At Home in San Francisco
A Bay Area-based couple were on the hunt for a home that suited their expanding family. Thanks to a last-minute partnership with close friends, they were able to make their dream a reality.
Words: Grace Peters
Images: Nate Fong
Lily and Nate Langlois connected with San Francisco real estate agent Connie Chung in 2014. When Connie successfully helped them find their first home, they knew they’d found an agent — and friend — for life. The couple had their first child, Quinn, and soon realized they would need more space for their family. But in the burgeoning San Francisco market, finding a home that met their expectations within their ideal price point proved to be a challenge. That’s when they tagged in Connie and her real estate partner, Kenny Gong.
Coincidentally, friends of Lily and Nate’s — Mimi and Peter Bell—had also been searching and struggling to find a local place to call their own. That’s when Lily had an out-of-the-box idea: she approached Mimi about the possibility of purchasing a home together, and within a few weeks, a classic Edwardian duplex appeared on their radar. After discussing the property with Connie and Kenny, the group visited an open house and knew they had to go for it. There were nine offers on the home — but in the end, theirs was the one that got accepted.
Yours was a long journey home! Tell me about your search experience.
Lily: You’re right — it was a long search! But Connie and Kenny provided us with helpful information throughout because they understood that we were seeking out something really specific.
Mimi: We had been looking at rental properties, but we eventually gave up. The market here is so competitive, we didn’t think home ownership was on the table at all. We latched onto Lily and Nate’s home search at the last minute, but it was all sort of theoretical — we weren’t sure that it was actually going to happen.
How’d you know you had found the perfect place?
Mimi: As soon as we saw this duplex, we knew that it was a fit for us. We decided to go to the open house and it was insanely crowded — the probability that we would get it seemed really, really small, but we were all hopeful. The seller received nine offers total, but luckily Connie and Kenny had built a solid relationship with the listing agent throughout.
Lily: The house was exactly what we wanted. We saw it one week, and offers were due the following Monday! We put in our maximum offer and all had our fingers crossed — and keep in mind, at this time both Mimi and I were nine months pregnant and on maternity leave. We had our babies in August!
Mimi: So many things had slipped away from Lily and me. The fact that this came through so quickly was a gift. It was crazy, but I’m so grateful that we were able to make it happen.
What architectural details of the home appealed to you?
Mimi: There’s a fantastic, unique hutch in the living room that I really like. There’s also a walk-in pantry, a music room in the garage, and a huge backyard! The improvement from our last place is vast, and the number of awesome things that this space offers is too hard to count. It’s so much bigger than anything we could have imagined.
Lily: It’s a classic 1903 San Francisco home just blocks from the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s maintained its original details like moldings and a cozy fireplace. And there’s just so much space!
Now that you’re starting to settle in, what changes are you making to the home?
Lily: Well, the house has great bones. For now, we’re working on the backyard and focusing on safety and seismic improvements. They’re projects that we can all work on together!
Mimi: The renovations are definitely going to be on the slower side. We did paint the walls and re-polish the floors, but that’s it so far. We’re not in a rush! We’re excited to make this our home.
What are some of your reflections on the home-buying process with Connie and Kenny?
Mimi: We’re incredibly lucky that we could make this happen. The San Francisco market is competitive, and this was a different pathway to home-ownership. People should know that there are alternatives available.
Lily: Connie and Kenny were always patient and supportive. We’re definitely envisioning ourselves living here for a long time.