Seeking Berkeley/Oakland/El Cerrito real estate agent

My family and I are getting ready to make a move this spring.  I need a real estate agent with a lot of experience on both ends (buying and selling), someone who can do a lot of hand-holding but also be a tough negotiator.  I'd prefer someone with good design sense.  There are so many reviews out there it's hard to know what to believe.  I'd like a real recommendation from someone who's had a positive recent experience.  Thanks!  

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Anna Bellomo -- she's the best. Experienced, professional, well-liked and respected by all, and a joy to work with. Highly recommended -- I don't know if we would have found our house without her. - Emily

I highly recommend Ashley Higginson at Keller Williams ( She helped us with our move from out of state. She was kind, highly organized, and a phenomenal negotiator. Good luck!

I can wholeheartedly recommend Bebe McRae and her assistant Alexis Thompson. Bebe has decades of experience in the east bay and the two of them were powerhouses with strategy and responsiveness.  We purchased a fixer in Berkeley and I believe the only reason we were successful was because of their strategic thinking and timing. We met primarily with Alexis but communicated with them both.  Alexis was proactive and sensitive to what we were looking for. The reason we chose them was through a referral from another friend years ago who had struggled in the east bay market until she switched to working with Bebe. I can also recommended (in case you were looking) JVM lending.  We were on the phone with them until midnight working out creative terms to make us more competitive on the night of our successful bid. 

I cannot say enough good things about Pamela Oettel, who my husband and I worked with this year. (A trusted cousin who no longer sells real estate referred us; Pam was her work partner for years.)  Pam is tough, completely honest, listens well, incredibly hard-working, and knows the East Bay, including neighborhoods (she bikes a lot). We looked at over 50 houses with her. She'll point out good and bad design elements of a house and a neighborhood and will say outright, "this isn't going to work for you," or "you could easily change that," or "what a shame they did such a cheesy update."  She's candid, knowledgeable, straightforward, not a typical sales person.

Contact me if you want more information.

   Pam Oettel, Phone: 510-703-8636
   Email: pamela [at] (subject: inquiry%20from%20East%20Bay%20Modern%20Website)

Holly Rose is a fantastic real estate agent. She helped us buy our home and we have friends who she's helped both buy and sell their homes. She deals with some pretty high priced real estate as well as--well, it's all become high priced in the Bay Area, hasn't it?! What I mean is she's happy to help folks who are just looking to buy their first home. Holly is down to earth, a good listener, incredibly experienced int a wide range of areas, and an excellent negotiator. She doesn't advertise; she gets all her referrals through word of mouth. I can't recommend her highly enough.

I have got the perfect person for you: Romney O'Connell at Berkeley Hills Realty - we've had very positive and recent experiences with her. In fact, whenever anybody asks my wife or I for a Realtor recommendation for the East Bay, we tell them to contact Romney. Over the course of the last 4+ years, we have worked with Romney in two different transactions (2013 and 2016), with plans for a third (selling our first house after we move to the new one). The first time was our first home purchase ever (in Berkeley) and the second time (in Oakland) we were in search of more room for the twins we are expecting! I can honestly say that I don't think we would have been able to purchase either home without her. In the first case, it was her relationships with local realtors and mortgage brokers that made my offer stronger than the competition's. The second time around, she thought of us for a diamond in the rough opportunity that was more than we could have ever asked for. One of my best friends also worked with her twice (2008 & 2013) - repeat business says it all! 

Romney began as our Realtor, but today she is a family friend who lives just a few blocks away with her kids and husband. She truly gets to know you, looks out for you, and wants the best for you (and your kids!). She is incredibly helpful, caring, patient, and relentless in the boom market that is the East Bay. You will be treated like family working with her. 

In summary, Romney O'Connell is a top-of-the-line, veteran Realtor with deep knowledge of the East Bay real estate market and the home buying process. With both her more than a decade of experience and week-to-week pulse of the market, she will help you understand properties of interest, neighborhoods, trends, city development plans, safety concerns, school considerations (her own kids have grown up in both the public and private schools in Berkeley), and whatever other questions or criteria you might have. 
Romney will always ensure you are fully aware and comfortable with the next step in the process - whether relating to the house itself or the financing. She is effective at crafting the right offer and negotiation strategy and she also knows the historical homes in the East Bay very well - both structurally and aesthetically...buying a house built in 1905 (like we did)? No problem! She has the experience to educate you so that you can make the best decision for you. Also, Romney has a great aesthetic sense (M.F.A. from Columbia), so you're in good hands if you are thinking about renovation or sprucing - she's also done it herself. We have, and will continue to, recommend Romney to all our friends looking to buy or sell in the East Bay. Her contact info:romney [at]

Contact Carrie McAlister at today! Our family was new to the area and she helped us find the perfect house in the neighborhood that was right for us. She has impeccable taste and great network that includes lenders, electricians, etc. We really valued her expertise and felt like we were working with a trusted friend during the whole transaction.

We just closed on a house (in Oakland) on Tuesday and had a wonderful experience with Kristen von Bargen at Highland Partners ( I was a first time home buyer and asked her the most novice questions and she talked me through everything. Not to mention we were most communicating across the country (we're relocating from Philadelphia) - she was always available and very responsive. She even went to open houses and took video for us since we couldn't attend. She's well connected and liked by across the board, which helped when we needed last minute stuff done like quick loan pre-approval. Her instincts were spot on with regard to the offer price we'd need to make, and she then helped negotiate furniture purchasing from the sellers. I can't say enough positive things about her.

Herman Chan:

Herman spent a year showing us home after home until we bought our first home. He was so fabulous -- patient, knowledgeable about neighborhoods and the CA buying process, and sensitive to our needs, preferences and areas where we were willing to compromise (or not). We recommend him wholeheartedly. Since our experience, Herman has helped a dozen of our direct friends and family buy Bay Area homes, and I know they have recommended Herman, too. He is honest, well-connected, driven, down-to-earth, and just a pleasure to be around!

I cannot recommend Romney O'Connell at Berkeley Hills Real Estate more highly ( We reached out to her back in May to discuss our hopes to sell our starter home in Elmwood and move into a larger home in the Berkeley Hills prior to the arrival of our third child this winter and she was incredible. We were able to buy our new home with her guidance this September (we got a bridge that we just refinanced into a traditional mortgage), worked with contractors and an engineer she recommended (she knows everyone), and then sell our home in Elmwood in October with almost no overlap between the two.

She was always available for our questions and concerns and we don't have any buyer's remorse involved, which I think is rare in such a crazy housing market. Did I mention that her college-aged daughter babysat for us in a pinch when our regular afternoon babysitter fell through? We anticipate that we are now in our forever home and won't have to move again in the foreseeable future but if we do we would call Romney again in a heartbeat. Feel free to contact me offline if you have any additional questions; home buying and selling is never fun but my family couldn't be happier with our outcome.

We loved Simon and Saraya Motley!  They were knowledgeable, supportive, and great negotiators on our behalf.  And they've stayed in close contact over the years, and still help us with house needs (contractor recommendations for repairs, bank recommendations for a recent refi process, and even free pies for Thanksgiving). 

When we were buying our house there were people that told us we couldn't get what we needed for the money we had, but Simon and Saraya believed it was possible, and they made it happen. I couldn't have hoped for a better experience.

I highly recommend Pat & Gillian Leaper at Red Oak Realty. They are experienced, honest, kind and know their biz well. I have had several positive experiences with both of them. 

Hope Broderick of Grubb was our agent when we had to sell our old home, and then buy a new home within a three month window. Long story why we were pressed into that time frame. This window included our old house's make-over and staging. Our old house looked sleek and stylish when it went on the market, and we sold it so much over the asking price that we were able to bid in an entirely higher category on our new house. To get our new house we needed a very fast closing time to be competitive, as we were buying with a mortgage, not with cash up front. Hope found us a finance person who was able to meet the turn-around time. We bought our dream home--it is as simple as that. Hope is warm, reassuring, and pragmatic, and has terrific design sense (honestly, just interview her!). 

Amy Robeson ( hits all the desired points on your list. She is fabulous and I highly recommend her. 13 years of experience and working magic, for sure. We had  multiple offers on our dream home and I firmly believe we got it because: Amy is golden. Everyone loved working with her, and that sweetened the deal for the sellers' realtor. Everything went far more smoothly and successfully because she was always available, always knew the exact right thing to say, and she helped everybody - loan officers, inspector, appraiser, etc. I am more than happy to talk about Amy with you if you need more information. She is a joy to work with, had excellent style and improvement recommendations on what we could do with homes that we looked at, and I've recommended her a ton to everybody, who have also had excellent experiences with her. Feel free to look me up if you have any questions, and let her know I sent you. :)