A House With a View
Redwood Heights to the Rescue
Who: Bruce Stoffmacher, 44, policy analyst for Oakland City Councilmember Libby Schaaf; Camille Landau, 44, marketing executive; Benjamin, 5; and Joshua, 3
Where: Oakland’s Redwood Heights
Home: 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 1,326-square-foot mid-century modern home
Bruce Stoffmacher and Camille Landau left the smog and sprawl of Los Angeles and moved to the Bay Area two years ago.
We wanted “a lifestyle change, [a] better place for kids,” says Stoffmacher. With two young boys heading toward elementary school, they were also interested in being near a good school. The couple settled into a rental in Oakland’s Dimond District and launched a campaign to find a home to buy.
Their search took a while. Initially, Stoffmacher and Landau were being priced out of the Oakland neighborhoods that they felt had better elementary schools. They looked at almost 30 available homes on their own for a year without luck before they found a real estate agent, Jennie Flanigan of Pacific Union.
They were attracted to a short sale reasonably priced in the low $300,000s, but their agent urged them to continue looking. Most of what they saw was too expensive — and since they had retained their home in Southern California, they were looking for a good price point.
Two months later, they finally found a 1949 fixer- upper with an amazing view of the bay. The house sported a “super great price,” says Stoffmacher. They hadn’t seen any other houses in Redwood Heights even close to this one’s asking price. And it came complete with three bedrooms. There are “so many houses where the third room is the garage and they want $500,000,” says Stoffmacher.
A year later, they love the view, their large living room, the home’s modern, family-friendly floor plan and the stellar nearby Redwood Heights School.
There are certainly a few elements that need sprucing up: bathrooms and kitchen are slated to be modernized sometime soon, too, and the master bathroom will be enlarged.
But some of the elements they first weren’t enamored of didn’t turn out so bad. “Well, I really hate the ’70s linoleum floor in kitchen, but it’s such a period piece that I’m growing fond of it even though its days are numbered,” says Stoffmacher.
And the neighborhood has afforded them the lifestyle they sought when they left Southern California. “Redwood Heights so far seems like a middle class dream melting pot, very eclectic with nice people,” Stoffmacher says.