Bay Area couple lived in a van for two years to save up for their dream home in the Oakland Hills



  • e07d0 920x920 Bay Area couple lived in a van for two years to save up for their dream home in the Oakland Hills

    The A-Frame is still largely the same as it was when it was built in 1968.

    The A-Frame is still largely the same as it was when it was built in 1968.


    Photo: Open Homes Photography

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The A-Frame is still largely the same as it was when it was built in 1968.

The A-Frame is still largely the same as it was when it was built in 1968.



Photo: Open Homes Photography


A Bay Area couple came up with a very novel way to try out different areas before deciding where to put down roots. For two years, Jessica and Bryan Ausinheiler lived in a van as a way to quickly pay off their student loans and save up enough money for their eventual dream home.

Their temporary four-wheeled abode was mainly a cost-saving measure, but exploring different neighborhoods was a nice side benefit, according to their agent, Deidre Joyner.


“The van allowed them to stay a few nights in different neighborhoods to ‘test out’ living there,” she said. “They kept working their professional jobs in physical therapy and consulting, bike commuting from their moving home base to their jobs. When they parked in the hills and would go hiking on the trails in the morning, they knew they wanted to live in the East Bay.”



The couple’s first thought was to build their own “tree house” on a steep wooded lot, but the “creativity-crushing building codes” put that idea out of contention, Joyner said. If they couldn’t build their own home, they knew they wanted something architecturally unique. They checked out everything from industrial downtown lofts to character homes in the hills but they just couldn’t find “the one.”


One day Bryan was sitting in their van home when he heard about 26 Eastwood Court, an A-frame on a private wooded lot in the Oakland neighborhood of Montclair. The home had been designed by an architect to be his personal residence in the late 1960s and had changed hands only a few times in the intervening years.






When Bryan went to see the home, he loved that many original design details were still intact, particularly the wood-paneled great room with its high ceiling and huge front window. The woodsy view “evoked feelings of freedom from constraint and connection to nature,” Joyner said, a good fit for this outdoorsy and nontraditional couple.


They bought the property in 2013 for $620,000.

In the past seven years, the Ausinheilers have had two children and concentrated their renovation efforts on the home’s exterior, where they created more usable space in the hilly terrain by building a terrace. They also put in a greywater irrigation system, planted native plants and added a chicken coop and pergola.

But as much as the family loves the two-bedroom, two-bath home and its nearly 6,000-square-foot lot, a new adventure was calling. The couple are the project leads for the Caracol Basin Restoration Project and are currently planning a move to the rainforests of Panama. “If Bryan and Jessica were not moving out of the country, they would not be selling 26 Eastwood Court. They adore this home and space,” said Joyner.


The international move has been pushed back a bit due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the family was still ready to go ahead and put the home on the market with an asking price of $929,000. The family has already moved out and the agent has been arranging private tours of the home, but only after prospective buyers jump through a few safety hoops first.

Viewers first need to look at the photos and 3D walkthrough on the property site. They must then sign a CoronaVirus Property Entry Advisory and Declaration form, which explains the risks of viewing properties during shelter in place.

The tour can only take place with no more than two buyers plus the buyers’ agent, all while practicing strict social distancing rules and wearing masks and gloves. “Since real estate is now deemed essential buyers can view the property in person before making an offer, but much of the initial interest and legwork is done remotely to minimize the access,” Joyner said.

She anticipates the home will sell quickly, despite the restrictions. “Having access to the wrap-around front deck off of the living room, access to the outdoors from both bedrooms and the level backyard are rare for Montclair properties,” Joyner explained. “The open concept living space is something that many current homeowners are trying to achieve with renovations and this space already has that.”

Emily Landes is a writer and editor obsessed with all things real estate.

Article source: https://www.sfgate.com/ontheblock/article/Couple-lived-in-a-van-for-two-years-to-save-up-15216165.php

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