OPEN HOUSE #4: Almost packing my bags…
February 16th, 2010 → 1 Comment
With some confidence I think I can announce that I’ve almost bought a condo!
It’s not final. But I think…. soon I will be the owner of a lovely 1600 square foot condo. Two bedrooms and a loft. Hardwood floors. A washer and dryer, dishwasher and even a rooftop terrace for gardening. All mine.
Yes, it all happened that fast. And I can’t even explain half of what I did or what happened, I’ve been in a daze of real estate terminology, home inspections, and handing over checks for insane amounts of money. I wake up every day wanting to vomit because this has been so overwhelming. The last two weeks has been a whirlwind of nausea. It really is stressful to think that every cent you’ve worked for still isn’t enough to get you in the neighborhoods you really want to be in. And it’s even more stressful to spend every cent you ever made all at ONCE.
But lord oh lord, is this finally the investment that I’ve been wanting to make all my life! I’m getting excited about trading in my IKEA furniture (which is already decomposing) and milk crate organizing system for real classy stuff!
I got priced out of Los Feliz, Silverlake, Echo Park. I did find some stuff within range in Chinatown and was kinda excited about the idea of brushing up on my Chinese as I move in with my people. Somehow I ended up finding this place in Koreatown which never dawned on me to move to, it’s near public transportation, somewhat affordable and very central to everything in the city. I think I may stay here for only a few years, and either rent it out or sell and buy another bigger home in a few years. Property mogul and artist! YEAH!
I had a whole flood of emotional experiences. From visiting a condo in Chinatown where the owner (a very sweet woman) was dying of cancer and I was trying not to cry in her face as she told me she was going to go to a hospice… to going to a quirky tri-level unit in Silverlake that would have absolutely broke the bank and my heart because I just couldn’t afford it… to looking at one super cheap unit across the street from the freeway and imagining the next few years of my life with the buzz of cars always in my conscious….
Home hunting been a very emotional ride. I had some moments where I thought maybe I should just give up. Rent forever. Wait for Armageddon and buy then. But that didn’t seem right either. This was it. The Armageddon to buy in is the one right now.
If these next few weeks go smoothly, if all the repairs are done, I’ll be headed towards my lovely new condo in Koreatown next month.
It’s not where I’d imagined living. But I think for what my needs are and what my budget is, it’s great starter property. I have one room I can rent out to a roommate. I have a loft for my office and craft activities, and a large bedroom with cathedral ceilings! I also can throw some nice dinner parties! If I have a roommate then my monthly payments are about the same as my rent now. Because it’s a condo (my HOA fees are relatively low at $220 a month), it’s easier to maintain and I can tour more without worrying too much about my home falling apart when I’m gone.
I appreciate all of you that have been so optimistic and encouraging. I also appreciate all the private emails people have sent with advice. It really is a whole other ballgame to be on this side of the fence. It’s not an easy process, but I definitely think in the long run, it’s the way to go.
Fingers crossed. This is one of my big life’s goals, and I’m finally making it a reality! I’ve worked so hard to get here, and I am proud and know I’ve earned it. I’m a grown ass woman now.
I’ve learned some things about real estate.
1. If it’s been on the market for a while and is priced cheap, something is wrong. It probably is a major fixer upper or located in an undesirable area. Good stuff in Los Angeles usually gets snatched fast! (My condo was on the market 4 days when I made the offer.)
2. Learn to write a “love letter” to woo the buyer. Luckily, I write grants all the time, so I whipped out the most convincing love letter of why I was most worthy to move in and the buyer chose me of all the offers! Go me!
3. Get a good, thorough and hungry realtor. It isn’t enough to have a friend with a real estate license. Someone with thick skin who can bully up with the rest of them. It’s a tough business and I never realized how hardcore these realtors can be when doing these negotiations. They have to move fast!!!! I have a great realtor named Ella who is younger than me and was so on it! She sometimes would be up at 1am prepping listings for us to check out. She was also super thorough and would know how to get tough.
4. Get a time machine and buy property in 2002 or 2003.
5. Short Sales are a slow and frustrating strategy to buy. Short Sales take months to go through and usually go for way more than what they are listed at because the low listing cost is to provoke bidding wars. I almost made a few offers on short sales but realized quickly I neither had the patience nor the actual money they would end up selling at.