Searching for multifamily in bay area/northern California

10 Replies


Newbie here, just getting in on all the action! The husband and I are seeking out our first 2-4 unit that we will be occupying. We are currently in San Jose but have lived in Vallejo and San Francisco and I work in Oakland. I've been reading up on the blogs, reading some amazing books, and listening to relevant podcasts but realized I should reach out to get some valuable input from you fine folks! 

We are trying to narrow down the location since we are trying to stay under 500k and know this will be a challenge. We aren't afraid to put a lot of elbow grease into the property, I'd say we're beginner/intermediate in that department (but dedicated to the cause!) but no major overhauls (don't want to get divorced jk). I love Vallejo's location and my husband is from there but it can be seedy. West Oakland and Piedmont would be ideal if we could find something within our price point. We are also considering cities like Livermore but already seems on the up and up. Would also be interested in your opinions about small sleepy towns like Crockett, Suisun City, and Martinez for multifamilies. Looking to be within a 1.5 hour drive from Oakland for work. I know we're kind of all over the place but if you have any suggestions I would love to hear it and thank you so much for reading! 

@Rizalene Barnett   welcome to BP, you have found a great resource.  A few months ago I was in the same boat you are in now.  I had just joined BP and I was looking at cities from San Jose all the way up to Richmond.  After talking to @j.martin, and visiting Oakland I zeroed in on that city.  Within in a few a few weeks I had found a great deal that I am very happy about.  Below is a link to my deal.

Just this past weekend I found a triplex that is very close to the 1% rule in the South Bay.  The point is that there are deals in the BA that are attractive.  You just have to turn over a ton of rocks to find the gem!

Good hunting to you and your husband, make sure to post up when you find your deal!


@arlen chou Wow! thanks for the inspiration! It seems like you have a good eye for great deals. I am still learning the lingo and at this point read these posts at the speed of a 1st grader and trying to wrap my mind around the numbers. I am definitely keeping my eye on Oakland, especially since I work there and the commute would be a dream. And even looking to make hipster friends! ;)

I see that the 2% rule is nearly impossible in the bay so that's awesome that you found it close to the 1%, especially in the south bay. I see things work a little differently within the bay area when it comes to the numbers and rules. Hoping to figure that out as well.

Thanks for the advise and I will continue to research.

Hi @rizalene,

Welcome to BP! I'm down in San Jose and if you need any help with financing, let me know. I'm one of the bloggers on the BP blog so make sure to check out some of the articles I've written about financing, loan applications, documentation, etc.

All the best,


@jeff trevarthen thank you! I'm already working with a lender but will keep you in mind in the future and will definitely look up your blogs!

@Rizalene Barnett  ,

Welcome! You came to the right spot! And lots of awesome local investors! Definitely get on @Johnson H.  's meetup group (monthly San Jose meetups) and check out my signature to get updates on mine in Oakland and SF. In fact, next Wednesday, we're meeting at a triplex in West Oakland! You should come check it out! It's @Daniel S.  . I'll be emailing you shortly about the back side of that deal..

There are still good deals in Vallejo, here and there in Oakland, and some that pop up in Martinez. Don't know much about Crockett.. But less $/ft there than when you get closer to Albany, Berkeley, for sure..

You'd be able to find a duplex in your price range in West Oakland. But most spots are still rough around the edges. Depending on where you lived in Vallejo before and how comfortable you are being in lower-income areas with crime (albeit, gentrifying and changing..).

Feeling adventurous? There's a duplex within your price range in West Oakland ($499k - and can probably negotiate down after 93 days on market.) The kicker? It comes with a bonus unit, and a church! What?! That's right! lol

It may still be sitting there because of issues with financing. Might need commercial financing due to mixed use? Haven't called them.

There's also a (maybe far-fetched) play of buying it, splitting the duplex w/ bonus unit off on a separate lot from the church. Then can sell the duplex w/ residential financing, and do an owner-finance deal w/ the church! I can't remember if it was @Nhi Nguyen  or someone else that did a lot split deal involving a church before...?

There's also a more straight-forward duplex closer to downtown/uptown (but still in W Oakland..). But just above your price range, at $560K


Just so you know what's out there..

@Rizalene Barnett welcome to BP! We're definitely in the same boat. After tons of book and blog reading and podcast listening, I decided it was time to get my hands dirty lest I become trapped in the swirl of analysis paralysis. We would love to get something in Oakland, preferably a duplex or triplex for 800K, but not looking for something that requires much rehab given that we'll be utilizing a VA Loan which requires a property to be move-in ready. I've been told they're few and far between but I maintain hope that perseverance will pay off.

One of the most helpful things for me in actually getting started was to build my own deal analysis spreadsheet modeled after the BP Deal Analysis article (pasted below), which I would be happy to share with you.

BP members have been so kind and helpful in identifying RE Agents, lenders, advice, etc. I was so nervous the first time I called a mortgage broker but I realized it wasn't hard at all haha. I'm living by Mark Twain's adage that "everything is difficult until it is easy".

@Ben Freeman, @markgagner and @jeffweissman all recommended East Bay Real Estate Broker/Agents. I would recommend you connect with them!

Good luck and lets stay in touch as we both continue in our RE endeavors :)

J. M. From everything that I've been reading and hearing Oakland seems like a great city to invest in. For years I was a little intimidated by it just because I've only driven around 98th avenue by the airport trying to find gas past midnight at some sketchy looking gas stations. By exploring the food scene, farmers market, and cool little bars around town and talking to some folks I've changed my mind. I'm sure you can find something that fits your criteria, it seems that with a little determination and perseverance, much can be done and 800k is a very good number to start with. That deal analysis blog was very useful for breaking things down to layman's terms for me but am very interested to see your angle as well. I am the opposite of you with analysis paralysis as I always jump in a little too hastily and tend to learn things the hard way. Also, thanks for the referrals. Good luck to you as well and please stay in touch.

FYI, there are currently 26 active 2-4 unit listings in Oakland priced between $499k-$800k.

I would be happy to set you up with a Property Alerts Program to send you listings that match your unique criteria. Free, no obligation, just MLS direct, accurate information.

@Rizalene Barnett    I like Crocket and Martinez personally.

Also I like Benicia a lot .. And of course you can find some nice stuff in Napa as well.

Not bad to go visit your property in Napa then do some wine tasting  :)

@Jeff Weissman  Yes, I would like that. I'll message you.

@Jay Hinrichs  I know right, I'd have lots of "issues" with my property that would need tending to in Napa. Benicia's farmers market is very charming and I love their sense of community.

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