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Greening Oakland One House at a Time

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We recently came across Mint Condition Homes, a redevelopment company buying up distressed, bank-owned properties, and turning them into adorable, affordable housing over in Oakland. Yes, all these homes fit into our Under 500k Club, but you're getting a lovingly-rehabbed, green-designed house instead of a lot of the crazy stuff we sometimes feature, like the loft last week that required you to kick out a roommate. Yes, we often yearn for the more affordable life across the Bay, and these cute digs are having us thinking about changing to a 510.

We talked to Mila Zelkha, founder of Mint Condition, about her design and rebuild process. Of course, the hip thing to be right now is green, and they bring some cred to that game: they were recently named the "Green Building Champion" by Build It Green and have had several properties GreenPoint rated. That, and they seem to take a no-nonsense approach to renovating, salvaging and reusing where they can and avoiding "just taking a crowbar and sledgehammer to everything," as Mila told us.

So, the houses. Most are bungalows from the 1920s or 30s, and the firm redoes them with warm colors and updates, while keeping any original period charm. The aesthetic is very vintage/etsy/"put a bird on it," but we're digging it. A personal favorite is this 2-bed, 1-bath house on Madera which recently sold for $365,000. We've only seen houses under $400,000, which, while not cheap, is affordable for city living. Mint Condition takes the most distressed properties -- the houses that investors won't even touch because they require too much work -- and turns them into polished housing stock without slapping granite all over everything.

What's not to like about this concept? Even in the midst of so many foreclosures, these properties are getting snapped up faster than most on the market. We think they're positively adorable, especially for those moving East once baby time comes up. Tick tock.
· Loft Comes Complete with Mortgage-Paying Roommate [Curbed SF]
· 3455 Laurel [Redfin]
· Mint Condition Homes [website]
· Under 500K Club [Curbed SF archives]