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This letter reports on the impact of selective epitaxial germanium, specifically its local strain effects, on high-performance p-i-n photodetectors for near-infrared applications. By combining a thin compliant Si epitaxial layer (~6 nm) with SiGe buffer (10-15 nm), we demonstrated a high-quality Ge film (~150 nm) prepared by two-step growth. Without using high-temperature cyclic anneal, Ge films with smooth surface (root mean square = ~ 0.67 nm) and low dislocation density (4 x 106 cm-2) have been produced. The Si buffer locally enhances the tensile strain (epsiv = 0.63%) in Ge while slightly suppressing the dark current by half to 0.12 muA (with circular ring area = 1230 mum2 and spacing = 2 mum). A lateral p-i-n Ge photodetector has been demonstrated with enhanced photoresponse of ~190 mA/W at 1520 nm and a 3-dB bandwidth of 5.2 GHz at 1 V.