In the midst of the pandemic, Jimmy and Susan knew they were outgrowing their two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. Seeking a home where they could start a fam- ily, they found themselves torn at first about whether to stay in the city or move to Marin County. “We were looking for a bigger place, something that would be more permanent, in the Marina or Pacific Heights, as well as Mill Valley,” Jimmy says. “One of the reasons that we like those neighborhoods in the city is because there are a lot of great restaurants and places to walk to, but we found ourselves in Marin every weekend, hiking, playing golf and doing things outside.”
The couple initially started their search on their own, but soon found the market intimidating. “This was the summer of 2021, and places were going so fast and for ridiculous amounts above asking price,” Jimmy says.
A friend referred the couple to Compass Real Estate Agent Cara Mia Lembi, who showed them properties in both San Francisco and Marin County and helped them navigate the market. “It was incredibly competitive in both areas, and multiple offers were quite common,” Lembi says.
It didn’t take much to convince the couple that Mill Valley, with its bounteous open spaces, great schools and reasonable commute to Jimmy’s work in downtown San Francisco, was where they wanted to buy a home. “Mill Valley has a nice downtown that’s very walkable and you can also go down to Richardson Bay,” Jimmy says. “We also knew that we could get much more square footage there than we could get in the city. Ultimately, I think not having to share a building with other people and getting the extra bedroom and a little bit of outdoor space and more privacy is what won us over.”
After seeing about eight houses over a two-week period, Jimmy and Susan found the ideal house to suit their needs in Mill Valley, a move-in ready three-bedroom, two-bath home, but it was at the top of their budget. When Lembi talked to the listing agent, however, she learned that the sellers were highly motivated to close, as they were in Southeast Asia trying to relocate to Australia before Covid-19 travel restrictions were put in place. Lembi moved quickly to get an offer in place and close the deal. “There was an offer date set for it, but I worked with the agent, and I preempted the offer date,” she says. “We were able to bring a compelling offer that was all buttoned up, and they accepted it and didn’t go forward with the offer date.”
Built in the 1960s, the recently remodeled mid-century modern home boasts a vaulted ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows in the liv- ing room, providing plenty of light, and a yard and deck surrounded by trees. “It almost feels like a treehouse,” Susan says. “We love entertaining, and the yard has great landscaping.” Susan now has room for a home office, and the couple can already envision starting a family in their new home. “In the master bedroom, there’s a window seat, and when I first saw it, I could just imagine reading books to my kids there,” Susan says. Already fans of mid-century modern design, Susan and Jimmy found that much of their existing furniture worked well in their new home, although they did replace their small apartment-sized couch with a new, larger leather couch.
The couple is already settling into their new lifestyle in Mill Valley, too. “We love getting pizza and beers at The Junction and taking late afternoon walks along the water, both of which are just down the hill from us,” Susan says. “And we love how Mill Valley feels like a small town. I grew up in a small town in Texas, and I had the run of the neighborhood with my friends. I’m so glad that we’re going to be able to raise our kids in an environment like that, too.”
Lotus Abrams has covered everything from beauty to business to tech in her editorial career, but it might be writing about her native Bay Area that inspires her most. She lives with her husband and two daughters in the San Francisco Peninsula, where they enjoy spending time outdoors at the area’s many open spaces protected and preserved by her favorite local nonprofit, the Peninsula Open Space Trust.