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After Putting In 15 Offers, Ajai Has Finally Found Her House… Sort Of

Hey there, Ajai here, and I’m back with quite the home-buying update… Remember our horrendous home-buying journey, well we’re still at it. To sum it up we heard 14 “nos” until we heard one very special “yes” (I guess 15’s a charm). Before we get to what we purchased, let’s share how we finally got here.

Our home search spread from LA County to Orange County and it wasn’t before long, we realized we were swimming in a pool with people who had millions of dollars in cash to throw at hideous fixers. I kept wondering who these people were, where they worked, and where they currently lived. With some of the purchasing prices, I thought to myself, “why would someone with this sort of cash on hand be interested in such a home, why not just buy a turnkey home in a prestigious neighborhood? Especially if they were going to spend more money to gut and renovate the house.” Almost every home under $800,000 was in need of a complete tear-down and build-up. For this reason, we began considering condominiums and townhomes. We began our search again, just with new expectations and an understanding of what it meant to live in a condo. We needed to get familiar with HOA (homeowners associations) and what this truly entailed.

This made our home-buying journey a bit more unique, as it meant us interviewing HOAs and learning which ones would be a good fit for us. With every condo/townhouse, we had to inquire about the CC&Rs (covenants conditions and regulations) and ultimately wanted to make sure we were a good match for their rules. It started to feel like dating in a way… We wanted to see what the organization’s values consisted of, if we’d be able to make our own decisions when it came to updating the inside of our home, if there were any restrictions, and ultimately, how much we’d have to fork over each month in HOA dues.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t like dating (I’ve been out of the game for a decade, so I’m a bit rusty haha…). Maybe researching HOAs was more like choosing the right college. Nonetheless, it was tough business and quite the commitment. One thing we knew for sure, is that having to consider an HOA meant there could be limitations on what could be done to the home and rules that we would need to follow to maintain a good standing within our community. That said, you wouldn’t believe the sorts of rules some of these HOAs had.

We came across rules like (I’m paraphrasing here) “Every Owner(s) must run paint colors, flooring, and hardware by the association…” (I learned quickly that HOAs weren’t very designer-friendly) or “there can only be two heartbeats in a single unit” (I couldn’t believe that because of the square footage in some places, Jon, Jack, and myself couldn’t live there). It seemed like every time I found a great home, the HOA was quite the opposite, and when I found a good home with a good homeowners association, someone with a ton of cash would come along and offer a ridiculous amount of money (paying well over asking price, and quite frankly, insanely more than what the home was actually worth). We put in offer after offer, and eventually found ourselves putting in an offer on home number 15. Funny thing is, I’d seen this place early on during our search (it was fuuuugggly… even I had a hard time seeing the vision). Maybe because it was painted in circus colors. The entire living room had been painted red and yellow, and the baseboards were royal blue. The kitchen walls also kept to the circus theme. For weeks, I scrolled past the listing without giving it much thought, then I noticed it was taken offline and thought to myself “some crazy person must have purchased it. I’ll have to say a special prayer for them.”

I learned later that the owner of the circus condo took the listing down to have painters come in to paint the walls a reasonable color (cool gray as you can see in these before photos). All this to say, my realtor sent the listing to me again and told me to have another look. He mentioned how amazing the HOA was, and that I’d have full control over any design changes I wanted to make in the inside of the condo. So I looked over the listing again. I could see the potential this time around (maybe it was because I’d given it a rest for a few weeks… looking for homes had gotten so discouraging). This time, I felt good about the place. Needless to say, we made an offer. This offer took me a bit out of my comfort zone, as I’ve never been a fan of purchasing big-ticket items without seeing them in person. But I really wanted this place. I should also mention our apartment’s leasing office kept sending us letters in the mail stating that they’d be raising the rent significantly, along with pressuring us to renew our lease or to pack our things and hit the road. This alone made me feel anxious. I’d gotten to a point where I really wanted us to be in a place where our $35,000 spent in rent each year could go toward a place that would stay in our family. I thought it would be nice to have a place that Jack could inherit. This made purchasing our own property more important to me, even if it meant moving into an investment property before finding our dream home. So Jon and I decided we would save and use our savings for our dream home, and consider other means to move forward with purchasing an investment property.

design by ajai guyot | photo by ellie lillstrom | from: see how ajai transformed her client’s builder grade guest room -get ready for a ton of cozy design ideas & working-mom real talk

I had made the decision to pick up extra work, so we could put together a nice down payment on this property, and Jon dipped into his own savings for the renovation work (because we sure had quite a few things to update). Now let’s get back to the part where we put in an offer on a place sight unseen. Quickly, we found out we were up against three other offers as our realtor came back advising us to offer over asking. We needed to beat out the competition (even though we had no idea what the competition was offering). We arrived at $2,000 over asking (if it didn’t appraise for the listed price), a 7-day due diligence, and purchasing the property in an “as-is” condition. We put in the offer on a Friday and had to wait until Monday to hear back. We never did find out what the other offers were, but ours was chosen, and just like that, we were in escrow.

Once our offer was accepted, reality set in. We had a week to get our inspections done, and to check it out before the window to back out (if we hated it) closed. This is when I should mention the place is in Las Vegas. Vegas is a 4-hour drive from our parents (in Los Angeles), and I have cousins who live there. My sister and brother-in-law also have a second home there. We thought this would be the perfect place to hang (as we both work from home) while we wait for the Los Angeles housing market to chill out a bit (and keep searching for a primary home). Plus, we couldn’t beat those Las Vegas home prices. By the end of the week, our inspection was completed, and we hopped in our car (with our little one) and headed out to see the place for the first time. When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised by the natural beauty (mountain views galore) and parks that surrounded the neighborhood. The neighborhood turned out to be quite pleasant, with many smiling faces and friendly waves. Once we got into the home, we felt like it was a good decision, and began game-planning our renovations. After completing our walkthrough and getting out of due diligence, the rest of the escrow felt like a breeze. In what seemed to be a blink of an eye, escrow closed and the place was ours. It felt great to be homeowners once again, and now we just needed to begin the process of moving out of our rental and over to my parents while we worked on the new place.

Want to know what my favorite part of a renovation is? Dreaming up the space. I love creating renderings and sourcing materials the most, especially when there’s not much that needs to be done in a space. These things were just cosmetic, just to bring life back into an outdated space. I started with sourcing floors. I had found two options for the kitchen and the rest of the house, I just needed a way to save on shipping. Jon ended up being my save-on-shipping man. I found a store in Los Angeles that had the majority of the floors in stock, so we loaded up the car and Jon did a turnaround trip to drop off the floors.

When Jon arrived to unload the floors… I should let Jon tell you this part, I wouldn’t do it justice.

“Hi friends! Jon here (Ajai’s husband)! I’m happy to be included in this part, especially as it was so gut-wrenching. Hold onto your seats (or sofas) for this one.

I was so excited to be driving up to our new place. I love long drives and this was a nice one. I was cruising, listening to my podcasts, and figured I would grab the keys from the realtor, check out the place, facetime Ajai and Jack from inside of the place, and get some food after. What I didn’t expect was to walk into a place with hundreds of roaches… There were so many! So many roaches that when I was approaching the front door, they were running out of the place. They were on the walls, the ceiling, all over the kitchen and bathrooms, the bedrooms, everywhere. I was shocked, disgusted, and completely bummed.

I inspected the home, hopping from one room to the next, trying not to stand still for too long – to avoid any possible hitch-hikers and after about 4 or 5 minutes, I left. I immediately called Ajai and told her the news. She could sense the defeat in my voice and gave a little pep talk. After our discussion, the next thing I had to do was swing by our local home improvement store and get some roach traps and bait. I bought all of the bait they had, a couple of grenades, and a flamethrower, then headed back – this was war! No, but seriously I did bring back a lot of roach traps and bait.

I facetimed Ajai from inside the home this time, and her jaw dropped. Apparently, she could see teenage and adult roaches crawling on the wall directly behind me. I showed her all the fun I was having and then began laying the traps and bait. To be honest, I can’t remember much after that (it was too traumatizing). I got out of there so quickly. However, I do remember the buyer’s remorse I felt during the drive home.

Hi Friends, it’s Ajai. I’m back hoping you’re still here after that horror story my husband just shared.

A week passed, I had my mother look after Jack while Jon and I headed back for round two. This time we had hazmat suits, masks, gloves, and shoe covers on along with some more premium roach bait gel, bait arenas, and a genetic mutator bait to prevent any more mating between the insects. Ironically, when we arrived, whatever Jon had done before had worked. There were maybe 5 or 10 live buggies running around, but the rest were gone. It almost felt like Jon had made the whole thing up, until I discovered all of the carcasses everywhere.

Demo day had finally arrived, and I was all too thrilled to see the old floors being torn up and the place being prepped for new floors. We learned there was a nice amount of water damage to the original floors – so they had to go. I love a clean slate anyway, and demo day provides just that. A fresh new canvas for paint, and boy was I looking forward to painting. We received the color “Whipped” from Clare, and thought it best to paint the entire house this color. We wanted it to feel fresh and warm. Whipped was the perfect choice, as our home now feels delicate and soft (a long way from the cold gray). We had the house painted just in time for the holiday, and were able to move in a couple of weeks before Christmas.

the primary bedroom

Now let’s talk about living through a renovation with a 1-year-old. Jon and I have created little barriers all over the house, to keep Jack from getting into any of the construction areas, and we’re basically always at the park, or going on a walk so that he can walk and play. Oh yes, Jack is walking now! Our little guy seems to like the energy of our new home so far, and that’s what keeps us going – we just want him to be happy. We want to be able to leave him something in the long run, and we are thrilled this place will be a part of that something. Though the bathrooms are up and running, the hardware still needs to be swapped out in both tubs/showers, and we still don’t have a functioning kitchen. The good news is, our kitchen should be completed at the end of January (in about a month). Our appliances are set to arrive December 30th, and I can’t wait! It’s been way too long since I cooked a homemade meal for my family. The next project we’re working on is the living room! Stay tuned and follow me for the entire journey. I’ll also be back with an update soon! 

Opening Image Credits: Design by Ajai Guyot | From: Ajai’s Neutral Living Room Refresh + How Her Design Choices Parallel Her Journey Becoming A Black Interior Designer

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2 years ago

What a journey! Thanks for sharing all the bumps along the way- and for including how you are handling renovation along with a 1-year-old at your side. Can’t wait to see how more of the rooms turn out!

2 years ago

Oh my, what a nightmare! Glad the roaches are gone and you were able to move in for Christmas. The sneak peak of your bedroom is beautiful!

2 years ago

Whipped is the color I’m going to be painting a lot of my house too! The plan is to paint and have new flooring put in next spring/summer but who knows what the situation will be then.

2 years ago

Are all the photos in this post from the condo you ended up buying?

Martha Moore
2 years ago

Congratulations! That bedroom looks lovely, so the rest of the place will too…..soon. 🙂 Enjoy the holidays in a new setting.

2 years ago

The bedroom is gorgeous – can’t wait to see more!

2 years ago

Congratulations on becoming homeowners! Double congrats for doing your research on the HOAs, their rules & regs and financial stability. My first place was a townhouse and I was shocked at how many people bought without checking those things.
Cant wait to follow along as you make this home your own beautiful space.

🥰 Rusty
2 years ago

I had a similar situation with caterpillars from a Lilac tree, covering walls snd ceilings in a townhouse I used to own as an investment property. Eich!!!

Congratulations! After all that wrangling, you found your house and you’re already making it your home!
Yaaaay! 🤗💗
Um, wait….it seems like Jack was only born a couple of months ago?!?

2 years ago

Oof, congratulations on the home and on beating the roaches! What a story. I’m happy you researched HOAs – my first home was a condo and while I really loved the space, the HOA had a lot of annoying rules, randomly raised fees because they weren’t managing things very well, and was a pain to deal with generally. We ended up moving out when we got a dog because although they were technically allowed, the amount of ridiculous rules made it a major pain (and we knew our pup would like a yard better anyway). But the condo definitely helped us get the house, so it was all worth it. Looking forward to seeing what you do with the space!

2 years ago

Congratulations! I’m a Las Vegas native (though my husband’s job has taken us far away from LV for now), but I hope that you find Las Vegas life as enjoyable–and normal–as can be. There are so many great people, parks, lovely hikes, and great day trips. CONGRATS!

Annie K.
2 years ago

Ajai and Jon- this is so awesome and exciting. I love also hearing your process on renting vs buying, and wanting to have something for Jack. That’s real! Can’t wait to see how this all goes, and hope there are no more roaches in your future.

2 years ago

Do you already own another home? I’m confused how this is being considered an investment property – it sounds like it will be your primary residence? Plenty of people buy condos instead of homes because they can’t afford it – currently planning to do the same myself!
Sorry about the roaches, that sounds like a nightmare.

2 years ago
Reply to  Emma

It can’t be an investment in equity if it’s not too much beyond what you’d pay for a rental. It’s better to pay in your own equity than to pay for a rental.

2 years ago
Reply to  Emma

My thought process was that it could become an eventual investment property when they find a home in Los Angeles they really love.

Roberta Davis
2 years ago

The bedroom looks beautiful, as I knew it would! You really know how to create a calm simplicity! Now- hopefully no more bugs!

2 years ago

Congrats! So excited for you and us, knowing there will be more content from you. As for roaches they are smart bugs. That means they might not come back to your home again. We had them at one of our rentals. We bought those little ‘hotels’ and saw them die off. We had lived there 3 tears, and never seen them come back in that time. Best wishes. And Happy Holidays!

2 years ago

Where did you get that bedroom rug?? It’s AMAZING!

Also, not to be a bummer, but don’t rest on your laurels about the roaches just yet. When my neighbor moved in (to a house which had been occupied by an older lady who apparently wasn’t too clean), suddenly I had roaches – they’d migrated away from her property to mine. I called an exterminator, and next thing I know she called an exterminator, and within a week I had roaches again. Thankfully, a second treatment of my house seems to have wiped them out for good. But with neighbors sharing walls, you may need to work with them on this one to make sure the problem is totally taken care of.

2 years ago
Reply to  Ashley
2 years ago

Congrats on your new home! That color is so inviting and warm.
Ahhhhhh on the roaches! What a story.

2 years ago

Wow!! I’m so happy for you and your family Ajai!! I have been so busy I haven’t had the chance to catch up with you and your home journey, but I’m glad to know you guys found a place for the time being. And wow, in Las Vegas too! (Might have to visit you guys in the future 👀)

Can’t wait to see your renovations and process just like I did when you guys lived in Atlanta. Love you guys! 🤍🤎✨

2 years ago

Wow congrats!!! It can’t wait to see more!

2 years ago

I love the conversation on the importance of creating and passing down generational wealth to your son. I know that if me and my husband were to have children one day, our current home would be that for them as well. A leg up in equity, funds, or housing will do so much for him.
Also, the roaches! My nightmare! I moved into what I thought was the perfect apartment for me when I first moved into my own space in Chicago – a family owned studio apartment close to public transportation, but quiet, with a separate kitchen from the living space, above from small businesses. Then the roaches started moving from other places into ours and it was terrible! I pulled up my big girl pants and did my research and treated the apartment (and convinced my landlords to also treat the other units and hallways) with Advion gel. 10/10 would recommend, I never had a problem after that.

2 years ago

Holy. I’m glad you got to rip out a bunch of stuff after that so you didn’t have to wonder what was under the floors. I’m glad you finally found something. The market is crazy right now and has been for too long.

2 years ago

Let me just say that you and Jon are two very brave people. I know people buy homes everyday sight unseen but it has to be such a roller coaster of a ride.
I do wish you had pictures of it when it had the circus colors:) It sound like you are enjoying your new community and I know that condo will be the envy of
your neighbors when you complete your magic.
Perhaps you may even find potential customers among
your new neighborhood. I will be looking forward to what happens in Vegas.

2 years ago

You’re in my town! You’re going to love it here. Roaches are actually pretty rare here in the desert, so make sure that you don’t have any water leaks. And don’t think you need to run to LA for all your supplies and fixtures… We’ve had so many housing booms here that there are quite a few local resources.

2 years ago

I’m excited to see what you do with the rest of the place! Those roaches! That’s just crazy.

2 years ago

Happy for you, but kinda sad that you couldn’t find a place closer to your folks (which seemed like the primary motivator for your original move from ATL?). Home prices are out of control, and making it so that average people can’t get on the property ladder.

2 years ago

Speaking from experience, you were extremely smart to do thorough research on HOA’s. We have one with our development. I was a little familiar with them before we bought. For the most part ours isn’t too bad, but definitely not perfect. (We’re lucky our neighbor across the street is on the board!) Some can be absolute nightmares. (If you haven’t done so already, I don’t recommend googling HOA nightmares!)

2 years ago

Just throwing this out for anyone who reads this article later: I am pretty sure the “two heartbeats” rule would count as familial discrimination under federal law. I work teaching tenant education as part of my job and a lot of people don’t realize that families are a protected class. So you can’t have a place that tells you that you cannot have children unless it was specifically built as a retirement/55+ community.

2 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Yes! I think it is two people per bedroom as a minimum:

2 years ago

My skin was crawling when your husband described the roaches…so glad you fought the good fight and are loving your temporary investment home!

2 years ago

Your bedroom is so gorgeous!