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Open House Review: 13 Saratoga

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 04:00 AM PDT

This week, I found 13 Saratoga, a large house on a particularly large lot in Northwood. This five bedroom, four bathroom home is nearly 3,000 square feet on a triangular lot spanning almost 8,000 square feet. The home includes a 600 square foot expansion over the three-car garage.

The basics:
Asking Price: $978,888
Bedrooms: 5 + bonus
Bathrooms: 4
Square Footage: 2,915
Lot Size: 7,841
$/Sq Ft: $336
Days on Market: 8
Property Type: Single Family Home
Year Built: 1978
Community: Northwood – Influential Homes

This home doesn't have HOA dues or Mello Roos.

The house is located near 15 Princeton, which I reviewed last month, though it is in a separate tract. Located just across Westwood Blvd, this home is at the end of a cul-de-sac, backing to Westwood. This is better than 15 Princeton's location, which was on a corner at the main entry to the neighborhood. It is an easy walk to Brywood Elementary School, Sierra Vista Middle School, and the brand new park located along Westwood (as well as Brywood Park).

A gate in the white picket fence leads to a large, brick covered front courtyard. When you enter the home, the living room is on the right and is one step lower than the hallway. Like the rest of the rooms downstairs, it has hardwood floors. This room also has vaulted ceilings and white plantation shutters. While most of the house has newer windows, the living room windows seem to be original.

Just across the entry hall is the dining room. Windows on two sides face the large backyard. White plantation shutters and crown molding give the room an upscale appearance.

The dining room leads into the nicely remodeled kitchen. The white Thermafoil cabinets have brushed nickel hardware that matches nicely with the gray, Caesarstone countertops. The stainless steel appliances include a new Kitchenaid oven and warming drawer, a built in GE microwave oven, a 5-burner Thermador gas cooktop and a Bosch dishwasher. The island has a built-in wine rack on one end and the long counter facing the backyard also has open shelving at the end. There is a pass-through window out to the backyard. Double French doors lead to the backyard behind the area where you could put a casual dining table.

The kitchen flows straight into the family room. The far wall has built-in bookshelves flanking a brick fireplace. A matching wooden mantle connects the two sets of shelves. This room also has crown molding and recessed lighting.

A short hallway off the family room leads to the three-car garage and a full bathroom. The cabinets and counter are older but in good shape and the shower has newer tile.

The downstairs bedroom is next to the family room, at the end of the main hallway. It is currently set up as an office and doesn't have a true closet; however, there is a cutout in one wall where closet doors could easily be installed. The room is spacious and will entice buyers looking for a main-floor bedroom.

The backyard is going to be a huge selling point for this house. Outside the kitchen door, there is a nice patio with a built-in barbecue and mini fridge, plus plenty of room for a table and chairs. This portion of the yard is elevated and includes decorative brick work, along with a patio cover over the seating area. On the right side, there is a grassy area and, around the side, a raised vegetable garden. On the left side of the yard, there is a swimming pool and in-ground Jacuzzi. The far corner includes another seating area in front of a fireplace. This side of the yard also has a large, grassy area. The combination of grass, patio, pool and garden, plus the overall size of the yard, is very appealing.

Moving upstairs, there is a second staircase coming off the main landing that leads to the addition. This newer, 600 square foot space has a large bonus room and a second master bedroom. The bonus room has crown molding, a ceiling fan, and sliding doors that lead out to a small balcony. It has the same wood floors that are found downstairs, though the other bedrooms have different wood and the staircase itself is carpeted. The bonus room also features a built-in combination desk and queen-size Murphy bed.

Double doors lead from the bonus room to the second master bedroom. The room is a good size, though smaller than a typical master bedroom. It has a small, two-door mirrored closet and a ceiling fan. The single window overlooks the street. Just inside the double doors are linen cabinets and the master bath. It has a single sink in vanity with white counters and white, Thermafoil cabinets. The stall shower is fairly small and doesn't include a seat. Overall, the bonus room and second master make an excellent guest suite or a great space for a multi-generational family.

The second floor of the house has the original master suite, plus two additional bedrooms and another full bathroom. The bathroom is at the top of the stairs. Though the hardware is new, the single sink vanity and the tile in the shower/tub combo appear to be original.

One of the secondary bedrooms has a small, somewhat high window looking toward the backyard. This room also has a ceiling fan and a two-door mirrored closet. It's an average size and doesn't have any special features.

The other bedroom is bigger and looks to the side of the house with a view of the backyard. Like the other room, it has a ceiling fan and two-door mirrored closet. This room also has a full wall of built-in shelving surrounding the window.

The master suite is large, with plenty of room for a sitting area. It has windows facing both the back and side of the house. One wall has a small brick fireplace and, like the other bedrooms, it has a ceiling fan. Sliding, mirrored doors lead into the walk-in closet. Though it isn't terribly large, it does have some built-in organizers.

The master bath was nicely remodeled. The double-sink vanity has newer tile counters and white cabinetry. A vanity with seating sits at the end of the counter and, next to that, there is a linen cabinet with shelving above it. Wainscoting, crown molding and a decorative backsplash make the room like nicer. However, the shower is odd. You have to go up a tile step to get into it and, though the tile inside is newer, it isn't as nice as the tile surrounding the sinks. It also has a spout for a bathtub, indicating that there probably was a tub before the remodel. So, while the first half of the bathroom looks nice and new, the shower side looks tired and old.

The realtor and owners have worked hard to make this house marketable and easy to sell. They distributed a list of upgrades and have signs throughout the house pointing out various features. In addition, at only $336 per square foot, this is one of the lowest priced homes (per foot) on the market and is well in line with recent area sales. The large backyard is going to be a great selling point, since small lots are one of the main complaints about Irvine homes.


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