What $800,000 Buys in California

A retreat in the Mojave Desert, a renovated Victorian in Oakland and a farmhouse in Mendocino County.


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What You Get for $800,000 in California

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Jose Cruz for Sotheby’s International Realty

Landers | $798,000

A contemporary desert house built in 1987, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, on a five-acre lot

Landers, a small community in the Mojave Desert, is about 20 minutes from the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. One of its main attractions is Giant Rock, a seven-story boulder that was the focal point of a search for extraterrestrial life in the 1930s, making Landers a magnet for U.F.O. hunters.

Most of the area’s services and shopping centers are clustered along Twentynine Palms Highway, less than 30 minutes from this house. Pioneertown, a town often used as a set for Old West-themed film productions, is also within a half-hour’s drive.

Size: 1,712 square feet

Price per square foot: $466

Indoors: The front door is off an enclosed patio landscaped with native, drought-resistant plants. It opens into a large, open living space with polished concrete floors that flow from the seating area through the dining area and into the kitchen.

The living space, which faces the desert landscape in front, has open, beamed ceilings, a Morso fireplace and modern furnishings (the furniture comes with the house). The kitchen has custom-made oak cabinets and a center island topped with white quartz. The dining area opposite holds a long table, with a hand-plastered bench along one wall.

A hallway extending from the kitchen leads to the three bedrooms and two bathrooms. At the far end is the primary suite, which has a private patio and, behind barn-style sliding doors, an en suite bathroom with a sleek porcelain soaking tub and a walk-in shower. The two guest rooms, of roughly equal size, have access to the front patio; they share a bathroom with a Roman clay wall and a shower that has access to the rear patio.

Separate guest quarters, with a bathroom and a kitchenette, are in the detached garage.

Outdoor space: A tiled patio large enough to hold a dining table is shaded by a canopy. A gravel path leads to a firepit and, beyond, a shipping container converted into a swimming pool with a deck for sunbathing. The garage has two parking spots.

Taxes: $9,864 (estimated)

Contact: Jasmine Farrow, Sotheby’s International Realty, Los Feliz Brokerage, 323-665-1700; sothebysrealty.com


Credit…Open Homes Photography

Oakland | $795,000

A renovated Victorian house built in 1904, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, on a 0.1-acre lot

This house is a five-minute drive from Samuel Merritt University, a private health sciences school that trains nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists. A few blocks beyond that is Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center, making the neighborhood a popular (and convenient) one for medical workers. Emeryville — home to the headquarters of Pixar, Peet’s Coffee and Clif Bar & Company, plus a bustling commercial strip facing San Francisco Bay — is a 10-minute drive. Commuters heading into San Francisco, downtown Oakland or Berkeley are served by the West Oakland BART station 10 minutes away.

Size: 2,205 square feet

Price per square foot: $361

Indoors: A gate separates the driveway from the sidewalk, with steps leading up to the covered porch.

Behind the front door is a sunny living room with hardwood floors, crown moldings and a window seat overlooking the street. The hardwood floors continue into a dining room brightened by recessed lighting and a small chandelier.

Through an arched doorway is an updated kitchen with new stainless-steel appliances and a glass-tile backsplash. A laundry nook is at the back of the kitchen, along with a door leading to the rear deck and a guest bathroom with a single vanity and a stall shower with a glass door.

A cozy guest room, large enough to hold a full-size bed, is off the dining room; another, slightly larger bedroom is off the kitchen, as is the primary suite, which has an alcove that could easily serve as a home office and an en suite bathroom updated with a tiled shower and a wood vanity.

A finished basement, about the size of the living and dining rooms and the kitchen put together, is reached through the attached garage.

Outdoor space: The rear deck is large enough to hold a cafe table and chairs. Steps flanked by a wood railing lead down to a paved patio in back, with plenty of room for a barbecue and a play area. The attached garage holds one car, and there is parking for another in the gated driveway.

Taxes: $9,936 (estimated)

Contact: David Gunderman and Michael Casey Bradley, The Gunderman Group, Keller Williams International Luxury, 510-205-4369; thegundermangroup.com


Credit…Jim C. Ford/ClearShotCreations

Ukiah | $790,000

A farmhouse with two bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms, on a 40-acre lot

This house is about 15 minutes from the center of Ukiah, the county seat of Mendocino, with a population of about 16,000. During much of the 19th century, the city was relatively inaccessible, as travelers from the Bay Area had to make at least part of the journey by stagecoach, but today it is a weekend destination — a two-and-a-half-hour drive from San Francisco, along the 101 freeway.

In the late 19th century, the area was one of the country’s largest producers of hops, and locally brewed beer is still on offer at many bars and restaurants. Wine is also a major industry here; the city’s downtown is home to not only a number of breweries, but also several tasting rooms.

Size: 1,705 square feet

Price per square foot: $463

Indoors: A private dirt road winds through the property to the deck of the main house, where the front door opens into a small entryway. A few steps beyond is a living room with a raised stove that has a tiled hearth and, in an alcove, a hand-built window bench. Wood-and-glass doors open to a covered balcony with views of the property’s oak trees.

Behind the living room is a dining room with wood-beamed ceilings and tile floors that continue into a galley-style kitchen. One door in this area leads to a side patio; another opens to the back of the property. Also on this level, just off the living room, is a half bathroom with a stained-glass window.

One of the bedrooms is off the dining room, with sloped ceilings, a hand-built wood shelf and an en suite bathroom. The primary bedroom is at the top of a staircase from the entryway, with more wood ceilings, a storage loft, a private balcony with treetop views and an en suite bathroom.

Outdoor space: The balcony off the living room and the large deck near the front door both offer dramatic views of the expansive property. There is also a fenced-in side patio with room for chairs and a firepit. The property has two additional structures apart from the main house: a wood cottage that could be converted into guest quarters and a garage with a lofted space that could be used as a workshop or art studio.

Taxes: $9,876 (estimated)

Contact: Regina Jenkins, Vanguard Properties, 415-225-1785; vanguardproperties.com

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