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David & Katherine Gerster

Burlingame, Burlingame Park | client since 2014

Vice President of Data Science at BigML | Writer

What do you love the most about your neighborhood?

It’s hard to pick one thing I like best about our neighborhood, but two close ones: the proximity to Burlingame Ave, and the proximity to a park for our son to play. We really have a walking lifestyle now. Everything is a short walk away -- the grocery store, the library, restaurants, more than one park. I definitely get more exercise these days! There are also lots of children in the neighborhood, which is fun for our son.

The same things Katherine mentioned. Being able to walk to “The Ave” is fantastic. I don’t think there’s a nicer retail district in the Bay Area, and that includes University Avenue. Having an Apple Store within walking distance is a bit of a moral hazard, though.

What was your journey like buying a home?

I was really surprised by how quickly our home-buying journey went. I think it was about three months from when we decided we’d think about moving to when we moved into our new house. Raziel impressed on us that we really needed to snap something up right away if we liked it, since the real estate market was so hot. We visited our new home within hours of when it went on the market, and we made an offer about a week later, and then we were moved into the house a couple of weeks after that.

We knew that inventory was tight in Burlingame, so when we found the house we liked, we went after it aggressively. It reminded me a little of apartment hunting in NYC--make sure you have your checkbook ready! We bought a fantastic house in a Burlingame neighborhood with very little inventory, and paid a price we were actually happy with--in part because of his excellent advice.

What was your experience working with Raziel?

Great! I think in some respects, a realtor is like a therapist, helping a family navigate one of the most important and stressful decisions of their lives, and Raziel performed this role expertly. David and I had slightly different opinions about what our dream house would look like, and Raziel helped us arrive at a vision of a house that would meet both of our most important needs. There were also a few moments of panic for me when we were reading through the one hundred pages of disclosures about the house—you know, the terrifying list of everything that is wrong or might potentially be wrong with the house. I sent Raziel an email that said I was having second thoughts about making an offer, and he immediately called, and helped talk me through every concern. Not only was he reassuring, he was also quite knowledgeable about which things in the list were common, minor house issues and which ones were red flags.

Raziel has continued to be a resource for us after we signed all the paperwork—referring us to a contractor, a designer, and other vendors. We still call him when we need a local recommendation, and he is always delighted to help. We feel lucky to know him!

Another area of distinction is his deep quantitative knowledge of the local housing market. He knows all the important numbers, and mails out detailed analyses of the Burlingame, San Mateo and Hillsborough housing markets--in fact, that's how I originally found him. (We like to joke that it's the first time in the history of the world that direct mail has actually led to commerce.)

Finally, Raziel grew up in Burlingame, and his love for the area really shines through. He knows every neighborhood, and if you're a buyer he'll take you on a "grand tour" where he explains the unique traits of each one.

What was your experience like selling your home?

In retrospect, selling our home was the easy part. Raziel did all of the work! He connected us with a stager, a landscaper, a home inspection provider, and a handyman who made a few repairs. We had very little to do beyond attending a few appointments and writing checks. In the end, the small investments we made in preparing the house were very much worthwhile -- the house looked wonderful -- and I think that was one of several reasons that we ended up receiving an offer much higher than our asking price.

When I saw the staged house, I really thought: gee, we should have done all this while we lived here -- it didn’t cost that much and wasn’t that difficult, and we would have really enjoyed the place. It actually makes me think differently about making improvements in my new home. I’m planning to live here for a very long time, and I might as well spend a little bit to make it look the way I want it to.

I also think that emotionally, selling was much less intense for buying than buying. We knew we wanted to sell; there was more uncertainty and stress and in buying, I think.

After we bought our home, we sold our old house (also in Burlingame) for a price at the upper end of the range we were hoping for. Again, he gave us excellent advice on what terms to ask for, and we ended up accepting a perfectly "clean" bid with no contingencies.

One thing that sets Raziel apart is his attention to detail, especially when negotiating the terms of a contract. With his encyclopedic knowledge of the real estate business, he's the guy you want in your corner when it comes time to put pen to paper. He did a fantastic job marketing the house we sold, even creating flyers in Chinese to reach as broad an audience as possible.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up just outside of Boston. It’s a place where you really feel all four seasons— gorgeous leaves in the fall, lots of snow every winter. I miss the snow! I decided to move to San Francisco for a change of scene, not really planning for it to be a permanent change at the time. The career opportunities out here were more exciting than what I’d found in Boston, and then I met David, and that’s when I realized I would be here for a long time.

I’m originally from Buffalo, and yes, we did get our fair share of precipitation. As a child of the eighties, one of my distinctive memories is wearing “moon boots” in the deep snow out in my front yard. It’s also a big hockey town, and I remember going to “The Aud” to cheer on my favorite player, Gilbert Perreault.

What was your first job?

I had a paper route starting when I was nine, delivering the Boston Globe in the morning. That really feels like a job from a different generation, now. By the time I was a teenager, the Globe stopped allowing children to deliver papers, and then a few years after that, everyone was reading online and paper subscriptions plummeted. I have lots of happy memories of that paper route. I was the first one in my house to know that Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, and in the winter I often got to see the snow before anyone had shoveled it or driven on it or touched in the morning. I’d to find an analogous opportunity for my son when he’s older. I’m not sure what it will be, since the world is so different today!

My first job was working in the mortgage department of a Buffalo bank for a summer. This included modeling how loans amortized, which ended up being a pretty useful skill for the adult world. I also called collections, but only the 30-day delinquencies.