes my opinion anyway…
There are about 5 areas of Montclair, that consist of the following:
The Piedmont side of Montclair which include homes west of highway 13 and border the upscale city of Piedmont.
The Piedmont Pines area, with homes between the streets of Ascot and Shepherd Canyon.
The area off of Thornhill within walking distance to Montclair's Villiage and commonly known as the Fernwood area
The area whose homes stud the streets between Thornhill and Broadway Terrace, (above the highway 13) sometimes referred to as "Broadway Terrace".
And finally, neighborhoods simply called Montclair.
Montclair is architecturally diverse, boasting homes built in the 1920's and 30's, as well as mid-century modern homes which were built in the 70's, 80's, 90's on. Montclair has the most eclectic variety of styles in Oakland- tudors, mid centuries, cottages and ski chalets! The one caveat to Montclair is its unfortunate proximity to the Hayward fault line which runs adjacent to Highway 13.
The properties that always seem to move quickly and sell high usually have level lay-outs, abundant privacy and some yard and garden/outdoor area. Last summer I was house hunting for one young couple in particular who desired a home in Montclair. I spent a lot of time there and learned there were several homes that were on the market for over 80 days that fit most of their criteria in regards to bedrooms (3), bathrooms (at least 2) and square footage (1,700+), but unfortunately, not one of these houses felt like home. One Thursday during the broker's tour that takes place there every week from 10am to 1pm, I viewed one particular home off of Shepherd Canyon. I knew immediately, after simply stepping through the front door, that this was a house they would want to see IMMEDIATELY. I called them from the entryway and scheduled an appointment that night...Long story short, in a market that had been languishing, there were three offers on this home. It stood out from the rest and every buyer knew it. But within one week we made it to the end and were the winning offer. (Surprisingly we were not the highest offer, but that's another story. Feel free to email me to find out the reasons why.) So here is the skinny on why this house was so desirable.. It had a private backyard, only about 10 stairs to the front door, it was not perched on a cliff, (Many homes in Montclair are very vertical and sit on a pier foundation system.) the layout was nearly level with very large rooms and a kitchen facing the backyard and opened to a patio. Additionally this house was well maintained, all of the improvements were made for the previous owners enjoyment, (not hastily made for re-sale purposes.) Buyers look for quality and they can not be fooled by just a slick coat of fresh paint. Most importantly, it was priced right!
Here are a few recent addresses of homes that sold quickly in Montclair Village because they were priced correctly at just under the market value, (pricing a home over market value, even as little as 5% can cost a seller 5-10% of their final selling price). 6725 Sims was on the market for 10 days before it went pending, listed at $694,900 and sold for $695,000. 40 Neva Court was listed at $1,150,000 and sold for $1,241,000 and it was on the market for 15 days before it went pending. Both of these homes were vacant when listed, so potential buyers had the ability to view the homes easily. Both were also staged, painted and void of the sellers personal effect, which also tend to work in the seller's advantage.
I apologize that I can't provide you with a magic formula on how to buy a home in Montclair. But, let me leave you with this…I have spoken to many home buyers who have been relocated from urban areas and have said, "If I am going to move to Oakland it has got to be Montclair, I enjoy the eculyptus in the air and feeling that only Montclair has. You'd never know you were in a city!" The question I always ask my buyer clients is "How does this home make you feel?" and then "Will this house fit your life style needs for the next 5-10 years, or more?"
So as you look at your Montclair home and contemplate whether to sell, don't try to guess it's value, and if you drive past a Montclair home, and try to guess if you can indeed afford to buy there, remember to call me, a local Realtor, who knows Montclair and loves it just as much as you do!