South Pasadena a Destination for Families and Professionals


For anyone who’s bought a home in South Pasadena, you know how tough the market is these days. Not only are homes values higher than other neighboring communities, but South Pasadena has been a seller’s market for years due to the city’s status as being a destination for families and urban professionals.

Over the last year, the per-square-foot cost of homes in South Pasadena averaged out to $606.13. That’s $57.36 more than the average price-per-square-foot in Arcadia, $73.17 more than Pasadena and $185.61 more than neighboring Alhambra.

Top Schools in South Pas

There are a number of reason for influencing home values, but one of them clearly is the quality of the schools. South Pasadena has some of the finest schools in the state, which attracts young families to the city looking to set down roots.

“There are many factors adding to the value of homes in South Pasadena, our schools are top of the list,” said Michele Downing, of Partners Trust Realty. “No doubt through the years South Pasadena holds its equity value in homes due to the excellent public school system.”

The South Pasadena Unified School District has managed to maintain its elite status among the state’s 1,025 districts despite a decade’s worth of cuts to the state’s education budget. All told, state education spending is about $50 billion below where it would have been if not for the budget crunch in the late 2000s. And in the coming fiscal year, Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to spend $500 million less on education than previously pledged, which could see South Pasadena facing a million-dollar shortfall in the funding next year.

SPEF Makes a Difference

To help the district meets its needs, a number of volunteer civic organization have rallied to raise funding needed to maintain the city’s marquee status in public education. The largest of these is the South Pasadena Educational Foundation. Since its founding, SPEF has raised more than $7 million for the schools and has funded such things as technology, after-school and summer classes, a student well-being initiative and dozens of other student-enrichment programs. That’s in addition to giving to the district’s general fund to do things like fund programs, buy textbooks and repair aging facilities.

Funding is Tight

In fact, with funding so tight, the district relies on SPEF and other school-supporting organizations to meet its needs and avert drastic cuts to programs and staff.

“SPEF offers people of the town the opportunity to support the schools in areas where funds are low or have been stopped,” said Carol Majors of Coldwell Banker, who has been selling properties in South Pasadena for 30 years.

Mentioned in Sunset Magazine

Beyond having its schools listed among the top five in California, South Pasadena has received a fair amount of press over the past year for being one of the state’s finest cities. It was named by Sunset Magazine as being one of the state’s 32 “best ‘burbs.” It was cited by the Pasadena Star Review as being among California’s most livable cities. And South Pasadena’s been named in countless online publications as being one the best bets for anyone looking to invest in a home. Yet, it’s the city’s schools that draw most buyers to South Pasadena.

“On a scale of one to 10, the blue-ribbon schools are a number 10 on the ‘must’ list,” Majors said. “We are known throughout the area for top-rated schools that meet the various needs of our students. Ninety-percent of the properties I sell in the city are purchased by parents so their children may enjoy the excellent schools.”

Values of Home Increase

Home values in South Pasadena have been growing over the past year. Comparing square-footage costs to eight neighboring districts, South Pasadena ranks third behind La Canada Flintridge and San Marino. However, looking at the quarterly changes, values in San Marino and La Canada Flintridge are softening while South Pasadena’s are only getting stronger, which many believe has to do with the quality of South Pasadena’s schools.

“South Pasadena has always been able to weather any market conditions,” said Downing. “The quality of our schools plays a huge factor in the value of our homes.”

Majors too recognizes that the quality of our schools is a bulwark against usual market forces that might drive down home values.

“I have been selling homes in the city for 30 years and we’ve seen ups and downs in the real estate market, but South Pasadena properties have held their value and one of the reasons is our excellent schools,” she said.

Thank Our School District

Considering all that, we need to thank our district, our teachers and the 5,000 or so kids in school for helping make our city the incredible place it is. Even more importantly, however, is to understand that the investment we make in our homes is being helped by organizations that have stepped in to fill a critical funding gap. SPEF has been a faithful and dedicated partner to our schools for more than 30 years. With the support of residents, SPEF has been able to shore up the district and give it the resources it needs to keep its place in the spotlight. At the same time, it’s given every homeowner something that can be counted…dollars. So consider that next time you’re looking to make a donation to a worthy cause. Something as simple as a donation to SPEF isn’t just supporting education. It’s protecting your investment.

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