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Customer Stories

Cliff and James' Story: Everything on the Wish List

Henry Demasco | 17 Jun 2021

Like most of those who reach out to Landed, Cliff Bersamira and James Saal needed to fully understand how partnering with us on a down payment would work.

"The whole process was unfamiliar to us as first-time buyers,” said Cliff, Assistant Professor at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. “We wanted to know, 'What’s the catch? How does Landed make money? What do they get out of this?'"

After learning it’s a true partnership (we share in any gains or losses of your property value), and talking to other colleagues at Cliff’s school who had used Landed, the couple were in.

Cliff and James, who met in Chicago and moved to Hawai'i three years ago, first reached out to Landed in 2019. They had originally planned on waiting to buy until after they got married, but COVID-19 intervened.

"We needed to figure out what our finances looked like together,” said James, who manages research programs at San Francisco Bay Area-based Citrine Informatics. “Even compared to Chicago, the cost of living is very high in Hawai'i."

"Then the pandemic forced our hand,” he said. “We were spending so much time at home and wanted to stop spending so much on rent."

James & Cliff - 041-min

Cliff and James inside their new home in Makakilo near Kapolei, HI.

They had already been checking home listings online and made their wish list: ample space for James to work from home, outdoor space to entertain guests and grow a garden, and plenty of room for their dog, Pele.

They ended up finding all that in a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home in Makakilo. The home includes multiple terraced yards, lush plants, and even a view of the ocean.

"We loved the outdoor space and the home is close to Cliff’s family, and in an up-and-coming part of the island," James said. "It’s big enough that we can grow into it, and there’s plenty of space for visiting family."

Both agree that working with Landed simplified the homebuying process, and also connected them with a pro team.

"Landed provided great references to agents and lenders," James said. "The Landed network helped us create a great team that was very knowledgeable."

James & Cliff - 038-min

The home offers ample indoor and outdoor space as well as a view of the ocean.

"We felt really informed going into the process," Cliff said. "The partnership with Landed made sense, and the down payment program opened up properties that were otherwise out of reach to us."

Their advice to other essential professionals who may wonder if they can afford a home, especially in today’s booming housing market?

"It’s not impossible," Cliff said. "Be realistic, and trust the experts who know the territory. Allow yourself to be guided by them."

Customer Stories Hawaii

About the Author

Henry Demasco

Henry leads brand marketing at Landed, bringing experience from various marketing roles at two other venture-backed real estate brokerages (Compass and Side). He began his career in the creative agency world, and is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh and Oxford University.

Looking for Landed's down payment program? Due to a temporary unavailability of DPP investment funds, all Landed metro areas are being put on a DPP waitlist effective September 8, 2022. You can read all the details (including FAQs) here if you would like to know more.