It is hard to believe my family and I have been in the same house for over 3 years. I still remember treking all over the bay area with a 2-month old infant, swapping places waiting in the car with her as she napped. This is a ramble on our home search in late-2012/early-2013.

The Eichlers

We started our search in the “East Bay”. I use quotes because we really started in Walnut Creek which is half an hour away from San Francisco with no traffic and doesn’t border the bay at all. Ever since I ran across a blog showcasing a homeowner renovating their mid-century modern home in Southern California, I have wanted to own an Eichler home. The main enclaves of Eichler’s in the Bay Area are in (somewhat far) Marin County, (unaffordable) Palo Alto, (more affordable, but not for us) San Mateo, and Walnut Creek, with some others in areas that wouldn’t make much sense for our commute to San Francisco.

Growing up in the Bay Area I always had an affinity for the Lamorinda area so it had to be a Walnut Creek Eichler. Knowing absolutely nothing about the Bay Area Real Estate market we jumped in and made an offer on a solid Eichler and an amazingly remodeled one but thought we would lose since there was much more traffic during that open house. We were shocked to find out there were 7 offers on the amazing home. Boy would we be in for more shock down the road as we often saw 2 or 3 times that on the same property!

Finding no other attractive Eichler’s in the area we turned to focus our search south. We combed Redfin from as far south as the San Mateo area north of 92 back up to San Francisco and made offers on a nice corner lot home in South San Francisco and a quaint little ranch on the east side of 101 in San Mateo which we lost by a mere $3,000.

We continued to make offers on homes that with full knowledge of our life today we probably would not have been 100-percent happy with based on their location in San Bruno. But we lost. And then again.

Montclair

At this point we were frustrated. Having bid against 10 or more other families and then losing by a relatively small sum we would have surely paid we once again changed our target areas, this time looking to the lovely hills of Oakland around Montclair. The great thing about Montclair was the preponderance of mid-century modern-esque homes and not having to trek through the tunnel to get home as we would have had to in Walnut Creek. We put offers in on 3 fantastic homes. We even managed to enter in to contract on one of them, before ultimately deciding while inspecting that that specific house was not going to be the right one for us.

Redwood Heights

We once again expanded our search, slightly down the hill to what was the absolutely nicest house we bid on. It had been taken back to the studs and remodeled marvelously. It had a great side driveway and a great floor plan and we felt like we had to have this home. We lost. By a lot.

The End

By now we were more than 6 months in to our search and had made 9 official offers. We were starting to wonder if we just needed to rent forever or just wait it out until the all cash offers were going to go away. But one day as we were on our way out to another set of open houses we passed a house that showed up on our search screens and decided to drop in. The home wasn’t staged at all, had dingy carpet, and a fridge that reeked of pickled vegetables. There were only 3 offers on the home and when the seller presented counter offers we were the only ones willing to bite. And so here we are…

The Stats
Property Selling Price Redfin Estimate $Change %Change
2688 San Carlos, Walnut Creek $735,000 $984,034 +$249,034 +33.9%
32 San Marino, Walnut Creek $760,000 $1,002,034 +$242,034 +31.8%
2901 Burren Way, SSF $760,000 $1,002,034 +$242,034 +31.8%
1217 S Norfolk St, San Mateo $660,000 $1,088,058 +$428,058 +64.9%
2541 Cottonwood Drive, San Bruno $665,000 $966,781 +$301,781 +45.4%
3590 Exeter Drive, San Bruno $655,000 $910,456 +$255,456 +39.0%
1984 Magellan Drive, Oakland $764,000 $1,018,805 +$254,805 +33.4%
5763 Merriewood Drive, Oakland $729,000 $1,066,525 +$337,525 +46.3%
6615 Gunn Drive, Oakland $660,000 $893,157 +$233,157 +35.3%
3361 Victor Avenue, Oakland $820,000 $1,156,800 +$336,800 +41.1%

Above I’ve listed all the prices that the places we put offers on actually sold for. In today’s market you would think they were an absolute steal. But the biggest takeaway from all this is that losing that San Mateo house by $3,000 really stung then and it still really stings now.