Beautiful tree-lined streets with estate-size homes on large lots. Quiet, safe, private neighborhood.
That's an apt description of Sierra Oaks, a neighborhood with some of the most exclusive addresses and most expensive homes in the Sacramento area.
People like the neighborhood because of its exclusivity, good schools and proximity to downtown, parks and the American River.
"The homes have a great deal of charm, refined architecture, quality building and mature trees," said Melinda Eppler of the Sierra Oaks Neighborhood Association. "There's pride of ownership. People maintain their property. It's an exclusive area and highly desirable."
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Sierra Oaks is bounded on the east by Watt Avenue, on the west by Monroe and University avenues, on the north by Fair Oaks Boulevard and on the south by the American River.
The community has a special character, said Realtor Donald Stitt of Coldwell Banker Real Estate.
"People feel like they're in the country, but they're just five minutes away from grocery stores, pharmacies and other shops," he said. "There are wild turkeys and raccoons, and it's peaceful."
Eppler said many people are attracted to Sierra Oaks because it's an older, established community.
"Most of the homes were built as early as the '30s and '40s, and many were built in the 1950s," she said.
Homes aren't on the market very long, which is indicative of the high quality, Eppler said. Realtors have lists of people waiting to buy.
"About eight to 10 years ago, all people had to say to a neighbor was, 'I'm putting my home up for sale,' and the neighbors would know someone who wanted to buy there," she said.
Stitt said the area has several "large, fabulous homes," including what some say is the most expensive home on the market in Sacramento County, if not the entire four-county region.
Built in 1955, the home is on a scenic lot on Crocker Road and has been featured in local news stories.
Less than a month ago, the asking price was $5,750,000, which at 9,175 square feet puts the price per square foot at $572.21.
"The price was just reduced by a half-million dollars," Stitt said. "Other price reductions pale in comparison to that."
The home has been completely remodeled and has a ballroom, a library, a wine cellar, three bedrooms, four full bathrooms, two half bathrooms, an elevator and many other exclusive features.
"If there's anywhere you can sell a home at that price, it's Sierra Oaks and Sierra Oaks Vista," Stitt said.
The two neighborhoods have several $2 million and $3 million homes.
"Some of the most expensive homes in the county are in the Sierra Oaks Vista neighborhood, but what's unusual is that all homes in Sierra Oaks Vista have individual wells for water," he said.
Sierra Oaks Vista is bounded by Fair Oaks Boulevard on the south, Fulton and Monroe avenues on the west, Northrup Avenue on the north and Watt Avenue on the west. Sierra Oaks has 836 homes and Sierra Oaks Vista 278, Stitt said.
Twelve homes are on the market in Sierra Oaks and Sierra Oaks Vista, at an average list price of $1,324,000.
Eight properties sold in the past six months for an average sold price of $778,000.
One home on a large lot with an asking price of $995,000 is considered a "tear-down." That means buyers purchase the property for the lot and location, tear down the home and build a new one, Stitt said.
"It's a big, old rambling house that is 40 to 50 years old and has never been updated," he said. "It's like walking into the past."
Sarah Ellis of Ellis Architects, Sacramento, has been involved with remodeling homes in the area. Many have separate kitchen and dining areas typical of homes built in the 1950s.
Depending on clients' desires, Ellis keeps the original footprint of the classic homes but removes walls to allow views of the front and backyards.
Many features need updating, especially the plumbing, electrical systems and windows, she said.
Although it takes about a year to remodel a home, people buy in the area because they want to be close to downtown and close to Sierra Oaks K-8 School, she said.
Eppler agrees. Residents like the good schools, including Sacramento Country Day School.
"It's a huge community asset," she said. "Many of the neighborhood kids go there. We still have a number of residents who moved here in the '50s. Many are aging out, but 30 percent are original owners. The other 70 percent of the homes have been updated."
Eppler, who was raised in the community, said she could name about 40 families who are second-generation homeowners.
"This is what home is to them and the kind of lifestyle they want," Eppler said.
Several Sierra Oaks homes sit on streets that were named for three of the Big Four, the term given to Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Collis Huntington and Leland Stanford, who were drawn west by the Gold Rush and were instrumental in building the Central Pacific Railroad and developing California's railroad system between 1861 and 1900.
Sierra Oaks has Crocker, Hopkins and Huntington roads, but no Stanford Street, Eppler said.
In the 1930s, most of the original homes were on large properties, and the rest of the Sierra Oaks neighborhood consisted of hops fields. Architect-builder Squeaky Williams designed many of the homes.
The Sierra Oaks Neighborhood Association is an active group, Eppler said. Residents often get together for block parties and barbecues and help on neighborhood cleanup days.
The Sierra Oaks PTA raises approximately $100,000 each year for arts, music and technology programs and a part-time librarian.
"That shows the commitment of families who live in the community," Eppler said. "Residents enjoy walking, hiking and biking along the levee, and kids can ride to each other's homes on their bikes. It's safe here."