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Local Startup Helps Bay Area Teachers Buy Homes

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- While lack of affordable housing is the number one reason many educators leave the Bay Area, one local startup is hoping to help with that problem.

Craig Berger is the Assistant Principal at Lafayette Elementary School in San Francisco. When he decided to try to buy a home with his partner last year, he was outbid every single time.

"We had looked at several homes, some of which we were outbid by hundreds of thousands of dollars. So we were close to giving up on San Francisco," Berger said.

But then he discovered Landed, a startup that matches down payments for educators.

"One of the biggest barriers of buying a home is a down payment, that large sum of cash you need to get into a home," Landed co-founder Alex Lofton said.

The company has helped 400 teachers buy homes so far. It works as co-investment: for giving you half of your down payment, teachers share 25 percent of the investment gain or loss with Landed. There's no cap on how expensive the home is or on how much or little you make.

Lofton says the pandemic is providing an opportunity to avoid overbidding.

"The reality is that the economy is slowing down a bit, and that is a better opportunity for educators and other people in middle class jobs who still have them to be able to buy a home because the market isn't as competitive," Lofton said.

Most teachers cite housing as the number one reason they leave the Bay Area. In San Francisco most teachers leave within the first three years. Lofton points out there is a racial component to this. 12 percent of people buying homes in the Bay Area are Black or Latino, but 44 percent of Landed's clients are.

Predominantly Black neighborhoods also have the highest teacher turnover rate. 47 percent of teachers at Willie Brown Middle School in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood leave by year three, which is more than double the district average.

"So hopefully tools like this are addressing not just the general needs but also the specific need to continue to maintain and have a valuable, diverse, thriving community that we all love here in the Bay Area," Lofton said.

For Berger the match means staying in the community where he works, with the added benefit of now offering his two daughters the opportunity to shelter in place with Dad.

"It means everything," Berger said.

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