Real Estate Wrap Up
The Perfect Bungalow
Who: Nina, 37, Jonathan, 42, Oren, 3, and baby on the way
Where: Central Berkeley
Home: Two-bedroom, one-bathroom, 1,100-square-foot Craftsman bungalow with a detached studio cottage
Nina and Jonathan Cohen are real estate veterans. Their first place was a condo in North Berkeley. Definitely not their dream pad.
“We were in and out in 13 months and sold right before the market tipped downward,” says Nina now. “We had to move in a week. Our Realtor told us if you want to sell, you have to move out now because the market is about to crash.” But news of Nina’s pregnancy happily coincided with their move to a larger rental house near the North Berkeley BART station.
“At that time, the housing market was so tight that the rental market was so tight,” remembers Nina. “So we just paid a fortune … for a really family friendly neighborhood. We loved it! If we could have bought that place, we would have. But we wanted our own place.” Plus, their high rent was draining their bank account right when Nina decided to leave her job as a school administrator to stay home with baby son Oren.
So after a year of renting, Nina and Jonathan, a middle school science teacher, decided to start looking for a home.
They focused on the neighborhood of their rental. A house nearby seemed appealing and after contacting the owners directly, the couple found a lawyer, entered into a contract and narrowly averted buying a lemon. “It had a $70,000 pest report and that’s what put us over the edge,” says Nina. They were able to back out. They found their ideal home in late 2010. “We made a list of ‘musts’ and ‘would be nice’ and this house has all of them,” Nina says from her new home. “When we found that piece of paper long after we closed, turns out we really got everything on our list. Extra space outside the house we could use as an office. A real entryway, a hall closet.”
The one question was the neighborhood. The couple had their hearts set on North Berkeley and knew less about their new Central Berkeley neighborhood. But any remaining worries were soon set aside. “Within three months [of moving], there were three other families with kids within five months of how old Oren is. It’s summer camp all the time!” says Nina.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to move,” she says.