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Ajai’s House Hunting Journey: After Seeing 4 Houses She Might Have Found The One

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:

  1. Foundation issues 
  2. Termites (lots of them)
  3. Raccoons in the attic 
  4. Mice infestation 
  5. Electrical issues (rewire, new panels, and ground outlets)
  6. New roof
  7. Plumbing issues 
  8. Carbon monoxide seeping from the floor heater 
  9. 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!

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k
1 year ago

Sending really good vibes!

KD
1 year ago

Ohhhh! It’s darling. Fingers crossed!

Lauren H
1 year ago

Oh my goodness. What a cliffhanger! I hope you get that last house. It is so charming. But as you indicated, what will be will be. Wishing you all the best!

Ajai
1 year ago
Reply to  Lauren H

Thank you so much! Fingers crossed! 🙂

Melinda
1 year ago

Good luck Ajai! I so appreciate you being honest about your parents’ financial help in getting your best offer together. So often people fail to mention when they have some intergenerational wealth behind them, no matter how modest. I didn’t figure this out until later in life and spent so much wasted time feeling like I was doing money wrong, even though I had a degree and a good job. And the reason for that is because my husband and I did not have any financial support for student debt, a wedding or a home deposit. All that is fine and our parents support us in other practical ways, but I wish I had known how many of my friends had access to financial help so I didn’t feel like such a failure. So, thank you for being honest about your privilege here and how wonderful that your parents are close by and able to help!

Ajai
1 year ago
Reply to  Melinda

Hi Melinda! It’s my pleasure and I always try To be as transparent as I can. I know how frustrating these monumental moments in our life can be when it comes to finances. I too have been in the predicament where I was looking around at my peers wondering how they could afford things that I was struggling with paying for (college for instance). But we are so blessed to be at a point where our parents can now chip in some. I know some people don’t have that luxury, but I’m hoping the transparency helps others – to not be so hard on themselves. I’m so glad this was helpful for you. 🙂

Reanna
1 year ago

I hope it works out!

Ajai
1 year ago
Reply to  Reanna

Thank you! 🙂

1 year ago

It’s very cute. I hope you get your dream home!! Sending good vibes.

Ajai
1 year ago
Reply to  Merry

Thank you Merry! We’ll find out if we got it tomorrow! Fingers crossed !

Patricia
1 year ago

Good luck! I hope it works out for you…that house is so cute!
(And an editing note: When describing the problems with your aunt’s house, you wrote “raccoons in the addict.” I think you meant attic. Hahaha!)

Ajai
1 year ago
Reply to  Patricia

Thank you!
Also, I’m tickled by “Raccoons in the addict!” Someone said it sounds like a rock band lol. 😂

Emma
1 year ago

I know it is a honest typo but it is hilarious! Raccoons in the Addict sounds like an emo rock band.

Ajai
1 year ago
Reply to  Emma

Hahaha… just realized I wrote that! It is quite funny. 😂

monica
1 year ago

This is a great look at the real estate market in a high cost of living area, but I was taken aback by the bizarre statement “… because in Southern California, a mortgage payment will run you about $5,000 a month for a fixer in a decent neighborhood.” A mortgage will vary depending on the amount of the downpayment, not the neighborhood! If someone has a downpayment of $500K, clearly the mortgage will be different than if their downpayment is $150K!

Ajai
1 year ago
Reply to  monica

Correct! I should’ve also mentioned our budget and how much we were putting down in that sentence . Thank you for catching that .

Katherine
1 year ago
Reply to  monica

I think this is very similar to how in Los Angeles we describe how far away something is in terms of minutes not miles, because with traffic even distances that seem close can be a 30 minute drive or more. Unless you have the ability to put a massive down payment down (well in excess of 25%) it’s pretty hard to budge the monthly into something affordable once you get into the types of pricing you see in high cost of living areas. Believe me—I’ve tried!

Andria
1 year ago
Reply to  monica

You’ve really misinterpreted what she is trying to communicate. It’s pretty basic knowledge of most adult readers here that down payment is not dependent on the neighborhood itself, but neighborhood does, of course, affect the overall market value of the home, and therefore, what a monthly payment would typically look like with a low/modest down payment. Ballpark estimates are okay and serve a purpose. I think anyone buying their own home always has a grasp on this, so I don’t think we have much to be concerned about here.

Vanessa
1 year ago

Good luck!! Love the house.

What a wonderful family. No matter what house you end up in – having 2 sets of grandparents near by is priceless. It takes a village. You have already won the lottery

Ajai
1 year ago
Reply to  Vanessa

Thank you! We are just realizing how valuable having family near is. 🙂

Betsy
1 year ago

Holy cow — I so hope you get the house! It’s adorable!

Ajai
1 year ago
Reply to  Betsy

Thank you so much! It really is a cutie-of-a-house. Fingers crossed! 🙂

Holly
1 year ago

You both have really nice parents! I hope it all works out!

1 year ago

Hoping for wonderful news for you and your family!

Kj
1 year ago

Good luck, Ajai. Supply is so low all across the country it seems every house gets multiple, over-asking offers (not just in LA). “Housing supply remaining stuck at near historic lows has propped up demand compared to other downturns, consequently sustaining higher home prices.” “And with 70% of homeowners sitting on a mortgage rate of 4% or less, Sharga says we’re unlikely to see an inundation of homes soon.” From https://www.forbes.com/advisor/mortgages/real-estate/housing-market-predictions/

Dena
1 year ago

I teared up about the grandparents! This house is a breath of fresh air (literally!) compared to the other ones, the style really is beautiful! Also sending best wishes and vibes and hope our collective good thoughts help!

Stacy
1 year ago

Ahh a cliffhanger! The wait is so hard when you are trying to get a house you love. The location sounds perfect. I hope it comes through for you. And so wonderful that your parents (on both sides) could help you make the best offer possible, and thank you for sharing that part!
I also got parental help (and a lot of it) and always try to subtly make that clear to my friends without rubbing it in anybody’s face. It’s almost impossible for my friends in Seattle to get into the market without it, which can be so frustrating.

emily jane
1 year ago

Imagining you all -you, your husband and adventurous son ; ) as well as your lovely & supportive families- enjoying both your darling new home and it’s proximity to each other -BEAUTIFUL!

Cris S.
1 year ago

Wishing you the best on this – I hope you get it!

1 year ago

OMG. I too am obsessed with Spanish style houses so I feel very personally invested in you and your fam getting this one. Good luck! <3

Erin
1 year ago

A hundred prayers this works for you! Such a blessing to have connected and supportive family!!

Roberta Davis
1 year ago

Good luck! It looks really nice, from the pics you show here!

Stacey S.
1 year ago

Fingers crossed!

alexa
1 year ago

How do I put this.. your family must be phenomenal for you to persevere through these challenges just to be near them, instead of settling down in a more affordable area 😬. Sending you good vibes!

Christa
1 year ago

Sending best wishes that you get your house.

Sahaja
1 year ago

Oooh! Crossing fingers, eyes, toes, whatever I got for u!! Hope u’ll have good news to share spon

1 year ago

It’s adorable. I hope you find your ideal residence!

Christina
1 year ago

I am praying for you to get this one. Thank you for sharing your story. The challenges you are facing are far too common(how difficult it is to get a home in SoCal for families)!

Francesca
1 year ago

Please do let us know if you get it or not! I know how long and hard you’ve been trying to find a house. I’m feeling emotionally invested in you getting a place 🙂 And of course would love to see on the blog how you make it beautiful.

Alicce
1 year ago
Reply to  Francesca

Yes me too!

Hanna
1 year ago

Fingers crossed for you!

Jen
1 year ago

Fingers crossed you get the house you have your heart set on, but if it doesn’t go in your favor – I would take a second look at the new build townhome. It seems like it was in your budget, in an area you like and a style that you like, requiring no additional work. The only downside was worrying about your little one on stairs? Or maybe there was more unstated but that was just the main concern. In any case, as a parent that raised littles in a three story home…baby gates! So easy and inexpensive to add and easy to remove when no longer needed. Phase 2 of 4 is generally a great time to purchase as well, you’ll get the appreciation that comes with each new phase of construction. Just a thought.
Finally…the list of things your aunt claims are “normal wear and tear” 😳 I was in such suspense reading that. Hahah! Thank goodness you didn’t buy it, that’s a whole lot of deferred maintenance!!
BEST OF LUCK!!

JA
1 year ago
Reply to  Jen

I thought the same thing at first but then saw she mentioned her kid has learned to climb over the baby gates so that’s why it was a no go. Plus, if the grandparents want to spend a lot of time there, that might be a factor also.

That is a GREAT point about the construction! We have some going up near us and a few people sold the place before they ever moved in because the price had gone up so much during construction they were able to “buy up” from what they originally paid.

Sarah
1 year ago
Reply to  Jen

I had the same thought! I completely understand the anxiety/fear around having a little one near stairs, but before you even know it, your kiddo will be confidently going up and down with nary a wobble. If the house is otherwise good, and in a reasonable price range, perhaps it’s worth another look. It may even be possible to work with the contract to devise a solution to the stair issue if the homes are currently under construction – like a pocket door at the top of each staircase that could be closed to protect your little one (and then tucked away when the stairs are no longer a danger).

Deborah
1 year ago

My fingers are crossed for you and your family – I hope you get the house!!!

JA
1 year ago

Even though it is so tough to buy in an expensive area, this is the right time to do it when you are young and willing to do a lot of DIY. And also when your careers are at a point where you can get a higher salary to match. The older you get the harder it is to take the leap and move to a pricey area, for various reasons (unless you have a lot of bank, obviously). So if you know you want to be near your family, you are making the right move even if it is nerve wracking! It will be so worth it. GOOD LUCK hope you get it!

Julie
1 year ago

Good luck good luck good luck good luck!!!!!! I hope you get it! It’s such a sweet house. Sending all the happy vibes your way.

Effie
1 year ago

Keeping fingers crossed that you get good news. Some people have written to the homeowners of properties pleading their case and why they want the house and supposedly that has often helped them in getting their dream home even if they weren’t always the best offer.

MBJ
1 year ago

Omg Ajai it’s the SWEETEST house. I love Spanish homes too. My house offer wasn’t accepted but we ended up getting it when the original deal fell through! I hope the same happens for you!

Ondia
1 year ago

This is thee house! I’m praying hard that you guys get this one. I know house shopping is such an arduous and emotional task. The real question is, will the aunt be invited to the house warming?! lol

Lynn
1 year ago

This is a real cliffhanger! Hope it all goes your way! Did you consider writing a letter to the owners and sharing your story? It was suggested to me when I bought my home 20+ years ago and I think it really made a difference. Good luck and can’t wait to hear the outcome.

Suzanne
1 year ago

Fingers crossed and all the good thoughts going your way!

Heidi
1 year ago

Sending some of my grandmother’s real estate mojo. She was an agent and she’s the only reason I have anything at all.

Samantha
1 year ago

Be sure an include a ‘love’ letter in your offer explaining how much you love the home, and how close it is to your family. How you are moving back so your little one can spend time with them. Tug on those heart strings. I have written two letters like this in multiple offer situations, and it worked both times.

Patricia
1 year ago

AAAAAAAK! looking forward to good news.

Emma
1 year ago

Hope you get it – Spanish style homes are the most charming! Hearing the craziness in LA makes me feel a little better though, I was looking to buy in San DIego and it is just nuts what things can go for.. Fingers crossed for you.

Gigi
1 year ago

Omg, the anticipation! Best of Luck.

Barbara
1 year ago

Hugs! Hoping things work out for you!

Heather
1 year ago

It will be so wonderful to be near both sets of grandparents. Fingers crossed!

Addie
1 year ago

Unfortunately your home buying challenges are common in California. I’m sending you luck for this sweet Spanish home becoming yours! 🍀

Ray
1 year ago

I am excited for you and really appreciate the transparency of the whole process! Aside from that…did you tell the renters of your aunt’s place that there is a carbon monoxide leak and a vermin problem? I am anxious at the thought of someone having to live in those conditions and wonder if they are aware.

CS in DC
1 year ago
Reply to  Ray

I get where you are coming from but I can’t think of a better way to overstep boundaries and blow up family relations!

Ray
1 year ago
Reply to  CS in DC

I totally agree and would also be conflicted, but also man am I concerned about those renter’s health! I had a friend in college living in a place where asbestos was being blown through her rental HVAC system and thank god a neighbor went out on a limb to tell her.

It’s one thing to not tip off a stranger to being over charged vs being poisoned and could die in their sleep, you know?

1 year ago

Thank you for sharing your story. It will be so wonderful to be near both sets of grandparents. Fingers crossed

IreneL
1 year ago

This house is just adorable! Great find! You have such a wonderful and supportive family and it is no wonder that you want to live closer to them. Good luck!!

Ryn
1 year ago

I confess this made me choke up and root for you. Not a crier, but I am a grandparent that would LOVE to have my little ones closer.