Lately, looking for a house for some clients of mine, I happened to think where would I buy a house for $500,000. For today, I’ll just consider neighborhoods in Berkeley vs. some First Time Buyer neighborhoods in Oakland and give you a few pros and cons.
First, in Berkeley. It turns out, $500,000 will not give you many choices if you want a house, not a condo. For instance, right now, there’s a house at 1710 California in North Berkeley that’s a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 880 square feet with a small yard that needs TLC for $425,000. They’re taking offers in a week or so, so that will likely get bid up.
In other words, in Berkeley, for $500,000 or under, a house will likely be under 1,000 square feet or need a lot of work, be on a busy street or be south of Ashby. That said, Berkeley has the advantage of having nice urban neighborhoods, the cache of Berkeley and being close to shopping and BART for the most part.
As for Oakland, I looked at the most popular first time buyer neighborhoods in this price range: North Oakland and Laurel. For example, for $429,000, you can buy a totally fixed up Craftsman bungalow in North Oakland with a small yard, a little over 1,000 square feet, at 829 43rd Street ... or what is now known as the NOBE district. It’s very close to BART and has a lot of young people moving in and fixing up homes.
Or you could buy a home a little further out, further from BART, at 4156 Eastlake or the Redwood Heights area. This is also a 2 bedroom Oakland home but with 1271 square feet and in good condition. It has the advantage of probably being in the Redwood School district. But at $499,000, it will likely end up above $500,000.
The obvious advantage for Oakland is you get a little more house for the money (over 1,000 square feet, although you may not be as close to shopping and BART) or you may be in a neighborhood that’s just in the process of getting fixed up. What I’ve noticed is not one size fits all. Everyone has their own tradeoffs they choose to make when buying a house.
For a consultation about how to be competitive ... and win... in this market, give me a call: 510-847-2409.