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San Carlos Neighborhood Spotlight: Cordes (aka North San Carlos)

February 2, 2010 Living in San Carlos 9 Comments

North San Carlos

When it comes to defining the different real estate segments in San Carlos, the town is basically divided up into 6 large neighborhoods.   Some of these neighborhoods are more household names than others — most people are familiar with names like Howard Park, and Beverly Terrace… and of course, the namesake of this blog — White Oaks.    But there’s another neighborhood in San Carlos that seems to fly below the radar of some home buyers who absolutely must have one of these better known neighborhoods.   This area is known in real estate circles as “Cordes, Etc..”, but most people simply know it as “North San Carlos.”

This area is basically the part of San Carlos on the north side of San Carlos Avenue (and the Alameda) all the way to the Belmont border.  Here’s an approximate map of the area:

View North San Carlos (Cordes) in a larger map

The Forgotten Neighborhood?

So why does this area seem to fly below the radar?  I think it’s the result of some basic misconceptions.   Many home buyers flock to places like White Oaks and Howard Park because of school preference, or the perceived proximity to downtown San Carlos, or perhaps because they want to live in the flatlands of San Carlos. How does North San Carlos stack up in this comparison?  Those who live there will tell you it’s just as good as any other neighborhood in San Carlos…and in some respects, perhaps even better.   Let’s take a look at some of those points:

  • Schools.  It’s hard to find neighborhood in San Carlos that doesn’t have an outstanding elementary-middle school track.  It’s one of the key reasons why San Carlos is in such demand.  But the north San Carlos neighborhood has arguably one of the best school paths in the city:   Arundel Elementary, and then on to Tierra Linda Middle School.    If you base it on API scores alone, only the White Oaks ->Central Middle School path can compete.   And for those of you who will only settle for Carlmont High School, this is one of the only neighborhoods in San Carlos that falls within the Carlmont boundaries — and this is important since Carlmont is essentially closed to intra-district transfers.     A word of caution, though.  As you get closer to the Belmont border, some San Carlos homes start to fall under the Belmont School District boundaries.   Nothing wrong with this, but it’s important to know if you absolutely want to stay within the San Carlos School District.  Be sure to check out the latest school boundary changes to see which schools feed the different neighborhoods.
  • Proximity to Downtown.   Let’s face it, not all parts of Laurel Street were created equal.   This may change, but as it stands today, the northern stretch of Laurel is just a bit more happenin’ than the southern stretch.   Sure, there are parts of White Oaks and Howard Park that may be closer to Laurel Street, but that’s mostly the southern half of Laurel.   Many people don’t realize that a good chunk of north San Carlos is an easy walk to the northern blocks of Laurel — the stretch that’s home to some of the most popular restaurants in the City.
  • Hills or Flats? Actually, you get both.    There are parts of this neighborhood that reside in the flats — others get some great bay views from up in the hills — it’s a diversity that many parts of San Carlos simply can’t offer.

Real Estate.

How home prices in this neighborhood stack up compared to White Oaks and Howard Park?  Below is a quick summary of the key metrics from all single-family residences sold in 2009.

2009 Sales Cordes White Oaks Howard Park
Median Price $762,500 $885,000 $875,000
Average Price $815,355 $921,950 $1,016,402
No. of Sales 42 69 23
Avg Square Ft 1,605 1,727 1,900
Avg Lot size (sq ft) 6,740 5,594 7,778
Average $/Sq Ft $528 $556 $569

This data basically tells us that while homes in north San Carlos may tend to be a bit smaller than other neighborhoods,  the $/square foot figures confirm what many residents already know;  this area is a great value in San Carlos since you do get a bit more home for your money.

To see all of the single-family homes currently for sale in the Cordes neighborhood, click here:  Homes for Sale in North San Carlos.

What Do You Think?

If you live in one of these neighborhoods, let us hear your perspective.  What’s your favorite part about living here?  Is it the schools, or the views?  Or is it the proximity to Town Restaurant?   Let us know by leaving a comment!

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San Carlos Neighborhood Spotlight: Cordes (aka North San Carlos), 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

Currently there are "9 comments" on this Article:

  1. Ken says:

    Hi Chuck, glad to see the discussion on the Cordes. As a fairly recent buyer of a house, we had a few must-have’s on our list. We wanted a larger than average lot size, privacy and good schools K-12. We looked in a lot of cities on the Peninsula and thought that the Cordes area of San Carlos covered all of our requests. The lot sizes in the Cordes seem to be larger than a lot of the properties we looked at in the flats. The hills and larger lot sizes seemed to offer more privacy and larger setbacks than some of the other areas in San Carlos. I also agree that the Arundel-> TL -> Carlmont track is over looked by most buyers in San Carlos.

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    • Hi Ken,

      Glad you liked the post. Frankly, it was way overdue — I have heard from a number of residents in this area reminding me of all of the great attributes of Cordes…and the fact that it’s almost a secret. Also, your point on lot sizes is spot on. Note that I just modified the table to add average lot sizes for all 3 neighborhoods. Howard Park had so few sales that it’s hard to say whether this is a good representation of what the lot sizes really are there. But there’s a clear lot size advantage over White Oaks.

      Thanks again.

      Chuck

      Chuck

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  2. San Carlos Renter says:

    Hi Chuck,

    We’re renters in the White Oaks area (off St Francis, close to Alameda) and while we love the neighborhood, the distance to the happenin’ part of Laurel is the main reason we’re not 100% satisfied. I’d love a 5-10 minute walk downtown–close enough to go spur-of-the-moment or to buy groceries with a quick walk home–which, with a double stroller, I just can’t do. Where is the Howard Park area you mention?

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    • Ah, the double stroller! Brings back some fond memories when my kids were small. We literally wore ours out covering many miles, mostly through different streets in White Oaks.

      Howard Park is sandwiched in between White Oaks and Cordes between Alameda to the west, and El Camino to the east. But since a picture is worth a thousand words, this map will show you much better: Map of Howard Park

      In this page, there’s also a link with all of the homes currently for sale in this neighborhood. Right now, there’s only one!

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  3. Reuben says:

    My wife and I bought our home in Cordes about 18 months ago and we’ve been very pleased with this fantastic neighborhood. Not only is it closer to the more happenin’ side of downtown, but many of the areas (like our street) are easily within walking distance of the Caltrain Station. It’s a pleasant walk since most of the streets in the hilly sections of Cordes enjoy gorgeous views of the bay.

    Perhaps the most interesting aspect of living in Cordes is how it can reorient your lifestyle toward Belmont or even San Mateo. For instance, we use the Harbor Blvd. entrance/exit for US 101 as much as possible as it’s much more convenient and far less conjested than Holly, especially during rush hour. As much as we try to shop locally in San Carlos to keep our dollars in the community, there’s definite benefit of being within easy striking distance of the shopping in Belmont and south San Mateo; we find ourselves gravitating toward the Safeway on El Camino quite a bit.

    The biggest difference, in my opinion, between White Oaks/Howard Park and Cordes is that Cordes hasn’t fully gentrified yet. There are still lots of old, original homes which haven’t been heavily renovated yet as well as many neighbors with 20, 30, or even 40 years in San Carlos. I think Cordes is a great time capsule of what this town used to be like.

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    • Reuben,

      Thanks for your insightful comments about the Cordes neighborhood. Your feelings are shared by many who live in your area — the whole impetus behind this post was an email from one of your neighbors stating almost exactly the same thing!

      Enjoy your new home!

      Chuck

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  4. JJ says:

    I live in the Cordes area, nr Arguello park & I could never understand the 2 main arguments for White Oaks.

    First, schools. As you note, however, Cordes kids go to Carlmont HS, which all SC parents want.

    Second, proximity to Laurel St. White Oaks is not that close to the shops, as you also mentioned. Also, Laurel St, even today, is nothing to get excited about .

    In contrast to White Oaks, Cordes – or at least where I live, is a lot greener( more trees, etc.) and homes can have great views of the Bay, tree-lined hills or both.

    I do agree w/ Reuben- Cordes is a mixed bag. You can have new, high end homes just a few doors away from homes that need serious work or demolition.

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    • JJ,

      Thanks for weighing in with your input. I agree on all counts, with the sole exception being Carlmont. I think up until just a few years ago, that statment was definitely correct — everyone in San Carlos pushed to go to Carlmont. But the last two years has seen a big surge in enrollment of San Carlos students at Sequoia, mostly by necessity since Carlmont is now closed to inter-district transfers. But feedback from the new freshman and sophomore class at Sequoia has been exceedingly positive from what I’ve been able to gather. We have a daughter at the school and she loves it there, and her younger brothers will definitely follow in her footsteps.

      Thanks again,

      Chuck

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  5. Sam says:

    Nice post. We didn’t even know this neighborhood existed until we bought a house here. We love being able to walk downtown and to the train. I agree that part of the reason it is undiscovered is a lot of the homes are still 1950s original. I can only imagine there will be a remodel wave in this neighborhood as well in the coming years, similar to what some of the other neighborhoods have already experienced. Until then, it is a great value with great schools and we have no plans to leave.

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