I, Mark Roemer Oakland, know that buying a home is a big decision, especially if you’re trying to grab a property anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area. Oakland, California is one such city that lies east of San Francisco and has seen major growth in recent years. Let’s check out what you should know about home buying in Oakland, California.
1. High cost of living – Before you decide to buy a home in Oakland, you need to be aware of the expenses that come with it. Similar to other cities in the state, Oakland has a high cost of living and ranks among the top ten most expensive cities in the entire US. The cost of living is almost 50% higher than the national average with similar hikes in transportation, utility, and gas prices. The cost of housing is also a whopping 118% more than the national average. In posh neighborhoods like Oakland Hills, homes start at around $1 million.
With such high prices, you also need a high income to maintain a decent standard of living in this city. An annual salary of $90,000 or more is considered a good figure. On the other hand, if you have a family and want to afford mortgage costs on your housing and other big expenses, you need to earn at least $150,000. Despite a high living cost, Oakland is still cheaper than San Francisco and allows you to access all the neighboring cities in the Bay Area with Rapid Transit.
2. Crime rates – Unfortunately, the cost of living isn’t the only high figure. Crime rates are also quite high. Oakland is considered to be a city with one of the highest crime rates both in California and the US. However, when compared to other major cities like New York and San Francisco, the crime rates aren’t surprising enough. That’s why you need to choose the right neighborhood when moving to this city.
Stay away from the notoriously bad parts of town including Fitchburg, Eastmont, and Hoover-Foster no matter how good of a deal you get on property prices. Instead, you should only have the safest neighborhoods in consideration even if you have to pay a bit more. The safest neighborhoods include Bushrod, Rockridge, Grand Lake, Cleveland Heights, Temescal, and Redwood Heights.
3. Great weather – If you love the weather of San Francisco, you would love Oakland as well. It has the same warm and sunny Mediterranean climate with low humidity. Expect summers to be dry and warm and winters to be wet and cool, nothing too extreme. However, rainfall is scarce and that’s why you’ll need to adopt more water-conserving methods in your home when you move here.
4. Excellent public transportation – One of the best things about Oakland is its great public transportation. A lot of areas in the city are walkable and easy to navigate. You don’t need to own a car when you move to Oakland. The traffic can be stressful and backed up during peak hours. On the contrary, Oakland has an extensive network of public transportation systems that are affordable and reliable.
The city has a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit trains) system for regional transportation with direct lines to San Jose and San Francisco. For local transport, you have ferries, AC Transit buses, a public bike-sharing system, and scooter rentals. This public transportation system can help you become less reliant on cars, lower car ownership costs, and free up those expenses towards paying your mortgage.
5. High closing costs – Apart from the high property prices, you also need to be aware of high closing costs when buying a home in Oakland. Closing costs include everything from lender’s fees and appraiser’s fees to commissions and many other such costs. When combined, they can add up pretty quickly. For instance, if you buy a home that’s worth $800,000, you need to set aside tens of thousands of dollars for closing costs.
Closing costs can increase the overall price of the property by as much as 6%. You can do a few things to bring down closing costs. You can request the seller to shoulder some of those costs since sellers get to write that off as a tax deduction anyway. Apart from that, you can choose to close the deal late in the month to avoid paying the last month’s interest to lenders.
6. Ignore asking prices and look out for sold prices – It’s normal to do your own research and drive through neighborhoods to figure out the average cost of properties before buying a new home. However, if you don’t know what to look for, you may gauge the wrong price. Ignore the asking price of homes that were sold within the last few weeks or a couple of months.
Those numbers are usually low and can make some neighborhoods seem more affordable than they actually are. Oakland’s housing market is very competitive and that’s why they sell at a far higher price than the initial listing price. Look for sold prices for a better analysis of the market trends.
7. Buy a home at the beginning of the year – Housing transaction data for the last few years has shown that January and February are the worst months for homeowners moving out of Oakland. During those months, the market isn’t as active and that’s why homes fetch around 15% less than the yearly average.
That’s great news for buyers since you get a massive discount on your new home. However, searching for a new home in Oakland and building strategies to acquire it at the lowest price can be a full-time job. That’s why it’s best to hire a reputable buyer’s agent for the job.
I, Mark Roemer Oakland, suggest that you check out all your options before buying a home in Oakland. Oakland has good public transportation, great neighborhoods, and beautiful weather. However, the cost of living is still pretty high, and you need to do your due diligence before buying a home here.