Making It in the Bay: Realtor Goes Above and Beyond to Find, Fix Home for Veteran

For many low-income workers in the Bay Area, the dream of owning a home is far out of reach. That's what 62-year-old Army veteran Eddie Mitchell thought. Then he met Mariah Bradford.

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The two-bedroom condominium on Horizon Lane in Antioch was the most beautiful and horrible place real estate agent Mariah Bradford had every found for a client.

Horrible, because of the condition it was in. "Everything was dirty," Bradford said.

Beautiful, because it meant her client, 62-year-old Army veteran Eddie Mitchell, was going to own his very first home.

Last year, the rent on the apartment Mitchell and his wife had rented for the past few years went up. A lot.

"From $888 to $1,407," Mitchell said.

To Mitchell, who just a few years earlier had spent time living in a shelter, the idea of having no home seemed a greater possibility than actually owning one.

But then a relative said Mitchell should call Bradford.

"The thing about Eddie is that he's just so nice," Bradford said.

Bradford agreed to take on the daunting task of helping Mitchell buy a home. She began looking all over Northern California for a two-bedroom condo with no stairs (Mitchell's wife is disabled) for $200,000 in a building approved by the Veterans Administration (Mitchell was purchasing the home with a loan from the VA).

The VA requirement "eliminated 98% of the places," Bradford said. "The remaining 1.99% were ruled out because they had stairs. That doesn't even take into account them accepting the offer because it wasn't an attractive one."

Which all explains why, when Bradford did find the proverbial needle in a haystack, it was a very dirty needle.

"It was disgusting," Bradford said. "I couldn't let Eddie live in a place like that."

So Bradford started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to make Mitchell's new home livable. She succeeded in raising $5,000. She spent another $5,000 of her own money to finish the job.

Why?

"He needed my help," Bradford said.

Well, that, and not long ago Bradford herself fell on hard times. She relied on government assistance and loans from friends before she was able to get her real estate career going.

Bradford said she never forgot those times.

"Always, from the beginning, because of the hard times I have been through, I made the decision to value the client, not the number," she said.

Bradford has proven that with Mitchell. The $5,000 she spent is equivalent to her entire commission plus $1,000.

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