I am quite curious to know what the housing market is like in other states right now, because in Southern California, a mortgage payment will run you about $5,000 a month for a fixer in a decent neighborhood. This makes me feel a bit apprehensive about moving back. “Then why go back?” you ask. Well, it’s because it’s home. In my last post about house hunting, I shared that all of our family (my husband and mine) are located in Los Angeles county. We’re talking grandparents, parents, siblings, cousins – the whole lot of them. It was amazing being able to grow up with all of my family around, and I want that for my son too. So back to Los Angeles we go! We found a renter for our Las Vegas Condo, which meant it was time for us to turn it up a notch in looking for a home.
Our budget for a home is $650,000 and we are hoping this will give us a leg up, as we are looking for a fixer. However this time around, interest rates are not as favorable, so what seems to be a good deal on a home at first glance, ends up surprising us as we receive quotes for a monthly mortgage. This has really helped us hone in on what we are comfortable with spending monthly on a home. As for our home requirements, we don’t really have a long list, all we’d like is to live in a safe neighborhood that is located in between both of our mothers (my husband’s and mine). So we hit the ground running.
THE FIRST HOME WE SAW
The first home we looked at was turnkey and gave us hope for what this journey could entail. These were new builds, and we were getting in on them at a good time. They were just about to complete the second of four phases. Also, it’s not often new builds have such character, so of course this is what I loved most about these Spanish-styled townhomes. I never imagined we could be in a situation where I wouldn’t have to update or remodel anything when purchasing a home in this Los Angeles market. The only issue I had with these new builds was the fact they were three stories. With a very curious and climbing toddler, this seemed a bit scary for me. My little one has learned to climb out of the crib (we had to move on to a big boy bed because of it), hop over the baby gates, and make his way onto the top of our dining table (at every chance he can get). I should also mention that after massive google searches, and several talks with our pediatrician, I’ve come to learn that the most common injuries they see for toddlers are those for falling down the stairs. All that to say, the three-story townhomes were a no-go.
THE SECOND HOME WE SAW
The second home we saw was a huge wake-up call for me. I kept waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out from somewhere and tell me I was being punked. Seeing this home immediately lowered my expectations again. Honestly, I’m still in shock over the fact this home was being sold for over half a million dollars and was burnt to a crisp. There was really only 20% of the home left to sell. Seeing this home really upset me. I couldn’t believe the sellers were not willing to come down on the price given the circumstances. There was so much work that would need to be done to get this place up to basic living standards, and they wanted so much for it. It was also not in the most desirable neighborhood, thus why I was left so confused about the price.
After riding around and discussing with my dad, the options we’d seen earlier that day, I’d learned from him that my aunt was looking to sell her home. This was news to me and honestly gave me a bit of relief. We’ve purchased a couple of homes before, and we know how stressful the entire process can be, so the idea of purchasing from a family member seemed ideal.
THE THIRD HOME WE SAW – MY AUNT’S
The third home we saw belonged to my aunt and we’d begun making plans to purchase it before we’d actually seen the home in person. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I went into this particular situation a bit naive. Because this was a family member we’d be purchasing the home from, I thought it would be an easy situation to navigate, when in reality, it was quite the opposite. That said, I was in Las Vegas when I decided to order a home inspection, plumbing inspection, and pest inspection.
When the time came for me to fly down to Los Angeles to meet the inspectors, I had quite the wake-up call as they went through examining the property. The home was currently occupied by a tenant my aunt was renting to, and to say the least – the home was in shambles. Honestly, I don’t even know where to start. How about I just make a list of everything that was going on with the home:
- Foundation issues
- Termites (lots of them)
- Raccoons in the addict
- Mice infestation
- Electrical issues (rewire, new panels, and ground outlets)
- New roof
- Plumbing issues
- Carbon monoxide seeping from the floor heater
- Flood damage in the kitchen
Need I say more? Now, this could have worked if only my aunt was willing to go down on the price so that we could cover the cost of all of the work that needed to be done. But my aunt said that this was regular wear and tear on the property, and felt that she could get a buyer to purchase it at the market price. Some could argue that it was regular wear and tear, but I’d be on the opposite side of that argument, so it’s safe to say we decided to move on from that property.
THE FOURTH HOME WE SAW
The fourth home we saw, immediately made my heart smile. We drove past it, and it called out to me. I’ve never felt so connected to a place. It was a cute little Spanish-style home tucked away – exactly 12 minutes from my mom and 12 minutes from my mother-in-law. It had the perfect-sized backyard for my little one to run around and play in. A cute little breakfast nook that streamed the most beautiful sunlight, original hardwood floors (that were in great shape), built-in storage throughout, a cozy little fireplace, central air and heat, and a terracotta roof. Not sure if you’ve noticed by now, but Spanish-style homes are my favorite. I adore their architectural details – inside and out.
This was a very charming and quaint little home located on a very quiet street. I got out to look around and was greeted by very friendly neighbors (who were on a walk with their dog at the time). They shared with me that there were other families with young children living in the neighborhood as well, and how they loved living in this neighborhood. I knew almost immediately that this was the one. This home was waiting for us, so we decided to offer what we could and hope that the seller would meet us somewhere on the affordable side. This home was about $35 thousand over our budgeted price, but we loved it and just had to give it a try. So we called up our realtor and told her to go for it! 48 hours later we were told there was another offer on the table, and that it was $75,000 over asking. We knew we couldn’t beat that offer, so we bowed out gracefully.
A few weeks later, the realtor for that home contacted us and told us that the other offer didn’t go through. Something along the lines of the home being located too close to the LAX airport for the buyer. I guess when visiting the home, the buyer’s dog was experiencing seizures every time an airplane flew over the house, so they had to back out on purchasing the home. This was quite sad to hear (in regards to the dog) and I’ve never heard of anything like this happening before, but I took this as a sign that this just might be the home that was meant for us. So we decided to put in another offer on the home. A couple of days later we were informed that there were a few other offers on the table, so we would need to come back with our strongest and best offer. We decided to play ball on this one. We offered more earnest money, a quicker escrow, and $10,000 from my mother-in-law. She took this money from her retirement savings account. She’s one of the reasons why we want to move back home. She retired three months ago and wants to spend more time with our little guy.
I should also mention that My mother-in-law saw the home (during its open house) and fell in love with it. My mom and dad also saw the home at the open house. They too felt it was the one for us. So they offered an additional $15,000 from their retirement savings account, to help us win the home. This means so much to Jonathan and I. We can be a bit proud when it comes to asking people for help and have never asked in the past, so the fact that our parents offered really made us feel supported and like we were making the right decision to go for this home. We’ve been looking for a home for so long and never have connected to a place like this one. So here we are, two days in… and the seller will be taking offers for five more days. Then we’ll hear back with whose offer the seller has decided on. I sure do hope that we get this house. I’m a firm believer that what is for us, is for us. So cross your fingers and say some prayers for us friends. We really do want this house!
This post was originally published here.