I don’t know what it is about this house hunt series that compels people to read these posts, but I am eternally grateful for your companionship. The last four months have felt like an episode of House Hunters, except instead of viewing three places and then magically ending up in my dream home, I’m just constantly falling in love with places, losing to higher offers, and crying a lot. Why isn’t there a TV show where someone spends 8 months searching for a place and then ends up empty-handed and weeping on the phone at the end??? HGTV, I AM AVAILABLE.
But maybe I’m being a little dramatic. It’s not all bad (or is it?). I teased this in Wednesday’s post, but I was waiting for a counteroffer on a place…so it felt like a good time to catch up with my friends, AKA you, on the state of the LA housing market and how I ended up here. Today’s update contains some of the freshest information I’ve ever shared (i.e. 10 hours from phone call to content going live on the site), so a million thanks to EHD for lending me the platform for the day and to Jess and Ryann for proofreading my tiny novel outside of business hours. There’s some real drama if you can make it all the way to the end with me! But it’s been a long time since my last update, so let’s get on the same page first with a quick refresher on where we left off…
My name is Caitlin and I handle all things money here at EHD. (Sponsored posts, affiliate relationships, and yes, even the site ads – I’m sorry, I know!!! But I would not be able to have a job – or buy a house, I guess – without the ads, which makes it a real ouroboros, so your tolerance is very much appreciated.) Anyway, I am 29 years old, super single, and I’ve been living in Los Angeles for about 9 years. I’ve saved up about $85,000 in a dedicated account (yes, I do overshare personal financial information in these posts, thanks for noticing) to spend solely on a downpayment and closing costs. Originally, I had been hoping to spend about $400,0000 to $500,000 on a property and put in about $100,000 worth of reno work, but LOL. That was in July when I was young and naive and hopeful, but now it’s February and I’m a tired, worn-down weathered husk of a woman so let’s be clear: that budget has gone out of the freakin’ window.
I first fell in love with an abandoned hillside property but honestly missed out due to timing (and maybe due to me putting a little too much faith into the universe ~working things out~, which I now have mixed feelings about). It sold for $340,000 and needed $300,000 to $400,000 in repairs (in addition to like, needing a road and neighbor approval and a new foundation, so yes, I’ll concede that there were a variety of problems) but I guarantee that halfway through this update you’re going to be like, oh, yeah, maybe she should have gone that route, huh?
The second property I introduced you to was an absolutely wild vintage home with a 1970s update. I offered the asking price of $550,000 on this place, despite some seemingly enormous structural problems – the walls were very cracked and it had a surreptitiously leaning retaining wall that hinted at major issues, but I was in love. Honestly, I still am – vaulted ceilings, wood paneling, saloon-style swinging doors, and 70s wallpaper still does it for me. This place ended up selling for $600,000 and again, I wish I had just offered more. Being closed on a property in October would have made things so easy!
Which brings us to today: I flew home to Delaware on November 8 so I could quarantine for two solid weeks before seeing my mom for Thanksgiving, and guys…I’m still here. (Before you ask: yes, I’m from Wilmington; yes, like most Delawareans, I am basically 0 degrees of separation from the Bidens – and honestly, if you’re from Delaware, I’m sure we also know each other; and yes, it is very fun seeing your hometown on the news every night.) But basically, at the end of November, I kinda sorta broke my back (the easiest way to describe it) and when combined with the whole ~raging LA pandemic~ thing, I just decided to stay here until I was fully healed.
All of this brings us to today’s theme: y’all, I have started making sight unseen offers. Cross country. On homes I have only seen 3-minute videos of. A friend of mine recently described me as their most “irresponsible responsible friend,” and I think that explains a lot of what you’re about to read.
But before we get too in the weeds, let’s all bow our heads for a moment in honor of Brenda, my mom (to whom I wrote a very long and loving ode to in an earlier update), who has had to stand by my side as I make life-changing decisions WHILE HEAVILY MEDICATED. I know the rules for sainthood (Catholic high school alumni here, NBD) but there should be a special Brenda exception for going through this process with me up close and in real-time. Please drop your praise in the comments because she deserves all of it (and more)!!
Now, I hope you’re settled in and ready for a long read, because here’s how my real world, real rollercoaster-y episode of House Hunters went down (please play along – I want to know which house YOU would have chosen)…
First Up, A New Hill House
I HAVE NOT LEARNED ANY LESSONS, GUYS. This fella is priced at $569,900 and has been on the market since March 19, 2020. Yes, that is almost a year. And yes, it has been in and out of escrow FIVE TIMES. I actually first fell in love with this place in July of 2020 when I was trying to stick to the lower end of my budget…but like, who could resist those special ceilings or gorgeous views? NOT ME. I can be swayed by architectural charm and by bright windows and I’m only a little ashamed about it. Take a look, though, and tell me if you disagree…
There are a lot of things about this place that drew me in right off the bat. I know it’s not a super popular opinion, but I love LA homes that are up a flight of stairs. I’ve lived alone since 2015, consume an amount of the ID channel that could only be described as “oh gosh, WAY TOO MUCH,” and am kind of worried about being murdered. Something about making access to the home a little inconvenient really speaks to me. (As if a murderer would be like, “oh, Caitlin lives up a flight of stairs? Ugh, too much work. Pass.” But like, HEY, let me have my illusions of security, thanks.)
But beyond that – did you see that view? The sweet little terrace above the garages? THE CEILINGS? I had emailed my realtor, Francine (as always, if you’re in LA and have no idea how to find an agent, I vouch for her a billion percent #notsponsored) back in July when we had started working together asking about the property. At that time, it had been on the market for a couple of months, so I figured that they’d be open to a lowball offer, but she reached out to the listing agent and learned that the sellers were VERY firm on price.
Since then, it’s just been flopping in and out of escrow. And sure, it’s a bit dated and there’s a lot of obvious damage (it’s most visible in the dining room). But it’s also not not worth the asking price. And yeah, the primary bedroom DOES have windows that look into – you guessed it – a weird addition with a drop floor, but who needs privacy? So when this place came back on the market in late November, it felt like a real kismet moment for me. The universe must have been holding this for me, I thought, because I am dumb.
The place had charm, the lot was HUGE (as always, I need to clarify that this is by LA standards, but it’s almost 6,000 square feet!) and it checked all my boxes. To be fair, at this point the boxes needing to be checked are basically “near LA,” “standing,” “financeable,” and “under $600,000,” but I’m also flexible on all of those requests, so it’s honestly a bit of a free-for-all.
Anyway, the kismet really kicked in when a potential EHD partner emailed me to introduce their startup brokerage, which at the time would enable regular buyers (i.e. me) to find homes and to place all-cash offers. There’s usually a lot of vetting that goes on behind-the-scenes before we accept any partnership here (I won’t sign a deal for something we haven’t tried), so they graciously offered me the chance to test out their product by getting a tour of this house.
The experience was awesome – they sent an agent to the property and I was able to have a body on the ground exploring in real-time. My mom (Brenda, you know, the lady I talk about all the time) and I ate dinner as he toured the property. He looked in cabinets, surveilled the parking situation, and explained the property’s problems (“uh, it’s bad” was his main takeaway, but y’all have probably learned that I cannot be deterred).
Whereas this guy saw a house with bizarrely low basement clearance and impossible street parking and some…bold (???) bathroom choices, I saw a home with cathedral ceilings that had been on the market in my price range for almost a year. AND AT THIS POINT, THAT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME. I was ready to give this one a go.
I don’t mean to undersell this place, though – in a true plot twist, it had A STUNNING BACKYARD. It was ENORMOUS. I am pretty confident that if the first image of this house had just been its huge, flat, lovely backyard, it would have sold immediately. Instead, the listing agent chose to go with some ~creative~ choices, like this unpermitted basement bathroom with 6′ ceilings.
Seeing it on video chat was kind of like being surprised by a Tinder date who uses a ton of bad photos, and then they show up, and you’re like “WOAH, I WASN’T READY FOR THIS???” So despite all its problems and the initial photo impressions, I talked with Francine, told her that I had gotten to tour the house as part of our partnership vetting process, and asked about making an offer. (An aside: the potential partner who facilitated the viewing is in the process of tweaking their business model a bit, but I can’t wait to share more about the company when they’re ready! They’ll be an awesome resource for first-time buyers.)
Because the universe has a hilarious sense of humor, the house went under contract for the FIFTH TIME while this conversation happened. Francine chatted with the listing agent and said that I could submit a backup offer at $540,000 – about $30,000 below list – but also mentioned that this place had foundation issues.
OH GOSH. GUYS. The optimist in me gets it: we live in LA! Earthquake country! 100-year-old houses will have problems! But I’m batting 100% when it comes to falling in love with houses with severe foundation issues. WHY??? I emailed back: “Is that the lowest you think they’d go? I think I’m fine with that as a starting point, but like, if I offered $540,000 and then found out it needs $80,000 of dedicated foundation work, do you think they’d be willing to at least try and meet me somewhere in the middle around $515,000? I can only assume it’s a BIG problem if it’s come in and out of escrow this many times.”
She responded, “I asked if they have reports or estimated costs on the foundation repair and if the seller is willing to do any credits. He said ‘No, the price is with the discount.’ It doesn’t sound like they are willing to budge, and it could totally be why they have been on the market a long time.” And guys, that is when I made the first responsible decision of this whole saga: I WALKED AWAY, DESPITE THE 8 MONTH REDFIN LOVE AFFAIR WITH THIS HOME. IS THIS BEING AN ADULT???? Brenda celebrated quietly when I told her that I would not be making an offer.
And Then…The Silver Lake Box
But that celebration didn’t last long. Not to weave too much of my ~personal life~ into the post (that said, I LIVED IT, and I want you to understand the circumstances!!), but I started collapsing regularly with severe back pain at the end of November. I probably should have gone to the doctor but I also come from a family of folks who ignore their medical problems – my great grandpa chopped his own thumb off with an axe instead of seeking frostbite treatment, so I think it’s genetic – but it kept getting worse and worse. On December 3rd, I collapsed (while on the phone with someone from 3M, so I had to be like “oh, uh, I just…stubbed my toe??” while crying on mute. CASUAL!) and I lost all my ability to move or walk and y’all, that is NOT FUN OR COOL!
I ended up in an ambulance and got to spend some time in the hospital during the peak of the rona, which is a story for the books. (I also had a very attractive doctor who was my age and who ended up quoting Lumineers songs to me while he like, ran a billion tests on my decrepit and terrified self, which was horrifying. That’s not actually important, but if I’m sharing the info, you might as well get the whole story. Mallory, from our team, ended up making me a ‘Hot Doc Prep Kit’ for Christmas, though, so I’m ready for any future emergencies.)
I’m only telling you this as context because I was discharged from the hospital pretty quickly – you know, cause like, there’s a contagious disease floating around or something – but I was given a bunch of prescriptions for heavy-duty, mind-changing pain medication, which just adds a WHOLE NEW LAYER to this story. It always just gets harder! (PS. I’m fine-ish now, 9 weeks later!!! 20 years of ice skating injuries can really compound in a bad way when ignored!!! Listen to your body!!!)
But a few nights after being discharged from the hospital, I was sitting in my room in the dark (not normal) and refreshing Redfin (actually normal) when this popped up. It was 736 square feet on a ~1,500 square foot lot (read: LA tiny) and listed at $499,000. It was in Silver Lake – a big deal, if you’re not from LA – and it was walking distance from two of my favorite music venues, a bunch of my favorite coffee shops, and my old hair place. NEW. TARGET. ACQUIRED.
I made it through about 3 of the photos before I emailed Francine and asked her to put an offer in on this place. Seconds later, after realizing it was a trust sale, I sent a follow up: “PS. I saw it was a trust/conservatorship – if someone died in this house, can you please never tell me???” I learned my lesson on that Highland Park bungalow and I AM NOT MAKING THOSE MISTAKES AGAIN. 2021 CAITLIN IS MAKING SMART CHOICES!
I knew I wanted to go over the asking price almost immediately, but I also had to confirm that I hadn’t totally lost it, so I lumbered downstairs (again, heavily medicated, and very slowly) to show Brenda. I know I’m almost 30 and I know I have my stuff together – or like, at least as together as it can be – but when it comes to house hunting, I kind of feel like one of those girls on Say Yes to the Dress who can’t buy something without their parent’s approval. She has my back and I trust her and I want her blessing and I’m not afraid to say it!
But y’all – look at this place. I WAS ENTHRALLED FROM THE START. It looked like my first two loves, the hill house and my 70s dream mansion, had a baby. She was boxy and modern on the exterior with vaulted ceilings and a fun, 70s paneled interior. And like, sure, it needed work, but THEY ALL DO, so I was gung-ho on this one.
And to my absolute delight, Brenda agreed. “I’m seriously putting an offer in on this,” I said. “OK,” she said. There was no waffling, no “uhhh, it’s kind of gross” or “you do see that it needs a ton of work, right?” – there was just a simple “OK.” I had made my case (poorly and confusingly – it was basically me screaming for about 4 minutes straight as she cycled through the photos a few times), but she agreed. I emailed Francine and told her that I actually wanted to go above asking.
That night, I had floated a modest figure – $520,000. $21,000 over asking, I thought, was okay. But by morning, that number started ratcheting up in my brain. IT WASN’T ENOUGH, AND I NEEDED TO WIN THIS ONE. I looked at some comps in the neighborhood with similar tiny footprints and saw that they were selling around $700,000, so I figured I needed to bump up the offer a bit to compete with flippers.
Okay, so…$550,000. At first, that number felt pretty good. The place needed a pretty substantial gut job, which I figured would run a bit over $100,000 (because of rona-induced surcharges on materials). A house in Silver Lake couldn’t really swing a traditional quick flip – you know, the kind of flip that just picks the cheapest gray finish for every possible item. Gray floors, gray paint, gray cabinets, gray walls, large-scale marble-look tile…you’ve seen these, I know it!!! – so investors would really have to INVEST in the quality of its remodel. The market couldn’t sustain anything higher than that, right? With fees and costs and timelines, flippers couldn’t go higher than $550,000 and still make a profit, right?! I would win them over with my heartfelt letter, right?!??!
So that weekend, before I submitted my offer, Francine went to tour the house for me. She had said that I’d look like a more serious buyer – you know, less flakey – if it appeared that someone had actually looked at the house instead of submitting an offer ~willy-nilly~. (She didn’t say willy-nilly, but that was the sentiment.) I agreed and it turns out that this is a very smart thing to do in a hot market, which is why you should basically always listen to your realtor on all matters, always.
The video she sent me made me even more sure. I WANTED THIS ONE, BADLY, and I was going to try my absolute hardest to get it. I emailed my loan officer, Andy (again, if you’re in LA and you have no idea where to start, Andy gets my highest recommendation – he was Em’s loan officer, Sara’s loan officer, and he introduced me to Francine, so he is the true hero that’s bringing you all the EHD homes!), to ask if I’d be able to make an offer at $575,000. We are now SEVENTY-SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS OVER ASKING. On 736 square feet. Yes, the tunnel vision did set in…but SHE WAS IT. The universe had made this weird hybrid house baby just for me and I was going in, GUNS BLAZING. I was leaving it all on the table. Literally.
As I got to work writing the most earnest letter I have ever written (which was a challenge for me, a lady whom a commenter once described as “achingly earnest,” but with a mean connotation) to the trust selling the house and to the family of the deceased, I got a call from Andy. Good news, he said – he’d run my credit and I’d be good to put in an offer at $575,000 with a 10% downpayment. GREAT. He also wanted to tell me that he liked this house better for me than the original 70s dream house, which was feedback that I genuinely loved. We’re cooking with gas now, folks!!!
Francine worked on prepping the offer as I put the final touches on my letter – and y’all, I’m not sure if I’ve put more thought into ANYTHING in my entire life. I had researched the previous owner and was totally inspired by her. Not to overshare too much of her information, but she was also a single lady with an incredible career and she seemed like the kind of person I wouldn’t mind being haunted by, so again…IT FELT LIKE KISMET. We submitted, I waited, and then…this.
Did I want to counter? DUH. But I also want to do a lot of things that are bad for me, like drinking Coke Slurpees from 7-Eleven for every meal. I’ve somehow trained myself to override that impulse, so I decided to let this one go. AGAIN. I’m going to tell you how much this 736 square foot house on a 1,5000 square foot lot sold for, but first, I’m going to need you to make a guess. Are you ready?
Numbers ready??? Here we go…
$710,000. NEARLY THREE QUARTERS OF A MILLION DOLLARS. $211,000 over asking. At $710,000 pre-renovation, the 3 bed/2.5 house on the hill would have been cheaper. HOW. And when I started to feel like there was no hope for a girl like me, the dream place just happened to come along. I know people say that’s true about relationships – you know, that when you’re not looking they just show up – but it turns out that the same idiom is true for real estate, too.
Re-up on your coffee because this is a little bit of a rollercoaster and there are LOTS of weeds to get through, y’all. (Also, a special hello to all of my real-life friends who witnessed me crying over the past few days and who have skipped to this section in search of an update as to what is going on. You’re in the right place!)
Throughout this whole process, I’ve been pretty clear that I’m on the hunt for a house in particular because (a.) I want a private outdoor space and (b.) condo fees are a NIGHTMARE in LA (like, any time I’ve seen an okay condo, the HOA has been $600-$800/month, which does not work for me). On a seemingly-unrelated note that will soon make sense, I’ve also written at great length over the past year and a half about how much I love my apartment. (Most recently like, less than a month ago, so yes – I love my apartment. I HAVE A POINT, I SWEAR.)
I’ve never shared it publicly on the blog – for reasons detailed in that earlier post, but mainly it boils down to me never designing it because it always felt like a temporary point – but I just want to show y’all a few quick shots so you’ll understand my surprise when I FOUND IT’S LITERAL TWIN. FOR SALE. A CHANCE TO LIVE IN MY APARTMENT, FOREVER, BUT BETTER.
Couple of things to note: 1930s construction, faux fireplace, great moulding, huge living room (mine is 14′ x 20′), wall of windows in the dining room, semi-open concept/railroad construction. For what it’s worth, these pictures are NOT GOOD and my apartment sat on the market for a month before I grabbed it for $1,900/month (under market for almost 1,200 square feet + a private garage in Koreatown).
So COLOR ME ABSOLUTELY SHOCKED when last Thursday I opened Redfin, turned on the condo setting for fun, and then found this 2 bed, 1.5 bath for sale at $540,000. It’s 2.7 miles from my current apartment but more important than anything, it’s still walking distance to Hae Jang Chon which is THE BEST RESTAURANT IN LOS ANGELES. (If you haven’t gone, you are missing out.) Unfortunately, for some reason, I am not being paid to write a bulgogi review (though maybe I could swing it if y’all requested one in the comments), so I’ll continue showing the new place and explaining the circumstances that got us here…because they’re about to get a little wild. WOULD YOU EXPECT ANY LESS FROM ME AND A FUTURE HOME?
The above photo isn’t of the actual unit – it’s of the upstairs one, so I emailed Francine immediately and wrote, “So uh, I realize that this is basically the opposite of everything I’ve asked for (not single-family + already remodeled), but it is basically an exact dupe of my current apartment (which I love a lot!!) with the addition of a little bit of outdoor space. (Like, same square footage, same layout, same moulding – a twin!!!) I’m kind of curious to see the actual unit because if it’s similarly bright, I think I want to put in an offer??? VERY weird and again, VERY OPPOSITE of all the info I have given you but I’d buy my current apartment in a heartbeat if it were an option so I have a good feeling about this one!”
And I did have a good feeling – it was the first time I really felt like this was it. Are y’all familiar with that feeling? The last time I had felt this way was back in 2019, right when I had applied for my job here at EHD. I had my final interview with Emily on a Tuesday and was actually supposed to move cross country on Thursday to start a different job, but I never actually packed anything – I just felt so sure that it was going to work out, and it did. I’ve tried to trick myself into feeling that way since, but when it happens, it’s really honest and true and unflappable and WHEN YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW. YOU KNOW?
Geez. Back to the new place, huh? So basically, this place isn’t actually a condo, despite being one unit in a 4-unit building. It’s actually a tenants in common listing, which is a thing that I’ve had to spend the whole week learning about so I’d be able to explain it in a simple way for this post.
The simplest way I can break it down is this: if you buy a condo, the government has a list of every unit inside that building with a separate APN and separate tax info. When you buy a tenants in common listing, you basically buy a share of a building and then you sign a separate agreement with the group that gives you exclusive rights to one building. You all own the building together, which has some pros – like, splitting one property tax bill, which generally lowers costs – but it also has some cons, like…well, they’re valued at 10-20% lower than a condo, and you may not turn a ~profit~ upon resale, so they’re not for folks looking for a super investment vehicle.
But I, a person who has spent over $150,000 on rent over the last 9 years, don’t really care about EARNING money if and when I decide to sell in the future! I think my attitude is shared by a lot of millennials – I just don’t want to pay rent and I want somewhere permanent that belongs to me. I did the math for myself and realized that if I were to buy this place for $540,000, it could depreciate by half AND I could lose money on a sale 5 years from now, but I’d still be coming out ahead compared to staying in my current apartment. I’m not sure if this math works out for everyone, so obviously, ALWAYS RUN YOUR OWN NUMBERS, but for me…well, I guess I have the risk tolerance, the math, and the appropriate level of laissez-faire attitude required to jump in piloting new types of ownership.
But when I went to make an offer, I ran into the big hurdle: since tenants in common buildings are still super new in LA (side note: in San Francisco, TIC units are more popular than co-ops, so it is a well-tested model), there were only two banks able to loan on the units. Well, uh, okay. That definitely takes away some competition and my ability to get the best rate, but…this is a fully-finished place for $540,000 in a layout that I *already know* that I love, because I have been living in a literal dupe for the past 2 years.
I ended up reaching out to one of the banks before putting in an offer just to get an idea of rates and heard back immediately – they’d need 25% down (aka $135,000). That technically would have been doable, but there was NO WAY I was actually going to do that for cash flow reasons, so…I guess in my case, there was ONE BANK who was able to finance this purchase. COOL! That’s not stressful or scary at all!
Francine toured this place for me on Sunday morning (yes, the timeline has gotten very recent) and I put in an offer on Sunday night. I signed my offer while sitting on the couch, watching the Super Bowl halftime show with Brenda. She has not said this out loud but I can tell that she was VERY excited by the idea of me not dropping an extra $100,000 on a renovation over the next few years. If I was a betting gal, I’d say that this was her favorite. (Shockingly, I think the hill house would come in second. She’s a wild woman!) For the first time, I also chose not to write a letter, because they somehow make rejection WAY worse.
The other catch – and it’s a dealbreaker for a lot of folks – is that tenants in common can only be financed via adjustable rate mortgages. If you weren’t a homeowner during the last financial crash, let me catch you up real quick: basically, you sign on with a fixed rate for a few years – let’s say 3, or 5, or 7 – and while it’s usually low for that intro period, the lender has the ability to change the rate every year moving forward after your initial period is up. This was part of the reason the housing market crashed in 2008 – folks rates shot up from a low, manageable amount to something they couldn’t afford.
The government has since set limits and made these mortgages a little less risky for borrowers (i.e. there are strict limits about how much your rate can increase and you’re aware of that amount before signing), but they still have the stench of, you know, collapsing the whole American economy on them, so they’re not necessarily anyone’s first choice for a home loan. They also make TIC units a little less desirable…but hey, after forty offers on the last place, is that so bad?
Anyway – I learned all this info and I submitted my offer on Sunday night. Francine texted me a couple of minutes later and said that we’d hear back on Monday, which I took as a very good sign. Everything else I’ve offered on has had a deadline and I’ve heard back in 24 hours, but offering on something without a deadline and getting that kind of feedback made me feel VERY ENCOURAGED. I remember looking at Brenda and being like, “…yo, this one is going to happen. This is it.”
But Monday came and went, and nothing. I somehow waited until EIGHT PM to text Francine for an update because I have incredible and impressive self-restraint. She responded that the listing agent had just texted her, that she was working on counters, and that we’d hear back tonight.
COUNTER. OFFERS. GUYS. WE MADE IT!!! BABY’S NOT GETTING STRAIGHT-UP REJECTED ANYMORE!!! It was a cause for celebration. I was so, so, so excited. EIGHT MONTHS AND MY FIRST OFFICIAL COUNTER OFFER. But then 9 PM came, and 10 PM, and 12 AM, and when I woke up and checked my phone every few hours there was still nothing.
I could feel my frustration mounting because I also already knew the prices that the other units had sold for – the upstairs that I’m using pictures from went for $555,000; the other downstairs unit went for $540,000. The one I had offered on was arguably the worst unit in the building – it was next to the driveway and garage (and I mean, I don’t mind, I live on top of a Jack in the Box drive through. Anything will be an improvement from a woman screaming over the speakers or their dump truck at 4 AM on Monday mornings), but it’s yard was also only half the size of the other downstairs unit’s yard. If anything, it should have been less than $540,000. But also, I just wanted to be done and did not really care about paying an extra couple thousand dollars over the course of 5-7 years (AKA how long I’d expect to be in this place based on how long I’ve spent in other apartments in LA) if I meant I could just be done.
But then Tuesday came and passed, too. At 8 PM, I texted Francine. Nothing. And then Wednesday (read: 2 days ago)…still nothing. I started to feel hopeless – I DIDN’T HALLUCINATE THE COUNTER OFFER, RIGHT? I had the text receipts! Finally, Francine called me at 3:30 PM and the first words out of her mouth were, “I have news…it’s not good.”
Y’all, I was emotional immediately. Basically, Francine explained that the seller’s agent – the main folks who manage TIC sales in Los Angeles – had said that they actually COULDN’T accept my offer because the bank (remember, there are only 2 banks who loan on TIC properties in the area) couldn’t loan on more than 70% of the units in a building. This would be their third unit in the building, pushing their stake to 75%, which means that they couldn’t lend to me.
Francine told me that they had instead accepted an offer from someone who had submitted months ago (like…October? November?) and who had been approved by the OTHER bank, the one that required 25% down. After we hung up, I cried SO MUCH. I cried privately, and then I went downstairs to tell my mom and cried some more (she LAUGHED, saying that I was going to have more weird buying stories than anyone else, which isn’t wrong, but I also was not ready to laugh about it yet!!!), and then THANKFULLY I had to pull myself together for a partnerships zoom because I was headed on a DEEP SADNESS SPIRAL. But true to form, I woke up and cried some more yesterday morning because I had been SO SURE that I was going to get this one. I’ve never been wrong when I’ve felt that level of security before, and my heart really did break a little bit. I’M CRYING AGAIN SO WE NEED TO MOVE ON.
This is when it gets juicy – this morning (I’m penning this on Thursday night, because things are unfolding in real-time and it’s fun to have you along on the ride with me!), I emailed the bank who had financed the other 2 units in the building.
Basically, I said that my offer had been rejected because of their 70% rule but that I’d still like to chat and learn about how ARMs and tenants in common work because at this point, my goal is to become an expert on all obscure forms of real estate transactions so I can write tiny novels about them for y’all to enjoy with your morning coffee. But then I got a call back and GUYS, THERE WAS NO 70% RULE.
I’m not sure where the lapse in communication came from, but MY OFFER WAS REJECTED FOR A FAKE REASON. I spent an hour and a half on the phone on Thursday afternoon with Derek, a loan officer and expert on TIC properties (and on regular properties, too – talk to him if you’re considering either, he was amazing!!!) who spent time breaking down everything I needed to know: why ARM rates on TIC units are higher (there’s no secondary market – i.e. the bank can’t sell the loan to someone else); why they have credit score minimums for their loans (it’s about having a good track record, but folks with dings can still apply for exceptions); how much I’d qualify for (less on a TIC loan than I’d been approved for on a 30 year fixed – TICs only loan on up to 38% of your income, whereas conventional mortgages can go higher); and like, a billion other very specific problems. I’ve met a bunch of real peaches during this process and towards the end, Derek basically assured me that if it was meant to be, it would happen, and THAT’S THE KIND OF WOO-WOO THING I NEEDED TO HEAR. I felt like I was back on track, a least a little bit.
I texted Francine during this and was basically like, “uh, what the heck, I’m talking with the bank and there is no 70% rule, they can lend on every unit on the building if they wanted to” and she texted me back at 8 PM on Thursday night (again, this goes live at 4 AM on Friday morning, so y’all are UP. TO. SPEED. with me) that my offer’s now being kept in backup. I mean. Maybe it’ll work out? Maybe it won’t? I had such a dream of accepting the counter offer and becoming the new spokesperson for tenants in common – this weird real estate format worked for me and it can work for you, too – but it just fell apart and it didn’t work for me, so we’re back to square one. GREAT. PERFECT.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on what this all means and why this process has been so long and drawn out. On one hand, I could just write it off as like, “seller’s markets suck and this is just a trash experience,” but I don’t really think my psyche could handle that, so off I go on the hunt for meaning!
I think that this Blythe Baird quote really sums it up, despite not being super ~on brand~ for me (poetry is not my thing, but this sentiment is spot on): “I am trying to see things in perspective. My dog wants a bite of my peanut butter chocolate chip bagel. I know she cannot have this, because chocolate makes dogs very sick. My dog does not understand this. She pouts and wraps herself around my leg like a scarf and purrs and tries to convince me to give her just a tiny bit. When I do not give in, she eventually gives up and lays in the corner, under the piano, drooping and sad. I hope the universe has my best interest in mind like I have my dog’s. When I want something with my whole being, and the universe withholds it from me, I hope the universe thinks to herself: ‘Silly girl. She thinks this is what she wants, but she does not understand how it will hurt.'”
So yeah, I guess…in time? I’d like to think that things do work out for the best, so I can only imagine how great my future place will be and how much I’ll love it. I do keep thinking about the person who submitted an offer on my apartment-lookalike TIC unit in October and how happy they must have been to find out, 4 months later, that they’d won. Maybe in 4 months things will be looking up for me, too? Fingers crossed.
As always, let’s chat all things house hunt in the comments. Thanks for going on this long, weird ride with me. I don’t know how people without blogs process their feelings (privately??? What is that???) and I’m grateful that you’re here. Also, if you want to sell me your house in LA or if you’re ready to cast me on your new HGTV show where someone makes offers over and over and over again until they die, my email is open. Happy weekend, see you down there. xx