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Customer Stories

Sari, Ariana, and Owen's Story: A Sense of Community

Cheyenne Morgan-Bortone | 25 Apr 2022

When Ariana Thompson-Lastad got her first email about Landed, she hit delete.

She and her husband, Owen, and their good friend Sari Bilick, had been hoping to make real estate prices in Berkeley, California, a little more affordable by buying a duplex together. They loved the idea of a duplex because it meant they would have a shared space to come together and give them that sense of community that comes when living close to loved ones. But getting help from Landed, like other home-buying programs, seemed unlikely.


Sari, Ariana, and Owen outside their new home in Berkeley, CA.

“I got the email from work and just ignored it,” said Ariana, a medical sociologist, researcher, and professor at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). “I didn’t think Landed could do duplexes, or allow joint owners.”

Fortunately, she got a second email.

“I talked to others who had received the email and became interested,” Ariana said. “So we reached out to schedule a call with Landed.”

After learning Landed could help them buy a duplex, as well as connect them with a real estate agent, lender, and other assistance, they started their search. 

Ariana and Owen wanted enough space for their two children, near their current school in Berkeley. Sari, who grew up in the area, wanted the same location to be close to her parents and sister.

The challenge, they knew, would either be getting a duplex where both units were available at the same time, or finding a former single-family home that had been converted into two, equal-sized units. Neither was easy to find.

“When we looked at duplexes in Berkeley, we found, in a lot of cases, one unit was occupied,” Sari said. “Or the homes had one unit that was way bigger than the other. We were trying to find the right balance.”

They ended up finding a large home, already split into two, nearly-equal units on a quiet street in South Berkeley. In walking distance to schools, parks, BART and downtown Berkeley, the home also has a great outdoor space.


Sari, Ariana, and Owen outside their new home in Berkeley, CA.

“There’s a big yard with seats and a fire pit, which has been so helpful during Covid,” Owen said. “It’s allowed us to entertain, Covid-safe. And the yard has a gate so the kids can play safely. It’s worked out great for all of us.”

Ariana and Owen had originally started thinking about buying a home eight years ago. But past attempts to get the needed upfront costs failed, as existing programs didn’t match their needs or operated on a lottery system.

“We tried a lot of programs, but had no luck,” Ariana said.

Landed’s down payment program made their dream of homeownership possible. And the trio couldn’t be happier.

“It’s wonderful to know that we have a place we can stay long-term, close to family,” Sari said. “It’s stability.”


And their tips for those who are shopping for a home?

“Expect homebuying to be a lot of work,” Owen said.

Ariana and Sari also suggest looking into co-buying a duplex with family or friends.

“It was and is super helpful to have three adults help with the process and costs,” Sari said. “It’s worked out perfectly for us.”


Interested in partnering with Landed for your home purchase?

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Customer Stories Northern California

About the Author

Cheyenne Morgan-Bortone

Cheyenne is a marketing associate at Landed and is passionate about creating meaningful content to help homebuyers make informed decisions. As a first-generation college graduate who grew up on the Navajo Nation, she is dedicated to giving back to the community that supported her along her journey.

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.