I'd say your best chance for maximizing cash flow from an income property would be to buy a home near Saint Mary's College. There tends to be a higher demand for rental homes (as opposed to apartments) near colleges due to faculty sabbatical exchanges. Professors from universities abroad will usually seek a rental home near their sister university. Professors on sabbaticals are also more likely to be able to afford higher monthly rental rates than your average renter due to their job/financial security. Most faculty members who take a sabbatical are very well paid by their respective universities and because sabbaticals are basically a vacation from work, the faculty member will likely seek something in a relaxing environment with comfortable amenities.
Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.
Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Mason-McDuffie
The rental market is strong in Orinda, Lafayette and Moraga. There is usually never enough supply for the demand. Having said that, if the average 3/2 with 1800 sq ft sells for $800-$900k(which is down dramatically from the height of the market), with even $200k down you still may not be in a positive cash flow situation when you include taxes and insurance. The average rental price for a single family home like that is $2500-$3000 per month.
I think that there are better rental markets near Orinda, like Walnut Creek, Danville and even Lafayette, sticking with the best school districts.. I would advise you to go on Craigs List and research what rentals are getting in the area. Any one of us can assist you in making an informed decision about income property. I actually have a rental in Blackhawk and Walnut Creek.