Chris & Aviva Paul

Redwood City, Farm Hill Estates | client since 2011

Visual Effects Artist at Electronic Arts | Visiting Lecturer at San Francisco State University, in Anthropology

Where did you grow up and what was it like?

Even though I grew up in Toronto, I was born in California, and grew up coming to California to visit family and friends. I think I always had a secret wish to end up back in California. Living somewhere like Toronto, California seems like this hot climate destination and while all my friends were going to Florida with their snowbird grandparents for their ski weeks, I was the kid doing something different. I realized that I really just loved the West coast when I went to University of British Columbia for school. And, now that I have been in the bay area for 11 years, its hard to imagine leaving the coast, the temperate (although I learned that my stereotype is really more of southern California! But who wants heat like that?!) climate, the mix of cosmopolitan and outdoor scenes, and most importantly, the community we have formed here not just with family but friends too.

I grew up Portland, Oregon. It's a great small city with the perfect mix of small town vibe, a built up urban core, and lots of places to get outdoors.

What do you love the most about your neighborhood?

Its located right between everything. We originally chose Redwood City because of its strategic placing on the peninsula, and in proximity to Chris's work (and because we could afford it). We've grown to love downtown Redwood City, all the nearby parks, the mixture of hills and mountains with residential neighborhoods, and the restaurant scene. I still do love that its as easy to get to the city as it is to get to Silicon Valley.

Quiet and peaceful, and easy to get to the mountains. Redwood City has a lot of great restaurants, coffee shops and entertainment as well, and is very kid-friendly.

What was your journey like buying a home?

It felt fast. We were pregnant so we knew we wanted to move but we weren't convinced that we could afford it, or that we were ready. It was stressful too--there were a lot of moments when it looked like things wouldn't go our way.

A bit of a whirlwind as we were looking to move out of our one bedroom apartment in San Francisco before we had our first child. Came under the wire by a few months.

What surprised you the most about the home buying process?

How much paperwork there was to keep straight and sign. How it sometimes felt like our fate was being decided by the whims of bankers who didn't know us and our financial history at all.

How everyone was bending over backwards to make sure we could get our first house. You hear all these horror stories of shady deals and people losing out to all-cash bidders, but for some reason it just worked out for us, despite a few bumps along the way.

My experience working with Raziel was:

Reassuring. Raziel doesn't push you into anything but you know he has the experience that when he says you can do something, you believe him. He is so knowledgeable that I was never concerned that we weren't making the right decisions. I felt very well-informed. He was willing to talk about the needs of the now and also think with us ahead into our future. He was patient and calm, even when it seemed like things were not going our way. He gave good advice and advocated for us and our interests. He has actively cultivated the friendship we began when we hired him as our realtor. Even from the beginning, he was good at finding a reassuring balance between professionalism and a sense of genuineness that can only come from a comfortable level of informality.

Childhood ambition:

I wanted to be a chemist for a long time. When I was 15 I wanted to be an archaeologist.

Make video games.

Favorite hidden gem:

There is this fantastic hike up in Marin. I never remember which one it is, and I always end up on the wrong trail. I like how it winds through these jungle like ravines before spilling you out on the beach. It is just the right length, with just the right elevation change, sun exposure and diversity of ecoclimates. It must be hidden (or I'm imagining it) because I can never find it!

Berry Creek Falls in Big Basin.

First job:

I think it was at a seasonal superstore selling luggage, lingere, and winterwear. It was an odd throw together.

Starbucks barista.

Favorite room:

I like my daughter's room. It feels cozy and warm and intimate. Maybe I like the fuzzy rug.

Our dining/kitchen area.

My top bucket list item:

I'd like to go scuba diving in Japan. And the Maldives.

Hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

Biggest challenge:

Staying on top of everything, and getting some portion of it done.


Anyone who is passionate about something.