Seeking Recommendations for best local lender and Oakland realtor

Hello Kind Neighbors! 

Could you please recommend local lenders (individuals and/ or companies) you've had a positive experience with?  

Could you please also recommend a realtor who's intimately familiar with Oakland (94602, 94606, 94607, 94608, 94609, 94610, 94611, 94612, 94618, 94619)?
Many thanks!

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We moved here about a year ago and we used Steve Michaelides from The Grubb as our realtor. He is absolutely the best realtor I've worked with so far! He's honest and will walk you through everything you need to know about the buying process. We never felt pressured with him in any way. He actually pointed out concerns that he had with one house where we completely overlooked it in the disclosure. I completely trust him and recommend him to all of my friends. Feel free to reach out to him and tell him that Thu/Hunter referred you. :) Good luck! 

Steve Michaelides


The Grubb Co.

510-339-0400 x242

smichaelides [at]

CAL BRE: 01275784

Zach Griffin at LaSalle in Montclair has done several loans for me and does a thorough, professional job finding the best loan. It’s a complicated process these days, and I recommend working with a local professional, like Zach, who really understands the market. His contact info:

loans [at]

cell: 510-325-1095

I have a wonderful recommendation for a realtor -- Romney O'Connell of Berkeley Hills Realty 

Romney helped us get our first home in Oakland. She is not only the best realtor we ever worked with, she is one of the best people we ever worked with. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Intimate knowledge of the market and the area. She knows the schools, the little things in a neighborhood, all of the realtors selling and how that might influence the process, and all of the local laws that might influence upgrades to the house.

2. Renovation ideas: Many of the homes we looked at needed renovations. She not only had ideas on how to improve things, but would bring in others to give us estimates of how much the fixes/upgrades would cost.

3. Practical skills in negotiating: She knows how to place a really good offer. This includes getting a good loan letter, pricing, and other small things that make you an attractive buyer.

4. Support: The Bay Area's market is tough. It takes many offers before you find a place. Through the whole process, Romney was supportive when things didn't go our way. When it came time for offers and counteroffers, she provided a guiding hand, yet didn't pressure us into anything. She made it clear what her advice was, but that final decisions were up to us.

5. Closing Process: This was super easy. She handled almost everything. We had one slight problem around closing (not anything of her fault) and she handled it.

6. Ongoing support: Even after we closed, she is still a partner in our new home. She wanted to know how things went, and can always find us a handy person/contractor to take care of something at the house.

We are convinced that Romney is the best real estate agent in the Bay Area, if not the country. She is extremely knowledgeable, patient, available, and honest. My husband and I recommend her very highly!

We loved our realtor Sarah Ridge (  She grew up in Oakland and is very familiar  a granular level with neighborhoods throughout the East Bay.  
Sarah really gets to know clients an.  She also invests in relationships with area realtors, mortgage brokers, house inspectors, everyone involved in the process, and we got the sense that people trust her word. 

We almost skipped the house we bought because the initial asking price was high, but Sarah constantly talks to other realtors to see where people are interested, asks selling realtors how many packets are out, etc.  Her recon and her gut told her that the sellers were a bit too aggressive in the asking price and we might avoid a bidding war.  We loved the house and decided to bid, still feeling 99% sure we had no chance of getting it, but she was right. She does thorough research of comps, gives good advice on pricing.  She really sells her clients to the sellers and sellers' agent.  Our offer was not the highest offer, but I think Sarah's hard work putting together a strong package, presenting the offer in person, having us write a letter to the sellers as part of the package, etc., helped convince the sellers that we were overall the best and least risky offer.  

She was honest and helpful with feedback of other houses (Such as: "I don't think that's the house for you, because ___."  We go see it anyway.  She is right.)  Sarah is also very knowledgeable about building, design, landscaping, etc., and gives good advice.  I still contact her when I need to hire someone or get advice!  

We used RPM Mortgage on Sarah's recommendation.  One advantage as I understand it is that they have an option for a mortgage that is fully reviewed and underwritten - more thorough than the normal preapproval process, which I think both helped us feel comfortable waiving the financing contingency and convincing the sellers that we were very safe, solid buyers.  We met with Erick Byrd, but everyone there seemed thorough and helpful.

Our realtor was Heather Abbey.  She was great when we were house hunting in 2014-2015.  Personable, friendly, accommodating and encouraging.  We looked mostly around the Dimond neighborhood, but ended up buying in a cheaper area, south of 580, in zip code 94601.  But Heather can definitely help you in the areas you're looking in.  She is a realtor with Sotheby's.  1heatherabbey [at] 

We bank with Patelco Credit Union, and used them as our lender, and they were good.  Nothing outstanding, but more or less efficient.

Good luck!

We had a very positive experience working with Kumi Hodge ( to purchase our home in North Oakland. He grew up in Oakland and has deep knowledge of different neighborhoods and the market. He took the time to really learn what we cared most about and his questions helped us think through priorities we hadn't initially considered. His genuine care and friendly demeanor made the many weekends of house hunting a true pleasure. In addition, we came to rely on his knowledge of homes and construction to help identify potential problems with properties (something we knew little about). Kumi is extremely dependable and has great follow-through. He goes the extra mile and it's always clear that he's your champion. He was also always very understanding about the fact that we were bringing a one-year old around with us and could only look at houses between nap times! At Kumi's recommendation, we worked with JVM Lenders and the process was very smooth on a 14 day close.

I recommend Chimene Pollard of Red Oak Realty.  ( She's been living and working in Oakland for many years.  She's kind, practical, friendly and smart.  She values long term relationships with happy clients and so doesn't push anyone into anything that isn't comfortable or a good fit.   She helped us get our house in 94606 (just across the street from where she used to live).   I think she knows almost everyone in Oakland.  Chimene is a friend, but although I'm very fond of her I only see her very occasionally.  This review is prompted by regard for her professionalism and character.

Kerri is amazing! Last year we put our house on the market at the end of the summer. Not in the most desirable part of Alameda. At the time everyone was either on vacation or about to get ready for school. So not a lot of buyers. She somehow managed to pull it off and we sold 60k over asking price. 

Also she is super down to earth, knowledgeable funny and knows the Oakland/Alameda area very well. I highly recommend