Wedgewood Properties, company in battle with homeless moms evicted from Oakland home, answers questions about business

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On its website, Wedgewood bills itself as a "leading acquirer of distressed residential real estate."

The company proudly touts the "flip business" as the backbone of the company.

In any given year, Wedgewood buys, renovates and sells about 200 properties in the Bay Area.

The company was established in 1985 and is based in Redondo Beach, California.

ABC7 News asked its spokesperson if the company is proud to be flipping houses.

"Flipping houses creates better neighborhoods. It takes homes that have been distressed or foreclosed upon and it invests money into that house. It makes that neighborhood better, it provides jobs," says Wedgewood representative Sam Singer.

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Valerie Harder understands the investment opportunity. But she's not just a realtor in the Bay Area, she also works with local homeless groups. Her concern, companies swoop into neighborhoods and change it without any community outreach.

"I think you can still make a substantial profit without having to make houses so unaffordable that you're actually taking people away from their homes, there also has to be a way for them to give back," says Harder.

Over the last 10 years, the median home prices in the Bay Area have spiked to well over a million dollars.

Many residents have seen their own neighborhood flip.

"I think it's just a business practice that people do, I've never thought about the morality of it," says homeowner Ted Saitz.

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Another homeowner, Laurie Saaf says: "More often than not I would prefer people not flip houses and leave those houses for people who can afford them because that's all they can afford."

Raymond Hudson is a renter, not a homeowner, " I watch HGTV all the time. I think it's awesome, I know I would do it."

In her career of 15 plus years as a realtor, Harder says she's watched neighborhoods change because of gentrification. She's concerned about the playing field when a corporation is a major player.

"Definitely, as a corporation, they definitely have the upper hand to come into a neighborhood and more quickly make it unaffordable," said Harder.

ABC7 News asked Singer to answer critics of flipping houses.

"I don't think it drives people out of neighborhoods, I think it drives people to neighborhoods," Singer said. "Those houses need to be repaired."
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