Ask three people which neighborhood they live in and you might get four different answers. Neighborhoods have personality and evolve over time. This our best attempt at a snapshot - we've sketched out the most recognizable ones below.
Some of the neighborhoods we get asked about most:
Located in Northwest Novato and home to Pleasant Valley Elementary and Sinaloa Middle School, Pleasant Valley is a highly sought after neighborhood approximately 3 miles west of Highway 101 (Atherton Ave/San Marin Dr Exit). Pleasant Valley is often popular with families with young kids due to the highly rated elementary school. The heart of Pleasant Valley is relatively flat but framed by surrounding hills, particularly to the North and West. The "typical" home is a ranch style 3 or 4 bedroom house, built in the 1950’s or 60’s, with about 2,000 square feet, and a 1/4 acre lot, which sells for just over $1.2M. Many homes will sell for upwards of $1.6M, particularly if you include less well known neighborhoods like neighboring Wild Horse Valley, Verisimo Valle (Valle being the Spanish equivalent of Valley), and the northern part of Indian Valley, known for its equestrian properties.
Also located in Northwest Novato, San Marin is home to San Ramon Elementary and San Marin High School. San Marin is at the foot of Mount Burdell and approximately 2 miles west of Highway 101 (Atherton Ave/San Marin Dr Exit). The "typical" home is a 2 story 4 bedroom house about 2000 square feet, built in the mid-60’s through the 70’s with a 0.2 acre lot, and sells for about $1.1M. The northeast section of San Marin surrounding Partridge Knolls Mini Park is sometimes identified as Partridge Knolls but most people think of Partridge Knolls as the 1990’s development of homes and townhouses off Wood Hollow Drive.
Located in Northeast Novato, Atherton Ave features a mixture of homes that are generally on larger lots. Many of the older rural properties are 5 acres or more and may have smaller more rustic homes, while the more recently developed areas along Rush Creek are characterized by more recent construction and typically have half to one acre lots. Part of the area is within the City limits and sections are in unincorporated Marin County. Prices vary dramatically but are typically well over $1M.
Located in Northeast Novato, Bahia is one of Novato’s lesser known but distinct neighborhoods. It was developed in the 1970’s as a waterfront location with access to the Petaluma River, but dredging wasn’t able to be continued so any docks are largely decorative at this point. Some of the standard finishes would be considered “builder grade” so it’s not uncommon to see differences in pricing be influenced by upgrades. The "typical" home is a 2 story 3 bedroom house about 2,100 square feet, built in the 70’s with just under a 0.2 acre lot, and sells for about $1.1M.
Black Point / Green Point
In the far Northeast section of Novato is Black Point. An old-time resident of the area will tell you Green Point is the figment of a real estate agent’s imagination… who am I to protest? If you go way back to the early 1900’s before Novato existed as a City, there were three main areas, and railroad stations – Ignacio to the south, Novato to the north and Black Point to the east. Today people often refer to the area of Black Point north of Highway 37 as Green Point, and the area south of Highway 37 as Black Point. Green Point homes were largely built in the 1970’s and “typically” are large 3 bedroom homes, around 2700 square feet and sell for $1.5M, but homes vary widely. Black Point homes were built from the early 1900’s through today and are “typically” 3 bedrooms, around 1800 square feet and sell for $1M. The older Black Point area is perhaps a bit more rustic and artistic than most neighborhoods. Though not a part of Black Point, close by you’ll find the newer development of StoneTree which is surrounded by the StoneTree Golf Club (memberships from the $300’s to over $1000/mo) which is a gated development of 4+ bedroom homes, built in the early 2000’s, averaging almost 4800 square feet and $1.9M. Because of the hilly terrain most of the yards are not usable but views are abundant. StoneTree is within the City limits while Black Point and Green Point are not.
Downtown / Old Town
Another variable is the definition of “Old Town”, but for most people Downtown and Old Town are the historic downtown shopping district along Grant Ave (and home to our office at 1305 Grant Ave). Grant Ave is the traditional town center and has an abundance of restaurants and shops. The residential areas immediately around the downtown are a mix of single family and low rise multiunit buildings. The “typical” single family property is a smaller traditional style 3 bedroom house about 1300 square feet, with a 0.2 acre lot, built in the 1940’s or 1950’s which sells for about $900K. As you draw expanding concentric circles further from Grant Ave houses get larger and newer. A notable new development, Atherton Ranch, has much larger homes – many around 3,000 square feet and selling for around $1.3M. The lots are often smaller but it’s quite a value buy for being so close to walkable amenities.
Located east of Downtown Novato and home to Olive Elementary, the Olive neighborhood is still walkable to Downtown (although you have to walk under the 101 overpass). The original neighborhood was developed close to 101 and newer developments have extended eastward. The "typical" home in the closer in neighborhood is a traditional style home built in the 1940’s through 1960’s, with 3 bedrooms, and about 1500 square feet, with a 0.2 acre lot, and sells for just under $900K. As you go further east along Olive Ave there are numerous newer developments with much larger and newer homes, with lots of variability, but many reach the $1.8M price point.
Generally considered West Novato (depending on your perspective), the Presidents Neighborhood is hallmarked by streets that bear the names of ex-presidents… Truman, Pierce, etc., although they’re not exclusively presidents names. It’s home to Novato High School, and Rancho Elementary. The “typical” house is a 4 bedroom, ranch style home, built in the 1950’s and 1960’s, about 2000 square feet, with a ¼ acre lot, that sells for about $1.1M. There’s quite a bit of variability in styles as you go further from the center of the neighborhood.
Although not in big font on our map, Ignacio Valley is big. As mentioned earlier, prior to the formation of Novato as a city, Ignacio was its own destination and had a separate railroad stop on multiple rail lines in the early 1900’s. Home to San Jose Middle School and Loma Verde Elementary, Ignacio Valley includes the neighborhoods of Loma Verde, Pointe Marin, and Marin Country Club (or just the Country Club). Since these three neighborhoods are so unique from a real estate perspective, we’ve highlighted the three distinctive neighborhoods, but wanted to give Ignacio Valley it’s due place.
Located in Southwest Novato the Marin Country Club is a highly sought after neighborhood, especially for golfing enthusiasts. You can drive your golf cart within one mile of a designated golf course in a 25 mile per hour zone (check specifics with DMV), making for a pleasant jaunt to the club. Ignacio Valley is framed by surrounding hills, and is quite a picturesque setting. The "typical" home is a 4 bedroom house about 2700 square feet, built in the 1960’s or 1970’s with a 0.4 acre lot which sells for about $2M. Remodeled homes right on the golf course with a level lot will sell for quite a premium. Upgrade levels and lot quality can vary substantially.
Located primarily north of Ignacio Valley Blvd, the Pointe Marin subdivision was built in the early 2000’s. Pointe Marin is often used to describe the general area but there are distinct neighborhoods close by that were built by different developers. The "typical" home is a 2 story, 4 bedroom house with about 2700 square feet, a 0.15 acre lot, and sells for about $1.5M. Premium lots with significant home upgrades will sell well above the average. Some of the larger homes can be a good value buy as they don’t sell for a big premium over the average price.
In Southern Novato just west of Highway 101 is Loma Verde, home of Loma Verde Elementary School. It’s an older neighborhood built in the 1950’s and early 1960’s and surprisingly isn’t officially in the City of Novato, although the City surrounds the small community. The "typical" home is a ranch style 3 bedroom house about 1600 square feet, with a 1/4 acre lot which sells for about $1.1M.
Bel Marin Keys
Located in Southeast Novato and developed primarily in the 1960’s and 1970’s Bel Marin Keys is a truly unique subdivision. Most properties have a waterfront lot fronting one of the three main lagoons and many have boat docks. Waterskiing and other activities is permitted in most areas and two locks allow access to the Bay (although mostly at higher tide levels). The "typical" home is a 3 bedroom house about 1900 square feet, with a 1/4 acre lot which sells for about $1.5M. Upgraded single level homes with prime lots and docks sell for a premium. With a mean sea level of 12 feet, some are concerned about sea level rise. Bel Marin Keys is not within the City limits of Novato and is part of a Community Service District. There have been several attempts to further develop the area immediately south of Bel Marin over the years but that seems unlikely to happen in the current environment.
In the furthest Southeast part of Novato is Hamilton, which is a subdivision built in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s on the old Hamilton Airforce Base. As with many previous military bases substantial environmental remediation was undertaken prior to development, but a few skeptics still question whether the level of remediation was sufficient. The Coast Guard currently operates the existing airfield and about 300 original duplexes and homes that are largely uninhabited. They have expressed that they intend to sell those homes at some point – likely to a developer. The base is largely Spanish eclectic style (much like what you might see in Santa Barbara), so the historic buildings are quite architecturally significant. The "typical" home is a 2 story 3 bedroom about 2,400 square feet, with a 0.1 acre lot which sells for about $1.25M. The statistical “typical” is a bit skewed here because a lot of attached townhome style homes are averaged with large 3000 sq ft homes. More anecdotally, we see detached homes selling in the $1.2M range for about 2300 sq ft and in the $1.4M range for about 3000 sq ft. Quite a value buy if you’re looking for a newer, larger home. Lot sizes are generally small so most backyard spaces are limited. No properties in Hamilton were built with an in-ground pool but he community pool is highly acclaimed.