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Finding a Home in Oakland That’s Diverse and Affordable

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When Cara and James Meredith returned to the Bay Area four years ago after a 20-month stint in the Pacific Northwest, one thing was certain. .

“The Seattle experience really cemented our belief that this is what we all need,” said Meredith, 43, an author and freelance writer.

Meredith, 54, who works in commercial lending, added: His father, named James, was the first black student admitted to the University of Mississippi in 1962, causing a riot by white students and residents that resulted in two deaths. Young Meredith spent his childhood in Jackson, Mississippi, before completing graduate studies at the University of San Diego. Raised in the suburb of Salem in Kaiser, Oregon, he and Carla met online in 2009 before moving to California to teach in San Francisco. I came to love

“We loved the gritty feel, the sunshine, and the variety,” Meredith said. “It was important that James wasn’t the only black man, or that our boys weren’t the only children of color.”

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The Merediths were familiar with the Oakland market and were keen to return to it. They rented a house in the city’s Daimond neighborhood large enough to raise their elementary-aged sons Cannon and Theo, and later a goldendoodle named Rufus. But last year, when the owners surprised them with news that they were preparing to sell the building, the couple found themselves in a rush to find a way to stay in town.

The idea that Mr. and Mrs. Meredith would buy did not come to mind at first. “I’ve heard a lot of stories about how intense the market has been. People have all the cash and they have a lot of resources,” Meredith said. “We figured we were probably looking for another rental location.”

But when Meredith looked at rental properties in Oakland, she found that very few offered the space her family needed and were comfortable for her dog.

Bay Area rents were already high, so the Merediths were paying $4,300 a month for a 1,400-square-foot lot, so monthly mortgage payments didn’t seem out of the question. But the idea of ​​her 20% down payment in the hundreds of thousands of dollars is daunting, as is the prospect of moving far from the area they loved just to buy a house. did.

“At first, I think we were idiots. We were in awe,” Meredith said. “I don’t know how it hit us, but it hit us.”

Tanja Odzak-Goppold, a broker at eXp Realty who has worked with the couple, was quick to dispel one myth. “Most of the time it’s like 5 percent or 10 percent,” she said. “Most of my prospects can handle monthly payments, so it’s important for them to understand that they can usually manage the down payment as well.”

Odzak-Goppold was also a seasoned veteran of navigating Auckland’s quaint markets. In particularly popular neighborhoods, homes for sale are routinely underpriced, often significantly underpriced, to provoke bidding wars. The tactics usually worked, and the city’s rapid gentrification had overheated that reality.

The Merediths were pre-approved for a purchase price of $805,000 and knew what they wanted. That’s at least he has a detached house with two bedrooms, an end-to-end space that can be repurposed as an office or work area, and a one-yard garden of some sort. And they were willing to run out of the Auckland market before considering other locations.

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