Where were you living prior to Burlingame, and how did you begin your househunting process?
We used to live in San Francisco, and we loved that! We both ended up taking jobs down on the peninsula; I was in East San Jose. So we moved down to Mountain View and got a house down there. We loved it. It was an Eichler-style house with glass walls. We liked it a lot, but it was a little too suburban for us. We sold our place in Mountain View and we rented in Burlingame, we were here about three years. We weren’t looking for a house to buy that whole time. We knew we weren’t going to buy for a couple of years. But we were still keeping our eyes open, watching the MLS.
We realized there was a lot we didn’t know about the specific microenvironments, and being on one street versus another street actually can change a lot about your experience in a home, and the value. Having a really deep local knowledge is not that common, and we found that to be very valuable, even though we had done a lot of homework and lived just a few blocks away, and knew people in the area. It still wasn’t quite enough, and Raziel definitely added that extra component of local knowledge that helped us really be confident in a pretty competitive environment.
Why did you choose Burlingame?
We were looking to make a change wanting to get closer to San Francisco, but at that point we had kids and wanted a place that had great schools --- San Francisco can be a little tricky with the schools -- and living further south, we didn’t want to go back to the fog. Burlingame is very much, for us, the sweet spot. We rented for a while and being that we both worked in technology we knew that at any point, we may be taking jobs down in Cupertino or in San Francisco and Burlingame was a great place as far as commuting and that kind of thing. If we could try to get a place there, that’s what we wanted to do. And based on that, there’s a self-selection that I think happens. There are people who are here who are interested, even if they have kids, in going to nice restaurants. And here, you’ll go to an Italian place that has white tablecloths, and you walk in with your kids and you’re thinking, is this going to be weird? And half the tables have kids at them, and everyone’s doing the best they can to be well-behaved. It still has this urban, fun environment, even though it is a suburb and the weather is good.
How did you discover the Burlingables neighborhood, and what do you love about it?
We were renting in Burlingame for about three years, and we were a couple blocks away from the home we ultimately bought. We realized Burlingame was awesome and Burlingables was such a friendly neighborhood. There’s just a ton of families; we’re right by Washington Park, which is great; the kids ride their bikes there; we go have picnics; there’s movies in the park; we can get to downtown….
We thought we knew everything we needed to know. Being in the Bay Area for 20 years and being eight blocks away for three years [from the home we bought], we still found and learned things that we didn’t know. How to choose a home, and making the right decisions, at a street-by-street level, is actually pretty important. I think one of the things that we’ve been pleasantly surprised by is how important a good, strong, tightknit community is. And we’ve seen it in the immediate neighborhood, in terms of friends and connections we made. Burlingame is not that big but when we go to citywide types of events, like the Easter egg hunt, or campout in the park, or stuff around the schools, it feels like you can get to know a lot of the city, and you run into the same people on the Ave, and it’s a pretty big community.
Yeah, we ran into some friends last night on the Avenue from Hillsborough. It’s nice. And to that point, even the larger area -- we love Burlingame, we love the schools, we love the community -- but our kids went to nursery school just over the line in San Mateo. We know a bunch of people there, and they were all just super-friendly and nice. And just the area in general, I think, people enjoy being a little bit away from the bustle of San Francisco, but also having that easy access, people are very interested in current events, and talking about things, and it’s a lively neighborhood and a friendly neighborhood. It’s sort of just very much the sweet spot for us. One of the things we like about the neighborhood is the proximity to everything. We can walk to downtown to the Burlingame Avenue. We can walk over to the aquatic center where there are pools for kids and adults. There’s Oak Grove Market, which has cool organic stuff, and sorbets, and sandwiches, and all that kind of stuff. One of the things we miss about being in a dense urban environment like San Francisco is walking everywhere. Being in the car can just get to you so being close to the Avenue and to be able to leave the care home on weekends and not hassle with that is great for our peace of mind. There are a lot of younger families and older folks. Like our neighbors right next door, if I forget to take the trash cans out, he’ll be like, “Hey, want me to grab these?” It’s just a great neighborhood.
The neighborhood is great in terms of the families that are here, and, there are roving gangs of 4- and 5-year-olds that are generally well-behaved, and it’s great that the kids can walk in either direction three or four houses and find five or six playmates. I can go for a run down at Coyote Point, and it’s really easy being it’s nearby. Hopefully want to get out there for some kite-surfing one of these days, but we’ll see. It’s a good mix!
What was your experience like working with Raziel?
We knew we wanted to be in Burlingame, but we also were considering San Carlos. What we really wanted was a place with a lively downtown. One of the things that was nice was Raziel offered to take us around and show us all the different neighborhoods and spend time with us. Fortunately, he helped us be aggressive enough to actually get the house that we wanted even quicker than that. I liked how, when we started meeting with Raziel, he said “let’s be thorough about this, and let’s really look at all the right places”. And then he also had the flexibility to say, “Okay, this one’s come up, it seems to be everything you wanted, and we were like, ‘Yeah!”
We’ve bought houses before. We’ve bought in San Francisco, we’ve bought further down the peninsula, and this was by far the most intense buying process we’ve been through given the state of the market and location and trends. It was incredibly important to have someone with a real depth of local knowledge and be able to be aggressive with confidence. You have to be aggressive to be successful, and you want to be confident when you’re doing that, and you really have to rely on deep local knowledge, experience and some relationships locally to make that successful and not any more risky than it needs to be.
There’s a lot of overbidding that goes on everywhere, a lot of it is a guess, so you have to make it the most educated guesses possible. I felt like Raziel’s local knowledge really helped us feel confident in that.