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Culver Divides

Posted: 13 Feb 2012 04:00 AM PST

Culver Drive, Irvine.

Did you know Culver Drive is named after the farmer Frederick Culver and his wife Agnes who built a house at the intersection of Highway 5, Culver Drive and Trabuco Road? The street was so busy and dangerous at that time, Agnes used to treat the crash victims at their house at the intersection. A century has passed and Culver is still one of the busiest streets in Irvine, serves as the main street for many Villages of Irvine as well as entries and exits to Highway 5 and Highway 405.

Today we will look at two communities, Northwood and Northpark on either side of Culver. Both have the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms, same square feet area, almost same listing price and great schools with a perfect ten API. Both are gated communities.

Which one would you buy?

Zipcode Sales Analysis in the past year:

In the past year, homes in Northwood have listed for a median price of $394/SF, and the homes in the 92620 zip code have listed for a median price of $367/SF.

In the past year, homes in Northpark have listed for a median price of $350/SF, and the homes in the 92602 zip code have listed for a median price of $348/SF.

Home 1: 46 NORTH MIDDLEBURY LN Irvine, CA 92620
List Price: $789,000
3 Bedrooms/ 2.5 Bathrooms
2308 SF, $342/ SF
Year Built: 1998
Community: Northwood

Estimated payments, assuming a Down-payment of 20%, and a 30 YR fixed mortgage at 3.75%:
Northwood Point monthly payment: $3498.00
Mortgage : $2923 + Property Tax: $5289 for 2011 + HOA 1 : $94 + HOA 2: $40

Home 2: 106 SPRING VLY, Irvine, CA 92602
List Price: $798,800
3 Bedrooms/ 2.5 Bathrooms
2300 SF, $347/ SF
Year Built: 2001
Community: Northpark

Estimated payments, assuming a Down-payment of 20%, and a 30 YR fixed mortgage at 3.75%:
Northpark monthly payment: $3878
Mortgage: $2959 + Property Tax: $9177 for 2011 + HOA 1: $155
The Northwood home will work out $380 cheaper per month than the Northpark home.

Community information:

Both of the communities have around 80% White Collar workforce residents, and around 85% of the residents have college education. On the income range, the median for 92620 is $108,483, while the median for 92602 is $90,555. Median age of the residents doesn’t differ much, 92620 is at 33, and 92602 is at 35. Housing inventory shows that there is 4.9% vacant homes in 92620, and 6.1% in 92602.

While both the zipcodes have low crime, keeping in line with the City of Irvine statistics, 92602 scored 1.54 on robbery and 92602 scores a 6.6. Both are gated communities, but 92602 is a “guard” gated community. Does that make a difference? Statistics seem to agree on that fact.


Elementary School:
For Northwood: Canyon View Elementary School
For Northpark: Hicks Canyon Elementary School

The schools have a perfect 10 API, Great Schools website rates them a perfect ten and the parent rating are five stars. API growth score for Canyon View is 966 while Hicks lags behind at 942. Canyon View kids did better than Hicks Canyon kids in CST testing for language arts, but Hicks Canyon has a slight upper hand in math scores. Sorting by ethnicity, both have Asian population at the top followed by White. Teachers in both the schools have full credentials. The list of Hicks Canyon’s extracurricular activities is almost thrice the size of Canyon View’s.

Middle School:
For Northwood: Sierra Vista Middle School
For Northpark: Orchard Hills Middle School

Both schools have the perfect 10 API, perfect 10 Great Schools rating. Orchard Hills has a perfect five stars from the parents, but Sierra Vista has four stars. (Orchard Hills has only one review). Sierra Vista parents are not very pleased with the teachers, administrative staff and overcrowding. Orchard hills has a new building to house the 1200 kids. Orchard Hills also leads the API growth numbers at 952 vs. Sierra Vista’s 948. Other information like test scores, and teacher credential, student ethnicity could not be compared as the data is still unavailable for Orchard Hills.

High School:
For Northwood: Northwood High School
For Northpark: Arnold Beckman High School

High School is almost the same story. A perfect 10 API score, and perfect 10 Great School rating, and a four star from parent reviews. Beckman High scored 866 on API growth, and Northwood High scored 908. The test scores for Northwood High (99% for Grade 10 CAHSEE) are significantly higher than the test scores for Beckman (92% for Grade 10 CAHSEE). Ethnicity of the students is slightly different too, Beckman has -White 34%, Asian 29% and Hispanic 28% where as Northwood High has Asian 45%, White 43% and Hispanic 5%. Classroom size works in Northwood High’s favor with 26 students per class against the 31 at Beckman High.

Beckman High SAT Scores for 2011:
Critical Reading 548
Math 588
Writing 571

Northwood High SAT Scores for 2011:
Critical Reading: 579
Math 640
Writing 603

Personal Observations:

Personally, I would prefer 106 Spring Valley in Northpark (Mendocino North, MND2, according to the MLS). The house has interesting exterior features like the gated driveway to the courtyard. Laundry is upstairs, and there is a small study that could be converted into a nice home office. The small balcony off the master bedroom adds a romantic touch too. The linen closet and the corridor to the other side of the master bedroom turn me off, and the house has a linear feel to it.

I didn’t like the garage for 46 North Middlebury Lane (Carlyle at Lanes End Model Code 5, according to the MLS). What’s with the garage! For anything above 400k, I would want a nice and wide two car garage, and not tandem parking. Agreed, there are two exits, but there is something very unappealing about a long and narrow garage. The rest of the floor plan is functional and the home office with a deck is a nice touch. I don’t usually comment on the wall/ floor finishes, or anything that could be customized later, but I will make an exception and say that the homeowner worked really hard on the wall finishes.  But the house lost me at the garage.

Without choosing a particular home, if I were to settle down in one of those two villages, I would choose Northwood. Northwood sales data is also in better than the Northpark. Northwood High is definitely more attractive than Beckman High based on the stats.

Which side of Culver would you choose? Would you buy in North Park or Northwood? Why?
Which house appeals more to you? Is garage a decisive factor to you?
When all schools have 10 API and a very good API growth score, does the slightly better option influence your decision? Why?


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